Issue 8-29 July 17, 2014


Cover photos
by Marilyn Stringer © 2014


 In This Issue

Tee Watts has our feature interview with The Holmes Brothers. Marilyn Stringer has photos from Blues From The Top Festival

We have 10 reviews for you including reviews of music by Steve Dawson, Joel Johnson, Alex Jenkins & The Bombers, Sid Selvidge, Johnny Drummer, Deb Ryder, Mick Kolassa, Daunielle, The Juke Hounds and Christie Rossiter & 112 North Duck .

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 has been a very busy week for us. We just launched the voting in the 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards and are hard at work making plans for one hell of an awards show on October 23rd.

We are grateful for the huge response and support. As I am typing this now on Wednesday night, less than 48 hours after the voting began, 3700 of you have already cast your ballots on our new
Blues Blast Music Awards website
and more than 7,400 of you have visited our listening site to hear the music of the nominees.

If you haven’t voted yet then now is the time so just
CLICK HERE. If you want to listen to the music of these
great artists before you vote, CLICK HERE.

Blues Blast Music Awards show information on artists attending, tickets, hotel and travel information will be available next week on the new website. So keep checking back as we announce more details.

So far Tweed Funk, Adrianna Marie and Her Groovecutters, Back Pack Jones, Annie Mack Band, RB Stone, Bernie Pearl, Lisa Biales, Mark T Small, Lisa Mann, Bobby Rush, Toronzo Cannon, Frank Bey and Anthony Paule Band, Dave Riley And Bob Corritore, Brent Johnson and The Callup, Shaun Murphy, Steve Dawson, Rachelle Coba, Too Slim and the Taildraggers, Sean Chambers, Josh Hoyer and Trudy Lynn have all told us they are coming to the awards.
We expect many others will also decide to attend!

It is gonna be the biggest Blues party of the year! Don’t miss it.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


 Blues Want Ads

Do you really know your Blues and enjoy telling others about it?

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for a few good writers to volunteer to help us out. We need reviewers who know Blues and can write a minimum of one review or story each week. We will provide access to downloads or physical CDs, DVDs and books for review. The writer keeps the CD for doing the review. We get music submissions from all over the world and we publish music reviews each week so there is a steady flow or things that need reviewed.

We are also looking for folks to write stories for our website, blogging style, and other occasional story assignments. We will assign subjects and stories but also entertain your ideas too.

These are non-paid volunteer positions that need a persons who really loves
the Blues and wants to spread the Blues word!

If you are interested, please send an email to and tell us about your Blues background. Please be sure to include your phone number in the email.

Featured Blues Review – 1 of 10

Steve Dawson – Rattlesnake Cage

Black Hen Music

11 tracks / 41:31

Canada has produced scores of righteous musical acts over the years, and it certainly helps that artists can get help from their government through various agencies and that MAPL helps ensure that Canadian music is more widely accessible to the public. It is not a perfect system, but it certainly can help artists get a toehold in the local market, and use it as a springboard to further international success.

One product of this Canadian scene is Steve Dawson, a musician,
songwriter, producer, and owner of Black Hen records. During his relatively brief career he has won seven Juno Awards and has produced some very solid work as a sideman and a solo artist, plus he is doing the Lord’s work by helping other artists get their careers started. Steve recently moved to Nashville, which will surely help get his music more attention here in the states.

Rattlesnake Cage is Dawson’s sixth solo release (if I counted right), and this one is unique in that it is an all-acoustic
instrumental disc. All 11 songs were written by Steve, and he handles all of the guitar chores, including 6 and 12-string
acoustics and a National Tricone. That is all — no vocals, no overdubs, no effects, and no backing musicians. He used a Neumann M49 microphone that had been hanging in a Detroit church for 50 years to record this album. This is the holy grail of tube microphones, and they are known for having a lovely top end and lots of weight in the lows. He made the most of this hallowed mic, and it captured the essence of his performance perfectly that it sounds like he is playing in your living room.

Right from the first track, “Blind Thomas at the Crime Scene” it is apparent that this album is special. This tune is almost like a country song with a blues melody laid over the top of it. It is easy to forget that there is only one musician here and that there are no overdubs to enhance his super-clean finger picking. He keeps dead perfect time despite the intricacy of what he is doing, and he leaves no doubt that he has the skills to pull off this one-man show.

It is natural to compare Dawson to modern day guitar virtuosos such as Leo Kottke, John Fahey and Gary Davis, which is a huge compliment, but Steve has a style of his own. After one serious listen of this album it is easy to come back later and recognize his playing because this unique amalgamation of blues, jazz, country, and folk is his alone. A neat example of this is “The Medicine Show Comes to Avalon,” a light-hearted ragtime piece that sounds deceptively simple, but his
thoughtful writing and exemplary performance skills make it sound less complicated than it really is.

Steve keeps things interesting throughout, and each subsequent song shows that he is not a one trick pony. The title track has a greater dynamic range than the earlier songs as he alternates digging hard into the strings with some slick slide stylings. From there he slows into the ballad-like “Lighthouse Avenue” which is simultaneously gritty and melodic. Then there is “J.R. Lockley’s Dilemna” which is the most bluesy of the bunch, complete with luscious slide steel
guitar. Each song is like a new chapter in a book that just cannot be set down.

An all-acoustic guitar album could get tedious, but Dawson prevented this by changing things up with each track and the final song of the set, “The Altar at Center Raven,” arrives too quickly. This 12-string romp is fun and its uptempo melody will leave you with a smile on your face.

It should be mentioned that Steve did a nice job of mixing and mastering all of the tracks so that the level is consistent and the sound is as clear as a bell throughout. His hard work in the studio and post-production set the stage so that there was nothing to distract from his guitars and his talented hands.

Rattlesnake Cage is a breathtaking album of original roots and blues music from Steve Dawson, and it is a must-have for lovers of the acoustic guitar. Steve is touring around Canada for the rest of the year, and unfortunately there are no plans for him to travel south of the border (so far). Hopefully he can use the momentum from this CD to gain new fans from the United States, and we will get to see him perform here soon!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This album is nominated in the 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards in the Acoustic Blues Album category!

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

Featured Blues Interview – The Holmes Brothers

The Holmes Bros in Motion and Live

Sherman Holmes and the Holmes Bros are motoring from Virginia to Boston for a gig and he kindly takes The Blues Blast call. They are riding power trio three deep.
Sherman Holmes, Wendell Holmes, Popsy Dixon, plus one, DJ (Daniel Hurd), the roadie who might double as a body guard if pressed.

Sherman’s infectious baritone voice is quick to inflect a self described sinister laugh that reminds one of the 50’s jive talkin’ hip comic Lord Buckley. He uses it like euphoric oral punctuation at which the listener is totally disarmed.

Born in a heavy laden burg that was then called Christchurch, Virginia, Wendell and Sherman absorbed through their supportive parents much of the traditional Gospel canon as well as Blues and Country music.

Even as children the brothers Holmes focused on performing while at play as Sherman relates. “We would pretend to play guitars and sing songs. Sometimes we would do it in the yard at night saying’ ‘we going to play nightclub tonight,’ he says slipping into the vernacular of perhaps a seven year old. “Some folks played cowboys and Indians. We played nightclub. That was our own unique game.”

As they came up in Christchurch of course they sang in church but as teenagers played Blues in their cousin Herman Waits Juke Joint. They were fond of saying they “rocked them on Saturday night and saved them in Church on Sunday. The building where the Juke Joint operated still stands and is now used as a storage shed. Cousin Herman passed many years ago.

In 1959 after a couple of years at VirginiaStateUniversity, Sherman Holmes secured a gig in New York with Jimmy Jones, co-author of the hit “Handyman”, (later covered by Del Shannon and James Taylor). Upon graduation from high school, brother Wendell was picked up by Sherman and taken straight to New York where he too joined Jimmy Jones. By 1962, short money led the brothers to form The Sevilles. They interned as house band for about a year at Gibson’s in Great Neck, N.Y. and honed R&B skills backing the likes of Jerry Butler & The Impressions, Shep & The Limelites, Boogie King John Lee Hooker and many others.

Wendell worked with “Wild” Jimmy Spruill, a semi-obscure forerunner of Hendrix, whose rock &
roll guitar solo’s can be heard on Wilbert Harrison’s “Kansas City”, Bobby Lewis’s “Tossin’ & Turnin’” and King Curtis’s “Soul Twist”, to name a few. Wendell Holmes and Jimmy Spruill became very close.

Wendell also worked and toured with Inez & Charlie Fox for three years, touring in the U.S. and abroad. He met the future third Holmes Brother Popsy Dixon doing a ten year stint in The Tommy Knight Trio.

When Tommy Knight left New York for Florida, he and Popsy caught up with Brother Sherman who, by then was working with harmonica ace Bill Dicey who fronted the house band at Dan Lynch’s. That 1979 meeting was the genesis of the Holmes Brothers Band as we know it today.

Dan Lynch’s was kind of a fellowship hall for the sparse New York Blues community. The Holmes Brothers made secure connections there, including their record deal with Rounder Records. They met a young Joan Osborne there and she has since produced two of their albums.

“We met her when she was a teenager. We’ve known her for a long time. She produced Speaking In Tongues and Feed My Soul on our current label Alligator.”

Shifting the subject back to their association with Rounder Records, Sherman reflects on a couple
of the band’s former label mates that were on Deep Blue: The Rounder 25th Anniversary Blues Anthology, (a 1995 release that Sherman hasn’t seen or heard yet)

Champion Jack Dupree- “I knew Champion Jack Dupree. He was a bad man! Give Me The Flowers While I’m Living. That’s when you need’em!”

Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown-“I knew him well. We were good friends. He wanted to be classified as a
Jazz musician. I think he thought Blues was a derogatory term. He was kind of cantankerous. A good friend of ours though. He used to do crochet on the road. My daddy did too. Yeah, they made some nice stuff!”

According to Sherman, the recent economy woes have cut back the number of live dates the group
is able to perform per year. At one time the trio did well over 200 dates a year. That number has diminished in part over the last two years. They are hoping that the number of gigs will yet rebound to their former levels, though they remain hugely popular in Europe. “Europe is our stomping grounds,” declares Sherman. In a satirical jab at being under-appreciated at home he continues, “My brother Wendell says we are in the music protection program!”

Gospel, Blues, R & B and Country music are the Brothers forte. When asked if they have ever met resistance to their mixing Gospel with secular music Sherman responds, “Once in Sacramento, California when we were on tour with some other people. We were playing Gospel and Blues another group was playing Blues and another group something else. When they heard we were coming to town, somebody rented a hall right across the street from our venue and had a big Gospel show. Tried to kill our gig. But it didn’t affect us too much ‘cuz, you know, we had our own clientele. Even Jesus Christ went into the dens of inequity.”

Sherman Holmes likes to read a lot. Everything, including non fiction, science fiction, novels. Authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald are no stranger to him.

The Brothers do local benefits for their church, the fire department, and hurricane and tornado victims, probably about once a year so as not to over-expose themselves. They Brothers are mentoring an 11 year songwriter named Whitney Nelson who is ‘something else.’ “We are currently working on getting her songs copyrighted songs currently. She’s got the fire.”

When asked about an artist he admires, Sherman without hesitation says the late Eva Cassidy. “She opened for us a couple of times. She died young and was such a nice person. Had sooo much talent. Many artists get in trouble with the pressures of fame and just can’t take it. Whitney Houston and Donny Hathaway come to mind.”

Speaking on his brother Wendell’s cancer free status since being diagnosed in 2008,Sherman says, “Wendell is doing pretty good. He’s my favorite man. And Brother Popsy is my other favorite man.”

As the Holmes Brothers swing through the left coast in late May and early June 2014, their latest
release Brotherhood, is riding high on the Roots Music Report.

Blues Blast was able to get backstage before the June 5 show in San Francisco at the Jewish Community Center. We settled in with 4 or 5 harmonious conversations going on at once. There are three women in the large room, singer Emma Jean Foster, Madlyn, a childhood friend of the Holmes Brothers and behind the partitioned curtain, Joan Osborne. After greetings and introductions we continue our chat with Sherman who reflects on how quickly life goes by. “Life goes by so fast. You don’t realize just how fast. One day you’re 20, then you’re 40, 60 and 80, in another 20 years you’re looking at 100, if you get that far.”

When the subject changes to songwriting, Sherman revealed that both he and brother Wendell are
old school and use piano and cassette tape to craft songs.

We turn to Popsy. He is reflecting on how it still comes together after 46 years of the Holmes Brothers being a musical force. “We might fuss every now and again but three minutes later it’s like it never happened.”

I ask Popsy about his gear. “Well tonight, I’m playing Yamaha. My practice set at home is a Slingerland model which they don’t make any more.” (At this point the stage assistant informs us that it’s 10 minutes to show time.) I ask Popsy his opinion of Gretsch drums and he informs me that they are great for Jazz drummers but the 18 inch bass drum is too small for his taste. “When you put the peddle on it, it’s never in the middle, it’s always up top. You don’t get the same effect as you do on a 22 inch. I love a 22, a regular 22 or a power 22. I really love that power 22. At home, I have a 5 piece Slingerland set that they don’t make anymore. It still looks brand new. They stay in their cases until I need ’em for a gig or we have a rehearsal at my house.”

Occasionally Joan Osborne parts the shroud and ventures forth to attend to perhaps some mundane business matter only to return behind the curtain where she can be heard meditatively chanting and just before show time practicing vocal scales. I was able to ask her how she came to produce two of the Holmes Brothers albums.

“They were like my heroes of me being on the Blues scene and me doing clubs. Sherman used to run a jam session at the Dan Lynch and I used to go there every Sunday afternoon and be part of that. We just really became friends. I had so much respect for them and they were always generous to me. We eventually did one track together in the studio that worked really and they ended up approaching me about producing an album for them. I hadn’t done any producing up to that point but felt that I knew them so well—knew where their strengths were and had heard them do things that their records hadn’t captured yet. So I set my sights on those elements. We have such a comfortable way of communicating together. I love these guys. They’re not only amazing artists but they’re really good people as well. I mean, I learn something about how to be a good person every time I’m around them. So the Speaking In Tongues record turned out really well. I brought in a couple of extra people to support what we were doing. It’s really one of the favorite things I’ve ever done in my career. Feed My Soul is another great record that I produced that featured great writing from them.

We got a chance to holler at Wendell Holmes about his association with semi-obscure guitarist Wild Jimmy Spruill.

“Oh my God, he was an innovator, definitely ahead of his time. He did the guitar solos on “Kansas City” by Wilbert Harrison, “Soul Twist” by King Curtis and “Tossin’ and Turnin’” by Bobby Lewis. In addition to playing, he made guitars and modified Standell amps. When he played he’d use a long cord (they didn’t have cordless in those days) and go all out into the audience playing. Sometimes he would leave the building completely. In 1960, I was living in NYC, just me and my little guitar. Jimmy Spruill was the hottest thing entertaining. He was a phenom. He was a great guy. I idolized him. The last time I heard of him working was with Bobby Robinson who took Jimmy Spruill and Sterling Harrison to Amsterdam.”

Continuing on a different subject Wendell injects, “Do you know this woman here?”. He turns to Emma Jean Foster, whom he is sitting next to.
“She’s a sangin’ woman.”.

“Is she gonna take the mic tonight?”, I ask.

“I don’t know. She might steal the show.” (Mock surprise from Emma Jean).

At this point the stage manager summons the band from their sanctum. It’s showtime.

The house is packed. The opening song is “Amazing Grace”, a number they usually close with. They morph it into a duet with Wendell and Emma Jean Foster, highlighted by a great vocal solo by Emma Jean. Wendell solemnly promises to rock later!

They proceed to work up on it one song at a time. Their version of “It Hurts Me Too” was drenched in the heart wrenching paradox of blue unrequited love. It featured fine vocal and guitar work by Wendell.

The band went up-tempo on their second selection with Popsy handling the vocals as well as the Gospel bounce beat. It was reminiscent of how brothers Wendell and Sherman have described how much in awe they were of Popsy when they discovered he could play and sing at the same time.

Joan Osborne comes out next with a soulfully poised version of Sam Cooke’s “That’s Where It’s At”. The song features beautiful, angelic, three part background harmony by the brothers. In her in between song patter she explains her genesis with the band. She notes that they are coming off of 4 dates in Seattle together and don’t get to work together that often. They then segue into the Jim Weatherly penned, “Midnight Train” To Georgia, not to far removed from the Gladys Knight version. When they reach the climax, the song suddenly becomes an audience clap along that becomes quite funky as Popsy and Sherman drive it with drum and bass.

Next up is “My Word Is My Bond” from the new release Brotherhood. It’s a driving ditty written and sung by Wendell. The band and crowd are starting to rock now. Joan Osborne adds a healthy dose of tambourine

Wendell gives the crowd a bit of comedic patter with the line, “Statistics show that one can expect a 99.5 year life span by buying the Brotherhood CD. He then turns serious as he relates how the devil tried to kill him with cancer. Cancer-free for some years now, he somberly reveals, “Few came to visit me besides my wife, Sherman, Popsy and Joan Osborne.

He then dedicates “Feed My Soul” to his wife. The Holmes Brothers then temporarily leave the stage to Joan Osborne and her keyboardist/guitarist Keith Cotton. Amazingly, she starts her mini-set with a beat contained on her phone plugged into the sound system. The selections are from her new album Love & Hate which she describes as all about romantic relationships; “Sometimes traditional seduction, sometimes not.” The titles she chose to perform were “Mongrels” and “Raga” from her new album and an Ike Turner cover, “Game of Love”.

The Holmes Brothers then returned to the stage. They backed Osborne on an updated arrangement of her hit, “What If God Were One Of Us” which was emphatically received by the crowd.

At this point Wendell unstraps his guitar and sits down at the grand piano and plays and sings his “Stayed At The Party Too Long” and fulfills his opening promise to rock later. It was intended at the finale and everyone leaves the stage to thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

When the Holmes Brothers and Joan Osborne take the stage for their encore, Joan gives a closing gratitude speech and they close with, “May God Be With You Until We Meet Again”. As the crowd files out of the room, everyone single soul is smiling. When Blues Blast leaves the building over an hour later, the Holmes Brothers and Joan Osborne are still receiving well wishers and fans, still signing autographs.

Visit The Holmes Brothers website at

Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2014

Interviewer Tee Watts is music director at KPFZ 88.1 fm in Lakeport, CA and road manager for Sugar Pie DeSanto.


Featured Blues Review – 2 of 10

Joel Johnson – Blues Joose Volume II

11 songs – 55 minutes

Self-produced CD

The blues community has been blessed in the past decade or so with the emergence of major talents
from northern frontiers, ranging from the Canadian wilderness to Estonia. They’re provided their own version of Northern Lights as they’ve entertained us with their varying interpretations of the music we love.

Hailing from Six Nations Ontario, Joel Johnson deserves an important place in that stratosphere with Blues Joose Volume II, the follow-up to his dazzling all-original, 2010 release, Blues Joose Vol. 1, which earned honors for album, song and artist of the year in the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. His group also represented the Grand River Blues Society in the 2013 International Blues Challenge, appearing twice onstage at B.B. King’s. This new work, which powerfully blends blues, swing, boogie and rock and was produced through a grant from the Ontario Arts Council, proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the first disc was no fluke.

Johnson wrote all the material on Vol. 1 and contributes nine tunes for the follow-up, leaving room for two covers that offer new views on classics from Jimi Hendrix and Robert Johnson. He handles lead and rythym guitars as well as vocals, backed by Mike Fitzgerald (drums), Steve Pelletier (bass), Wayne Dagenais (keyboards), Dwayne Laforme (guitar), Troy Dowdling (trumpet) and Ritch Thoman (saxophone).

“Out Of My Mind” grabs your attention from the first note as Johnson’s guitar shuffles out of the gate double-time, quickly joined by his voice. One chorus gives way to a swinging piano solo, before Joel starts relating how a woman’s cold shoulder gives him the chills and how he works long and hard only to see the gal go out and have her thrills. The fretwork is in-your-face straight-ahead slide and single-note picking certain to appeal to a wide audience. “Raise Your Wind” follows with rock overtones, set off by a steady-driving line from the bottom, as the singer bids adieu to a lover who’s finally gone too far. His words like his guitar licks, sting from beginning to end.

The band delivers a Memphis feel with “I’ll Be Just Fine,” in which Johnson describes his blues hurting him down to his spine, but reassures the listener that he’ll be okay. He proved it with another slashing guitar solo, aided by the horns. A modern take on Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” is up next before the ultra-modern blues, “Real Mispleaser,” in which the woman comes with a price: “You’ll have to spend to keep her/That’s all!” The woman may be trouble, but the song’s a keeper.

The rocker “Make It Happen” kicks off with a simple, hard-edged line from the strings as Johnson
relates living on adrenalin to make his dreams come true before a sensitive cover of Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” faithfully delivered. “Insanity” points the disc in another direction. An uptempo drum line carries Johnson forward as he launches into a clean, rapid-fire three-minute instrumental. The band swings again for “Rhumba Song,” a syncopated rouser dealing with the joy the singer receives watching his lady dance to the aforementioned rhythm. “Turn It Up” follows in the mode of “Boogie Woogie Flu” before the set ends with Johnson’s brief tribute to a blues musician who left us at the very top of his game. It’s a grinding, West Side Chicago-style instrument number entitled “Luther Allison.”

This is strong album that delivers on all fronts. If you like power blues, you’ll love this one. I sure did.!

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.

Featured Live Blues Review – Blues From The Top

The 12th Annual Blues From The Top Festival in Winter Park, CO, could not have been better on any level. The weather was gorgeous and the lineup was full of International performers, along with the Youth Showcases on The Future of Blues Stage. John Catt, the festival organizer, has a huge commitment throughout the year to bringing musical instruments to both children in schools, as well as kids who have medical issues ranging from cancer, autism, depression, or other battles children face. Music Heals and that is what Blue Star Connection, the festival’s beneficiary, is about. This year, Blue Star Connection won a KBA “Special Committee Award” for their work with bringing music to these children. Congratulations to such a deserving program.

As part of the festival, in between the sets on the main stage, The Future of the Blues Stage features the blues kids in all kinds of
groupings, who play the blues and remind us that every blues performer started somewhere with the encouragement and support of their community. The blues kids, as this festival, are an integral part of the entire festival and it is great to see the amazing talent coming up.

The festival takes place at Winter Park, CO, and John wants all the performers arriving to be able to perform as much as possible and schedules the bands at Smokin’ Moe’s on Friday and Saturday night, along with a Youth Showcase at The Foundry. Shown
below are Austin Young & Michaela Rae Knox, and Sadie Johnson & Sadie Mae Moss.


Over at Smokin Moe’s, The Boogie Boys, from Poland, gave everyone a good dose of their high energy set. Most of the audience had never seen this band before and after their performance on the small stage, it was clear their performance at the festival, with a full size stage, was going to be even more raucous!!


The next set was Kate Moss and the Magic Sam Tribute. The band included Steve Marriner (Monkey Junk), Jimmy Carpenter and Deanna Bogart (weekend sax players who just floated from band to band – great concept!), Andy Irvine & Scotty Rivera (Austin Young Band) and a quick sit-in from Bart (Boogie Boys).

Saturday morning, at 10 o’clock sharp, The Sad Sam Jam Band opened the festival. They are by no means “Sad” but are actually sisters – Sadie (guitar) and Samantha (bass) Johnson – hence Sad Sam. They are from Indiana and both accomplished musicians. With the addition of Krista Hess (guitar) and Matt McCarthy (drums) they opened the festival with a bang and a youthful exuberance that was hard to match. The sisters were constantly playing at the Youth stage throughout the weekend and seem to know how to bring out the best in everyone, especially the kids who were debuting at that stage. Keep your eyes and ears out for this band!!! And yes, they can play the blues!!!

Next up was the Ori Naftaly Band. Ori, and singer Eleanor Tsaig, are both from Israel, met when they were 11, and formed the band in 2012. With Yam Regev on drums and Daniel McKee on bass, it is easy to understand why they are getting so much attention wherever they go. Jimmy Carpenter joined this set for a few songs.

Austin Young, along with his friend Michaela Rae Knox (guitar), are regulars at this festival and each year it is really great to see how much they have expanded from the previous year. This last year, Austin was heavily influenced by Derek Trucks, and that influence has been blended into his repertoire and the result is mind boggling. He and Michaela played Truck’s song Midnight in Harlem with
haunting perfection. His band includes Andy Irvine (bass), Tamara Conrad (vocals), John Stilwagen (kb), and Scotty Rivera (drums).

Poland’s Boogie Boys were back with a vengeance!! Bart (Vartek) Slopinski is the ringleader, playing two keyboards and keeping the band amped up with all types of double keyboard boogie-woogie piano playing and antics. His brother Simon Slopinski is the drummer, Januss Brzezinski gives the standup bass a workout, and Michal Choleninski is the other piano player on the opposite of the stage. When asked where their guitar player was, Bart replied “We don’t need a guitar player!!” Well, their show is so fast, the music so alive and authentic, and the athleticism they all display pretty much would run over a guitar. This is a band that I
would see over and over again for both the great music and infectious fun.


From England, we next had Joanne Shaw Taylor’s hard driving blues. Third time’s a charm for Joanne for this festival – the first year Illness kept her home, last year the airlines were giving her fits, but his year she made it without a problem and she blew the crowd away. Her band included Joe Veloz (bass) and Tony Dicello (drums).

I guess Detroit isn’t international but we love Larry McCray and his smooth, soulful blues is always a welcome addition to any lineup. Larry just plays the blues!! Just how we like it!! His band includes his brother Steve McCray (drums), Stephen Boone (kb), and playful Kerry Clark (bass).

From Serbia, to Holland, and finally settling recently in Memphis, Ana Popovic closed out Saturday’s festival with her style of blues that is in high demand these days. What a great way to end the festival!! Her band included long time drummer from France, Stéphane Avellaneda, Barry Campbell (bass), Carlton Leake (kb), with Deanna Bogart adding some saxophone to the set.


Smokin’ Moe’s hosted the Cat 5 Amp Guitar Jam with Danielle Schnebelen, Ana, Larry, Kate Moss, Kara Grainger, Reese Wynans, Jimmy Carpenter, Jimmy Hall, Tony Diteodoro, Andy Irvine, and more. Winter Park is a very small area and the
events at Smokin Moe’s are an integral part of the festival’s lineups.

Gospel Sunday started with Tyree Morris & Hearts of Worship, a Denver based group of 15 performers, who got the crowd standing and started up what promised to be another great day of music in the Colorado Mountains.

Hailing from Tulsa, OK, the Dustin Pittsley Band took the stage next. His soulful style of singing and playing is pretty special and a must see if he is ever in your area. His band includes Donny Wood (bass), Chris Kyle (kb), and David Teegarden Jr (drums).

Crossing the border to the north, Ottawa, Canada is the home town for Monkey Junk. I can’t describe their music, and neither can they, except it is blues at its best!! Steve Marriner (vocals, guitar, and harmonica) also participated in the Smokin Moe’s events each night and pretty much lead the evenings with his massive talent. Along with Tony D (Diteodoro – very Italian), an extraordinary guitar player, and Matt Sobb, (drums), they have created a unique sound, and without a bass!

Australian born, and recently relocating to L.A., Kara Grainger has played the blues since she was teenager all over Australia, with her brother, in their extremely popular band Papa Lips. This is her second year at BFTT and the crowd loves electric and slide guitar and original songs. Her band includes Spencer Wright (Bass), Scott Healey (KB), and Christopher Allis (drums).

California based Tommy Castro and Painkillers brought the blues party to the stage and the crowd was immediately on their feet and dancing. Always great to see Tommy and his band: Randy McDonald (bass), James Pace (B3), and David Tucker (drums).

Closing out the festival as only John Catt can imagine, his creation for Blues Star Connection – The Healers – was the final act of the night. Put together to raise awareness and money on behalf of Blue Star Connection, they became a big hit and have continued to perform and record. The band includes Jimmy Hall, Kate Moss, Samantha Fish, Danielle Schnebelen, Kris Schnebelen and some extra help from Jimmy Carpenter and Tommy Castro for the finale.


Thus ended another great festival from Grand County, Colorado. Blues From The Top should be on the top of everyone’s list for June each year. The scenery, the festival layout, the laid back atmosphere, and the stellar lineups cannot be beat anywhere. Thanks to John Catt and all the sponsors and volunteers for another great festival. For more information go to

Photos and commentary by Marilyn Stringer © 2014.

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of

Alex Jenkins and the Bombers – Voodoo You


CD: 10 songs; 53:40 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock

“Got the blues so bad; I know what I’ll do. Got an empty whiskey bottle; I’ve got a mojo too, a black cat bone and a piece of your hair. Mix it all  together – girl, you better beware. I’m gonna ‘Voodoo You!’” Such is the occult warning of Danville, IL’s Alex Jenkins and the Bombers, on their spicy second album. Their ‘spell’ mostly consists of great guitar, but their songwriting skills aren’t bad either. According to their website, “If you had to label this band, the best way to describe their music is that it has elements of R&B, blues, jazz, rockabilly, roots and Americana with having an uptown, Westside Chicago sound”. That’s quite a mouthful, possibly making purists choke. However, there are enough traditional tracks on this CD to satisfy their hunger (see below). All three “Bombers” perform vocals, with Alex on guitar, his brother Tim Jenkins on drums, and Mike Crisp on bass.
Every one of the numbers they present is original, even though one of the titles (“I Wanna Big Legged Woman”) might fool listeners into thinking it’s a cover. The following three tunes will please genre die-hards the most:

Track 02: “My Babe Hates All the Things I Do” – People change, as this Chicago stomp proves, and
sometimes not for the better: “She told me back when we first met, ‘Hey, baby, don’t you change a thing.’ Times got bad, and I got sad ever since she got that ring.” Mostly, what our narrator’s lover abhors are the various aspects of his playing the blues – “the bars” and “a rowdy crowd.” This is a great song for a divorce, breakup, or engagement’s end.

Track 04: “Don’t You Think I Earned the Right” – Most, if not all, musicians dream of ‘living the dream’ and playing professionally sans a day job. Nevertheless, life on the road is no picnic: “Forty years of motels and one-night stands, playing ’til the blood was dripping from my hands. Hurting from my head to the bottom of my shoes – don’t you think I’ve earned the right to play the blues?” Mike Crisp’s irresistible bassline is the highlight of this surefire blues-rock hit.

Track 06: “I Wanna Big Legged Woman” – The trope in acoustic number six is as familiar as selling
one’s soul to the Devil or being hurt by a cheating significant other. With that said, there’s a good reason why clichés like these have stuck around for so long: “I like a big-legged woman that wear her heels up high (you know, wearing them spiked-heeled shoes.) I like a big-legged woman that wear hear heels up high (wearing them black pantyhose with the LINES up the back)…” Lust is a universal feeling, and one can’t get more ‘bluesy’ than singing about it.

Relax and let Alex Jenkins and the Bombers “Voodoo You”!

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

Sid Selvidge – The Cold Of The Morning

Omnivore Recordings

18 songs – 50 minutes

The history of popular music is littered with “lost” recordings of great artists. When they do
resurface, sometimes they add further lustre to an artist’s already-enviable reputation (such as the alternative takes on Robert Johnson’s The Complete Recordings, or the live gem that is Breakin’ It Up, Breakin’ It Down by Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter and James Cotton); and sometimes they remind us that, at least some of the
time, musical geniuses are mortal too (viz, much of what has been released in Jimi Hendrix’s name since his death).

Folk-blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Sid Selvidge died at the age of 69 in 2013, having had a long career in music, as a musician, as the founder of Peabody Records – which released albums by Alex Chilton and Cybill Shepherd – and as a long-time executive producer of the syndicated blues radio show, Beale Street Caravan.

Omnivore Records has now re-released Selvidge’s 1975 The Cold Of The Morning, a record that
almost never saw the light of day when Peabody Records’ benefactor decided at the last minute not to put it out. Selvidge picked up the rights, arranged for the manufacture of the record and sleeves and
then distributed the discs himself. Having been unavailable for more than two decades, the re-release has been expanded to include six previously un-issued songs from the original sessions.

Selvidge and producer Jim Dickinson recorded the album live in the studio at Ardent Studios in
Memphis. The vast majority of the songs feature Selvidge accompanying himself on intricately finger-picked acoustic guitar, with occasional support from Dickinson on piano, and from Mudboy and
the Neutrons (Selvidge, Dickinson, Lee Baker and Jim Crosthwait) on “I Get The Blues When It Rains” and “Wished I Had A Dime”. He was a talented acoustic guitarist, but his voice was transcendent,
dripping with deep, earth-worn emotion.

Heavily influenced by Furry Lewis, Selvidge genuinely learned guitar at the feet of the master, taking musical and life lessons from Lewis in the 1960s, and learning his mentor’s approach to bottleneck guitar, his tunings and his songbook. On The Cold Of The Morning, Selvidge turns in deeply moving versions of Lewis’ “Judge Boushe” and “East St Louis Blues”. Other “pure” blues songs include the traditional field holler of “Boll Weevil” (sung a capella), the vaudeville blues of “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”, and a relatively faithful cover of Charley Jordan’s “Keep It Clean”. His version of Fred Neil’s “I’ve Got A
Secret (Didn’t We Shake Sugaree)” transcends both Neil’s version and the Elizabeth Cotten song on which it was based, imbuing it with a depth of emotion and wistful longing that is haunting.

Although not the most prolific of writers, the album does feature four Selvidge originals. His real skill however was in selecting songs written by others that he could mould into something totally his own. Selvidge had a rare knack for fully inhabiting his songs, even traditional classics like “Lazrus”, and his rendition of “Danny Boy” is almost painfully moving. Indeed, a melancholy air permeates the entire affair, even the ostensibly upbeat and optimistic songs like “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”.

Sid Selvidge stood with one foot in country blues and one foot in folk, and that is a pretty accurate reflection of the music here. There is a vast amount to enjoy on this subtle and impressive album. If you like the folk-blues of Chris Smither or Jeffrey Foucault, you will really enjoy The Cold Of The Morning.

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 10

Johnny Drummer – Bad Attitude

Earwig 2013

13 tracks; 64 minutes

Thessex Johns chose an interesting stage name in Johnny Drummer as drums is one of the
instruments he does not play! However, with some 50 years in the business he does lead a big band, writes all the material, sings, plays harp and organ – not a bad list of accomplishments. This is
Johnny’s fourth Earwig CD and it features a fine array of Chicago sidemen: Anthony Palmer on lead guitar, Sir Walter Scott on rhythm guitar, Kenny Hampton on bass, Jeremiah Thomas and Terrence Williams on drums, Ronnie Hicks on keys, Rodney ‘Hot Rod’ Brown on sax and Kenny Anderson on trumpet.

The overall sound is funky, urban blues with lyrics which could cause offence if the listener was particularly sensitive. However, most blues fans are quite at home with tales of infidelity, lust and sexual boasting, so will feel right at home here! An example of each of the above will give a flavour of the material. “Star 69” is the dialling code to retrieve the previously dialled phone number. Here Johnny decides to use the code having overheard his lady on the phone, only to discover that she is planning to cheat on him! Johnny reminds her to clear the line in future as the horns push the melody along and Anthony takes a fine solo. Opening track “Is It Love Or Is It Lust?” gives us a clear message about Johnny’s thinking about this lady – he simply cannot decide whether he’s in love or just overtaken by desire. The music here is funky, the horns accentuating the core riff and ‘Hotrod’ taking a short but effective solo on tenor. When it comes to sexual boasting “One Size Fit All” is classic stuff: short or
tall, petite or full figure, Johnny has “what you need”.

Elsewhere Johnny shows a good sense of humour on the comic “Bit Her In The Butt” in which an
unfortunate young lady struggles to get past a dog to enter a store, with the inevitable consequence of the song title! Taking a ‘standard’ blues analogy, “Another Rooster Is Pecking My Hen” also demonstrates some bawdy humour and the title track introduces us to a girl who sleeps “with a straight razor under your pillow”. Johnny is also fiercely protective of the things he holds most dear, as he explains in “My Woman, My Money, My Whiskey”. He can also be more serious though, as on “Make You Happy”, a ballad with some hints of reggae in the rhythm guitar work, in which he states “I’m gonna be good to you, give you the best time you’ve ever had”. In the slow blues “Ain’t No Secret In A Small Town” Johnny’s words warn of the wagging tongues if you put a foot off the right path and in “Don’t Call Me Trash” (possibly the standout track on the album) he sings of the people who don’t have a lot of money or fall into financial problems: “I may not have cash to stash, because I live in a trailer, don’t call me trash”.

With the horns doing a superb job on most of the tracks here this is a solid CD, well recorded and
produced, which gives us a flavour of what Johnny’s regular shows in Chicago must be like – an entertaining evening of blues with a sense of humor.

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 10

Deb Ryder – Might Just Get Lucky

Self Release

Having been raised in Chicago and moving to Los Angeles at an early age with her family gave her an introduction to blues music. Bob “The Bear” Hite, lead singer of Canned Heat, was very influential in her blues education as he lived next door to the family. It also didn’t hurt that her step father owned the famous seventies rock and roll club, The Topanga Corral. This is were she opened for many blues legends such as Big Joe Turner, Charlie Musselwhite, Etta James,Taj Mahal and a long list of blues giants. Etta James also served as her mentor when she played the club. The years of hanging around these talented folks is reflected in the quality of her songwriting and vocal chops. Deb possesses a powerhouse voice and the capability of writing this record of high quality, original songs that hold up to repeated listening. Her beefy voice handles the blues, R&B, Zydeco, gospel or any combination with ease. Enlisting a solid string of musicians, including two “A-list” guitar players also helps.

Her take charge vocal backed by blues guitar ace Kirk Fletcher propels “reading off” of her man in no uncertain terms in “Get A Grip”…”Get a grip, get real or get gone”. British country guitar master Albert Lee lends his skills to “Blue Collar Blues”. “Really Gone” is another solid blues were Deb’s writing absorbs the best qualities of blues chestnuts without mimicking. She sure knows her way around a slow burning ballad as her romantic reading of the title song shows. The piano playing of Greg Hilfman adds to the sultry atmosphere.

The band digs in with a strong funk groove featuring sizzling guitar licks from Kirk Fletcher who makes it look easy. They achieve an authentic Zydeco feel to “Ce Soir Ce Soir”, which translates to “Tonight Tonight”. Albert Lee ignites some guitar sparks on this one. “The Angels Cried” is a heart felt eulogy to a man who is lost to drink. Dave Dills leads the boogie assault with his scorching guitar on “Love Stealin Liar”, going “toe-to-toe” with Deb’s take-charge vocal. An acoustic gospel stomp closes things out as James Mcvay delivers Delta-style Dobro in “These Hands”.

Anyone who is able to write, sing and produce at such a quality and consistent level is definitely the real article. She surrounds her powerful voice with first call instrumentalists. Her vocal ability puts her among those great female blues singers that preceded her.
There is no reason why she shouldn’t ascend to the higher ranks of the blues elite.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 10

Mick Kolassa – Michissippi Mick

Swing Suit Records 2014

12 tracks; 49 minutes

Mick Kolassa is a veteran blues fan and a board member of the Blues Foundation, based in
Memphis. He is therefore well placed to assemble a fine array of current Beale Street blues players which includes a core band of Jeff Jensen on guitar (just nominated for the 2014 Blues Blast
Awards), Bill Ruffino on bass, Doug McMinn on drums and Chris Stephenson on organ. Joining in the fun are Eric Hughes and Brandon Santini (another BB nominee) on harp, Victor Wainwright on piano, Reba Russell, Redd Velvet and Danny Banks on vocals, Dedrick Davis on trumpet and James Cunningham on percussion. Mick takes all lead
vocals and plays some acoustic guitar and also wrote most of the material here. The album was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis and produced by Jeff Jensen. All the gross sales of the CD will go to two worthy charities: the HART fund and the Generation Blues program.

The CD offers a good variety of mainly original music, just five covers, starting with a relaxed acoustic updating of WC Handy’s “Beale Street Blues” which namechecks Eric Hughes who plays harp on this one. We can immediately hear that Mick has a decent voice and the band is working well together. A radical recasting of The Box Tops’ hit “The Letter” takes the song to a completely different place, turning it into a slow-build soul piece in which Reba Russell’s vocals are a particular feature as she testifies to great effect on the outro. “Reefer Man” (Russell Robinson, Andy Razaf, Steve Roberts, Joe Hoover) was a hit for Cab Calloway and, as Mick tells us in the intro, is over 80 years old (“I’ve been doing it myself for over forty!”). It’s an informal take on the song with plenty of background vocal interventions and Victor Wainwright’s piano. Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen’s “Blues In The Night” brings the trumpet into the mix, alongside some downhome harp from Brandon Santini and a plucked solo from Jeff, another wonderfully relaxed performance. A final cover of Jimmie Rodgers’ “Mississippi River Blues” closes the album with another acoustic performance, including some of Jimmie’s trademark yodelling!

Otherwise it’s all Mick’s compositions starting in electric mode for Mick’s “Blues Are All Around You”, Jeff’s stinging guitar and Chris’ warm organ featuring strongly on an attractive mid-paced tune in which the blues are stalking poor Mick: “Walking down the street last night, blues came walking right up behind. Had to step inside a whiskey store, try to drink them off my mind”. “Burn That Bridge” puts Victor’s piano alongside Chris’ organ and Brandon’s harp plus Reba’s strong backing vocals – another excellent track which gets the feet tapping. “Land Of The Crossroads” is an acoustic tune with just Brandon’s harp set against acoustic guitars and a gentle rhythm section, Doug using brushes very effectively as Mick tells us of the efforts to keep the blues alive down in the Delta.

“Baby’s Got Another Lover” is a slow blues that clocks in at over seven minutes, just the core band here, giving plenty of opportunity for guitarist Jeff to stretch out. Mick’s wistful vocal works very well on this classic piece of sad blues. “Blowtorch Love” is an uptempo tune with Brandon’s tough harp again featured and Jeff putting in some nice flourishes beneath Mick’s vocal. Redd Velvet shares verses with Mick with a voice that recalls Tina Turner, a nice addition. The two final originals both demonstrate Mick’s sense of humour. The amusing “WPD” features some echoey guitar from Jeff on a riff that comes from the Stones’ handbook – the title is explained as meaning ‘White People Dance’, so we understand where Mick is coming from here! “Time Ain’t On My Side” again features both Brandon and Victor on a rolling blues in which Mick explains that he is not getting any younger (something with which many of us can empathise): “ I get up in the morning, I can’t bend down to tie my shoes; my mind says ‘let’s boogie’, my body just flat out refuse.”

This is a solid album of blues with several excellent songs and many outstanding performances, plus
it’s all in a good cause. There is therefore no reason for serious blues fans not to go out and buy this CD.

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 – 8 of 10

Daunielle – Daunielle

Catfood Records

10 tracks / 41:18

It is easy to forget that artists with amazing debut albums have one  a lot of work earlier in their careers to get to the point where  they can record their own material, and Daunielle Hill’s eponymous first CD is no exception. She has been working in the business since she was a youngster in Memphis, Tennessee, having grown up at Stax Records where her dad, William C. Brown III, was one of the legendary Mad Lads and later a recording engineer. But Daunielle (dawn-yell) was never in daddy’s shadow as she went on to become an in-demand backing singer, having appeared on countless albums (including King Solomon Burke’s latest), and toured with Huey Lewis
and the News for the past four years.

Daunielle was produced by multiple Grammy-winner Jim Gaines, and his experience shows here. A group of 11 seasoned musicians from the Catfood Records label were assembled to support Daunielle’s hearty vocals, and they perform ten tracks that consist of originals, songs by some of her artist friends from the label, and a couple of fun covers that will be crowd-pleasers. Throughout this set she takes the lead, and there is no doubt that she is the one in the driver’s seat.

This album delivers modern blues with a little soul and funk thrown into the mix, and things get off to a strong start with “Runaway Train.” This song was written by Johnny Rawls, label-mate James Armstrong and bassist Bob Trenchard,  and it lets Daunielle show emotion as she chastises a man who is taking the wrong path in life and who “don’t give a damn, it’s easy to tell.” This hard-hitting piece features a classy horn arrangement and some fine work on the organ by Dan Ferguson.

After worrying on “Early Grave” that a no good lover will be the end of her (likening it to musical legends who passed too soon), Daunielle treads dangerous ground by covering Etta James’ “Damn Your Eyes.” Fortunately she has the chops to pull off this awesome song from a legendary lady, and this ends up as one of the standout tracks on the album. She stays respectful of the original as she belts out the heartwrenching vocals of a woman that did not plan on falling in
love again. Will McFarlane’s guitar and Ferguson’s piano provide the appropriate counterpoints to the melody as Richy Puga lays down a steady beat on the drums. Etta would approve!

The other cover is a “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher” which is a lovely combination of the Jackie Wilson and Rita Coolidge versions. It is has a driving beat and features the amazing horn section of Mike Middleton on trumpet, Robert Claiborne on trombone, and saxophones by Andy Roman and Nick Flood. They are joined by
Tameka “Big Baby” Goodman on backing vocals, and the result is a feel-good moment that fits in well with the rest of the material on the album.

“I Got a Voice” is refreshingly honest in this age of cookie-cutter lyrics that seem to endlessly rehash the tired topics of angst, love gone wrong, and substance abuse problems. Daunielle wrote this with Sandy Carroll to celebrate her love and support for her adopted children who have endured serious medical issues. She asserts that she is “important, don’t ignore me,” and her tone in convincing! This pop tune dances on the edge of becoming a gospel song thanks to its
inspirational message and the lovely backing harmonies.

Another collaboration with Carroll is “Nobody Cared,” a soulful piece with a positive message that no matter how many times you are knocked down you can always get back up again, and to not forget that there are people out there who really care for you. Goodman provides sweet backing vocals on this one as Ferguson tinkles the ivories and the solid backline does not miss a cue. If these two songs are any indication of what Daunielle can write, she needs to pick up the pen more often and take control of her destiny.

Daunielle is not just a great debut album, it is a solid piece of art that can stand on its own. This lady has prodigious talent and the team that was put together for these recordings stood tall and delivered a likeable collection of modern blues that can be listened to over and over again. Daunielle cannot be considered a backing singer
anymore: she has proven that she is a leader that will give her all and she will be a star if she can back up this release with another winner!.

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

Featured Blues Review – 9 of 10

The Juke Hounds – Bluesitude

Self release

10 songs – 37 minutes

Bluesitude is the second album from Ohio-based blues-rockers, The Juke Hounds, following on from 2012’s Low Man On The Totem Pole.

Originally formed in 2006, the band comprises Bob Gardner on vocals and guitars, Gerard Dominick on bass, Mark Smallwood on vocals and drums, Jimmy Kormanik on harmonica and Doug Barber on vocals and keyboards. The album also features guest appearances from the horn section of Don Kaser on trombone and horn arrangements, Norman Tischler on saxophone and
Michael Rubin on trumpet. On “Choose To Be Young”, Bobby Stocker takes the drum stool.

Kicking off with “I Drive”, which features a riff reminiscent of an updated, angular, more frazzled “Smokestack Lightnin’”, Gardner sings with real venom: “Backseat drivers give me lip, I ain’t going to take their shit, because it’s my life, my way, I drive.” The attitude in both the lyrics and the aggressive attack of the musicians reflects the grit and power that is found throughout Bluesitude. But this is also a
band that understands light and shade. When Kormanik steps up for his harmonica solo in “I Drive”, the band slips into a gentler, funky, backing rhythm before Kormanik, Barber and Dominick drop out
entirely, leaving Smallwood’s drums and Gardner’s solo guitar. Gardner pulls out a powerfully melodic solo while the musicians re-enter gradually to help build the tension and momentum of an impressive song.

While songs such as “Throwin’ A Good Man Away”, “Best Love” “Choose To Be Young” and “Flood
Waters” are solid, traditional electric blues, a wide range of other influences are discernable on Bluesitude. “My Prayer” is a gentle acoustic ballad featuring just Gardner’s guitar and Kormanik’s harp. “Stand Up” has a funked-up edge with a heavy Stax-like soul sound. “Fight” is a heavy blues-rock song. There is however a consistent muscular attitude throughout the album. Even the slower, gentler songs have an “in your face” presence.

The quality of the musicianship is uniformly excellent, with the solos being primarily shared between Gardner and Kormanik, the two even playing in stereo in “Best Love”. When he does get a chance to stretch out, for example on the organ solo in “Throwin’ A Good Man Away”, Barber shows he is no slouch either. And while the lyrics do not break any new ground, subtle surprises abound in the performances, from the key change in “Best Love” to the vocal melodies in a number of the songs that are sufficiently original and unexpected to help lodge the songs in one’s head. Gardner’s contribution to album is a particularly impressive, writing all the songs, except for “Superior Woman” and “Flood Waters”, which he co-wrote with Daryl Rowland.

Like its predecessor album, Bluesitude was produced by The Juke Hounds and Freddy DeMarco
and recorded and mixed at DeMarco’s Recording Studio (part of DeMarco’s School of Music) in Hudson, Ohio. The result is a crisp, modern production that provides excellent separation between the
instruments. So even on the horn-laden tracks like “Superior Woman” or “Choose To Be Young”, each instrument can be clearly distinguished.

This is a relatively short album, with 10 songs packed into little more than half an hour. But it packs a powerful punch. On the evidence of Bluesitude, The Juke Hounds must be a magnetic presence on stage. While you are waiting for them to come to a town near you, if you like your blues played with attitude and edge, with a hint or two of soul and rock, you should check out this album.

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 – 10 of 10

ChristyRossiter and 112 North Duck – Stand Up and Raise Some Hell

CD: 11 songs; 40:28 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Rock-and-Roll and Blues Rock

“O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties…” and blues rock? As this fine nation’s
independence is celebrated, so is the right to “Stand Up and Raise
Some Hell”! That’s exactly what Omaha, NE’s Christy Rossiter and her backup band 112 North Duck do on their fourth album since 2011.

According to their website, “[They] play a progressive, high-energy, hard-rocking, guitar-driven brand of blues.” This statement is absolutely true, although yours truly would like to point out two things. 1) “Progressive” means ‘not traditional’, so don’t go looking for any cover songs of blues masters or their signature style of playing. 2) Their website states the CD is “an eclectic blend of blues/rock and Americana music, with overtones of funk and island music.”

One can’t fault Christy and 112 North Duck for a lack of explosive passion on every song, even the ballads. Each one of the selections on this release is original, written by one or more members of the band: Rossiter on lead vocals, guitarist Michael Beebe, bassist David Beasley, guitarist and saxophonist and guitarist Billy Talacko, and drummer J.E. Van Horne. The following numbers will get crowds grooving:

Track 01: “Stand Up and Raise Some Hell” – If there were ever a blues-rock thrasher fit for an outdoor Fourth-of-July festival, this is it. The twin ‘hooks’ of Michael Beebe’s spectacular slide guitar and Christy Rossiter’s chant are instantaneous. Anyone listening will clap their hands, stomp their feet, and obey the title’s instructions to the best of their ability. The only slightly-annoying flaw in these fireworks is Christy’s holding on to the long notes a little too long.

Track 04: “Humuhumunukunukuapua’a” – The title of track four is the actual name of a Hawaiian fish. “It’s the sweetest little creature that I have ever seen, snorting like a piggy when it is feeling mean. Yellow like the sun until it’s on the run. Its name I just keep saying ‘cause it brings me so much fun.” If one still can’t say it after a couple rounds of this cheerful ditty, call it “The H Song” instead. Its chief instrumental highlight is Billy Talacko’s hot sax solo.

Track 09: “Smart Phone Junkies” – Arguably the best song on the album, the ninth one is a rant against the New Millennium’s drug of choice: “Can’t watch a movie or talk to a friend. We pay no attention to the shows we attend. We don’t have a fact or a thought in our minds. There’s no need to know, ‘cause the phone’s in our eyes.” It’s a lifelong addiction, and one that’s almost impossible to break because of the “techno high”. This is the blues, to be tethered to a

When celebrating our nation’s liberty, one should go ahead – “Stand Up and Raise Some Hell”!

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.

 Blues Society News

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 Southeast Iowa Blues Society – Fairfield, IA

The first ever “Blue Ribbon Blues Fest” sponsored by the Southeast Iowa Blues Society and the Jefferson County Fair Board will be held August 2nd, 2014. The gates open
at 4:30pm and music begins at 5:30pm with “The Quay Thomas Trio, then “the Soul Searchers at 7pm and then at 9pm “Ghost Town Blues Band”. In between sets catch “Tony Blew” in the Beverage Arena.

Tickets are just $15 in advance and for all Southeast Iowa Blues Society members and $18 Day of the Show. For more information call 641-919-7477 or

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/ The 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.

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 21 – Hurricane Ruth, July 28 – Brent Johnson and the Call Up,
August 4 – 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


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