Issue 15-19 May 13, 2021

Cover photo © 2021 Laura Carbone

 In This Issue 

Bucky O’Hare has our feature interview with bluesman Kid Ramos. We have eight blues reviews for you this week including 5 vintage Little Richard albums plus new music from Rochelle & the Sidewinders, Eddie Kold Band and a compilation of Blues from the Hudson Valley Blues Society.


 Featured Interview – Kid Ramos 

image“I think that everybody approaches music how their personality is. It’s your personality you know. I’m an intense person, I’m a passionate person so when I play the guitar I attack the guitar because that’s just my personality. The music comes out of what’s in your soul. That’s what music is, it transcends everything. It transcends language and cultures and everything. It’s that language that speaks to people in a place that you can’t describe. That people hear somethin’ and they just react to it and it’s almost primal the way people react to it. It touches somethin’ in people that goes way back. And it’s hard to describe it but when you hear it you go ‘oh man.’ For me I heard music and I heard guitar and I went ‘that’s me that’s what I want to do, I can identify with that.’ So my personality comes out in it. I just like that approach of just attacking it and being passionate about it, have emotion in it. It doesn’t have to be all the perfect notes, it just has to have something that grabs you. That’s what music has to do for me, it has to move me, it has to say something. It has to touch that level where the words don’t do it. The right notes will come later, but you can’t teach the feeling.”

Kid Ramos is the raw, passionate guitar “id” of West Coast Blues. The “kid with the guitar,” as a teenager Ramos jumped with both feet into a creative artistic life that for his 62 years on the planet has led him with grit and determination to express his inner self through the beautiful ritual that is Blues music. Whether early on in the James Harman Band or the Fabulous Thunderbirds to more recent collaborations with the 44’s or the Proven Ones, Kid Ramos’ guitar is always a distinct unique voice adding gravity, spontaneity and heart to any music. A thoughtful and deeply reflective man, Kid is just as engaging in conversation as he is in guitar playing. Warm, funny but also deadly serious about his art, Kid has laser focus on his music, his relationships and most importantly his family. Famously taking almost a decade off from national touring, Ramos talks often about the family he took that time off to raise and bursts with pride as he talks about the musical bond he has with his son. In this his second Blues Blast interview, Kid generously spoke at length about his conception of music, the modern West Coast Blues scene that he helped to create and the powerful and joyful music he produces.

Kid Ramos is a Californian through and through. Ramos came up at just the right time to be influenced by and help shape the 70’s/80’s resurgence of the Blues.

“For me it’s a pilgrimage of discovery. For me as a teenager in Southern California I would go buy records. I’d go to the record store and look through the Blues bins and look through the Salvation Army and the thrift store and see what I could find record-wise. And then I had this place that was 15-20 miles from my house called the Golden Bear where I got to go see these guys. In a small club I got to see Freddie King, you know I got to see Albert King, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy, I got to see all these guys, Mike Bloomfield. Anything that interests me I’d go see it, and I’d see it live. You didn’t have all these tapes to learn how to play guitar or videos or go online, learn how to do this, I mean you had to figure it out yourself, you know. So I would listen to the records and try to find it on the neck of the guitar. When I finally got to go see these guys then I went okay I can see now where that’s comin’ from.”

Barely just out of high school Kid became the guitar player in the premier Blues band in the Golden State, James Harman’s outfit. This band and the people on the scene at the time, including the legendary Hollywood Fats, created the modern West Coast Blues sound. As one of the founding fathers of this modern sound, Kid breaks down its origins and humbly his place in it.

“All the guys that came out here to the West Coast, to California, that had bands and stuff that came here, most of them came from Texas. T-Bone Walker is the definitive thing for the West Coast sound. The West Coast sound to me, is not like Chicago in those Jimmy Reed type shuffles with harmonica and stuff, it’s more slick and uptown with horns and maybe upright bass. The guitarist is playing some 9th chords and 13th chords, a little more sophisticated. Country Blues is where Chicago is related to, all the Delta stuff went to Chicago. Muddy Waters on Stovall’s Plantation he’s like the lineage of Robert Johnson or Son House you know. Then he comes to Chicago and discovers electricity. He puts that band together with Little Walter on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers, Otis Spann, they all had their own bands. They took and made that music and there isn’t anything like it. I got to see Muddy Waters in the 70’s and see it up close and personal and listen to that, and that’s a specific thing. But when the guys like T-Bone came they were influenced by Big Band music. And then they come out here to California and put together these bands. And a lot of these records, even the early B.B. King records are Jump Blues using Maxwell Davis’ band, you know it’s a horn band.

imageWhen I got on the James Harman band I was the only guitar player in the band when I got on that band. I was a kid I was like 21-22 years old. A few years into it he goes ‘hey Hollywood Fats wants to join this band but you’re the guitar player and if you don’t want him to we won’t have him.’ And I was just like ‘wow Hollywood Fats man of course,’ how cool is that, I was in awe of the guy. And Fats, he really brought that into the next level because he had that Swing Jump Blues thing down better than anybody I ever heard really. Fats, you know, he would be at James Harman’s house and that was the nucleus of all this stuff that we started to do. And Junior Watson rented a room from Harman, so he lived there to. So I would go over there almost every day and we’d listen to records man. We’d listen to records and eat, have BBQ, drink beer and just have these great record parties and listen to music. So for me the formative years of that kind of a thing. You know Junior was playing in Rod’s band (Rod Piazza) at the time. And Rod’s band was very Chicago, Little Walter oriented, they played like almost all of his repertoire. But Watson would do a Swing Blues, you know like a Tiny Grimes instrumental and it would be just killer. So I think all that kind of sound was based around Rod, James Harman Band, William Clarke had a lot of really good guitar players in his band. And so it kind of developed that people started calling it the West Coast sound. I think it really has a lot of elements of different stuff in it. But, kind of that flavor of a Jump Blues stuff with other things, you know.”

Kid Ramos is not your average traditional Bluesman. Yes, Kid can swing as hard as anyone. He mostly plays a traditional style of Blues often associated with clean, jazzy guitarists. But, Kid’s passion and attack come through always and plays out in the raw thick sound of his guitar. Kid Ramos IS the music and he is not to fussy about the vessels he uses to punch that music out of himself. Defying convention and uniformity, Kid doesn’t like the thinner, string-y-er sound of the standard Fender amplifier which is the Blues standard. Committing guitar snob sacrilege, Kid Ramos often plays a solid state amplifier. For those of you who don’t know or don’t care (which you really shouldn’t) most guitar snobs will say you have to use amplifiers with vacuum tubes in them to get a warm sound. A solid state amplifier uses only circuitry and is seen as less than.

“(I use a) solid state Vox Pathfinder it’s got one 8’ speaker. People hear it and they go ‘what is that man?’ It’s a solid state amp with an 8’ speaker man. To me the sound comes from your hands, you know. You can get stuff and enhance stuff or find something that inspires you when you hear it. You know if, like, you are playing a guitar and you’re diggin’ the vibe of the guitar and you plug it into the right amp, that makes you play a certain way. Cause the sound comin’ out of there is like oh man gettin’ the tone you want. But, I try to get the tone I want in whatever I play through, you can find a way to do it somehow.”

Vox amplifiers are the sound of the British Invasion. A British company, Vox was the alternative to the Fender/Marshall amplifier battles. Vox amps, with and without tubes, get a thick mid-range sound. When on tour with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, which was the dream gig Ramos landed after his touring hiatus, Kid traded a vintage Fender Bassman for his first Vox AC30 (the Vox standard workhorse).

“I’m not like a big gear guy particularly. You know whatever works. I love Vox amps. I have an old AC30 that I used in the Thunderbirds and I used it for a lot of stuff actually. It’s that class A amp, it’s different then a Fender amp. To me I never like Fender amps with Fender guitars, they always sound to treble-y to me. It’s like a treble bomb, you can’t get away, no matter what you do you can’t get that treble out. I like playing hollow bodies and different stuff, but, I end up always going’ back to a Stratocaster just because it’s the easiest guitar to travel with. And if you got one guitar you can get every sound you need to get out of a Stratocaster. To me it’s like a crescent wrench, if you have one tool and you had to work on a car, you need a crescent wrench, that’s what the Stratocaster is (chuckles). I had all those Fender amps, back then you could get ‘em for nothing you know. I never liked the way they sound with a Stratocaster, they just sound treble-y. But when I stumbled onto that AC30 I go well this is something else, this is a different thing altogether.”

Kid plays the big hollow body “jazz boxes” often used in Jump Blues too. His main hollow body ax is a big 2 tone Harmony, often played through that solid state Vox. In the early days Kid had a serious vintage instrument a 1951 Gibson ES 5 Switchmaster hollow body guitar, a guitar worth quite a lot of money especially now a days. Like many artists who is striving and developing, Kid moved off the big hollow sound and ended up selling his old ES 5. But, fate had other ideas.

“I used an ES 5 on some of those Evidence recordings that I had that actually came back to me. I sold that guitar to a friend of mine. And about a couple years ago I was playing at this club and he comes and he goes ‘you know what that guitar belongs with you man, it’s just sittin’ in my house.’ And I go ‘well you’ve had a few drinks tonight bro.’ He goes ‘no, I’m bringing it over your house tomorrow.’ I go ‘no worries, man’ I didn’t believe him. The next day he calls me he goes ‘I’m standing in your driveway.’ I go downstairs and he’s got this 1951 ES 5 in the brown case that I sold him like I don’t know 10-15 years ago. He goes ‘here man this belongs with you.’ I open the case, man, and I literally teared up, I almost started cryin’. It was like seeing a friend you hadn’t seen in years, you know. And it had the same strings on it (haha).”

imageCOVID has hit Kid Ramos just like every other artist who makes their living physically bringing the Blues to people all over the world. “I’m pretty much stuck here in Southern CA, I haven’t done much. I’ve played some gigs with my son cause my son has his own band he has CDs out and stuff too.” But, when the the pandemic hit and the world shut its doors, Kid and his bandmates in the journeymen conglomerate The Proven Ones, were on the cusp of really maximizing on the incredibly creative and popular success of their project. The band along with Kid consists of Willie J Campbell on bass, drummer Jimi Bott, keyboardist Anthony Geraci, and Brian Tempelton singing with his gravely croon. Kid tells the story of how The Proven Ones started and how they worked through their 2 preleases:

“The bass player, Willie J Campbell who has been one of my closest friends for 40 years. I played with him in the Fabulous Thunderbirds, but I met him in the James Harmon Band, we’ve always just had a good friendship through all the years. He put together a New Year’s Eve gig in Missouri where he lives. We had Sugaray Rayford, me, Anthony Geraci, Jimi Bott and that was the band you know. He flew everybody out there and we’re in the van picked up from the airport driving back going ‘you know this gonna be a great time, we need to make a record with this band.’ Because at this time Randy Chortkoff (founder and executive of Delta Groove Productions a major independent Blues label) had passed away, nobody knew what was going to be the future for Delta Groove. So we go ‘let’s do a recording, let’s get together and make a record man, with this band you know, it’s a killer band.’ So Jimi Bott has a great studio, he’s a fantastic engineer, he has a studio in his house you know. So he goes ‘let’s put together a few gigs in Portland,’ he lives in Oregon. ‘Everybody fly out let’s figure out everybody’s schedule and when we can do it, and let’s make a record.’ That’s what we did. Played the New Year’s Eve gig (in Missouri) and had a great time, we hung out at Willie’s house, rehearsed and kind of just reacquainted everybody what we wanted to do material wise. The gig went off great and everything so we kept the fire going you know so to speak. We basically went out to Portland and we played a couple of gigs. And in-between the gigs we recorded during the day and that was the first The Proven Ones record, Wild Again. Well Ray, he did some scratch vocals but he just really wasn’t focused on doing that. He had his own thing going by then really strong and I think he just realized he was spread too thin. So enter Brian Templeton. You know we just fell in love with Brian man. He was the perfect fit. The guy’s so down to earth, just a talented musician all the way around a great singer. The guy came in and just nailed all this stuff. So of course everybody lives in different states.

So our first gig (after the first record came out) we played the Waterfront Festival in Portland, whatever that is 30 thousand people or somethin’. The first record comes out we haven’t played since we made the record. I didn’t even meet Brian, cause he flew in to Jimi’s and did the vocals after the fact. We come out a couple days early, we go to Jimi’s house, we rehearse the record and we go out and play the first show in front of all these people. Everything fell into place you know.

The second record (You Ain’t Done), Mike Zito approached us and said I’m starting this small label. I’d love to sign you guys and have you guys come out to Louisiana to this studio and do a record. We can all live there, it’s like an old, big property it used to be a plantation or something years and years ago. The guy who bought this property, he put all this money into it. Dr. John recorded there, just a host of people have recorded there. There’s like two houses and there’s like a huge barn where the studio is, I mean it was just great. So we all went down there. We stayed there for 4 days. Cooked food, had a great time, recorded all day into the night and we made the next record. Then you know we put it out and of course the pandemic hit so we haven’t really had a chance to go out and prompt that record.

Between the two The Proven Ones records, Wild Again and You Ain’t Done, there is a significant shift in artistic vision.

“Well the first record we picked material and we had a couple original things we had worked on for the Thunderbirds that never came together. You know that I’d worked with Kim, and a couple of songs we thought well you know, and Kim was like I’m fine with whatever, so he never used them so we finished them and kind of made them kind of our own. But, the rest were kind of like covers, we do our versions of you know ‘Loan Me a Dime,’ pretty much a Blues record for the most part. So the second record we all started writin’ songs. It’s all originals, everything on there is originals. So that’s how that came to be the way it is and everybody’s kind-a coming from a different place with their influences and stuff. Anthony, you know Anthony’s been writing songs for years, I wrote songs with James Harman back in those days. Brian’s got all these ideas and stuff to. We pretty much just started writing songs and they all you know came together in the studio. We pretty much made them what they are in the studio. So it is a different kind of record. I don’t think it’s a Blues record either, but it’s definitely got some flavors from us. So who knows what the next record is gonna be, you know. Everybody is kind of open and that’s cool, because I’m not hung up on any Kind of particular thing about what kind of music it is. As long it’s telling a story and people are playing from their heart, I’m good about it, you know.”

imageAs modern and rocking as Kid plays in The Proven Ones, he is at heart a traditionalist. Like so many legit artists creating within a traditional frame, Kid pays homage to his forefathers. A crowning achievement was the live Floyd Dixon record Time Brings About A Change that Kid produced, arranged and played on in 2006. Dixon, a contemporary of Charles Brown and T-Bone Walker, sadly died just a few months after the release of the album.

“Oh man, Bob Auerbach (CEO of HighJohn Records), he’s the one that approached me and I had never met him before. He said ‘I’d like to talk to you and have a meeting with you, see if you would be interested in producing a Floyd Dixon record.’ And I went ‘Floyd Dixon are you serious? Of Course.’ So I went to his house and Floyd was there. The first thing I told him was, what you need to do, it’s like baking a cake, you need all the right ingredients. So if I put together the rhythm section and I get the right music backing up Floyd. Floyd’s gonna become Floyd again and do what Floyd does best. I guess they liked what I said because he hired me to do the record. We rehearsed it I don’t know 2 or 3 times at Bob’s house with Floyd. And the first rehearsal, I bring this band in and we start playing and about half way into the first song Floyd jumps up from the piano bench and he goes ‘you guys know how to play.’ He was so blown away that we knew his music and we understood what he was trying to do. I mean Larry Taylor on upright bass and Richard Innis on drums, that’s the rhythm section right there, you know the Hollywood Fats Band rhythm section. I put together these great great horn players – baritone and tenor. You know I had a big hollow body guitar. I had those records, I know what Floyd Dixon records are. It just came together so well.

And meeting the guy, he was just a warm wonderful guy too, man. He came to my house, I cooked dinner for him, my wife and I, we had him over. He told me he used to go to Joe Lewis’ house and date his daughter. So I knew he liked boxing. He used to play cards with Sugar Ray Robinson, one of the great boxers of all time. I’m a big boxing guy, a big time boxing fan. I invited him over for the fights, we sat at my house and we ate dinner and watched the fights. We had him over here a couple of times. It was so cool.

We went to LA to pick up the recordings from the live 2 nights and we were listening to ‘em in my car. Floyd was sittin’ in the passenger seat and I’m driving back from LA. And we’re listening to ‘Cold, Cold Feeling’ the T-Bone Walker song and I’m playing guitar. And Floyd just looks over at me and goes ‘You know what Kid? If T-Bone was alive right now we’d go over to his house and he would be so tickled to hear this.’ And I was just like you know, man, that was the greatest compliment anybody could ever pay me in my entire life.”

Kid’s relationship with Auerbach has continued to be warm and mutually beneficial, affording Kid more opportunities to play with the old guard such as Johnny Tucker.

“Well this guy (Auerbach) is just a really wonderful guy and he wanted me to record Johnny Tucker. I put together some musicians, you know we went into the studio, we cut 32 tracks in 2 days. Yeah, I mean it was a crack band, the band was just perfect man. I just called out different grooves, different things, and we just started lettin’ it roll. So we have a record that’s all done, it’s gettin’ mastered now. Yeah and it’s gonna come out Johnny Tucker and Kid Ramos probably in August. I got Jason Lozano on drums, who played with the 44’s, Carl Sonny Leyland on piano, and Johnny Bazz from the Blasters on bass, and me on guitar. And then my son was in the studio with us too and he sang some tracks. So I have another whole record after this one comes out with Carl Sonny Leyland singin’ and my son singin’. So I have enough for 2 records there so.

Most serious Blues guitar students site Hubert Sumlin as a major influence. The enigmatic guitarist who propelled Howlin’ Wolf’s music, Sumlin was a unique talent without peer and near impossible to emulate. Kid sites Hubert amongst B.B. King, T-Bone Walker and Magic Sam as an important touchstone.

“The thing is, the way he (Sumlin) played, there was no way he could explain it to anybody. I backed him up a couple times, the sweetest guy you’d ever want to meet, very child like really. His approach to the guitar, he just played what he felt, he didn’t have any technical training, nothin’. I don’t know anybody that can play that stuff that he played on those Howlin’ Wolf records, like if you could get that tone and try to play like that. You know Duke Robillard, he can play like almost anybody. You know he can play like Guitar Slim, he can play like T-Bone. I’ve never heard anybody play like Hubert Sumlin. He had his own approach man. “

Kid Ramos is one of the great instrumentalists of the Blues. His distinctive style is a clear and unfiltered expression of his life, his passions and his soul. A true survivor, Kid has done what has been necessary to provide for his family while also feeding his heart’s cry for music. No stranger to hard times, Kid persevere with humor, grace and passion.

“You know you got to just roll with. We got sick, my wife and my son, yeah we caught it (COVID) right during the holidays. We were sick during Christmas and New Years. Yeah, it wasn’t bad, for me it wasn’t bad really at all. I’ve been much sicker, man. I went through a year and half of chemo man. I was in the hospital for 5 days at a time, 7 hours of chemo at a day. So it’s pretty hard to kill me man, you know what I mean, I’ve been way sicker than the COVID. For me I’ve been shot at, stabbed, beat cancer, beat COVID, I’m like whatever man, I’m gonna keep going. Nobody knows about tomorrow, I’m gonna take it one day at a time. (haha)

So I’ve been fortunate, man, in my career some 40 years of doin’ this that I’ve been able to meet the right people at the right time. I’ve got to play with some of my heroes. I’ve got to travel all over the world. Still people want to hear me and they don’t throw rocks at me, I’ll keep doing it.”

Interviewer 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.

Blues Blast Music Award Submissions

Open until May 31st, 2021!


The Blues Blast Music Awards honor contemporary Blues artists and their recordings.

Artists with major labels and independent artists are eligible to be considered.

NEW FOR 2021 – All submissions are digital. No physical CDs needed.

Submission Fees for 2021

$50 until April 30, 2021

$75 May 1, 2021 to May 15, 2021

$100 May 16, 2021 to May 31, 2021

Please submit your music as soon as possible!

It makes the nominators job easier.

For complete information,
click HERE


 Featured Blues Review – 1 through 5 of 8 

Little Richard – Five vintage releases on Omnivore Recordings

The Rill Thing

13 Tracks – 47 minutes

King Of Rock And Roll

17 Tracks – 64 minutes

The Second Coming

13 Tracks – 55 minutes

Southern Child

14 Tracks – 52 minutes

Lifetime Friend

12 Tracks – 50 Minutes

imageimageIn 1970, Reprise Records made some noise with a new release from a rock & roll legend, Little Richard, who had disappeared for five years during his self-imposed exile from the music business. On his return, the flamboyant singer struggle to regain a place in the spotlight. The Rill Thing made it abundantly clear that Little Richard was still a force to reckoned with, still rocking as hard as ever.

Omnivore Recordings reissued The Rill Thing, and now has added four more titles recorded from Reprise that collectively provide listeners with a deeper appreciation for Little Richard’s artistry. The 1971 follow-up record, King Of Rock And Roll, has a cover photo of the singer on a throne, holding a scepter and crown, with a flowing robe off-set by multi-colored beams of light in the background. To make sure that no one misses the message, the title track opens the disc with an announcer giving an introduction over crowd noise and horn fanfare. Then Little Richard proclaims his rightful place on the throne, name-checking a number of perceived rivals as the unidentified backing band sets a rockin’ pace.

Listeners get a taste of how the singer might of sounded preaching the gospel during his religious hiatus at the start of a spirited cover of “Joy To The World,” then he tears into “Brown Sugar,” two of the many covers on the disc. “Dancing In The Street” is taken at a frantic pace, then he offers his funky interpretation of the Motown sound on “The Way You Do The Things You Do”. The mood shifts to a more reflective condition on the Hank Williams classic, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” allowing Little Richard to showcase his considerable vocal skills.

He does some testifying at the beginning of “Born On The Bayou,” then delivers another fine performance on the John Fogerty hit. Little Richard’s original, “In The Name,” has another memorable vocal performance. The band serves up a professional sound, slicker than the approach on Richard’s previous effort, cut with the veterans at the FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals, AL. Six bonus tracks are included, with “Open Up The Red Sea” a highlight as Richard finally unleashes some volleys on the piano. As a follow-up record, The King Of Rock And Roll kept the comeback rolling along.

The Second Coming, released in 1972, reunites the singer with some old friends from the days of recording in New Orleans for Specialty Records. Producer Bumps Blackwell enlisted drummer Earl Palmer and saxophone ace Lee Allen for the project, along with other notables like Chuck Rainey on bass and Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel guitar.

imageimageAnother change is the shift to Little Richard’s original tunes. “Mockingbird Sally” and “Thomasine” are sturdy rockers, and “Sanctified, Satisfied Toe-Tapper” is rollicking instrumental featuring Little Richard doubling on electric piano and clavinet. “Rockin’ Rockin” Boogie” misses the mark due to generic lyrics while “Prophet Of Peace” makes an attempt to update the Little Richard sound. The four bonus tracks include two versions of “Money Is,” a driving number written by Quincy Jones for the feature film $, starring Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn. Overall, the disc is a solid effort with a few highlights.

First issued as part of a 1995 Rhino Handmade box set, the tracks comprising Southern Child were shelved for a scheduled release in 1972 at the last minute. Omnivore has released the album as it was intended, along with several bonus tracks. In the liner notes, noted writer and historian Bill Dahl refers to this as Little Richard’s great lost country rock album, a diversion far from his usual path, which could explain the reluctance of Reprise to release the record.

The truth is that the singer is in prime form, establishing on cuts like the gentle “If You Pick Her Too Hard (She Comes Out Of Tune)” and “Ain’t No Tellin’”that he has a deep affinity for country music. The original title song finds him celebrating his Georgia heritage. “In The Name” sounds like a true blue Hank Williams number, and Richard nails it. Longtime fans will certainly be drawn to the steady rolling sound of “California (I’m Comin’)” and the bluesy nature “Last Year’s Race Horse (Can’t Run In This Year’s Race)”. Taken as a whole, this record elevates Little Richard’s status as a vocalist, proving that he could excel at more than shouting rock & roll lyrics.

Fourteen years later, Warner Brothers Records gave Little Richard yet another attempt at a comeback with the release of Lifetime Friend, with Travis Wammack on guitar. He penned the title track, a slickly produced tune extolling the grace of God. Billy Preston co-wrote the opening song, “Great Gosh A’Mighty,” combining with Little Richard on a hard-rocker with a burning Wammack guitar solo. “operator” is another flag-waver complete with surging horns and a vocal chorus.

“Destruction” goes to a darker place, but comes up short musically. “I Found My Way Home” gives listeners a taste of the singer as a rapper, with mixed results. “One Ray Of Sunshine” is a soothing ballad with Preston’s lush organ work filling out the arrangement. “Big House Reunion” is a rousing celebration of the promise of life ever-after. Bonus cuts are two additional mixes of “Operator”.

Only the most ardent Little Richard fans will consider purchasing all five of the Omnivore reissues. For those who lean towards the singer as a rocker, The Rill Thing and King Of Rock And Roll would be the first albums to grab. For country fans, or anyone who enjoys fine singing, Southern Child is a revelation. These releases mark one more comeback for the man who, for many, defined rock and roll music. Long live Little Richard!

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying the sun and retirement. He is the past President of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and a former 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 – 6 of 8 

imageRochelle & the Sidewinders – Something Good

Self-produced CD

19 songs – 74 minutes

Fronted by honey-voiced alto Rochelle Creone, Rochelle & the Sidewinders have been Texas’ big little secret for the past six years, building a huge regional following at festivals and clubs across the Lone Star State. But they should burst beyond the borders with this long-awaited and well-deserved follow-up to their debut CD, Live in Austin Texas.

A high-energy quintet that features Tom Coplen on guitar and former Stevie Ray Vaughan and Nick Curran bandmate Jim Trimmier on horns and keys, they produce a sound that’s deeply rooted in the bluesy, soul-drenched sounds of the ‘60s and ‘70s, but thoroughly updated for the 21st century in a package that will have you tiring yourself out on the dance floor.

Rochelle – who bills herself as the Texas Songbird — and Tom penned all 19 tracks of this massive, 74-minute effort, which was recorded at 512 and co-producer George Storey’s LRK Studios just prior to COVID-19 but comes across with the feel of a live set. The band’s roster’s rounded out by the rock-solid rhythm section of Adam Stafford on bass and Andrew Tuck on percussion and backing vocals.

Things heat up from the opening notes of “Good Love,” a stop-time shuffle built atop a heavy, repeating Texas blues guitar/horn hook. A powerful, melismatic alto, Rochelle explodes on the scene after a brief intro as she voices her regret after realizing her good thing has walked out the door for good. The band kicks it up a couple of notches for “Rub a Dub” — a rapid-fire announcement that it’s time for love – before dropping to a whisper for “Something Good,” a six-plus-minute ballad that returns to the lost-love theme and gives Coplen plenty of space to shine.

The loping “Treat Me the Way You Do” swings like a pendulum as Rochelle announces that it’s time to find someone new and gives Trimmier an extended solo before the funk kicks in for “Monkey See Monkey Do,” a highly percussive, stop-time number with a complex, jazzy arrangement. Next up, “Dr. Groove” finds the band updating the James Brown & the Fabulous Flames groove as the singer professes her love for the physician.

The uptempo rocker “Raggedy Ann Stomp” mirrors ‘60s sensibilities before the Sidewinders ease into “I’d Be So Blue,” an unhurried statement about how lonely Rochelle would have been if “not for two.” Then they fire on all cylinder for the rocker, “Happy Boy,” a another number that successfully turns back the clock. A regimented drumbeat and bass solo open the jazzy instrumental “Take It from the Top” before Rochelle’s romantic fortunes take a turn for the worse again in “I’m on My Way,” but she still maintains hope in “Make It Right.”

“Party Time” delivers more funk atop a medium-paced shuffle before the rocker “I’ve Got a Shadow” adds more heat to the fire. The torch song “Blues for the Night” keeps things searing before the Sidewinders explode once more with the rapid-fire “Pressure Cooker.” Three more pleasers — “Working for a Living” – which professes that “life’s too short, the days are too long,” “I Can’t Let You Go” – another song of regret, and “Letter to Layla” – a sweet, stripped-down love letter to a daughter – bring the action to a close.

Available through Amazon, Apple Music and direct through the band’s website (address above), Something Good is just that. Strongly recommended – especially if you’re looking for a dance workout.

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 – 7 of 8 

imageEddie Kold Band – Chicago Alley Blues

Bellaphon Records – 2020

12 Tracks; 53 minutes

German guitarist and front man, Eddie Kold (whose real name is Jorg Fennekold) has traveled to Chicago frequently over the last thirty years and clearly has a love for Chicago blues. His regular band members include Benjamin Garcia on bass, Christian Wubben on drums and Lukas Diehl on keys, but he also recently added Larry Doc Watkins on vocals. For his latest album, Kold invited several special guests from Chicago: Bernard Allison, Omar Coleman, Tom Holland and Charlie Love. Chicago Alley Blues contains nine original songs written by Fennekold or Fennekold & Watkins, and one original song by Charlie Love. The two covers featured on the album are old favorites: “Before You Accuse Me” and “Howling for My Darling.”

Kold is a talented guitarist, with a clear and beautiful sound throughout this disc. However, the best guitar can be found on the number for which Bernard Allison is playing, which is aptly titled “Blues Man”. Charlie Love’s song, “Gimme Back My Money” also stands out for the emotional way in which he delivers the vocals and harmonica. One quite cleverly written song discusses how technological advances can negatively impact our life. “Smart City Blues” describes the “Big Brother is watching” effect of these advances, noting “They know where I’m going. They know where I’ve been. They even know what state of mind I’m in. If you want to keep a secret—better hide it from yourself. Your cell phone’s always listening, and Alexa knows the rest.”

The lyrics of one other song stand out as powerful, and that is the final track, “Suicide Blues”. This song features Kold’s daughter, Millie Meckbach, playing a beautiful melody on piano, while the lyrics harshly describe the desperation people can feel at the end of a bad relationship. “If I can’t have that woman, I’m going to take my life…she took all my money. I can’t even see my kids…I found myself a tall building way across town. I’m going to jump and scream out your name before I hit the ground…If she don’t come back to me, I think I’m going to kill myself.” Frequently the blues can be therapeutic in the way the singer often seems to work through problems by the end of the song, sometimes in a humorous way. However, this song ends bleakly, and the sound of an ambulance can be heard.

Despite the talented musicians and prestigious guests, several flaws are apparent. The two cover songs are presented without any unique interpretation that would make one choose to hear these renditions rather than the originals. Additionally, some of the lyrics seem very uninspired. For example, “Just a Dream” simplistically offers, “I like the way you walk. I love to hear you baby talk.” And “Without You” somewhat unimaginatively states “If I ever lost you, I don’t know what I would do. My soul would be empty. My world would be empty…in this game of love we always play to win. Sometimes things go wrong, and we have to start again.” Additionally, Watkins’ vocals do not appear to adequately represent his abilities and do not evoke the same emotional response that comes from hearing him live or even watching video clips on You Tube. While some solid musicianship is offered on this album, it would seem that fans of the Eddie Kold Band might be somewhat disappointed that this album doesn’t quite live up to the magic felt watching this band perform live.

Reviewer Anita Schlank lives in Virginia, and is on the Board of Directors for the River City Blues Society. She has been a fan of the blues since the 1980s. She and Tab Benoit co-authored the book “Blues Therapy,” with all proceeds from sales going to the HART Fund.


 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

imageVarious Artists – Blues Alive in the Valley: Lockdown Sessions

Hudson Valley Blues Society

23 songs – 101 minutes

Despite joining the ranks of the Blues Foundation a little more than a year ago, the Hudson Valley Blues Society — based an hour or so north of Manhattan –have been busy beavers during the coronavirus shutdown. Originally planning to celebrate their second anniversary party and jams prior to entering a band in the 2021 International Blues Challenge, their world spun to a halt, and they shifted gears. This beefy CD is the result.

Spanning two CDs and 101 minutes, it’s a major achievement — and even more so when you learn that the HVBS board of directors recruited 23 Upstate artists – ranging from local talent to some of the biggest names in the industry – all of whom contributed an original song to the project.

All of the artists involved – including Dion, Professor Louie and the Crowmatix, Vaneese Thomas, Alexis P. Suter, Taz Cru and others – retain rights to their material while the non-profit’s using all funds they raise to support their burgeoning operation.

Aided by guitarist Joe Menza, Dion opens the action with “Kicking Child,” updating a tune he first recorded in 1965 after having been a chart-topper with The Belmonts. The Johnny Feds Band’s “Axe to Grind,” a searing, six-string powered promise of revenge, is up next before Phil Buttà — a New York Blues Hall of Famer — delivers the quiet ballad, “True to You,” and Professor Louie – a Grammy winning keyboard player/producer with The Band – heats things up with the classy, stop-time “Passion in My Life.”

The Menza Madison Band’s blues-rocker, “Preacherman,” precedes the Robert Hill Band’s “Slide on Rye,” a tune that earned the front man first place in a six-string competition co-sponsored by Guitar Player magazine. HVBS president Paul Toscano teams with Tom “The Suit” Forst for “Turn Up the Heat” before Vaneese Thomas takes you to church with the passionate “Mean World.”

Union Stockyard & Transit Company delivers “US Funk,” a free-form instrumental, before keyboard player Dave Keyes – best known for his work with Poppa Chubby – soars with “It’s 7 O’Clock Somewhere,” a tune he dedicates to frontline healthcare workers. Local favorite Willa Vincitore’s “Mama Needs Some Company” adds fuel to the fire before Petey Hop closes the first disc with “Oh Lord,” a stripped-down plea for heavenly assistance.

The second set opens on a bright note as melismatic vocalist Chris Raabe goes solo and dazzles on fingerpicked guitar through “Pity Party” before yielding to the four-piece ensemble Cross Purpose for “He’d Already Told Me So.” Forst returns with full band format for the haunting, propulsive “Late Night Train” then yields Chris Bergson Band, a regional favorite for decades, for the horn-fueled and classy “Fall Changes.”

Lex Grey and the Urban Pioneers reinvent ‘60s the rock-country blues hybrid with “How Many Roads” next. Then vocalist Alexis P. Suter puts her baritone pipes to work in the emotion-packed “Empty Promises.” Then things get funky again with Wyld Blue’s “Jackpot 14” before Jaxx Cafe suffers through a confession about being a love bandit in “Getting Even.”

Fronting one of the hardest working bands on the national circuit, Tas Cru teams with his longtime drummer, Sonny Rock, for the hard-rocking “Kinda Mess” before two more tunes — The Full Stop Blues Band’s swinging “May May” and the Roadhouse Roosters’ Delta-flavored “The Train” – conclude the action.

Sure, there are some inconsistencies here — the talent level varies, and sound levels are problematic on a couple of cuts — but there’s a heaping helping of positive spins that make this project a keeper. Available through the HVBS website (address above), and well worth the price.

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.

BB logo

© 2021 Blues Blast Magazine 116 Espenscheid Court, Creve Coeur, IL 61610 (309) 267-4425

Please follow and like us: