Issue 17-25 June 22, 2023

Cover photo © 2023 Nate Kieser


 In This Issue 

Ken Billett has our feature interview with 2023 International Blues Challenge Solo/Duo winner Frank Sultana. We have six Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones, Mikey Junior, Chicago Kings, Arlen Roth & Jerry Jemmott and The Incorruptibles. Scroll down and check it out!


 From The Editor’s Desk 

imageHey Blues Fans,

The 2023 Blues Blast Music Awards nominees were announced yesterday. If you missed the announcement the nominees are at the bottom of this issue too.

Ticket sales for the Blues Blast Music Awards show on September 23rd in Peoria, IL will start Friday on the BBMA website at http://www.TheBBMAs.com.

There are only 600 seats in The 3300 Event Center venue so be sure to reserve the date now and get your tickets early when they go on sale!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


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 Featured Interview – Frank Sultana 

imageOn a Tuesday evening in late February, I established a secure internet connection and instantly felt like an H.G. Wells time traveler when I asked Australian bluesman Frank Sultana, now back home in Kiama, located in New South Wales, how his Wednesday was going?

Sultana laughed and said, “Yeah, this time zone stuff is crazy. When I left for America, we flew out of Sydney on a Tuesday morning and landed in L.A. at almost the same time—on Tuesday morning.”

For Frank Sultana, whose rootsy songs take you back in time, his first trip to America was a memorable one.

Sultana won the Solo/Duo category for this year’s International Blues Challenge (IBC)—held each year on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. Representing the Sydney Blues Society, Sultana was one of 148 acts from 40 states and 12 countries. The challenge portion of IBC took place over three nights in late January with the finalists (groups and sold/duo acts) performing Saturday afternoon on the historic stage of The Orpheum Theatre in downtown Memphis.

IBC finalist judges tabulated their scores and announced the winners early that Saturday evening.

“I didn’t expect to win,” Sultana told me. “I really didn’t.”

Sultana said that, at first, the idea of competing against fellow blues musicians was strange.

“As an artist, you don’t think about competition.” The blues community, Sultana explained, is close and tight-knit—especially in Australia. His fellow musicians are much like a family and certainly not rivals, or competitors.

As IBC Week went on, however, Sultana understood the significance of his performances, and that the Beale Street crowds were digging his dark, gritty style.

“Memphis embraces (blues) music and its past,” Sultana said. And those blues lovers crowding Beale Street clubs to listen were, in Sultana’s words, “genuine and welcoming.”

For Sultana, the opportunity to showcase his talent in the home of the blues was worth the 17-plus hours of flying.

“The experience of being here (in Memphis) was satisfying enough (and) a great couple of weeks.” Sultana went on to say that to then win (IBC) was “validating.”

Sultana is a self-described “late arrival” as a blues artist. He recorded his first album in 2011 and, before that, played music mostly as a hobby. Over the next seven years, while holding down a “day job,” Sultana wrote and recorded his own songs along with playing local and regional gigs.

“Then in 2018, I quit the 9 to 5, moved a few hours down the coast from Sydney (to Kiama), and I’ve been playing music full time since then.”

Born and raised in Sydney, Sultana grew up listening to 1950s American R&B and eventually started “looking back” in his musical journey to those early Southern bluesmen who set the standard for generations to follow—familiar names like Skip James, Son House, and Blind Willie Johnson.

imageThose blues pioneers influenced Sultana’s style of dark, dirty guitar tones reminiscent of pre-WW2 Mississippi blues. Add in Sultana’s equally gritty voice and you have a unique sound I’d describe as lonely soulfulness, which grabs both your heart and your gut. Sultana’s songs are steeped in the early blues tradition of storytelling that imagines a solitary figure, guitar strapped over one shoulder, walking down a deserted rural highway.

Sultana’s songs tell of life on the road—perhaps that same deserted highway—and many of his stories were created from that road life.

For Sultana, the last decade or so of recording, playing, and traveling brought him to one of the most sacred spots in Memphis music history.

Our late February conversation over the Internet allowed Sultana to communicate time-zone free, which meant mid-morning in Kiama, a relatively small coastal town, was almost 7:00 pm here in Memphis.

Sultana spent that Wednesday morning editing acoustic tracks he recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis. His Sun recording session was booked for the Monday after his IBC win. During the four-hour session, Sultana re-recorded select songs found on each of his albums from the past 12 years. He described these new tracks as “raw” and was busy preparing them for a soon-to-be-released album—The Ghosts of Sun.

Sultana loved his time at Sun Studio and, a few days before his session, played tourist taking a “proper tour” of the iconic facility. Following the tour and his recording session, Sultana decided to chase some ghosts from the past who once lived a world apart just south of the Tennessee border.

Since this was his first visit to the U.S., Sultana was more than excited to visit the Mississippi Delta, home to those pioneering blues ghosts and to a current crop of musicians keeping blues traditions alive.

“Man, the whole trip was a pilgrimage,” he said.

For Sultana, being in Mississippi was similar to entering another world, or going back in time. Like a “time capsule,” he added.

The duality of the Mississippi Delta made an impact on Sultana and, as a result, he found musical inspiration throughout his time in the area.

Sultana spent almost eleven days in and around Clarksdale, Mississippi, home of the famed crossroads of Robert Johnson and the annual Juke Joint Festival, and birthplace of 20th Century music innovators like Ike Turner. Sultana said the Clarksdale blues community, like in Memphis, was warm and welcoming, and he played a number of gigs with local musicians, including Mississippi Marshall Hopper.

Sultana again played tourist, visiting famous grave-sites and nearby juke joints, and took the celebrated Delta Bohemian Tour with guide and tour co-founder Chilly Billy Howell. The tour gave Sultana an authentic taste of the Delta with a brief immersion into the culture and the people who, years ago, gave the world blues music that we know today.

During the driving tour, Sultana was able to “touch the Mississippi” at Friars Point, once a busy port town, just northwest of Clarksdale.

imageLater on, at the Shack Up Inn, a truly unique hotel experience (called a bed & beer by its owners) and located just beyond the crossroads in Clarksdale, Sultana sat on the wood porch of his cabin and wrote music—inspired by the Delta—like so many bluesmen before him.

Sultana’s blues pilgrimage would soon end, but his long journey back home was about to begin.

In mid-February, Sultana sat at his gate at Memphis International Airport, waiting on the first of his connecting flights, which, eventually, would get him back home to Sydney.

I began our phone interview by congratulating Sultana and asked how it felt to win IBC?

He told me “Thanks” and that winning was, obviously, a hugely positive experience, but, even more, to “have what I do (writing and performing) accepted” by so many people and to be so “warmly received” by the IBC crowds was incredible. He added that, as an artist, the recognition boosts both “your outlook and your confidence.”

The competition, or challenge, aspect of IBC really hit home with Sultana during Saturday’s finals inside The Orpheum. Sultana was the last Solo/Duo performer and the second to last finalist to perform. After he played, Sultana felt both a sense of relief but was still wired from the grind of IBC week.

When he was announced as the winner, Sultana was walking around near the back of the theater. He remembered making his way to the stage in a bit of a haze of emotions. “Amazed, thrilled, even (again) a sense of relief” that the challenge was now over.

“Back home (meaning Australia), this is kind of a big thing.” Sultana said. He’s only the third Australian blues musician to win IBC. “And,” he added, “I’m the first Sydney Blues Society winner.”

The IBC win guarantees that Sultana will play in U.S. blues events like the Durango Blues Train in Colorado, scheduled for late August of this year and the Legendary Blues Cruise early in 2024. Sultana has also been invited to play at this year’s Big Blues Bender (September 7-10) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Already a regular on the Australian blues circuit, Frank Sultana, who currently plays between 100 and 150 shows a year, will be a busy man—a true troubadour—for the foreseeable future, whether he’s on the road or back home creating more stories from his travels.

Sultana’s first trip to America was indeed memorable: the IBC win, Sun Studio recordings, his Mississippi Delta pilgrimage, which provided material for another batch of songs, and so many other memories.

I asked Sultana if there was anything else he enjoyed about visiting America and, in particular, about Memphis and the Mid-South.

“Oh, man, the food…the food is so good!” Sultana exclaimed. “I was as excited about the food as I was about the music.”

Writer Ken Billett is a freelance writer based in Memphis. He is a Blues Foundation member and former docent/tour guide at the Blues Hall of Fame. Originally from Tampa, Florida, Ken writes about travel, music, and the Mississippi Delta.



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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

imageDoug Deming & The Jewel Tones – Groovin’ at Groove Now! Live in Basel, Switzerland

Endless Blues Records

www.dougdeming.com

12 tracks including an Introduction

Doug Deming brought his band from Bradenton, Florida to Basel, Switzerland  with three guest artists. This CD is a product of that concert and lucky for us we get to hear what those blues fans heard. This is an exemplary live album with great sound and mixing that showcases the skills of Doug Deming, the Jewel Tones and their musician friends; I knew this was going to be a great album and I was not disappointed!

The band is Doug Deming is on vocals and guitar and the rest of the  Jewel Tones are Andrew Gohman on bass and Zack Pomerleau on drums and harmonica. Also featured are Sax Gordon and Terry Hank on saxophones and Bill Heid on keyboards who made the trip to Switzerland with Doug and the boys. This is truly an outstanding ensemble of musicians assembled for this show and CD.

Patrick Kaiser from the club introduces Doug and the band and they then breaks into “East Side Hop,” one of Doug’s superb originals from his 2009 Falling Through the Cracks CD, of which several more songs are included in this set. The band swings and jives as no one else can. It’s a hopping instrumental featuring some superb solos on guitar, sax and piano, and Doug’s phenomenal backline even gets a turn to shine. Next is “Only Time Will Tell” where Doug sings his tale of an angel and a devil on either shoulder trying to steer him, but lucky for him the angel is winning despite the devil tempting him to live in sin. Zack blows some greasy and mean harp for the listener’s pleasure, something we will get to enjoy throughout this album.

“Put It Down” follows; this one is a pretty, slower tempo-ed piece with thoughtful licks by Deming. His guitar work is always impeccable as he flows through the cut. A very nice organ solo is also featured here. “I’m Ready” is the next track, a rocking and bopping Fats Domino tune where Doug and band take the listener on a wild ride. His guitar blazes, Gordon’s horn blares and the groove is fast and furious. “Oh Baby” features some more superb harp work from Pomerleau as Doug tells his women she’ll miss him when he’s gone. Zack displays his harp proficiency with flair as he blows us away with his solos and work here. Deming tries to coax his woman not to leave at the end and Zack takes us home is an excellent performance of a Willie Dixon classic that Little Walter made famous.

‘Every Night When  Get Home” is a beautiful, slow blues where Deming croons out the lyrics with great feeling. Deming captivates the listener with his performance here. “Bloodshot Eyes” changes things up as the band revs up it’s engine and goes full throttle. Gordon blows some great stuff and Deming plays hot and pretty licks on guitar that leave the listener breathless. This one is originally a country song but Deming makes it his own with his rocking and grooving performance. Next is the fun cut “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool” and here Hanck get s a turn soloing before Pomerleau gets his turn and again blows us away. Deming follows with his own delightful solo before the band takes us home.

“No Sense” is up next, another great track Deming has taken on the road many a time to the fan’s delight.  He lectures his woman about her lack of thoughtfulness in this slower jump blues. We get some slick piano and guitar soloing to savor in this track. “An Eye For An Eye” is a deep, slow blues that hearkens back to Chicago. This one is from Doug’s  great CD What’s It Gonna Take from 2012. Dirty harp, piano and guitar blend into a classic sound that brings the listener deep into the South Side of the Windy City. Pomerleau again impresses with his stalwart harp work. They conclude with “Whisper,” a sweet jump blues done as only Doug can as he coaxes his woman to get closer so he can whisper in her ear. Hanck gives us a final solo and then Heid takes over on the organ for some more outstanding stuff. Pomerleau and Deming later give us their final solos and the concert comes to a great finish as the crowd goes wild.

Eight original songs and three covers make up the set produced from this amazing live performance from Switzerland. This is Doug Deming at his best. He and band are on fire here and one can tell the audience was appreciative of their effort. Featuring one of the best back lines in the business with Gohman and Pomerleau, they offer the listener a fantastic set of performances. Couple that with three outstanding all-star guest musicians and this become an album that every blues fan needs to add to their collection. This CD certainly will garner attention as a worthy award album!

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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 Featured Blues Review – 2 & 3 of 6 

imageMikey Junior – Blues in the Barn: Volume One

Mikey Junior’s South Philly Blues Party

Blue Train Records

http://www.mikeyjunior.com

12 tracks each – 43 minutes & 57 minutes respectively

Mikey Junior (no other name provided) grew up in New Jersey where he developed a strong penchant for the harmonica during his high school years. His capabilities were soon discovered by others and soon he was on many stages throughout the Northeast. Now located in Philadelphia, he continues his pursuit of the blues and keeping awareness to the public to the many old masters that have now passed on. He seeks to keep their legacy alive while also introducing new originals into the mix.

Mikey has a deep voice that is certainly appropriate for the old school blues he pursues. In recent months he has released two albums that gives a clear message of delivering his own renditions of many classic songs but keeping the legacy of the originals alive to his listeners. The more recent of the two albums Blues in The Barn is just what it saysThe Blues Barn sits on an 80- acre farm located adjacent to a river.  The barn over the years had been the source of many parties and concerts and was recognized for having some amazing acoustics. Ultimately, a decision was made to build a recording studio in it resulting in this album. Performers on the album are Mikey Junior on harmonica and vocals, Richard “Filthy Rich” MacPherson and Matt Daniels on guitar, Jimmy Pritchard on bass, Scott Stump on drums and producer Andy Kravitz also adding drums on two tracks.

Covers on this album include Elmore James’ “Something Inside Me”; Howlin Wolf’s “Shake for Me” and ” I’m Leaving You”; Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “You’re Killing Me (On My Feet), “Dissatisfied”, and “Elevate Me Mama”; Little Walter Jacob’s “Last Night” and Jimmy Rogers’ “Goin’ Away”. There is also a “show-stopping rendition” of “Summertime.image

The first original, “321 Chelsea”, on the album is an instrumental played on a chromatic harmonica. Like “Summertime”, it is a smooth, tranquil song. The second original is “Silo Yo”, another instrumental that lets Mikey’s harmonica bounce out over the top of a guitar lead. The final original and the end piece to the album has Mikey singing that I have got to “Keep Moving My Way” and telling her “You will find out when I am gone.” At the end of the song, he sings his thanks to Sharon and Gene Stickel, the owners of the Barn and the Executive Producers of the album.

The earlier release Mikey Juniors South Philly Blues Party follows a similar approach to the first album with nine covers and three originals. The album was recorded live at a private house party in 2019. The performers are also similar to that of the first album with Mikey Junior, Daniels, Pritchard and Stump. MacPherson also plays on four tracks along with four other guitarists sitting in on various cuts.

The covers on this album include Sonny Boy Williams’ “Ninety-Nine”; Willie Dixon’s “As Long As I Have You”;  Don Robey’s “Good Time Charlie” and “As The Years Go Passing By”; Muddy Waters’ “She’s Nineteen Years Old” which features guest Harmonica player Mark “Marky B” Berkowitz; New Orleans’ James “Sugar Boy” Crawford’s “You Call Everybody Sweetheart”; Magic Sam’s “My Love Is Your Love”; Freddie King’s “The Stumble”, and Skip James’ “Hard Time Killing Floor”.

The originals on this album start with “Traveling South” as he asks her to “go my way” and assures her “that I have been called a loser, but I won’t be a loser for long.” On “She’s Good at Being Bad”, “the boys can’t leave her alone” and “the best girlfriend I ever had”. He energetically sings that “Katie Lynn” is a girl “he can’t just leave her alone” and “has my heart racing every time I see you”.

Mikey’s voice and harmonica work is very suitable to the material he is covering and certainly pays his tribute to the classic musicians he covers. His band also deserves respect for matching Mikey’s approach to the music with quality guitar and rhythm enhancing the intent of the music.

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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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 6 

imageChicago Kings – Return To 50’s

Self-Release – 2022

www.chicagokings.com.mx/en

14 tracks; 56 minutes

Demonstrating once again the spread and influence of the blues, here we have a band from Mexico City playing authentic Chicago electric blues taken from the masters of the style. Formed in 2019, the Chicago Kings made their debut album the old-fashioned way, with vintage equipment, and it shows as they recreate the music of the late 50’s and early 60’s. The band is harmonica player Ricardo Peralta who also sings on four tracks, vocalist Joel Zepeta who leads on six, guitarist Moises Mendez, double bassist Angel Miranda and drummer Anna Ibarra.

There is just one original instrumental here, alongside material from Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers and Muddy Waters, amongst others.

Ricardo shows where his inspiration comes from with three Little Walter tunes: opener “Off The Wall” sounds great and is soon followed by “Blue Light”, an extended slow blues feature for Ricardo’s harp; the third Walter tune is “Nobody But You” which Ricardo sings. Ricardo’s other vocals are on two Jimmy Rogers tunes, “What Have I Done” and “Act Like You Love Me”; he also leads on George ‘Harmonica’ Smith’s “Telephone Blues”, a slow blues which closes the album. Ricardo has quite a strong Spanish accent but carries the songs OK and he is clearly a good harp player.

Joel Zepeta sings on a third Jimmy Rogers tune, “You’re The One”, allowing Ricardo to play his harp behind the vocals. Joel’s vocals are less accented and a little stronger than Ricardo’s and this one bounces along well, notably through the sterling work of the rhythm section who sound solid throughout. Joel sings “Can’t Get No Grindin’” (correctly credited to Memphis Minnie, though Muddy’s version is the one everyone recognizes) and a pair of Muddy’s own songs, “Long Distance Call” and “Blow Wind Blow”, the latter one of the best cuts on the album with a driving but loose rhythm. He also tackles Sonny Boy II (Rice Miller) with a spirited take on “Don’t Start Me To Talkin’” and Walter ‘Shakey’ Horton’s “Hard Hearted Woman” which also features some tough sounding harp from Ricardo.

The album is completed with a leisurely stroll through Pee Wee Crayton’s “Blues After Hours” that puts the spotlight on guitarist Moises, the only track without Ricardo’s harp. The sole original is “Mojo Boogie” which does what the title suggests on a short, sharp, harp-led boogie tune, another winner.

As they say in their PR information, so much of what is dubbed blues today is “loud, high intensity and rock-influenced” but on this album the Chicago Kings remind us of the Chicago legacy and take us back to an earlier period of electric blues.

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer 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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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 6 

imageArlen Roth & Jerry Jemmott – Super Soul Session!

Blue Heart Records BHR 049

www.arlenroth.com

13 songs – 56 minutes

Two of the most beloved and in-demand session players of their generation, guitarist Arlen Roth and bassist Jerry Jemmott have been churning out hits for other artists for decades and honor several of the greats with this disc, which reinvent and breathe new life into several of the tunes they helped weave into the fabric of the American songbook.

Known as the “Master of the Telecaster” and the son of cartoonist Al Ross, whose creations were featured in The New Yorker and other major publications, Arlen grew up in New York City and jump started his career in 1970 when he played eight hours at the first annual Woodstock reunion. A noted author and teacher, he’s recorded and toured with everyone from Pete Seeger and Art Garfunkel to Paul Butterfield and the Bee Gees to James Taylor and many, many more. Recognized by Vintage Guitar magazine as one of the 100 most influential fret masters and top 50 acoustic players of all-time, he’s the founder and CEO of the International Guitar Hall of Fame and Museum.

A two-time Grammy winner who also grew up in the Big Apple, Jerry’s as “The Groovemaster, his storied career began when King Curtis recruited him for his legendary R&B group, the Kingpins before appearing on Nina Simone’s The Blues LP. As a session player at Atlantic Records and more, his bass lines run deep in recordings by everyone from Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett to Roberta Flack and B.B. and Albert King as well as a long list of jazz superstars. Today, his work graces many of the chart-topping blues CDs emanating out of Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in California.

Produced by Roth and Alex Salzman – who contributes keyboards throughout — and captured at Raw Recording in Patterson, N.Y., and ASP in neighboring Brewster with a core lineup that includes Bruce Katz on organ and piano, Tom Gage on rhythm guitar and Chris Parker on percussion.

They’re augmented by The Uptown Horns: Crispin Cioe (alto and baritone saxes), Arno Hecht (tenor sax), Bob Funk (trombone) and Larry Etkin and Tony Gorruso (trumpets). Guest artists include African soul giant Mukamuri and Joe Louis Walker on vocals and six-string with Lexie Roth and Ronee Martin contributing their voices, too. And each of the 13 tracks come with dedications to more than two dozen folks who made the songs possible.

The heat’s on from the open of Jerry Lawson and the Persuasions’ “I’m Just a Mortal Man” with Mukamuri on mic. It simmers slowly and builds to a boil with gospel overtones as the singer confesses his humanity after his lady’s left him for another man. Roth’s slide runs brighten the mood toward the close. It flows effortlessly into a deep-in-the-pocket redo of Aretha’s “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” and a skintight rereading of Marvin Gaye’s “Dancing in the Street,” both of which are delivered as instrumentals with lush horn backing.

Walker’s distinctive pipes and Roth’s deliberate single-note attack put a different spine on B.B.’s “The Thrill Is Gone” before Mukamuri shows his talent once more with a stellar reading of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” then yields the stage for an instrumental version of the Don Covay-penned Aretha staple, “Chain of Fools.” Sam Cooke’s “Shake” takes on a different, but familiar feel with JLW handling vocals before the band shifts gears for a smooth-as-silk version of Doby Gray’s “Drift Away” with Mukamuri in the spotlight.

Roth shows he’s more than a guitar god, he’s a singer, too, with “Down Home Girl,” which follows. Penned by Jerry Lieber and Artie Butler and a hit for both Ray Charles and the Rolling Stones, the take finds a middle ground between the two versions. It slides into a instrumental version of The Band’s “The Weight” before Mukamuri shows his versatility with Danny O’Keefe’s “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues.”

Curtis’ “Memphis Soul Stew” – a tune Jemmott co-wrote – follows with Jerry handling the extensive spoken fills that introduce the musicians one by one as they slowly join the action with a helping hand from Martin. Spanning almost nine minutes, the soars to a spectacular, three-minute instrumental finale. The action closes patriotically with a groovy version of “America the Beautiful.” It’s dedicated to both Ray Charles and to the memory of every veteran who’s ever served the Red, White and Blue.

Sure, this one’s wall-to-wall covers…but wow! It’ll leave you craving more. Strongly recommended.

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Mason, Ohio, 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.


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

imageThe Incorruptibles – Highway Hypnosis

Self release

https://theincorruptiblesband.com

12 songs time – 37:53

I am sure many of us have had the experience of encountering an unknown band at a park concert or a state fair and thinking “Oh boy here is another half-ass band”, only to be pleasantly surprised. The good news is The Incorruptibles from Milwaukee, Wisconsin are one of those very surprising and excellent bands. They are one of those mid-west bands that have a similarity to other retro leaning bands like George Bedard & The Kingpins or the legendary Skeletons. They draw from the well of bands with a happy-go-lucky vibe emboldened by exuberant, ringing guitars. A guitar-bass-drums group that are aided on this record by occasional Hammond organ and sax.

This is summer fun music lead by vocalist-guitarist Jimmy McCarthy and ably abetted by Amy Ashby on upright & electric bass and vocals and Bill Siebert on drums. All the songs were authored by either Jimmy or Amy. Jimmy’s guitar attack and tone are a joy to behold.

The listener gets sucked right into their good-timey frenzy with the instrumental title tracWQe announced the 2023 cv baeeauty. Jimmy and Amy team up on vocals on the sock-hoppy “Welcome To The Show” with its’ retro references to ponytails, circle skirts, bowling shirts, bobby pins, Mary Janes, switchblade combs…etc. Rod Keyzer closes out the song with a fifties style sax solo. Jimmy takes the vocal on “Another Lonely Night”. Amy provides backing vocals on the upbeat ballad, if there is such a thing.

Amy handles vocals and slap bass on “High Roller”. Jimmy Voegeli lets loose with a high-spirited organ solo. “Goin’ To The August Jam” is a rockabilly tribute to an iconic Southern Rock festival. Jimmy shows his guitar versatility with some wicked rockabilly riffing. Amy takes us back to the fifties with the slow burning “Gotta Go”. The girl has an earnest and endearing voice. The guitar is run through a Leslie speaker to attain a warm feel on the upbeat “Redheaded Stepchild”. “Champagne And Caviar” is an ode to a high living woman.

More in the rockabilly vein as Amy features on vocal and upright bass. Jimmy’s guitar as usual is creative with great tone. She also handles the vocals on the exhilarating “The Grind”. Jimmy resumes his vocal duties on “Don’t Misjudge Me” along with playing blues-meets-rockabilly guitar. They take us out with dual vocals on the “misery loves company ode “Miserable Together”.

Here we have well executed Mid Western Pop-Meets Rockabilly. If the feel good vibes don’t get you, the amazing guitar antics will. Great stuff!

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.



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2023 Blues Blast Music Award Nominees

Contemporary Blues Album

Silent Partners – Changing Times

Joe Louis Walker – The Weight Of The World

Jimmy Hall – Ready Now

Taj Mahal – Savoy

Bruce Katz Band – Connections

Shemekia Copeland – Done Come Too Far

Traditional Blues Album

John Primer – Hard Times

Lil Jimmy Reed & Ben Levin – Back to Baton Rouge

Martin Lang and Rusty Zinn – Mr. Blues, Mr. Blues

Jimi Primetime Smith & Bob Corritore – The World in a Jug

Cash Box Kings – Oscar’s Motel

John Németh – May be the Last Time

Soul Blues Album

Stan Mosley – No Soul No Blues

Annika Chambers & Paul DesLauriers – Good Trouble

Billy Price – 50+ Years of Soul

Eddie 9V – Capricorn

Johnny Rawls – Going Back to Mississippi

Alabama Mike – Stuff I’ve Been Through

Rock Blues Album

Ally Venable – Real Gone

Sass Jordan – Bitches Blues

Gráinne Duffy – Dirt Woman Blues

Mighty Mike Schermer – Just Getting’ Good

Mike Zito Albert Castiglia – Blood Brothers

Jeremiah Johnson – Hifi Drive By

Acoustic Blues Album

Doug MacLeod – Raw Blues

Bob Margolin & Bob Corritore – So Far

Catfish Keith – Still I Long to Roam

Charlie Musselwhite – Mississippi Son

Hudspeth & Taylor – Ridin’ the Blinds

Mick Kolassa – They Call Me Uncle Mick

Live Blues Album

GA-20 – Live In Loveland

John Primer – Teardrops for Magic Slim

Alastair Greene – Alive In The New World

Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones – Goovin’ and Gooove Now!

Too Slim & the Taildraggers – Brace Yourself

John Németh & the Blue Dreamers – Live from the Fallout Shelter

Historical Or Vintage Recording

Bob Corritore & Friends – High Rise

Duke Robillard – Duke’s Mood (Live In Bremen – 1985 & 2008)

Floyd Dixon – Fine! Fine! Thing!

Bob Corritore & Friends – Women in Blues Showcase

Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones – Double Down

New Artist Debut Album

DaShawn Hickman – Drums Roots & Steel

Lady J Huston – Groove Me Baby (Album)

Yates McKendree – Buchanan Lane

Eric Demmer – So Fine

Dyer Davis – Dog Bites Back

Dylan Triplett – Who Is He

The Özdemirs – Introducing The Özdemirs

Blues Band Of The Year

Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones

GA-20

Phantom Blues Band

Cash Box Kings

John Németh & the Blue Dreamers

Rick Estrin & the Nightcats

Male Blues Artist

John Németh

John Primer

Alabama Mike

Charlie Musselwhite

Sugaray Rayford

Taj Mahal

Female Blues Artist

Crystal Shawanda

Annika Chambers DesLauriers

Diunna Greenleaf

Kat Riggins

Shemekia Copeland

Rory Block

Sean Costello Rising Star Award

D.K. Harrell

Ben Levin

Silent Partners

Skylar Rogers

Dylan Triplett

Yates McKendree

Producer Of The Year

Joe Bonamassa & Josh Smith

Kid Andersen

Tony Braunagel

Mike Zito

Bob Corritore

Tom Hambridge

Electric Guitarist Of The Year

Laura Chavez

Paul DesLauriers

Joe Louis Walker

Kid Andersen

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Chris Cain

Acoustic Guitarist Of The Year

Doug MacLeod

Eric Bibb

Brandon Hudspeth

Jontavious Willis

Rory Block

JJ Appleton

Slide Guitarist Of The Year

Joanna Connor

John Primer

Lil’ Ed Williams

DeShawn Hickman

Catfish Keith

Sonny Landreth

Bass Guitarist Of The Year

Bob Stroger

Rodrigo Mantovani

Danielle Nicole

Andrew Gohman

Jerry Jemmott

Russell Jackson

Keyboard Player Of The Year

Kenny “Blues Boss Wayne

Ben Levin

Bruce Katz

Dave Keyes

Kevin McKendree

Anthony Geraci

Percussionist Of The Year

Derrick D’Mar Martin

Tom Hambridge

Tony Braunagel

Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith

Tony Coleman

Jimmi Bott

Rodd Bland

Harmonica Player Of The Year

Big Harp George

Bob Corritore

Charlie Musselwhite

Dennis Gruenling

John Németh

Jason Ricci

Horn Player Of The Year

Kaz Kazanoff

Sax Gordon Beadle

Jimmy Carpenter

Eric Demmer

Vanessa Collier

Deanna Bogart

Vocalist Of The Year

Billy Price

Shemekia Copeland

John Németh

Oscar Wilson

Dylan Triplett

Kat Riggins

Blues Video Of The Year

Angelique Francis – Ashamed – https://youtu.be/TkXm8KA8ENY

Hudspeth & Taylor – Little Girl in Rome – https://youtu.be/Piea3U2-_KM

Jimmy Hall – Jump for Joy – https://youtu.be/LUHABMKhX5k

Alabama Mike – Fat Shame  –https://youtu.be/KCvHwJILBzQ

Eric Bibb – Family – https://youtu.be/HYhwUgl3P0U

Derrick Procell – Hello Mojo – https://youtu.be/NWUOtNSJp9M

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