Issue 16-28 July 14, 2022


Cover photo © Jim Hartzell

 In This Issue 

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with Terrie Odabi. We have six Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Mike Guldin, Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames, Michael Rubin, Manny Fizzotti, Joseph Veloz and Ryan Lee Crosby. Scroll down and check it out!

 From The Editor’s Desk 


Hey Blues Fans,

We announced the start of the Blues Blast Music Awards voting on Tuesday. This year’s awards series includes 10 new instrument categories.

The 2022 BBMA nominees are listed below at the end of this week’s issue. More than 2000 of you have already voted.

Have you voted yet? Click HERE to vote now for your favorite artists!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


 Featured Interview – Terrie Odabi 

imageAfter a two year hiatus, the Utah Blues Festival was back in business last month, welcoming an excited bunch of blues fans from around the country to the festival site in downtown Salt Lake City.

Chances are that many of the blues lovers who made a point to be there for the opening set of the festival had never heard Terrie Odabi sing. There is little doubt that once they did, the collective assembly became lifetime fans of the powerful, expressive vocalist. Starting with a solemn, meditative rendition of the spiritual “Wade In The Water,” Odabi and her crack band laid out the blues in it’s many shapes and colors, anchored by the singer’s commanding presence.

Every since she was a child, Odabi has been singing, in keeping with her family, which made music a big part of life.

“My parents played a lot of music around our house, and there was plenty of music-making at the family gatherings. Everybody in the family, with the possible exception of my Dad, had a really good voice. However, I was the only one that was an extrovert when it came to music. I participated in plenty of talent shows and musical productions at school. While there have been different chapters, I have been singing my entire life.”

While her parents were not church-goers, many of the kids Odabi sang with in school programs were brought up in the church. Some of them were extraordinary musicians who naturally took leadership roles at school in unofficial ways.

“By the time I got to high school, they could play all the instruments, play by ear, and sing like nobody’s business. I got immersed in gospel music by singing with them at many church revivals, not from anything at home.”

Whether it is musical theater, world music, or jazz vocalization, Odabi has been unafraid to try new sounds. Years of voice lessons have allowed her to develop the skills necessary to effectively handle such a wide musical palette.

“I also have done R&B and Neo-soul. Every so often, different musical opportunities would present themselves. My voice instructor, John Patton, was classically trained. He really believed that learning to sing arias in Italian, German, or French would teach you a lot about voice placement. You would be able to execute any type of music without damaging your voice. So I learned the proper way to sing. When I was younger, I was a first soprano, and I got a lot of joy from singing arias. Over the years, I have lost some of my range.

“After I learned the arias, my instructor would present jazz music to me, songs I had never heard before. He would have me translate what I learned from the arias to the jazz songs. One key thing he taught me was the importance of articulation. To me, there is nothing more frustrating than listening to an amazing vocalist, but you can’t understand anything that they are singing. I hope that no one ever has that complaint when they hear my music.

image“John also had me sing spirituals . They are the classic music, the foundation that blues came from. The music started in the fields, then slowly worked it’s way to the educational institutions, where it was charted and harmonies put to them. I found that evolution to be very interesting. Spirituals have been a part of my life through college and on, so I don’t remember not knowing spirituals like “Wade In The Water”. I like to sing them to pay homage to the roots of the music I love.”

Odabi found that jazz prompted a more stylized vocal approach, requiring a great deal of focus. Switching to the blues realm has been invigorating.

“With blues, for me, it is more organic. I am able to express my feelings more freely. That’s the main reason why I feel I have my place. I grew up with the music because that was what my parents played at home. Then, I didn’t feel it was for me, that I was too young to perform blues. I would sing a few songs during a show for the older members of the audience, that was their music. It was natural for me to sing blues at that time, but I took it for granted.

“But once I started digging into it, I quickly felt the freedom of expression, and how it fit my voice. As I have gotten older, I appreciate being less inhibited while singing. It took a long time to get to this point, but I am really glad that I made it. Blues is the freest music I have ever done!

“To be honest, I was looking for something different to do in my career. For R&B and Neo-soul, no one was probably going to lend an ear to me because I was older. With those genres, you have a certain window of time where you can flourish. Once you reach a certain age, you are kind of capped out. With blues, I may not be young but I am certainly not one of the elders. Blues seems like a perfect place for me.”

Asked about the vocalists that have inspired her, Odabi quickly points out that, like her career, her list has gone through a number of phases. Early on, when she was fixated on R&B, Odabi was drawn to artists like Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, Betty Wright, Ann Peebles, and Dorothy Moore. Once her focus shifted to jazz, she gained a high level of appreciation for the tone and advanced ear of Ella Fitzgerald, as well as the way Billie Holiday would center on the emotional core of a tune.

“Before I started really exploring blues, I fell in love with Big Mama Thornton and Etta James. I heard Bobby Blue Bland and B.B. King growing up. My Dad loved Etta, but I didn’t pay her much mind until I got older, when I finally could understand the ups and downs of her career, and what she brought to the music in this country.

“These days there are some younger singers who inspire me, who may not be the most famous, but they are headed that way. Annika Chambers is one of them. Not only do I like her voice, but also how she will jump in feet first and take charge of her career. She doesn’t wait for someone to give her opportunities. She is paving the way for herself, which I love about her. Another inspiration is Thornetta Davis and her voice, which never fails to move me. As you can tell I am very partial to women!”

Women, and particularly black women, have always been a minority in blues music, except for the very early days of recording, when records by female blues singers sold by the thousands Odabi has continually shared her thoughts with her contemporaries about the challenges in getting the same opportunities as other blues artists. When the pandemic lock-down occurred, those conversations became a real lifeline.

“I would like to see more than just tributes to women in blues. I would like to see more diversity on blues stages, which would mean more black women sprinkled into the mix. I have been told things like, “I would love to book you for my festival, but I already booked Annika Chambers”. That means, in their mind, that they only have space for one black woman in their line-up. Or maybe just a slot for one female performer. Festival line-ups are very visible, so look some of them up, and quite often you will find an absence of black women. That has always struck me as odd, not understanding why that is, and it is certainly not for a lack of talent.

image“During the shutdown, many of us started checking in with each other, just to see how we were doing. We found so much comfort and unity in those conversations that we started meeting every Tuesday, having discussions about racial and gender equality in blues music. Those issues really bubbled up in our spirits after the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.

“That was a powerful time for powerful conversations. It was a really positive moment for so many of us to have these painful conversations that we haven’t had since the 1960s decade. We thought everything was fine, Jim Crow was over. It is really sad that it took the death of these young men to start these discussions without being so guarded.”

One outcome of the conversations was a petition advocating for equality in the blues community, particularly for African-American artists, and Black women specifically. To date, over 1,000 people have signed om in a show of support.

“There have been as many of 30 women at times, with a core group of about ten of us. We still meet once a month. We have become real sisters. When my daughter passed away in March, they were there for me. Several of them flew into the Bay area to attend the services for her. With that being said, I have developed some strong relationships with women who share the same views, and are struggling in some of the same ways.

“Through numerous dialogues, I also got to know a number of people, who are white, on a deeper level as well. We had some tense conversations that I think we wouldn’t have been able to have at any other time. I might have been afraid to say certain things. And they might have been afraid too, and not been open to hearing certain things. In my perspective, at least some good came out of the Covid period.”

In 2014, Odabi self-released her first album of blues, entitled Evolution Of The Blues, which had six songs including a cover of “The Sky Is Crying”.

“The CD came after I wrote the title track . It was the first blues song I had written. The message is that we still have the blues, it is very much a part of who we are, speaking specifically about the black community I live in. We still have sorrows and strife, which change just as people do. It was written to speak about current events. It also documents my personal evolution to the music.

“I wrote five songs for that project. One of them, “Daddy-O,” was written about my father, who passed away in 2011. He was a big part of my love for music. I wanted to write a song that was uplifting, that would make me smile when I thought of him.”

In 2016, the singer released her second blues recording, My Blue Soul. Featuring her dynamic vocals and dramatic songwriting, it received a 2017 Blues Music Award nomination in the Best Emerging Artist Album category, in addition to garnering Odabi’s first of now four nominations for Soul Blues Female Artist.

image“At the oddest moments, songs just pop into my head. There was a period of time where I had so many songs coming to mind, sometimes as a complete tune. I had more than enough for an album. We recorded at Greaseland Studios with Kid Andersen producing. I wrote all of the music except for covers of “Ball And Chain” and “Wade In The Water”. While there is no particular theme to the record, I think all of the music is soulful, and bluesy.”

In addition to the performing in June at the Utah Blues Festival, Odabi has recently been in Italy where she was making a number of appearances at the Poretta Soul Festival, followed by four more dates at the Umbria Jazz Festival, both with the backing of the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra. In October, she will be on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. And there is another event on the schedule that has been a long time coming.

“I have had a lot of intense conversations with Jimmy Carpenter, who books the acts for the Big Blues Bender in Las Vegas. We covered race, blues and I asked him some straight-forward questions. Why don’t you have more Black women? None of us really have all of the answers, except those who have the control. I think Jimmy and A.J. Gross, CEO of the Bender, may have brewing on the idea of doing a tribute, One For The Queen, which will honor the pioneering blues women. Last year they did a similar tribute, One For The King.

“They asked me to help curate the show, so I have been working with Jimmy to highlight the women who took the blues from the rural areas to the cities, then recorded it for the first time. They deserve some acknowledgment. Jimmy and I started talking about business on our phone calls, but things quickly go off the rails! We end up talking about things that really matter. Jimmy is such a good person.

“With his help, we will be paying tribute to Ma Rainey, Memphis Minnie, Bessie Smith, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Victoria Spivey, Ruth Brown, Koko Taylor, and Billie Holiday. It is going to be a great event. I hope that my work with Jimmy will get some other people thinking about what does the blues look like, and is it blues, or is it actually rock music? There needs to be some balance.

“Every one of us has to start somewhere. If you don’t give someone an opportunity, you will never know what their potential will be as far as a draw. I think it would be in the best interest of the blues for the promoters of established festivals to identify great music above all else, whether it is a big name act or not. And try to create a psychedelic color palette on the stage. You shouldn’t have to win the International Blues Challenge to get exposure. There certainly is a growing number of talented young blues artists out there now that people need to hear.

“Another factor is the record companies. A lot of festival promoters give preferential treatment to the artists who are signed to a label. If you are signed to a record label, you probably are signed with a booking agent. There needs to be some diversifying through all of these areas.”

Next up for Odabi is a new album project with backing by guitarist Anthony Paule and his Soul Orchestra, a group that the singer is quite familiar with.

image“I have been working with Anthony and his group since 2015, while Wee Willie Walker was the band’s lead vocalist. On occasion, I would tour with them, adding my voice to the mix. When he passed away unexpectedly, they were left without a lead singer. So they asked me if I would take over as their featured vocalist, which I am quite happy about. We will be doing some recording, and I will be also doing some things with my band. And I will be appearing at the Monterey Jazz Festival in September, which has been at the top of my personal bucket list.”

As busy as her schedule is for her music career, Odabi is still working a full-time job. She had worked for the Oakland, CA school district for 27 years until a 2018 layoff gave her a chance to realize her dream of pursuing music as her sole career. However, there were some issues regarding why she had lost her position. After negotiations, the district decided to bring her back.

“During the layoff, I was so excited to have the freedom to do music! I was finally able to say ‘yes” to everything. But then, of course, much of it didn’t happen. When they offered me a new position, I couldn’t pass it up. I have always been passionate about helping others. So now I am a Case Manager for a program called McKinney-Vento, which is a law that provides equal access to education for homeless youths. I love it – and I hope they don’t fire me for doing so much music!

“I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams performing blues music. It helped me make it through the most difficult time of my life, losing my daughter. If I lost my voice today, I wouldn’t have anything to complain about. The music gives me a greater purpose. Otherwise I would be sitting here with my mind spinning out of control. As a society, women have a really early expiration date in the music industry. And I feel like I am just now hitting my stride. The blues is doing alright by this old woman!”

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 – 1 of 6 

imageMike Guldin – Tumblin

Blue Heart Records – 2022

15 Tracks; 61 minutes

Mike Guldin is a two-time IBC finalist who has been playing music for over 45 years. He has stated that his band is primarily a dance band, and has referred to the combination of blues, country and rock that they play as “Good Ole Butt-Shakin’ Music”. His latest album, Tumblin, is no exception to that classification. Sandwiched between two acoustic numbers are 13 tracks, 12 of which seem perfect for getting the crowd up dancing. Two songs stray from that formula, as “Home is -Where the Heart Is” is a very pretty ballad, and the album ends with a beautiful acoustic instrumental track entitled “Waterfall”.

Guldin has some wonderful guest musicians on this album, most notably Mikey Junior on harmonica and Kevin McKendree on keyboards. McKedree’s rollicking style fits so well with the honky-tonk sound on several of the tracks. And, Mikey Junior is appropriately featured in the song about the club where he hosts a weekly jam, “The Twisted Tail.” The lyrics to that song paint an inviting picture: “They’ve got women all around shaking their thing and lots of men trying to hide their wedding rings. Drinking, Dancing, playing all night-sure is hard to leave when it feels so right! Tell your friends where to go to forget their cares. Headed on down to the Twisted Tail.” Roger Girke is also a welcome addition to the album, as he and Guldin both contribute excellent guitar work to “House of Cards.”

Guldin’s vocals express character and add to the atmosphere portrayed by the honky-tonk songs, although at times he can over-rely on the use of a growl. In general, you will not find profound lyrics with intriguing metaphors in the 13 original songs on this album. However, the lyrics of “One Percent” are quite clever in how they poke fun at the richest class in America. “The rich just keep getting richer, on the backs of the middle class. They want us to believe the American dream will last…if Robin Hood were alive today, he would come to our defense, and take back all of our money—back from the one percent. Then we finally meet our maker and sweet revenge is what we’ll get. Because the devil will be waiting—waiting on that one percent!”

In addition to the original songs, Guldin also includes very solid versions of two well-known cover songs: “She Took the Katy” and “Key to the Highway”. Overall, this is a “feel good” album that is good advertising for the band and is likely to lure many dancers to future Mike Guldin shows.

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 – 2 of 6 

imageDave Weld and the Imperial Flames – Nightwalk

Delmark Records

12 tracks/61 minute

Nightwalk is Dave Weld’s third release for Delmark Records and it is his best yet. He ranges in song topics from plying the depths of darkness and despair to love and lustiness. It is quite the musical endeavor!

Dave Weld grew up like a lot of guys around my age as a teen. Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, John Mayall and the Blues Breakers and other bands were his early loves; but he was also influenced earlier in life by playing 78 RPM records from back in the early days. The music of then-current Chicago blues greats then called to him and his career path was put in motion. A move to New Mexico did not deter him; that period of his life cemented his love for the Blues as he fell deeply into love with Hound Dog Taylor’s Alligator record; one night in the desert he heard Howling Wolf on the radio, so he packed his bags and with $10 in his wallet returned to the place of his birth and hit the clubs.

He got to play with Hound Dog Taylor and many of the other bluesmen on the scene that influence Weld’s raw guitar style. That was further enhanced by spending years learning from west Side great J.B, Hutto and playing with Hutto’s nephews Ed Williams and James Young. Weld and Ed formed Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials; success was not instantaneous as they played for about $15 a night before Bruce Iglauer found and produced their album Roughhousin’ and the global touring began.

Weld did that until 1988 when he went out on his own with the Imperial Flames and released his first album. He went back and did a second with Ed on Earwig Records and they toured some more until Ed went back to his band. Dave continued to persevere and in 2009 signed on with Delmark. Dave’s significant other Monica Myhre had become a fixture in the band by then and they did two records produced by Bob Koester.

Dave Weld and Monica Myhre split the lead vocal duties while and Jeff Taylor also fronts the band for a cut. Weld plays guitar, Jeff Taylor plays drums and Kenny Pickens plays the bass. Harry Yaseem is the band’s keyboard player; Graham Guest adds B3 and also piano to one cut. Tom Hambridge produced the album and plays drums on one cut. Tony Carpenter adds percussion to two tracks. Sax Gordon appears on three songs on baritone sax and also plays alto sax to one of them. Rogers Randle, Jr. is Dave’s band mate on sax and he plays on a few of the songs, too. Kenny Anderson (trumpet) and Bill McFarland (trombone) appear on two songs and Billy Branch makes a special appearance, too. This is the first record he’s done with Delmark’s new team, and it’s a great one.

“Mary Who” opens this new album; it is the song about a young gal who takes up the oldest profession and winds up losing her life. It’s an unfortunate tale of woe, and it’s delivery is both chilling and moving; Dave and band give the listener goosebumps as they deliver this song about the dark side of life. The haunting backing vocals repeatedly calling, “Who? Mary Who” are superb as is Dave’s guitar, vocals and the overall support of the band. A driving shuffle follows with stinging slide guitar in “Don’t Ever Change Your Ways.” Weld nails the lead guitar and solos and sings with abandon. The band lays out a vibrant groove as they give us another fine original to enjoy. Dave takes us home on guitar to end this wild ride.

Monica is featured with “Don’t Tell Mama,” a standard from their live sets that she wrote that showcases her vocal skills. The song is about not telling mama that her girl is not coming home and warns not to break her heart by telling her she’s spending the night with a man mama does not approve of. Myhre is powerful fronting the band. Weld nails another solo here and the organ solo is also a great addition. Next is “Red Hot Tabasco” where Weld compares the spiciness of his woman to the famed hot sauce. A sweet piano solo followed by another superb guitar solo help make this another winner.

“Travelin’ Woman” is a funky number with a big horn sound that once again feature Monica up front. Keys solo and the horns are splendid as the band gives us their all. “Now She’s Gone” is a slick, slow blues with Dave shouting out the blues for all to hear, and Billy Branch joins the fray with his outstanding harp work and soloing. Billy does an excellent job as he always doe. Dave also spices thongs up with another guitar solo. It’s Chicago blues done up just right!

“Cry, Cry, Cry” takes things down a bit in tempo and timber as Myhre tells here man off; she’s not gonna waste her time any more. Some fine B3 work is featured here along with more sweet guitar riffs. Next up is “Donde Vas,” with Monica asking, “Where are you going,” in this Latin infused track. Randle offers some delightful tenor sax here as do the brass duo; another super song! “She Was A Woman” is a pretty and slow blues where Myhre sings of the foolishness of a young women who was taken advantage of by her man. Weld plays some dark guitar and Monica sings with passion.

The ever ebullient Jeff Taylor leads the cut with his suave and smooth vocals in “Hit By The 103,” a song about a pedestrian’s day getting ruined by being killed by a bus. Weld picks out some cool stuff, the baritone sax gives the bottom end depth, and the alto sax delivers punch. Fortunately, Taylor tells us at the end it was just a dream and jokingly tells us he thinks Toronzo was driving that bus. A wild, slide ride follows that with “Loving You.” Weld howls out the lead vocals and wails on his guitar.

The West Side sound is obviously alive and well! Piano and organ both round out the sound in this vibrant number. The outro to the song is an extended whirling dervish of piano, organ, guitar, bass, drums and vocals. The extended mix of the opening cut concludes the album. Longer, darker and even cooler as the song fades out and then back in for more driving and musically moving stuff. If there is a song of the year award category for blues, then this song surely belongs in it!

Dave Weld and his band have outdone themselves. The listener gets to hear Dave and the band doing their best work yet ever with Nightwalk. I am sure this CD will garner notice when it’s time for awards- it’s that good! Chicago blues done in a rough and tumble West Side style with imaginative and creative new songs; what is not to like? Go buy this one- you will not regret it!

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer 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 6 

imageMichael Rubin – I’ll Worry If I Wanna

Many Hats Records

CD: 9 Songs, 37 Minutes

Styles: Harmonica Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Humor, All Original Songs

I love the cover art of bluesman Michael Rubin’s latest CD. It depicts three figures meditating. The ghostly one on the left is deep in a trance, while their counterpart on the right has one eye open. Whom are they looking at? Mr. Rubin, in living color, tugging at his sideburns while seated in the lotus position. Such a picture encapsulates this album perfectly. It’s got wit, snark, angst and harmonica as fire-engine-red as Rubin’s T-shirt in the pic. In the late ‘80s and ‘90s, we clung to Bobby McFerrin and his one-hit-wonder mantra “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” In 2022, far more of us (myself included) agree with Mr. Rubin: I’ll Worry If I Wanna.

Featuring nine original songs and this year’s most sophomoric humor, it’s a wild ride. Come for the instrumentation, stay for the LOLs. Feel your jaw drop as you listen to the plea of a “Little Rabbit” – “I’m gonna get you hopping and be real loose. I’ll let you nibble my carrot, taste my carrot juice.” The following number, “Go Milk Your Own Cow,” is a bit more discreet. “Don’t you ring [my cow’s] bell. She ain’t yours to sell. Think you’re the farmer in the dell? Don’t you ring her bell.” Later on you’ll meet a “Kama Sutra Girl” and do an alcohol-fueled “bounce” with your “Beer Belly Baby.” If this sounds like too much, and/or if religious relatives are around, skip to the last and best track – an instrumental called “Fourth Coast.” It showcases Rubin’s harp skills and the band’s soaring style without lyrical support. Loop it on your CD/MP3 player.

Justin M. Norton’s liner notes state, “Rubin is an intellectual and a theory nut, but also a profoundly soulful, genuine, and hilarious person with incredible feel. I’m not sure any of his previous recordings have tapped into that soul like I’ll Worry If I Wanna. True, Rubin can wow you with his knowledge and chops. There aren’t many albums featuring a 16-hole C chromatic instrumental in the key of A (known as fourth position, hence the name “Fourth Coast”). But Rubin could stick to playing traditional blues all night, and it would rock. . .His unconventional vocals take you off guard until you realize how well they work. His lyrics are hilarious and somehow remind me of Tom Robbins (Rubin hates Tom Robbins but takes this as a compliment.)”

Performing along with Michael (vocals, harmonica, cowbell) are Mike Keller on guitar, Michael Archer on bass, Mark Hays on drums and second cowbell, Emily Gimble on keyboards, Dr. Sick on fiddle, and Josh Fulero on percussion. Background vocals are provided by the McMercy Family Band: Lindsey Verrill, Dan Grissom, Ted Hadji, Ryan Conlin, and Wilson Marks.

If you’ve got the everyday jitters, let Michael Rubin help you laugh your worries away!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 43 year old female Blues fan. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.



 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 6 

imageManny Fizzotti – Nobody Understands

RockHattle Music RM038

12 songs – 42 minutes

Now based out of London where he works with harp players Giles Robson and Alan Glen in addition to enjoying a successful career as a front man, Manny Fizzotti’s one of the most tasteful guitarists on the European blues scene and shows why with his latest CD.

A collection of nine originals and three covers, Fizzotti’s material ranges from straight-ahead Chicago blues to swing, a taste of country and more – all of which is infused with a fluent, precise attack on the strings and plenty of class.

A native Italian, Manny turned pro in 1983 and graduated with honors from Los Angeles’ prestigious Guitar Institute of Technology, where he studied under fret masters Scott Henderson and Joe Diorio as Frank Sinatra keyboard player and Sarah Vaughan bandleader Carl Schroeder before becoming a session guitarist for world-class engineer Mike Carnevale at his L.A.-based Shanghai Recording Studio. This is his sixth CD.

Back home in Europe, he’s worked across a broad musical spectrum, including stints with the Melody Makers alongside vocalist Attilio Gili and Soulful Numbers with Marina Schiavinato in the 2000s as well as with Led Zeppelin tribute bands and also served as a writer for the guitar magazine, Axe, and released instructional DVDs, too. He’s been based in the U.K. since 2011, where he’s frequently appeared on the pages of Blues Matters, Blues in Britain, Classic Rock and Guitar Techniques magazines.

Fizzotti delivers vocals in English with only the slightest of accents, accompanying himself here on guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, Hammond organ and piano in a lineup that include Luca Roffino and Felipe Amorim on drums and Ben Hillyard and Costa Tancredi on upright bass. They’re joined by guest appearances from Robson and Brendan O’Neill, who spent a decade as Rory Gallagher’s drummer and now tours with Mud Morganfield.

The original “Crying Shame” opens the action with 2019 BMA honoree Robson on board. It’s a driving, medium tempo, stop-time complaint steeped in Windy City tradition about a lady’s failure to answer when questioned about her suspected cheating. O’Neill’s behind the kit for “Useless,” a steady swinging blues with jazz overtones that dovetails nicely with the opener with lyrics that reinforce the futility of trying to perpetuate a relationship gone bad. Fizzotti’s work on the six-string shines throughout.

“Nobody Understands” showcases his talent across five-plus minutes of slow blues as it bemoans feelings of isolation and images of a preacher delivering sermons to parishioners who don’t listen and being a stranger in a strange land before Robson rejoins the action for the fiery, uptempo instrumental, “Sliding Away,” which – as the title infers – is delivered on slide guitar and Giles on the high end of the reeds.

Fizzotti’s a triple threat on six-string, banjo and mandolin as he turns back the clock with Rev. Robert Wilkins’ familiar “Prodigal Son” before showing off his cool-jazz chops with the instrumental “Dodgy Dudes,” doubling on organ and guitar with only drum accompaniment. The setup continues for the funky “She’s Gone” before Manny goes solo for “Lockdown Blues,” which is delivered in Delta style.

The jazzy “Turn Me On” urges a lady to fire Fizzotti up like a match before Manny goes full-on country with “Cowboys on the Run,” Two more well-executed and reinvented covers – the Bobby Troup standard, “Route 66,” and John Coltrane’s “Naima” – bring the disc to a winning close.

If you love blues and jazz, you’ll adore this one. If you’re a guitar player with aspirations, it’ll serve as a masterclass for you, too.

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 6 

imageJoseph Veloz – Joseph and the Velozians

Big O Records

8 songs, 41 minutes

Music that is led by rhythm section players, understandably, often centers around that rhythm section instrument. When done well it can create a unique effect. Pro bassist Joseph Veloz’s 2nd solo recording Joseph and the Velozians succeeds in this way. By featuring the bass while creating a full funky band sound, this 8 song blast offers a locked in and jumping experience.

Veloz is a deep toned facile bassist. His tone pops, thumps and locks in with drummers Donny Brown and Dave Marcaccio. His Velozians crew is a large rotating ensemble and Veloz is a generous band leader allowing his musicians lots of room to shine. Keyboardist Jim Alfredson plays on the whole album and especially shines on his penned instrumental “The Velozian Shuffle.” Guitarists Drew Abbott, Tim O’Donnell (also on vocals), and Scott VanDelland each have their own single song features while Carlton Washington blasts 3 tunes of six string magic. James Anderson adds percussion, Sam Corey saxophones, Roseann and Rosemere Matthews background vocals and John Rickert trumpet.

Veloz is an in demand bassist. A former member of Joanna Shaw Taylor’s band, Veloz currently plays with the bombastic Larry McCray and the Blues shouting Thornetta Davis, both of whom offer their talents here. McCray’s feature “Pretty Is As Pretty Does” leads off the set and scorches the earth. McCray is so in sync with Veloz and Co. that the music jumps out the speaker. Ms. Davis croons 2 well trod covers. A hip funked up version of “I Got My Mojo Working” breaks open ½ way through giving way to a sanctified double time version that pushes the track past the 7 minute mark. A smoothed out version of the CeeLo hit “Crazy” is elevated by Davis’ profound singing and the quality of the band even if the material is over exposed.

Joseph Veloz is a musical explorer. His adventurous muse is especially highlighted by his “Neo Soul Experiment” version of Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love.” Veloz and saxophonist Sam Corey create a chilled out bizzaro instrumental take on this Soul classic. This track illustrates Veloz’s fun loving side on a fun loving album. Solid, smooth, well performed and thumping.

Reviewer Bucky O’Hare is a slide guitarist, songwriter and singer. Based out of South Eastern Massachusetts, Bucky plays Slide Guitar Soul Jazz and Funk Blues inspired by the music of the 60’s and 70’s all around New England.


 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

imageRyan Lee Crosby – Winter Hill Blues

Self-Release – 2022

9 tracks; 32 minutes

Ryan Lee Crosby started playing in bands in his native Massachusetts at age 14, influenced by Iggy Pop and Velvet Underground, as well as John Lee Hooker. However, as he grew older the blues called him and he has now produced a string of blues albums, particularly influenced by the Bentonia style of finger-picking and by Jimmy Duck Holmes who acted as a mentor to Ryan who dedicates the album to Jimmy. For his latest album Ryan traveled to Memphis to work with producer Bruce Watson (Fat Possum, RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough). Ryan wrote seven songs, adds lyrics to a traditional tune and covers a Rev. Robert Wilkins gospel song. The album mixes five solo performances with four songs on which a rhythm section of Mark Edgar Stuart on bass and George Sluppick on drums appears.

Ryan’s nasal vocals are presented over music that is sparse, very much in the traditions of Mississippi blues, typified by the title track, a solo tune with falsetto vocals and the finger-picked guitar so typical of the Bentonia style. Lyrically the song presents a sad tale, winter being used symbolically for lost love. “Down So Long” has that typical ‘drone’ sound of the Mississippi as the rhythm section drives it along, the lyrics picking up on a traditional blues theme. The rhythm section also appears on opening cut “I’m Leaving” on which Ryan’s core guitar riff reminds you of “Smokestack Lightning” and on “Institution Blues”, an uptempo tune with some good guitar work on the intro before Ryan sings the first verse, making it the longest track on the album. This one sounds autobiographical: “I went down to church, I showed up to school to learn the way to wisdom and the golden rule.” Ryan seems to have been unimpressed by the experience! “Eight Years Gone” ups the tempo and features some good electric guitar work as Ryan reflects on the recent past.

“Slow Down”, with more falsetto vocals, and “Going To Bentonia” are both slow-paced solo pieces with adept acoustic guitar work. “Was It The Devil?” is well played, Ryan’s notes lingering in the air as he sings again in falsetto; the cover of “Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down” closes the album, another solo performance, this time with slide featured.

Although quite short for a CD release, existing fans of Ryan Lee Crosby will welcome this new album, as will those who appreciate the traditional Bentonia style of blues.

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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15th Blues Blast Music Award Nominees

Contemporary Blues Album

Anthony Geraci – Blues Called My Name

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters – Mercy Me

Tommy Castro – A Bluesman Came To Town

Altered Five Blues Band – Holler If You Hear Me

Carolyn Wonderland – Tempting Fate

Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames – Nightwalk

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram – 662

Traditional Blues Album

Diunna Greenleaf – I Ain’t Playin’

Duke Robillard – They Called it Rhythm and Blues

Kenny Neal – Straight From The Heart

Sue Foley – Pinky’s Blues

Louisiana Red & Bob Corritore – Tell Me ‘Bout It

Bob Stroger & The Headcutters – That’s My Name

Soul Blues Album

Trudy Lynn – Golden Girl

Robbin Kapsalis and Vintage#18 – Soul Shaker

The Love Light Orchestra – Leave The Light On

Wee Willie Walker & Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra – Not In My Lifetime

Zac Harmon – Long As I Got My Guitar

Sugaray Rayford – In Too Deep

Rock Blues Album

Beth Hart – A Tribute To Led Zeppelin

Levee Town – Trying to Keep my Head Above Water

Big Al & the Heavyweights – Love One Another

Eric Gales – Crown

Tinsley Ellis – Devil May Care

Chickenbone Slim – Serve It To Me Hot

Acoustic Blues Album

Eric Bibb – Dear America

Corey Harris – The Insurrection Blues

Hector Anchondo – Let Loose Those Chains

Catfish Keith – Land of the Sky

Big Creek Slim & Rodrigo Mantovani- Stone In My Heart

Tas Cru – Broke Down Busted Up

Live Blues Album

Hurricane Ruth – Hurricane Ruth Live at 3rd and Lindsley

The BC Combo – The Garage Sessions

Rodd Bland and the Members Only Band – Live on Beale Street

Ann Peebles and The Hi Rhythm Section – Live In Memphis

Peer Gynt – Live In Hell

The James Harman Band – Sparks Flying Live In 1992

Historical Or Vintage Recording

Dave Specter – Six String Soul

Mark Hummel Presents East Bay Blues Vaults 1976-1988

Paul Oscher – Rough Stuff

Lowell Fulson with Jeff Dale & The Blue Wave Band – Lowell Fulson Live!

Big Jack Johnson – Stripped Down in Memphis

Bob Corritore & Friends – Down Home Blues Revue

New Artist Debut Album

Hogtown Allstars – Hog Wild

Memphissippi Sounds – Welcome To The Land

Malcolm Wells and the Two Timers – Hollerin’ Out Loud

Horojo Trio – Set The Record

John Winkler – Juke’s Blues

Buckmiller Schwager Band – To Memphis and Back

Blues Band

The Love Light Orchestra

Tommy Castro & The Painkillers

Altered Five Blues Band

Wee Willie Walker & Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra

Kilborn Alley Blues Band

Male Blues Artist

Sugaray Rayford

John Németh

Eric Gales

Tommy Castro

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Tinsley Ellis

Female Blues Artist

Diunna Greenleeaf

Sue Foley

Trudy Lynn

Carolyn Wonderland

Vaneese Thomas

Beth Hart

Sean Costello Rising Star Award

Robbin Kapsalis and Vintage#18

Kat Riggins

Gabe Stillman

Ben Levin

Jose Ramirez

Memphissippi Sounds


Eric Corne

Kid Andersen

Tony Braunagel

Mike Zito

Jim Gaines

Tom Hambridge

Electric Guitar

Chris Cain

Ronnie Earl

Eric Gales

Duke Robillard

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Albert Castiglia

Acoustic Guitar

Corey Harris

Doug MacLeod

Eric Bibb

Guy Davis

Hector Anchondo

Catfish Keith

Slide Guitar

Dave Weld

Sonny Landreth

Gabe Stillman

Michael van Merwyk

Catfish Keith

Derek Trucks

Bass Guitarist

Bob Stroger

Rodrigo Mantovani

Danielle Nicole

Willie J. Campbell

Scot Sutherland

Jerry Jemmott


Anthony Geraci

Kenny “Blues Boss Wayne

Ben Levin

Jim Pugh

Victor Wainwright

Kevin McKendree


Derrick D’Mar Martin

Tom Hambridge

Tony Braunagel

Kenny Smith

Alan Arber

June Core

Cedric Burnside


Pierre Lacocque

Jason Ricci

Dennis Gruenling

Bob Corritore

Kim Wilson

Billy Branch


Jimmy Carpenter

Vanessa Collier

Marc Franklin

Vince Salerno

Doug Woolverton

Terry Hanck


Diunna Greenleaf

John Németh

Vanesse Thomas

Sugaray Rayford

Beth Hart

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