Issue 17-17 April 27, 2023

Cover photo © 2023 Laura Carbone

 In This Issue 

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with Andrew Duncanson. We have six Blues reviews for you this week including a book by Jeff Sellars and Kevin C. Neece plus new music from Boogaloo Ames, Blue Largo, The Cadillac Kings, Jeff Pitchell and Hurricane Dave and the Storm Chasers. Scroll down and check it out!


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

Artists with major labels and independent artists are eligible. All submissions are digital. No physical CDs needed.

For complete information, click HERE.


 Featured Interview – Andrew Duncanson 

imageIn the past 20 plus years, the Kilborn Alley Blues Band has carved out a nice career with six albums full of tough Chicago style blues interspersed with stirring original songs that delve into the span of emotions between love and heartbreak.

At the core of the band’s sound is the amazing voice of Andrew Duncanson. Since the beginning, his ability to move from a raw, gritty delivery to a soulfully expressive approach has made each of their records a joyous listening experience, as witnessed by the consistent critical acclaim and multiple award nominations.

Since the last Blues Blast interview with Duncanson in 2017, the band has gone through several changes, losing a devoted supporter in addition to the departure of an original band member. Now, instead of a dual guitar format, the band has added keyboards and saxophone to the mix. And their lead singer is in the process of raising his own profile outside of the group, with one project already making a mark.

For Duncanson, the last few years might be summed up in the lyrics to one of his new songs, “More Lows Than Highs.” Still, he is thankful for the opportunities that have come his way.

“I met Abraham Johnson in 2002, when he was part of a show with our band. He meant the world to me, forging a great friendship right from the start. He would roll with us wherever we went. We had so many good times with him, as Abraham was a person of joy. He did some vocals on our albums. When he passed away in 2018, I knew I had to write a song.

“When he started getting ill, we would be sitting around talking, and Abraham would say, man, we had a hell of a run! And we did – 15 years of fun and joy. So I wrote the song, “Hell Of A Run,” for him. It is not released yet, but it will come out at some point. It has a country tinge to it as I have a lot of influences, and that is the one that fit the chorus, “Like an outlaw and his teenage sons, we sure had a hell of a run. He was a guy who would read he Bible every day, then wake up at 4 am to drink an Icehouse beer. I went over to Abraham’s house with his family after he died. I opened the refrigerator and there was a 24 ounce Icehouse. He was himself to the very end.”

In 2017, Kilborn Alley released the album The Tolono Tapes, featuring nine original songs and three covers, featuring the band with special guest appearances by the great piano player Henry Gray, guitarist Monster Mike Welch, vocalist Jackie Scott, and harmonica master Bob Corritore. The collection garnered plenty of praise from the blues reviewers. Late in 2018, the band began recording for a new project.

“Our approach to Takin’ Time was different than our previous projects. We would get a few songs together, then every couple of months we’d go into the studio and record two songs a night. So the songs come from five different sessions with the full band and several nights to do overdubs. I think we made some beautiful music on that record, especially the title track. To me, it has one of the most beautiful intros, with Josh’s guitar and the gospel group Davision from Danville, Illinois. I am really proud of that album, which we released on Run It Back Records.”

Guitarist Josh Rasner-Stimmel left the band in 2021, breaking up the trio of high school friends who had spent many a night merrymaking when they weren’t playing music. Duncanson took over on lead guitar after years of filling the rhythm guitar role. The other high school friend, Chris Breen, is still laying down those thick bass lines that give the arrangements a solid foundation.

“Chris and I have been friends since we were five years old. I’ve spent damn near every weekend with him since we were 12 years old. That is another hell of a run! He is a rock, a blues-based player through and through, very steady. He is also a heck of mechanic, which comes in handy if our vehicle breaks down out on the road. He has been one of my best friends for a long, long time.

“Aaron “aTrain” Wilson joined us in 2014, filling in for our original drummer, Ed O’Hara. His talents really shine on Takin’ Time. He collaborated on the songwriting and was involved in the production of the album, in addition to being the heartbeat of the band. He also provides backing vocals.”

imageTo fill out the band’s sound, a decision was made to add organ to the mix.

“Jim Pryor plays organ on seven cuts on the album. He is originally from Champaign, IL but lived in New York City for 25 years. He is trained in jazz music, playing on the NYC jazz scene, doing his own groups and working as a sideman, touring Europe. He is a very accomplished jazz and gospel organist, currently serving as the Minister of Music at the Canaan Baptist Church in Urbana, IL. He adds a lot of flavor and coloring to our material.”

The band has plans to hit the road for the summer, including a tour centered on the Bucks County Blues Festival in July. They have been working on some cool new original songs, getting great responses from the audiences at their live shows, especially the tunes “All In This Together” and “The Highest Hill,” both very inspirational. Plans are coming together to get into the studio to capture that magic for future release.

Some might wonder why the band has been rooted in central Illinois, not exactly a hot spot of musical activity. The answer is simple. They feel at home in a community that has nurtured and supported the band since their beginning.

“We get a lot of love. The band means a lot to the greater Champaign area. We play to full houses all of the time. That means a great deal to the band. We really appreciate that. We hope to add some more tour dates so we can spread the love”

Another frequent contributor over the years, the beloved saxophonist Dave Fauble, passed away last year, dealing the band yet another loss.

“Now, this guy Kenny Odom has come into our lives, a wonderful sax player who sounds a bit like Dave, but does his own thing. He is a fine player, and all-around nice guy. He has been doing some local traveling with us. We hope he will be able to do the tours with us later in the year. Jim Pryor will also be hitting the road with us.”

After more than 20 years of fronting Kilborn Alley, Duncanson remains committed to the band and it’s future. At the same time, he has been busy exploring other avenues that allow him greater freedom in pursuit of his personal musical expression.

Last year saw the release of the debut album by The Dig 3, a band comprised of Duncanson on guitar and lead vocals, along with Ronnie Shellist on harmonica and multi-instrumentalist Gerry Hundt on bass, percussion, guitar and mandolin. Their stripped down sound revives the almost forgotten style of the early electric Muddy Waters records with Jimmy Rogers on second guitar and the master, Little Walter, on harp. The album was recorded live in the studio, a stripped down sound with no tricks.

“I started jamming with Ronnie Shellist back in 2015. We became very good friends, and he started doing some touring with Kilborn Alley. He decided to move to Champaign in March of 2020, just as Covid hit, so there suddenly were no gigs for any of us. So Ronnie and I began doing live shows on YouTube and on Facebook, as Ronnie has a strong fan base from years of teaching harmonica on -line. So we did that for most of 2020. At one point, Gerry came down to join us with his one-man band outfit. We had an electrified blues band going in Ronnie’s backyard. All three of us thought the sound was very cool.

image“In those times, we were itching to do things. Money didn’t really matter. The decision was made to do a recording safely in a larger studio. In the early winter of 2021, we went into Earth Analog Studio in Tolono, IL to lay down takes on songs I had written that all of us were excited about. That is the studio Kilborn Alley used for our last two recordings. I don’t think we had a name for the band yet. Everybody played their ass off, and we ended up with a fine sounding batch of songs. Our name is a play on the Willie Dixon band, The Big Three Trio. Gerry came up with the idea.”

“I have known Gerry since his days as part of Nick Moss and the Flip Tops. He engineered three Kilborn albums and played on all four records that we did on Nick’s label, Blue Bella Records. He has always been a kindred spirit with his love of Chicago blues and roots music. He can play anything. Ronnie is a powerhouse Chicago blues harmonica player. If you throw him into a soul bag or some funky stuff, he can handle it.”

The Dig 3 debut album was on the Living Blues Magazine Blues chart for four straight months. It also made a number of “Best of the Year” lists, including a spot at #3 on the Top Ten Blues Albums of 2022 in Mojo Magazine, a British publication. A second album is in the works, with ten tracks already recorded. Fans can expect it later this year. Touring plans are also in the works, and Duncanson is hoping to get some slots on blues festivals, which would help the logistics of getting the group together, with Shellist living in Colorado again and Hundt doing his thing in Chicago. Their busy individual schedules mean that you should not pass on any rare opportunity to catch The Dig 3 live.

When it comes to songwriting, Duncanson is proud of the fact that over 100 of his original songs have been recorded. And readers can rest easy in the knowledge that the well of inspiration as not yet run dry.

“My process happens daily, weekly, and monthly. I try to free write at least a couple times a week. That could mean working on word ladders, where you match up verbs and nouns, matching them up to try to get inspired by words on a page. I go through books, not really reading it but highlighting interesting words and phrases. These are my songwriting prompts. It can be hard to be super inspired by something in your life, or that you see out in the world. I try to instigate things by getting words on paper.

“I try to think creatively. Usually I will write a song almost every week. But let me be clear, that doesn’t mean that all of those songs are good. I am looking to keep 10-12 songs per year. The truly inspired ones will show themselves. The heart of the creative artistic process is going back to edit and rewrite. I might do it a couple times to get to the point where I have something that I want to record. Now it is nice to have some options as to who to record it with, which group will make the song sound it’s best.”

After working many many hours in a pizza place, Duncanson bought a Fender Stratocaster guitar off the wall in 2000, an American-made model. He also has a BP Rose guitar that belonged to Michael Ledbetter, which is on loan form Michael’s family. For amplification, he uses a mid-1980s Peavey Bandit 75 amp.

One might think that being a key member of two respected blues bands would be plenty for anyone to handle. But Duncanson uncovered another opportunity to share his music with a wider audience.

“In 2019, I went on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. Michael Ledbetter had tragically passed away, so I was asked to join guitarist Mike Welch and the Connection for the week. I ran into a guy originally from Champaign, Michael Peloquin, a great arranger and sax player. We were kidding around, and Michael kept saying he needed to get me out to California to make a record. About six months after I got home from the cruise, I texted Michael, asking when are you going to bring me out there to make a record.

image“I usually don’t do things like that. It isn’t my thing. But I kept thinking about how cool it would be, because I knew Michael had connections with Kid Andersen and his Greaseland Studio, a place known to make fantastic records. So over 18 months, I kept bugging him a bit, hey, when are we going to make that record? Finally, last year he invited me to come out. We were just going to record a few tracks, but ended up doing seven in two days. I went back two other times to finish it off. There is a long list of prominent artists from the Blues and R&B worlds that appear on the record. It has nine new originals of mine plus several cool covers and a song that Michael Peloquin wrote. We hope to release it very soon.

“The first session had myself, Kid Andersen, Derrick “D’MAR” Martin on drums, and Baxter Robertson on keyboards. That little band knocked out the seven songs in two days. It was a whirlwind. The next session had Kid, D’MAR, Jerry Jemmott on bass and Jim Pugh on keyboards. Both main sessions, we went to work. I flew in, and we spent all day in the studio. Michael put together a big horn section, and we had Tia Carroll, Lara Price, and Lisa Leuschner Andersen, Kid’s wife, on backing vocals. The tracks have a big sound.

“Honestly, when we first went into it, we were going to redo a couple of my older songs, and cut a couple new ones. We didn’t really have a whole plan. Michael liked my song, “Better Off Now,” the title cut for one of Kilborn Alley’s albums. I like the way it came out. It is a lot different than the original. It is more laid back, and has the full horn section.”

Another Peloquin suggestion was to cover the song, “This Land Is Your Land,” inspired by the stunning version done some years ago by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Kid Andersen lays down a killer funky bass line on the track. Another stellar cut is “Relearning To Climb,” with Jerry Jemmott’s walking bass line and some cool guitar licks from Andersen.

“When you are at Greaseland, you are in Kid’s world. You might think you are in charge. I say that lovingly. If you are recording at Greaseland, you should trust Kid 100% on most everything. He is a very wise person in the studio. He knows what sounds great. And he is not going to allow you to do something stupid. I’ve grown very fond of him as a person, producer, and his instrumental talents. He is really brilliant, which we all know!”

Duncanson is justifiably proud of his vocals on the Greaseland sessions, and is looking forward to sharing the music with the world. The search for a label that shares his enthusiasm continues. When the time is right, he hopes to get together with Peloquin to play the music for live audiences.

“This is another opportunity. It has been keeping me busy. Those sessions were in and out. I flew in, got some sleep, woke up, boom, full days in the studio, and then I flew back home. Those were some of my favorite musical moments in my life, playing with those guys. Everybody was pushing each other. We are just happy to bring these songs to people.”

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 

imageBoogaloo Ames – Going Down Slow

Wolf Records

12 songs, 38 minutes

Abie “Boogaloo” Ames was one of the last great practitioners of Barrelhouse Piano. Born either in 1918 or 1920 in either Jamaica (as he told everyone), Mississippi or Georgia (depending on which census documents you want to believe), Ames cut his teeth as a young man in Detroit. He then moved back to Mississippi and had a long, and mostly under the radar, career until his death in 2002. Going Down Slow is the only full length album credited to Ames. Recorded in Greenville, MS in 1998, these 12 songs capture Ames’ genius solo and after a lifetime of development.

Boogaloo’s playing is truly a revelation. At times supple and tender, then bombastic and commanding, Ames coaxes layers of feeling. His touch on the keys is so expressive and distinct. The program of songs is pretty standard from the title track to “Early in the Morning,” “Every Day I Have the Blues,” “Caldonia,” and “Further On Up the Road.” But, Boogaloo breathes fire into these songs through his vibrant playing. Adding splashes of 6th chords and twisting chord substitutions, Boogaloo takes the simple structure of these tunes and the barrelhouse style and intensifies it.

Especially shining are the 2 instrumentals “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” and “After Hours.” Ames creates whole universes chorus after chorus. Not just interpreting a century of musical invention, Ames inverts and reinvents the music that could be hackneyed in lesser hands.

Boogaloo Ames was not a vocalist and unfortunately he does sing over the majority of the tunes. His phrasing is good, but his pronunciation is so garbled and his pitch so off that it is at times unsettling. At it’s best it reminds a listener of some of the fine amateur Hill Country artists who were recorded early on by Fat Possum such as Robert Cage, Scott Dunbar or Paul “Wine” Jones. When he vocalizes in a scat style and doesn’t try to deliver lyrics it is more effective. Tunes like “What’d I Say” and “Everyday I Have the Blues” are effective in this way.

Going Down Slow is an important document. Boogaloo Ames was clearly a towering giant of roiling Blues piano. The liner notes by Klaus Kilian are informative and help to ground Ames’ place in a larger context. But more importantly, Boogaloo Ames’ undeniable artistry thrills and transcends.

Writer 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 – 2 of 6 

imageJeff Sellars and Kevin C. Neece – Rags & Bones: An Exploration Of The Band

University Press Of Mississippi

186 Pages Softcover Edition

The Band seemingly came out of nowhere with their first album, Music From Big Pink, in 1968. That record may have been the start of what is now commonly referred to as Americana, a mixture of musical influences including blues, country, bluegrass, rock, and folk elements. Perhaps no group has ever done it better, as witnessed by their enduring classic songs like “The Weight, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Up On Cripple Creek”.

The actual story began much earlier, when guitarist Robbie Robertson, drummer Levon Helm, and multi-instrumentalists Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, and Richard Manuel came together as the Hawks, the band backing Canadian singer Ronnie Hawkins for a lengthy stretch of touring dives and juke joints from Toronto down into the deep South. The collective ensemble was so good that Bob Dylan hired them as his touring band when he made his fateful decision to go electric. Moving on, they eventually settle in a house in Woodstock, NY, enjoying an escape from the whirlwind of a touring life while slowly coalescing a unique sound that would soon captivate the world.

In his Introduction, Editor Jeff Sellars provides a brief summation of The Band’s history, and makes his case for their significance in the history of music, hence this book that focuses on the group from a number of different perspectives, examined by a collection of authors, most of whom have been awarded degrees from various institutions of higher education.

The first piece, by Toby Thompson, delves into the impact their tenure with Hawkins had on the group, setting the stage for all that came later. The singer honed their sound to a razor-sharp edge, and taught them how to work a stage. But those long nights on tour also contributed to the members turning to alcohol and drugs as a way to combat the weariness of constant travel. The Day The Music Lived, by Christine Hand Jones, first explores Dylan’s influence on The Band, then extends her line of thinking to postulate that The Band’s records, along with Dylan’s John Wesley Harding album, were the foundation for what became Southern Rock.

In a unique twist, Charlotte Pence ponders her thoughts and reactions to the group’s music as she reads “Sonny’s Blues,” a short story by James Baldwin that addresses the effects of drugs and racism on the human condition. The longest piece comes from George Plasketes, who has authored a number of books including a biography of Warren Zevon. Over 25 pages, he revels in the impact the song “The Weight” has had over time, in addition to sharing his thoughts on some of the lyrical reference points in an attempt to bring the song into sharper focus.

Sellars returns to with a lively section on the Music From Big Pink album, with a sound unlike any other at the time. His investigation finds him comparing the that album to the work the Beatles were doing at the same time, offering some thoughts on how The Band was able to create such a rich musical tapestry. A couple pieces take a more scholarly approach to the music, while the other Editor, Kevin C. Neece, finishes the anthology with his ruminations on the movie, The Last Waltz, a classic concert film that was a tribute to the group’s storied legacy, and served as a final good-bye.

A stimulating collection, Rags & Bones is a must for anyone with an abiding love for the musical output of The Band. Readers will be left with a deeper appreciation for the group, gain a greater understanding as to the meaning of inherent in several songs, and join the writers in embracing the legacy of a truly remarkable band of musical savants.

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 – 3 of 6 

imageBlue Largo – Got To Believe

Self Released

11 tracks/52 minutes

Blue Largo is a Southern California band formed in 1999 by guitarist Eric Lieberman and vocalist Alicia Aragon.  Liebermann has been a fixture in the music scene there since 1981, having formed the Rumboogies and Juke Stompers after a stint with The King Biscuit Blues Band. He meet Alicia while in that band.

Blue Largo released a couple of album and then took a thirteen year hiatus recording because of Eric fighting a neurological disorder impeding his guitar playing that he has since overcome. In 2018 came their fourth album and a fifth was slated for 2020 when the pandemic hit and which took the wind out of their sails.  But a book signing by Eric’s hero Steven Van Zandt moved Eric to let Little Steven hear the cut and that moved them to return to the  studio and complete the album.

Alicia Aragon, now in her sixties, sings with the experience the years have given her. Lieberman plays guitar with fire and ferocity. Taryn “T Bird” Donath handles piano and adds Hammond organ to a pair of cuts. On bass is Mike “Sandalwood” Jones and Marcus P. Bashore is on drums. Eddie Croft and David Castel are spectacular on the saxophones. Jody Bagley plays organ on the other nine tracks and Scot Smart adds reggae guitar to track 5. The pedal steel on the next to last cut is played by David Berzansky. Ruth Ajuzie adds some good fiddle to the second cut and Liz Ajuzie provides backing vocals. Tambourine on track  9 is done by Roy Silverstein.

“A World Without Soul” gets things started, a swinging cut with nice horns and a great groove. We get a fine piano and guitar solo here, too.  A song of hope, it’s a nice opening cut that Aragon croons for us. The title track follows, another hope filled song. A big sax solo followed by a guitar solo and all this with cool organ support. The vocals and song hearken back to sound and style of the early 60’s. “Soul Meeting” is a ballad of spiritual reunion if the afterlife, featuring a thoughtful guitar solo and some very churchy organ accompaniment that adds to the track. “What We Gotta Do” is a rocking track about doing what we have to do because we’re called to do so. Another big piano solo is followed again by a ringing guitar solo and Argaon sings with her angst filled style.

“Disciple of Soul” is a tribute to Little Steve Van Zandt, Featuring a short instrumental interlude in the middle of it, the song has a bouncing vibe and was the impetus for the band to go back to the studio and make this album. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” is a slow blues cover of the Nina Simone song with Aragaon  belting out the lead vocals. There’s a slick guitar solo with major musical accompaniment and some more nice organ and piano work. “Soldier in the Army of Love” follows, a song about fighting oppression and injustice. It’s dedicated to the people of Ukraine in their fight for freedom. A guitar and sax solo add nicely to the mix. The bouncy “Ronnie” is the story of the piano player Taryn’s much older mentor Ronnie Lane who passed in 2018. She played piano in his band at age 13 and Lane was 43; the song takes poetic license with he differing ages. A piano solo with feeling is featured here.

“Gospel Music” is next, a song that pays homage to the power of music and Gospel rhythms despite their lack of beliefs. It’s a bouncy and jumping cut. There’s plenty of great sax and organ here to make an unbeliever faithful.  The soulful and slow “Rear View Mirror” follows, a song about looking back as one gets older. It’s no longer about the headlights shing ahead but the memories one has made. A thoughtful guitar and sax solo add to this one’s feeling. They conclude with “Santa Fe Bound,” a cut with a sountry and western feel to it. Honky-tonk piano and pedal steel guitar set the mood for this finale. Another ringing guitar solo followed by some more pedal steel make this one a full blown countrified blues song.

This is a fun album of songs the band obviously enjoyed playing and making together. One senses their camaraderie and joy in working together, It’s an interesting effort with ten originals and a slick cover that is worth a listen!

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 Cadillac Kings – Crash and Burn

33 Jazz

14 songs, 55 minutes

A solid well traveled Blues band recorded simply as they would sound in a smoky bar makes for a great record. These are the kinds of bands who don’t necessarily have a spotlight hogging frontman/woman; they just hit hard. The Nighthawks, The Cash Box Kings, The Phantom Blues Band. Britain’s The Cadillac Kings is one of these crews and on their newest outing Crash and Burn they deliver the goods.

The Cadillac Kings have been at it for 24 years. The only constant is singer/primary songwriter/harp blower/guitar slider Mike Thomas. Since 2012 Thomas has been sparing musically with guitarist Mal Barclay. Thomas and Barclay create a solid interplay that is fluid and locked in. Paul Cuff on bass and Tim Penn on keys have been Kings since 2011 while relative newcomer Jason Reay started banging the skins with the band in 2018. The CD packaging for Crash and Burn has a reviewer ready personnel timetable.

The longevity of this current incarnation is audible in the music. It is reassuring to the listener when the music flows without hesitation, when the musicians perform seamlessly. This can also be said of the song selection. Mostly original material most of the compositions sound like they were churned out of Chess Studios. “Betty Lou Broke out of Jail,” “I Ain’t Smart,” and “Six Feet From a Rat” have as much character and class as the covers “Bona Fide” or “Zombie Walk.”

If you are a traditional Blues lover, listen to this record.

Writer 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 – 5 of 6 

imageJeff Pitchell – Playin’ With My Friends

Deguello Records – 2023

13 tracks; 55 minutes

This is Jeff Pitchell’s ninth album release in a career that dates back to the late 90’s. However, it appears that at least some of these tracks have been released before, given the appearance of players who passed some time ago. The lengthy list of musicians is further evidence of multiple recording sessions. The full list is Jeff himself on guitar and vocals, Rick Derringer, J Geils, Duane Betts and Tyrone Vaughan guesting on guitar, Bruce Bears, Bruce Feiner, Billy Holloman, Danny Fontanella, Bob Leinbach, Jeff Levine, Tom Leyasmeyer and Reese Wynans all contribute keyboard parts; horns appear on five tracks courtesy of contributions from Charles Neville, Billy Holloman, Jimmy Biggins, Jim Hogan, Scott Aruda, Rich Lataille and Scott Heff. The rhythm section is equally diverse with Ephraim Lowell, Marty Richards, Floyd Murphy Jr, Steve Bankuti, Lynn Williams, Jason Arnold and Steve Peck on drums, Ivan Santiago on percussion and Mike Nunno, Wolf Ginandes, David Smith, John O’Boyle, Jesse Williams and Dave Natale on bass. Jeff wrote most of the material and there are three covers.

“Eye For An Eye” opens the album, a solid shuffle with clean guitar lines from Jeff, a song that impressed John Mayall sufficiently for him to cover it on his 2009 album Tough. “Prisoner Of Love” is a pounding rocker fuelled by a four-man horn section and female backing vocals, taken from 2015’s American Girl, an album produced by the late J Geils who plays slide. The first cover is Atlanta Rhythm Section’s “So Into You”, a smooth sound with Charles Neville providing silky sax accompaniment. Jeff’s jagged riff leads into a tale of the guy in thrall to a woman who seduces him through “Your Magic Eyes” before a run of three tracks with guest guitarists. Jeff shares vocals and guitar with Tyrone Vaughan (son of Jimmie, nephew of Stevie Ray) on “Out In The Cold”, a slower cut with a steady groove set by the rhythm section; “All Night Long” is full-bore rock and roll with honking sax, pounding piano and guitars that carry a touch of country courtesy of Duane Betts’s contribution, perfectly suited to this tribute to “my bride to be down in Tennessee”; Rick Derringer shares vocals and guitar on “Unsung Hero Of The Blues”, his grittier style fitting nicely alongside Jeff’s lighter voice.

Ivan Santiago’s percussion brings some latin flourishes as Jeff bemoans being stuck in jail “waiting for my baby to pay my bail”, despite being “Not Guilty”, an attractive cut on which Jeff adopts a different style to his playing. We then return to a trio format for chugging rocker “Blinded By Desire”, before the title track of Jeff’s 1997 album, “Fat Cigars” which describes the local kingpin driving through his local area, cigar in hand, both cuts having lashings of wah-wah. “I Like The Rut” is a catchy tune in retro 50’s style with Jeff playing guitar, bass and drums, Billy Holloman keys and sax, Christine Ohlman sharing vocals with Jeff. The album closes with two covers: first we get a live reprise of the Robert Cray/Dennis Walker penned title track, originally written for the BB King Blues Summit project; BB’s daughter Claudette sings in raspy style and Jeff solos in BB style, a nicely done flourish; another great of the blues scene, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, is remembered with a good cover of one of his most famous tunes, “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog”.

It was not really clear whether this is entirely a compilation of tunes from earlier albums (some certainly are) or whether some new recordings are included but there are several strong tunes and good performances from Jeff and his friends.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

imageHurricane Dave and the Storm Chasers – Blooze Blowdown

Smoke Tone Records

12 tracks/72 minutes

Hurricane Dave and his Stormchasers are an eclectic band. Vocally, David Biondo is way out there. The musicians are talented and the guys performing are tight and appear to be having a great time. Biondo is a New Jersey native who moved to Colorado in 1994. They self describe their style of blues as from the “Delta, Psychedelic Gospel, Jump, NY Style Jazzy, New Orleans Style, Chicago… Rootsy;” It’s all that and more.

David Biondo leads the charge here and plays the harps, acoustic guitar, ;a[ syeel and handles vocals. Wayne Hammerstadt plays electric guitars. Dwight Thompson is on the bass, Dewey Steele is on drums and Bryant Jones is on keyboards. Betsey Ruckard backs David on vocals. Eleven original tracks and a cover are included here.

Hurricane Dave Biondo’s vocals remind me of a wild man version the Door’s keyboard player Ray Manzarek. He growls and songs with reckless abandon. The opener “Tarzan and Jane” feature him in a crazy number with great keyboard backing and overall band support. He follows that with a story about “Claire –  Starbright” where he narrates a dark tale about a murdered woman in a song that is a narration of film noir. Interesting, to say the least. The title track then follows. Biondo sings and blows a little harp with frenetic passion. The guitar solo work is well done. It’s another wild ride.

“I Want To Get to Heaven, I Never Admit Defeat” is another dark tale with ethereal, creepy backing. Crazy stuff done in a quite interesting manner. Next is “Rat Mobile,” another cut with narration, but this time about an old open wheeled rag top unpainted hot rod he calls the Rat Mobile. The tinkling of the piano keys and guitar soloing are cool. The cover “Riders on the Storm” next, done fairly straight up but with the sound and feel of Manzarek doing hte lead vocals. The keys, guitar and vocals deliver that classic psychedelic rock sound.

“Damn That Ticket – Ticket to the Blues” features more gutsy vocals and storytelling. Here we have Biondi giving us an Atlantic City based tale of fighting a traffic ticket with dirty harp, nice piano and big guitar sounds. Following that is “Universe Passes By – All I Do Is Fly.” Again Biondo tells us another story as he blows a little harp and throws in some lap steel as the piano backs him. “Down at the Thunderbird” is a seamy and steamy cut with Biondo again narrating his story of adventures at a club. Jazzy, dark and again he tells us quite the tale.

“Dave’s Blues” is a slow and gritty blues with harp, guitar and piano giving us a greasy good time as Dave sings his blues. “My Boat’s Got a Hole In It” follows with Biondo again singing and storytelling with crazed passion. Betsy Ruckhard backs Biondo on vocals. They conclude with “On Down the River” with a resonator and harp providing accompaniment to Dave’s story.

It’s wild. The stories and vocals are hairy and big. It’s frenetic and hypnotic; certainly not for the faint of heart. If you want something different, and I mean REALLY different, then pick this one up.  It’s a wold and crazy ride!

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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