Issue 18-22 May 30, 2024

Cover photo © 2024 Roman Sobus

 In This Issue 

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with Rock icon Slash about his new Blues album. We have six Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Wayne Riker Gathering, Coyote Motel, Konstantin Kolesnichenko, Lightnin Rod & The Thunderbolts, Roger “Hurricane” Wilson Trio and Paul Black. Scroll down and check it out!

 From The Editor’s Desk 


Hey Blue Fans,

The submissions for the 17th Annual Blues Blast Awards end tomorrow Friday May 31st at midnight. Albums released between June 1. 2023 and May 31, 2024 are eligible this year.

Don’t miss this opportunity to have you album considered for a nomination. Submit your music now. Click this link:

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

imageWayne Riker Gathering – Alphabetical Blues Bash Volume 2

Fretfull Records 2023

13 tracks; 42 minutes, 27 seconds

On Alphabetical Blues Bash Volume 2 (2023), blues veteran and author Wayne Riker once again proves himself a master curator and handy acoustic and electric guitar player. Riker features an impressive assembly of San Diego vocalists, 12 in total, creating a rich blues tapestry that expands on Alphabetical Blues Bash Volume 1, a 2022 release.

Sandi King’s elegant voice eases the listener into the album in a silky smooth cover of Jimmy Cox’s blues standard, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out.” Riker’s guitar notes hit just right as he shuffles up and down, creating a balanced sound with bitter sweet tinges of sorrow.

One of the strongest tracks, “Parchman Farm Blues” is undeniably funky with mean guitar and bass grooves as Steve Gouveia sings, straining his voice, “I’m going to be here for the rest of my life when all I did was shoot my wife.” The auto-biographical song written by Bukka White details his sorrowful state, ending up in the brutal prison work farm, Mississippi State Penitentiary.

The LP closes with “Zeitgeist”, a song emanating psychedelic rock vibes along the lines of Meddle by Pink Floyd. Deep, moaning guitar creates a surreal space with introspective vocals– the feeling is that of being in the desert, while the guitar wails of isolation. Naathan Raney sings “The answer is buried underground…. Lost in time, I wonder if my ship will be found.”

Riker provides a fresh cover of “Ventilator Blues”, written by the Rolling Stones. Deanna Haala delivers an electric vocal performance and the band leans into a bluesier take, with distorted, raw guitar, a constant groan. The gritty tune digs into the dark depths of humanity.

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Ian Sutton, and recorded at Studio West in San Diego, the LP’s production is smooth and crisp.

Joshua Taylor sings about losing his money, his lover, and his friends in “That’s What The Blues is All About”, with Riker providing tasteful, fast strumming guitar and powerful solos. Taylor calls out “When your dog turns his back on you, that’s when you know you don’t have a single friend,” and relays that he can no longer pay his bills.

In perhaps the best song on the LP, “Unchain My Heart”, Rebecca Jade’s smoky vocals pour through as an absolute force of nature. Chloe Lou and Cassie B provide heavenly, silky smooth, backup vocals that balance out Jade’s fiery, spicy outbursts. Marty Dodson delivers unique, rocking percussion. The song tells the story of a bereaved, mistreated woman, pleading for freedom: “Let me go my own way… Set me free baby.”

Lou and Cassie B again offer excellent female harmonies on “Your Time is Gonna Come”, a song about an empowered, strong woman moving on past a man who did her wrong. Lauren Leigh takes the reins on lead vocals, singing about the “lyin’, cheatin’, hurtin’” and how she is going to make the man “pay for that big hole in my heart.” Riker’s tender guitar melodies compliment Leigh’s passionate vocals.

Several high energy tracks extoll a life of partying, including “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer”, “Quarter to Three”, and “Still Can Boogie”.

In “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer”, Riker opens up with guitar evocative of Earl Hooker shuffle guitar. Stacy Antonel sings as a fun loving woman truncating steady drums played by Dodson.

“Quarter to Three” is a jolly, high energy bop, with smooth female vocals (Shelle Blue, Lou, B.) extolling late night life in a dreamlike atmosphere.

Confident, funky swagger dominates “Still Can Boogie”, where an off beat drum pattern gives a solid, danceable rhythm. Riker shows off slick shuffle guitar and sings “Boogie woogie all night long. I’m going to boogie til the break of dawn.”

“X”, the 11th track, an instrumental, feels out of place on the album, with the rest of the LP dedicated to vocalists. “X”, an instrumental featuring flashy, distracting guitar, fell short. That said, on the whole Riker assembled a phenomenal group of vocalists, highlighting their strengths with a carefully selected collection of songs. The diversity, passion, and depth on this album make it a must listen. Riker has something special here.

Writer Jack Austin, also known by his radio DJ name, Electric Chicken (y Pollo Electrico en Espanol), is a vinyl collector, music journalist, and musician originally from Pittsburgh.

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

imageCoyote Motel – The River: A Songwriter’s Stories Of The South


12 songs – 56 minutes

The River: A Songwriter’s Stories Of The South is the soundtrack to a feature film of the same name, starring the Nashville-based cosmic roots band, Coyote Motel. Both the movie and the music explore lives, lore and locales touched by or dependent on three great rivers of the American South: the Mississippi, the Cumberland, and the Tallahatchie.

Both the film and the album are the brainchild of bandleader, Ted Drozdowski, whose 2019 release, Coyote Motel, was warmly reviewed by Blues Blast in 2019. Drozdowski then formed the band that he named after his own album. The result is this fascinating album that happily mashes together Hill Country blues, blues-rock and psychedelia, with pinches of country and folk to create something really quite different and hugely enjoyable.

Anthony DeCurtis’s excellent CD liner notes explore how culture works both on an individual level and in the currents that carry us through life. Likewise, the songs on The River explore the boundaries between the personal and the community, the internal and the external, contemplating the ways in which history, geography and society impact us all. The “River” that is the album’s title is both a literal geographic feature and a metaphorical life journey.

The lyrics reference both the rivers (the title track and “The River Runs Forever”) and the floods that are inevitable near any river of size (“Tupelo”). Other songs examine muleskinners, coal miners (Drozdowski’s own immigrant grandparents, whom he never met – on “Black Lung Fever”), riverboat gambler and musical giants of the region. “The River Runs Forever” actually recounts the tale of Ernest Willis, who apparently lived for decades beneath the Memphis-Arkansas bridge, relying on the river for his livelihood.

The music, with 10 tracks plus two radio edits, is as dynamic, vast, fluid and irresistible as the titular rivers.  The title track has echoes of Led Zeppelin in its understanding of light and shade. While the ominous “Long Distance Runner” even hints at classic Pink Floyd. Unexpected directions are taken. Unusual sounds are chased (check out the angry insect buzz of “Trouble”). And while there are no straight blues songs on The River, the blues informs every song, particularly on tracks like “Black Lung Fever” with its Hill Country finger-picked opening. There is a constant sense of being back in the late 1960s or very early 1970s, musically speaking, with exploration, improvisation and no boundaries left un-pushed.

Coyote Motel comprises Drozdowski on vocals, guitar and diddley bow, Sean Zywick on bass, Kyra Lachelle Curenton on drums, Luella on vocals, guitar and percussion, and Laurie Hoffma on Theremin and glockenspiel. The band produced the album, which was engineered, mixed and mastered by Mike Purcell at County Q Productions, Nashville, TN. Drozdowski wrote all the songs other than the traditional “Homecoming”.

The River is a fascinating and very entertaining album.  Fans of classic blues-rock and late 60s psychedelia will find it particularly enjoyable.

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

 Blues Blast Music Awards Submissions 

Submissions from artists and labels for the 17th Annual Blues Blast Music Awards end tomorrow night May 31st, 2024.

Albums released between June 1. 2023 and May 31, 2024 are eligible this year.

Submit your music now. Click this link:

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 6 

imageKonstantin Kolesnichenko – Good Things

Self Released

10 tracks/37 minutes

Ukranian harp player Konstantin Kolesnichenko pays tribute to George Harmonica Smith with this album recorded across three continents in four different nations. Lots of great guest chromatic harp stars are part of the music as Kolesnichenko plays his diatonic harp.  While his country is under siege, Kolesnichenko continues his musical journey with his sixth album in his 15 year career.

Joining Kolesnichenko on guitar is Paul Seedereke. On piano and keys is Mikhail Lyshenko and Serhii Artemov is on bass. Drummer Dmitry Lytvynenko rounds out the band. Daniel De Vita adds guitar on all but tracks 3, 8 and 9.

Dennis “Vlad the Inhaler” Gruenling joins the fray on the first track, laying our some delightful licks as he and Kolesnichenko trade off on “Hawaiian Eye.” A nice guitar solo and later an organ solo are also featured here on this instrumental number. Konstantin Tikhonev fronts the group vocally for “Rocking” as a nother cool guitar solos is featured for this classic track. Kolesnichenko gives us some pretty soloing as does DeVito here. “Next is “Jumpin’ With George,” a swinging instrumental that Kolesnichenko opens and another George (as in Big Harp George) give t his all on chromatic. Alabama Mike fronts the band for “Situation Blues,” a slick rendition with nice vocals. dirty harp and some stinging guitar.

“Tight Dress” is another cool cut with Matyas Pribojazki on vocals and chromatic. It’s another swell jump blues with strident harp and a sweet groove. “Good Things” follows as Alabama Mike returns to sing for us. Soulful guitar introduces he cut and then Mike sings and Kolesnichenko blows some great harp. Another classic “Blues Stay Away” is next with some really gritty and slow instrumental work to set the tone. Tikhonev returns to front the band here. Lots of good harp and piano and guitar back the cut nicely throughout.

The Irish tune “Peg o’My Heart” gets a greasy and slow blues cover as Kolesnichenko leads the charge on this solemn number, bending and blowing sweetly. The restrained guitar also adds well to the mix. Matyas Pribojazki comes back for some more chromatic work on “Blue Switch,” a harp lovers dream as the players trade off. We get the first piano solo of the album, too, and it’s quite well done! Gruenling returns for the last cut, “Last Chance.” Somber, slow blues here and it’s sublimely done as the guitar blends in skillfully. It’s a really pretty track and a super conclusion to a fine, fine album.

What is not to like here? Tons of tasty harp work and musical support. This is my first exposure to Kolesnichenko and I really enjoyed the CD. It’s an outstanding album and something blues lovers all over the world will enjoy!

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 

imageLightnin Rod & The Thunderbolts – Another Moment In Time

Memphis Blues Records – 2024

10 tracks; 42 minutes

Lightnin Rod Wilson was born in Michigan and now also plays live in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. He started recording in the 1980’s and has produced fifteen albums to date, though this is the first time that this reviewer has heard his music. Rod wrote all ten songs here, handles lead vocals and guitar, supported by John Pinero or William Lenk on keys, Jesse Barton or Mike Estepp on bass and Keith Green and Kevin Stiles on drums; Tiffany Wilson Hutton adds harmony vocals. The album was recorded at Memphis Blues Studio and is self-produced by Rod.

The album opens with the Latin-tinged “Never Should Have Went To Mexico”, a tale of unfortunate consequences on a road trip across the border. Rod’s vocals are clear and pleasant, well suited to this type of mid-paced tune, and his guitar fills are excellent, making a sound start to the album. Next up is “Hole In My Heart”, a ballad with more solid guitar work, followed by the faster-paced “Ordinary Day” which again has a bit of a border feel. “The Lady Has The Blues” contains the key word for readers of Blues Blast but does not contain much other Blues DNA though it is again a melodic tune with fine harmonies. The title track is a country-flavored tune with wah-wah guitar and warm keyboards underpinning Rod’s vocals.

Little so far to excite the blues purists but “3.30 In The Morning” is definitely a blues with rolling piano and a slightly tougher vocal style from Rod who is having trouble getting to sleep as he reviews all his daily problems, from family to work; some anguished guitar comes into the middle section, including some chicken scratch work. “But The Pain” returns to what seems to be Rod’s preferred style with a mid-paced tune, more good piano and harmonies whilst “Bird In My Window” is something of a departure, an acoustic tune, the uncredited harmonica adding a campfire feel to what is essentially a folk song. The album closes with two more mid-paced tunes, “Pathway To Your Love” a love song with more good guitar and piano work and “Just Ran Out Of Love” which has some good guitar in a slightly more aggressive style.

Overall this is a pleasant listen but does not contain very much actual 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.


 Featured Interview – Slash 

imageOn May 17th, a new album hit the market. Those who were paying attention may have wondered about the project, entitled Orgy Of The Damned, by rock icon Slash. And blues fans undoubtedly were more than a bit puzzled when they learned that the lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses as well as Velvet Revolver had cut a blues album for Gibson Records, his sixth solo release.

For many, the thought of Slash playing blues is a mighty long stretch. But if you take a few minutes to dig deeper, you quickly learn that this album is one facet of a project which has the potential to impact a lot of lives on some very human levels. While the record fulfills a long standing dream for the guitarist, it also provides him with an avenue to have fun while hopefully make the world a better place.

Born in London in 1965, as a young boy Slash and his family moved to Los Angeles, where his parents were deeply involved in the music business.

“I came along at the right time, getting turned onto the music by my grandmother and my cousins on my Mom’s side. I heard a lot of blues stuff growing up, but I never got to see any of these guys. Once I picked up the guitar is when I started to really learn what it was all about, just listening to records. Eventually I did get to meet B. B. King and got a chance to play with him a few times, which was great. I went to a lot of shows when I was a kid in the seventies with my parents, but I don’t recall ever going to any that featured the blues greats.

“ B.B. King, when I first heard him as a kid, I didn’t know anything about anything. It just appealed to me, and then as I got older and started to appreciate him as an artist, I think the things that spoke to me even back when I was young was just his personality in his singing and playing. I mean, when it comes down to it, he had a certain cadence, and there’s a certain melodic thing to his playing that really separated him from all the other blues guitar players that I listened to. I think that’s what makes guitar players, or makes artists in general, what makes them great is not their insane technical ability. They have their own personality, their own sort of voice that comes across. And if that appeals to you, you can identify with that strongly.

“And that’s sort of where BB King was for me, but he’s not the only one. He was one of the first ones. Albert King is another one of those we call the three Kings, Freddie King as well. All three of those guys had a massive influence on me with their unique personalities on their instrument and their voices. When you really have a recognizable style of personality, it becomes something allows you to separate this artist from that artist. Those three guys definitely had very distinct personalities. But I don’t want to just single them out, because Howling Wolf, which is somebody that I covered on this record, is another one of those guys, very, very keen identity, and the same for Muddy Waters.”

The idea for a tribute album had been out there for quite some time. Finally the planets aligned, and the guitarist decided the moment had arrived.

“There was no decision necessarily about it except that it was time. Obviously, any of the bands that I’m a part of aren’t hands-down blues bands, but they’re sort of blues based. When I picked up the guitar, the blues guitar style was what I was into. But as far as the kind of band that I wanted to be into, I was full on hard rock, high energy and all that. But I spent a lot of time jamming with different people off on the side, doing sort of loose blues shit all the time.

“At one point in the nineties, I had a blues cover band called Slash’s Blues Ball. It was with a couple of the guys that are on this record, just a really fun, loose, drunken cover band. We did shows and actually toured around on it. And I always said at some point, I would love to make a record of this. However, I’ve just been so busy with so many different things for so many years. But because I’ve been listening to a lot of blues over the last decade, at one point I had a couple of weeks off during the last Guns N’ Roses tour, in between legs, It all seemed to come together and I decided I’m going to do that record.

“So I got Tash Neal, who I jammed with a few years ago. He came in to play guitar and sing. Then we have Teddy Andreadis on keyboards, Johnny Griparic plays bass, and Michael Jerome on drums. We put together a bunch of songs over a course of a couple of weeks and recorded them real quick. Then some of the singers we called on were around at the time, so they came in the studio while we were actually making the record and put vocals down. For the other singers, I had to wait for the next break in the Guns tour, then go here and there, taking the tapes over to them and cutting the vocals in another studio somewhere else. That is how that process always goes whenever you have guest singers, but it was just a fun thing to do.”

imageAs you might expect, the guitarist enlisted a star-studded list of vocalists including Chris Robinson, Gary Clark Jr., Billy F. Gibbons, Paul Rodgers, Demi Lovato, Dorothy, Brian Johnson from AC/DC, and Steven Tyler on harmonica

When it came to selecting songs, Slash started out with some that provided a higher level of familiarity.

“A couple of the songs we used to do back in the day in Slash’s Blues Ball, like “Key to the Highway”. “The Pusher,” recorded by Steppenwolf, which is not really a traditional blues song, was another one of those songs. We also did “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, which also isn’t a traditional blues song. But I decided I wanted to do “Living For The City” instead because that was one of my favorite songs when I was a kid.

“Then fast forward to other songs I decided I wanted to do.. There is “Crossroads,” which was originally going to be “Cross Roads Blues”, the Robert Johnson song, but it was just a little too slow and too laid back, that version of it. So doing the “Crossroads” version based on Cream with Eric Clapton seemed a little bit more my speed for this thing. “Born Under A Bad Sign” was something that I always wanted to do, along with Peter Green’s “Oh, Well.”. The big one for me musically that I always wanted to do and never really played it with anybody, was doing “Killing Floor,” the Howlin’ Wolf song with Brian doing the vocal.

“These were songs that have recognizable riffs that really had an influence on me. For Muddy Waters, it was either “I’m A Man” or “Hoochie Coochie Man”. My decision was “Hoochie Coochie Man” would be the one to do, with Billy Gibbons. “Stormy Monday” is a song that I’ve heard a lot of different people do, and I’ve just loved the song, especially the Etta James version of it. It’s really not a guitar thing that I was influenced by, just the song itself. Everything on the album had a personal kind of connection to me somehow.

“The other thing is, this is not an attempt by me to go, “Oh, you know, I’m a blues purist. And this is like a traditional blues album.” This is just me doing stuff that I like that’s very blues oriented. I’m not trying to rediscover myself as a blues artist, so to speak. But my guitar influence really is in the blues, that’s where it comes from.

“Even in the eighties, when Guns N Roses first started, as a player, as much as I loved the whole high energy thing at that time, that sort of hard rock musical direction that all the bands were going into at that time, one of the reasons why it worked for me was Guns was doing very old school blues oriented kind of melodies and song structures, even though you wouldn’t consider them that. They were really more soul oriented than some of the other bands that were our contemporaries at the time. But as a player, it was all very deeply rooted in the stuff that I learned how to play when I first started, which was all just blues guitar.

“There was one song on the record that I didn’t choose. Johnny, our bass player, got an idea. He had that heard Iggy Pop has always wanted to do a blues thing, but just never had the opportunity to do it. It’s in an interview. And I was like, really, as I’ve known Iggy for a long time and worked with him a bunch. So I called him, told him what I’d heard. And he said, yeah, that’s true. I said, well, if you were going to do a blues track, which song would you do? And he picked “Awful Dream.” I had never heard that song before. I obviously had heard plenty of Lightnin’ Hopkins, but I just never heard that one. So I looked it up and it’s seemed like almost a throwaway track. It’s really cool, but it seems like it was the first and only time they ever played it, that kind of thing.

“A couple of weeks later, Iggy flew in and we just sat together on stools and just made it up, because I didn’t really learn it in earnest, because the original track itself wasn’t played in earnest. It really meant something to Iggy to do this particular song. And it was a nice moment to give him that outlet to be able to do that. I’m stoked because he hasn’t heard the finished track yet. So when it comes out, he’ll check it out and it’ll be awesome.”

The track is a highlight of the album, featuring a stripped down arrangement with Slash on guitar, Jerome on drums, and Iggy delivering a world-weary vocal that resonates long after the track ends.

For the iconic Peter Green song, “Oh Well,” Slash had another surprise up his sleeve.

image“I’m not one of those guys that listens to a lot of country music. For a Guns N’ Roses U. S. tour back in 2016, we had Chris Stapleton open some shows. He’s one of these outrageously gifted guys with a really great voice. That stuck in my mind. So when I was thinking of that song, it suddenly popped into my head that his kind of cadence delivering that lyric would be unpredictable, something people would not expect but it would sound really cool. He was one of the few artists on the record that I’d never actually met. I cold called him and he was really sweet and very gracious, and he knew the song. He found some time at some point, so I sent the tape to Nashville and he did it. And it was just great!

“The album is a little less predictable, not what you call a hands-down traditional blues record. It’s certainly not me trying to be that guy that says, “Oh, I’m a fucking blues artist and this is the next sort of mainstream blues thing.” There’s a lot of artists out there who are serious blues players. I’m a blues player, but this is not meant to be that kind of a record. It’s my take on a bunch of blues standards and some other songs, and then having the different singers take them in a direction which makes them a little bit more eclectic. If I’d had Paul Rodgers sing the whole record, then it might have fallen more into place, more of a traditional kind of a thing, because he has a really great capacity for old school blues. This was more just sort of fun with the genre.

“As far as all of the arrangements on the record, for the most part we took them in different directions. We didn’t stick to doing everything identical to the original versions. Some of these songs, there’s so many versions of them. You don’t even know which one is the really the more traditional of the bunch. But with “Stormy Monday,” it was based off of the Etta James version, although it doesn’t sound like it now so much. It’s a live version by her that I always really liked.

“But when I asked Beth Hart about doing it, she wondered what if we could do it in a minor key. And I thought that would be cool. So we rehearsed it in a minor key. That actual take was really just a rehearsal take but Beth sang the shit out of it, and that was it. We were done. The band actually hadn’t even played that song more than three times, and we had just got in the studio first thing in the afternoon, just going to run through it instrumentally just to make sure we knew what the changes were. And then she came in and just started singing it and that was it.”

In July, Slash and his band will embark on a 27 date tour in support of Orgy Of The Damned. There are several unique aspects to the tour. It is being marketed as the S.E.R.P.E.N.T Blues Festival. The name stands for Solidarity, Engagement, Restore, Peace, Equality, N’ Tolerance, all worthy concepts that the world could use more of.

Opening for Slash on the tour are other outstanding guitar players including Warren Haynes, Keb’ ‘Mo, Eric Gales, and Robert Randolph. Equally exciting is the inclusion of younger artists, including women, with Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Samantha Fish, Larkin Poe, Jackie Venson, and ZZ Ward. The line-up varies from date to date, but there’s no doubt that it provides a wonderful opportunity for the younger artists to connect with a wider audience.

In addition to providing attendees with a fine day of blues and rock ‘n’ roll music, Slash wanted to use the festival to generate the maximum social impact. With that in mind, he has partnered with for assistance in delivering part of the proceeds from every ticket sale to five non-profit organizations whose work mirrors the festival’s themes. The organizations include the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), The Equal Justice Initiative, Know Your Rights Camp, The Greenlining Institute, and War Child.

“I’m just really excited to do it. I’m glad to be able to get a bunch of really cool artists on there that I handpicked, and they were willing to do it. This is something unlike anything that I’ve really ever done. I jam in clubs with all different kinds of players, but to do an actual blues festival tour and go out there and play night after night, it’s an amazing outlet for me. And then to also play with all these other outstanding players! I’m hoping that if this tour goes well, we can do it every year, giving me the opportunity to play the blues for however many months out of the year.

image“I mean, the fact that I’m getting a chance to tour with Eric Gales is amazing, because he’s a monster. It’s going to be a fun, new experience. Jackie Venson is a name that not many people are going to recognize. She’s got an amazing voice, but she also very unique unto herself. She’s a great guitar player. She fits the bill perfectly. There’s a lot of these of newer artists out there, all very sort of pure and doing the music for all the right reasons.

“They don’t always get a shit ton of exposure, they’re just out there doing it because they love doing it. If you’ve got your ear to the ground, you can pick up on it and find all these great artists. That was one of the exciting things about this tour, to be able to put something together with those people, artists that I just got turned on to that I think are really good. And I thought what I’d like to do with this tour is be able to give back a little bit. This is sort of a bizarre time in our history where we’re starting to go backwards. I was looking for charities that were aiding impoverished people on a variety of issues. My goal was to do something where it was all inclusive and about bringing people together. The blues is a great vehicle for that.”

It has been a good life. Slash is proud of the new album, excited about the tour and all of the music to be made, thankful that he is in a position to make a difference. The blues purists will most assuredly not be impressed, but the guitarist understands. He isn’t trying to be anything other than who he is, and continue to have fun playing the music that spoke to him many years ago.

“I love playing guitar solos. There are live shows where there’s a loose jam in the song and I can jam all day. But I think more than anything, as a player since I was a kid, I was always into the song, and the lead guitar in the context of the song, like a vocal. It wasn’t all about the guitar. The guitar enhances the song and it’s another sort of vocal outlet, but you’ve got to keep the song together. If you start going on a tangent, you forget what the song was.

“I’ve been around music all my life. When I met up with the original drummer for Guns N’ Roses, Steven Adler, we were 14 years old. We started hanging out and he had an electric guitar. When his grandparents were out working at the bakery, we go into his apartment and he had a Kiss record. He’d bang on this guitar, playing the Kiss record really loud. And we just had that youthful kind of enthusiasm like, well, we’ll start a band. And I originally was going to play bass but I didn’t know anything about anything. There was a local music store around the corner. I went in there without an instrument because I didn’t have shit.

“The teacher is sitting there asking me questions, trying to figure out what the fuck I’m doing. As he’s talking to me, he’s playing Cream licks on a  Gibson Les Paul  Black Beauty. I know I told him I was going to play bass. He goes, do you have a bass? No, I don’t have a bass. And he’s clueless as to why I’m there. As he’s playing this stuff off of Cream’s Disraeli Gears album, I told him that’s what I want to do. And he replied, that’s not bass, that’s guitar. From that moment on, that was it. I went and found a guitar that we had in a closet somewhere. At the time I was racing BMX and I was all about aspiring to be a motocross racer and race 500s. It all went out the window. I just locked onto this guitar and I’ve been doing it ever since.“

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 – 5 of 6 

imageRoger “Hurricane” Wilson Trio – Live from Maxwell’s

Bluestorm Records

12 songs – 76 minutes

Born in the shadows of New York City and raised on the Jersey Shore, where he adopted his nickname after a major storm devastated his hometown, Roger “Hurricane” Wilson has been firing on all cylinders on six-string since the ‘70s, but he debuts a new project with this CD, a rollicking, old-school pleaser recorded at Maxwell’s Cigar Bar in Woodstock, Ga., in the northern Atlanta suburbs in February.

Based in the Peach State since attending prep school there in the ‘60s and schooled as a trumpet player and drummer, Roger picked up the guitar after falling under the spell of Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King and Duane Allman. He’s been playing out since 1973 and began teaching the instrument later in the decade, too. But he didn’t release his first album until the mid-‘90s.

This release is the 31st in Wilson’s arsenal, and it came together when he met drummer Sandra Senn and bassist Paul Arredondo – longtime playing partners – and played with them briefly during a barroom jam last summer. The feeling they produced was palpable enough that Roger started scheduling regular rehearsals and a few gigs, during which the trio created the set list that you hear here. They’re joined by Skipper Gibson, who sits in on Rhodes organ.

Delivering a barebones sound that mirrors the live recordings of Wilson’s youth, the trio produces a solid, break- and shred-free  86-minute set here, delivering five of Roger’s originals and seven familiar covers along the way with the leader handling the mic with his pleasant, mid-range vocals throughout.

The self-penned “I Did What I Wanted To” lopes out of the gate before Roger turns back the clock to 1960 for an updated reading of The Shadows’ “Apache,” one of the top instrumentals of the era. The similarly themed original, “Why I Do What I Do,” is up next before a driving, seven-minute version of Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “Help Me.”

The slow-and-steady “The Way I Am” is an unusual choice for a blues set when you consider it was penned by Sonny Throckmorton and a hit for country legend Merle Haggard in 1980. But it’s a decent fit before Wilson goes uptempo and pulls out all the stops for a six-minute rendition of Elmore James’ “Done Somebody Wrong” and follows a pair of originals – “Tribute to Danny” and “Talking Heads” – that run 14 minutes before yielding to “Rumble,” the instrumental hit for Link Wray & His Raymen, which dominated the airwaves in 1958.

Extended takes of Junior Wells’ familiar “Little by Little” and Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night in Georgia” follow before Wilson takes listeners home with his own “I’m Coming Home.”

A rock-solid set from a band that’s all business – and good at it, too, there’s nothing flashy here but plenty to like if you’re looking for a good time.

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.

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

imagePaul Black – Beautiful Sin

Self-Release – 2024

11 tracks; 47 minutes

Paul Black is based on the West coast of Canada, and this is his third album release. There are ten originals written by Paul, plus a cover of a Commodores tune. Paul sings, plays guitar, harp and bass, aided by Malcom Cooley and Curtis Lieppi who share the drum duties and producer Wynn Gogol who plays occasional keyboards: backing vocalists Carrie-Ann Lieppi and Sarah Smith contribute backing vocals to five tracks between them.

Paul has the sort of gravelly, whisky-soaked voice that fits the blues-rock style well and he plays both slide and lead guitar. Opener “Howl And Moan” is appropriately titled as Paul’s vocals and fierce slide do exactly that on a tune with a Mississippi Hill Country feel. The title track moves from an acoustic opening to electric guitar stylings in the middle section as Paul is captivated by a girl who is, for him, the epitome of “Beautiful Sin”: “You found a new way of breaking my heart”. The chugging rocker “Live It Like Ur Never Gonna Die” completes a fairly aggressive trio of songs, this one adding some harp accompaniment to the mix before “Better Man” brings a touch of country rock to the album with Paul’s guitar work sounding very much like Dickey Betts, the backing vocals also very effective here. “Let It Rain” is a familiar title but is not the Clapton song, rather a tune with a hypnotic chug behind slide and harp that builds in intensity as the tune develops, again invoking the Hill Country style.

“Never Go Home” drops the pace for some sweet guitar set over warm organ as Paul adopts a smoother vocal style for a ballad that works well. We are soon back to a more rocking style on “The Way”, Paul’s keening slide again set against the keyboards and some thumping drums while the busy “How Long” has lots of wah-wah guitar on a stop-start tune that brought early Zeppelin to mind and “Losing Your Love” is a catchy tune more in radio-friendly pop style. The cover of The Commodores “Brick House” involves backing vocals while the keys substitute for the horn stabs on the original as Paul plays some tough wah-wah and slide in the middle solo before closing the album with the slide-driven heavy rock of “Go On Home”.

This album does not have any straight blues but certainly rocks out on several tunes, so if you enjoy that style of blues-rock this may be of interest to you.

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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