Issue 18-26 June 27, 2024

Cover photo © 2024 Jon Pearson

 In This Issue 

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with Patrick Recob. We have seven Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Val Starr & The Blues Rockets, Misty Blues, Eliza Neals, Kid Andersen, Lisa “Little Baby” Andersen, Billy Price and Rogue Johnsen Project. Scroll down and check it out!

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 7 

imageVal Starr & The Blues Rockets – To The Blues and Back Again

Sandwich Factory Records

13 tracks

Sacramento chanteuse Val Starr releases her seventh album with this effort, and once again it features all-original songs. Starr fronts the band and plays rhythm guitar. John Ellis handles bass, Tim Brisson is on lead guitar, and on harp is Frankie Munz. New to Starr’s band are Kirk Hooper on drums and Pamela Charles Arthur is on keys. Saxophones are provided by Marty Deradoorian and Saxophone Zot. Dave Segal is a guest on guitar on “Worn Down Blues” and “Bluesin” and Stephen Kimball is on guitar on the track prior to these two. “Bitter Pill” features B. Christopher on guitar. Darrel Echos handles drums on the final track.

The title track opens the album. Starr sings with her typical angst and emotion. There’s some nice harp and guitar work here to spice things up sweetly. It’s a bouncy shuffle with a nice groove. “Bitter Pill” follows, a slow blues ballad that Starr croons out with passion. The guitar solos match the feelings expressed. Then it’s “Take A Stand For Love,” a more modern styled blues.

“If You Don’t Blues It, You Lose It” is a jump blues with swinging piano and great sound as is “Gratitude Is The Best Cure For The Blues.”

“Ask Me No Questions” is a cool blues featuring some interesting organ and sax along with some well done guitar. “The Blues That Move Me” is another slick ballad that Starr and Brisson sell well. Next is “Bluesin’” with some cool slide work and a a sweet little shuffle going on. “Worn Down Blues” gets a little mid-60’s rock going and moves along smartly. Starr shows versatility in song writing and performing and the guitar rings nicely in support.

“Patience” swings with some nice keys and a bouncy delivery by Starr. “Move Over Baby” gives us a Chicago Blues feel as the guitar gets down and the band gets a nice groove going.  Organ support is super, too. Then it’s “Big City Blues (Rescue Me),” a more contemporary track sung with deep feeling and emotion. More big organ and guitar are featured here. The final track is the ballad “Did You Ever Notice” where the band musically switches gears heavily into the ballad mode. It’s a pretty cut and deep.

The songs are well crafted. Vocally, Starr sings with this angst and heartbreak that seems to drive and take over most songs. Her vibrato and vocal delivery remain pretty much the same from cut to cut. All in all it’s a good album and the musicianship is quite good.

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 – 2 of 7 

imageMisty Blues – Silver Lining

Guitar One Records

11 songs – 43 minutes

A classy and sassy horn band based out of the northwest corner of Massachusetts, Misty Blues have been dazzling audiences their own special brand of horn-drenched, jazz-tinged music for the past 25 years. And they celebrate both their longevity and success with this dynamic set, which is guaranteed to grab you from the opening notes.

The group is led by the powerful and dynamic Gina Coleman, a smoky alto who doubles on cigar-box guitar when not serving as the associate admissions director at Williams College in bucolic Williamstown, where the band’s based. And two of her bandmates are involved in teaching in one way or another, too.

A group of seasoned professionals, multi-instrumentalist Rob Tatten handles drums, trumpet and trombone while serving as a music educator in the Pittsfield, Mass., school system while Aaron Dean, the saxophonist, is a school superintendent who plays frequently with several of the top jazz players in the Northeast.

They’re joined by bassist/trumpet player Bill Patriquin, a Navy veteran and who’s worked in bands around the globe, Seth Fleischmann, a guitarist with degrees in performance and audio engineering, and Diego Mongue, Gina’s son, who handles drums, bass, guitar and pedal steel. A recording artist in his own right despite still being a Williams student, he and the Diego Mongue Band made it to the semi-finals of the 2024 International Blues Challenge.

Early Times sits in on guitar for one tune and keyboard player Matt Casson appears on another. They’re augmented by keyboard players Joel Nicholas and David Vittone, guitarists Cameron Bencivenga and Chase Bradshaw, harp player Ed Moran, trumpet player Jeff Stevens, percussionist Three Trees and vocalists Chantell McFarland, Wendy Lipp, Matt Mervis, Rebecca Mattson and Kathy Ryan.

An autobiographical effort that includes lush arrangements and deep lyrics, this disc will strike home for anyone who’s experienced the ups and downs of a lifetime of work, whether it’s on the job or on stage. “Seduction by Blues” takes listeners back to the root with a solitary, minor-key harp line before Gina joins in for a hypnotic opener as the tension builds. Then the full band joins in to finish the number instrumentally and elevates the pressure even more.

The mood brightens with the percussive “Silver Lining,” which features Early Times and deals with suggestions that things aren’t that bad even though Coleman relates a laundry list of troubles. “You can keep that silver lining to someone else,” she says. “I don’t want to hear your pearls of wisdom. Keep it to yourself!” An extended, fiery guitar and horn solo drives the message home. Drums and keys open “The Upper Hand” as Gina complains about the way she’s been treated after giving a friend shelter from his/her storm before the spirited “Shake These Blues” makes everything upbeat even though it speaks deals with recovery from a broken love affair.

The minor-key “Sofrito My Blues” opens quietly to follow but quickly picks up intensity as it describes trouble amidst the joy at a Latin market before yielding to a true-blue pleaser in the compelling “Enough Lovin’ for Two,” which gives the band a chance to work out atop a steady, propulsive beat. Up next, the introspective and haunting “How Will I” finds Coleman lost in the middle of nowhere and wondering how she’ll find her path to get out as her bandmates keep the tension high while giving her the space to let her voice fly. Resolution comes in “That’s My Cross,” which admits more of life’s blunders atop with a positive spin.

The next number, “Nothing in Vain,” is subtitled “Steve Beastie’s song” and dedicated to the deejay from Britain’s Voodoo Radio Online. An ardent supporter and friend of Misty Blues, he lost his life after a battle with cancer last winter only a few months after seeing the band in person. Containing an unmistakable gospel element, the tune celebrates him in the best way possible, noting: “These blues are here to sustain you, these blues cast off the pain…”

Fear not, though! Joy abounds in the jazz-infuses “Chasing Gold,” which sings about the futility of chasing fortune and fame and accepting what you’ve got. Cusson’s featured on a stellar mid-tune solo and the horns are high in the mix throughout. The disc concludes with “Blues Never Ends,” a number that mirrors the opening and includes participation from Diego’s full band.

Misty Blues is one of the most consistent, unique groups on the scene today, and this album shines throughout. If you’re tired of “the same old blues,” this one’s like a breath of fresh air!

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 – 3 of 7 

imageEliza Neals – Colorcrimes

EH Records LLC

9 tracks – 32 Minutes

Detroit born Eliza Neals graduated from Detroit’s Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, minor in piano. Her studies were in Opera. She toured Europe performing opera with the WSU concert chorale performing as a Mezzo Soprano. But she quickly tired of that music and moved into singing the blues.

Performing around Detroit, a chance meeting with producer Barrett Strong Jr., who had previously produced Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight, took her under his wing and trained her to sing in the Motown style. Her love of classic rock from the 60’s and 70’s provided a direction for her music citing Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt as favorite stylists. She has received five Detroit Music Awards, the 2018 Black Music Award for “Blues Artist of the year” and seventeen nominations from the Independent Blues Awards.

Her first album, I Want More, was released in 1997. This is now her twelfth album. Barrett Strong, Jr., who died in 2023, cowrote three of the originals songs with Eliza and produced two of them. All other songs are also originals written or co-written by Eliza. Eliza produced the remaining songs herself, plays piano and provides all vocals. Michael Puwal plays guitar and slide guitar on seven of the songs and a large group of guests provide all other instrumentals.

The album opens with “Heal This Land”, a folky blues performed solely with Michael’s acoustic slide work. With an appealing call to the crowd of “Clap your hands”, it will clearly be a crowd draw to energize a live show. She then tells a humorous story of how she was “Banned in Jackson” just for being herself. The title song, “Colorcrimes” is a powerful social song looking at the current racial struggles in the US as she pleas “Why can’t we live together, just make time for life.  Why can’t we talk it over, don’t make color a crime”.

“Something’s Better Than Nothing” moves into an Aretha styled soul blues. with Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboard player Peter Keys playing Hammond B3 as Eliza notes that “it is better to have something than to have nothing” and “better to have your life”. “Love Dr. Love” brings the funk with horns and a hint of New Orleans as she “prepares to step into his world” and “leave all my worries back home”. King Solomon Hicks guests on guitar and backing vocals on “Sugar Daddy” with a tale of the man who cannot leave her.

Eliza lets her piano rip and amid a bit of boogie with no more treats for him as the “Candy Store is closed forever more” while she does “have a sweet tooth”. On “Found me Another”, she tells him that she is “sick and tired of his wicked games”. She closes the album with “Friday Night (All Day Long)” as she “revs my girls to party all night “, “nothing can stop me from doing some wrong.”

Eliza has a smokey voice that can remind of Bonnie Raitt. She delivers another pleasant and fun recording mixed with a brief sidestep to the social message in the title song.  Michael Puwal’s guitar work is also an astounding addition to her sound. The only downside is that the nine songs are brief and leave you wanting more.

Reviewer 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 – 4 & 5 of 7 

imageKid Andersen – Spirits  &  Lisa “Little Baby” Andersen – Soul

Little Village Foundation LVF 1063

22 songs – 102 minutes

One of the driving forces in the blues world, Kid Andersen is often far busier behind the scenes as a producer/engineer at his acclaimed Greaseland Studios in California than as a key cog in Rick Estrin & the Nightcats’ guitarist and his equally talented vocalist wife Lisa take center stage on this stellar, two-album set.

Surrounded by an abundance of talent from the Nightcats/Little Village Foundation family, Kid takes the spotlight on the first disc, delivering blues as blue as it can get, before yielding to Lisa – affectionately known as Little Baby, for a platter that shows why an over-the-top achievement that He shares the spotlight on this two-disc set with his wife, Lisa Leuschner Andersen, who went from becoming a seven-year-old big-band singer and child model to successful stints on TV’s American Idol and Showtime at the Apollo and a two-CD run at Succession Records before marrying Kid and teaming with him to build the Greaseland franchise.

Based in suburban San Jose, the Andersens’ studio began with Kid using a radio station’s discarded tape machine to record himself. But in the past 15 years, it’s blossomed into a franchise that’s produced more than 150 albums, many of them award nominees and winners, with Little Baby becoming a “not-so-secret weapon” thanks the mellifluous sound of her voice on hundreds of their tracks.

The unbelievably deep roster here includes appearances from keyboard players Jim Pugh, Chris Burns, Lorenzo Farrell, Latimore, Lucky Peterson and others, guitarist Rome Yamilov and bassist Jerry Jemmott shares duties with five cohorts along with a percussion section that includes Derrick “D’Mar” Martin, June Core, Butch Cousins and six more folks too numerous to name.

Charlie Musselwhite, Nic Clark and Stevie Gurr contribute harmonica along with horn sections led by Mike Rinta that feature ten talents, including Sax Gordon Beadle. And vocals are enhanced by appearances from the Sons of the Soul Revivers, Vicki Randle, Rusty Zinn, Latimore, the late Wee Willie Walker, Finis Tasby, Little Charlie Baty, Les McCann, Ron Thompson, James Harman, Mike Ledbetter, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and far too many others than this space allows.

Featuring seven originals and two completely massaged covers, Kid’s deliberate, intense burner, “The Civilized Life” opens Spirits which finds him in the uncomfortable situation where former fame has escaped him and he finds himself unsuited for the jarring change-of-pace. The tempo quickens briefly before the syncopated “Scratch!,” a reggae-fused number about an unwanted houseguest, Satan. Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault but Mine” gets an outstanding 21st-century makeover with Lisa doubling Kid’s vocals and Andersen laying down single-note six-string lead before the two-four pleaser, “Hey, Mr. Reaper,” serves up a request that Death “don’t make your rounds so slow…because it’s time for me to go.”

The horns kick in for the first time with the uptempo, soulful “Give Me the Road,” which announces Kid’s got “the spirit in my and it’s gotta come out.” Then the title tune, “Spirits,” opens at a whisper before the funk kicks in and Kid wonders if its true that we’re looked over by guides from the other side. A searing blues, “I Ain’t Right” follows with Andersen admitting his “mind ain’t up to snuff – and if they new what was goin’ on they’d lock me up.” A fresh take on the Beatles’ “Day Tripper” gets a thoroughly soulful redo before the funky “Ship of Fools” – an original, not a cover – opens quietly and slowly builds in intensity as it describes troubled time to close out the set.

Little Baby’s set serves up emotion-packed messages, beginning with Mighty Mike Schermer’s “In My Mind’s Eye.” A barebones number that picks up speed throughout, it looks back at the past and gives hope for the future with Lisa delivering a little honey with each note. Co-written with Will Leuschner, the original “I Miss You” is a plaintive expression of love atop a Latin beat for someone who’s gone forever. It gives way to the late Donnie Woodruff’s ballad, “I Won’t Let That Happen to Me,” promises not to reveal to the world the pain Little Baby feels inside.

Kid’s country flavored “If You Could Only See” is delivered as an Andersen duet before Elvin Bishop’s familiar rocker, “Rock Bottom,” takes on a completely different feel thanks to Lisa’s uptempo delivery. The hits keep coming with a version of John Nemeth’s “Why Not Me” before Kid’s bluesy “Slipped Through My Fingers” finds Little Baby bemoaning the loss of her man sharing the mic with Latimore as the tune progresses. Stevie Wonder’s “You Met Your Match” is up next before the funky “Flying” serves up a warning to a lover who’s made Lisa look like a fool.

“You Took Me All the Way,” a sweet number Will penned for Lisa’s mom, precedes “This Time,” the promise from a wayward lady that she’ll be true before Wonder’s “Free” and Little Baby’s acoustic pleaser, “Family,” brings the action to an end.

Kid and Little Baby serve up something blue for everyone on this one. Whatever your tastes, it’s not to be missed.

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 Interview – Patrick Recob 

imageWhen you see Patrick Recob on stage for the first time, your first impression would probably be that he is a modern day rockabilly hellcat, slapping away at his upright bass, sporting a towering hairstyle. Once you take time to listen to what he is laying down, you quickly realize that his affinity for the blues runs deep. He has backed several exceptional blues artists, and currently is busier than ever.

“I grew up with a strong love for music, as an overly hyperactive ADD kid, one of the guinea pigs for Ritalin and honestly, I can laugh about it, but it was a challenge growing up. My mind and attention were not on school work. However, music always interested me. My sister played around with the guitar. She was into James Taylor and Joan Baez, but she also had rock and roll records. I remember hearing Jimi Hendrix when I was six years old. I’m now 60, born in 1964. When I was 11 years old, I met the legendary DJ Wolfman Jack at a public meet and greet, and man, my mom was just adamant that I was going to meet him.

“When I did., it was like meeting Santa Claus. That line was so freaking long, but when we got up there, he’s sitting at this big table. His big hand comes down to shake my hand., gives me this big old soul dab. And then he howled, took his hat off and he tipped his hat to my mom At that moment, I knew that I had to be an entertainer. So I started learning to play the guitar. I grew up a Beatles kid and naturally, you soak it all in.

‘This Recob boy was well known with the social workers as someone who couldn’t learn anything. One of the social workers left that business and opened up a record store. I happened to go into the store regularly. He knew my history and started calling my parents saying, you need to pay attention to this. I know that Patrick’s known for not paying attention, but this kid’s learning who these artists are. He’s learning who the musicians are, the title of the songs, the order of the songs, the catalog number of the record, the timing of the songs, copyright, who did what, who played what, who wrote what.

“That was my medicine that kind of helped me. After meeting Wolfman Jack, I wanted to play music for the people and for myself. In the mid eighties, as I was coming out of high school, I started getting into blues. Bud at the record store was a blues musician He was turning me on to records by Willie Dixon and Little Walter, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Sonny Boy, Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters. all the old Chess records. I had access to these records and started learning how to play from them.

“Then the Fabulous Thunderbirds came out, bringing that contemporary sound, and of course I was always into rockabilly and old school rock and roll., an Elvis kid, into Little Richard, but I was always drawn to music that was basically blues related. That was just something that spoke to my soul. As time went by in the mid eighties, I started playing in blues bands, about the time Robert Cray was coming out with his Strong Persuader album, generating a big commercial appeal.

“Everybody started listening to the blues, but the bands that really stuck out to me with that contemporary sound at that time were the Thunderbirds, and then the James Harman band with Kid Ramos and Hollywood Fats (Michael Mann) on guitar, Willie J. Campbell on bass, and Stephen Hodges on drums. When Stevie Ray Vaughan came along with Texas Flood, that became a big, big thing, especially here in the Midwest.

image“Grant Green was interviewed one time and he was asked, what kind of jazz do you like to play? His response was, “I don’t play jazz. I play music.” So it has always been music to me, because it is a healing thing, helping me to progress as a musician as well as with my ADD and my hyperactivity. Music soothes the savage beast. Why choose Elvis or the Beatles or the Rolling Stones? You can have it all. And so I chose it all.”

At the same time, Black Top Records started putting out albums by Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets. A local guitar player, John McNally, that Recob was playing with in Topeka turned him on to Anson, Mike Morgan & the Crawl, and Ronnie Earl.

“Those records spoke to me. I was dedicating myself 100 percent to the blues and that was where I was going to be. Singer Darrell Nulisch had left Ronnie Earl with Steve Gomes, and they formed Texas Heat. Those guys would come around the Midwest and I would travel to see them. I saw Anson and Darrell 50 times each. They knew that I was working towards going national, to play with all my heroes.

“Johnny Moeller, who was Darrell’s guitar player in Texas Heat and Steve Gomes became my bass mentor, as did Rhandy Simmons, who was with Anson at the time, and then went on to play with The Crawl. Those guys just took me under their wings and were helping me. Mike Morgan and Moeller recommended me to Gary Primich in 1995, who gave me an opportunity to go play bass for him for a good solid year. And unfortunately, I was in a situation at home that was not very good. Like many musicians, I was gone all the time, and the marriage fell apart.”

After working in Texas with Primich, Recob moved to the Washington D.C, area. In the early 2000s, he relocated back to the Midwest.

“Next thing I know, I’m working with the great singer and harmonica player Lee McBee. He had left Mike Morgan & the Crawl, putting a band called the Confessors together in Kansas City, and I became his bass player until he died, playing for a good 10 years. Then I worked a bit with Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King, Later I was on the West Coast with James Harman, and it’s just amazing that I’ve been able to play with a lot of my heroes. Now, James has passed away, Lee passed away, Primich passed away, all my band leaders pretty much have passed away, but I’m still working it.

“But the cool thing is, I don’t have to travel anymore. I’m now part of four bands, two in Kansas City, and two in Des Moines, Iowa. One is with Matt Woods, who is becoming a very well known guitar player in the Iowa area and beyond . Three hours away, I go to Des Moines to play with Matt and Dwight Dario on drums, getting some good recognition up there. And the three of us are playing with a musician up in Des Moines by the name of Malcolm Wells, another singer and harp player. As the band, we are known as the Two Timers, and Malcolm put a record out three years ago called Hollerin’ Out Loud that did really well on the blues charts .

“Here in Kansas City, I kept Lee’s band alive with Carl Angerer on guitar, calling ourselves The Mighty Phonics. It features Mike “Shinetop” Sedovic on keyboards, who used to play in Danielle Nicole’s band. The three of us have been best friends for 30 years, but we’d never been in a band together. So we decided to create a new version, a little bit Confessors, a little bit of my Perpetual Luau all stars and a little something new and original. Russ “Kidman” Schenke plays harmonica and some bass, Dwight is again on drums, and I sing, play bass, and some guitar.

“On top of that, I play in a fourth band called the House Rockers. Do you remember Little Hatch (Provine Hatch Jr.), great KC singer and harp player? Little Hatch had a band called the House Rockers. His son, Jaisson Taylor, is the drummer. Jaisson also works with guitarist Brandon Hudspeth in the duo, Hudspeth & Taylor, that has been nominated for a number of awards. Brandon plays in the Rockers if he is not on the road with Dustin Arbuckle & the Damnations or his band Levee Town. Bill Dye is the regular guitarist and John Paul Drum plays harmonica. Those two just took 2nd Place in the Solo/Duo Division of this year’s International Blues Challenge. John Paul was the highest rated harmonica player in the history of the IBC by Lee Oskar, the harmonica ace from the band War. So as you can see, within 180 mile radius, I’m getting to play, stick around home. and make some really cool music.

imageIn the late 1990s, Recob was in a band with another KC guitarist, Mike Bourne. That fell apart when Recob went back out on the road, but they got together again for Bourne’s album, Cruisin’ Kansas City, released last year on Blue Heart Records, receiving plenty of positive press. Recob also played on Hank Mowery’s award-winning tribute to Gary Primich, Account To Me.

“I kind of doinked around with the bass in high school. I went back to guitar, but I got an opportunity to play bass in a blues band and I thought, you know what? I love this instrument.

“Starting out, it was Keith Ferguson from the T-Birds and Tommy Shannon, who played bass for Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray. Just listening to the way that those two guys played, I really fell in love with Texas music. And the next thing I know, I’m listening to Steve Gomes, Rhandy Simmons. Then I got into Willie Dixon, and the original masters like Ransom Knowling, Ernest “Big” Crawford, guys who mastered the upright bass.”

Going to a Mark Hummel show ended up sending the bass man further down the road he was on.

“Hummel told me, if you could start playing upright bass, your gigs would multiply. There are people like me that would call you to come play bass. Well, it happened to be the very next day I stumbled upon the opportunity to get an upright bass. Next thing I know, Bill Stuve, with Rod Piazza and other great upright players from that time period are coming through. I’m asking them all these questions, listening to how they play. I’ve only been doing upright for since 2004. But it’s really comes in handy, especially when James Harman started calling on me. But I became a solid electric bass player in the 80s as my main instrument on stage.

“The upright and electric bass are two different beasts. It’s not the same sound, just the same vibration tones. When I was playing with Lee McBee, I’d have to have both there. With Harman, he always preferred to have the upright bass. That was his number one sound. Lee would want both because he would want to emulate the old sound. You’d want the electric sound for the harder stuff. The upright is a more delicate instrument. It really takes a lot of attention and it wears you out. It’s such a different tone.

“There are guys really dedicated, whether you’re playing electric or upright, to make it sound as authentic as we can, musicians like Rodrigo Mantovani from the Nick Moss Band, Andrew Gohman from Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones, Troy Sandow and Kedar Roy out in California, and Mike Law up on the East Coast.

“And I’ve got to mention the late Willie J. Campbell, one of my biggest influences because he was down the road from me until he passed away. He was always giving me instruction. It was really nice to be able to have somebody who could show me how to perfect both of those sounds. Nick Moss has been great at helping me, too. He was bass player originally. It’s not a competition. It’s a continuation, because not everybody can play all those gigs.

“I’m gonna tell you something about Willie. He was a social worker. I’ve had a few traumatic experiences while being on the road. I witnessed two fatal car accidents back to back when I was in California and that brought back my Hawaii thing. It messed me up in the head really bad. I needed to talk to somebody. When I called Willie, he goes, okay, Patrick, I want you to take this as information. Don’t get emotionally attached to it. Take this as information and utilize this and try to work through it and talk about it. He went on, sharing with me his personal take on an incident he dealt with from his life. Willie just wanted to help people

imageRecob stepped up to another level when he started with Gary Primich, which was set up by an evening of getting schooled by Mark Hummel’s bass player, R.W Grigsby.

“R.W. told me that Gary was really hard on bass players, that I would need to do my homework. Gary must’ve seen or heard something in my playing. He took me to school. I went to bass boot camp. I’m not gonna say he was ruthless, but he definitely deserved his musician name, “Sarge”. He would not back down from what sound he heard in his head, so you had to toe the line.

“I had a lot of hard work to do. Gary was my boss, my friend, my roommate. I don’t care what stories have evolved about Gary, whatever his demons were, I never saw that. I just saw a dude that was very dedicated to his music, dedicated to being a badass harmonica player. He wanted to put out quality music. When my marriage started to dissipate, my job suffered. And Gary got really angry with me when I left the band. It caused us to not talk for a long time. We were able to get back together again near the end of his life, to sit, talk, and work things out. I can still hear his voice when I’m fucking up, or when I’m playing good.”

After his tenure with Primich, Recob was able to join forces with another of his favorite artists.

“Lee McBee lived in Lawrence, Kansas, about half an hour from me. I was watching him play before he joined Mike Morgan & the Crawl. That dude was my best friend. I waited 16 years before I played my first gig with Lee . I’d seen him God knows how many times from the mid 80s all the way up until the time I started playing with him in 2005.

“Just like Gary, he too knew what he wanted. But Lee was a little lenient. He helped me to become a better singer, believing in me while pushing me out the door. What are you going to do if Harman calls you? I mean, he’d asked me these questions. I said, well, Lee, we’re going to have to talk about that. And he goes, bullshit. I’d fire you. You’re going to go on the road and then when you come off the road, I’ll rehire you. He was the greatest, the soul that would come out of that dude. Walk in the room, light the whole place up. And then when he’d open his mouth to sing, people stopped talking.

“His fuse just burned out. He was alive one minute and then you’re done. It’s been a great loss, but we continue on. His impact is still happening with the Mighty Phonics. We’re doing tribute shows and we’ve got a big announcement coming up about a documentary that we’re working on. Lee really touched a lot of people, especially all the musicians that he worked with.”

To pay the bills, Recob has been in the medical profession for decades, working at a surgical center cleaning bloody instruments after they have been used, then putting all of the pieces together in sets for sterilization.

image“By day. on the surgical team, I can help the doctors and the nurses heal the body. And at night, I can play the music that helps heal the mind and the soul. So I go full circle. My craft is sterile processing. And I also sterile process colon scopes. So don’t forget to get your colonoscopy here within the next few years! ”

The next chapter in his career found Recob working with another one of his musical heroes, the great James Harman, another band leader who was notorious for being tough on musicians.

“Harman and I hit it off from the start. I had issues with him just like everybody else. But he was a true original, and he had a method. He knew exactly how it was going to go, no telling him otherwise. I’ve had so many people say, man, how can you work with that motherfucker? If you’ve worked with him and had problems, you didn’t follow the method. I wasn’t his bass player in the later version his band. He’d call me and take me on the road, doing Midwest dates for him, with Nathan James on guitar.

“The night that he decided he was going to make my record, we were in Kansas City. Somebody bought Harman a drink, so he decided to stop in the middle of the show to have a whiskey. He said, “Patrick, sing a song for the people. These are your people.” And so I sang and he comes back up to the stage. He looks at Nathan and he goes, you thinking what I’m thinking? And Nathan goes, yeah.

“Harman turns around, looks at me, and says you’re coming to California. I’m making a record on you. I mean, what more is there to say to that? I thought he was full of crap. You had two whiskeys while I sang those two songs, and now you’re coming back saying that shit. Sure enough, the next day he starts talking about it. Two weeks later, I go to California to do a tour with him, and he’s making plans. Then he calls me three weeks later and says, Okay, you’re coming at Halloween. Next thing I know, Harmon’s making a record. Perpetual Luau came out, got nominated for a Blues Blast award, garnered a lot of attention.

The 2017 self-released album featured Nathan James and Laura Chavez on guitar, Marty Dodson on drums, Harman on harmonica on three tracks, while Recob handled the vocals and bass guitar, even adding some acoustic guitar on five songs.

“I had been writing a lot of love songs for my wife, Lisa Blumer, who is a saint. I love her. So I brought 13 songs to the session, and we put all 13 songs on the record. I was so pleased that I got James to record some spoken word stuff. He was always known for not playing on other people’s records. But he wanted to play on my record. I said, man, I got this beatnik poetry thing that I wrote for Lisa, would you do it? And he did. “Your kisses burned my lips like fire.” He just thought that was great.”

The album’s title refers to a state of mind the the bass player came to accept after a near-death experience in Hawaii, right after he and Lisa had exchanged wedding vows.

“The next morning she had scheduled a snorkeling trip. I was just dead tired. So I’m slamming coffee, Red Bull, all kinds of stuff that shouldn’t have been in my body as I was dealing with some health issues at that time. I hit the water and something happened. I was underwater for 20 minutes. When I was slammed back into my body, I had water in my mask and I was laying on the reef, the water’s 30 feet up above me. When I talked to the people on the boat, I thought I had been out for five minutes. I couldn’t believe it had been 20 minutes.

“I got to thinking about how we were in paradise, got married in paradise. So if I was going to die, being in a tropical paradise would have been the perfect place to go. That’s why on the record, it says, “to some, life’s a party, to others, it’s a perpetual luau.” Well, the others is me. That’s a perpetual luau. Cause if you ever been to a real honest to goodness luau, it’s not like a party. It’s something spectacular. It’s really exceptional. But to die and go somewhere, then get your ass slammed back into your body after seeing the promised land, that makes you think.

“Call it God, call it the universe, cosmic energy, it’s all the same thing. My inspiration is peace, love and, and truth. And so that’s what I wrote about. I’ve always had the support. And the universe has always made it to where I could go on the road, play music, and still have my job when I come home. The one thing everybody wants to know is, what the hell is a perpetual luau!”

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 – 6 of 7 

imageBilly Price – Person of Interest

Little Village Foundation LVF 1065

13 songs – 59 minutes

Pittsburgh-based Billy Price could have called it a career after the release of the three-CD set 50+ Years of Soul last year. Thank goodness, though, the honey-toned vocalist definitely isn’t done yet. The Blues Music Award winner and frequent nominee holds nothing back on this all-original, 13-song disc, an album that’s destined for more honors ahead.

A star since the ’70s, when he debuted with the Keystone Blues Band and rose to international prominence as the vocalist for blues-rock legend Roy Buchanan, he hit the absolute top of the blues world in 2016 with This Time for Real, the album paired him with Chicago soul and gospel giant Otis Clay and took home honors for soul-blues album of the year.

Billy’s a dynamic, silky-smooth performer, and he’s at his absolute best on this disc, which was produced by Grammy winner/drummer Tony Braunagel and captured at Ultratone Studios in Studio City, Calif., by Johnny Lee Schell, the guitarist in both the Taj Mahal and Legendary Blues Bands.

All of the material on this one was written during the pandemic, Price says, some in partnership with Jim Britton, his longtime keyboard player, and others with guitarist Fred Chapellier, a major force in the French blues scene and the man with whom Billy shares credits on two CDs released on the Dixiefrog imprint in Europe in the past decade.

He’s backed by an all-star lineup that includes bassist Larry Fulcher and keyboard player Jim Pugh from Taj’s band, guitarists Josh Sklair and Shane Theriot with guest appearance from Joe Bonamassa. Braunagel handles percussion along with Lenny Castro. And bassists James “Hutch” Hutchinson and Reggie McBride add their talents, too. The horn section includes Ron Dziubla and Eric Spaulding on saxes and Mark Pender on trumpet with backing vocals from Maxayn Lewis, Fred White and Will Wheaton.

The horns fire out of the gate for the medium-fast tempo pleaser, “Inside That Box,” with Price wondering about the identity of “that shady guy” keeping company with his lady but assuring her that – despite his curiosity – the answer can be kept under lock and key because he’s never going to demand to know. It’s driven forward by a propulsive beat that’s amplified by choral responses and horn accents. The action slows only slightly for the driving, minor key “Song I Never Heard Before,” which uses musical terms to describe the need for change after his housemate continues repeating the same complaints he’s heard in the past.

The speedy “She Checks All the Boxes” brightens the mood from the downstroke as Billy announces that it’s “satisfaction guaranteed” every time he’s with his lady even though she might not be his friends’ cup of tea before the heart wrenching ballad “Mercy” requests compassion after some unspoken, major offense. The funk kicks in for the title song, “Person of Interest,” which describes a neighbor who’s both annoying and watching Price’s every move before the upbeat “Can’t Get Enough” returns to the subject of a woman who keeps the singer warm at night.

The slow blues, “Change Your Mind,” is an intense tribute to Buchanan, featuring Bonamassa’s burning guitar licks throughout. It’s the unsuccessful wish to put the singer – who hanged himself in a jail cell in 1988 – on the right track in his troubled life. The soulful “They Knew” provides some respite despite dealing with one’s uncertain fears and doubts before the Latin-flavored “A Certain Something” finds Billy attracted to an irresistible woman who wouldn’t ordinarily draw his interest.

Unfortunately, however, it’s apparent that it was a mistake because Price describes himself as “The Gift” in the next tune because all she does is take. The illustration of a woman “Crying at the Stoplight” follows before the sweet ballad, “I Lose It,” describes the seeming end of a relationship and the album closes with “Damage Control.”

Perfect…just perfect! Get this one today.

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 – 7 of 7 

IMAGERogue Johnsen Project – Home

Self Released

11 tracks/41 minutes

This is Rogue Johnsen’s fourth album and he’s appeared on three others with W.C. Clark, Jesse ‘Guitar’ Taylor and Chris Polk. He was schooled in his craft by Charles Brown and Ron Thompson and he has toured with Archie Bell and the Drells, W.C. Clark, and Lavelle White.  He spent many years as a sought after sideman and worked with Johnny Adams, Larry Davis, Sam Andrew and Bo Diddley. He serves up 11 original tracks here featuring his hot lap steel slide guitar and vocals. This D.C. arera artist with his Northern Virginia artists lay out some interesting tracks.

Johnsen also adds keys and percussion to the mix. Mark Saurs in on guitars and percussion and Mike Dutton is also on guitars for tracks 6, 9 and 11. Lance Foster shares the drum work with Joe Willis and Jeff Newmarch, and Daniel Wilson is on violin for one track.

Johnsen displays his laid back singing from the start. His southern moaning drawl is his signature style. Nice slide and work on piano here on title track which opens the album. Guitar and organ rock out on next on “With You Gone.” Greasy piano and guitar are featured on “Here In This World,” a slow and moaning cut that is quite cool.  Next is “New Highway Song,” another slow cut. This one drags a bit.

“My Blue Soul” has a Marshall Tucker-esque or ABB guitar sound. The organ howls and Johnsen grinds out the lead vocals. Really pretty guitar work on this one. Rogue was supposedly the lone student of Charles Brown and here he does a moving and jazzy blues rendition of his “Trouble Blues.” Organ and piano take us to the sounds of NOLA as Johnsen sings with deep passion. Things get a little funky and rocking with “Nothing To Do With The Blues.” this one swings and rocks out with a cool groove. Up next is “Wake Up Late,” an acoustic cut with slick harp and a down home fiddle.

“Walkin’ Home” is a slow blues that gets down and dirty. The keys again help set the tone. “Down The Line” follows, a mash up of what sounds like surf guitar and slide guitar but results in a whirling dervish of sorts. But Johnsen takes the vocals in another direction (almost swampy) as the song twists into a unique event.  The album ends with a churchy sounding organ, barrelhouse piano, sublime guitar and groaning Gospel vocals in “Midnight Prayer.” It’s another interesting cut

Johnsen’s vocals are interesting. For my taste, they are a bit one-dimensional, kind of like California Valley Boy meets the Piedmont, but I could see folks digging his vocals. Everyone plays well and the songs are well crafted and done up nicely. Might be worth your time to take a listen or two.

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.

BB logo

© 2024 Blues Blast Magazine 116 Espenscheid Court, Creve Coeur, IL 61610 (309) 267-4425

Please follow and like us: