Issue 8-31 July 31, 2014

Cover photos by Bob Kieser © 2014 Blues Blast Magazine


 In This Issue

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Dexter Allen.

We have 12 reviews for you including reviews of music by Jarekus Singleton, The Christopher Dean Band, John Lyons, The Randy Stephens Band, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Smoke Wagon Blues Band, Ray Fuller And The Blues Rockers, Dennis Johnson, Too Slim And The Taildraggers, Lucky 3 Blues Band, Mick Simpson and Patti Parks.

We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 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 12

Jarekus Singleton – Refuse To Lose

Alligator Records – 2014

12 tracks; 53 Minutes

Clinton, Mississippi’s Jarekus Singleton comes to the blues by an unusual route. Like many African-Americans in the South, Jarekus sang and played in church, but as a teenager he concentrated on sports (he was a top-seeded basketball player in college) but refocused on music after injury curtailed a potential sports career. But before the blues Jarekus’ first passion was rap music and there are some traces of that in the way he writes the lyrics to his songs.

Jarekus was spotted performing at the IBCs by Bruce Iglauer who saw something different about his approach to the blues. Recorded in Memphis with Jarekus’ regular band and produced by Jarekus and Bruce, his first CD on a mainstream label certainly demonstrates considerable promise. Jarekus wrote all twelve songs here, two in collaboration with Harrison Sumner. Jarekus sings and plays guitar, James Salone plays organ, Ben Sterling bass and John ‘Junior’ Blackmon drums.

The album opens with “I Refuse To Lose”, an upbeat piece which immediately shows the influence of Jarekus’ early interest in rap (“my soul is my weapon, I won’t conceal it”) as well as some exciting guitar that recalls the late Michael Burks. I had the good fortune to see Jarekus live earlier in the year and that comparison was possibly even stronger in his live show than here but the thrilling style of guitar playing is certainly evident from the start here. “I Refuse To Lose” lays out Jarekus’ determination to follow his star despite the criticisms of ‘friends’ and makes for a solid start.

“Purposely” starts with funky guitar and plenty of swirling organ as Jarekus sings of a failing relationship and takes a short but intense solo. “Gonna Let Go” keeps the funk in place but adds a terrific hook on the chorus.

“Crime Scene” is a slower tune with plenty of striking guitar from the off and some interesting lyrics: “there is no DNA that they need to find…this is a crime scene, baby, but not the kind that’s on your TV; this is a crime scene and the victim is me”. An extended solo at the end gives Jarekus an opportunity to stretch out.

“Keep Pushin’” is an extremely catchy tune with another autobiographical lyric about keeping going against the odds, recounting his injury-struck basketball career and his encounter with the blues. This may be the tune where the comparison with Michael Burks’ guitar style is the most evident and it is one of the strongest cuts on the album.

“Suspicion” ploughs more familiar blues territory as the guy thinks his woman is cheating on him on a tune which keeps the toes tapping. The slow blues “Hell” is a centrepiece of Jarekus’ live shows, the lyrics telling of a relationship in which the narrator suffers and the couple simply cannot talk about their problems, Jarekus’ guitar rising from the mix to mirror the anguished lyrics.

“Hero” returns to a more upbeat rhythm and “High Minded” is a churning blues in which Jarekus sounds pretty cynical about the person who inspired the song: “You want to take a trip to a place you’ve never been. Well pack your bags and go to the kitchen – it’s right beside the den”!

“Sorry” is a catchy little number, Jarekus finding that after all he’s been through, he can’t really feel sorry towards his ex. “Blame Game” is a little different, a downhome blues with no drums, Jarekus playing almost acoustically with Ben on bass, Brandon Santini on harp and Robert ‘Nighthawk’ Tooms on piano.

The album concludes in fine upbeat style with “Come Wit Me”, another strong tune with James’ organ to the fore and Jarekus producing another couple of solos, one super-fast, the second hitting some extremely high notes.

This is a very impressive debut which puts Jarekus well on the way to becoming a major star in the blues. Clearly this CD comes highly recommended.

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 Interview – Dexter Allen

There are countless tricks of the trade and important pearls of wisdom that a budding young musician could pick up from the great Bobby Rush, a veteran who has certainly been there and done that.

Things like to how to give an audience their money’s worth, or the correct way to treat and respect your band members. Or even how to look sharper than a $1,000 bill up on the bandstand.

‘Bluezman’ Dexter Allen learned all that from Bobby Rush.

But maybe the most important nugget of advice Allen ever got from Rush is something that everyone – in all walks of life – should pay attention to.

‘Face the facts.’

“The most important advice Bobby ever gave me was to face the facts; don’t fool yourself,” Allen said recently. “Find your thing, be who you are and face the facts in whatever you’re doing. Know what you can and can’t do and be good at what you can do and accept what you can’t do.”

What Allen has proved he can do is to take an infectious blend of traditional southern soul music, mix it with the deep Delta blues, sprinkle some hints of R&B on it and then slather a layer of good ‘ole country funk on top of it all.

That tasty concoction fills up the grooves on Allen’s newest compact disc – Bluez of My Soul (Deep Rush Records). One spin of the disc and it’s fairly easy to see why the singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist originally from Crystal Springs, Mississippi, was hand-picked by Rush to be the first artist not named Bobby Rush to cut an album on Deep Rush Records.

“Oh, man, that feels good (recording on Deep Rush). I’ve been knowing Bobby Rush for a long time now. As some people know, I was his bandleader and lead guitarist for awhile,” said Allen. “I think he knew in the beginning what my aspirations were, because when we would go places, he would say, ‘Come on, Dex. Come with me.’ And I’d go with him when he went to do interviews and meet promoters and he’d introduce me to this person and that person. He was showing me the ropes and teaching me about the business, because he knew I had aspirations about the music.”

For over three years, Allen toured the world with Rush, before deciding the time was right to strike out under his own banner. The one thing that Allen was adamant about from the very beginning of his solo career is to try and blaze new trails and reach undiscovered territory en route to delivering his brand of the blues. The way he sees it, in 2014 and beyond, the same-old, same-old is just not going to cut the mustard.

“The songs (on Bluez of My Soul) are all original songs and it encompasses different elements of today – along with elements of the past – in the origination of the blues,” he said. “You hear the blues in it. You can feel the blues in it, but it still feels contemporary, it still feels like today. A lot of people are putting out good records – I hear them all the time. But not many artists are doing stuff that is good and different. That’s the kind of work that sets trends and stands apart from all the other records out there. It has to be good AND different in these days and times.”

Allen released a pair of albums prior to his latest one (Bluezin My Way and Bluezin for Life (Airtight Records), but he knew he was on to something good with Bluez of My Soul when it perked up the ears of his mentor after listening to it.

“I do think it’s different (than his first two albums). My other work is good, but you can hear the growth and the distinct direction I’m going in on this one,” he said. “On my first record, I was trying to feel my way. I was recording what I thought people wanted to hear, versus what I wanted to record … because I just didn’t know. I was trying to do what I thought the flavor of the month was. So it took some time before I decided I needed to cut a record that sounded like me. Every record I record, I let Bobby hear it and he’ll say a few words. But when I let him hear this one, he was like, ‘Hey, you got something here. I like this.’ He could hear the growth.”

That quest to find his own sound – the sound that comes right from his heart – wasn’t a hard one to undertake. However, hard work, dedication and patience are key companions on that journey.

“Well, it’s just a lot of time … and trial and error; along with growth; growth in my music and growth in the industry. My philosophy is that I want to be a trend-setter,” Allen said. “If Howlin’ Wolf was trying to sound like Robert Johnson, you would not have had a Howlin’ Wolf. You’d have a Robert Johnson copycat. I want to be the one that 50 years from now someone looks back on and says, ‘Man, that Dexter Allen, he had his own sound and he did this and he did that.’ But it all just takes time. Nowadays you have thousands of blues artists all over the world and the only way to do something different, to do something original, is to just do what’s inside of you. Then you just throw it out there and see what happens.”

Like a host of blues musicians from the deep south, Allen got his start in music as a youngster playing in the church. That was also the place where he formed a couple of important and lasting bonds with other members of his soon-to-be musical fraternity.

“I first met Bobby when I was playing for Saint Luther (Church in Jackson, Miss.), which was the church he was a member of. I was playing in the choir and that’s how I first met him. I knew who he was (before that), but that was the first time I actually had met him, was in church.”

The way that Allen sees it, blues and gospel music are cut from the same cloth and both have the ability to soothe the soul when needed.

“In my opinion, gospel music and blues music are twins. One may be male and the other may be female, but they’re still twins. They came out at the same time,” he said. “You’ll never see a gospel promoter and a traditional blues promoter have a big show on the same day, because they’re going to draw the same crowd. In gospel, you’re singing about a deliverer. In blues, you want to be delivered. So anyway you look at it, it’s still a delivery … a relief.”

Church connections also helped to provide Allen with his current bandmates, the Robinson Brothers – Fred (bass); Joey (keys, bass, guitar); and Jeremy (drums).

“Oh, man, the Robinsons are my band. Fred Robinson – my bass player – has been with me ever since I started playing. Prior to that, I started out playing in the church at 12 years old. My dad was the pastor and he had a gospel quartet called the Christian Travelers and I was the bass player in the group,” Allen said. “And when I was 18 or 19, I left the Christian Travelers and started playing with another gospel group, which was the Robinson Brothers. It was my (current) bass player and his brothers. They were more around my age. We were still doing gospel, but the guys were younger and we did some funkier stuff than what the Christian Travelers did. And I played for years and traveled all over the states with them.”

More than just a backing band that does little other than just play what the bandleader wants them to, the Robinsons were involved in the complete evolution of the new album from the get-go and keyboardist Joey Robinson ended up with a co-producer’s credit for his role on Bluez of My Soul.

“Joey and Fred and I all went in (the studio) together, because I wanted them to be in on the creation of the album. I wanted them to do what they feel and that’s what I tell them,” Allen said. “Even on stage. They know the material and I’m not going to tell them to play it just like the record. I want them to play it the way they feel it, because that’s what I do when I’m up there on stage. I’ll sing a song five times and it’s not going to sound the same all five times. That helps to keep things from getting stagnant.”

Allen didn’t just step off the gospel train and immediately board one bound for Bluesville. He started to take a detour through the world of R&B before his course got righted by rubbing elbows with some legendary blues forefathers.

“I was in the studio with a band and we were working on an R&B record, which was the hot music around my neck of the woods at that time. I was a young guy, but I started thinking about it, like ‘Shoot, I ain’t got no six-pack (abs) and I don’t look like the flavor of the month, either,” he said. “Then I started meeting people like Honeyboy Edwards, Pinetop Perkins and Solomon Burke. And I was like, ‘You know what? I could lose six teeth and gain 300 pounds and still be a great blues artist, because it’s all about the music. It’s not about the image. I can’t turn flips and I don’t dance very well on stage. I mean, I’ve never see a 98-year-old R&B singer that’s still going; or a 98-year-old jazz or rock singer. But you do see a lot of 80- and 90-year-old blues singers – blues or gospel.”

He may not ‘turn flips’ or ‘dance very well’ but that’s about the only thing Allen can’t do on the bandstand. Watching him command the stage up close and personal, it becomes readily apparent that the cat knows just exactly what he’s doing. He immediately engages the audience and by the time the second song is completed, Allen has them eating right out of his hand. His vocals are emotionally-charged and his guitar playing is extremely explosive. And oh, he’s also not opposed to hopping off stage and strolling through the crowd while ripping off a series of red-hot solos on his guitar. But that just scratches the surface of Allen’s prodigious musical talents. He’s also quite skilled at playing bass, keyboards and the drums.

“On my first two records, I played all the instruments – all except the drums,” he said. “I would do the drums on a drum machine and then take them to Derek Martin – who drummed for Little Richard – and he would lay down the live drums over the track. I could do the drums, too, but I wasn’t as precise a drummer as he was. And I can play bass, but I wouldn’t call myself a bass player, you know?”

And once again, the church is to thank for Allen’s versatility.

“You learn all that in church, because like I said, my dad was the pastor and whatever musician didn’t show up for service, I had to take their place. It might be the bass player, drummer … you just had to learn how to play some of everything,” he said. “So that was a help to me. I didn’t know just how big of a help it was at the time, but it has ended up saving me money, for one thing. I have my own studio at home and if something hits me at 1 or 2:30 in the morning, I can go in and cut it. I sure can’t call my guys to come over at that time of the morning to lay down a bass line or a drum line.”

It may not exactly be a magic potion that Allen has stumbled upon, but he does seem to have managed to forge a strong – and probably lasting – bond with blues fans wherever he plays. Peer into the crowd at one of his shows and you’ll see a good cross-section of music lovers, both young and those that are not so young. While he’s no doubt excited to have both along for the ride, it’s the younger ones that he’s reserved special seating for.

“When I was with Bobby, we were at a big festival somewhere in Spain – along with the Neville Brothers – with thousands and thousands of people out in the audience. Bobby and I were standing backstage and he said, ‘Look out in the crowd. What do you see?’ I said, ‘I see a bunch of people.’ He said, ‘Look closer. What do you see?’ I said, ‘I see a bunch of white people.’ He said, ‘No, look a little closer.’ So I said, ‘I see a bunch of drunk white people,’” Allen laughed. “And Bobby laughed and said, ‘Look at their faces. Look at their ages. They look kind of like you, don’t they?’ Then he said, ‘These young people have come to see an old man like me to sing the blues. If blues is what you want to do, this is where it is, because they will grow old with you. If you live to be an old man, you’ll have an old following.”

Allen certainly did not start playing the blues as a means to get rich. He knows far too well that while the possibility of pop stars commanding a million dollars per performance is by no means unrealistic, the thought of a blues artist bringing in even a quarter of that amount seems far-fetched on most days. With that in mind, his mission is more about showing the younger music lovers of today that the blues doesn’t have to be some stale and stodgy, antiquated-form of music.

“My thing is, what I’m trying to do is to bridge the gap (between the blues and mainstream music). If you listen to my (new) CD, I’m trying to use the production values and music of today and fuse it with the origination of the blues,” he said. “But my thing is, I have to sing my blues; the blues of today. I can’t write about walking up Highway 61 on a train track or playing in shacks, or whatever, like Robert Johnson and them did. They wrote about what was going on in their era – things they could relate to. I’ll never walk up the train tracks – I have too many cars. So things have changed. I don’t want to do a record that sounds dated. I do what I feel and then I put it before the people and I hope they like it, which so far, they have. I’m going to give them the blues, and that’s all I know.”

Visit Dexter’s website at:

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2014 Blues Blast Magazine

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

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 12

The Christopher Dean Band – Call Me Later

Lost World Music

14 songs – 61 minutes

Guitarist/vocalist Christopher Dean offers a major change of pace with his third release on the Lost World Music label. He intersperses four originals with an interesting take on Memphis, chittlin’ circuit and Chicago blues classics and also includes acoustic numbers for the first time.

A former member of Big Jack Johnson’s Oilers, with whom he recorded two discs, Dean’s been touring the nation relentlessly since going off on his own after releasing the album “Dogged ‘n Driven” about 14 years ago. He’s joined here by former Oilers bandmate and longtime touring companion Dave Foti on bass, Chip Dixon on drums and backing vocals and Billy Voight on bass.

They’re joined by a host of guest stars, including former Jimmy Johnson keyboard player Carl Snyder on piano and organ as well as Colby Inzer and Ben Diamond (drums), Dan McKinney (keyboards and trumpet), Jim Davis (sax), Nate Myers (harmonica and vocals), Jess Wilkes (flute), and Iman Dixon (backing vocals).

Recorded in Florida and Pennsylvania and dedicated to Johnson and Christopher’s mother, Carol, the disc kicks off with a mellow version of Mel Waiters’ classic “Got My Whiskey.” Dean’s delivery is clean and smooth. The song’s got more of an urban rather than down-and-dirty juke joint appeal, but he definitely gets the message across. His guitar playing, meanwhile, is crisp and restrained.

A cover of David Ruffin’s disco era hit, “On And Off,” penned by Van McCoy, follows before the first original, “Fall Never Came.” It’s a poignant statement about life’s changes delivered atop a steady rhythm pattern and warm guitar line. The mood gets funky as Myers’ harp fuels a version of Muddy Waters’ “Crosseyed Cat” before Dean’s self-penned song of tormented love, “Now I’m Glad.” Dean finally stretches out on the strings as the song comes to an end.

An interesting flute-flavored acoustic cover of “Share Your Love With Me,” a hit for both Bobby Blue Bland and Aretha Franklin, precedes a faithful reinterpretation of the Johnny Rawls pleaser, “Red Cadillac,” before the Dean original, “Woman On Loan.” It’s a fun, uptempo complaint about having no woman at home.

“Hell At the House,” written by emerging deep soul star Omar Cunningham, leads into a treatment of the Willie Dixon classic, “Same Thing,” before the acoustic original, “Believe For Just A Day,” the heartbreaking reminiscence of the end of a love affair, my favorite number in the set. Three more covers conclude the set: acoustic treatments of Lonnie Johnson’s “Get Yourself Together,” Robert Johnson’s “Honeymoon Blues” and Blind Blake’s “Leadhearted Blues,” all delivered with love.

If you’re a hard-core lover of classic Memphis-style deep soul, Dean’s urbane approach to the material might be a little jarring at first listen, but give it a chance. This is a fine album with plenty to offer.

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 Blues Review – 3 of 12

John Lyons – Sing Me Another Song


CD: 13 songs; 51:46 Minutes

Styles: Folk, Blues Rock, Mellow Blues

Question: Does the blues have to feature gravelly vocals, growling guitar, and indecipherable, words in order to be bona-fide?

Some would say yes, but not Zurich, Switzerland’s John Lyons. If his name doesn’t sound Swiss, that’s because he’s originally from South Haven, Michigan, and moved to his current country in 2001. Alongside him as fans beg “Sing Me Another Song” are Matthew Savnik on B3 organ/piano, drummer Simon Britschgi, Gabriel Spahni on bass and background vocals, and co-bassist Simon Winiger. Together they perform twelve original songs and a ‘ghost track’, written by Lyons alone or with Gabriel Spahni.

Even though John’s music might be characterized as folk and soul by genre aficionados, rather than blues, that’s not completely true. From listening to and reading his lyrics in the included booklet (an increasing rarity), it’s clear he’s put a ton of thought into his tunes. Also, he actually SINGS, with distinct variations in vocal tone and pitch, rather than primarily talking his way through each number. The three mentioned below are the most traditional on the album:

Track 05: “Sing Me Another Song” – According to his promotional materials, “Lyons writes about diverse themes drawn from his life experiences, as a musician playing the bar and clubs circuit and living the rock and roll lifestyle.” Hence the title track, a blues-rock description of two archetypal bar patrons: “As she looks in the mirror, puts on her makeup, smokes another cigarette, she says ‘I’ll have the usual.’ He sees her looking; he says ‘Let me pay for that…’” It’s “a game” that goes “on and on” because “the days of wine and roses and romantics are long gone.” Is this routine wearying? Perhaps, but that’s a slice of life for a touring blues artist.

Track 09: “Dear James” – This pure-blues beauty goes down as smoothly as a mai-tai in Hawaii. Lyon’s reflective electric guitar and Matthew Savnik’s pensive piano notes will fall on dancing couples’ ears like raindrops. “I’m not ready for these kind of blues,” John laments, and fans shall recognize the feeling. Sometimes heartbreak comes upon us via one fateful letter and one name.

Track 10: “The Blues Moved In” – As opposed to the previous song, performed in swaying 6/8 time, selection ten has a brisk, rueful tempo. It describes one of those days where one might ask oneself, ‘Ain’t that a kick in the head?’ More specifically, “It’s a rainy Sunday morning. I woke up all alone. Nobody by my side, no, no messages on my phone. Laying there thinking, ‘What the hell should I do?’ It happened all in a dream, but that’s now come true.” Listen closely for the funky bassline and chilling cymbal crashes.

With a suave electric guitar style reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan and vocals that recall 80’s rocker Jeff Healey, John Lyons will make one plead, “Sing Me Another Song”!

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 12

The Randy Stephens Band – No Strings Attached

Self release

10 songs – 48 minutes

The waves being made by Florida-based guitarist Randy Stephens have been growing over the past few years. His 2011 instrumental blues-rock album, American Guitar, garnered some glowing reviews. No Strings Attached, which he started to write and record in 2012, is his impressive follow-up.

As you might expect from an award-winning guitarist, the blues-rock songs on No Strings Attached highlight Stephens’ dexterous virtuosity on a variety of planks. Happily, however, unlike many guitar-slingers, he does not sacrifice the song simply to show off his six-string skills. The well-constructed songs on this album cover a wide range of styles, all based in the blues, but with a liberal dose of rock as well. There are also hints of funk in “Read ‘Em & Weep”, gospel in “I’m Doing Fine”, and jazz-funk in “Summer Rain”.

Stephens has a neat line in lyrics, for example on “Bad Economy”, the first song on the album, where he sings over a funky blues backing: “I called my woman, I said ‘babe, there’s something on my mind. I’ve been meaning to tell you, baby, for the longest time. I’m going to quit you; I’ve got to set you free. I’ve run the numbers and you’re bad, too bad, for my economy.’”

He wrote seven of the songs himself; the three covers being Bill Withers’ “Use Me”, Harvey Watkins Jr’s “I’m Doing Fine” and the Brook Benton and Dinah Washington’s classic “Rocking Good Way” (Lauren Mitchell provides the female vocals on Stephens’ interpretation). He also produced the album, sings and plays all the guitars and bass on three songs. The drum stool is occupied by Carl Grieco and Jessie Stephens (Randy’s child), David C Johnson and Randy McCormick share the remaining bass duties.

Stephens’ playing thoughout is exemplary. He coaxes a vast array of tones from his Stratocaster and Telecaster, particularly on the “Ambient Love”, which recalls both Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Beck at times. And the controlled fury of his playing on the “The Fool” perfectly matches the anger in the lyrics.

One of the highlights of the album is the gospel-tinged “I’m Doing Fine”, which was originally recorded by the Canton Spirituals. Stephens gives the song a hefty rock edge, whilst retaining the original gospel melody and the result is a gem of a ballad, which could easily have graced one of Eric Clapton’s mid-80s albums. Stephens plays with a slightly fatter tone on this track, but also uses the Clapton trick of holding off from immediately applying vibrato to a bent note. Johnson, whose day job is as a member of theAaron Neville quartet, provides subtle organ backing.

As you might expect from a man who plays in a Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute band, there is a lot of guitar on this album. But if you like the guitar-led blues-rock of SRV, Johnny Winter or Jeff Beck, you’ll love No Strings Attached.

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 12

Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Goin’ Home

Concord Records 2014

12 tracks; 59 minutes

KWS has form on the classic blues front, having produced the CD/DVD Ten Days Out and a live album with guests including Hubert Sumlin, Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith and Bryan Lee. He is often seen as a rock-blues figure but that is far from the case here as he and his band give us 15 tracks of blues covers from the likes of all three Kings, SRV, Bo Diddley and Howling Wolf.

The core band is second to none with superb vocalist Noah Hunt, Chris Layton (Double Trouble) on drums, Tony Franklin on bass and Riley Osbourne on keys. Guests include Joe Walsh, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo’, Robert Randolph, Ringo Starr, Kim Wilson and The Rebirth Brass Band.

The horns add punch to several tracks and there is some great harp too, for instance on “I Live The Life I Love”, which must be Kim as he is the only harp player noted. Throughout the album KWS plays with great fluency and feel and Noah Hunt sings really well, but here are some selected highlights.

The three King covers are excellent as KWS manages to sound like each of the masters in turn. The album hits the ground running with a stunning version of Freddie’s “Palace Of The King” with the horns really pushing the pace.

BB is represented by an extended slow blues “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now” which has a late-night feel from Riley’s relaxed piano and KWS’s very BB style guitar.

To complete the trio Albert’s “Born Under A Bad Sign” benefits from a full production with the horns prominent and Noah’s vocal outstanding. SRV’s “The House Is Rockin’” is great with Chris Layton reproducing his drum track that drove the original, Riley’s piano pumping and KWS rocking out superbly – as good as the original!

The piano is also to the fore in a different style on “Looking Back” where Riley’s pounding piano launches KWS into an exciting solo.

There is more rousing guitar on “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” and the NO rhythms of “Trick Bag” both offer the opportunity for Noah to demonstrate his soulful side.

“Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy” works well with the trumpet pushing the song along though the lyrics sound a bit strange in the mouth of the slender Noah whose vocals at times recall Paul Rodgers and no more so than on the funky version of “Cut Me Loose” here.

The key thing when producing an album of covers is to respect the originals but add something of your own and the KWS Band achieve that here. This is probably their strongest release in a blues style yet and well worth the attention of blues fans out there. Recommended!

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 12

The Smoke Wagon Blues Band – Live in Hamilton

MAPL, Distributed by Indie Pool

CD: 14 songs; 71:01 Minutes

Styles: Live Traditional Electric and Harmonica Blues

Last year, yours truly reviewed a blues CD by Canadians Corey Lueck and the Smoke Wagon Blues Band, entitled It Ain’t Easy. Since then, Lueck has sublimated his name into the general one of the ensemble, who present themselves as simply the Smoke Wagon Blues Band. They produced another album in 2013, Live in Hamilton, which is described below. The title refers to Hamilton, Ontario, where they recorded these sessions at the Stonewalls Music Hall.

As Star Wars fans exult on their favorite holiday, “May the (Force) 4th be with you,” and it certainly was during this live concert. It featured Corey Lueck on vocals and harmonica, guitarist Mike Stubbs, Nick Succi on piano/organ, saxophonist Gordon Aeichele, bassist Jason Colavecchia, and Tibor Lucaks on drums. Out of fourteen tracks, nine are original songs, three are covers, and two are spoken-vocal “intros.” The three hot blues tunes mentioned here are not on “It Ain’t Easy”:

Track 05: “Wrong Side Girl” – “I don’t know right from wrong” is how Lueck describes himself in relation to the diva he’s dating in this danceable 1950’s-style ditty. Mike Stubbs, Jason Colavecchia, and Nick Succi do a dandy job on lead guitar, bass, and piano respectively. Later in the song, listeners will find out this “Girl” has a particular recreational habit that’s now legal in Washington and Colorado. Nearly everyone in the band, minus the drummer, receives a chance to ‘walk the dog‘, or take the instrumental lead.

Track 06: “I Can’t Change” – After all that boogie-woogie on the previous number, it’s time to slow things down a bit and hold one’s partner close on “I Can’t Change.” It’s a sweet waltz with a nightclub feel, especially when Gordon Aeichele plays a sultry saxophone introduction. “I’ve been told I’m reckless and mean,” explains Lueck, sounding rather like Bruce Springsteen, “but I’ll tell you, honey, I ain’t exactly brainless…I’ve been a fool and a fall-down drunk; it ain’t easy on the inside looking out.” Nevertheless, his feelings for his lover remain the same.

Track 10: “Smoke Wagon Boogie” – This is the perfect selection for a live venue, combining three key ingredients: 1) a fast tempo, 2) lively instrumentation, and 3) a vocal “hook” that requires audience participation. It‘s “RIDE THE TRAIN!” in this case, shouted in all caps by the crowd at Stonewalls Music Hall. As on track five, several members get turns leading the band.

“What could be more honest than a live recording!” says Lueck (pronounced “Luke”). “We feel this recording really captured the essence of the live Smoke Wagon Blues Band experience, as well as the band’s musicianship, soul, humor, honesty and interaction with each other and the crowd.” Their music is the antidote to 21st-century techno trash and pop pabulum. Although they’re from Canada, they certainly know how to play traditional American blues!

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 – 7 of 12

Ray Fuller And The Bluesrockers – Live At Buddy Guy’s Legends

Azuretone Records – 2014

12 tracks; 76 minutes

Ray Fuller hails from Ohio and has been round the block a few times since he started playing professionally in the 70’s. The Bluesrockers have existed since 1978 and have issued several albums, including a live one back in 1992. However, with a new management deal and keen to spread his rocking slide guitar style to as wide an audience as possible, a live album recorded at Legends seems a good place to start.

The material is a straight split between originals and covers, with several well-known tunes included. The band here is Ray on guitar and vocals, Keith Blair on keys, Glen Manuel on bass, Mark Ward on drums and guest Richard ‘Doc’ Malone on harp.

The general feel of the music could be summed up by a quote from “Guitar Magazine” – “Sounds like Elmore James and Hound Dog Taylor tempered with the rowdiness of George Thorogood”. Indeed, EJ is the source of “Wild About You Baby”, a sound choice to open the show as Ray shows us his slide chops. The original “Rock N’ Roll Cowboy” is great fun, centred on a boogie guitar riff with plenty of piano and some amusing lyrics: “Put your red dress on, baby, let’s kick up dust, I gotta keep moving so my spurs don’t rust. I’m a rock n’ roll cowboy, roll with me, baby, till the cows come home. Put one leg up, one leg down, set your tail in the saddle, honey, shake it around.”

John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” is suitably menacing in an extended version and Ray’s “Love And Alcohol” ploughs a similar furrow in a tale of two subjects that do not mix well, both cuts giving plenty of solo opportunities for all three main instrumentalists. “Bayou Blue” changes the focus with a riff that sounds like it comes from the CCR songbook, a song that heads down south to a world of ‘voodoo, creole lands, mojo hands and one room country shacks’ with some striking piano.

Ray announces that “Walkin’ Shoes” was the first song he ever wrote and it rocks along well with Keith’s Hammond underpinning some good slide work from Ray, the whole propelled by the dynamic work of the rhythm section.

Ray was first influenced by the British invasion and in particular John Mayall so that may be where he first heard “So Many Roads”, a song always associated with Otis Rush. The band’s version is respectful and offers solo opportunities to everyone, but their version lacks some of the sad feel of Otis’ original.

Two more covers follow with “Take Out Some Insurance Baby” (Singleton/Hall), notably covered by Jimmy Reed and Billy Boy Arnold’s “Rockinitus”, the former chugging along in classic JR mode, the latter using the same core riff as the more famous “I Ain’t Got You”. Two originals follow, both upbeat numbers as the show builds to its climax: “Feelin’ Evil” brings Ray’s slide out for some torrid riffing alongside some brooding harp work from Doc Malone; “Sallie Mae” is centred upon a Bo Diddley riff and moves along well before Eddie Clearwater’s “I Wouldn’t Lay My Guitar Down” makes a catchy rocker to finish.

Whilst there is nothing particularly distinctive about Ray and his band this generously filled CD demonstrates that they must make for a good evening of rocking blues if you get the chance to see them live. A solid set of enjoyable blues and rock and roll.

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 12

Dennis Johnson – Slide Avenue

Self Produced – 2014

Ten Tracks with a total running time of 34:55

The credits for Slide Avenue are as follows Dennis Johnson: guitar and vocals on all tracks, Tim Metz: drums on tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, David O’Keefe: bass on tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, Joe Craven: violin tracks 4, 10, Sam Levine: saxophones tracks 1, Kirt Shearer: piano on track 5, Wurlitzer organ on track 6, piano on track 7, bass and b-3 organ on track 8, and Caitlin O’Leary background vocals on track 6. The CD was produced by Dennis Johnson and Sam Levine, recorded at Eastern Avenue Studios and Paradise Studios in Sacramento, CA, mixed and mastered by Kirt Shearer at Paradise Studios and printed, pressed and packaged by Oasis Disc Manufacturing. ( Slide Avenue has seven original tunes and three covers (tracks 2, 3, & 9) which were written by Robert Johnson.

Track 1, “Swingin’ at the Savoy” is a jump blues ditty with some tight guitar and saxophone. Johnson’s voice is capable and smooth throughout the recording. Unlike some other songs here Johnson uses a four piece band for a full sound. Four tracks (numbers 3, 6, 9, 10) have no rhythm section (drums and bass) most notably on the Robert Johnson covers. However, this stripped down sound works quite well on the last track, “She Looks Good”, which has a country blues feel to it while melding Joe Craven’s tight violin work with Johnson’s masterful guitar licks it makes some toe tapping almost necessary. The song describes his lady’s looks, particularly what she is wearing (short skirt, low-cut blouse) and “She looks good from the front … but better from the back.”

On Johnson’s web site bio he cites Robert Johnson, Norton Buffalo, and Roy Rogers as major influences of his music. Johnson credits Roy Rogers, “… seeing Roy play for the first time really blew me away. A huge influence on my music.” This reviewer is not familiar with the Roy Rogers songbook so we will have to take his word for it. Dennis Johnson is from the San Francisco area and it would appear that if one would like to see him live you would need to catch him and his band “The Mississippi Ramblers” on one of the many places they are playing on the Left Coast. All the info is on his web site.

Reviewer Tim “Bluzybiker” Petty spent 42 years building railroads and now spends his time supporting the music he loves and riding motorcycles – sometimes at the same time!

Featured Blues Review – 9 of 12

Too Slim And The Taildraggers – Anthology

Underworld Records

34 songs – 156 minutes

Wow. What a treat. After 28 years and 18 albums, Tim “Too Slim” Langford and his Taildraggers have released an absolute peach of a “best of” album, which also features three new tracks produced by noted Grammy-winner, Tom Hambridge (who has previously worked with the likes of Buddy Guy, George Thorogood, James Cotton and Joe Louis Walker, amongst many others). The other 31 songs on the two discs come from Langford’s previous recordings on the Underworld Records catalogue over the last 15 years.

Everything one would expect from a Too Slim and the Taildraggers anthology is present and correct, from the foot-tapping groove of “Blue Heart” to the gorgeous Blind Willie Johnson-influenced acoustic slide of “La Llorana”; from the slashing electric slide guitar licks of “Mississippi Moon” to the melodic lead guitar lines of “Last Train”. And it’s all topped off with that smokey, lived-in voice that sounds like a worn-down, beaten-up Mark Knopfler. Pleasingly, each song retains a sparkling vitality and energy, sounding as fresh today as when it was first released.

The three songs produced by (and co-written with) Hambridge are fitting additions to the Too Slim canon. The album opens with “Wishing Well”, a swampy blues-rocker that cautions the listener against the false prophets who only want to separate us from our money: “Throw your money in the wishing well. That’s what they tell you, that’s what they sell. Pay for heaven or go to hell. Throw your money in the wishing well.” As the song nimbly changes keys, Langford and guest guitarist Bob Britt swap sharply-taken solos. Slim’s vicious slide guitar takes centre stage on the upbeat rocker, “Little Gun Motel” and the ballad “Big Ole House” showcases a classic Too Slim lyric, anthropomorphising the feelings of a house where he and his former love used to live.

Other than the three new tracks (and Slim even co-wrote two of them with Hambridge), all the other songs were written by Langford, who has maintained a consistently high quality threshold over the years. He has never been a traditional dyed in the wool bluesman, introducing large chunks of blues-rock and dashes of Americana and country into the mix. What sets him apart from many other guitar-driven blues-rockers, however, is a sharp intelligence and an acute understanding of dynamics.

Lyrical topics range from the clever reversal of a traditional blues lament in “Good To See You Smile Again” (featuring the great Jimmy Hall on guest vocals) to the social commentary of “Shaking A Cup”; and from the humorous advice on how to write a song in “Three Chords” to the surrealism of “She Sees Ghosts” (a narrative about Too Slim’s pet dog and her spectral visions).

The first CD contains the more rock-influenced numbers. The second CD is a little more mellow. Both are joyful.

It’s pretty difficult to pick holes in this release. Anyone who is already a fan of Too Slim and the Taildraggers will want this album for the three new tracks (and as a reminder of some of the great stuff the band has released in the past). Anyone who isn’t yet a fan will become one when they hear this outstanding record. Unmissable.

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 12

Lucky 3 Blues Band – Howl!

Self-produced CD

13 songs – 51 minutes

A three-piece outfit like their name implies, The Lucky 3 Blues Band is a collection of longtime friends who’ve spent decades working in the Chicago music scene in one capacity or another.

Guitarist Jay O’Rourke is a former mastering engineer at Bruce Iglauer’s Alligator Records who’s worked with Warren Zevon and Ian Hunter as well as playing the six-string for The Insiders. Harp player Frank Raven cut his teeth sitting in with Buddy Guy and Lefty Dizz at the Checkerboard Lounge. He hosted the jam at Guy’s Legends for a couple of years in addition to fronting his own self-named bands as well as local favorites Slammin’ Watusis and The Blue Watusis. Vocalist and fellow songwriter Jim Desmond has worked his way through several musical styles, with his first love always being the blues.

Together, they are familiar faces on the North and West Side music scenes in the Windy City as they deliver straight-ahead Chicago blues, as evidenced in this well-conceived, self-produced CD. They’re assisted by background vocals from Preston Graves, Holly Wasnea, Anna Fermin, Marcus David, Max Good, Mark Panick, Teddy Thornhill, P.H. Stam, Grant Tye and Jimmi Hendrixson. Although evident in the mix, drums and percussion go uncredited.

True to their roots, a harmonica riff kicks off “Maxwell Street Blues,” a fond recollection of the open-air market on the near South Side, where you could purchase anything under the sun while listening to some of the best free music in the city. O’Rourke’s slide work is steady as Desmond’s smooth, but gravel-coated voice recalls going to Smoky Joe’s, a clothing store, where you could buy a sharkskin suit, some new boots and much, much more. The tune was recorded live in an alley. It’s the first of eight consecutive originals, with five covers finishing the set.

Vocals and harp play call-and-response throughout “Junkyard,” a complaint about living in a loop in which no one seems to succeed. Raven’s delivery is rock solid, but refreshingly sans the over-the-top flash demonstrated by so many reed benders today. The guitar carries the hook for “Boogaloo Test,” a funky reprise that insists if something’s good, it got to pass the test. “Too Much Funky Business” follows. It’s a blues rocker about an ex-beauty queen know-it-all with something to hide.

The mood slows down with the ballad “So Alone” before “Who’s Hoodooin’ Who?” a bit of funk with a New Orleans feel and plenty of magical imagery. An electric guitar line atop drum pattern kick off “Old Dog,” a statement that the singer’s a lone wolf out on the prowl with a new set of tricks. The imagery continues with “Midnight On The Highway” before the band concludes with a set of covers, all recorded live at guitarist Dave Specter’s SPACE nightclub in Evanston, Il. It includes Honeyboy Edwards’ “Wind Howlin’ Blues,” Johnny Kidd’s “Shakin All Over,” Junior Wells’ “Hoodoo Man Blues,” J.B. Hutto’s “Too Much Alcohol” and Ellis McDaniel’s “I’m A Man.”

If your tastes run to power blues trios, you like this one. It’s available through CDBaby. It doesn’t cut any new ground, but definitely delivers the goods.

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 Blues Review -11 of 12

Mick Simpson – Unfinished Business

Mad Ears Productions – 2014

Fourteen Tracks with a total running time of 1:14:03

The first thing you notice about this recording is the CD cover which is quite dramatic with an ominous looking revolver, plenty of bullets for ammo all on top of numerous one hundred dollar bills. On the back we see (besides credits) a poker hand with a Royal Flush. Such a cover might lead one to believe there may be a sinister element lurking here and sure enough track one assures us there is “Trouble Brewing” which features booming guitar licks and a tight, driving rhythm section.

The album’s namesake, “Unfinished Business”, (track three) slows things down a bit. We get a hint here that Gary Moore may be a major influence for this artist. The jazzy piano and solid guitar leads wrapped around sad, sultry lyrics leaves the listener knowing we all have some “Unfinished Business” in our lives.

On “For the Love of You” (track 9) Simpson gets back to the basics with some twelve bar Blues that satisfies with clean guitar work and flawless rhythm drive. Simpson’s voice on this track makes one a believer with a range that many Blues people wish they had. From a whisper to a belting growl Simpson nails this track to the wall.

“Chicago Blues” (track 11)delivers more straight ahead Blues with some boogie piano thrown in. While some may argue that this may stray from the Chicago tradition of West Side guitar slingers such as Magic Sam, Otis Rush, etc. this song delivers more clean, standard Blues that showcase Simpson and his tight band.

“Traveling Man” (track 12) takes us back to the country with some tasty acoustic slide work on guitar. If one listens closely you can hear some subdued harmonica work in the background with what sounds like two drum sticks providing the time keeping duties. This track has a stripped down sound that makes us believe this guy knows what it’s like to travel a lonely path.

Track fourteen, “Drowning in My Tears” is an obvious nod (ode) to Gary Moore sounding almost identical to Moore’s “Still Got the Blues”. With a mournful refrain and clean guitar work this is a good closer to a good album. Simpson has put together an eclectic mix of big guitars, jazzy backgrounds, country Blues, and melodic music that would fit well in any Blues lover’s collection.

The musicians for this recording are Mick Simpson, (vocals, guitars, mandolin, banjo) Andy Littlewood, (keyboards, backing vocals, bass) Alan Young, (drums, percussion) Dave Hunt, (harmonica on tracks 10 & 12) Michael John McElligott, (acoustic guitar on track 5) Gill Hunter, (electric piano on track 5) and Steve Gillies (bass on track 5) There are no covers on this CD and the songwriting credits for tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, & 14 go to Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood. Tracks 3, 7, 11, & 12 are written by Andy Littlewood and track 5 is written by M. J. McElligott and Andy Littlewood. A. Littlewood produced and engineered “Unfinished Business”.

Mick Simpson tours regularly across the pond and you can find the tour schedule on his web site.

Reviewer Tim “Bluzybiker” Petty spent 42 years building railroads and now spends his time supporting the music he loves and riding motorcycles – sometimes at the same time.

Featured Blues Review -12 of 12

Patti Parks – Cheat’n Man


CD: 9 songs; 33:45 Minutes

Styles: Ensemble Blues, Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues

When it comes to blues artists, some are renowned for their studio albums and others for their in-person performances. A clear example of the latter case is Buffalo’s Patti Parks, who complains about a “Cheat’n Man” on her 2013 debut release. With a title reminiscent of Chick-fil-A’s “EAT MOR CHIKIN” slogan, it contains nine original songs perfect for live venues. Even its length, at just over thirty minutes, is just right for an outdoor blues festival time slot.

Fans of ensemble, horn-based music will go gaga over the extensive talent here, with no less than seventeen musicians listed as contributors – including Patti on vocals. On her website, under the tab “The Patti Parks Band,” organist/pianist Guy Nirelli, baritone sax player Paul Vanacore, and trumpeter Gerry Youngman are officially listed. Some might quibble over whether this CD is actually blues or jazz, but when a crowd’s having a good time, fights regarding genre dissipate. Fans of the Laurie Morvan Band might also notice similarities between Patti and their ‘fave femme’. Both are tall blondes with shapely legs and husky, above-average vocals. The following three songs, written by Guy Nirelli as producer as well as musician, will mesmerize many:

Track 03: “Back Off” – Patti may be from New York, but this track is pure Chicago blues. With an infectious refrain by Sam Guarino, Carol Jean Swist, and Pete Holguin, it’s certain to get audiences singing along. “Whenever we’re together you say I must change, but when I’m with you, baby, you are the one to blame,” Parks points out. Such a song is about a woman who needs her space, but rest assured that soloist Charles Buffamonte’s hot guitar riff doesn’t “Back Off”.

Track 04: “It Ain’t Right” – Slowing things down a bit is the next selection, a smoldering song about a neglectful partner’s classic sense of entitlement: “You came home last night; you smelled of smoke and booze. How long can this go on before I lose my cool? Oh, it ain’t right, baby…” Carol Jean Swist takes a powerful turn on piano here, alongside drummer Pete Holguin and guest guitarist Buffamonte. The best part, however, is Parks’ feisty monologue in the middle.

Track 08: “What I Had to Be” – This autobiographical hit should have been song number nine, because it’s one heck of a dynamic closer. “When I was young, I used to listen to the radio. My parents played their music; I just loved it so. You know, it felt so good. Something happened to me. That music moved my soul – it just set me free, and I knew then what I had to be.” Guest stars are Nick Veltri on Fender bass, guitarist John Riggi, drummer Gary Mallaber, Bob Miers on trombone, and Nick Salamone on tenor sax.

Straight from hot-as-chicken-wings Buffalo, Patti Parks and her “Cheat’n Man” cheerfully invite one to ‘HEAR MOR ENSEMBLE BLUES’!

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

 Send your Blues Society’s BIG news or Press Release about your not-for-profit event with the subject line “Blues Society News” to:

Maximum of 175 words in a Text or MS Word document format.

 Mississippi Valley Blues Society – Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents the Holmes Brothers—Saturday, August 16 at the Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street in Bettendorf, Iowa. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. and admission is $15. For more info

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

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, Ale House Pub & Eatery, Tuesday, August 12, Laurie Morvan Band, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, Tues, August 19, Polly O’Keary 7 The Rhythm Method, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmens Club, Tues, August 26, 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. August 4 – Jeff Jensen, August 11 – Laurie Morvan Band, August 18 – Chris Duarte, August 25 -Lionel Young Band

Additional ICBC shows:  July 31 – James Armstrong Presents Kicked to the Curb @ The Alamo, 6:00 pm, August 3 –  Cee James will be at Long Bridge with special guests, Brooke Thomas acoustic & Mary Jo Curry & Tombstone Bullet., 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

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



Please follow and like us: