Issue 17-20 May 18, 2023


Cover photo © 2023 Peter M. Hurley

 In This Issue 

Marty Gunther has our feature interview with Lil’ Ed Williams. We have six Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Clarence “Bluesman” Davis, Alastair Greene, Bob Corritore & Friends, Furry Lewis, The Blues Bones and Boo Boo Davis. 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 – Lil’ Ed Williams 

imageA giant of a stage presence in a diminutive body, Lil’ Ed Williams produces a bare-bones sound so large and so intense that you’d think it should be coming from a man twice his size. And although it’s not apparent as he fronts his band, the Blues Imperials, in some ways, your eyes are deceiving you and it’s true!

It’s been more than 40 years since Ed stepped on stage for the first time, and every time he’s done so, he’s never been alone because the spirit of his uncle, legendary slide guitarist J.B. Hutto, has been standing staunchly beside him all the way.

In more ways than one, Ed’s the living, breathing embodiment of J.B., who left us before getting to see his beloved nephew and protégé soar to fame. After all, they’re almost mirror images of each other — powerful despite being “petite” – with similar vocal deliveries and the same furious attack on the strings. And Ed’s stage appearance is identical to Hutto – right down to the fez that adorns his head and, frequently, to the Airway Res-o-Glass guitar he holds in his hands.

But make no mistake…they’re identical in many ways, but Williams is no copycat. That’s one thing J.B. cautioned against from the early days of teaching his prized student how to play.

“The reason I started making this music in the first place was to keep J.B.’s legacy alive,” Lil’ Ed told Blues Blast in a recent interview. “Sure, I wanted to play music. But before he passed, he said to me: ‘I want you to keep this goin’ and takin’ it all over the world. But don’t play like me. Play like yourself and keep the tradition goin’ — and always remember me when you get it done.’”

One thing’s for certain: Hutto left an indelible mark on Williams – so much so, in fact, that Ed says he occasionally hits a note that literally channels Hutto and is something he’s never done before. The events leave him wondering how he’d done it while enforcing his understanding that his beloved uncle remains close and watching overhead.

The son of a preacher, J.B. spent his youth, playing drums and piano and performing with his dad and six siblings in the family gospel group, the Golden Flames. Born in 1926 in Blackville, S.C., he and the rest of his kin relocated to Chicago in 1949 after his father’s passing. Hutto never talked about his time in the service, but returned to the States from the Korean War with a metal plate in his head after being wounded in action. It was an injury that triggered occasional seizures for the rest of his life – something Ed was unaware of until after his passing.

Deeply influenced by slide master Elmore James, J.B. turned to the guitar after his return, frequently playing Maxwell Street and other venues with percussionist Eddie “Porkchop” Hines before the duo joined forces with guitarist Joe Custom and harp player Earring George Mayweather and started playing as J.B. Hutto & the Hawks in many clubs that populated the West Side.

They were starting to make a name for themselves when they cut three 45s for the Chance label in 1954. Soon after, however, J.B.’s career came to a screeching halt. He was playing a hole-in-the-wall one night when woman grabbed his guitar off the stage and smashed it on her husband’s noggin. He was so disillusioned with show business that he began working as a funeral home janitor and abandoned performing professionally for 11 years.

A master of open-D tuning and delivering a raw sound that drew comparisons to Hound Dog Taylor & the House Rockers, he finally reformed the Hawks as a three-piece with drummer Frank Kirkland and bassist Herman Hassell and rose to national prominence in 1966 when Vanguard Records released Chicago/The Blues/Today! Vol. 1, a compilation that also included sessions from Junior Wells and Otis Spann.

After Taylor’s death in 1975, Hutto changed his lineup, joining forces with guitarist Brewer Phillips and drummer Ted Harvey — Hound Dog’s longtime bandmates – and rebranded the band as J.B. Hutto & the House Rockers. Other iterations, including a unit branded the New Hawks, followed as he cut LPs for Testament, Delmark and other imprints prior to losing his life to cancer at just 57 in 1983.

“At his funeral,” Williams remembers, “I stood over his casket and told him he’d always be a part of me and that I’d never let his legacy die. I keep him alive ‘cause that’s what it’s all about!”

He’s been a torchbearer for the blues and J.B. since.

Other folks claim it, but Lil’ Ed was truly born to play the blues. He came into the world on April 8, 1955, and grew up in the heart of the West Side. His father abandoned the family when he was six. “I remember him sayin’: ‘I’ll see you in a couple of weeks,’” he says. “But I didn’t see him anymore.”

imageWilliams was raised by his great-grandmother for the next six years until her passing and then by an aunt for a short while until she asked him if he wanted to live with his mother, who’d remarried and was raising his half-brother, James “Pookie” Young, who grew up to be his closer-than-blood bassist in the Blues Imperials.

His mom’s new husband quickly became the father he never really had. But through all of his childhood, for Ed, J.B. was both a quiet, calming influence as a favorite uncle and a second father figure, too.

“Uncle J.B. was always there,” he says. “Sometimes, he’d kick off his shoes and stay for two or three weeks” – during which he’d perform whenever their large family got together. Realizing he had two willing and highly motivated students, he took Ed and Pookie under his wing, teaching them the rudiments of playing an instrument along with instructing them about the do’s and don’ts of the music business, too.

“The first time we seen him play was in the livin’ room,” Ed remembers. “Back then, on Sundays, they’d go off into church and sing the gospel songs. Then they’d come home in the evenin’, he’d pull out the guitar and they’d go into the livin’ room to play the blues. The kids wasn’t supposed to be in there, but he’d catch me peekin’ in.”

As great as those nights were, however, the seminal moment in Ed’s life came when J.B. brought his band to the family’s home at Lake and Paulina – before the neighborhood was torn down and replaced by a housing project – and played for the neighbors in the expansive yard.

“They called it the ‘Honeymoon Building,’” Williams says. “There was another big buildin’ sittin’ to the right of us, and we had this big, open space — a big backyard with chickens, pigs, about 13 dogs, 25 or 35 cats and all that shit. It was huge, man. It was huge!

“Once in a while, my youngest uncle – his name was Pepper – would chop the head off of one of the chickens and make me go grab it. Back then, you had to do what they say…and if you didn’t…I got scars to prove it!

“We had a potbelly stove in the dinin’ area…where I slept, and my auntie was whippin’ me so bad one day, I run from the livin’ room, lookin’ back to see where she was at. I run right into that hot potbelly stove and fell back. But if you think that stopped her from whoopin’ my butt…(chuckles)…”

Lil’ Ed was on the second floor porch of the Honeymoon Building one afternoon, watching the action unfolding beneath him. Another uncle was stacking garbage cans in the shape of a pyramid into the sky as J.B. and the Hawks got ready to play.

“I guess he knew what uncle J.B. was gonna do,” he remembers. “People was startin’ to crowd around, and they kicked off into a tune. All of a sudden, Uncle J.B. was walkin’ these garbage cans! I was up there watchin’ him, and my older sister had to pull me back because I almost fell over.”

Lil’ Ed Williams, the musician, took root that day.

In the early years, he cut his teeth sitting in with J.B. and playing alongside other Chicago stalwarts, including Hip Linkchain and Little Howlin’ Wolf, while working ten-hour days as a buffer at the Red Carpet Car Wash to make ends meet. In those days, Pookie drove a school bus.

The first time this writer met Lil’ Ed, in fact, came one afternoon in the late ‘70s at Silvio’s – where the real Wolf held sway at night. He showed up at the gig after coming straight from his day job and played the entire set alongside Little Wolf – aka Lee Solomon — still dressed in the rubberized/waterproof, yellow jumpsuit he’d worn at work. Back then, it was an outfit that probably weighed as much as he did.

After playing together through their teens, Pookie and Ed formed the first iteration of the Blues Imperials with another J.B. protégé, guitarist Dave Weld, after an introduction from Hutto. They made their debut at Big Duke’s Blue Flame — one of dozens of blues clubs that existed along the Madison Street corridor back then – in 1975, making a whopping $6 in the tip jar, which they split four ways.

imageIt was a memorable night, Williams notes, because they shared the stage with a shake dancer who billed herself as Sugar Lips and whose “talent” was the ability to squat down and pick up a dollar bill from the floor by using her private parts and nothing more. “They were still havin’ shows like the ‘olden’ days,” he still says in amazement. “First they had the dancer, then the comedian and then the band.

“But in this case, the comedian was actually the singer…us…because the guy said he didn’t want me to sing ‘cause I wasn’t ready yet. He wanted me to play.

“So I’m playin’ and he’s singin’. And all of a sudden, he’d lean over to the side and the audience would go ‘Ah-h-h-h-h!’ I was thinkin’: ‘Wow, he’s really gettin’ down. I’m gonna see what’s goin’ on.’

“So the next time he stepped up, I stepped up with him and leaned over to look at him. He turned his head and looked at me – and his eyeballs was sittin’ on his cheeks! It scared me about half to death!”

One of Lil’ Ed’s favorite memories in that era came at a jam when he and Pookie were finally invited up to play a jam one night after chomping on the bit on the sidelines as others took the stage. “Both this piano player we called Foots and Sunnyland Slim were there,” he recalls. “I knew Foots, but I didn’t know Sunnyland well – and didn’t know he’d just recorded an album with J.B. So I asked Foots to join us.

“Me and Pookie got up there, and I hit that slide. Sunnyland was sittin’ down, talkin’ to somebody, and I seen him look up and his eyes was like poppin’ out. He ran up over to the stage and said: ‘I know that song…that’s J.B. Hutto.’ He pushed Foots off the piano and took his place.

“He asked me afterwards: ‘Are you some kin to J.B. Hutto?’ I said: ‘Yeah.’ He said: ‘Oh, my god! I knew that sound!’ From then on, me and Sunnyland was tight.”

For years, the Blues Imperials played for chump change in dozens of small, dark and often dangerous West Side clubs, and J.B. would drop in occasionally to see how they were doing. Sometimes, he’d chastise the audience if they weren’t paying attention. Others, he’d send Ed to fetch his equipment out of the car so he could join them on stage.

Most artists were encouraging, Ed says. But not so when it came to John Littlejohn, he notes. One of the greatest slide guitarists who ever lived, Littlejohn was critical to the extreme. In his opinion, Ed’s attack and tuning were all wrong – something he didn’t hesitate about telling him, J.B. and Hound Dog, too, all because their unorthodox approach differed so much from his own.

Ed took the criticism in stride and avoided contact with Littlejohn for years. But John eventually had a change of heart. Shortly before his passing in the mid-‘90s, he walked into B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted one night when the Blues Imperials were on stage, headed straight to the stage, shook Ed’s hand and told him “you’re a ba-a-ad motherfucker,” gave him his card and told him to call him.

“That blew me away!” Williams exclaims.

Weld was still in the lineup when the band received its first big break. Alligator Records founder Bruce Iglauer invited them to Streeterville studio on the Near North Side to cut two tracks for the Alligator compilation, The New Bluebloods (The Next Generation of Chicago Blues), one of which — “Young Thing” — serves as the closing track on a disc that included contributions from an unbelievable list of rising talent, including Valerie Wellington, Donald Kinsey & the Kinsey Report, Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues, Dion Payton & the 43rd Street Band, Maurice John Vaughn, Michael Coleman, Melvin Taylor & the Slack Band, John Watkins and Professor Eddie Lusk’s Blues Review featuring Gloria Hardiman.

Ed admits that – prior to the invite — he had no idea who Iglauer was and that, at the time, all he and Pookie dreamed about was recording a 45 sometime in the future – something that they knew they were incapable of doing then because they couldn’t scrape together $100 for studio time.

That night launched the band into the stratosphere. They had so much time left after cutting two tracks that Iglauer kept the tapes rolling as they churned out song after song from their usual set list.

“Every time I finished a song, everybody’d be clappin’, screamin’: ‘C’mon! C’mon! Good god, that’s great!’” Williams remembers. “Half the Alligator stars was there.

“I got real excited because, No. 1, we’d never been in a studio before and, No. 2, everything sounded so-o-o good because – for the first time ever — I’ve got headphones on, sayin’ to myself: ‘It’s me soundin’ like this?’ We didn’t know we could ‘cause all we ever heard was our regular little amps when we were just havin’ fun.

“I didn’t wanna stop! I musta played every song I knew…I’m pretty sure I did.”

imageTen songs in, Iglauer interrupted long enough to say: “This is great! Why don’t we do an album?”

“I used to listen to uncle J.B. play all those old-time songs, and I’d take ’em and sing ’em, too,” Ed says today. “I think that’s what really got Bruce ‘cause he walked up to me and asked: ‘At your age, how are you singin’ (the John Lee Hooker classic) ‘Black Night Is Falling?’”

But he was also creating new songs “right there off the top of my head – just like Uncle J.B. did. He’d come over the house and sing some shit I never heard before in my life, and I’d say to myself: ‘Where the hell did he get that song?’

“I wouldn’t hear the song again until a couple of years after that when he put it on a record.”

Three hours later, the Blues Imperials had 33 tunes in the can, all of which were recorded with no overdubs. Only a single track requiring a second take. Twelve of them made it onto their debut 1986 release, Roughhousin’. An instant hit, the album drew rave reviews from the New York Times and Village Voice and went on to earn both a Blues Music Award nomination for contemporary album of the year and a second for Lil’ Ed in the contemporary male artist category, kicking off a career that’s included 15 more nominations as well as two wins for band of the year.

“One of the hardest decisions I ever had to make in my life was quittin’ my job at the car wash to go on the road,” Williams insists. “I had some regular customers and was gettin’ some pretty good tips – and, all of a sudden, these other people were sayin’: ‘C’mon, Ed, come out here. We need you.’

“I said: ‘Whoa! What is goin’ on here? What am I supposed to do?’ My boss told me: ‘Go for it for a month. And if you don’t like it, come on back.’”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Other than a break in the mid-‘90s when Ed teamed with Weld on one album and Willie Kent on another, the Blues Imperials have been a true musical family since 1989. That’s when Weld and percussionist Louie Henderson left the lineup to form Dave Weld & the Imperial Flames – and launched an enduring relationship with crosstown rival Delmark — and guitarist Michael Garrett and drummer Kelly Littleton – a pair of transplants from Detroit — took their place.

The eight albums they’ve released since then remain top sellers in the Alligator catalog.

“We’re so much of a family,” Williams insists, “that all we have to do is look at each other and tell how the other one feels. Me and Pookie, we the ones who started this shit. But Mike and Kelly have come a lo-o-ong way with us, too.”

Sure, there have been some changes. In the beginning, Ed was actually making his own fezzes because store-bought hats either came to a point at the crown or had tassels when he preferred a flat-top model. In those days, making them himself was problematic because his were either too heavy to wear or too tall.

Fortunately, that stopped being an issue after he wed wife Pam, who’s also his manager. She took over seamstress duties, and her creations fit just right. She and other members of their extended family all have played a large role in contributing several of the tunes that populate the Blues Imperials’ CDs, including such fan favorites as “Icicles in My Meatloaf,” “Chicken, Gravy & Biscuits,” “No Fast Food,” “I Like My Hot Sauce Cold” and “Whiskey Flavored Tears.”

“‘Chicken, Gravy & Biscuits’ come from Pookie,” Williams notes, “because that’s all he would eat when we’d go to the restaurants. ‘Icicles in My Meatloaf,’ that was my mother-in-law’s idea. She cooked one night then didn’t cook it all the way when she reheated it. We got a big laugh outta that, ya know. We all sat down and crunched in to it and went: ‘Hey, there’s icicles…’

“And ‘Hot Sauce,’ that was my son-in-law’s idea, and I put words on it. He said somethin’ like that, and I said: ‘That’s pretty cool. I’m gonna make a song about that.’”

He and Pam penned both “Whiskey Flavored Tears” and “No Fast Food,” the latter of which was written after Ed received advice from a doctor that he needed to drop a little weight.

As great as Lil’ Ed’s career has been across the past four decades, the past few years have been difficult to the extreme. Like most other artists in the industry, the pandemic waylaid any plan Williams and his musical family had for a new release. The timing couldn’t have been worse for the the band. Their most recent album, The Big Sound of Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials, hit the street in 2016.

“When COVID first hit, it scared the shit out of me,” Ed admits, noting that he immediately called Iglauer, who’s been a close friend, adviser and father figure to him from the onset of their relationship. “I was thinkin’: ‘Ma-a-an, I don’t know what I’m gonna do…’

image“I didn’t see myself workin’ nowhere because there was nowhere to work at the time.”

Believe it or not, though, Ed actually returned to work at a car wash again for a brief spell. But business was so slow, he says, that “there wasn’t hardly anything to do. I really didn’t make that many hours. I was buffin’ a little bit, shampooin’ a little bit then (the owner) put me on the front. When she put me on the back, that was the last straw.

“I wanted to make sure that we weren’t too far in debt. But one day, I told Pam: ‘Listen, I’m about tired of this,’ and she said: ‘Well, why don’t you just go and quit? There ain’t no sense of you workin’ when you don’t want to.’”

But Williams is ecstatic that there’ll be another album in the offing as Alligator ramps up its business again. He was working on new tunes when we spoke but isn’t in a major rush, he insists, “because it gives me enough time to take time.”

Even today, he says, with the worst of COVID behind us, things still have a long way to go to returning to what was previously “normal.” Several of the clubs the Blues Imperials played regularly went belly-up, and most of the ones still operating aren’t booking like they did in the past. Instead of locking in dates months in advance, many of them are only booking a two-week window, which makes tour planning difficult.

But Lil’ Ed remains optimistic.

“I think I’ve got some pretty good stuff comin’,” he added, “‘Takin’ Good Days with the Bad,’ ‘More Times,’ ‘The Way You Keep Your Nest’…and I’ve got a few more” to consider for a new CD.

Is Pam helping him write? “Oh yeah!” he insists. “She got a little taste of that money, right? She told me: ‘You gotta take it or leave it.’ I said: ‘Well, I gotta take it – I ain’t got no choice!’”

Currently, Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials are working in the Chicago area as much as they can and booking short mini-tours. “Right now, it’s slow, but we’re workin’, thank God!” he insists, and looking forward to the time – hopefully, in the not-too-distant future – when things return to the way they used to be.

In the meantime, check out Ed’s house-rockin’ music and where he and the boys will be playing next by visiting his website:

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 – 1 of 6 

imageClarence “Bluesman” Davis – Shake It For Me

Music Maker Foundation

12 Tracks – 37 minutes

Clarence “Bluesman” Davis was born in Eutaw, Alabama on February 17, 1945.His father was a sharecropper on the former Gosa Plantation now called the Gosa Quarter. Clarence was one of twelve children, consisting of nine brothers and three sisters. He started playing the guitar after his Uncle James gifted a cousin a guitar, but the cousin had let it sit unused. Clarence was interested in and ultimately given the instrument although it needed strings. His family spent their days in the hot sun picking cotton for $2.50/day. Clarence said “if you were old enough to work, you did something.” Clarence worked in the cotton fields at age 10 to save $2.50 to buy strings for the guitar and immediately started playing it non-stop, frequently making his fingers so sore that he could not pick cotton.

Clarence listened to the sounds of Jimmy Reed,  Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Muddy Waters on the family’s battery-operated radio. He emulated their music and slowly developed his own style further learning his instrument from many of the Delta blues performers. He became a one-man band playing his guitar while operating a bass pedal with his foot, a sound he acquired after watching a New Orleans musician performing with the instrument.  His unique sound captured the attention of Music Maker Foundation executives after listening to recordings made by Davis. They brought him in to record, but his bass pedal had broken. They recorded him just with his electric guitar, but they found that the bass pedal added a missing piece of his sound. He was offered a new pedal, but he was not happy with the sound. His old pedal was a 1980 model that no longer had available parts, but a Peavey technician who repaired vintage equipment got it operational and Clarence’s full sound returned.

Today, the 74-year-old musician lives with his family in a home about three miles from his childhood home. Over the years he has performed with various gospel and blues groups, but found he enjoys playing his own music. In 1993, he retired from work and concentrated on playing his traditional country blues. He is a regular player at the various regional blues festivals including the Howlin’ Wolf Festival held in West Point, Mississippi. He represented the Gulf Coast Blues Society at the 2016 International Blues Challenge.

He opens the album with the traditional “Not Your Fool”. His rugged voice mixes well with the rhythmic nature of the song. He gets the room jumping with “Gotta Rock It”. His then tells a story of his history on “Goosa Farm”, noting that “It was rough, it was tough”.  He says he wanted to get a “Hoochie Mama” who has “no pride, no shame”.

He gets the room rocking again on Howlin’ Wolf’s “Shake It for Me”. Jock Webb adds harmonica to “Born in the Country” as Clarence again talks about his early life. He then offers a more modern tale on “Facebook Blues” as he tells her to keep off the website.

Jimmy Reed’s “Shame, Shame, Shame” is next up with Jock again providing harmonica accompaniment. That is followed by Sonny Boy Wiliamson’s “Good Morning Little School Girl” and Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Mojo Hand”. He notes that he is “Just Gettin’ Good” on a mostly instrumental cut again accompanied by Jock’s harmonica. The album concludes with Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Shake’ em on Down”, a live cut recorded at GIP’s that features a full band including a significant organ run rounding out a solid sound.

Clarence’s weathered voice and expert guitar work are constantly intriguing. It is certainly a top-notch effort from a great musician that should be better known in the blues community.

Writer John Sacksteder is a retired civil engineer in Louisville, Kentucky who has a lifelong love of music, particularly the blues. He is currently the Editor of the Kentuckiana Blues Society’s monthly newsletter.

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

imageAlastair Greene – Alive in the New World

Whiskey Bayou Records – 2023

10 tracks; 46 minutes

There are several blues-rockers who seem to be on fire lately, and Alastair Greene is certainly one of them.  Greene toured the world as the guitarist for the Alan Parson’s Project for seven years before being drawn closer to the blues.  He was Sugaray Rayford’s guitarist for a year, which happened to be the year in which they were nominated for Band of the Year.  And he has been focusing most recently on his solo career, turning out four albums and touring the United Kingdom as the opening act in support of Walter Trout.  For his latest two albums, (which were released on Whiskey Bayou Records, owned by Tab Benoit and Rueben Williams), his band consisted of Tab Benoit on drums and Corey Duplechin on bass. (Fans of Tab Benoit are already well aware of Duplechin’s artistry on the bass, and most are also aware that Benoit’s first instrument was the drums, and he is as equally gifted at it as he is on the guitar.) These three frequently collaborated when Greene was touring with Benoit and have great chemistry together.  That chemistry is accentuated in the latest release, Alive in the New World, because it is clear they are also feeding off the energy of an enthusiastic audience.  And the purity of the format of a power-trio highlights the virtuosity of Greene’s playing, which can especially be heard in the solos on “Wontcha Tell Me” and “Heroes”.

Alive in the New World opens with an instrumental number before leading into the songs which offer the thoughtfulness of Greene’s lyrics, (with all songs written by Greene, or co-written with Benoit).  There are no simplistic songs about waking up to find one’s baby gone on this album, as Greene clearly felt compelled to offer his articulate commentary on the baffling nature of recent world events.  He wrote “Lies and Fears” several years ago, and probably wouldn’t have predicted then how relevant it still would be today:  “Come down off your high horse, take a look around.  I don’t know why you’re still here.  All you spread are lies and fear.”  Those sentiments are reinforced with the clever lyrics of “No Longer Amused”:  “It should be plain for everyone to see, that this bad reality really wasn’t meant to be.  No longer amused!”

However, not one to remain chronically cynical, Greene’s lyrics take an almost spiritual turn for some uplifting songs.  In “When you Don’t Know What to Do” he reminds us: “Each day is another chance to let your soul shine bright.  When you don’t know what to do, try to do something to make it right…try to give someone a helping hand”.  And, in “Living Today” he notes: “Everyone has the blues.  The whole world has gone crazy.  The whole world has gone mad…  Remember to let your love shine through.”  In addition, two Greene-Benoit collaborations are particularly beautiful: “Bayou Mile” and “Heroes” (which pays tribute to people who were remarkable influences on others).

Even if you already own these songs on Greene’s first Whiskey Bayou Release, The New World Blues, you will want to hear these versions, which have matured and portray the extra electricity of a live performance.  It will be an excellent addition to your blues-rock collection.

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 – 3 of 6 

imageBob Corritore & Friends –  Women In Blues Showcase

VizzTone Label Group

12 tracks/42 minutes

Bob Corritore’s newest “From The Vaults” series release is a collection of superb female vocalists backed by Bob and a host of music great too long to list everyone. Covering geography across the nation and a variety of stylistic approaches, we get a dozen tasty tracks of powerful female vocalists giving memorable performances to savor.

Barbara Lynn joins Bob for “You’re Gonna Be Sorry” on track 1 and “You Don’t Have to Go” in track 10. The former is a slick cut with a great groove and harp by Bob, while Lynn sings and plays guitar for this rocking number. The latter is  slow blues from Jimmy Reed and features some sublime harp and solid guitar as Lynn sings with passion. Corritore offers up a nice solo of the latter,  too.

Carol Fran gets to front the band three times with track 2 “I Just Need A Friend,” track 8 “I Need To Be Be’d With” and track 11 “Walkin’ Slippin’ and Slidin’”, two slow blues that she wrote and a boogie penned by Mike Gordon. Her first effort is slow and ballad like with powerful vocals. Johnny Rapp is on guitar here and one track one wit Fran. The second track she leads is a greasier styled tune with more powerful vocals and Corritore laying out super licks. The third cut is a nice cut with a big harp solo, great piano and a nice dancing beat. Fran’s vocals steal the show on all three tracks.

Valerie June offers up “Crawdad Hole” on the third track. She sings and plays acoustic guitar on this traditional piece. It’s a bare cut with her strumming and singing and Corritore adding some restrained harp.

Koko Taylor handles track 4 “What King Of Man Is This” with her typical powerful vocals. Bob Margolin and Frank Krakowski play guitar and Corritore blows his harp on this Chicago blues done as few can.

Track 5 is Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” done here by Shy Perry with Bob Margolin on guitar. It’s a cool cut.

Diunna Greenleaf handles track 6, here song “Be for Me.”. She also does the ninth track “”Don’t Mess With The Messer,” another Willie Dixon classic. Margolin appears on the first of her tracks, more classic blues. The other tracks swings and features Fred Kaplan on piano. Greenleaf sings with power and emotion on both cuts, but I loved the second one the most– she really nails it as does Corritore on harp. There is also some sweet sax by Doug James.

“Te Ni Nee Ni Nu” is Alya Primer doing this Slim Harpo cut. John Primer’s daughter is featured in her first recording here and her dad play the guitar as she sings at age 17 like a pro. Corritore blows some wicked harp and the song is a fast driving success.

Francine Reed handles the final track on the album, “Why Am I Treated So Bad.” Pops Staples authored the cut; Reed sings with power as this Arizona diva makes this song hers. Kid Ramos and Johnny Main handle the guitars and Corritore again nails the harp parts.

The album grew and grew on me with each listen.  It was at first a little all over the place stylistically with all these great singers, but as one settles in and listens it a;; gels and becomes a fine album showcasing Corritore with many of the Women in Blues who showcased their skills with the harp master. It’s another excellent effort by Bob Corritore who seems to have an endless supply of great music to issue from his vaults!

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 

imageFurry Lewis – Live At The Gaslight At The Au Go Go

Libebration Hall – 2023

13 tracks; 46 minutes

Walter ‘Furry’ Lewis was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, in the 1890’s. He recorded for Vocalion and RCA Victor in the 1920’s but stopped playing music when the depression hit, earning his living as a street cleaner for many years. Rediscovered in the late 1950’s, Furry recorded again but kept working his day job until greater possibilities opened up in the 1960’s. Recordings for Arhoolie, Sire and Blue Thumb brought Furry to a new generation of blues fans and by 1971 he was again a name on the circuit. This album was recorded live at The Gaslight in New York and released at the time but has been out of print for years, so it is good that Celebration Hall has reissued it, complete with the original album liner notes from 1971.

At 80 years of age it is hardly surprising that Furry’s voice sounds frail at times but he continues to play guitar in his distinctive style, quite percussive at times, especially on the tracks on which he is joined by his protégé Ward Schaffer. Certainly the audience seems enraptured by his performance and applauds generously after each track. The program includes a couple of spirituals, songs that Furry recorded in the 1920’s which sold well at the time and a selection of material that is all credited to Furry but, as is common in early blues, takes widely from other popular blues songs; even country giant Jimmie Rodgers’ “Waiting For A Train” is credited to Furry!

After a brief stage introduction Furry opens with “Paer Lee”, using slide to good effect, a song that includes some elements of “Walkin’ Blues”. The comic title “My Dog Got The Measles” is introduced by Furry with a chuckle and goes on to detail some of the ills that befall us in a jaunty presentation that belies the rather ‘down’ lyrics. A short version of the spiritual “Nero (sic) My God To Thee” is followed by the autobiographical “East St Louis” which is a good example of how Furry plays with a walking bass line. “Waiting For A Train” is the Jimmie Rodgers song and has a touch of country rhythm about it. A second spiritual, “When I Lay My Burden Down” is reprized from Furry’s 1960’s recordings before a short break in the program as Furry invites Ward Schaffer to join him for a couple of tunes. Ward’s guitar work allows Furry to adopt a more percussive style and the combination works well. The fuller sound is enjoyable as both men take turns on the vocals on a lively version of “Move To Kansas City” and “Pallet On The Floor” is given a spirited rendition.

“Brownsville” is usually attributed to Sleepy John Estes but Furry played it regularly and made the song his own, so, unsurprisingly, it is here listed as a Furry original. Furry is again solo with his slide and you can hear his foot tapping out the rhythm in a quiet version of the familiar song. Another piece of autobiography follows in “Furry’s Blues” on which Ward again joins in (as does the audience whose hand claps can just be heard in the background): “they arrested me for forgery and I can’t even sign my name, bad luck in my family all fell on me”. Furry concludes the concert solo with three songs that he recorded in the 1920’s: the traditional tale of “John Henry” will be familiar to most listeners from myriad versions over the years and Furry sings and plays it convincingly; “Turn Your Money Green” references Rockefeller’s fortune and personal misfortunes, played at an appropriately funereal pace; the lively “K.C. Jones” is a train song, including descriptions of hoboing and bootlegging.

Furry Lewis died at home in Memphis in 1981, making this one of his last recordings.

Writer John Sacksteder is a retired civil engineer in Louisville, Kentucky who has a lifelong love of music, particularly the blues. He is currently the Editor of the Kentuckiana Blues Society’s monthly newsletter.

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 6 

imageThe Blues Bones – Unchained

Donor Productions / Naked

9 Tracks – 37 minutes

The Blues Bones are a Belgian based blues group that first formed in 2011. Their music is described as high energy blues-rock. In 2016, they won the Belgian Blues Challenge and in 2017 finished second in the European Blues Challenge. The group is one of the top performing blues acts in Europe with their three consecutive previous albums reaching #1 on the UK blues charts. Unchained is their sixth album release.

The group consists of Nico De Cock on vocals, Stef Paglia on guitar, Edwin Risbourg – Hammond organ, Rhodes piano, and sax, Geert Boeckx on bass and Jens Roelandt on drums.

The album opens with an ominous sounding “Unchained” that emulates the beat of a chain gang working and tells the story of man sentenced to prison for killing a man and now has to work on a chain gang, counting down the days left to parole and thinking about his future. It touches on that form of labor that was inherent predominantly in the past American south. The following song “Changes” continues that theme as he “tries to do things differently” and “move back into the light.”

“I Cry” is given two variations on the album. The first is a quiet ballad that focuses on the loss all of us have probably felt at some time in our lives. He sings of missing someone who has passed on as “the darkness shadows over me”.  A very moving, heartfelt, and emotionally touching but somehow lifting story of memory of that person and perhaps not having the time or capability to have been able to say a final farewell. The sadness and emptiness of that loss is well expressed. The second version appears at the end of the album and offers a more symphonic version.

After that, the group bounces back with a slide-guitar boogie as he has “Time to Learn” as she has left him and he “is crying all alone.” The musicians each have an opportunity to shine in a brief musical interlude that then evolves into the organ having a lead in the latter part of the song. Bass and drums both also have a strong lead throughout the song. He keeps “Moving On” while “…trying to get a glimpse of life at home”, a tale of the life of a traveling musician. The sax plays a major role in this song.

The organ kicks off “Talking to the Lord” as he proclaims, “the Baptist Church will save me” and “does not need you anymore.” Great organ and guitar with a rhythmic drumbeat provide a connection to the listener. “The Road Ahead” is looking into the future with a “focus on the yellow line” and features another fine guitar boogie run.  “The Tale of Big Tim Brady” starts with a talking narrative before moving into the vocals with a story of a Chicago bar. Big Tim Brady sat in his corner at the bar drinking whiskey. Handsome Larry and his lady came into the bar and suddenly “Bang bang it happened…trouble and whiskey is a deadly cocktail.”

At the beginning of this review, I cited the band’s resume information describing them as high energy performers. Prior to this album I was not familiar with the group, so while this statement might be true for earlier albums, this album is more emotionally appealing. Nico’s voice is warm and draws you into to his stories. The lyrics and accompanying instrumentation maintain the attention – certainly a winning combination for a band that deserves a better recognition in the US.

Writer John Sacksteder is a retired civil engineer in Louisville, Kentucky who has a lifelong love of music, particularly the blues. He is currently the Editor of the Kentuckiana Blues Society’s monthly newsletter.

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

IMAGEBoo Boo Davis – Boo Boo Boogaloo

Blue Lotus Recordings – 2023

10 tracks – 50 minutes

James “Boo Boo” Davis delivers pure no-frills post-war harmonica led electric blues with LA Jones on guitar, Adrianna Marie on bass, and Chris Millar on drums.  Paul Niehaus IV guests on keyboards on two tracks. Boo Boo’s vocals are strong and empathetic.

James started life in the Mississippi Delta.  He was born on November 4, 1943, in Drew, Mississippi, a small town near Clarksdale. His name was derived from his father’s brothers, James and Boo-Jack. Sylvester Senior, his father, was a musician who played multi- instruments. Many now famous musicians passed through their house during his early life including John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and Robert Petway. At age 5, Boo Boo played the harmonica and sang in church.

Sylvester Senior led a family band called the Lard Can Band which featured his younger brother Sylvester Junior on guitar, and his sister on vocals. At age 18, Boo Boo joined the band to play percussion. The family could not afford a drum kit, so Boo Boo kept the beat on a lard can, thus the band name. The band played throughout Mississippi and backed a then unknown B.B. King.

Davis moved to Illinois in the 60’s and continued to play with various musicians throughout that state. His brother, who had moved to St. Louis previously convinced to come to the city. The twosome played in Doc Terry’ band and he joined Little Aaron to form a new band. That twosome provided backup for several major performers including Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Milton, and Elmore James.

In 1972, he formed the Davis Brothers Band that became the regular band for East St. Louis’ Tabby’s Red Room for 18 years. In 1999, he played on Arthur Williams Harpin’ On It and later that year he released his own first solo record. In 2000, he made his first tour of Europe. Now, 23 years later Boo Boo Boogaloo becomes his twelfth studio album release. One of his song’s “I’m So Tired” which was featured on his 2016 album One Chord Blues was used in a commercial for 5-Hour Energy and in Season four of the TV show Sons of Anarchy.

The album opens with “Little House By Myself” where he states that he does not need anyone else, and his harmonica rings out with L.A. Jones’ guitar kicking in. Boo Boo gets the boogie going as he is excited about a series of concerts he performed and “had a ball” “At The Red Door”.  Jones plays chicken-scratch style as Davis proclaims “She Made Me Evil”.

Davis’s harmonica leads a low-down blues as he “woke up this morning with…”  “Blues On My Mind” and “when the telephone didn’t ring, I know something has gone wrong.” Jones’ guitar again adds a crying note to the song. He moves to a ballad as he asks her to “hold my hand and let’s make love tonight and…” “Make Everything Alright”.

We are in “Hell Round Here” Davis states as he offers a current social commentary in a ballad where he states “that we got to stop fighting and killing each other.” On a happier note, Jones pulls out the slide guitar and Davis sings about the joy of Christmas that comes “Once A Year”.

“Boo Boo Boogaloo” gets the joint jumping as Davis encourages “everyone to get on the floor and dance.” “I Got the Crying Blues” is a low-down head-nodding song of sad times “when my baby left me.” The album ends with an upbeat mostly instrumental “Jungle Bump”.

Bill Dahl adds in the liner notes “No’ you ain’t gonna find nobody no better. That’s no idle boast”. I will second that sentiment. Davis has a top-notch band that drives his sound.

Writer John Sacksteder is a retired civil engineer in Louisville, Kentucky who has a lifelong love of music, particularly the blues. He is currently the Editor of the Kentuckiana Blues Society’s monthly newsletter.

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