Issue 7-51 December 26, 2013

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Issue 7-51, December 26, 2013

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Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine

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 In This Issue

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Terry “Harmonica” Bean.

We have six Blues music reviews for you. Mark Thompson reviews an album from The Soul Of John Black. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release by Dr. Izzy Band. John Mitchell reviews a new album from Johnny Rawls and also a new release from Laura & The Blues Dawgs. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new release from Lightnin Malcom. Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Dave Riley & Bob Corritore. We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 From The Editor’s Desk

Hey Blues Fans,

It is with a sad heart that I tell you of a friend and Blues artist that was murdered last week. Eric “Guitar” Davis was shot on the South Side of Chicago on December 20th, 2013. He was one of 5 people killed in 24 hours in the senseless violence that continues in Chicago.

Eric was fast becoming a true legend in the Chicago area and around the world. He was only 41 and had just signed with Delmark Records to start working on his 3rd album. Eric is survived by his wife and 6 children.

We featured Eric on the cover of Blues Blast Magazine on October 21. 2011. Click the image on the left to read more about him.

This is a real tragedy. I simply cannot imagine the grief his family is suffering this Holiday Season. Here are a couple ways to help out Eric’s wife and children.

1. Donate To The Eric Davis Memorial Fund at  PLEASE, I ask all of you personally, give until it hurts!

2. Attend the January Memorial and Benefit Concert at Rosa’s Lounge on January 19, 2013. The show starts at 6PM Tickets are on sale now at Tickets are a minimum donation of $25. You can also watch the concert online for a minimum donation of $6. 100% of the proceeds from this concert will go to Eric’s family.

The current list of his Chicago musician friends performing at the show includes : Lurrie Bell, Katherine Davis, Eddie C. Campbell, Corey Dennison, Tom Holland, Moe Taib, Dan Carelli, Billy Branch, Sugar Blue, Big James, Matthew Skoller, Brother Jacob, Jimmy Burns , Toronzo Cannon and Deitra Farr. Check Rosa’s website for updates and details at

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Blues Want Ads

Blues Blast Magazine Seeks Staff Writers

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for experienced writers to complete interviews and other writing assignments for the magazine. These are paid positions. Must have experience writing with a background or degree in journalism or publicity. Must also be familiar with Blues music. Successful applicant must be willing to complete one interview or writing assignment every week.

If interested please send a resume, a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to . Please include your phone number in the reply.

 Featured Blues Interview – Terry “Harmonica” Bean

You can call him old-fashioned.

You can tell him that he’s stuck in his ways or that he’s living in the past.

That doesn’t bother bluesman Terry ‘Harmonica’ Bean one little bit.

Instead of taking such talk as a slight or as a putdown, Bean prefers to embrace it, wearing it almost like a badge of honor.

“People always say, ‘Man, you think a lot of your grandparents, don’t you?’ And I do. I live off a lot of the stuff that they told me. People want to call it old-fashioned or something and I say, ‘Look, you can call it what you want, but I still use a lot of the mentality that they taught to me,’” he said. “That’s what works for me and it always has. We (people today) really don’t know how good we’ve got it and what all our parents had to go through to make sure we do have it good these days.”

The pride of Pontotoc, Mississippi, Bean certainly does seem to have it good these days as he hops around the globe playing the blues that he’s loved ever since he was a young child growing up in the magical hill country region.

“I’ve had a great year. When the good Lord let’s you do what you’re doing and be here on top of the ground, you’re having a great year,” he said. “I had to go to play the blues for a lot of people. I was in Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, Scotland, Denmark … I was just tickled to death with the way things went for me this year.”

Seems like every few years or so, the blues attempts something of an uprising and gathers itself for a shot at a huge commercial breakthrough to a more mainstream audience. Usually, this coup is powered by mixing a more contemporary form of music – like hip-hop or guitar rock – with the blues. While Bean has mulled over the possibility of meshing some of that with the blues that he favors to play in order to join in on that commercial push, he just hasn’t been able to bring himself to do it.

“Yes, I’ve been tempted to try some of that stuff, but the reason I won’t do it is because keeping the blues alive is my thing … the delta blues and the hill country blues … that’s my thing. That’s the stuff that carries me all around the world,” he said. “All that other stuff is alright, but it ain’t the real deal, you know what I’m saying? And let me tell you, the real deal works for me. A lot of people don’t realize this, but all that rap, hip-hop and rock stuff, that’s all music that is off the branches of the blues’ tree. The real-deal blues are like Johnson grass or maybe Kudzu, it may die out over here, but it’ll pop up over yonder. It ain’t ever going to die out. That’s kinda’ the case with me. It looked like there wasn’t a lot of young black guys playing the blues and then I popped up.”

And ever since he ‘popped up’ and began playing the blues on a full-time basis after seeing Robert Junior Lockwood playing at the 1988 Greenville Blues Festival, Bean has considered it his duty to try and keep the youth of today informed of the positive power of playing the blues.

“I try to encourage a lot of young people – black and white – to carry on the tradition of the blues. It seems like a lot of blacks are really not into the blues these days because they don’t really understand it. They think it’s depressing, but it’s not, man. They just need to try to understand it. I talk to a lot of young blacks about the stuff they do, like getting into all kinds of trouble because they want attention. And I understand that. I used to be a young fella’ myself. But I chose music to get my attention and you also get paid for it, too. That way, you ain’t got to go out and kill nobody to get attention.”

There’s a good reason that ‘Harmonica’ is sandwiched between Terry and Bean; the dude is one seriously good harp player. Bean is also an accomplished guitarist and has penned some provocative songs, as well. Bean has also earned a well-deserved reputation as a top-flight showman and has no trouble having an audience – whether in Clarksdale, Helena, Chicago or Paris – eating out of the palm of his hand.

“It’s like my granddaddy always said, ‘There’s a lot of people that play the blues and some people got it and some people don’t.’ And I tell you, for me, my grandfather always told me, ‘You got the whole package.’ That means I play – I blow (the harp) well and I got stage presence and can interact with people, too,” Bean said. “A lot of musicians just don’t have that in them, you know? But I feed off people. It don’t have to be no hundred people or no thousand people, I like to make contact with one person (in the crowd) and I play to that one person. That helps me to get my message out where everybody will be happy.”

Bean was part of a large family and had 18 brothers and six sisters, all who picked cotton around Pontotoc for their dad, Eddie Bean, who was a sharecropper. But Eddie Bean was also a musician and that was soon to rub off on young Terry Bean.

“My daddy played the blues. He played with B.B. King, but he never did travel. My grandfather knew Robert Johnson well. And when you’re from Mississippi, you just grow up around people playing the blues,” he said. “Up where I live – in the hill country – that meant people like Big Joe Williams, Bukka White, R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and people like that. Now, my daddy and granddaddy knew all those people. They used to come to the house and play house parties and at that time, everybody carried their kids with them (to the parties). Kids went wherever the parents went. I saw them gambling and my granddaddy making moonshine … I was out there amongst all that stuff, man. And they played music, too.”

His dad never really sat him down and showed him how to play guitar, but it was obvious by the way that he just soaked things up – almost through osmosis – that Terry Bean was a naturally-gifted musician, who could immediately pick things up by just hearing them once.

“No, they didn’t teach me how to play music, it’s just that I grew up in that environment and it just caught me,” he said. “When I first heard the blues, I saw what it done to people. I said ‘That’s what I want to do.’ Them blues will make you get up and shake your money-maker. And another thing – the blues brings people together. And in these days and times that’s very important. I mean, we have our troubles, but if there wasn’t no music, there sho nuff would be some troubles goin’ on, man.”

Blues wasn’t the only prevalent form of music that permeated Bean’s days as a youth in the Magnolia State.

“They play the blues down here and they also play gospel down here, too. And a lot of the church folks told me, ‘You know, Terry, the blues came from the church.’ And I say, ‘No, man.’ My grandmother died at 105 years old and I used to talk to her about that. She said, ‘Son, the blues came from the fields and then went to the church.’ She always told me that when she was a little-bitty girl, people were playing the blues in the fields and the folks in the church did not have no music. The people that were out playing those juke joints all night long had the fear put into them, so they started going to church and they started playing music in the church. They were all blues players and now they’re playing the blues in church. A lot of Christian people don’t want to admit that’s how it is, but the blues came from the fields and went to the church. But I always tell people, if you’re playing music and it ain’t got no blues in it, you’re really not playing no music.”

Bean has gained a lot of notoriety for his one-man band show and according to the man himself, once again, that goes right back to his family tree.

“Well, my daddy played with a band, but my granddaddy played by himself. And my granddaddy would draw just as big a crowd playing by himself as my daddy’s band would,” Bean said. “And it was amazing. But my granddaddy … now he had that whole package, too, you know what I’m saying? And he always told me, ‘Son, if you do like this right here, you don’t have to worry about no band.’ He also always said, ‘You don’t have to be good, but you damn sure have to be on time.’”

Even though he’s more than proven that he can pull off an entire show just by his lonesome, carrying on in the tradition of other one-man bands like Dr. Isaiah Ross, Adolphus Bell or his old buddy John Weston, Bean also has a full-fledged blues band at his disposal when needed and can switch back-and-forth between the two with ease.

“I do still play with my band. Matter of fact, I’m getting’ ready to do some shows with them coming up soon. I can go either way – solo or band – it doesn’t matter with me. I’ve got it both covered,” Bean said. “But my grandfather also told me, ‘You play with a band and you can have troubles.’ And he was right. Band members can be something else, now. Sometimes those band members can put you out of business with the way they take care of their business, you know? A lot people may think I’m hard to get along with, but I’m not. I’ve got my thing together. And if I let you work with me, you better have your thing together too.”

It looked for a while back in the late 70s that Bean might be headed for a bright career on the baseball diamond instead of the bandstand. Bean had caught the eye of a whole host of baseball scouts, thanks to throwing five no-hitters (he could pitch with either hand) and leading his high school team to the state championship in 1980.

“Yeah, I got to be pretty good playing baseball. I was an even-handed pitcher and I could hit, I could run, I could field … I could do it all on the baseball diamond,” he said.

But a subsequent motorcycle accident, followed later by an automobile mishap, ended Bean’s baseball playing days and set him on a path to playing the kind of blues that he grew up with, blues that started out ingenious to his native Mississippi before rocketing skyward.

“When they brought the slaves into this country from Africa, they brought the blues over, too. When the slaves were freed and they went their separate ways, the blues went with them and spread all over these United States … it was the black man’s music,” he said. “But here in Mississippi, something different was happening. The delta guys, cats like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters and them, played with a slide guitar and they played in what they call now Open G (tuning), but then they didn’t know what key they were playing in. They tuned to what they wanted to hear and they played it like that … a lot of them just tuned their guitar to their voice. And they had good ears and took bits and pieces from the stuff they heard and put it with their stuff to make their own style. Then, the hill country guys, they played in standard tuning and they put that rhythm thing with it, you see what I’m saying? It was like a driving kind of music. And when you add the delta guys and their slide thing with the hill country guys and their rhythm thing, it exploded. Those two different style of blues started working together and the music just exploded. But Muddy Waters was really the one that discovered that and he put the two together, went to Chicago and then the rest of the world was turned on to the power of the blues. That’s how it happened.”

Bean has played the blues with a whole boatload of wonderful musicians since he first picked up a harp, including a trio of now-departed characters like Lonnie Pitchford, Asie Payton and James ‘T-Model’ Ford.

And according to Bean, you had to have your wits about you on and off the bandstand while playing with T-Model.

“I played with T-Model about four years. That was my partner,” Bean said. “He knew a lot about a lot of things and he did a lot of stuff, you know what I’m saying?… a lot of stuff. And man, he’d get into these fights and I’d be in there trying to break it up and a lot of the licks that he was supposed to be getting, I wound up getting because I was in the middle.”

If you want to see Terry in action, check out these videos for a sample of his musical talent:

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

The Soul of John Black – A Sunshine State of Mind

Yellow Dog Records

10 tracks/38:22

This album is a tribute to the summer months from John A. Bigham, the main contributor for his band The Soul of John Black. He creates plays the majority of instruments and handles the various vocal parts. Additional musician include Oliver Charles who plays live drums on five tracks, Jacob Luttrell or Chris Joyner on electric piano on four tracks and Andre Holmes on bass on a single song.

Bigham certainly makes his influences apparent throughout the disc. “Beautiful Day” is a love ballad that ends up with the singer doing his best Al Green impersonation. The little red corvette that Prince made famous gets mentioned on “East LA Lady”, a tune that rocks a bit harder. The mood shifts to a lighter feel on “Lenny Love Cha Cha”, sent out to the lovers and dancers, inspired by Lenny Kravitz.

“Too Much Tequila” takes a light-hearted look at the effects of too much of a good thing while preaching the value of having a designated driver. Other songs like “Shake It Off” and “Magic Woman” fail to connect due to basic, repetitive melodies matched with generic lyrics. Bigham’s smooth, soulful voice can’t generate enough excitement to rescue either one.

Compared to the other tracks, “Johnny Bear (Give It to Me)” is a tough number with Bigham engaging in a bit of sexual bravado. He uses a choppy guitar line on “Lemonade” that faintly captures the Bo Diddley. The song recasts the traditional blues theme of the lemon squeezer into a safe, light summer ditty. “Higher Power” offers one of Bigham’s strongest vocals, again in the Al Green mode, and features Jonell Kennedy on backing vocals. The closing song ‘Summertime Thang” is a breezy ballad that finds the singer holding out hope for a love affair under the warm sun.

You won’t be able to hear much more than a fleeting trace of blues influence on any of the material. And while Bigham at times proves to be a very capable vocalist, it is hard to get traction when the music and lyrics struggle to rise above the mundane. Perhaps he needs to consider hiring a real band, playing real instruments, to inject some power into his compositions. This one definitely should be researched thoroughly before making a purchase decision..

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

Dr. Izzy Band – Blind and Blues Bound

Black Chow Records

CD: 12 songs; 56:47 Minutes

Styles: Hard Rock, Blues Rock, Americana

Sometimes, our greatest challenges and struggles provide our greatest inspiration. Such is the case with Dr. Izzy, a hardworking native of Groves, Texas. She began to go blind at the age of nine, but as she pointedly states on the ninth track of her debut album, “Don’t tell me I’d be better off dead. I ain’t ready for no dirt bed!” She’s “Blind and Blues Bound,” accompanied by Robert Morrison on electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, and cowbell, Larry Thompson on drums, and Kenny Passarelli on bass, Hammond organ, and piano.

Several guest stars also join her, including James Cotton and Otis Taylor. Connoisseurs be forewarned: Even though all twelve songs on this CD are original, none of them is an example of pure blues. Rather, they represent hard rock, blues rock, and Americana. For fans of blues masters, Dr. Izzy’s music is an acquired taste, as are her whiskey-gravel vocals. The following three songs pay the most homage to this e-magazine’s favorite genre:

Track 01: “Matches Don’t Burn Memories” – James Cotton and his trilling harmonica add a touch of classic blues to this hard-rock anthem of regret. Our narrator intends to rid herself permanently of romantic mementos: “I’ve been drinking whiskey, rocking on this porch. Got a box full of matches; each one’s a little torch. Sifting through our pictures; like to burn ‘em, every one. Been tossing out your clothes. Why is this so much fun?” Dr. Izzy minces no words, and neither does her husband Robert Morrison on thrashing electric guitar.

Track 02: “Soul Dance” – This revealing autobiographical number features Anne Harris on violin and Rose Red Elk on background vocals. Describing her battle against cancer, Dr. Izzy sings: “We’ll do the soul dance. We’ll look evil in the eye. Fight like you’re in trance; you can make it if you try.” There’s a subtle Native American influence in Red Elk’s soft chanting on the chorus. “Soul Dance” is the best song on this album, both lyrically and musically.

Track 05: “Old Black Crow” – Animals often serve as metaphors for the human condition, as it does in this meditative melody. Along with Otis Taylor on banjo, Dr. Izzy muses: “We screech through our lives like the old black crow. How do we prepare for what we could not see or know?” One might imagine seeing this avian omen on a cold morning during a thunderstorm.

Dr. Izzy and her fellow musicians’ greatest gift is their lyrical and instrumental talent. One cannot deny the power of either, even if their music isn’t blues per se. When you’re “Blind and Blues Bound,” troubles can bring triumph!

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

Lara & The Blues Dawgz – Devil Moon

Lock Alley Music

12 tracks; 45 minutes

Lara & The Blues Dawgz hail from Nashville, Tennessee and I believe this to be their first CD although the individual band members have a collective experience that they bring to bear most effectively on this album. Husband and wife team Gregg and Lisa Germony handle bass and vocals respectively and had a hand in writing all the material, some with other band members: Al Rowe on guitar, Dan Nadasdi on keys, Reggie Murray on sax and Ray Gonzales on drums. Gregg also produced the CD.

The material is mainly uptempo with some fine rocking tunes and a few slow blues but also incorporates elements of jazz courtesy of some fine keyboard and sax work from Dan and Reggie. Most of the songs are short and sweet but the band stretches out on the slower “Baby I’m Through With You” with all three front-line instruments taking solos, Dan’s piano standing out.

The album is bookended by two tracks that demonstrate the skills of all the players: opening track “Workin’ Overtime” finds Al in almost country mood on the guitar with both Dan and Reggie also getting solo space; closing track “This Place Is Rockin’” opens with Lisa’s laughter and it sounds as if everyone is having fun on this rock and roll number. Dan again lights up the keyboard with sparkling runs on piano and Al gives us a short and nimble solo while Reggie’s sax broods beneath the rhythm, waiting his turn to feature which he does on the outro.

The title track offers a different slant on the band’s talents as Al leads on the melodic cut, Lisa adopting a wistful tone on a sad tale of lost love. “Anywhere But There” is a very strong track (and features if you visit the band’s website), a rocker with great sax at the start and a stinging guitar solo. Lisa sings of her baby leaving her for Memphis, so she will go “anywhere but there” – bad news if they want to compete in the IBCs!

“Step On Up” has lots of tasty guitar as Lisa invites her intended guy to try what’s on offer, Dan switching to organ and Reggie sitting this one out but he is back on “Rude Dawg”, a song about a problem pet: “He grabs your leg and he won’t let go, chews up your shoes, pees on the floor.” Lara sounds unimpressed by office life as she sings of the “Corporate Monkey Cage”; “I don’t have to be good at what I do, I just have to look better than you”, the band offering excellent support throughout. Equally cynical is the put down in “Your Stupid Friend” when Lisa sings of her disgust at finding her new guy has another girl in tow!

I hope that I have given readers a fair idea of what to expect from this CD which I thoroughly enjoyed. I recommend that you check out this excellent album of all original material..

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

Johnny Rawls – Remembering O.V.

Catfood Records

10 tracks; 35 minutes

Over recent years Johnny Rawls has established himself as one of the last true soul/blues singers standing from the southern states’ chitlin’ circuit. A significant part of his own education was as the leader of the late O.V. Wright’s touring band and Johnny has recorded one tune associated with O.V. on each of his last three CDs. Johnny has now produced a full album of O.V. material, clearly a labour of love for him and a superb album of classic soul and r n’ b.

As he has done over several albums, Johnny has again recorded with The Rays. Co-producer and bassist Bob Trenchard has a great soul band at his disposal: Dan Ferguson on keys, Johnny McGee on guitar, Richy Puga on drums and a horn section of Andy Roman on sax, Mike Middleton on trumpet and Robert Claiborne on trombone. The Iveys (Arlen, Jessica and Jillian) add backing vocals. Johnny has left his axe at home for this recording but sings on all tracks, joined by the peerless Otis Clay on three cuts. The album was recorded in Texas and mixed by Jim Gaines in Tennessee.

The CD opens with Otis Clay leading on the funky “Into Something (I Can’t Shake Loose)” and it’s a great opener as Johnny and Otis take turns on the vocals and the horns punctuate the foot-tapping beat established by the rhythm section. Changing pace Johnny sings “Precious, Precious” particularly well with excellent harmony vocals from The Iveys.

“Nickel And A Nail” is a very well-known song on which Otis Clay shares the vocals, both vocalists doing a great job. Less well known is “Poor Boy”, another song on which Don Robey had a writing credit. It is covered in a gentle style, the organ and plucked guitar providing the main backing and the horns sitting this one out. Earl Randle’s “I’ve Been Searching” is also very well done, the horns shouting out their riffs with gusto. “Don’t Let My Baby Ride” is a mid-paced, horn-driven tune with attractive backing vocals.

The three tracks which have appeared before on Johnny’s albums are reprised here in remixed versions. Deadric Malone’s “Eight Men, Four Women” appeared on the 2012 “Soul Survivor”, a stately ballad in which love is on trial before a jury, the backing vocalists playing a significant role behind Johnny’s impassioned vocal. “Blind, Crippled And Crazy” was on 2011’s “Soul Survivor” and has been covered many times. It may well be the best known song here but this version is as good as any, Johnny easily demonstrating his mastery of this style of singing, just a hint of grit in his generally smooth soul voice. “Ace Of Spades” was the title of Johnny’s 2009 BMA winning album and it’s a wonderful example of his soul/blues style, the horns being particularly effective.

Closing the album is the only original tune on the set, co-written by Johnny Rawls and Bob Trenchard as a tribute to O.V. Despite all the excellent and well-known songs on this tribute album “Blaze Of Glory” may be the highlight. The horns set the pace before Johnny opens the song with a recollection of his early touring days, including his presence at O.V.’s death: “even the great ones can’t cheat death”. Johnny publicly pledges that he will keep playing O.V.’s music as long as he performs. Otis Clay then reprises the verse but adapts the lines to his own experiences as a rising Memphis singer. With a rousing chorus shared by the two singers and The Iveys, this is a shot of high class Memphis soul.

This is an impressive collection of material associated with one of the great soul singers. The only criticism to be levelled is that the CD is too short and I for one would have enjoyed more of the same! A CD sure to please all those who like soul/blues.

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 – 5 of 6

Lightnin Malcolm – Rough Out There

Self Release through ShakeDown Records

14 tracks / 66:39

There are plenty of slickly produced records out there, but there is something special about a release that is recorded live in the studio with limited postproduction. It allows the listener to hear what an artist really sounds like, and Lightnin Malcolm’s Rough Out There delivers an accurate snapshot of exactly what this man is capable of, and his abilities are impressive.

Steve “Lightnin” Malcolm is originally from Missouri, but as a teen he took out for the juke joints of Northern Mississippi where he worked relentlessly as a solo artist. With no other musicians to hide behind he had to sink or swim, so he persevered and learned how to fill a room with his voice, a guitar and some basic percussion. Of course there were great roles models out there, and he learned from the best, including R.L. Burnside, Honeyboy Edwards, and T Model Ford. Once he got his feet under him, he began collaborating with legendary artists including Cedric Burnside and the aforementioned T Model Ford as well as performing with the North Mississippi Allstars.

This album is Malcolm’s sophomore release and he took a few chances with it. Besides recording most of the material live in the studio, he also changed things up by bringing in a few friends to fill out the sound, plus all fourteen of the tracks are originals that were penned by him and a few of his buddies. But most importantly, these songs represent a variety of genres that are rarely heard together in one package. On this album Lightnin provided the guitar and vocal parts, and a pair of drummers split the time behind the kit: Cam Jones and Stud (Carl White), who happens to be T Model Ford’s grandson.

The opening track, “Working,” is a driving blues rock tune with heavy guitar work from Malcolm and sweet slide guitar from Luther Dickinson, his Allstars bandmate. Lightnin has a raspy vocal delivery that works well for this material, and he doubles it nicely with his guitar lines, which the listener will find to be a recurring theme throughout the album. He also takes the blues rock route on “So Much Trouble” and “Took Too Long,” whose lyrics support two of the usual blues causes: bemoaning the terrible state of the world and telling the woman that did him wrong to go back where she came from.

Things are not so cut and dried when trying to categorize the rest of the tracks, as Malcolm is adept at mixing varied genres into new creations while never losing touch with his hill country roots. But, when it comes down to it, isn’t most modern music somehow evolved from the blues? “My Lifes a Wreck” has a bit of rockabilly in it and “Dellareesa” has a Latin/island feel with well-arranged horns courtesy of David McKnight and Marc Oran. Their sax and trumpet can also be found on “Mama,” his modern take of the classic 1970s funky rhythm and blues songs.

Lightnin pushes the envelope further by adding in reggae with “Reality Check” and two hip-hop songs: “Rough Out There” and “How Blessed You Are;” the latter includes auto-tuned vocals interspersed with his rap musings, which is obviously not something that is usually found on folk or blues records. This is quite a contrast with the Delta-tinged “Young Woman, Old Fashioned Ways,” the pedal-steel soaked country song, ”Givin You Away,” or “Chiefs,” a native American-influenced instrumental. He seems to be redefining folk music by including a little something from most every kind of folk you will find in the U.S.

Rough Out There goes out on a limb with its amalgamation of genres and its mixture of traditional and modern sounds, but this collection works when it is looked at as a whole, as it has a consistent feel throughout. Perhaps it is because the two drummers have very similar grooves and Lightning Malcolm is such a seasoned performer who knows how to please an audience. Or maybe it is because he had a hand in writing all of the songs and the album was recorded the old-fashioned way with live studio tracks. Either way, he has delivered the goods here, and it is definitely worth a listen.

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues review – 6 of 6

Dave Riley & Bob Corritore – Hush Your Fuss!

Vizztone Label Group

12 tracks

The third collaboration between Dave Riley and Bob Corritore continues down the path of the first two, giving us some more of the best traditional blues around! Dave Riley is authentic, gritty and down home; a Hattiesburg, Mississippi native who is a real Delta bluesman. Corritore is the ultimate Chicago harp master. Together they exude real blues done in with feeling in an evocative style.

Brother Dave “Yahni” Riley, Jr. is on bass, Brian Fahey is on drums and Gloria Bailey plays organ on “Mississippi Po Boy.” All new stuff and written almost exclusively by the featured duo, the sound is real and convincing blues.

The duo open acoustically with the title track, a sweet little number with just the two of them strumming, blowing some harp and testifying to us. Short and sweet, but a great start to a fun CD. “Baby Please Come Home” has Riley hollering for his gal as Corritore keeps pace in response on harp, a cool slow blues as is “Go Ahead and Blame Me” which is even dirtier and grittier. “Oil Sill Blues” also goes that route, giving us a Mississippi bluesman’s take on the BP debacle.

“Hard Headed Woman” is a romping good time. “Mississippi Po Boy” is a slow and ballady blues chronicling parts of Riley’s life as does “Home In Chicago.” The organ does add a good backdrop to the former and the latter shuffles sweetly. A couple of tracks go a little tongue in cheek and are fun- “No Cussin’” and “Laughin’ Blues” are lighter and offer us a bit of humor.

This is a good set of tunes done up nicely. I loved their first effort, thoroughly enjoyed the second and now with a third they have a trio of super albums under their belts! Recommended for all traditional blues lovers!!!.

Reviewer 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 work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

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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 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. 30 – James Armstrong More info available at

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