Issue 7-49 December 12, 2013

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine

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 In This Issue

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Nick Nixon.

We have six Blues music reviews for you. Mark Thompson reviews a new album from Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release by Lee Palmer. John Mitchell reviews a new album from MonkeyJunk. Marty Gunther reviews a new CD from Jeff Golub. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new release from Lazer Lloyd. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD from Earl Poole Ball. We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!


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 Featured Blues Interview – Nick Nixon  

It was one of those profound moments in life, a time when things almost come full circle.

A time when a student has the opportunity to thank his teacher for lessons learned.

Even if that teacher didn’t realize at the time that he was really teaching.

“There was this man back when I was young – Raymond Manier – he didn’t go to our church, but his church would visit ours and he would sing. And I so badly wanted to sing like that man … I never told him that, but I really wanted to sing like he could,” said iconic Nashville bluesman James ‘Nick’ Nixon. “Then over 20 years later, we were doing a Blues in the Schools in Lebanon, Tennessee and there was a man that worked at the school there as a custodian. And it was him. I told him who I was and he said, “Yeah, I remember you.’ We got to talking and I told him that I wanted to become a singer because of hearing him sing in church. He said that he never knew that, so that was a specialmoment … really exciting.”

Even though he’s now in his 70s, Nixon’s voice still has all the power and energy of a man half his age and it’s crystal clear that this man was born to sing the blues. Nixon’s pairing with guitarist Andy Talamantez on the Andy T – Nick Nixon Band’s superb Drink Drank Drunk (Delta Groove) is proof positive of that.

The album has entrenched its way into almost everyone’s ‘best of 2013’ list and was up for New Artist Debut Release at this year’s Blues Blast Awards.

According to Nixon, by the time they exited the studio, the band was pretty sure they had created something special.

“I had an idea it was going to be good, because of where we recorded it and because of the young man that produced us. I just had a feeling it was going to do real good,” he said. “We cut the CD in Dallas, Texas at Audio Dallas Recording Studio and had Anson Funderburgh producing it. Plus, we got signed to Delta Groove, one of the greatest labels in the world. So, with a label like that behind you, I just don’t see how it (the record) could be anything but good, you know?”

Nixon, who handled the vocal chores on the disc, is also quite an accomplished guitarist, but for this project, he left the six-string duties in the more-than-capable hands of Andy T and Funderburgh.

“I’ve been having a little carpal tunnel trouble, so that kind of got in the way,” he said. “But I really wanted to spend most of my time (in the studio) putting an emphasis on my vocal work … which looks like it’s getting better with age.”

Enjoying an album in the ‘here and now’ is one thing, but to be able to put that same album on two months or two years or even 20 years from now and still enjoy it is something else altogether. Because try as they might, not all recordings are built to stand the test of time. However, Drink Drank Drunk surely is.

“Well, one thing about that is, the material has got to be saying something. It’s got to be tunes that have people wanting to hear them over and over,” said Nixon. “The tunes have to have an almost universal appeal to them. When we first started working on this album, we just knew the material was going to be good.”

Good might be an understatement and knowing they’ve got a really good thing going, the band is keeping momentum on their side by returning to Audio Dallas Recording Studio with Anson Funderburgh in tow in December to start work on a follow-up to Drink Drank Drunk.

“Anson’s quite a well-known musician and the man is just plain good. He can play … he can really play and his style is different from a lot of players. I don’t know if it’s because he’s from Texas or because of the food he ate, but he’s good,” laughed Nixon. “And another thing, he’s a nice individual to be around. He’s a lot of fun and that sure doesn’t hurt. Plus, he says good things about me, so that means a lot, too.”

By the way that Andy T and Nixon mesh so perfectly on the disc, it’s forgivable if one thinks that the two have been playing side-by-side and have been band-mates for several years. However, that’s not the case.

“I was having a blues jam at the time and I wasn’t that hard to contact. Andy had heard about me and ran into my cousin – the Queen of Nashville Blues – Marion James, and she told him he needed to come see me,” Nixon explained. “So he found me and said, ‘Man, we need to get together.’ So we put this group together and got a bunch of players together that are really good and just took off from there.”>

In addition to the afore-mentioned Andy T and Nick Nixon, band members include: Larry van Loon (keyboards); Jim Klingler (drums); Sam Persons (bass); Markey (backup vocals); and Dana Robbins (saxophone).

“It’s a really wonderful band and they’re good to travel with,” said Nixon. “We have a lot of fun together.”

Nixon was born and raised in Nashville and got his first taste of singing through the gospel tunes he learned every Sunday in church.

“My mother took us to church every Sunday. Back then we really didn’t have nothing and we had to ride the bus to church. I was raised with no running water, no electricity until I was nine years old. But I didn’t miss it that much, because I never had it, you know? But when we moved from west Nashville to the north side, that’s when I thought I’d moved to Heaven. But I used to sit around in church and watch all these people sing so good and play the tambourine and I knew then that’s what I wanted to do.”

That ‘want to’ soon developed into a burning desire and Nixon was quickly on his way to becoming an important part of the musical mix in Nashville and he would go on to play with the likes of Lazy Lester, Rufus Thomas, Cootie Stark and Scotty Moore, to name a few. As the 1950s gave way to the ‘60s, Nixon crossed paths and became fast friends with future Band of Gypsies and Jimi Hendrix Experience bass player Billy Cox, along with the group’s soon-to-be legendary namesake.

“Billy and I go way back to the ‘60s. I met Billy and Jimi (Hendrix) around the same time, in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. They were both in the army and were paratroopers …they didn’t necessarily want to be in the army, but they had joined,” laughed Nixon. “When they got out of the army, they moved to Nashville and got ‘em a little room there. You’d see Jimi just out walking the streets with his guitar … he just loved that thing. All Jimi wanted to do was just woodshed and play that guitar; that’s all he wanted to do. Billy and I still get together every once in a while, but he’s been pretty busy lately with that Hendrix thing (the Experience Hendrix Tour, which is gearing up for another run next year). Billy’s another good person to be around and really, Jimi was, too.”

A person probably didn’t have to look too hard to notice that Hendrix, as well as Cox, was not suited for a very long career in the military. But pre his hook-up with Chas Chandler and trip over to England that helped turn him into an international superstar, was there any indication that Jimi Hendrix would re-write the manual on how to play guitar back when Nixon knew him in Nashville?

“No, I had no idea. Jimi always thought that we really didn’t dig his playing. It wasn’t that we didn’t understand it, but it was just totally different,” he said. “It was so different that it almost sounded wrong. It was psychedelic and it was just so far ahead of its time. Jimi took all these licks from all these different people and put them together and came up with this weird sound. But back then, he really didn’t stand out much. He was good, but just different. Then later, he went over to England and then things changed in a hurry for him and really, for the whole music scene.”

Hendrix may not have been a very big influence on Nixon’s guitar playing, but the two did share some common ground when it came to the cats that really inspired them to pick up the instrument and play.

“I always liked Freddie King and Albert Collins and locally around here, we had a guy named Johnny Jones and I always wanted to play like Johnny; he was really good,” said Nixon. “Jimi even got some of his licks from him. When Johnny was playing down on Jefferson Street, Jimi would come and sit in and learn from him. Johnny was a great guitar player.”

His chops on the guitar are certainly formidable, but singing has become Nixon’s true calling card over the years. And it may not poke its head to the surface when he’s belting out the blues – or sweetly crooning R&B and soul – but Nixon has extensive experience in a much older form of singing.

“When I was in high school, I sang opera. Our high school choir director – William Lathon, who was a famous opera singer – found out I had this voice and he had me singing opera. It was kind of put on me and I really didn’t like that style of music,” he said. “But I did it and the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was to un-do that opera-style singing when I started in with rock-n-roll and the blues. But I did learn a lot of voice control (singing opera) that I still use now. The clarity of opera is something that I still use, too, but I just put a more gravel, a little more dirt with it when I’m singing the blues.”

Nashville’s soul/R&B/blues scene would definitely be something totally different had Nixon not been such an integral part of it for the past five-plus decades. He was a long-time member of The New Imperials and also sang lead for King James and The Sceptres – one of Music City’s first integrated bands. But maybe even more important than all that, Nixon has always been involved in helping to perpetuate the blues, as a guitar teacher and mentor to many of the city’s aspiring young players through Nashville’s Parks and Recreation Department. This behind-the-scenes effort even earned Nixon a Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) award from the Blues Foundation.

“I was doing Blues in the Schools for about 15 years with my partner Shannon Williford who is a great blues harmonica player from Baton Rouge and who also had a job teaching music with Parks and Rec. I was sitting in the lobby one day and got a phone call from Shannon and he said, ‘Hey man! We won a KBA award!’ And I didn’t know what he was talking about. We were members of a blues society, but I had forgotten what a KBA award was … I thought it was some kind of a marble-shooting contest or something,” he laughed. “Then when he said Keeping the Blues Alive and I realized what it was for, that turned out to be one of the best phone calls I’ve ever gotten in my life. I’d never won or been honored with anything like that before. That’s something that will stick with you for the rest of your life.”

Music hasn’t always been Nixon’s sole focus; at one time he played some high school and college football.

“Well, I did play some football, but I ended up getting hurt and that cut things short so I went back to music full-time,” he said. “But I still have the limp to prove it.”

Nashville is a lot like a huge musical melting pot and has always been a ‘go-to’ locale for a lot of talented players – in all genres – from all over the world. Chances are if you ask a member of the city’s thriving musical scene where they’re from, Nashville would not be an answer given on very many occasions. But for Nixon, Nashville always has, and always will be home, and that can’t help but come through in his music.

“Well, the first thing is, being in Nashville sure makes me feel like I’m at home and when you feel that way, you feel protected in whatever you do. And when you have other people (musicians) coming to your area, you know that you’ve got to be in a good place … a special place,” he said. “And being born here is a dynamite feeling. Sometimes I call myself the old country boy, but I’m always proud when I say I’m from Nashville.”

For more info on Nick visit this website at

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine.

Interviewer Terry Mullins is a journalist and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staples Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He’s also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Miss., eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.


 Featured Blues Review 1 of 6

Delbert & Glen – Blind, Crippled and Crazy

New West Records

12 tracks/40:16

It was a long wait but after forty years, the acclaimed duo of Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark are back together with a project full of wry humor, great music and the instinctive harmony vocals that seemingly come naturally to the long-time friends.

After they cut two records in the early 70’s, the pair went their separate ways. McClinton rose to fame and developed a devoted fan base by continuing to play his brand of roots music that featured blues, rock, R&B, and a touch of soul with a strong Texas accent. Clark gravitated to California where he flourished as a songwriter, with tunes covered by classic singers like Etta James and Loretta Lynn. Clark also was in demand for his keyboard work, serving stints with Bonnie Raitt and Kris Kristofferson before settling in for a lengthy run as the musical composer for Jim Belushi’s hit TV show, According to Jim.

Borrowing the title from a O.V. Wright hit song, the duo offer up a batch of songs that take a look back, reflecting on life’s lessons and some of the mistakes made before those lessons had a chance to sink in. They refuse to admit to aging but concede on opening track that they have ”Been Around a Long Time”. They trade lead vocal lines, then hit you with superb harmonizing on the chorus. Bruce Katz adds some pumping piano and James Pennebaker’s fiddle adds a touch of country. Even better is “Oughta Know”, written by McClinton’s son Clay, which delves into our knack for going against our better judgment despite the warning signs. The cut benefits from an ample dose of guitarist Anson Funderburgh’s tasteful playing.

Clark is featured on two songs he co-wrote with Jeff Silbar with “World of Hurt” describing the devastating effects of love lost while “Just When I Need You the Most” is a gentle ballad that has Katz on piano and Hammond B3 filling the space around Clark’s vocal full of earthy charm. His voice has a higher pitch and is a bit thinner than his partner’s but he can still handle a strong rocker like his original “Tell My Mama”.

McClinton contributes several tunes written with Gary Nicholson, another musical partner. “More and More, Less and Less” addresses how our outlook on life changes with age with the songwriters on acoustic guitars while Bob Britt adds some haunting electric guitar. The hard-charging “Somebody to Love You” is a duet with Clark that reminds us that all life has to offer means little without love in your life.

“Peace in the Valley” rocks even harder with McClinton waxing nostalgic about a departed lover who was the life of the party. Nicholson rips off a fiery guitar solo that is matched by Kevin McKendree on piano. Tom Hambridge, who had a hand in writing the tune, sits in on drums. Other musicians contributing to the project include Mike Joyce on bass, Jack Bruno on drums and Kenny Malone on percussion.

Pennebaker’s steel guitar licks ride the lazy pace of “Sure Feels Good” as Clark and McClinton once again take turns espousing the benefits of living life based on the hard-earned wisdom of experience. McClinton goes deep into the emotional well on “If I Could be Your Lover”, a gripping plea for attention. Stuart Duncan heightens the tension with a forlorn violin solo but softens things a bit by doubling on mandolin.

The end result is a disc that is sure to please all of the Delbert McClinton fans and will certainly strike a chord with anyone who was listening to Delbert & Glenn forty years ago. But this is no exercise in nostalgia. These two old friends continue to make vibrant music that will resonate will listeners of all ages, making this one highly recommended!

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying life without snow. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and the past president of the Crossroads Blues Society of Northern Illinois. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years – just ask his wife!

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 6

Lee Palmer – One Take: Live at Canterbury


CD: 10 songs; 41:38 Minutes

Styles: Mellow Blues, Blues Rock

On September 11, 2012, Canadian Lee Palmer took a risk, and the stage, as he recorded his debut album “One Take: Live at Canterbury.” In this reviewer’s opinion, it was a gutsy move, as many blues artists choose a studio-polished compilation for their first major release. Nevertheless, “One Take” has paid off, especially on Palmer’s own songs. With him are drummer Al Cross, bassist David Woodhead, Dennis Keldie on five different instruments (Wurlitzer, Hammond, Fender Rhodes, grand piano and accordion), Elmer Ferrer on “electric guitar and sizzling solos,” Jenn Kee on background vocals, and Wendell Ferguson on “bad jokes and great guitar.” Lee’s style is mellow and low-key, suitable for a relaxing evening at home or a casual nightclub. These three original tracks are candidates for listeners’ top picks (of ten total, with covers such as “House of the Rising Sun” and “Everyday Blues Jam”):

Track 01: “Blues in EH” – “That’s a Canadian “E-H,” eh; I’ve got the blues in EH,” Palmer slyly explains when it comes to this song’s title. At the time, he’s “in Toronto, playing for the dough and all the drinks I can swallow!” One can just imagine the crowd, smiling and putting their feet up on the backs of chairs as they sip coffee or their favorite adult beverages. Several musicians, including David Woodhead on skillful bass, take turns performing fantastic solos without going over the top.

Track 03: “Me and My 68” – Musicians treasure their instruments, and some even write rock-and-roll love songs about them. Hence Palmer’s ode to his collectible shredder: “Never felt like this before. It’s come together; that’s for sure. I couldn’t ask for anything more – me and my 68!” This is one track on “One Take” that propels partiers onto the dance floor with a vengeance.

Track 09: “Fleas Blues” – With a rolling beat reminiscent of “You’re the One that I Want” in the musical “Grease,” “Fleas Blues” presents an opportunity for everyone to strut their stuff – especially the two smoking guitarists, Palmer and Wendell Ferguson, and Denis Keldie on spicy Zydeco accordion. The chorus is as itchy to one’s ears as certain insects are to the dog in this song: “Blues come tumbling, tumbling down, like rain in a puddle on the ground.” The whole song is infectious enough that it could have been the CD’s finale.

In this album’s liner notes, Lee reveals: “The idea was to get a bunch of great players together, in a great studio, and let it rip. We weren’t going for perfect, just musical, and I believe we accomplished just that.” Indeed they did, and all in “One Take”, too!”

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 33 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 6

MonkeyJunk – All Frequencies

Stony Plain Records

10 tracks; 43 minutes

MonkeyJunk’s last CD “To Behold” did very well for the band and impressed with its variety of styles and full sound from a bass-less trio. The new CD maintains the same production team of Steve Marriner and Ken Friesen and was again recorded in Ontario. Steve sings lead, plays harp, keys and baritone guitar; Tony D plays guitar and Matt Sobb drums with both adding background vocals. The material is all original apart from one cover and two writers from outside the band contribute to four of the tracks.

MonkeyJunk wrote five of the tracks themselves. “You Make A Mess” is an upbeat opener, Steve reminding us of what a strong singer he is as Matt propels the tune and Tony uses the wah-wah in his solo. No harp on the opener but Steve opens “Right From Wrong” with a blast of harp before leading the band on a catchy shuffle with Tony adding some nice slide touches. “Yearnin’ For Yesterday” finds Steve singing with some distortion and echo on his vocal in a style that (strangely!) reminded me of Jethro Tull. “What I Got To Give” returns to a bluesier base with plenty of Tony’s slide over a snappy drum track from Matt, definitely one to get the toes tapping. The final track on the CD is “Swank” which runs to over seven minutes, an instrumental which features Steve’s keyboard playing. Whilst he is best known for his harp work here he shows that he is no slouch on his second instrument, his organ playing taking us back to the 60’s and the likes of Booker T or Steve Winwood in the Spencer Davis Group. Tony adds to the retro feel with some atmospheric guitar in the middle before Steve returns to the main theme on the outro. Quite unlike anything else on the album but an interesting track.

Fellow Canadian singer, songwriter and harp player Paul Reddick gets writing credits on two tracks. “Once Had Wings” is a ballad but comes across rather like when hard rock bands do ballads, lots of strong guitar power chords and epic drums. The absence of a bass player here might prove a weakness but is not noticed at all, suggesting that this is one of the cuts on which Steve plays baritone guitar. “Say What?” is an uptempo tune in which the usual bragging about making love ‘all night long’ is reversed when the promise comes from the girl! Some nice echoey guitar from Tony in his solo. Fellow Ontarian Matt Chaffey co-wrote two tracks on the album. “Je Nah Say Kwah” must be intended as a joke version of the French “Je ne sais quoi” which appears in the chorus of a strange little song about being shipwrecked and discovering a girl with magic powers. Lots of harmony vocals here, Tony’s guitar riff being at the heart of the song and Steve delivering a short, sharp harp solo. “Sirens In The Night” opens with police sirens before an insistent drum beat and slide riff take us through the song.

The one cover is Bobby Charles’ “Why Are People Like That?”, a song that is probably covered too frequently but this is still an excellent version, Steve’s vocals being perfect for the song, his harp also strong and dramatic while Tony’s sinuous slide is all over the background as well as taking a very effective solo.

This CD is perhaps not as varied as “To Behold” but further cements the reputation that MonkeyJunk has acquired over the last five years with a series of strong performances. It is easy to see why the band has garnered so many awards in Canada and is beginning to make an impression ‘south of the border’.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He had a blast at this year’s Blues Blast Awards and is already planning his next trip stateside.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 6

Jeff Golub with Brian Auger – Train Keeps A Rolling

Entertainment One Music

11 songs – 48 minutes

You’ll have to excuse Jeff Golub for straying away from the mainstream blues he displayed so successfully in his most recent CDs – “Blues For You” and “The Three Kings,” a tribute to B.B., Albert and Freddie. He’s had his own share of the blues in the past two years. Not only did he lose his sight when his optic nerve failed, but he also went through a near-death experience while attempting to catch a subway in New York. He fell off the tracks and suffered minor injuries when brushed by a passing train before being saved by good Samaritans. It’s for that reason that he stands defiantly between the tracks on the cover of this disc, his guide dog Luke at his side.

During the past 30 years, Golub’s built a huge following in several areas of the music universe. A native of Copley, Ohio, he studied music at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and played behind Bay State harp legend James Montgomery before moving to the suburbs of Manhattan. He recorded 11 albums and toured the world eight times while featured guitarist in the bands of rockers Billy Squier and Rod Stewart, and was a member of Dave Koz’s Kozmos, the house band for Emeril Lagasse’s TV show. His smooth, clean guitar styles combine the techniques of childhood hero Wes Montgomery with Chicago blues legends. As displayed on this CD, the eleventh release under his own name and fourteenth as leader, the end result is a sophisticated blend of soulful fretwork that instantaneously displays style and class no matter the format.

Augmenting Golub is British keyboard hero Brian Auger, the Hammond B-3 jazz-fusion master best known in blues circles for his work with Eric Burdon. “When I was about 15 years old, I picked up a copy of ‘Closer To It’ by Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express and it changed my life,” Golub says. Adding to the mix are regular Auger sidemen Derek Frank (bass) and Steve Ferrone (drums), as well as percussionist Luis Conte and a horn section comprised of Mindi Abair (alto sax), Nick Lane (trombone), Dave Woodford (baritone sax and flute) and Steve Madaio (trumpet). Vocals are handled by ‘70s superstar Christopher Cross, David Pack of Ambrosia and Alex Ligertwood, an original member of Oblivion.

Available through Amazon, “Train Keeps A Rolling” pulls out of the station with “The Cat,” an uptempo version of the Lalo Schifrin penned Jimmy Smith classic, and the first of three consecutive instrumentals that open the set. The horn section propels it forward as Golub turns the song around and takes the lead on guitar with Auger providing the response. “Isola Natale,” written by Auger and previously unrecorded, is a strong, bluesy number with an urban feel. Golub’s “Train Keeps A Rolling” plays atop a funky polyrhythm and features the guitarist at his absolute best.

The first mainstream blues offering here, “I Love The Life I Live,” follows. It was written by Willie Dixon in the ‘50s before Mose Allison made it a hit years later, and features a fine, uncredited vocal, probably delivered by Cross. Two more covers of mainstream ‘70s hits follow: a fresh instrumental take on Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman,” followed by Cross singing “How Long,” the J.D. Souther song that sold millions of copies for the British band, Ace. Golub provides a brief, tasty solo to the latter, which sticks closely to the original formula.

The band swings from the jump on “J&B,” another blues-tinged, Golub-penned instrumental in which he takes the lead and yields to a B-3 break mid-tune. The next two numbers – “Happiness Is Just Around The Bend,” sung by Ligertwood, and “Shepherds Bush Market” – were written by Auger and previously interpreted on Oblivion Express releases. Golub’s guitar contributions provide both a new voice. The rhythm section is featured on “Whenever You’re Ready,” a B-3 fueled blues, before a closing cover of“Walking On The Moon,” the Sting/Police hit on which Pack provides vocals.

If you’re a diehard blues traditionalist with limited to one-four-five progressions and strict 12-bar structure, Golub’s previous two offerings would be much more to your liking because he returns to his previous soul-jazz roots here. If, however, you lean in the direction of the bluesier stylings of the Tonight Show Band, this one will be right up your alley.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. 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.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE



 Featured Blues Review 5 of 6

Lazer Lloyd – Lost on the Highway

Blues Leaf Records

13 tracks / 54:44

I have been listening to the blues for most of my life and had never run into a blues record from Israel before, but this first one is setting the bar high. I recently had the opportunity to listen to Lazer Lloyd’s newest album and it certainly gave me a lot to think about.

Lazer Lloyd was born in New York as Eliezer Blumen, and he started playing guitar at the age 15. After attending Skidmore College his music career turned the corner, and he was about to go to Nashville to work with producer Gary Tallent (also Springsteen’s bassist) when he found another calling. After being asked to play at the Millinery Center Synagogue with the late Ray Shlomo Carlebach (The Singing Rabbi), he accepted the challenge of taking his music to Israel, where he has lived for the past 19 years. He has been busy plying his trade, working with various bands as well as his own power trio, Yoon.

The album cover advertises “Solo Recordings” and that is exactly what he delivers. This CD includes thirteen original tracks, and features Lloyd in the singing role, as well as playing six and 12-string acoustic guitars, with a little harmonica thrown in for good measure. And when you listen to his songs, you are getting to the roots of the blues and folk, with no filler added.

“Lost on the Highway” is the first track, and it is raw blues that sounds like it was cut live in one take, which is a good thing in this case. From the first strains of his acoustic guitar, the listener can hear that Lloyd has serious chops, with confident finger picking and slide work. His voice is pleasantly full and strong as he tells the traditional lament of a man on the road, adding the bonus destination of Tel Aviv to the usual list of cities that you find in songs like this.

Lloyd does not speak much of his homeland on this album, and he only lightly touches on the standard blues subjects, instead focusing on man’s relationship with spirituality. “Higher Ground” is about finding one’s place in the world, and this folk blues song features beautiful finger picking and intense harp interludes. This is backed up with a heartfelt ballad, “Been Trying,” which is laden with sentiments about trying to lead the good life. This is one of my favorite tracks on this disc.

He lets his guitar do the talking on “Swamp Meditation,” a slow rolling Delta blues instrumental. He does not do anything fancy here, but he already proved his technical skills on the first four tracks. Here he demonstrates his feel for the instrument and the song, and the results are impressive. I thought that “Back Porch” would be another a capella tune, but after a 3 ½ minute intro he launched into verse. This song is notable in his use of guitar chords that are not generally used in blues music, but they work well here to add an exotic mood to the song.

“Politician” is a cranky commentary that relays the frustration we all have with our elected officials. As he does not call out any parties or policies, this is more of a social commentary than a political song. After skirting the political minefield, be takes a tasteful approach to discussing his prayer relationship in “Talk,” as well as a trip to the Garden of Eden in “Man” and the judgment day on “Landlord Blues.” He put a lot of thought into writing these songs so that he could talk about what is on his heart without being preachy or in your face.

Lazer Lloyd’s Lost on the Highway provides a fresh take on the blues and it is definitely worth a listen. His guitar playing alone is worth the price of admission, and when you add in his vocals and strong songwriting skills, this disc is a winner. He toured the United States this past summer in support of his new CD, and I hope he comes back again soon so I can catch one of his performances. From what I heard here it should be a show to remember!

Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at

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 Featured Blues Review 6 of 6

Earl Poole Ball – Pianography(And Then Some)

Self Release


Earl’s trek from Foxworth, Mississippi to Austin, Texas via Houston, California and Tennessee is the stuff of a true musical journeyman’s life story. From local bands he eventually ended up recording with the likes of Gram Parsons and The Byrds among others. After filling in on a session for Johnny Cash when his regular piano player didn’t show up, Johnny told his guitar player to ask Earl if he would like to tour with Cash’s band. He agreed and was Johnny’s piano player for twenty years. Along the way he soaked up the country, rockabilly and honky-tonk vibes which flavor his music, whether it be an original or cover song. On this his first album, he features his own songs along with covers by Johnny Cash and others. The covers are from a live show, which adds to the honky-tonk atmosphere.

“Standing At The Edge Of The World” introduces Earl’s weathered and warm voice via this catchy little ditty that features Jodi Adair nicely whistling the melody. The tasty country guitar of Casper Rawls graces this track as he does on much of the rest of this recording. Guitar wiz Cindy Cashdollar contributes her steel guitar skills to up the country-vibe ante. The title tune recounts Earl’s life journey. In another life it could of been a hit for Glen Campbell. The story song is enhanced by a memorable piano hook and Cindy’s dobro work. Julianne Banks duets with Earl on the sprightly country tune “Say You Love Me” to good effect. A melancholy country feel inflects “One Of Those Old Things(We All Go Through)”. This time Jay Dee Maness contributes his pedal steel guitar skills. The subject of our mortality is taken at an upbeat pace on “Something’s Gonna Get Us All”.

The second portion of the CD was recorded at The Johnny Cash Bash at Emo’s in Austin, Texas in February 2010. He leans right into “Big River” with his jaunty piano playing and Casper Rawls’ ever present magic fingers on the guitar. The listener gets their rockabilly fix on a rockin’ version of Roy Orbison’s “Down The Line”. Earl shines as he unleashes some Jerry Lee Lewis style piano magic. Lisa Mills helps out Earl with her soulful voice on the Carter Family classic “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”. The live set closes out with a rollicking take on “Mean Woman Blues”.

Two early recordings close out the album. “Second And San Antone” recorded in 1967 reveals a strong hipster vibe. “Flowers On Papa’s Grave” is a 1977 Nashville demo that is drenched in the southern gospel tradition.

What we are given should appeal to traditional country fans as well as to any music fan. The tunes move along quite nicely and fun is over before you realize it. It took him a while to record his first album, but what he has achieved something that he can surely be proud of. All the pieces gel, from the musicianship right down to the production values. The long years of touring and session work have paid off.

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

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Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign-Urbana, IL

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 6:30pm-9:30pm Prairie Crossroads Blues Society Christmas Party at The Clark Bar, 207 W. Clark St. Champaign. Keith Harden performing. PCBS members be sure to stop by and get a raffle ticket for CD giveaways.

Saturday, January 11, 2014 8pm-1am Back Pack Jones & Benny Jenkins bloodline IBC Fundraiser & Celebration at Memphis on Main, 55 E. Main St., Champaign. $5 cover. This is our fundraiser to help send Back Pack Jones to the IBC Challenge in Memphis. Benny Jenkins bloodline won our best self-produced CD competition. For more info:

Southeast Iowa Blues Society – Fairfield, IA

The Southeast Iowa Blues Society will be “Rockin’ in the Blue Year” on January 4th, 2014 featuring “Trampled Under Foot”
with Chad & Bonita opening at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Fairfield, IA. Doors will open at 6:30pm and music begins at
7:00pm. There will be Squeal Good BBQ and beverages for all to enjoy. Don’t miss one of the hottest Blues bands out there….TUF !
For more information visit

The Houston Blues Society – Houston, TX

The Houston Blues Society will be hosting their Annual Holiday Bash in connection with their 20th anniversary celebration on Sunday, December 15, at House Of Blues (Crossroads Restaurant, Houston, TX) The event will also be a Jimmy “T-99” Nelson Youth Scholarship Fundraiser. The event will feature an all-star Houston line-up. For more info, please visit

The Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society – Newhall, CA

The Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society invites you to our Winter Fundraiser & Christmas Party on Saturday, December 14th from 3:00pm – 6:00pm. The location is Vincenzo’s Pizza, 24504 1/2 Lyons Avenue, Newhall, CA 91321 For your entertainment, we are featuring our recent “Battle of the Blues Bands” Winners and and our “Best Self Produced CD” Winner:

3:00pm – Toni Dodd & Southbound Blues – 2nd Place Runner Up / “Battle of the Blues Bands”
4:00pm – Phil Gates – Winner “Best Self Produced CD” / “Live At The Hermosa Saloon”
5:00pm – Mikey Mo Band – Winner “Battle of the Blues Bands”

We’ll have Raffles, CDs, Tshirts, Jewelry and Blues Art for sale. We’ll also be taking up gifts for “Toys For Tots” so bring something to make a kid happy this Christmas. All Ages are welcome. $10 for Adults, Kids 12 & Under are Free, Doors open at 2:30pm so come early and get a good seat. Come hungry, Vincenzo’s has really great Pizza, Salads, Deserts, etc. For more info visit

The DC Blues Society – Washington, DC

The DC Blues Society rings in the New Year on December 31, 2013 from 7pm-12:30am with the region’s Soul-Blues legends, The Hardway Connection (at American Legion, 11225 Fern Street, Wheaton MD 20902.) Tickets are $35 in advance (at or $40 at the door. The party includes dinner, champagne toast and exceptionally reasonable cash bar. The Hardway Connection evokes “old school” R&B – sometimes smooth, sometimes funky but always danceable! The powerhouse band has been together more than 15 years, gigging throughout the Southeast, and gathering a large following along the way. Known for their excellent vocals and tight rhythms, The Hardway Connection play the “oldies but goodies” with dynamism, power and fun. They have opened for major acts, including Johnny Taylor and Chuck Brown. The band placed first in the 11th Annual National Blues Talent Competition sponsored by The Blues Foundation. Said Eric Brace of the Washington Post, The Hardway Connection is a “superb soul/blues/R&B band. They sing and play and deliver the goods like few bands I’ve ever seen.” More info at

Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club presents “Blue Monday” every Monday night for the last 27 years – BLUE MONDAY SHOWS – Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:00pm $3 cover. Dec. 16 – Hurricane Ruth, Dec. 23 –Brooke Thomas & the Blues Suns, Dec. 30 – James Armstrong More info available at

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

On Thursday December 12th Bobby Messano will perform acoustic music at Leombruni’s Italian Village, 110 W 2nd Street in Byron, IL.

Then on Friday December 13th we present Blues in the Schools with Bobby Messano at two schools followed by our 9th Annual Christmas Party at the Adriatic on Jefferson and Church Streets in Rockford, IL. The show starts at 8 PM but the party begins at 630 PM. Featuring multiple Grammy Nominee Bobby Messano on guitar and vocals (Steve Winwood, Lou Gramm), Steve Geller on bass (Davy Jones Band), Daxx Nielsen on drums (Cheap Trick), and with a special appearances by Jimmy Sohns (Shadows of Knight), plus surprise guests! $5 cover, free food (bering a snack or dish to pass if you can) and if you’d like bring a gag 33 record wraped for a fun LP exchange.

For more information about these presentations please contact: Steve Jones – Crossroads Blues Society 779-537-4006 To find out about the event, go to

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