Issue 8-28 July 10, 2014

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2014

 In This Issue

Jim Crawford has our feature interview with Blues guitarist Billy Flynn. Bob Kieser has photos from the Champaign Blues Brews and BBQ’s Festival

We have six reviews for you including the book The Amazing Jimmi Mayes – Sideman to the Stars plus reviews of music by Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers, Bobby Rush and Blind Dog Smokin’, Polly O’Keary & The Rhythm Method, Kat Danser and Blue Lunch.

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,

This weekend there are a couple of great festivals put on by friends of ours. The 10th Annual Waterefront Blues takes place in Woodbine Park in Toronto, Canada. They feature Irene Torres & The Sugar Devils followed by Jack de Keyzer with special guest Erin McCallum on Friday. On Saturday the have performances by Brant Parker Blues Band, Terry Gillespie, Lynn Drury, Blackburn, Otis Clay & Johnny Rawls. They finish up on Sunday with Greg Nagy, Harrison Kennedy and Sugar Ray & The BlueTones. For complete info visit

Also this weekend at Briggs Farm in Pennsylvania the 17th Annual Briggs Farm Blues Festival begins Friday with Eric Gales, Samantha Fish, Eddie Shaw & the Wolf Gang, Harper, Lonnie Shields, Anthony Sherrod w/ the Cornlickers, Gabriel Butterfield Blues Band, Dan & Glen Hess and Norman Taylor. On Saturday they have another great lineup with Eddie Turner, Alexis P. Suter Band, Mike Farris, Anthony “Big A” Sherrod w/ the Cornlickers, Lonnie Shields, Clarence Spady, Christine Santelli, Beareather Reddy, Symphonic Haze and Dustin Drevitch & James Owens Blues Revue. For complete info visit

Blues Blast Music Awards voting will begin next Tuesday, July 15th. This year we have added a new feature to the voting. We are giving you the option to write-in an artist. So if you do not like any of the nominators choices, you may write in an artist of your choice. And of course we will have a listening page for you to listen to the music of the artists before you vote so you can be an informed voter!

So be sure to check our website on Tuesday and get your vote in!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music! 

Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6

Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers – Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers

Self Release

8 tracks / 40:12

There are no shortage of fine blues bands from the Midwest and over the past few years there have been some fabulous new albums coming from Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. In kèeping with this tradition, the Cornhusker
State has sent another winner our way via Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers. This highly-talented group recently self-released their
debut CD, and it is a fun and refreshing blend of blues, soul and funk with a sound that is uniquely their own.

This band was formed in 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska and is fronted by Josh Hoyer, an in-demand session man who had successfully fronted award-winning local groups including the marvelous Son of ’76 and the Watchmen. His nine-piece crew is made up of musicians that have proven themselves
through years of touring, teaching, and session work, and it has turned out to be a symbiotic relationship that has the power to create something truly special!

For this eponymous album, Josh takes on the vocals, keys and baritone sax, as well as writing and arranging all eight of the songs. He is joined by Benny Kushner on guitar, Justin G. Jones on drums, and Brian Morrow on bass (plus all three contribute vocals). There are also a pair of fine horn players (Tommy Van Den Berg on trombone and Mike Dee on tenor sax) and three wonderful vocalists: Hanna Bendler, Kim Moser and Megan Spain.

The band hits hard right from the start with “Shadowboxer” a smooth yet funky R&B piece. The horns lead the way, with a little extra oomph from guest artist Russell Zimmer on the trumpet. The backline holds down a rock steady beat without getting too fancy, letting the horns and backing singers set the melody. Josh lets his organ work take a back seat to his great vocal range, and his emotional delivery is full of soul as he implores the listener to stay strong in this discouraging world.

Hoyer keeps this theme up with the next few tracks as “Close Your Eyes” and “Illusion” examine the fast pace that people try to keep up with and the politicians that cannot help but continually disappoint the public. “Close Your Eyes” is my favorite of these, as it is a super-slickly written soul song that brings the organ to the forefront as Morrow’s driving bass line keeps things moving along.

The pacing of the CD is good, as before things get too gloomy the subject turns to the blues standby – all the ways that love can go wrong! After the dramatic funk revue of “Everyday and Everynight” (complete with a cool trombone solo from Van Der Berg) the band tears off the standout track from Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers, “Just Call Me (I’ll be Sure to Let you Down).” Hoyer channels the Reverend Al Green in this melodic R&B song with fat walking bass lines and an innovative tenor sax solo from Mike Dee.

The Shadowboxers cover a Son of ’76 and the Watchmen tune, “Til She’s Lovin’ Someone Else” from the 2010 release Letters from Shangri-La. Josh pulls out some wonderful New Orleans barroom-style piano work as the horns punch out the funky beat in this slow roller. Jones hits the drums hard
throughout this one and it is a pleasure to hear his fills as well as Kushner’s raw guitar solo. This was a neat song to start with and it turned out just as well the second time around.

The set comes around full circle and ends up with “Dirty World,” and you pretty much know where it is going from the title, but this one is asking what can be done to make it better and it encourages the listener to make a difference. Musically, this one is almost like a drum solo with a funky song happening on top of it. The Shadowboxers went all out for the finale and it is a cool way to bring this project to a close.

Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers is a very good album, and the fact that it is their first is a makes it all the better. The songs are original and well-written, and the performance and production values meet the high standards set by the material. If you are looking for fresh new blues and soul you should check It out for yourself, and hopefully Hoyer is writing up a new batch of songs so they can bring on even more of their funky message!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This album is nominated in the 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards in the Best New Artist Debut category!

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


 Featured Blues Interview – Billy Flynn

Make no mistake; Chicago/Green Bay Bluesman Billy Flynn is a serious musician. He’s been playing traditional Blues for almost his whole life and can trace his attraction to the guitar back to his infant days riding in the stroller with his mom pushing him.

“I’m not sure exactly how old I was but I know my mom told me when she used to push me in the stroller in the store I would be grabbing toy guitars off the shelf and would never let them go,” Billy said. “When it came to a real guitar, it was too big for me so I started on a ukulele. It was the only thing that was small enough for me. I think I already played guitar before I actually owned one because in my mind I was visualizing it. I had all these toy guitars and believe it or not I said ‘I know my ABCs so I should be able to figure out what the notes are.’ I remember the day; I think I was about 10 years old, when I got my first real guitar. I remember walking around playing songs the same day I got
it. Just learning the chords and strumming songs. I was picking the strings and I said to myself ‘You know, I can really do this.’ I was like ‘I’m really doing this.’ Same thing with Blues. I knew that Blues
was a part of it.

“I was born in 1956 and Elvis was just starting to get popular and I seem to remember being a kid and hearing the Elvis movies and on Ed Sullivan or some TV shows, but especially the movies,” Billy recalls.
“There was “Jailhouse Rock” and another one from New Orleans, “King Creole.” There were a few bent notes and some Blues that was coming through those movies that I knew. I knew what I liked and what I wanted and I searched and searched. I knew it was the Blues from the beginning. I don’t know and can’t explain why, but I knew I heard it.”

Billy did the usual adolescent garage band thing before being captivated by the playing of his first Blues hero, Jimmy Dawkins.

“I started playing in bands. They were small. We were kind of like the basement bands playing for parties. In 6th grade is when I started playing in bands and worked my way through them. I was originally a drummer, too. Starting in 6th grade I really wanted to play drums in school. I played for a few years. I never could read music very well. I kind of just faked my way through the drum thing but I was playing drums in garage bands when we’d play for teen dances and stuff.

“I was 14 years old and couldn’t get into the place so I was just sitting outside the club where Jimmy Dawkins was, playing along with the band and the jukebox. Jimmy and his drummer Lester Dorsey arranged it with the club owner for me to come in. I was always pretty much in Jimmy Dawkins’s band from about the time I was 19 or 20. I didn’t make all the gigs but I was always the guy he called first. He had another guy named Rich Kirch that was before me and Jimmy Johnson. They were both before
me but I think it was around ’76 or ’77 when I first started playing with him. And the last time he was ever on stage with me was at The Smoke Daddy just a few years ago. That was his last performance. When I first met him in 1970 he was kind of just getting started. He had just recorded his first album. His career was just starting to take off. I like to think I’ve been right next to him for a long time.”

Besides Jimmy Dawkins, Billy has played with, for and behind many of the legends in Chicago Blues. He was always the right guy for the job and gained the respect of his peers from a very early age.

“Chicago Blues is the kind of music that makes you want to dance,” Billy says. “When I hear it I feel like movin’. It’s infectious. That’s what it is about Chicago Blues and that leads you to the stories. There are lots of great stories in Blues. I love the words. That’s another thing that drew my attention when I was young was the poetry. I still remember when I was in 6th and 7th grade I would go to the library and read the books about lyrics. They had a couple of old Blues books there and let’s just say they were real graphic. To me that was the greatest thing. How
they could get away with saying what they were saying but not saying it. Me and my buddies used to make up our own words. I remember one song that had the words ‘the peaches I love they don’t grow on no trees/the peaches I love they grow above the knees.’

“With Sunnyland Slim I did some shows in Madison (Wis.) with him,” Billy said. “When I would go to Chicago I would occasionally play with him. Matter of fact, I believe I played with him one of the last times he was ever on stage also, in Milwaukee. There was a day they called Hubert Sumlin Day in Milwaukee and Sunnyland was there as a guest. That day Barrelhouse Chuck was playing piano. Sunnyland could barely walk to get up to the stage but once we got him there and behind the piano he
wouldn’t get off the stool there for at least an hour.

“Little Smokey Smothers was another real close friend,” Billy said. “When I was playing in The Legendary Blues Band Willie “Big Eyes” Smith brought Smokey into the band. They were like homies. They grew up together. We instantly became really good friends and pretty much again, to the end of his life, he’d asked me to record his new CD which never happened, unfortunately. When he was unable to play his guitar he told me he wanted me to play it.

“Billy Boy Arnold is just an unbelievable person,” Billy says. “I’ve never met anybody quite like him. He pretty much knows everything about Blues. He knows the words to all the songs and has his own unique take on Blues. Playing with Billy Boy might appear to some other musicians as
not being difficult. Playing with Billy Boy you gotta be really good and you gotta know how to be a real professional because his music is just set. There are a lot of riffs to it. You’ve gotta stick with what he
does. Billy Boy is one of the greatest preserved Blues educators and musicians I’ve ever seen.

Billy has also played with many of the young guns making their marks today. 

“I’ve worked with Mark Hummel a long time and we’ve worked together a lot. I’ve done the Tribute to Little Walter tours with him and we just did the Chicago Blues Festival. We’ve been friends for a long time. Bob Corritore is another very dedicated musician and brings a lot to the Blues harmonica business for sure. He and Mark Hummel are at the top of the bunch of all the motivated harmonica players that really can play, too. First thing I ever did with Kim Wilson was a live CD recorded at Bob’s club in Phoenix. “Smokin’ Joint” was the first thing we did together and it got a Grammy nomination so we were both really happy about that, too. I just recorded another CD with Kim.

“Everything has been moving so fast. I’ve been overseas and to
California. Then I came home and went to St. Louis. Then I went overseas again and came back and did the Blues festival. I just got a call from Kim and he told me how much he loves the new CD. It’s strictly Blues and might be his best stuff. He’s really, really happy with it.”

After many years playing with everyone in the business, Billy still says he doesn’t have a specific sound he’s noted for. He plays whatever the occasion calls for and that suits him just fine.

“My style depends on what day of the week it is for me,” Billy said. “I always try something new every day and try to get into so many different styles and different approaches to playing the guitar. It seems like every time I plug it in I get a different sound, trying to do this with this and that. Playing behind people I try to not be selfish about it. It’s not really about Billy Flynn if I’m playing with Billy Boy Arnold or if I’m playing with Mark Hummel. When I first started playing I went to Clark Kent Super Joint when I was 14 and remember hearing the band. They did all the hits like “Walking by Myself,” “Rock Me Baby.” I listened to “Every Day I Have the Blues” and I said this isn’t just a big jam, what they’re doing is a real song. Each song is treated with that particular respect of an arrangement so you have to know the song. This isn’t just a 12-bar jam. These are things you have to know. I try to know all the songs. I keep my ears open to everything and as far as an artist goes I try to get behind them and play something that makes them the best they can be.

“I’m really not a permanent member of any band, even my own because I’ve always been a freelance,” Billy said. “When I work with people that’s pretty much the thing, I’m not really tied to one band. I have the freedom to work and take the jobs that are the best for me. I think it’s just the nature of the Blues. It’s kept all the doors open for me to choose what I thought was best at the time. I find every band I play with very satisfying. All the musicians I play with are the best. I can’t think of anybody I’ve stepped on stage with who I wouldn’t want to be seen. I’ve worked hard for people to have a good opinion of me to have in their band and to work with.

“When I did the music for the movie “Cadillac Records” they sent me a CD and asked me to do the Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters because they knew I could play that music but when it
came to giving me the CD for learning the songs, all the Etta James
songs were on there and I thought maybe they might want me to play on this so I gotta be ready. So for two weeks all I did was listen to Etta James and I worked on all her music. I wrote out charts because these are not the typical Blues changes. I listened to those records and started to hear things I never heard before. And I worked on all the guitar parts and when we got there and I did the Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry they said ‘Tomorrow we’re gonna do the Etta James.’ I said ‘OK.’ Then after we did the Etta James they said tomorrow we’re gonna record the surf music. I said ‘OK. When we went in there we had to record The
Beach Boys because that was the song The Beach Boys stole from Chuck Berry. “Surfin’ USA.” If you listen to the movie and listen to The Beach boys, that’s an iconic intro. It’s a piece of America. I had to record the whole song and I did it without blinking. The producer had nothing to worry about. He completely trusted me. I think he knew that I could do anything he needed. I think of it as acting with the guitar.

“I guess another attraction of the Blues to me is the tradition of it,” Billy said. “It gives you all the things you need to create your own style. When Little Walter came along everybody wanted to play like him
but they all played different. Same with BB King. You just have to put yourself into it. That’s something I learned from Jimmy Rogers and Jimmy Dawkins. They said ‘You’re not the same as everybody else so just be yourself. I always thought that was the best advice they ever gave me. The two biggest guys around when I was starting out were Johnny Winter. I love Johnny’s playing but I did not want to play like him. The other one was Mike Bloomfield.

“To me I just naturally gravitated to my hero and that was Jimmy Dawkins. When you’re 14 and have the opportunity to see Johnny Littlejohn play slide. I avoided the Allman Brothers and I love all those bands. I avoided them because I think I have a fresh perspective on Blues because I didn’t have the normal influences of somebody my age. I liked music that was older. I was attracted to
different things instead of the standard Top-40 Blues. I want to go get it from the source. Licks from Elmore James and JB Hutto. The off-the-radar kind of stuff. I listen to that and it inspires me a lot.
I have no connection to them I’m just getting this great Blues vibe. It seems like the lesser known the more I was attracted to them.

“I remember when I first started out and I was playing a lot of the styles I’m now known for, the ‘50s and ‘60s kind of guitar,” Billy recalls. “I was thinking I might have been one of the only people who
was playing like Jimmy Rogers or Jimmy Dawkins. I also blow a harp and I thought if I ever wanted to be a harmonica player I could never find a guitar player who could play behind me. But now, there are ton of guys that play in that style. I think people have learned how to play the Blues better. I think Blues seems like it’s doing real good now.

“I have to let everyone know how much I appreciate my family and how much they’re behind me and the support of what I do as a musician. When it comes down to it I love the Blues and I feel it when I play. I can pretty much feel the Blues running right through me when I play. I pretty much just let it take over. Definitely the Blues chose me because hearing those few notes when I was a kid; I was searching for that sound. It’s something I could feel way back then.”

Visit Billy’s website

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2014 Blues Blast Magazine

Interviewer Jim Crawford is a transplanted Texan and the current president of the Phoenix Blues Society. He’s a fan of lots of different types of music but keeps his head mostly planted in the Blues today. He received his first 45 rpm record, Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man,” at about age 8 and it stuck. He hosted the “Blues Cruise”
on KACV-FM 90 in Amarillo for many years and can be found on many nights catching a good show at the Rhythm Room, Phoenix’s Blues Mecca.

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6

Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin’ featuring Dr. John – Decisions

Silver Talon Records

11 tracks/50 minutes

Bobby Rush has teamed up with Blinddog Smokin’ and Dr. John to produce one of the hottest blues soul and funk albums of the year. Nominated for Blues Blast Soul Blues Album of the Year, Rush remains relevant and at his peak despite being over 80 years of age. Also nominated in the Top Male Artist and Song of
the Year categories, Rush is still a very hot commodity! Bobby has been nominated for and won a host of accolades over the years and this album shows how he can keep it fresh and current while remaining at the top of the blue soul game for decades. 

“Another Murder In New Orleans” opens the CD and is one of the top song nominees. It is a very cool and funky track with great vocals by Bobby, Dr. John, backing singer Linda Gustafson and others. The accompanying DVD also features the song and information related to it. This song alone makes it worth
getting the CD! Dr. John’s New Orleans styled piano and the stinging lead guitar with the accompanying brass and other instruments makes this topical piece really attractive. The title song follows, and with Rush on vocals and Billy Branch on harp we get a very dirty and gritty cut about life’s decisions. I really loved this song, too! “Bobby Rush’s Bus” is a humorous, soulful funk about the goings on in Bobby’s bus. “If That’s The Way You Like It” is another funky cut with the horns filling in nicely. “Funky Old Man” is a semi-biographical song with guitar and bass laying down a groove to start the dance party. Bobby sings about how old men might be old but can still get their groove on as he sings and raps a bit for us. “Love of a Woman” slows things up as Rush gives us some sweet blues. Another nice harp solo is featured here.

“Stand Back” opens to a Santana-like groove and some sweet guitar licks are offered throughout. Rush is effective as he speaks/sings out the jive lyric lines. A sweet cut! In Skinny Little Women” Rush offers up some blues with the topic being a warning to skinny little women about how big fat gals are taking
over, but then he shifts tacks and notes that you can fit two skinny girls in place of one fat women in bed. It’s a fun blues and Branch again blows some mean harp. “Dr. Rush” has an intro by Big Lou Johnson introducing the good Doctor Bobby Rush who answers the rap questions with rap advice of his own. It’s cool and humorous at the same time. His advice is basically o settle your women down from being out or spending too much or whatever by feeding them and fattening them up so as to keep
them home and out of trouble. “Too Much Weekend” is a simple yet effective acoustic blues with guitar, harp and Bobby on vocals. The tempo is hugely slowed down and Bobby delivers a very cool rendition of his old classic. “Sittin’ Here Waitin’ is an unlisted bonus cut where Bobby complains he’s sitting home waiting for the phone to ring and watching all the girls go by but he’s not hearing from or seeing his
woman. Funky acoustic guitar, drums and organ lay out another sweet groove.

Produced by Donald Markowitz with songs either written by Rush or Carl Gustafson and a varied gorup of associated writers, the album is really funky and quite original. Even the old cover has a breath of fresh air. Carl Gustafosn is on drums, Chicago Chuck Gullens is on bass, Mo Beeks is on keys and Robert “Chalo” Ortiz is guitar. Along with Rebennack there are a host of guest artists, including the likes of Sherman Robertson, Carl Weathersby, Billy Branch and many others. I can easily see how this album, artist and top song were nominated for Blues Blast Music Awards! It’s an excellent artistic attempt that gets carried out completely and effectively. 80 years young, and Bobby’s still got it. Highly

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.

 Featured Live Blues Review – Blues
Brews and BBQ Festival

Blues Brews and BBQ Festival – Champaign, IL June 27 & 26, 2014

This year marked the 7th Blues Brews and BBQ Festival sponsored by Fluid Events in
Champaign, Illinois. These guys really know how to do it too. The festival runs concurrently the the National Corvette show and as a result is a huge event that attracts tens of thousands of people each

The music started Friday afternoon on the main stage with a funk and soul band from Champaign called Johnnie Mae. They played a competent opening set to kick off the fest.


This festival has 2 stages and next up on  the “Hot 105.5 Stage” was Cody & the Gateway Drugs.

Then continuing the action on the main stage was Chicago Blues Bombshell, Holle Thee Maxwell.

Before she took the Blues world by storm, Holle graduated with music degrees in classical music from Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt University and Julliard in New York. Her show is dynamic and you need to make a point to see her if you have never had the pleasure.

Finishing opening the night on the “Hot 105.5 Stage” was Blues rocker Jason Elmore & The Hoodoo.

Then the headliner act on Friday was the Nikki Hill Band.

This was the second weekend in a row I had the pleasure of hearing this talented young artist.

On Saturday the first act we heard on the Main stage was Blues legend Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang.

Eddie was our Blues Blast Lifetime Achievement Award winner last year. He is also the only musician member who can claim he was actually the band leader for both Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf’s band on the same day!

Next up on the “Hot 105.5 Stage” was Maurice John Vaughn. Maurice is another great Chicago Blues musician.

Maurice is adept on both guitar and keyboards.

Maurice was followed on the Main Stage by Rick Estrin & The Nightcats. They have a great band including Kid Andersen on guitar, J. Hansen on drums and Lorenzo Farrell on organ, acoustic and electric bass.


I waited patiently during the set hoping for the money shot when Rick plays the harmonica with no hands and when Alonzo plays the acoustic bass behind his back. My patience paid off!

The final act on the “Hot 105.5 Stage” Saturday  was Blues rocker Albert Cummings.

Albert played a cool set of blazing guitar!

Then next on the Main Stage was Curtis Salgado. Curtis was looking and sounding great.

He had Vyasa Dodson playing lead guitar. Vyasa was formerly with the band The Insomniacs.  Their 2009 Album on Delta Groove, At Leas I’m Not with You, won Best Contemporary Blues Album in the 2009 Blues Blast Music Awards.


Continuing their tradition of finishing up the festival with some Zydeco music, the final act of the fest was the legendary Buckwheat Zydeco.

The Blues Brews and BBQ Festival is a well run event with first class talent. Put this one on your 2015 calendar!

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2014.

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 6

Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method – Compass

Self-Produced by Polly O’Keary and Conrad Uno

CD: 11 songs; 54:16 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings; look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains.” So wrote the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in the 1800s. An alternative name for the pharaoh Ramesses II, this five-syllable name was intended to instill reverence in everyone who heard it. At the time it did, but now his moniker has faded. What has this to do with the blues? Absolutely everything. Just like
Ozymandias, the ‘pharaohs’ of the genre are now dead, although they’re recalled with just as much awe as an Egyptian ruler.

Washington state’s Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method, in their 2013 debut album Compass, present fresh and original material in the style of these ‘old monarchs’, the gods of the blues. They quote these lines from “Ozymandias” in the liner notes of their CD, and they’re the very first thing one sees once one removes the album from its case.
Bassist and lead vocalist O’Keary, guitarist and backing vocalist Clint “Seattle Slim” Nonnemaker, and drummer/background singer Tommy Cook, take us on a journey through eleven desert-hot songs. Along with them are The Seattle Horns (Greg Lyons, Mike West, and Pete Kirkman), keyboardist Arthur Migliazza, and backup singers Anita “Lady A” White and Kevin Sutton. Of their offerings, these three are choicest:

Track 01: “Fools Gold” – Backed by Migliazza’s funky keyboard intro and powerful wah-wah electric guitar, O’Keary launches like a rocket into this opening number: “Was it worth the love you sold for fool’s gold?” she asks a former partner. “I wonder how you sleep at night, alone with the lies you told – your head full of empty victories, and no one there to hold. It’s so cold: fool’s gold!” At once a bitter pill and a party drug, this song’s addictive either way.

Track 03: “Nothing Left to Say” – According to her website, Polly O’Keary began her musical career playing in bars in Mexico at sixteen. “Nothing Left to Say” is a burning-salsa tribute to her past, as proven by the sensational Seattle Horns. They provide the atmosphere of a mariachi band as Polly delivers her soon-to-be-ex a spicy ultimatum: “There’s nothing left to do; there’s nothing left to try; there’s nothing left to say but goodbye.” This is the perfect song for summer, surfing, and sticking it to a subpar significant other.

Track 08: “How the Mighty Fall” – With a slight disco beat and catchy subliminal bass line, this song explains a bad turn of life’s wheel of fortune: “Oh, the Lord, he gives; that’s what people say. I’m here to tell you now – He damn sure takes away. How the mighty fall!” This warning against hubris features some of “Seattle Slim’s” best blues fretwork.

Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method’s “Compass” will definitely lead blues and blues-rock fans in the right direction!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 34 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.

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 6

Blue Lunch – Blue Lunch Special

Rip Cat Records

16 songs – 60 minutes

Blue Lunch Special is a compilation album celebrating Blue Lunch’s 30th anniversary. It collects 16 songs from six previous Blue Lunch albums, spanning 15 years from 1999’s Eyes Wide Open to 2012’s Saxophone Shootout II . And it is a credit to the high level of consistency attained by the Cleveland-based band that, if you didn’t know it was a compilation, you might think all the songs had been recorded at the same time.

Displaying a wide variety of influences, from 1940s jump blues and 1950s New Orleans R’n’B, to doo-wop harmonies, straight-ahead jazz and classic Chicago blues, Blue Lunch Special is a highly enjoyable album that manages to honor its forebears without ever sounded dated. The songs are well-produced and played with a tremendous vibrancy and energy. Even the live tracks like “Cuttin’ Out” have a clarity that shames many studio recordings.

Blue Lunch is an eight piece band, featuring Pete London on harmonica and vocals, Bob Frank on guitar and vocals, Ramond DeForest on bass and vocals, Scott Flowers on drums, Mike Sands on piano, Mick Rubin on trumpet, Bob Michael on trombone and Chris Bruge on tenor sax. A number
of other musicians also make appearances on Blue Lunch Special, which is not surprising, given that the time period over which the songs were collected. The quality of the players throughout is consistently
impressive, however, offering subtle support when others are in the spotlight, or demonstrating a finely-honed melodic sense when taking solos. Chris Bruge and Bob Frank in particular turn in some superb sax and guitar solos respectively.

Nine of the songs were written by the band (primarily by Frank, but also by Pete London) and seven are well-chosen covers. The covers range from Jackie Brenston’s early rock ‘n’ roll classic “Leo The Louse” to Sonny Rollins’ “Tenor Madness” (which features Chris Bruge giving it some with two former Blue Lunch tenor players, Keith McKelley and Tony Koussa). The 5 Royales are clearly a strong influence on Blue Lunch, and this is nicely acknowledged in the cover of “Monkey Hips & Rice”. The band also turns in a tightly-nuanced version of Robert Lockwood Jr’s “Little Boy Blue” (sans horns).

The majority of the songs on the album are up-beat, foot-tapping pieces that suggest that Blue Lunch must be a superb proposition live. When they slow the pace, however, for example on Percy Mayfield’s “The Lonely One”, they carry it off with aplomb, with melancholy horns delicately accentuating the sadness of the lyrics. Blue Lunch Special also features a number of instrumentals, such as “Sideswiped” or the harmonica showpiece “The Fidget”, which give all the musicians the chance to stretch out.

If you like the horn-driven, jump-blues of Roomful of Blues and you haven’t come across Blue Lunch before, this is a great starting place. There is a lot going on in this very enjoyable release. Check it out.

Reviewer Rhys Williams lives in Cambridge, England, where he plays blues
guitar when not holding down a day job as a technology lawyer or running
around after his children. He is married to an American, and speaks the
language fluently, if with an accent. 

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 6

Kat Danser – Baptized By The Mud

Self-Release – 2013

12 tracks; 48 minutes

Canadian Kat Danser sings in a gospel style and plays slide and resonator guitar, accompanied by Steve Dawson on all manner of guitars, Darryl Havers on keys, Geoffrey Hicks on drums, Jeremy Holmes on bass and Dawn Pemberton and Marcus Mosely on backing vocals. The album was recorded in Vancouver, BC and produced by Steve Dawson. Kat wrote most
of the material here with four covers.

The material is mainly acoustic and a little one-paced. One of the most upbeat tracks is opener “Sun Goes Down” which moves along nicely in a lively gospel style. Kat sings in a deep, clear voice which suits this song well but tends to wear a little across some of the other songs here, especially the dirge-like title track and “Sweet Baybay”. Another slow song which works better is “Notes From The Other Side”, a particularly strong song, dealing sympathetically with our mortality, in which Kat also name checks Ma Rainey who we can assume is something of a heroine to Kat as she also covers Ma’s risqué “Prove It On Me Blues” in a very clear departure from the generally spiritual feel of the music here; the song is one of the highlights of this set with the 20’s feel re-created by the band and Kat’s vocals spot-on. The traditional “O’ Mary Don’t You Weep” is played at a funereal pace and was disappointing
compared with some of the inspired versions of the song we have heard. Another gospel cover is Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move” which closes the album and rather summarises what Kat is saying here about her faith: “When the call comes for you, you gotta move”. The fourth cover is a strong version of Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Brenda Russell’s “None Of Us Are Free” which works well with good backing vocals supporting Kat.

Of the remaining originals “Nothin’ At All” is a gentle song which seeks to demonstrate that without love we are nothing which works fine. “Crazy For You” finds Kat in more secular mode but here her attempt to sing in a lighter voice does not fare well. “Winsome, Losesome” works better in terms of her vocal range and adds some humour to the menu as well: “I need someone who will paddle and feed me Fiddle-Faddle, cuz’ I’m a winsome, losesome kind gal looking for a winsome, losesome kinda pal.”

Overall this album has some good moments. It will probably appeal to those who are keen on predominantly acoustic, roots music with a strong touch of gospel.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson,
Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6

The Amazing Jimmi Mayes – Sideman to the Stars

by Jimmi Mayes with V.C. Speek

University Press of Mississippi

175 pages

It is rare to find someone who actually played and toured with blues legends like Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Robert Junior Lockwood, and Earl Hooker. Over the course of his career,
drummer Jimmi Mayes played with all of them and many more. His autobiography stretches from his birth in Jackson, Mississippi to modern
day Chicago with whirlwind of a story filled with legendary singers & musicians, women, drugs, alcohol, and gangsters coupled with a never-give-up attitude that allowed Mayes to persevere during the dark times.

Like many musicians of his generation, Mayes learned to play drums and read music in high school. The latter skill served him well, allowing him to get session work throughout his career. Once he finished high school, Mayes headed for Chicago where he worked at a publishing house by day, then playing the blues clubs at night. One of his mentors was Sam Lay, who was getting ready to switch over to working with Howlin’ Wolf. Lay asked
Mayes to fill his spot in Little Walter’s band. After a brief audition, the teenage drummer was backing the giant of blues harmonica in a band that often included Lockwood and Hooker on guitar plus Perkins on piano. Through Walter, Mayes met more members of the blues royalty like Fred Below, Junior Wells, and Muddy Waters.

While small in stature, Mayes was a handsome man with a sense of style. He proudly describes attracting the attention of one of Muddy’s girlfriends and making time with her without generating any suspicion. The drummer soon develops into a “player”, establishing relationships with working girls
who cater to him physically and financially. Growing tired of scuffling for gigs in Chicago, Mayes yearns to make it in New York City. One night at the Regal Theater a mutual friend introduces Mayes to singer Tommy Hunt, formerly of the Flamingos. Hunt hires the drummer and in short order the dream comes true.

Soon Mayes is backing Marvin Gaye at Small’s Paradise, making it with more women and increasing his drug use. Opportunity comes knocking again in 1964 when he is asked to join Joey Dee & the Starliters, a hot act due to their monster hit, “Peppermint Twist”. Eventually Mayes becomes the
bandleader and one day, desperately needing a guitar player, he is directed to the Alvin Hotel where he meets Maurice James, soon to be known around the world as Jimi Hendrix. It might be hard to imagine the famed guitarist doing twist dance tunes but during his four month tenure, Mayes and Hendrix become good friends, practicing in the hotel room when they aren’t entertaining various girlfriends. Included in the sixteen pages of photos spanning Mayes career is a shot of the two musicians in go-go dresses clowning for the audience at the end of a show with Dee on drums.

Once he left the Starliters, Mayes continued to find work with acts like the Shirelles until another big break rolls around. He forms his own band, Mill Street Depo, cuts a few records and then is offered a long-term gig at one of the top clubs in Mexico City. The band quickly becomes the toast of the town, cutting tracks for a movie soundtrack and a compilation album on CBS Records. Their success is short-lived and the band eventually implodes, leaving Mayes broke and in debt.

That is the start of the dark times for the intrepid drummer. He returns to Chicago where he gets hired to back Jimmy Reed for several shows, starting with the 1973 Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Fest. Ten years later Mayes starts suffering from problems with his right hip that surgery fails to correct, which lead to hip replacement. For almost two decades he was unable to work much due to the constant pain. Finally, opportunity rolls around one more time when he meets a die-hard blues fan and musician who
is also a notable orthopedic surgeon, with the skills to finally repair the hip. The rejuvenated Mayes ends up filling the drum chair behind “Big Eyes” Smith, sharing the stage with Perkins and on many occasions, Hubert Sumlin.

As you read this book, it is easy to envision the story of Jimmi Mayes being retold on the big screen. All the elements are there for a movie production – the lure of bright lights, compelling music, sex, drugs and plenty of star power. At the end, you wish that Mayes had been more forthcoming with his tales so that the book stretched out for another hundred pages. This fascinating sage makes it clear that Mayes was indeed a sideman to the stars. Definitely 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!

 Blues Society News 

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BIG news or Press Release about your not-for-profit event with the
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Maximum of 175 words in a Text or MS Word document format.

 Minnesota Blues Society – St. Paul, MN

Minnesota Blues Society’s Annual Picnic and Food Drive is Sunday, July 20, 1-6PM at Rosetown American Legion Post 542, 700 W County Road C Roseville, MN 651-483-3535. We are cCollecting canned and dry goods for Keystone Community Services.

This event features Lisa Wenger, Jimi “Primetime” Smith, John Lindberg, Robb Stupka, Dan Schwalbe, Curtis Blake. We will have a pulled pork and turkey sandwich buffet. Bring sides, munchies, and desserts. Bottled water provided. Cash bar, $1.00 beer on patio. No coolers allowed. Chairs, okay. Buffet: 1:30, Music: 2:00pm.

Free for MnBS members, $5.00, Guests RSVP by July 12 @

Natchel Blues Network – Norfolk, VA

The Natchel’ Blues Network and Beach Events presents The 21st Annual Blues at the Beach Festival September 5 & 6, 2014 at 17th Street Stage – Virginia Beach VA.

Lineup includes Jarekus Singleton and Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials on Friday and Doug Deming & Dennis Gruenling w/ he Jewel Tones, Dirt Cheap Blues Exchange Dance Workshop, Damon Fowler Group, Bernard Allison and Tommy Castro & The Painkillers on Saturday.

$5.00 Daily / $8.00 Weekend Pass. For more info visit

Friends of the Blues – Kankakee, IL

2014 Friends of the Blues Concert Series –  All shows held in
Kankakee, IL unless otherwise noted.

July 16, Albert Castiglia with opening act, The Impalas featuring Dawna Nelson, Longbranch Restaurant, Thursday, July 31, Terry Quiett Band, Venue TBA, Tuesday, August 12, Laurie Morvan Band, Bradley Bourbonnais
Sportsmen’s Club, Tues or Thur, August 26 or 28, Nikki Hill (& Matt
Hill), Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Thursday, Sept 18, Jerry Lee & The
Juju Kings, Kankakee Valley Boat Club Thursday, October 02, Sena Ehrhardt, Moose Lodge.

Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, Illinois

Advanced planning: The 5th Annual Crossroads Blues Festival on August 23rd moves from Byron, IL to Lyran Park just south of Rockford Airport. Lurrie Bell headlines this year’s event! .

Check us out at or call festival chairman Steve Jones at 779-537-4006 for more information!

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for the Blue Monday live performances and jam sessions held every Monday night at The Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 8:00pm to midnight. Additional
information on any performer listed below is available upon request.
July 14 – Jason Elmore, July 21 – Hurricane Ruth, July 28 – Brent Johnson and the Call Up, Jeff Jensen, August 11 – Laurie Morvan Band, August 18 – Chris Duarte, August 25 -Lionel Young Band

Additional ICBC shows:  July 17 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6:00 pm, August 10 – Dennis Gruenling @ Long Bridge Golf Course 3 pm, August 22 – Old Capitol Blues & BBQ with Kicked to the Curb 5:30 pm, Josh Hoyer & Shadow Boxers 7:00 pm, Harper 8:30 pm, Victor Wainright & The Wild Roots 10 pm, August 23 – 8th ICBC Blues Challenge noon, Hard Road Blues Band 5:30 pm, Mary Jo Curry & Tombstone Bullet 7:00 pm, Brooke Thomas & The Blue Suns 8:30 pm, The Lee Boys & Sacred Steel 10 pm, August 24 – Candye Kane @ The Curve Inn 4:00 pm. Music starts at 2:30 pm with
Mary Jo Curry & Tombstone Bullet, Hurricane Ruth @ 6:00 pm

Questions regarding this press release can be directed to Michael
Rapier, President of ICBC, at at 217-899-9422, or contact Greg Langdon, Live Events Chair, at or by visiting

Utah Blues Society – Salt Lake City, UT

PRESS RELEASE – Utah Blues Society formed! – After a year in the works, as of May 15, 2014, the Utah Blues Society is an officially recognized, non-profit entity! UBS will now also pursue 501(c)(3) status. Inaugural officers are President Brian Kelm; VP Tony Holiday; Secretary Jordan Young; and Treasurer Tripp Hopkins. UBS is dedicated to expanding the reach of the Blues genre throughout Utah, promoting both local and national touring blues artists, building a network of Utah Blues artists, and providing
educational programs to further increase the Blues’ visibility in its community. FFI, see Its first major endeavor is July 12, 2014 when it will be the beneficiary of the 6th Annual RnB Rendezvous blues festival. See also or contact President Brian Kelm,

P.O. Box 721 Pekin, Illinois 61555     © 2014 Blues Blast Magazine 309 267-4425

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