Issue 16-31 August 4, 2022


Cover photo © 2022 Laura Carbone

 In This Issue 

Anita Schlank has our feature interview with Lightnin’ Malcolm. We have six Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Chris Antonik, Keb’ Mo’, Levee Town, The Strongman Blues Remedy, Jonny T-Bird and the MPs and Pierce Dipner. Scroll down and check it out!

 From The Editor’s Desk 

imageHey Blues Fans,

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Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser



 Featured Interview – Lightnin’ Malcolm 

imageAmbassador of Mississippi Blues, Lightnin’ Malcolm, is getting a big lift to his career from signing and touring with Tab Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou Records.  However, Malcolm is not new to the blues scene.  He has been releasing albums since 2004, was part of a duo with Cedric Burnside, played with the North Mississippi Allstars, has toured with such artists as Robert Plant, Jimmy Buffet, Robert Cray, the Black Keys and Gary Clark Jr., and won the Blues Music Award for best emerging artist in 2009. Malcolm was passionate about music from a very early age, and learned from some of the greats, including R.L. Burnside and T Model Ford.

“I’ve been drawn to music as early as I can remember–it was always on my mind.  When I was little, I would hear songs on the radio, and I would beat my sticks or spoons, and later I was practically sleeping with my guitar, playing in my sleep.  I also always wanted to get out and see the world, although I grew up in small villages.  When I was five or six, I would run away to the edge of town and then come back home.  I was already trying to go and see the world.  I loved music so much I was willing to cross the desert to find what I needed. I was so into Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson and Charley Patton, and when I got to meet a lot of the older blues guys in Mississippi, they liked me because I was so interested in playing that stuff and not many were.  Being around those guys taught me so much about life.”

While he has traveled the world, Malcolm has a special fondness for the small town of Clarksdale, Mississippi.

“In Clarksdale you can just smell it wafting through the street.  There is more blues than you can handle—it’s all over town, not just on one stage.  Clarksdale is such a magical little town.  It’s a rugged place with so many beautiful people with beautiful souls that gather there for this music.  It’s not like any other town in the world.  It’s got an other-worldly influence, and it has influenced the entire world with Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, and John Lee Hooker.  And it’s great to see what Kingfish is doing.  All the dots are connecting for him and he’s handling it and getting better and better.  I really salute him and guys like Jontavious Willis.  They don’t just play the old blues, they are it.  It’s there in their personality.”

Malcolm also learned some lessons about music from playing in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), a Pentecostal church.  He noted that he wasn’t actually a member of any church but attended for the musical experience.

image“I went to it as a teenager and played guitar.  It was the best stomping music, and the women would start singing, and the spirit would take over, and it was just improvised.  You just found the key, and it taught me how to be open to feel whatever happens in the room, and how to improvise, but for every note to be sacred, and the vibe precious. It was all about the total release. Now, for me some of the greatest fun is getting the right group of guys together and just improvise.”

Those early influences contributed to his unique sound, which is most often categorized as Hill Country Blues.  That subcategory is known for few chord changes, finger picking cycling guitar, and strong percussive elements.  Together, these can produce an almost hypnotic groove which Malcolm has mastered, although he loves many genres.

“I love all different types of blues and all types of music.  I listen to some of all music, but my favorite is Bob Marley and trance music coming from Africa.  Junior Kimbrough and RL Burnside was the closest thing to African music in America to me.  The raw rhythmic perfection– that’s what made me gravitate toward it and that’s why I live in the hills. The music in these hills is the closest thing to that.”

Malcolm is the type of songwriter who is constantly jotting down ideas for songs throughout each day.  He noted that the best songs seem to come to him all at once, effortlessly.

“Luther (Dickinson) says I’m a conduit and things pass through me.  That’s what is so exciting about it. Anyone can learn to play but learning how to write—that’s different.  I don’t think playing is a God-given talent—I think it’s more about practice.  But writing songs that come out of nowhere does feel God-given.  I call it like catching a fish—the hook is grabbed out of nowhere and you got one.  It’s always the ones that just came to me all at once–those are the ones the audience tells me means something to them.  But I’m writing all the time and have clipboards all over the place.  Sometimes I have to write when I’m driving and then I can’t read my handwriting later because I was watching the road, but I felt like it was too good to risk forgetting.  I try to maximize as much as I can in as few words a possible, cutting away all the nonsense.  When it really means something it’s best to get straight to the point. I’m starting to write more spiritual songs because I’m starting to think about what I want my son to hear that I might not be around to tell him.  How can I get as much wisdom and experience and pain into these songs, but have it also be something that is optimistic? I want my songs to be uplifting.  But I’m writing other stuff too—like comedy routines.”

Malcolm had a unique start to his adulthood, hanging out and touring with older bluesmen.  While that experience led to wonderful influences on his music, it could sometimes be hard on his body, and he had to be aware not to let the lifestyle have a detrimental effect on his health.

image“Growing up playing with the old cats, it was just a given you were gonna ‘get lifted’ on some moonshine before giving yourself over to the music—like a tribal custom.  And, we had the most amazing jams.  I learned to be one of the best at ‘playin’ while drinkin’.  People hiring me actually loved to see me ‘get lifted’ and play all night, and I’m a workaholic, so I had to learn to be careful.  My hero, T Model Ford, the most responsibly prolific drinker I knew, also gave me the world’s simplest advice.  He said when you are out here doing something, if you are the boss of it, then everything is good, but if it bosses you around, that’s no good.  Alcohol hadn’t gotten to the point where it bossed me around, but I decided to stop drinking and haven’t had a drink in over five years.  I’ve seen it derail so many people’s careers.  It can take away your ambition and be a gateway drug to foolishness.  The advice I give young people is if you don’t mess with it, it can’t mess you up.  If you don’t touch it, then it can’t touch you.”

Like many other musicians, the constant touring has also taken a toll on his interpersonal relationships.  And any relationships always had to come in at a distant second to the music, at least until his son was born.

“I belong to the road, and it would be hard for anyone to get close to me.  I was engaged to the music until I had my son.  I try, the older I get, not to overanalyze or over-define what each relationship is.  I try to just let it be what it is.  It may not be what everyone else thinks it should, but the most natural communication is when you forget what everybody else is doing and just find your own way of functioning. Especially if you have a child.  And we must keep ourselves positive for the child’s sake, but it’s always a work in progress.  Having my child brings color to what was previously black and white.  Everything means so much more now that I know what unconditional love is.  It makes me strive to be the best I can be.  I have to focus on trying to get the best out of me for his sake.  I want to make him proud.”

Malcolm enjoys playing as a one-man band, but also finds joy in collaborations with other artists.

“Playing by yourself is great fun, but I really love the telepathy of jamming with somebody—bouncing something off somebody.  Playing with Cedric Burnside was special—the duo was a special kind of entity all in itself.  We can sing together and write stuff and we might not play something for ten years, but then we play it, and it seems like we play it better than ever.  And, while it was my dream come true to have had the chance to play with so many older blues legends, what I would love now is to have the chance to play with R&B artists like Anthony Hamilton.”

imagePlaying as a one-man band can put a great deal of pressure on the artist, who can often experience a difficult time holding the attention of an audience.  However, Malcolm continually meets that challenge and often has audience members tell him how his music has had a significant impact on them.

“Sometimes you’re tired, traveling all day, trying to make all the shows, but then you’ll walk in, and you’ll hear someone say they drove six hours to see you tonight.  I know I did that a lot as a kid, being a fan, seeing RL Burnside or T Model Ford, and I try to never forget that. I learn by watching the crowd’s reactions and always try to do my best and keep it honest.  I remember the real reason I started playing is the raw enjoyment of the music and sharing it—seeing people gather together and dance and be happy.  That means more than any career ambition.  I want to reach as many people as I can.  I’m so thankful to be playing for the people,”

Malcolm recently signed with Whiskey Bayou Records, a label launched by Tab Benoit and Rueben Williams. The album, Eye of the Storm, will be released this Fall and features Benoit playing drums on three songs.  The other major player on the album is world-renown drummer, Brady Blade.

“Brady and I are always spontaneously explosive, and when Tony Hall (of Neville Brothers and Dumpstaphunk) also stopped by and played bass, it was like getting the keys to a Ferrari.  There are a few songs on the album that probably wouldn’t have been on the album, but they are on now because Tony showed up.  It’s so great having guys like them—you get the riff started and they just take it from there.  And Tab is also super-intuitive.  They knew right where I was going to go. I’m so thankful that Tab has brought me out on the road and wanted me to be on their label and Rueben does great work too.  I’ve known them both for decades.  I’ve learned a lot from Tab.  He gives it his all every night, playing from the heart, which is what I try to do.  We both play drums in a similar way too, and we think the same, in terms of rhythm.  I’m very proud of the new record.  The title track, “Eye of the Storm”, was a song that had been in my head for about twenty years, waiting for the right time.  I didn’t even have a name for it at first.  The studio had just gone through a hurricane and my session was the first one after the hurricane, but it’s about more than just that.  There are all kinds of different storms going on these days. So, while I like all the tracks, that one might stand out a bit.  We did the tracks in one take, keeping it organic and honest.  Honest is more important than perfect.”

With his unique brand of high-energy, hypnotic music and talented songwriting abilities, Lightnin’ Malcolm is sure to be around for many years to come.  You can find out more about his new album and his tour dates on

Writer 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 – 1 of 6 

imageChris Antonik – Morningstar

Moondog Music/Second Half Records

14 tracks/69 minutes

Chris Antonik is a fiery Canadian blues rocker who has received many accolades in Canada and across the globe. There is not a want for guitar here; he serves up many a riff and solo for guitar lovers to enjoy. Coming out of the pandemic, and life’s loves and losses, Morningstar pays tribute to a line from Thoreau as Chris Antonik plays on the theme of new beginning and being diligently aware of ourselves and surroundings. While each song was written and performed to stand on their own, Antonik weaves a web of interesting music where each songs transitions to the next and are designed to elevate the mood of the listener.

The players includes Derek Downham and Riley O’Connor on drums, Jesse O’Brien and Alan Zemaitis on keys, Marlene O’Neill and Ciceal Levy on backing vocals, Alison Young and Tom Moffett arranged horns with William Carn and Tom Moffett rounding out the horn section, Burke Carrol on pedal steel, and Rob Christian on flute. The late Guenther Kapelle plays bass throughout. There is certainly a talented cast of musicians assembled here. And, of course, Antonik handles the vocals and lead guitar.

“Waves of Stone” features Jarekus Singleton on guitar along with Chris. It’s heavy on guitar and features some psychedelic stuff.  If you were half asleep as this album began, it would be like three cups of coffee hitting you all at once. Antonik blasts off for the moon with this opener. “Pilgrim” follows; also not for the faint of heart. A soaring guitar introduction and a hard rock feel. It’s more of a ballad and features some cool backing music and some large guitar parts. Inspired by Clapton, it also espouses Carl Jungian philosophy.

“Back to the Good” has a throbbing bass line and some more huge guitar. Antonik wails out the vocals and adds his forthright guitar front and center a la Jimi Hendrix. Next is “Trust In Me,” a slower rock anthem with a bit of funk and hip hop to it and a heavy groove. Another over the top guitar solo is featured here, this time with some interesting distortion. The theme here is the challenge of parenting in the Trump era.

The tempo and pacing slow up for “In Our Home” where Allison Youngblood does a duet with Antonik. Melodic, a little somber, some nicely done slide guitar, this one is a big change of pace, hearkening to a Led Zep ballad. It concludes with a long guitar solo/outro. “The Greatest of the Americans (Part I) and (Part II) are the next two tracks. The first is a shorter instrumental.  A bit ethereal and spacey, it’s a cool guitar piece that serves as an introduction to Part II which laments the relationship of Canada and America.

“Learning To Love You” is a tribute of sorts to the Layla album, a rousing and slide guitar forward cut. “How to Be Alone” with drum machine and a bit of a Bruno Mars feel follows. Next is “We’re Not Alone,” adds guitar by Paul Deslauriers, the bluesiest of the album cuts. A big old shuffle and some boogie woogie make this one fun.

“The Promise of Airfields” runs over eight minutes, a celebration of eight years of sobriety in a Latin style mixed with jam band and psychedelic rock with organ and horns that make this one interesting. “Little Man” is about his son where Chris urges his boy to remain independent and become who he wants to be. It’s a slick number with lots of feeling.

Vocalist Mike Mattison joins Antonik on “Be Here Now,” with lots of solo guitar work and Mattison backing Chris. The album finishes up with the furtive ballad “Grace.” Solo piano and vocals kick this off, then the backing vocals, the band and his guitar appear, The conclusion of the piece is a huge guitar solo with choir-like vocals drifting over the guitar.

This is an out and out, balls to the walls rocker. Sure, there is some blues here and there, but for the most part Antonik rocks the joint and does so effectively. This is a big and powerful album of all original music.

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 – 2 of 6 

IMAGEKeb’ Mo’ – Good to Be…

Concord Music Group/Rounder Records

13 songs – 48 minutes

celebrates Keb’s return to Compton, where he repurchased his childhood home. Despite “a whole lotta things ain’t what they used to be,” he says, “who would’ve known that it would feel so good.” It flows into the medium-paced shuffle, “So Easy,” a love song in which the singer admits to having been afraid of opening his heart in the past – something that changed when his lady freed his soul and made his life make sense.

The easy/breezy “Sunny and Warm” finds Keb’ planning to chill out at the shore and enjoying the company of his lady and everything summer has to offer before Rucker joins the action for “Good Strong Woman,” a warning from Mama that his current gal is T-R-O-U-B-L-E and he needs to find “someone who’ll never gonna let you down.” Singing about COVID could be a downer, but not when Keb’ teams with Old Crow to deliver “The Medicine Man,” which insists that everyone’s doing the best they can as they await the arrival of a good MD with the right Rx and proclaims that “I’m just gonna love everybody ‘til the day I die.”

The ballad “Marvelous to Me” draws references to Martin Luther King as it looks forward to a better world in which troubles are in the rear-view mirror and freedom and equality exists for all before Keb’ launches into the only cover in the set, a stripped-down reworking of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” It flows into “Like Love,” which celebrates romance in all of its forms, and the minor-keyed “Dressed Up in Blue,” which refers back to Mama and finds the singer forlorn because his woman has left him for another man and bookends with “’62 Chevy,” in which he reacquires a favorite car from the past and wonders if he can pick up the lady where they left off.

Politics come to the fore in “Louder” in which Keb’ recognizes the younger generation who are demanding change, noting: “Stronger than steel, they’re gonna get louder. It’s about to get real” before “So Good to Me” celebrates a good woman once more. The action closes with “Quiet Moments,” a duet with Chenoweth that celebrates quiet moments and bodies in the dark talking heart-to-heart.

Looking for something upbeat for a change? You’ll love this one. Strongly recommended.

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 – 3 of 6 

imageLevee Town – Trying to Keep My Head Above Water

Hudtone Records

9 tracks

Brandon Hudspeth is originally from Oklahoma and now lives in Kansas City. He formed Leevee Town in Kansas City from members of he band Cobalt Project. He is a skilled vocalist and guitar player; others in the band are Jacque Garoutte on bass and vocals and on drums it is Adam Hagerman. Tilney Ehrhardt adds keys. This CD was recently nominated for Best Rock Blues Album in the Blues Blast Music Awards.

“Music Martyr” opens the album. It’s a rocking and great sounding song with some killer guitar licks and tells us how they are trying to do what the album title says, “Trying to head my head above water.” The vocals have a country tinge to them, but it’s a nice rocker for sure! “Locked Up For Days” follows, a slower cut with some visceral guitar and a deep rock groove. Powerful licks on the solo are offered up; tastefully done! Next is Little Milton’s  “Looking For My Baby” featuring some nice added keyboard work. Powerful guitar work makes this just a nice blues tune to enjoy. “Gala” follows in a fun, driving, Chuck Berry sort of style. Guitar and piano frolic as the boys deliver another nice cut. “Outside Child” is a bouncing piece with a little rockabilly sound going for it. They’ll be dancing to this one; it really moves and grooves well.

“Tarantino” is a great instrumental that offers another driving beat and a sound that could be featured in any Quentin Tarantino film. The inspiration is easy to pick up on; one could see this as part of the soundtrack for Pulp Fiction or any of his films. The guitar stings like a bee as it drives the song along. “She Might Kill You” follows, another cool blues rock cut with heavy guitar again along with some slick organ. A mid tempo cut, it offers a warning to a friend about a woman. Things slow way down for “Weight of the World” where acoustic guitar is featured. It’s definitely a change of pace and offers us a different side of Levee Town, perhaps even Beatle-esque in nature. The Freddy King shuffle “The Stumble” concludes the set, offering the listener another cool instrumental piece to savor. It’s a sweetly done song that gets a nice boogie going that you will love.

There is nothing to dislike here; nine songs (seven brand new ones penned by Hudspeth) with some great musicians doing what they do best – playing some kick ass, rocking blues! I really enjoyed this album and I think all blues rock lovers will, too. It deserves notice!

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 – 4 of 6 

imageThe Strongman Blues Remedy – Volume 1

Stony Plain Records SPCD1462

10 songs – 36 minutes

A super-group that includes 2019 Blues Blast Music awards female vocalist of the year and Blues Music Award nominee Dawn Tyler Watson and several of the most important blues artists in Canada, The Strongman Blues Remedy serves up a mix of swamp, shuffles, ballads and more on their debut CD, delivering an all-original set that will put a spring in your step and a smile on your face, too.

The group was organized by Hamilton, Ont.-based Steve Strongman, a singer/songwriter/producer who’s won both the Albert King Award as the best guitarist at the International Blues Challenge and a JUNO Award, Canada’s version of the Grammys. He penned all ten the tunes on this one, half of which were partnerships with either King, Watson, Marriner, Kennedy or engineer Rob Szabo.

An eight-piece ensemble, the aggregation also features powerhouse songbird Crystal Shawanda, Harrison Kennedy and vocalist/harp player Steve Marriner with backing from Jesse O’Brien on keys, Dave King on drums and Alec Fraser on bass – all of whom figure regularly in the JUNOs and Maple Blues Awards, the Great White North’s top blues honors.

Produced during the pandemic, the artists recorded remotely in Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton and Nashville. The end product delivers an all-original, contemporary set with broad appeal. It’s delivered from multiple points of view but they combine to form a universal message that filling our lives with music, celebrating life and looking forward to a positive outcome is the best cure for the world in which we currently live.

A strong slide guitar hook from Strongman – who also provides harp and bass on some tracks – opens the upbeat “Hard Luck.” A medium-paced shuffle that’s infused with sweet instrumentation, it describes troubles clinging to the singer and following him wherever he might be. But he remains optimist because his position is far better off than it could be despite the frustration it brings.

Marriner’s at the mic for “Swansong,” a droning blues with a positive message and Hill Country appeal, which states that “everybody wants answers, but nobody has ‘em” and that “change takes time but we’re gonna be gone if we don’t begin.” Things slow down as Watson takes command for “Fine Young Man,” a plea for a lover from a woman who believes she’s getting better with age.

Kennedy – an acoustic blues master and perennial BMA nominee – takes charge for the next two tune, “I Don’t Miss You” and “I Like to Ride.” The former is a rich soul-blues delivered from the position of a man who knows he’s lying to himself while the latter is a loping shuffle that celebrates hitting the highway with a good companion at his side. It features some nice call-and-response on the choruses.

A strong guitar flourish opens the cautionary “White Lightnin’,” a Chicago-style blues ballad that finds Strongman always finds himself thinking of his ex every time he takes a sip, before things heat up with “Tell Me I’m Wrong,” a potent blues-rocker that features the powerful pipes of Shawanda, who suspects her relationship has come to a dead end.

Three more interesting pleasers bring the album to a close with Strongman providing vocals. “Gettin’ Stoned” draws similarities to The Coasters’ “Let’s Go Get Stoned” but is delivered with an acoustic, skiffle feel, includes a laundry list of methods and includes a complaint about “lots of politics surroundin’ smokin’ a joint and everybody’s out gettin’ high.” The slow-paced rocker “True to Me” praises a companion before “Love Comin’ Down” ends the action delivered from the position of a man who’s sleepless because he isn’t getting enough romance.

Tired of all the doom and gloom filling the airwaves these days? Spin this one for a little relief. It’ll work wonders.

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 

imageJonny T-Bird and the MPs – Play Time

Neon Grub Jeer Music

CD: 10 Songs, 43 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Ensemble Blues, All Original Songs

Several years ago – nearly two decades – my Boomer parents and I went to a blues festival. A merry band of musicians duly performed there, duly called Tons O’ Fun. They were brassy in more ways than one. Their sound hailed back to 1940s ensembles, full of horns and high spirits. Their energy was vivacious, their spirit infectious. Listening to them, we in the crowd couldn’t help but have as good a time as they promised. Mom said, “We should hire them to play at our other daughter’s wedding. In fact, they should play lots of weddings. They’re not particularly bluesy or the best guitar shredders a la Jimi Hendrix. Instead, they are exactly as advertised.”

Fast forward to 2022. Wisconsin’s Jonny T-Bird and the MPs are here for Play Time. Featuring Jon Neuberger, a front man on the autism spectrum, this new release consists of ten original songs that mix blues (“Grown Man Blues”), rock (“I Came to Play”), funk (“Quittin’ Time”) , and alternative (“Flightless Bird”) in a manner that will raise your eyebrows and make your ear hairs tingle. In terms of instrumentation, it’s great music, especially on Jonny T-Bird’s vibrant vehicle. He can not only make his guitar sing but soar. From the age of 13 onward, he has.

Listen to the best track on the album for proof: “Love is a Four Letter Word.” The lyrics are on the pedestrian side, but the sentiment is so relatable no one will care. Also, what Neuberger lacks in vocal polish, his melodic electric riffs deliver in spades. Loop the solo in the middle of this seven-minute, seventeen-second hit. It resembles Dickey Betts’ iconic solo on “Gambler’s Roll” by the Allman Brothers Band. Even though the latter is the proverbial Mona Lisa, Jonny’s homage is more than a bland print in a hotel-room picture frame. You’ll rejoice in how good T-Bird is when he lets his guitar do the warbling. On no other song is it clearer. “Plank Tone” comes in a close second, seamlessly blending classic and esoteric blues styles.

With our hero (lead/rhythm guitar, ukulele, harmonica and lead vocals) are Jenna Kopitske on Wurlitzer piano, Hammond B3 organ, and drums and percussion; “Cadillac” Craig Carter on bass; Ryan Carter on drums for the track I just mentioned, Jenny Abbott Goodell on lead guitar for track five; Steve Streator on tenor and soprano sax; Julia Lewandowski on alto sax; Lauren Sperry on baritone sax, and Monica Barden on harmony vox for tracks five and ten.

Are you looking for tons of fun in your blues experience? Then enjoy Play Time with Jonny T-Bird and the MPs!

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 – 6 of 6 

imagePierce Dipner – Goin’ Back

Self Released

10 tracks

Pierce Dipner’s inaugural album features seven originals and three  varied covers from this young musician from Pittsburgh, PA.  He’s been down to Memphis twice for the International Blues Challenge and formed his own band in 2018. Mixing, blues, rock and soul, Dipner shows diversity in his music and his album has received local and some national recognition.

Dipner handles the vocals and guitar here. Arnold Stagger is ob bass while Joe Munroe handles keys and Blaise Lanzetta plays drums. He’s got a great horn section of Rick Matt on sax, JD Chaisson on trumpet and Reggie Watkins on trombone; Reggie also did the horn arrangements.

The album begins with an inspired original, “Fool’s Gold.” A straight up blues with a solid guitar lead and nice accompaniment, Dipner shows his stuff vocally and on guitar. Piano and organ fill in adds well to the mix, Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” follows. The horns, piano and organ play a big part in the mix. Dipner’s guitar has some interesting fiddle like effects added and the overall feel is cool and well done.  “empty Bed Blues” is a traditional Chicago blues with Dipner showing respect for the roots of urban blues with some big guitar and good keyboard support. “Nobody But Myself to Blame” follows, a modern blues with a jazzy sound. An organ and later a big guitar solo are featured here. Slow blues are the order of the day for “Tore Us Apart,” with the organ taking us a little to church as Pierce testifies to us vocally and on guitar.

“Goin’ Back” follows, another Chicago styled blues reminiscent of Howling Wolf. Sean Costello’s “No Half Steppin’” is next, with Dipner singing and playing soulfully. All the instruments play a bog role in selling this one. “We’re Not Leaving” has a bouncing groove and a bit of swing to it for variety. Lots of good piano here to enjoy. “Won’t You Come Home” also has an old time, bouncing feel to it. Guitar and organ are the primary focus here in this driving tune that builds and builds. The album concludes with “Memphis in the Rain,” the final cover tune. This one is from Justin Towne Earle, another talented young musician who left us too early. Dipner does a great job with it, featuring searing guitar and great support all around.

Pierce can hold his head high– this is  an excellent debut album by a talented young artist whom I am sure we will hear more from soon!

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.

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