Issue 16-33 August 18, 2022


Cover photo © 2022 Marlys Maciona

 In This Issue 

Mike Stephenson has our feature interview with Big Al Dorn. We have six Blues reviews for you this week including an album of New York Blues plus new music from Bob Margolin & Bob Corritore, Nick Evans Mowery, The Phantom Blues Band, Charles Tiner and Judy Sings The Blues. Scroll down and check it out!

 From The Editor’s Desk 

imageHey Blues Fans,

Voting in the Blues Blast Music Awards ends at midnight tomorrow August 19th. Have you voted yet?

Show your support for your favorite artists.


Or click HERE to vote NOW!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


 Featured Interview – Big Al Dorn 

imageMy name is Big Al Dorn and I am a blues harmonica player and guitar player from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I was born March 13th 1996 and raised here and music has always been around the house ever since I was a little one. We always had a great platter of all types of music around and a lot of blues and a lot of Jimi Hendrix, as my older brother was into that, and he would have that blaring on his stereo in his bedroom all day and all night and keep me up at night. One day I was sifting through our record collection and I found this album laying in the corner, this older gentleman with a knife hat and a pipe in his mouth and a beat up guitar and it was ‘The Very Best Of John Lee Hooker’. I thought he must be a cool guy to have a name like that and I put the record on and I was floored, and that’s how I got my start, was listening to John Lee Hooker and I wanted to find every record that I possibly could.

I was about three at that time, so at an early age I had a feeling of I knew what I wanted to do and then two years down the road my father was invited to a party that a friend of his was putting on and it was some kinda big shindig. The place was packed and I saw this gentleman blowing some of the fiercest harmonica I had ever heard and he was very drunk and he was doing his legendary bar walk that he used to do at clubs like the Murray Tap and The Up And Under and I found out that it was Jim Liban, and watching him work the crowd into a lather and driving them crazy with his bar walk and that was it, it is officially cemented I wanted to be a professional musician.

I just went down the road in school, playing several different instruments and several different genres of music but it was always the blues that had my undivided attention. I tried upright bass for a little bit and I wasn’t very good at it and they forced upon us how to play piano and I wasn’t good at that either, but I wanted to be a drummer though and the kids kept taking the drum kit away from me and finally one day in grade school I pushed the kid off the stool and told him that I was drumming, but I wasn’t very good at that either, but that guitar and harmonica always stayed very prevalent all the time.

What drew me to the harmonica more than other instruments is that it is the most expressive instrument I had ever heard and, when I heard Jim Liban or Madison Slim play it, it sounded like someone crying and expressing themselves in a way I had never heard before, so I thought it was some cool stuff. When I started meeting and talking with Jim Liban, he told me not to bother listening to him and that there were guys I needed to listen to and he meant Big Walter Horton, Little Walter, James Cotton, Sonny Boy Williamson two and Junior Wells, all the big named Chicago guys. He told me to go to any record store in town and they will have an LP or CD and that these are the guys I should be listening to, and that’s what I did for a long time. I scoured many record stores, in as many different neighborhoods as I could, and found every blues harmonica record that I could and I just kept learning and learning by pressing the playback or pressing the track button to go back and listen to everything.  I’m self taught on harmonica and guitar.

I was in junior high school at the time and I had been in the woodshed for quite a number of years and finally the old man said that if I was going to take this thing seriously I needed to get out there and play, and go find an open mic or an open jam to play at, so that’s what I did and this was pre social media and pre Facebook, pre Twitter. I would go down mostly to Brady Street, on the east side of Milwaukee, because everyone would post where they were playing by going to the telephone pole and nailing their posters there, and one of them said open mic night at the Pabst Brewery and I went and tried it. I felt a little uncomfortable because I was the only person playing blues, everyone else was doing jingle jangle acoustic music or it was loud hard rock. So I kinda felt like an outsider in a closed circle. I guess I must have been thirteen at the time.

imageIt felt good but at the same time doing jams and going to open mic nights wasn’t for me, so I would take a beat up old guitar that I had and a couple of cheap Hohner blues band harmonicas and go down on Brady Street, and just sit outside of Walgreen’s there and just play. Every summer I would sit out there and play and play and play for whatever tips I could get thrown into this sand bucket I had, quarters, nickles and stuff and eventually I guess I started getting noticed by the big names in town. From there I had a chance encounter with one of our local musicians called Reverend Raven and he found out about me and invited me to a show and he took a real interest in me and took me under his wing and taught me the dos and dont’s, and he would get me up to play for exposure and that’s when word got around like, who is this kid? So that’s what started happening, hanging around with Rev and through Rev I got to know all these different people like Steve Cohen of Leroy Airmaster, Jimmy Schwarz from the Blues Disciples and Mr. Stokes and especially Milwaukee Slim, real name Silas McClatcher, so that was all fun.

There was one time when the Rev Raven was playing up north somewhere and his harmonica player at the time was my older brother, Benny Rickun, who is also a harmonica player in my band. He ended up getting really sick and then Rev called the day of the gig and told me that Benny can’t make it and that I’m playing. I told Rev that I’m not as good as Benny and Rev told me I’m playing, so that was it. Previously Rev would always get me up at the end of the night, which was ok, but it didn’t equal the rush when you are up there, when you are the full time guy. People reacted very well to that gig and I’ve been going strong ever since. When I first started off with Reverend Raven And The Chain Smoking Altar Boys I was selling their CDs and T-shirts at their gigs. Rev started taking me on the road with him to different gigs other than just being in the Milwaukee area. I was still under age at the time and I didn’t have my own car and I wasn’t old enough to go into the places he was playing unless the folks came along with me and Rev got to know my parents very well and offered them a deal, which was he wanted me to go with him as a roadie and I would be an employee of the band so they would not have to worry about me being thrown out in the twenty one and older clubs, so he told them I am safe with him and the band. They were not hard drinkers or anything like that and they were not bad influences. That was the best part, just going on the road and meeting different people and playing all these different clubs and it was always great with Rev, as he would draw really big crowds. For me at that time he would only take me on the road as far as like Wausau, up in that area, which is a good three hour drive from here but never out of state, not then, until I learnt how to be a better player and learnt how to pack the van up with my eyes closed, where everything was supposed to go and things like that.

Music has been a full time thing for me since I was fifteen years old. I went down the road with Rev, and Benny had left the band and joined up with this fella from Chicago that lives near the Madison area named Paul Filipowicz and he’s a real deal, old school, hard driving Chicago blues man. One day Benny couldn’t make the gigs and he recommended me to Paul and Paul called me up and told me he was in need of another harmonica player and to meet up with him and that’s what I did. We had never met and by this time I was old enough to have my own car and I drove out to his house and it was like being in the Mississippi Delta, as that is what it looked like, as he lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere with a whole bunch of beat up old junk cars in the driveway. He came walking out of the house in a nice three piece pink suit and a fedora hat and introduced himself and we packed his van up there and then and took off for three weeks.

More recently I’ve been leading my own band The Blues Howlers and we have been working steady pretty good and this has been since 2015. We have been working harder than ever before lately, because we had been under the radar for several years, because we didn’t have a record, we didn’t have an agent or anything like that. We were getting gigs wherever we could and quite frankly some were in small roadhouse places that didn’t pay that well, but in the last few years things have started picking up for us and we have just got back from Minnesota where we opened for Rev Raven in St. Paul. That has helped us get our foot in the door there and this year in June we will be debuting at the Chicago Blues Festival. My band is a traditional four piece band.

mageI have two albums out, the first one called  ‘They Call Me Big Al’ which we released in May 2017, a year before my twenty first birthday, and our latest recording is called ‘Get It While It’s Hot’, which features my old mentor Jim Liban on two tracks, and I am currently working on a third album which we plan to record live in October of this year, 2022. The albums are available as CDs or downloads on Apple Music or ITunes. Everything with me is all original material on the albums. The albums are available at any one of our shows and you can get them by emailing me at: or our website at

I’ve been active with other artists too. It started earlier this year with a rock group called Bourbon House out of Wausau, asked me to play harmonica on two of their tracks, and two months ago another young up and coming blues musician, Stephen Hull, who is a good friend of mine, asked me to play on his record as well. So it’s been happening pretty regularly recently with young people looking for harmonica on their records and surprisingly I’m the guy they call.

I play guitar as well and that is the other half of my show but I’m mostly a harmonica player and then, when my lips start to get a little sore, I switch over to the guitar. My older brother Benny Rickun also plays harmonica and guitar, so when we start our shows Benny is on guitar and I am on harmonica and they switch, and at some point we do a double harmonica thing too and that has been our trademark for several years. I started playing guitar when I was about three after hearing John Lee Hooker and as I got more and more into it people started giving me old video tapes of John Lee Hooker and some in England with The Groundhogs on the Ready Steady Go show and they had some close up shots of him, and I saw he didn’t use a pick but used his fingers and that’s how I was able to play, because I can’t really hold a pick at all, so that’s how I learnt how to play. To me, John Lee sounded like a one man band when he played, and just using his thumb and index finger, he was hitting all the strings and that was some of the most unique stuff for me. I also like R.L. Burnside, whose style is somewhat similar to John Lee, and I like some of the Chicago guys like Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers and I’ve always loved the west coast guys like Hollywood Fats and Rick Holmstrom and, a new friend of mine, Kirk Fletcher who is a big influence too.

For harmonica, in addition to the Chicago guys, my influences include the west coast guys and the big one is William Clarke and the other ones are Rod Piazza, Mark Hummel and, of course, their mentor George Harmonica Smith. You don’t hear a lot of guys doing George Harmonica Smith, so I try and bring that to the forefront as much as I can. I find the reasoning behind doing west coast swing is the more you play that, the more people will dance, and the more they dance the more they go up to the bar to order beer, and the more money the bar makes and the more money we make and they will have me back.

My parents are very supportive of me and my music and my father was born and raised in Portage, Wisconsin, and he was always a music nut and music was always around his house too and he recalls serving Muddy Waters champagne at a gig after he had searched for it at various liquor stores. My father was a big blues nut as well. My mother is French and born and raised in France and she left home when sixteen and moved to England and that is where she met my father, who was on his way to Kenya to photograph a safari. They met in a lobby of a hotel and he proposed to her after three weeks of meeting her, and they got married three years later and been going strong ever since. She is a dancer.

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



 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

imageBob Margolin & Bob Corritore – So Far

VizzTone Label Group VT SRR-06 /

13 songs – 46 minutes

Two of the deepest dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists in the blues, longtime friends Bob Margolin and Bob Corritore have been sharing stages together since the ‘80s and recorded tracks together on occasional compilation. But they join forces for a full-length CD for the first time ever on this set, which was done the old-fashioned way – acoustic and unamplified.

The duo met for the first time in 1974 when Margolin was in the midst of a seven-year run as the second guitarist in Muddy Waters’ band and they appeared at Corritore’s high school in suburban Chicago. Sharing similar musical sensibilities, they’ve worked together frequently since the harp player turned pro, most often at The Rhythm Room, the club that Bob C.’s been running in Phoenix, Ariz., since relocating West in the early ‘90s.

A Boston native who now calls North Carolina home, Margolin handles all the vocals and works magic on his trusty 1935 parlor guitar throughout backed by Corritore delivering the rich, full-bodied runs on diatonic that are his bread-and-butter. Their only assistance comes from a special guest: former Conan band leader and Tonight Show bandmate Jimmy Vivino who sits in on six-string on one cut and vocals on another.

Bob M. penned seven of the 13 tunes and also mixed and mastered this one with Bob C. contributing an original instrumental. The remaining five covers include four personal-favorite tunes culled from ‘40s and ‘50s Windy City blues along with Robbie Robertson’s “It Makes No Difference,” a number that has special appeal for the guitarist because after first playing it with The Band and Muddy during The Last Waltz concert in 1976 and then again with its vocalist, Rick Danko, in Finland a decade later.

“Steady Rollin’ On,” which opens the action, is an unhurried pleaser in which Margolin plays off his longtime nickname as he describes about searching out “the right or wrong” in his travels and reminisces about “songs and memories about generations long gone…” and noting “it’s too late to die young.” Vivino joins the action on guitar and the pace quickens noticeably for “Running Through High Water,” a percussive number that recounts awakening from a snooze and experiencing a nightmare so vivid that – like the title infers – it felt impossible to escape.

The music brightens a little for the somber “It Makes No Difference,” which compares never-ending troubles with being caught in a steady downpour. Bob C. works the high end of the reeds for this one with Jimmy lending his voice to double Bob M. on the chorus. Muddy’s lessons come through Margolin’s slide work on “Outrage and Inrage,” a complaint about tough times getting even tougher, before the uptempo “Now and Then,” a celebration of surviving a life well-lived that’s deeply imbued with the feel of the golden age of Chicago Blues.

The duo breathe new life into Memphis Minnie’s familiar “Broken Heart,” a tune she first recorded with Little Son Joe for Checker in 1953, before Corritore takes center stage and rips and runs through his self-penned instrumental, “Salt River Stomp,” giving his reeds an impressive workout. It gives way to “One Hundred Hearts Later,” which describes a meeting between a man who’s offered his soul to his lady but realizes it’s the last time they’ll be together because all she wants out of life is fun.

The Bobs continue describing unrequited romance by covering “Red Hot Kisses” — penned by Trumpet Records owner Lillian McMurry and a hit for Sonny Boy Williamson II in 1959 – next, which honors the memory of a first smooch with a woman who possesses “a cold, cold heart.” The memories continue in “What If?,” which finds Margolin speculating about how the way his life might have turned out as he recounts tripping on stairs at age 19 and cutting his hand badly on broken glass. Despite the injury – and stitches that followed, he insisted on playing a gig that night and 50 years more.

One more original, “Blessings and Blues,” expresses the desire to trade some of the best times the singer has enjoyed for better times now before two more familiar covers — Muddy’s “I Wanna Go Home” and Sonny Boy Williamson I’s “My Little Machine” – bring the disc to a successful close.

A pyrotechnic-free pleaser that will hit the right chord for anyone yearning for the good old days!

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 – 2 of 6 

imageNick Evans Mowery – Owners and Pickers

Tangent Boy Productions

8 songs – 25 minutes

Nick Evans Mowery is a singer/songwriter/producer living just outside of Nashville, TN. Since 2004, he has produced 16 albums and released a number of singles. His music has also appeared in a number of television shows and movie soundtracks since 2010. If you haven’t come across Evans Mowery previously, Owners and Pickers is a short but highly enjoyable introduction to his music as well as testament to his many talents.

In addition to writing all eight songs, Evans Mowery also performed all the music and vocals himself, as well as recording, mixing and mastering the album. On the evidence herein, he would make a good living at playing only drums, guitar, keys or bass. The fact that he plays them all to such a high standard shows there is no justice in this world.

Opening with the ZZ Top/George Thorogood-esque stomp of “Tired Ole Man Blues”, Evans Mowery comes roaring out of the blocks with a gloriously distorted guitar tone and an irresistible drum pattern, which leads nicely into the Louisiana-flavoured love song, “My Whole World”, which would not sound out of place on a Delbert McClinton album. The variation in tone and timbre is indicative the broad musical palette Evans Mowery embraces.

Evans Mowery is an excellent singer with a singular turn in lyrical hooks, addressing such esoteric subjects as how to make the perfect sandwich in “Fried Bologna Sammich” or the difference between guitar “owners” and guitar “pickers” on the title track. “Owners and Pickers” also contains some magnificently intimidating guitar soloing in a manner befitting a resident of Tennessee.

“Sing Your Song” sounds like The Stray Cats essaying some West Coast swing, while “C’mon Now” successfully treads a fine line between soul and rock. “Walk A Thin Line” sounds like it could have been performed by an 1970s English rock band, such as Humble Pie or Cockney Rebel. Evans Mowery’s vocal even has a hint of Steve Harley on this track.

The closing track, “Reindeer Fly” features more fleet-fingered guitar playing and another off-kilter (and entertaining) lyric in perhaps the least Christmasy Christmas song of all time.

There is much to enjoy in Owners and Pickers, particularly if you enjoy well-written and well-played modern blues and blues-influenced songs with some top class guitar playing.

Reviewer Rhys “Lightnin'” Williams plays guitar in a blues band based in Cambridge, England. He also has a day gig as a lawyer.



 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 6 

imageVarious Artists – New York City Blues

Ace Records

26 Songs – 80 minutes

Serving as an audio companion to the book New York City Blues: Postwar Portraits From Harlem To The Village And Beyond, written by Larry Simon and edited by noted author and blues scholar John Broven, this compilation from Ace Records is another in their remarkable catalog of outstanding releases. Listening to this treasure trove of music documenting the New York City blues scene certainly highlights Simon’s assertion that the city deserves a greater level of respect for its contributions.

The opening cut, “New York City Blues,” performed by Larry Dale & the Houserockers, puts the spotlight on Dale, befitting the Texas-born guitarist who is prominently featured in the book. His cutting fretwork shines through on another track, “Bad Blood,” recorded under his given name of Ennis Lowery, from Champion Jack Dupree’s classic album, Blues From The Gutter, which delved into the the drug problem of NYC neighborhoods.

Blues fans will certainly recognize names like Blind Boy Fuller, the North Carolina acoustic artist who influenced a number of NYC musicians, as did the Rev. Gary Davis, as witnessed by his intricate guitar work on “Say No To The Devil”. The following cut, “Four Women Blues,” is delivered by Larry Johnson, who carried on the Davis style, regretfully without ever attaining the recognition his talent so richly deserved. It is always a pleasure to hear Ruth Brown, blessed with a voice that got Atlantic Records off to solid start with tracks like the swinging “Mambo Baby,” while Joe Turner’s booming voice turns the place out on “Boogie Woogie Country Girl,” encouraged by Van Wall’s driving piano licks.

Other highlights include Paul Oscher blowing some fine harmonica on “Mudcat,” from Muddy Water’s Live (At Mister Kelly’s) recording, John Hammond’s raw vocal on the Billy Boy Arnold classic “I Wish You Would,” with searing guitar from Robbie Robertson of the Band and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones on bass, and ‘Honky Tonk Part 1 & 2,” a monster instrumental hit for Bill Doggett with Clifford Scott’s wailing saxophone wrapped around Billy Butler’s six string magic that quickly became the foundation for many aspiring guitarists. Brownie McGhee reprises a earlier hit with “My Fault #2” with Sonny Terry on harmonica and the esteemed session guitarist Mickey Baker.

The real joy to be derived from this collection comes from artists who never held the spotlight for very long, if at all. Bob Gaddy cut numerous records under his own name, and backing up other artists. Simon makes sure Gaddy gets his due in the book and, after hearing his rendition of “Stormy Monday Blues,” readers will undoubtedly want to search out more of the piano man’s recorded work. Backing on the song comes from Jimmy Spruill, a guitarist with an inventive style who is also featured in Simon’s book. His instrumental, “Kansas City March,” provides an inkling as to why “Wild” was often attached to his name.

“The Guy With The “45” is a taut blues attributed to the Allen Bunn & Trio. Bunn later became Tarheel Slim, cutting several hit records while sharing the vocals with his wife, Little Ann, as on a rousing take of ‘Security”. Their cut is almost overshadowed by the stellar tenor sax from Noble “Thin Man” Watts on “Hard Times (the Slop),” with Spruill once again adding his guitar to the mix. Singer Al Pittman, who performed as Dr. Horse, had a long career as an entertainer, epitomized in his smooth tale of a player of the highest order on “Jack, That Cat Was Clean”.

One unique track comes from Wilbert Harrison, who had topped the charts with “Kansas City,” released on the Fury label, ultimately causing major distribution and legal issues for owner Bobby Robinson, a man who’s impact on the New York blues scene can not be overstated. Their follow-up record, “Goodbye Kansas City,” has familiar music with Harrison now singing the virtues of various NYC clubs and venues. The lead guitar licks are once again courtesy of Spruill, who also played on the original hit.

Another fascinating, unissued track is provided by Simon from a session he did with singer Rosco Gordon in 1994. The author played guitar for Gordon for almost a decade. As noted in the book, Gordon’s unique timing appealed to musicians in the Caribbean islands to the point that Gordon became a major guiding light for ska music. Simon’s track, which he hoped would help garner a recording deal with Alligator Records, features two founding members of the Skatalites, the best-known ska band from Jamaica. “I Wanna Get High” features Gordon exhorting listeners to refrain driving once they get high, with Roland Alphonso adding a finely crafted tenor sax solo and Lester Sterling on alto sax heard on the fade-out ending.

Also included is a deluxe 28 page booklet with brief notes by Broven on each track, along with artist pictures and photos of record labels from noted recordings. Simon gets five pages to add his comments about the genesis of his book, his career playing and interacting with the musicians under consideration, and his personal assessment of the NYC blues scene.

The Ace label has a well-deserved reputation for their first-rate collections based on a common theme. While it may be hard to summarize decades of musical merry-making from a major metropolitan area in one disc, the folks at Ace have done just that, capturing the depth and spirit of of a blues community in all its glory across 26 dynamic tracks.

Good enough to stand on it’s own, the collection really shines when you listen to it while reading Simon’s compelling book, which will add numerous additional layers of knowledge and understanding, especially for artists who have flown under the radar for most blues fans. Don’t miss this opportunity to do a deep dive into some truly amazing music that has stood the test of time.

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 – 4 of 6 

imageThe Phantom Blues Band – Blues for Breakfast

Little Village Foundation

12 songs – 44 minutes

When beloved keyboard player Mike Finnigan succumbed to cancer last year the world lost one of the most soulful musicians and vocalists ever to walk the planet, leaving a major hole in the lineup of Phantom Blues Band, a group who are stars in their own right while also serving as the Taj Mahal Band for decades. But the unit will have you grooving from the jump of this album, which serves as a tribute and much, much more.

It’s a superstar affair that includes Ruthie Foster, Bonnie Raitt, Curtis Salgado, Finnigan’s son Kelly – lead vocalist of the Monophonics, the Bay Area-based R&B powerhouse – and even Mike himself in one of his final recordings. And all of the proceeds from the CD will be donated to The Mike Finnigan School of Music at Stiefel Theatre in Salina, Kan.

A musical family of first-call session players who’ve worked with everyone from Etta James and Robert Cray to Joe Cocker and Bob Marley, the group took shape in the early ‘90s when Taj recorded his Phantom Blues album. Their enduring relationship has produced two Grammys and dozens of nominations and wins in the Blues Music Awards, and the ensemble has enjoyed a highly successful career on their own since 2007, when they released both the Out of the Shadows and Footprints CDs.

The fifth release in their solo career, this one features contributions from five of the six founding members: Finnigan, drummer Tony Braunagel, bassist/vocalist Larry Fulcher, guitarist/vocalist Johnny Lee Schell and sax player Joe Sublett. Longtime trumpet player Darrell Leonard left the group in recent years with the talented Les Lovitt taking his place.

Grammy-winning keyboard player/Little Village Foundation creator Jim Pugh assumes Finnigan seat at the 88s, a seemingly impossible task but one that he handles flawlessly. Rhythm guitarist Tony Chin and background vocalist Beth Styne each make an appearance on a single track.

An uptempo take on Sam & Dave’s “I’ll Take What I Want” features Fulcher and Schell in tandem vocals before trading verses to kick the action into high gear aided by horn runs and a blazing six-string solo. George Soulé’s 1973 call to political activism, “Get Involved,” is up next as the band delivers a thinly veiled tribute to their fallen bandmate – a man with a deep social conscience who was never shy about speaking his mind himself and calling others to action.

Penned by Carl Wright and first recorded by Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland and Cray on their Showdown album, “She’s Into Something” gives Schell space to work his magic before Ruthie joins the action for Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up,” which is delivered with a rock-steady reggae beat. The spotlight shines on Finnigan for a final time next with the funky “OK, I Admit It.” If you’re a fan, his warm tenor will put a smile on your face and a tear in your eye as he professes love and asks for forgiveness.

The poignant ballad, “Still Be Friends,” follows, announcing that “this could be the last time I see you for a while…but for all time, we will still be friends.” The mood brightens quickly for a funked-up cover of Freddie King’s “Country Boy” with Bonnie sharing vocals with Schell before Salgado fills Sam Cooke’s shoes – and blows a little harp, too — for a molasses-slow take on “Laughin’ & Clownin’.”

Phantom gets to stretch out West Coast-style for a classy reworking of Jimmy McCracklin’s 1965 hit, “Steppin’ Up in Class,” before Curtis returns and keeps the heat on with Ike Turner’s “I Know You Don’t Love Me” enhanced by Kelly Finnigan on organ. Takes on Little Milton’s “That’s What Love Will Make You Do” and Muddy’s “Stuff You Gotta Watch” bring the disc to an upbeat close.

Great music for a great cause. Pick up this one. I loved it and know you will, 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 

imageCharles Tiner – N’Treble


CD: 10 Songs, 41 Minutes

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

“I’ve got a lot going on, and I’ve got nothing to lose.” This quote, from the second song on Charles Tiner’s latest release, N’Treble, describes it perfectly. It has all the hallmarks of what would have been a fantastic album: vibrant energy, powerhouse instrumentation, and explosive singing from our front man. All the types of tracks you hope for on a soul blues album are here: the addictive sing-along opener (“SugaPie”), a banger of a warning about boasting (“Don’t Write a Check You Can’t Cash,” reviewed below), a paean to down-home cooking (“Dat Soul Food”), and a gorgeous ballad (“No Goodbyes”). Every tune is satisfying soul food for the ear and heart. This is the kind of CD you listen to when you’re feeling low and need not just a pick-me-up, but the aural equivalent of four Starbucks Espresso Doubleshots. The jolt it delivers is that intense. That’s the good news. The bad news is that for some people, such as yours truly, it’s too much. It overwhelms, sending in wave after wave of instrumental and vocal stimuli that combine to form a tsunami. It never lets up, either. From start to finish, you’d better brace yourselves.

On his Facebook page, Tiner describes himself as “a regular guy with a whole lotta soul.” Once you listen to his music, that much is evident. What’s not so evident are his bio details: location, backstory, etc. I did some digging on Google and his website He’s from the (314) area code, which covers St. Louis. That makes sense. His brand of soul lacks the slick pizzazz of, say, NYC or the zydeco influences of Baton Rouge. It’s very down-to-earth, very Midwestern. Meaty. What it lacks in innovative showmanship, it makes up for in passion.

With him are Dean Doss, Conrad Lee, Frank Parker, Art Carey, Sr., Gary Davis, David Lumsden, David Alexander, William “Chilly Bryant,” K. Sanders, Robert H. Sampson III, Ezra Casey, James Armstrong, and Lucas “Luke” Turasky.

Some people are wealthy on paper and in their own mind. In reality, they’re dirt-poor. Charles fervently warns us about this in “Don’t Write a Check You Can’t Cash.” There’s some searing shredder from Conrad Lee on bass and lead guitars. Tiner himself plays organ and keyboards. To me, this song’s best feature is its lyrics: “Some folks think they have it good. They think everything they touch turn[s] to gold. Now they’re stuck when they really open their mouth. Everything seems to turn cold. But you never write a check – whoo! – you can’t cash.” If we follow this advice instead of our desire to make ourselves look better than we are, we’ll be rich.

Charles Tiner’s new CD will keep you jumpin’ all day AND all night. You might be N’Treble!

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.


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

imageJudy Sings The Blues – Come Over Here

Self-Release – 2022

10 tracks; 43 minutes

Based in the Mid-Atlantic region, Judy Sings The Blues is a vehicle for singer and songwriter Judy Mangini. This all-original album was recorded in Delaware and seems to have been something of a cathartic experience for Judy who states in the sleeve notes that she has suffered a lot of hurt and abuse in her sixty-two years, as well as being loved and cared for; one sign of the latter is the cover which was produced by three of Judy’s grandchildren. The musicians involved are Lin Doughten on guitar, Chuck Hearne on bass and Keith ‘KB’ Brooks on drums; Joey Fulkerson plays lead guitar on four tracks, Dan Long keys on three and Brian Cunningham sax on one. Special guests Victor Wainwright (keys) and Albert Castiglia (lead guitar/BV’s) appear on one track each.

The album opens with “Are Ya”, funky rhythms beneath Joey’s wah-wah lead lines, Judy asking what the guy will do with her, perhaps checking where this particular relationship may head. The band funks it up on “Junk And Trunk”, aided by Victor’s effervescent keyboard work before Albert adds some typically robust riffs to the hard-rocking “I Guess I Was Wrong”, another tale of a relationship that has gone downhill. Joey returns to lead on “47 Feet”, Judy sounding angry that the guy knows “nothing about me, so back up 47 feet”. The title track “Come On Over” is dedicated to “all the young girls like me”, a slower tune with Lin providing both lead and rhythm guitar as Judy sings convincingly about the difficult subject of child abuse: “Come over here and sit down beside me, you’re so very pretty. You can’t tell your Dad, you can’t tell your Mom, they won’t believe what they heard, just say that you lied”. A disturbing portrayal of such a terrible topic. Sax enhances “I Got The News Today”, as Judy sings of “a crushing blow” and being dismayed before a shuffle, Judy bitterly describing someone whose past actions have resulted in the fact that friends have abandoned them, “You Can’t Even Buy One”. “He Hit Her” is dedicated “to women like me”, a disturbing portrayal of domestic abuse to which the victim can only ask why he mistreats her and does not care: in the end “she shot him to live”. The attractive latin rhythms and Lin’s gentle guitar work only serve to emphasise the tragedy of the situation. “You Got Me On My Knees” has a jazzy feel courtesy of Dan’s piano and Judy closes the album with a plea to be treated as an “Equal”, Joey supplying the slide lead over a chugging rhythm, Judy clearly at the end of her tether at being treated as second class in the relationship.

The music throughout is well played and attractive and Judy delivers the songs in a clear vocal style and she has clearly needed to get these issues off her chest. It is not always an easy listen but it is good to know that she has not only survived these experiences but has found love and tenderness in her life.

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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