Issue 8-40 October 2, 2014

Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2014


 In This Issue

Steve Patrick has our feature interview with Brandon Santini.

We a review of a book about Memphis Minnie plus reviews of new music by Dave Fields, The Heavy Chevy Band, Little Bobby and Bees Deluxe .

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,

We are working on a GREAT show for you!

The 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards has three stages and 23 of the best Blues artists out there today including Bobby Rush And Blinddog Smokin’, Shaun Murphy Band, Toronzo Cannon, Albert Castiglia, Trudy Lynn, Too Slim and The Tail Draggers, Bernie Pearl with Barbara Morrison, Dave Riley and Bob Corritore, Tweed Funk, Adrianna Marie and Her Groovecutters, Back Pack Jones, Annie Mack Band, RB Stone, Norman Taylor, Lisa Biales, Mark T Small, Lisa Mann, The Frank Bey Anthony Paule Band, Brent Johnson and the Call Up, Steve Dawson, Rachelle Coba, Sean Chambers, Josh Hoyer, an opening set by Andy T. Nick Nixon Band plus a few surprises!

You don’t want to miss this one! Have you got your tickets yet?

For tickets and compete information, CLICK HERE or see our ad below.

Also attending the awards will be the 2014 Blues Blast Magazine Lifetime Achievement Awards winners. Who are they? Stay tuned. We will announce them on Friday this week!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 5

Woman With Guitar – Memphis Minnie Blues

Written by Paul & Beth Garon

City Lights Books

407 pages

This biographical study was first published in 1992 by Da Capo Press. In the ensuing years, researchers like Jim O’Neal, Robert Pruter, and Bob Eagle have uncovered additional information and documents that, combined with the original work, give us more insight into the life and career of Memphis Minnie, one of the most prolific blues singers in history. The authors, Paul & Beth Garon, have collected all of the new findings and incorporated them into a study that explores Minnie’s music and how it reflected the world that she lived in.

Minnie Douglas was born on June 3, 1897 supposedly in Algiers, Louisiana. Research has cast some doubts about the location, which causes some speculation by the authors. Her father was a sharecropper but Minnie never fancied the hard life on a farm. She received a guitar for Christmas at age eight, setting in motion an interest in music that would provide an escape route from field work. Soon she was running off to hang out on Beale Street in Memphis, where she undoubtedly was schooled on singing and guitar techniques. Soon she hit the road as part of a touring Ringling Brothers show, rounding out her rough edges and teaching her the value of showmanship as well as the art of survival. The book adds this quote from bluesman Johnny Shines, “She didn’t take no foolishness off them (men). ..anything she get her hands on she’d use it; ..Memphis Minnie used to be a hellcat.”

She soon developed into a mesmerizing singer and a masterful guitarist considered to be as good as any man. When she paired up with Kansas Joe McCoy in Memphis, they shared the vocals over their dazzling National steel guitar interplay. Soon they cut their first records for Columbia in 1929 and the following year did multiple sessions for the Vocalion label. Columbia issued classic tracks “When the Levee Breaks, “Frisco Town”, and “Bumble Bee” while “Dirt Dauber Blues”, “What’s the Matter with the Mill”, and “Plymouth Rock Blues” were hits for Vocalion. Several years later they had releases on Decca and Bluebird. By 1934, the pair cut their last session. The authors discuss whether their parting was due to Joe being jealous of Minnie’s fame or because he had got religion.

Minnie continued on alone, cutting records on a regular basis under the guidance of Lester Melrose, who provided a steady stream of talent to the major labels. Minnie followed the great migration north and ended up in Chicago. There she found regular club work befitting an artist of her stature. She also incorporated the new sound of single string guitar picking that started with the legendary Lonnie Johnson. By the end of the decade, Minnie has another great partner, Earnest “Little Son Joe” Lawlars, a fine guitar man who became Minnie’s second husband and recording partner for the next twenty years.

The book is divided into three sections. The first part – The Life – recounts details of Minnie’s life and recording career. There isn’t much in the way of print articles on Minnie, although sources like The Chicago Defender newspaper files contain ads for Minnie’s appearances in Chicago clubs. Details come from remembrances from other blues artists like Jimmy Rogers, Champion Jack Dupree, Brewer Phillips, and Homesick James. No one disputes that Minnie was a rough woman as well as a top-notch blues musician. Several pages recount the success Minnie had at cutting contests, even when she was pitted against legends like Big Bill Broonzy.

The next section of the book – The Songs – breaks down her extensive recordings into fourteen general topical categories. This allows the authors to dig deep to reveal hidden or thinly veiled meanings in the lyrics – “Our aim is to reveal the unheard side of Minnie’s entire realm so that we might recover the power of her achievement in a way that addresses the urgent needs of humankind today”. They explore the influence of racism, women’s rights, sexual tension, and even voodoo on Minnie’s songwriting. “ The blues itself sabotages “bourgeois discourse” by its advocacy of non-repressive values….”. They also find similarities between Minnie’s lyrics and famous poets like Rimbaud – “Thus, there may be an analogy between how we listen to the blues and how surrealist poets listen to the unconscious”. At times their musings require your undivided attention in order to grasp the point under discussion.

The Appendices section includes a listing of her nightclub performances, a thirty-six page discography covering the 250 songs that she played and/or sang on, an additional forty pages of notes by chapter, and twenty-four pages of photos and documents that bring you closer to the beautiful woman who made beautiful music.

Minnie cut her last record in 1959. A short time later, she suffered a stroke that left her unable to play the guitar. Her sister, Daisy Douglas Johnson, cared for her in Memphis until she was unable to continue. Minnie was moved to a nursing home, where she lived until her death in 1973. Her grave remained unmarked until 1996, when Bonnie Raitt financed the purchase of a fitting headstone.

The idea behind any biography is to bring the subject into brighter light, illuminating their character, their strengths and faults as well as their impact on the world around them. The Garons and their contributors have certainly fulfilled that goal. This updated volume celebrates the legacy of the person many claim was the first lady of the blues. Blues fans should relish this opportunity to discover more about Memphis Minnie, a pivotal figure in blues history.

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

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 Featured Blues Interview – Brandon Santini

What on earth could possess a 15 year old boy in 1997 to have an interest in Blues harmonica?

A young Brandon Santini listened to a popular rock band of the day and liked what he heard.

“At 15, as you can imagine, you listen to what’s on mainstream radio and Blues Traveler…I heard those guys and I was like, ‘Man, I really like that harmonica.’ So, I bought one of their albums and I saw what kind of harmonica John Popper plays, so I asked my mom to take me to the music store and ended up buying a harmonica that day.”

That day would change Santini’s life as he is now recognized to be one of the best harp players in the blues scene today. Santini’s most recent studio recording, 2013’s This Time Another Year, was widely lauded and earned Santini nominations for several awards.

When asked why “harmonica heroes” don’t seem to be household names like “guitar heroes” are, Santini delivered a theory pinning it on the amateur that thinks they can play.

“I’m not really sure of the exact answer to that. You know, harmonica can be a really easy instrument to play and it can be a really tough instrument to play for some people. Luckily with a lot of practice I’ve been able to achieve what I have. I think the harmonica…I don’t know if people don’t think it’s the coolest instrument, as much as a guitar, or what but I think that a lot of cats will give it a bad name by showing up at jams. There’s that guy in the audience that has the harmonica that’s playing in the wrong key. I think it’s a different ballgame with harmonica.”

Santini does have an optimistic outlook on bringing harmonica playing back in focus in blues music today because he thinks it is currently lacking. “I’m trying to change that. (laughs) There’s a lot of great players out there. I just wish there were more in the forefront.” Santini continued with a valid point that “back in the ‘50s and ‘60s you couldn’t find a blues band without a harmonica player. That’s just totally different now.”

In terms of harmonica influences, Santini has a laundry list that, while predictable, is also essential. “Well the first guy to get me into straight blues was Paul Butterfield. Then I got into James Cotton. Then Little Walter. You know, Kim Wilson, Sonny Boy Williamson II…all those guys are my big influences,” said Santini. “It’s tough for me to narrow it down. I really like the big tone amplified players a lot and James Cotton is great at that.”

Since Santini represents a younger generation of blues players, it was important for him to highlight his inspirations from the new guard: “Well, you know I think Jason Ricci has really helped the instrument evolve. He does some really amazing things that I can’t do, but he’s an amazing player. I’m glad that he’s getting the recognition he deserves. Outside of that, some of my favorites now that are still out there are…Gary Smith, he’s absolutely amazing. There are some great guys that are doing a lot of instruction…Dennis Gruenling is one of my favorite new guys. Ronnie Shellist out in Colorado, he’s absolutely amazing. Bob Corritore is an amazingly tasteful player and a true gentleman.”

While his harp playing is clearly what sets Santini apart, he also commands a huge, smoky voice that perfectly complements the music. Initially Santini had no intention of singing, but rather was forced to out of necessity. “The way I started singing is when I first had the idea of leaving North Carolina where I grew up to come to Memphis I was playing with a guitar player in a duo setting. It was his idea to move to Memphis back in 2003 and I said, ‘That’s great man! Who’s gonna sing?’ And he said, ‘You are.’ I said, ‘Ooof, okay.’ (laughs) It was just trial and error and just forming my own voice.”

Santini doesn’t credit one vocalist as the inspiration for his style, but many fans of his have their own thoughts. “Some people say I sound like Dr. John, I get that more than anyone else, but it never has been just one single influence. It’s very much my voice and I’m really proud of that. It’s definitely far from perfect, but I guess it’s just everything I’ve heard. That’s the best I can describe it.”

Was it was tough making a living in the blues scene in Memphis with so many other blues acts based there?

“When I first moved here I certainly hadn’t achieved a lot of great things with my playing. I still had so much to learn. I still do. It was amazing to see all of the great entertainers, not just musicians, but entertainers on stage. On Beale Street you have to put on a show and be able to pull those people in off of Beale Street because if you don’t somebody else is going to do it. There was just so much great talent to learn from. The beautiful thing about Memphis and the blues genre in general is that I don’t see it as a very competitive genre. It’s very family-oriented and supportive genre and that’s why I’m really proud to be a part of it.”

“Even though the blues market is relatively small, it’s a blessing in disguise because you get to form these relationships and friendships with people all over the world…it’s a beautiful thing.”

This Time Another Year was both a huge nod to one of Santini’s harmonica heroes and also a comment on life in general. “Well the song ‘This Time Another Year’ is a big take on an old Charlie Musselwhite tune. I just thought that line is really cool because ‘this time another year I wonder where I’m gonna be?’ That’s how that lyric goes and I think that’s such a very, very cool introspective thing that we always ask ourselves.”

“We recorded about 20 hours at Ardent Studios in Memphis. Ardent’s a very legendary studio, so it was really cool to record there and absorb the mojo of the albums that had been recorded there in the past. We tracked live for pretty much all of the instruments. There were a few times that we’d go back and overdub a harmonica solo and go back and re-do some of the lyrics and some things like that, but I really like to capture that live feel. When you’re playing 150-200 shows a year, you’re naturally going to be more comfortable with that live feel instead of layering things over and over again. I think in the blues world it’s very much a necessity to capture that live feel and not lose that.”

Santini received two Blues Music Award nominations this year following the warm reception of This Time Another Year, one for “Contemporary Blues Album of the Year” and also for “Best Instrumentalist – Harmonica.” Santini recalled his initial feeling when he heard the news that he was nominated for awards along with the likes of Buddy Guy, Charlie Musselwhite, and James Cotton: “It was so exciting. The nominees will get an e-mail from the Blues Foundation before it’s public and I remember scrolling down on my computer…I was just like ‘Oh my God.’ It felt so good to know that all the hard work and dedication was paying off. Even though I didn’t win, I feel that just being nominated…just being in the house…is the rewarding part. Musicians put a lot of love and labor into these projects and touring…and you always want to know that your hard work is being noticed and paying off.”

“You’re up against legends. How do you compete with that? (laughs) You don’t. You really don’t. I like to think that if it weren’t for all those people nominated in those categories…especially the harmonica category…if it weren’t for Cotton and Musselwhite, there would be no me. That’s what I like to think of it.”

“It’s also nice to know in that category specifically that the nominators and the voters are recognizing that there is a newer generation of blues. We’re just trying to keep it going and carry it on.”

Also, for the second year in a row, Santini is nominated for the “Sean Costello Rising Star Award” in the 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards. “I can’t wait to find out…being nominated is really a highlight. It’s amazing to be nominated amongst your friends in this category. I think last year Doug Deming was a very worthy recipient of that award. I’m just thankful to be recognized by the people and the nominators. It’s a really nice feeling.”

Santini had some words of advice for anyone interested in pursuing a career in music: “Go to college and get a degree. (laughs) You know, it takes a lot of dedication and for me it took a leap of faith. I find a lot of musicians that I know that have the daytime job thing going on…they’re afraid to make that move and to sacrifice that comfort and that’s very understandable. I think making friends and supporting other musicians is the key to it. There’s so many musicians that can go out there and be unkind and unsupportive to other musicians and bands. I think that will give you a bad image, a bad name, and that’s definitely not what you want.” Santini rephrased the “Golden Rule” filtered through the music business by stating, “Be kind to musicians, be kind to fans, and you should be alright.”

Touring life can take it’s toll on a musician, but Santini seems to relish the opportunity to share his music with fans in the live setting. What does he enjoy most about touring?

“The unpredictability of it. You’re meeting so many people each day of your tour and there’s always some amazing folks out there when you’re on the road. You see strange things, you see very rewarding things. It seems like no day is exactly the same. I really just enjoy getting out there on stage and playing music for the people.”

Santini will have plenty of opportunities to get “out there on stage” when he will be touring in support of his new live album. “We’re actually going to be releasing a new live album in late January. That hasn’t been officially announced yet. So we’re going to start hitting the road late January. We do a couple nights in Upstate New York and there’s some things routing to and from. In February we’re gonna be doing four nights on the Joe Bonamassa Keeping the Blues Alive (at Sea) cruise that goes out of Miami to Key West and to the Bahamas, so (I’m) looking forward to that. We’ve got some festivals lined up for the springtime and we’re gonna be basically touring a whole bunch in support of this album.”

“It’s gonna be called Live and Extended! with a big exclamation mark at the end because it’s gonna represent my live show really well which is an energetic, dynamic show. It was recorded in Quebec City, Canada. Quebec was one of the last shows of the summer tour last summer and it’s gonna be about 65-70 minutes of music. It’s good, man. It’s energetic. I say Live and Extended! because I think ‘extended’ is a great word for it because most of the songs are over 5 minutes long and there’s a lot of crowd interaction. I’m really excited about it.”

Many people have convoluted or overblown goals in the music business, but Santini’s prime motivator is quite simple.

“I really want people to just feel good when they listen to my music. I’ve had people at shows tell me that they’ve cried. I’ve seen people emotional at shows on a real slow song. I really just want people to have a good time…either at the show or listening at home or in the car. I want them to forget about all the troubles and just get all those negative thoughts out of their head and just let themselves go and be free for that time period. That’s what it’s about. I like to make people smile at the shows and I hope my music does the same too.”

Santini has no intentions of rushing his next studio album, but he has already begun the writing process. “I’ve been writing on stuff for the last several months. We’re actually gonna start recording some of those demos and just taking our time with it. There’s no set time as to when we’ll be back in the studio. Ideally by the end of 2015, that would be nice, but I’m gonna take my time on this one I think,” said Santini. He continued, “There’s a lot of different material that this will have on it. I don’t know the word to describe it, but it’ll be a little more personal and less traditional.”

What it was about blues music that still speaks to him as a musician? Santini has the perfect answer.

“I think it’s a very honest and imperfect music. That’s basically what life is like. Life can have its hang-ups and blues can really soothe that. There’s so much great blues music out there that can pull you in. It’s soulful. I think that’s all you can really ask from a song or a musician…is to be honest and soulful.”

“I’m always very thankful for all of my fans and friends and without the support of them there’d be no me. There wouldn’t be a lot of blues bands. (laughs) We’re all in this together and helping each other with the blues, whether it’s musicians, booking agents, fans, club owners, publications, interviewers…we’re all together and we all have to stick together and keep this beautiful genre of music we call the blues going strong.”

Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2014

Interviewer Steve Patrick is a lifelong blues, rock, and metal fan from Ohio. Steve is also a staff writer for UWeekly newspaper in Columbus, OH and Senior Columnist for

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 5

Dave Fields – All In

FMI Fields Music Publishing – 2014

Eleven tracks with a total running time of 50:44

The fourth album by New York Blues-rocker Dave Fields is entitled All In and features 11 songs: 9 originals and a funky ‘live’ version of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” and a burning, almost unrecognizable, rendition of the timeless classic “Cross Road” (R. Johnson).

Recorded mostly live in the studio, All In, features many of the same musicians that played on Dave’s first three CD’s Time’s A Wastin’, All Wound Up & Detonation: Andy Huenerberg (bass), Kenny Soule (drums), Vladimir Barsky (keys), Dave Moore (drums) and some new comers: Tony Tino (bass) and special guest BMA nominee Dave Keyes (piano).

This CD should come with a warning label that reads: “Caution: prolonged exposure to these sounds will result in an extreme desire to max out the sound on your stereo.” From the opening track, “Changes In My Life”, to the last Fields takes us on a musical joy ride and if you decide to get on board you won’t be disappointed.

“Changes…” starts with a riff that will make you swear you have just put on a Sonny Landreth recording. Using Landreth-like riffs and a driving rhythm section this ditty will get you up and dancing whether you want to or not. With lyrics like, “The road is long, but I am strong. I don’t always sing a happy song but I keep going with the changes in my life.” – we are truly being treated to a complete Blues-rock package.

With the previously mentioned “Cross Road” (track 5) we get a completely reworked version of a Robert Johnson classic made famous by the English Blues-rock group Cream. Blues music is awash in cover music and their “interpretation” of timeless artists such as Johnson, Muddy, Dixon, etc. Few artists can make a cover sound like an original and Fields proves, with this song, that he is one of them.

“Wake Up Jasper” (track 6) is an up-tempo shuffle that showcases Fields’ guitar chops and he has them in spades. This is a slide guitar fan’s delight with hot slide licks all over it and combined with Dave Keyes’ prowess on the piano (swear he makes it sound like Lonnie Mack using a whammy) the listener has the total package.

There is so much to like on this CD: tasty guitar licks, cool-smoky vocals, excellent rhythm section, prime piano pieces, entertaining lyrics and last but not least the cover folds out and the lyrics are printed inside. What a concept – remember when printing the lyrics with a recording was the norm? Who doesn’t like to sing along with a kick-ass recording of some tasteful tunes? All in all there is not a clinker in the bunch of musical magic Fields treats us to on All In. The only mildly negative thing this reviewer would have to say is “When are you going to leave the eastern US and treat the rest of the states to your musical mastery?”

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 – 3 of 5

The Heavy Chevy Band – Open Up

Rolling Horse Records 2013

10 tracks; 36 minutes

Hailing from the Pacific North West, this band is fronted by vocalist Darcy Lee Gribble. Darcy wrote all the material here with guitarist Brian Chevalier (who also plays harp and sings) while sax is added by Janie Smith. The rhythm section is unfortunately not credited on the album sleevenotes.

The material ranges from heavy rockers like opener “Secrets” to almost country blues like “Lonesome Cry”: the latter works well with harp set against acoustic guitars and hand percussion; the former less so as the rather thin sounding sax does not fit easily with the frenetic guitar work, though we immediately encounter the fine vocals of Darcy.

Darcy comes across even better on “Little Miss Lonely” where Brian’s moody slide provides excellent colour behind Darcy’s great voice though, again, Jane’s sax solo sounds out of place here. “Slow Burn” is, as the title suggests, a slow blues and here Jane’s sax sounds more robust.

The remaining tracks are all quite short. A jaunty guitar riff is at the heart of “Jump Back” and “She Got It Going On” is a rocker with Brian handling the lead vocals – both tracks are short and sweet at 2.30 each. “Borrow Another Dollar” opens with some convincing Elmore James-style slide, Brian again leading on vocals.

“Getting Into Something” brings Darcy back to the mike with another strong vocal, both Brian and Jane in support – the sound is good but the lyrics pretty meaningless. “Weep” finds Darcy in gospel mode with Brian on resonator quietly supporting her. Jane’s flute distracts from the vocal performance which is a shame as Darcy sings very expressively and might have been better with just the guitar and minimal percussion. The title track strangely closes the album with an instrumental, a dialogue between slide and sax with plenty of percussion.

What is clear from these tracks is that Darcy Lee Gribble has a fine voice that deserves to be heard. When she sings the listener takes notice immediately; it would be good to hear her voice in other settings.

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 – 4 of 5

Little Bobby – Showbiz

Untouchable Productions

CD: 8 Songs; 38:15 Minutes

Styles: Blues Rock, Soul-Influenced Blues

Nobody ever said that playing the blues was easy.

However, it’s the goal of blues musicians to make it appear that way, hiding countless hours of hard work behind seemingly-effortless performances. Not everyone can pull it off and be well-known in “Showbiz,” although they certainly try their hardest.

This year, Minnesota’s “Little Bobby” Houle (last name rhyming with ‘pool’) has put forth his latest CD in an ambitious spirit. He also performed at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, IA this July. Photos of him from that event can be seen in the August 7, 2014 issue of BluesBlast. He may have sung some songs from “Showbiz” there.

Out of eight total tracks, the only cover is “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James. The others are a mixture of blues, rock and soul. Sometimes the instrumentation doesn’t quite mesh, and Little Bobby’s vocals are rather raw and often buried in the mix. What makes him and his band tick? They give their all, musically and lyrically, but their unfocused style could benefit from fine-tuning.

2005 was his debut CD, Before the Storm, followed by 2007’s Down, Dirty and Mean, 2008’s I’ve Got a Woman, and a live DVD in 2009 called A Night at the Empire. He’s performed at concerts throughout the U.S. and Europe, including the RAWA Blues Festival in Katiwice, Poland and the Chicago Blues Festival. The Chicago Sun-Times rated Little Bobby and Nora Jean Bruso the number-one band to see. The site reads: “In 2011 the two put together the CD ‘Good Blues’, [which] Little Bobby not only played on but wrote and produced. The album not only appeared on the blues charts but helped push Nora Jean to her 7th BMA nomination for ‘Best Traditional Female Blues Performer.”

Little Bobby’s first instrument was the drums. He got his first set from his aunt and uncle. His passion soon changed and he was turned on by the sound of the guitar. His first influences were the blues style of Jimmy Page and [Jimi] Hendrix. He met another Indian brother, who one day told Bobby, “You have a blues voice.” Already being self-taught, the improvising style of the blues seemed like a natural fit. After getting a cheap recorder he laid down his first blues cut “Hey There Storm” and got his first radio spin on “The Riverside Blues Show.” From there Little Bobby was hooked on the blues.

In the liner notes to the album, Little Bobby says, “…I hope there will be a song on this CD that will help you through tough times or inspires you in your life.” Bobby, who played most of the instruments himself, also thanks saxophonist Maury Finney, drummer Michael “Taco” Valasquez, and second sax player Jimmy Wallace.

In “Showbiz,” at least as it relates to the blues, many are called but few are chosen. Houle has what it takes to make it big! Let’s hope he keeps on truckin’.

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 – 5 of 5

bees deluxe – Trouble In Paradise

Self Release

10 songs time-31:41

Visions of Judy Jetson dancing “The Solar Swivel” to Jet Screamer belting out “Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah” to the cosmos.

This Boston-based band bills itself as an acid-blues band. English frontman Conrad Warre handles guitar, vocals and songwriting duties. The self-taught Warre plays modified guitars using a hybrid picking technique that enables him to create the clear bell-like tones he prefers. Keyboardist Jon Gamble provides trippy jazz organ and keyboards. The drums of Patrick Sanders pop all over the place while Joe McEachern’s bass anchor’s everything.

I don’t know what acid-blues is supposed to sound like, but this music holds your attention while taking you on a cerebral ride. Along your journey various musical snippets trigger memories of bands from your consciousness. Step aboard and check your preconceptions at the door. A heady proposition this. Now read on dot dot dot.

Funky organ and a crisp beat underscore the somewhat blues-infused guitar of “That’s What I’m Living For”. The vocal here and elsewhere sounds like it is the result of sedation. Not entirely my “cup of tea”, but it grows on one a little. The main thrust of the music on this album is its’ creativity and adventuress spirit. The musicality of Steely Dan comes to mind on the instrumental “Cell Phone” that features the coolest jazz organ this side of Jimmy Smith. Not to mention some other-worldly guitar.

Another deadpan vocal fails to obscure the Mark Knopfler inspired guitar magic of “Hammers & Apples”. The stop-start rhythms of New Orleans funkmeisters The Meters are displayed in the tight organ-guitar interplay of “Don’t Look Happy”. The Jetsons-meet-cool-lounge music on “Chromascoping” via more way cool organ and guitar. Incredible drum separation and double-tracked guitar imbue “Repossession”.

Spacey Robin Trower guitar textures float around the instrumental “Musical Chairs”. Interesting funky rhythms are the stuff “New Jersey Turnpike” is made of. At the halfway point we are taken back to Robin Trower land only to be dropped back to funkville. “Lost In Space” completes the Robin Trower connection trilogy with solo melancholy guitar. The album closes out with a hidden track that is a slow and spaced-out journey through the universe.

Now back to earth. Virtually no blues to speak of here, but what an incredible voyage it was. One to be taken over and over, each time revealing some new nuance in this mind enriching musical gem. “Ladies and gentleman please wait until the record has reached a complete stop before disembarking.

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

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River Basin Blues Society – Evansville, IN

The River Basin Blues Society will host the 3rd annual River Basin Blues Blast starting at 4 pm on November 29, 2014, at the Deerhead Sidewalk Cafe, 222 E. Columbia, Evansville, IN. Bands performing at the event include the Beat Daddys, Honey Roy, Soul Creation and 103 Degrees (featuring Grammy Award winner Jeff ‘Stick’ Davis and Joe Doughtery, the road drummer for the Grass Roots).

At this year’s Blues Blast the River Basin Blues Society will award the 1st Annual Blues Heritage Award. This inaugural award will be given to Steady Wailin’ Sid Scott. Sid has been a force of music, culture, and news in the African American community in Evansville.

The event is free, but a portion of food and drink sales from the event will benefit the RBBS and 91.5-FM WUEV. There will also be prize giveaways. For more information, contact the RBBS at

Minnesota Blues Society – St. Paul, Mn

Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies are being held beginning at 1:00PM Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014 at Wilebski’s Blues Saloon, 1638 Rice St., St. Paul, Mn.

The 2014 inductees are – Blues Performer: Jimi “Prime Time” Smith, Blues Legend: Big John Dickerson, Blues Legacy: Joseph E. “Jo Jo” Williams, Blues Sideman: Jeremy Johnson, Supportive of the Blues (Non-performer): John “Blueshammer” Hammer, Blues Art, Literature, Media: Marc Norberg, “Black, White, and Blues” (photography), Blues Recording” Joe Juliano, “Hot Cup of Joe Juliano”, Blues Song: Curtis Obeda, “Crying to Do”. Suggested Donation : $10.00 More info:

Piedmont Blues Preservation Society – Greensboro, NC

Piedmont Blues Preservation Society is holding it’s 29th Annual Blues Challenge talent competitions at the Blind Tiger live music venue in Greensboro, NC on Oct 19 and October 26. Our events have brought talent from all over the East Coast and last year we had competitors from Barcelona, Spain! On October 19, we will have our Solo/Duo Challenge and on October 26 we will hold the Band Challenge. Top three (3) places in each competition win Cash Prizes and the First Place Finalist in each competition advance to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, January 20-24.

For more information:

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign, IL

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society is holding its local IBC Band Challenge on Saturday, October 18, at Memphis on Main, 55 E Main St. in Champaign. Doors open at 4:00 and we invite everyone to come out and cheer for your favorite blues band.

PCBS will hold it’s local IBC Solo/Duo Challenge on Saturday, November 1, at Bentley’s Pub, 419 N. Neil St. in Champaign. We’re looking forward to conducting our first Solo/Duo Challenge and the event kicks off at 5:00.

The competitions are open to Illinois based acts, and follow the Blues Foundation’s suggested scoring criteria and rules. The deadline for Bands to enter is September 24, and the deadline for Solo/Duo acts is October 8.

For more info and entry forms, visit our IBC Challenge Page;

Friends of the Blues – Kankakee, IL

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

Thursday, October 02, Sena Ehrhardt, Moose Lodge

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. Oct. 6—Kilborn Alley, Oct. 13—Jarekus Singleton, Oct. 20—Ghost Town Blues Band, Oct. 27—Albert Castiglia

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



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