Issue 14-6 February 6, 2020

magazine cover image

Cover photo © 2020 Bob Kieser

 In This Issue 

Mike Stephenson has our feature interview with Chicago blues guitar player Rick Kreher. We have 6 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Sunny Lowdown, Guitar Shorty, Erja Lyytinen, Miss Bix & The Blues Fix, HeavyDrunk and Big Dave Mclean.

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

 Featured Interview – Rick Kreher 

imageI was born and raised in Chicago and one of the few guys who are into the blues who come from Chicago, most come from somewhere else, and I started listening to blues in the sixties. I remember going down to Maxwell Street when I was a young kid. My parents were factory workers so we didn’t have a lot of money so they used to buy stuff at Maxwell Street and I remember specifically going down there when my parents bought lamps there and I remember coming out of this store carrying the lamp, I must have been five or six years old, and seeing these guys with harmonicas and stuff jumping around outside of the store. It made an impression on me.

Being from Chicago you knew that blues was around because you would put the radio on at night and you’d flip the stations and come across Big Bill Hill, and that stuff sounded kinda nice and then, as I got a little older, I started getting into music when I was in high school. This was in the late sixties and a bunch of friends of mine, we would go to these hippy places. There was a place called the Electric Theatre and the Aragon, called The Cheater at the time, and they would have Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and stuff and the opening acts used to be like B.B. King and Muddy Waters. The first blues band I ever saw was Muddy Waters and this was the late sixties. I remember all the psychedelic lights going on in the background and it all sounded so great. There was a weekly paper that used to come out called The Seed, an underground thing, and on the back page they used to have a listing of clubs and what was happening and one of the clubs they listed was Muddy Waters at Peppers, so I thought we should go there.

So we took the El down there and first of all I didn’t realize what type of neighborhood it was, it was pretty rough down there. We didn’t realize it was a bar until we got down there but they let us in anyway and we could buy beer, so that opened up a whole new world for us. So after that I started going to other clubs. You would hear about one club from another club and you would realize that Muddy was playing all over the place. Some of the clubs were Theresa’s and there were bigger places like the Burning Spear and High Chaparral, which was where the likes of B.B. King would play, The Golden Checkmate, and there were a million little places like that on the West side, places like Ma Bea’s and Walton’s Corner. So we started running around and I discovered there were like minded people like myself out there, like Bruce Iglauer (Alligator Records) and the Koesters (Delmark Records), so I got to meet them and became running buddies with them and with Jim and Amy O’Neal. (Founders of Living Blues Magazine and The Blues Foundation)image

I was always a closet player. I would watch these guys play and go home and try to play like them, which I wasn’t able to do. I would sit in as well but I was always shy about that stuff, but the guys figured if you went to these black clubs there were chances you were a musician, which most of the guys like me were. So once in a while they would force you to come up and play, so I started to play a little bit and then got to know some of the musicians better and I then started to play with a band here and a band there.

Back then I was mixing with Son Seals, James Cotton, Fenton Robinson and others. I used to go out every night, and even during the weekdays there was fifteen or so clubs to go to. This was the late sixties and seventies through to the eighties. I saw so many musicians like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Freddy King, Earl Hooker, Easy Baby, Big Bad Ben Murphy and some other more obscure guys, Highway Man, Tail Dragger and the other Howlin’ Wolf imitators. You could keep going all night long, going from one club to another, there was so much music then.

Then I hooked up with another like minded guy named Studebaker John and back then he played harmonica, although he plays slide now. We started a little band and started playing some of the North side clubs when they first started opening. As a matter of fact we were one of the first bands to play the Kingston Mines and there was a place called Biddy Mulligan’s and the Wise Fools and all those kind of places. After that I played some gigs with Mojo Buford, who played with Muddy Waters off and on, and it was Mojo who told me that Muddy needed a band and a couple of days later we went to Muddy’s house and he asked me if I would join his band and I was newly married at the time so I had to get the OK, but my wife was pretty understanding. I was in my late twenties at the time and this was in 1980.

I was with Muddy from 1980 through to 1983. The first thing Muddy said to me is do I have a passport and I didn’t at the time but he wanted us to fly out the following Monday. This was before all the terrorist stuff and he told me to go to the office and tell them I was working with Muddy Waters and I would get a passport. So I went to the office and told them this and I got a passport the same day. The first gig I played with Muddy was in Jersey in the UK. The first couple of weeks in the band I was the road manager as Muddy had hired Jimmy Rogers to play for a couple of weeks in the interim while he got his band together.

imageAt that time Muddy had in his band John Primer, Lovie Lee, Earnest Johnson, Jessie Clay the drummer. He wrote ‘Mom’s Apple Pie’ later, but he wasn’t the right fit on drums so Muddy then got Ray Allison and that was pretty much the band until Muddy died. This was a full time thing for me although Muddy would take a few weeks off when he got back into town, so I would go and do some rehabbing and stuff around town just to keep money coming in. I was fixing up buildings and things, which a lot of my friends were doing, and it’s an easy thing to do.

After Muddy passed on I then rejoined Studebaker John and he was doing pretty well for himself, but at the time I was working a day job and was in the process of adopting a couple of kids, so there was a lot going on, so when John started to travel I split off as I had other stuff going on at home. After that I played with a lot of guys around town, whoever would call for a gig, such as Fenton Robinson when he was living in Springfield, Illinois. I played with Bill Warren, Tail Dragger and then I met Rockin’ Johnny in the early nineties and we kind of got along and we did Tail Dragger’s first full CD and he needed a sideman one night at Smoke Daddy’s and he asked if I would do it again, and some years later we still worked together often.

When Rockin’ Johnny was off the scene for a while, I did the Chicago Harmonica Project thing and toured off of that for a while and then I did some stuff for the late George Paulus and I played with Little Arthur Duncan, because I knew Little Arthur through Johnny, and he was doing really well until he passed away. I’ve been doing some work with Mud Morganfield. B.L.U.E.S on Halsted had a Christmas party at a little restaurant during the day so a lot of musicians turned up and this big guy sits next to me and he introduced himself as Muddy Water’s son and that’s when he first came on the scene and he has since done well for himself and I play with him when he calls me.

Over the years I’ve recorded with Muddy Waters, Rockin’ Johnny, Studebaker John, Mud Morganfield, the Blues Harmonica Projects, Little Mack Simmons, Big Mojo Elem, Tail Dragger, Easy Baby, Classie Ballou, Ronnie Hawkins, Maxwell Street Kings for Delmark, Harmonica Hinds, John Primer and a whole load of others.

My guitar style is more of a rhythm player; backing up people that’s what I like to do and what I have always done. Not a lot of people play like this anymore. Some of my favorite guys from music are the likes of Sammy Lawhorn, Louis Myers and Eddie Taylor.

Interviewer Mike Stephenson is a UK based blues journalist and photographer who has been a blues fan all his life. He has written articles on and interviewed blues artists and reviewed blues events in Europe and the US primarily for Blues & Rhythm but also for other blues publications.

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

imageSunny Lowdown – Shady Deal


CD: 11 Songs, 38 Minutes

Styles: Traditional Acoustic and Electric Blues, Blues Covers

Everybody’s heard of John Lee Hooker, whether they’re familiar with the blues or not. They may not have heard of this icon’s sideman, one Louie X. Erlanger, who’s dubbed himself Sunny Lowdown. He has definite talent – so much so that his guitar compositions have been heard in such feature films as Breathless, Pope of Greenwich Village, In The Land of Women, Blue Collar, and the recent popular Showtime TV series Billions. Not only that, but he’s also worked with celebrated blues musicians Howlin’ Wolf, guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Muddy Waters pianist Pinetop Perkins, Chicago blues legends Otis Rush and George “Wild Child” Butler, Fat Possum recording artists R.L. Burnside and Cedell Davis, and many others. With a CV like this one, he should be a living legend. Nevertheless, fans who know and love him consider him as such.

Lowdown’s last album, 2017’s Downloaded was nominated for Best Acoustic Blues Album in the 2018 Blues Blast Music Awards. This latest album, Shady Deal, is a mellow compilation of six original songs and five covers, e.g. “Satisfaction,” Muddy Waters’ “Sad Letter,” and Melvin Jackson’s “Travelin’ Woman.” When yours truly says “mellow,” she means that there are no upbeat or hard-driving numbers to be had. Mid-tempo is the fastest pace performed, which is the exact effect Sunny is aiming for. According to his website, ‘He takes his time and doesn’t hit you over the head. His power is in his tone and phrasing. You might call it a Clint Eastwood approach. No screaming – just a quiet ‘make my day’ that send[s] chills up your spine.’” Whether it produces chills or not, his skills on the acoustic and electric versions of his instrument of choice are self-evident. That’s why Mick Jagger deemed him one of his favorite guitarists during Sunny’s stint with Mink DeVille. His riffs are methodical here, almost tender, even on faster songs like “Lightnin’ Hop.”

Accompanying Sunny Lowdown (guitars and vocals) are Sunny Bottom on bass, Sunny Tubs on drums, and Sunny Keys on keyboards.

Two unique original selections are the second and final tracks, “Christmas Eve Blues” and “Chicken in a Basket,” which is performed alongside the Uptown Food Syndicate. On a lonely December 24th, Sunny misses his best friend and gets a visit from the police as well as jolly old St. Nick. Close your eyes during the solo in the middle of “Christmas Eve Blues.” Is that Eric Clapton, unplugged? It might as well have been. Too much of a downer? Crank up number eleven, a funky ditty mixing the ‘70s with the 2010’s. “I could really go for some chicken right now. Mmm, yeah. Maybe a wing…or a thigh…BARBECUE FRIED with a side!” If you don’t have the munchies before you hear this song, you will afterward – especially if you dance.

Shady Deal isn’t a party album, but “that’s good chicken” for a mellow mood!


 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

imageGuitar Shorty – Trying To Find My Way Back

S.D.E.G. – 2019

CD1. 8 tracks; 42 minutes

CD2. 8 tracks; 44 minutes

Guitar Shorty (real name David Kearney) is probably best known for having married Jimi Hendrix’s half sister and inspiring a young Hendrix with his flamboyant stage show and use of wah-wah pedals. However, Shorty’s CV also includes stints with Ray Charles, Guitar Slim and Sam Cooke and he has been playing since the 1950’s. Now aged 84 this is his first release since 2010’s Bare Knuckle, his third and final release on Alligator. Shorty was indeed born in Houston but started playing in Florida before moves to New Orleans, California and Texas. In recent years he has again been based in California where this two CD set was recorded with two well-known names from outside the blues world: Jerry Williams (AKA Swamp Dogg) who produced the album and Larry Clemons (AKA MoogStar) from Cameo who plays everything except guitar. The three men wrote all the material, with a contribution from Stoney Dixon on one track, except for the cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”, written by Stephen Stills.

The CD sleeve puts the split of material as 7 tracks on CD1 and 9 on CD2 but this review reflects what is actually on the discs. There is certainly a lot of material here but, unfortunately, much of it is pretty tough going. The drums are plodding and the sound effects of vocalizer, synthesized horns and strings do the music few favors. Behind the array of sounds Shorty plays some characteristically soaring guitar but both guitar and vocals are rather low in the mix. Where Shorty is more up front, as on “Smokie The Ghost” on CD1 his vocals are treated through the vocalizer though his guitar on this track sounds good. The addition of Lil’ Larry Hulk Drummer Clemon and co-writer Stoney Dixon on bass on “Nothing But A Thang” has no audible effect on the overall sound.

CD2 opens with “New Girlfriend Blues” on which Ninette Torres adds some background vocals and Shorty’s vocals are more up front, making this one of the better tracks for this reviewer. More treated vocals on “It’s Hard To Live In Two Worlds” make you think of Herbie Hancock’s crossover hits in the 70’s like “I Thought It Was You”. It is interesting to hear how the approach works on the familiar “For What It’s Worth”: again, the vocalizer is used on some of Shorty’s vocals though the vocal is up in the mix and the drums sound livelier. “Big Old Small World” ends CD2 on something of a high with some very good guitar work and a better groove to the tune. Lyrically the songs are quite repetitive and mostly about the usual topics of love and sex. One exception on CD1 is “No More War” with Shorty’s semi-spoken plea for peace and love rather than hate and violence backed up by some of his trademark guitar and lots of sound effects.

It is regrettable that this review is generally negative as Guitar Shorty has made some fine albums in the past but this one will not return to this reviewer’s player often.

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 – 3 of 6 

imageErja Lyytinen – Another World

Tuohi Records

8 songs, 40 minutes

Erja Lyytinen is a Finish Blues-Prog-Rock slide guitarist, (yes, this is a thing). Her newest album Another World, is the definitive example of her highly specialized style. Lyytinen plays her slide with such speed, accuracy and highly sculpted tone that it is almost imperceptible that she is using a slide. Erja writes songs about colonizing alternate worlds and miracles next to songs about canceling her wedding and her broken heart. The backing music (unfortunately un-credited in the promotional materials) has a snap and complexity that would make King Crimson demure and Rush take notice.

Erja’s style has been developing. A star in Finland, Lyytinen has had a building and maturing career. Starting with heavy Blues Rock on her first few albums, 2014’s Elmore James tribute The Sky Is Crying sealed Erja’s Blues Rock cred. Restlessly striving for artistic expression instead of simple repetition, 2017’s dark meditation Stolen Hearts is vulnerable bearing of the broken hearted soul. Another World takes another turn and as described above brings into full relief this Prog-Rock informed aesthetic that Lyytinen has been hinting at throughout. This album also shows that the guitar-god world has been taking notice. Another World was inspired by gigs played with Carlos Santana. The album features guitar duels with Jennifer Batten (from Michael Jackson’s bullet proof 1987-1997 touring bands) and the slide technique legend Sonny Landreth.

The music on Another World is deeply satisfying for the listener who wants to be challenged by complexity but also wants that emotional connection of the Blues. There is disorienting turns in the song writing right next to deep pocket Blues power. The title track is a classic rock ballad with big power chords and an anthemic chorus. “In another world there is you and me…no machines no one around…if we can find another planet, together we can travel higher.” Then there is the boogieing stomp of Landreth spar “Wedding Day.” A man done her wrong in Memphis and she is calling off her wedding. The hard core sliding abounds and both guitarists go toe to toe in mutual admiration.

The final track “Breaking My Heart Gently” is a beautiful end to this album and a stand out. The digital guitar effects are stripped down, the slide (of Landreth again contributing but in full back-up mode) is smooth and mournful. This track is a throwback to more introspective song writing of earlier albums, but it still retains the basic Prog elements: unexpected chords, powerful balladeer-ing and intelligent lyricism. “Breaking My Heart Gently” illustrates that Lyytinen is not just a guitar goddess but a talented artists. Another World is a transitional piece that may mark a new phase in Erja’s journey.

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 – 4 of 6 

imageMiss Bix & The Blues Fix – We Don’t Own The Blues

Self-Release – 2019

13 tracks; 55 minutes

Miss Bix is Leslie Bixler and she has already had a varied career. After issuing a debut record in the smooth jazz world (under her maiden name Leslie Letven) she and husband Bill Bixler moved to LA and recorded another album which they sold at gigs. When they started a family Leslie became interested in creating children’s music and her songs attracted the interest of Dick Van Dyke and Chad Smith, drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose child was in the same school class. Two albums of children’s music followed and Leslie toured with Dick and Chad to promote them. After her son grew up Leslie looked to make a new musical start and spent several months in Clarksdale where she soaked up the blues heritage of the area, this album being the result.

Leslie worked closely with Ralph Carter whose CV includes a stint with Sugaray Rayford. Ralph co-produced, recorded and engineered the album, as well as playing bass, guitar, keys and drums. Leslie handles all the vocals with Ralph adding some background vocals. Other musicians featured include Gary Mallaber (Steve Miller) on drums (Chad Smith plays on one track), John ‘JT’ Thomas (Bruce Hornsby) on keys, Brian Calway and RJ Mischo on harp and Franck Goldwasser (Mannish Boys) on guitar. Leslie wrote all the material, Ralph contributing to two songs.

Some songs here certainly reflect aspects of the Delta with “Voodoo Man” having a spooky feel accentuated by the slide and harp. “Black Widow” finds Leslie seeking revenge for being mistreated by a man and you can believe the threat contained in the words while in “Slave To The Grave” she confirms that she will not be staying in a doomed relationship for the long term. The lively “If You’re Doing What I’m Thinking” benefits from Frank’s stinging guitar and RJ’s harp work whilst still hitting home lyrically. Indeed, several songs are on the theme of women being mistreated and Leslie dedicates the album to “women everywhere who have been silenced, trivialized, shamed or excluded”.

The title track has some good piano by Ralph and keening harp by Brian as Leslie accepts that the pain we cause each other is far from unique and JT plays beautifully on both piano and B3 on the heartbreak ballad “It Wasn’t Me”, another tale of infidelity. Husband Bill makes his only contribution on “Baby Come Back”, playing saxophone alongside Franck who comes to the fore with a good solo, the larger ensemble making this one of the stronger tracks here.

Leslie has a definite style to her vocals and sings the lyrics clearly so the themes she wants to discuss are clear.

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 – 5 of 6 

imageHeavyDrunk – Holy Water

4142 Music – 2019

13 tracks; 58 minutes

HeavyDrunk is a band from Tennessee, this is their third album and the debut release on new label 4142 Records. The band takes its name from a putdown of a musician that he did not rate by the late ‘Gatemouth’ Brown but there should be no such negative comments about this album which is chock-full of good tunes and arrangements. Frontman, guitarist, singer (and restaurant owner by day) Rob Robinson wrote all bar two of the tunes here in collaboration with fellow guitarist Will Beeman, Jackson Nance, Joseph Shackleton and Eddie Wilson.

The band is a large configuration with Rob, Will and Kurt Stowe on guitars, Bill Ferri or Brian Allen on bass, Bernard Bell or Dave Diefenthal on drums, Erik Bikales on keys, James Hooker on piano, Tyler Summers on sax and Roy Agee on trombone; backing vocals come from Will Beeman, Renée Armand, Gina Pittman, Maureen Murphy and Nicki Connely. The band’s résumés include Prince, Keb’ Mo’, Hoyt Axton and Michael Jackson.

The CD opens with a heavy rock riff which proves deceptive as the backing vocals and horns riffing behind the band then create a big, soulful sound on “If I Loved You Hard Enough” as Rob recounts a dysfunctional love affair, opening with the memorable line “I dragged her by the hair of her head and dragged her across the Piggly Wiggly parking lot”. Rob’s rough and tough vocal style works well on that track but adapts equally well to “Walking To The Mission In The Rain”, a tale of a Southern small town where a preacher is telling people they are going to hell while kids are playing hopscotch.

“Heavydrunk Holywater” follows, a quiet ballad about the passing of Rob’s grandmother who played piano in the local Baptist church. When he went to visit her former home all that remained was a piano and that brought back some of the memories that are evoked here. Backed mainly by piano and fine backing vocals Tyler adds subtle sax embellishments to make a fine, reflective song. You can imagine the dance floor filling up for the rocking “One Dancing Fool” while the quirky “I Can’t Be Satisfied” tells the story of a fleeting relationship with a girl who ran a food truck at campgrounds, her chicken coops hanging from the truck.

“Keeping Up With The Kid” is a short and bright tune about the arrival in the band of young and talented guitarist Will Beeman before another slower tune which urges people to get “High On Love” rather than drugs; piano leads the tune but the horns and backing vocalists make their entrance as the song builds. “Memphis” is the standout cut on the album, the backing vocals adding a gospel feel to a lovely song with a full band production. Lyrically the song mixes images of Memphis as a girl and as a town: “Memphis likes blues and BBQ, she’s got great big legs, oh she’s definitely full of attitude. She wants to ride the Mississippi down to New Orleans”. A fine trombone adds the icing to the cake. Rob then shows a humorous side to his writing with the Barry White pastiche “Somebody’s Got To Take Them Panties Off” which makes you smile but also has great vocals and a superb sax solo on the outro. The funky “Pick You Up Along The Way” is about just getting in the car and driving away with an intense guitar solo to accompany you on the journey.

The two covers appear together towards the end of the album. “Slave” is one of the Stones’ less well-known tunes, a track on 1981’s Tattoo You which HeavyDrunk like because of Charlie Watts’ drumming. This version has plenty of backing vocals from the ladies over a heavy funk backing. “Midnight In Harlem” is Mike Mattison’s song recorded by Tedeschi Trucks on their Revelator album. HeavyDrunk’s version starts with some free-form guitar and drums before the familiar refrain kicks in with one of the girls sharing the vocals with Rob. In this extended version there is room for some delicate slide guitar which gives Derek a run for his money! The album closes with Rob wondering what has happened to someone he loved years ago and hoping that she has been able to “Shine On”. It’s a fine song with some fiery guitar over delicate piano accompaniment.

If you are fond of Southern-influenced bands like Delaney & Bonnie with horns and gospel-infused vocals then you should check this disc out! It certainly gets a strong recommendation from this reviewer.

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.

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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

imageBig Dave Mclean – Pocket Full Of Nothin’

Black Hen Music

12 songs time – 48:33

On this his seventh album Winnipeg, Canada resident Big Dave Mclean has assembled a fine troupe of musicians to accompany him. His music is loosely based on the blues with other influences coming to the fore. The only drawback being Dave’s limited voice that comes off somewhere between talking and singing. He sounds like Bill Murray’s character in “Caddy Shack”. The music and arrangements are such that this concern kind of falls by the wayside. The instruments achieve a varied sound with lots of interplay and time for soloing. This is the first time he has employed a full horn section. It really fleshes out the sound.

In “Songs Of The Blues” he rattles off a litany of blues greats with Steve Dawson on his fine slide guitar and the afore mentioned horn section in tow. Weird and abrupt cut off ending. “Backwards Fool” has an old-timey feel to it and a nice trumpet solo by Malcolm Aiken. There is an upbeat vibe propelled by an exuberant horn section on “All Day Party”.

J.B. Lenoir’s “Voodoo Music” is a good rendition featuring Chris Gestrin on organ and Steve Dawson’s hypnotic slide guitar. “Just To Be With You” does Muddy Waters’ memory proud via grinding organ and slithering slide guitar. The incessant beat and Dave’s vocal rant doesn’t hurt any either. He preaches good common sense advice regarding how to treat a woman.

The Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” suffers from too slow of a pace that drains the soul out of it. “Manitoba Mud” is kind of an ode to the joys of desperation where the title of the album comes from. Dave closes out things with a song of positivity with “There Will Always Be A Change”.

Musicianship and production save the day here overcoming Dave’s vocal shortcomings, but not his lack of spirit. Roots music, blues, old timey music all meet here to combine for a full musical onslaught. The intertwining of various instruments insures much enjoyment for the listeners.

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

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The Great Northern Blues Society – Wausau, WI

To celebrate 21 years of the Blues Café, The Great Northern Blues Society will be starting things off for the weekend by hosting a 21st Anniversary ‘Kick-Off Party’, Friday, March 13th at the Rothschild Pavilion (near Wausau, WI). Doors will open at 5:30 pm, with Soul Symmetry getting things started at 6:30 and the Ever-popular Aaron Williams & the Hoo-Doo taking the stage at 8:30. Friday admission can be bought the night of the event for $10 and/or is included with all Saturday Blues Café tickets, which will be available to purchase at Friday’s event.

Saturday’s Blues Café lineup includes Boom Boom Stevie V. Band with Bruce McCabe on keyboard, at 1 pm, the Bel Airs at 3 pm, Venessa Collier at 5 pm, the John Nemeth Band at 7 pm, and the Ana Popovic Band at 9 pm. Doors will open at noon. We hope you can join us for a weekend of great music, and to celebrate 21 years of good times at the Blues Café. For more information, visit

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign, IL

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society hosts two Blues Jams each month. Jams are held the 2nd Sunday of each month from 4 to 7 pm and the 4th Wednesday of each month from 7 to 10 pm. The host band plays the 1st set and then it’s opened up to all the jammers in the house. Jams are held at Pipa’s Pub, 604 S. Country Fair Dr. in Champaign. Bands hosting upcoming Jams in 2020 include: Feb. 9, Mid-Town Blues Band Feb. 26, the Jack Whittle Band March 8 and Raw Sugar April 12. Bring your instrument and join in the fun. For more info visit:

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Crossroads Blues Society shows coming up in the Rockford, IL area. The monthly shows at the Hope and Anchor in Loves Park continue $5 cover, 8 to 11:30 PM: Sat Feb 8th – Mike Wheeler.

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for Blue Monday live performances and other shows held at the Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. Additional information on any performer listed below is available upon request.   Feb 3 – Timo Arthur, Feb 10 – William Marsala Band, Feb 17 – Bluesmattic, Feb 24 – Dave Lumsden wsg South Side Denny, Mar 2 – Dave Weld & the Imperial Flames, Mar 9 – Kirk Crandell, Mar 23 – Scott Ellison, Mar 30 – Tony Holiday.

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