Issue 8-8 February 20, 2014

Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2014 Blues Blast Magazine

 In This Issue  

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Dave Weld.

We have six Blues music reviews for you. James “Skyy Dobro” Walker  reviews a new CD from Dixie Peach. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD by James Armstrong. Marty Gunther reviews a new album from Eric Bibb. John Mitchell reviews a reissue release by Roosevelt Sykes. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new CD from John Ginty. Rhys Williams reviews a new CD from Lewis Hamilton.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk  

Announcing the 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards

Hey Blues Fans,

It is that time again to let publicists, artists, labels and Blues industry contacts know that open submissions in the 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards will begin on March 1st, 2014.

We will again offer you the opportunity to put your eligible Blues music releases directly into the hands of our 30 nominators for consideration in this years awards. Submissions are free and can be sent from March 1st until April 15, 2014.

The Blues Blast Music Awards honor the BEST in today’s Blues music and are voted on by music fans all over the world. This years release eligibility period is April 1st 2013 to April 30th, 2014. All music released during this period is eligible for consideration.

Complete information is at this link

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music! 

Bob Kieser

 Blues Wanderings  

We made it out in the nasty winter weather to a Blue Monday Show presented by Illinois Central Blues Club in Springfield , Illinois. The show featured Australian Blues singer Annie Piper and Brent Johnson and the Call-Up. You have probably seen Brent before. He has been playing guitar for Bryan Lee for the last several years and has finally (after repeated urging by this Blues fan and others) struck out on his own.

Brent has a new CD coming out in April. Can’t wait to hear this one!


Blues Blast Magazine’s Early Bird Special is our lowest pricing of the 2014 year. It offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out!

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Normal 2014 Advertising rates are $100 per issue for Blues Blast magazine ads and $100 per month for website sidebar ads. BUT, for a limited time, this special gives you six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and a month and a half on our website for only $375. (A $750 value!)

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To get this special rate simply buy your ad space by MARCH 31st, 2014!!!! Ads can run anytime between now and December 2014.

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 Featured Blues review – 1 of 6  

Dixie Peach – Blues with Friends

Big Shew Records

10 tracks; 43:46 minutes; Library Quality

Styles: Southern Blues-Rock; American Roots Music

“You shall be known by the company you keep.” I did not know Ira Stanley, leader of re-united Dayton, Ohio band Dixie Peach, but I know some of the company he is keeping. Listed as guesting “Friends” are accomplished vocalist and harmonizer Etta Britt and soulful Southern Rockers Grammy nominated Lee Roy Parnell and ex-Allman Brothers Band member Jack Pearson, both guitar monsters influenced by works of Duane Allman. Now, that is good company, indeed.

Originally formed in 1972, Dixie Peach featured Ira Stanley (guitars), Mike Rousculp (bass), and Steve Williams (keyboards). The band included Tony Paulus (keyboards & guitar), and Jerry Barnhart (drums). Beginning in 1973, Dixie Peach started touring full time, playing gigs from Buffalo, New York to Tampa, Florida. Finding success, the band released its first album in 1974. Eventually, the stress of constant travelling led to the band discontinuing. Members scattered; some went to college, and others began careers in business or education. However, each member continued to play and perform part time for many years.

By popular demand, in 1998 the band reformed with all the original members (except Steve Benson had replaced Jerry on drums) to play one last final appearance. Experiencing a sellout crowd, the band began playing one annual gig called the “annual final appearance.” In 2002, Ira won “best guitarist” at the “Fortune” battle of the corporate bands held at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Gibson (guitars) was a sponsor of the event and began to use Dixie Peach as a house band for many of its musical functions. At these functions, the band backed up national performers like Dickey Betts, Lee Roy Parnell, Jeff Carlisi (.38 Special), Kenny Olson (Kid Rock), and Carl Weathersby. In 2002, the band released a second album titled “Butta” which included some original material and Blues covers. And, in 2013, Dixie Peach released this newest CD with ten, all original songs. Titled “Blues with Friends,” it includes the 1998 lineup and guest appearances by 15 deft friends. Prominently featuring electric Blues guitar, it was a finalist in the International Blues Challenge for Best Self-Produced CD.

Kicking off our Saturday night radio show with an instrumental found last on the CD, “Rick’s Shuffle,” my radio partner Shuffle Shoes and I looked at each other with an Oh-my-God moment; how were we going to top that in the next four hours of programming! As the engine room pumps out a shuffling groove, Ira and guitar guest Lee Swisher trade tasty licks and channel some incredible Duane Allman slide work that broke smiles across our faces. Another killer instrumental is “Bottle [sic] Hymn of the Republic” featuring a slide-fest ala Ira, Lee Roy, and Jack.

Slated for future play is the set opener, “Too Much Trouble,” which kicks off with ear-grabbing guitar lines that set up Stanley’s gruff and studied vocals lamenting injustices. Punctuating those thoughts are Ira’s slide and Swisher’s guitar plus Tony Paulus on keys.

“Pork Chop Blues” is a killer track with full band treatment. Featuring a Latin rhythm, it especially showcases Stanley’s picking followed by Jack Pearson who takes a hot second solo before yielding to Lee Roy Parnell who singes the strings. Gary King (Trombone), Michael Greene ( Baritone Sax), Matt Quinn (Sax) and Brady Hagen (Trumpet) add the horns to this standout track.

“Trouble with Love” is radio-ready and features Stanley and Scotty Bratcher on single note guitar runs and a sweet tandem passage. Ira and Etta Britt trade poignant vocal leads explaining that “the trouble with love is – it ain’t nothing but trouble.”

The album is mixed by Grammy nominee Bud Snyder, who spent years with the Allman Brothers Band and Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts individually. The album was mastered by Rodney Mills who previously worked with .38 Special and the Atlanta Rhythm Section. The combination of musicianship and recording expertise have produced an album that is noteworthy for being both familiar to Southern Blues-Rock and Roots fans, yet fresh. The band’s influences are obvious, but this album shows their own originality.

Dixie Peach is a group of accomplished musicians doing what they like best: playing American Blues. They can keep company with me anytime!

Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard Saturdays 8 pm – Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL.

For other reviews on our website CLICK HERE

Announcing the 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards

It is that time again to let publicists, artists, labels and Blues industry contacts know that open submissions in the 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards will begin on March 1st, 2014.

We will again offer you the opportunity to put your eligible Blues music releases directly into the hands of our 30 nominators for consideration in this years awards. Submissions are free and can be sent from March 1st until April 15, 2014.

The Blues Blast Music Awards honor the BEST in today’s Blues music and are voted on by music fans all over the world. This years release eligibility period is April 1st 2013 to April 30th, 2014. All music released during this period is eligible for consideration.

Complete information is at this link

 Featured Blues Interview – Dave Weld  

There’s an age-old saying about things being darkest right before the dawn.

And sometimes it takes the howl of a wolf to shatter the still of the night.

Living in Las Cruces, New Mexico in the early 70s, things couldn’t have been much bleaker for vocalist, slide-guitarist and bandleader extraordinaire Dave Weld.

“Man, I was so broke. They had cut off my food stamps and I got sick and they had fired me from this gas station that I was working at, so things weren’t looking very good,” he said. “At that time, I was still drinking, so I took a six-pack and went out in the desert. And while I was out there, from some far-away radio station I heard an old Howlin’ Wolf song. And I said, ‘That’s it. I’m going back to Chicago.’”

In a cool twist of fate, not only did The Wolf help provide the nudge he needed to hit the Windy City and play the blues, but in a couple of short years from that fateful encounter in the desert night, Weld would have a regular spot in the Wolf Gang, alongside many of the cats that played in The Wolf’s band.

Originally from Chicago, he may have been studying academics in New Mexico at the time, but Weld was also simultaneously learning the rudiments of the guitar from jazz guitarist Kurt Black. Those lessons proved to be the backbone for what has now become a highly-decorated 40-year career of playing the real-deal Chicago blues.

It didn’t take much longer than a year or so back in his old home town before Weld really got indoctrinated into some of the wild-and-wooly things that can happen when you’re playing blues on the west side of Chicago, in this case, at Eddie Shaw’s 1815 Club.

“There was a lot of excitement during that era. We got arrested one night. Eddie Shaw hired a shake dancer and something happened, because he was supposed to be paying off the cops and he hadn’t made his payment. So they (the cops) came in and were watching her (the dancer) from the audience. Well, she was dancing and then she started smoking a cigarette out of her coochie and blowing smoke out of her coochie,” laughed Weld. “So they shut the place down and hauled the band off to jail. But Hubert (Sumlin) and Eddie made it out the backdoor. They were a little smarter than me; I was a bit of a greenhorn. So they hauled me, Chico (Chism), Boston Blackie and Eddie Burks off to the Maxwell Street drunk tank. But to his credit, Eddie Shaw came and bailed us out. I still have my court papers from that, saying – ‘Arrested in a house of fornication.’”

Despite such transgressions, it was still an amazing time to play the blues with an amazing cast of characters.

“That was really a step up for me at the time. I mean, everybody came through there (1815 Club). Luther Johnson, guys like Otis Rush … we had a good jam with Maxwell Street Jimmy one night. All the guys came in there – Boston Blackie, Taildragger,” said Weld. “I played there every Friday and Saturday night for about a year.”

Over the ensuing decades, Weld has played with an impressive cornucopia of blues greats. However, it took a little bit of time before some folks around the city were willing to give him a legitimate chance at showing off his skills.

“At that time, the north side didn’t want me. So what I did was go where they wanted me, and that was the black clubs on the west side of Chicago … along with some on the south side,” he said. “I ended up with my first professional gig at Sweat Pea’s on the south side. And the band was the Houserockers. Hound Dog (Taylor) had just died and they (Ted Harvey, drums; and Brewer Phillips, guitar) wanted a hometown gig, so they got Sweat Pea’s every Friday and Saturday night and I drove down there for a year. Their system was broken up because they had lost their front-man, Hound Dog, so I came in and played basic little chords behind them. At that time, that was all I was capable of, but I was learning … I was learning on stage.”

Even though Weld fit right in with Hound Dog’s old running partners and immediately proved his salt to them, to some in the crowd at Sweat Pea’s, it was another story altogether.

“There was some trouble there; some of the patrons didn’t want a white person in the club. But the guys defended me and one time there was a guy that wanted to fight and they tossed him out,” said Weld. “I did that for about a year and learned so much.”

Looking back on those mid-70s times has to be almost surreal for Weld. Not only was he playing on the weekends with the mighty Houserockers, but he was also taking guitar lessons from the one-and-only slide-master and Hall of Famer -J.B. Hutto.

“I had done a cover story on J.B. Hutto for Living Blues magazine (Nov/Dec 1976 issue) and that’s how I had first met him. The first time I heard J.B. was in the old Wise Fool’s Pub and I went, ‘Wow! This is what I’ve wanted my whole life.’” he said. “That slide … it just blew my mind. I mean, I was just a kid. Later, he was sitting by the bar and I went up to talk to him and he was just the greatest guy. He was so open and friendly. At that time he wasn’t drinking because of his diabetes.”

Weld’s interview with Hutto led to more than just the lead story in Living Blues; it also led to a lasting friendship, along with some tasty guitar tutelage.

“He taught me a bunch of stuff. And I helped him, too. In between his tours, he wanted a guy to play rhythm for him, so I did that. We’d be playing (on the bandstand) and he’d stop and turn around and say to me, ‘OK. Now it’s your turn.’ And then he’d play rhythm for me and I’d have to come up with some stuff. So I’d show him how far I had gotten off what he’d taught me.”

A knife to the throat of Brewer Phillips – delivered by his jealous wife – ended Weld’s tenure with the Houserockers.

“She had caught him with another woman and stuck a knife in his throat, right above his collarbone. She didn’t cut his throat, it just went straight in. I heard about it and went to visit him in the hospital. He was happy to see me … had a big tube going into his throat,” Weld said. “But, the band was broken up then. So that’s how my first year of playing the blues ended. Eventually, him and Suzy got back together.”

His lessons with Hutto continued on and one afternoon, Weld met a couple of individuals at J.B.’s house that would have an immediate and resounding impact on his life and career as a bluesman.

“I had been with J.B. about two or three years at that point and one day I went over to his house and there were a couple of young kids in the front room. And J.B. says, ‘Dave, I want you to meet my nephews, Ed and Pookie.’ And that’s how I met them,” Weld said. “We played a little Latin number and jammed on it for awhile.”

Ed, of course, is Lil’ Ed Williams and Pookie is his half-brother, James ‘Pookie’ Young and they are now half of Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials.

Hutto, who was poised to go out on tour at that time, suggested that Weld join up with Ed and Pookie and play together while he was on the road.

“I thought, OK, I’ll be the bandleader. Then Ed informed me, ‘Dave, we’re going to call it Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials. Is that OK with you?’ And at the time, I said, ‘Sure.’ Because at that point, I was just happy to be with somebody my age,” said Weld. “So we decided to do it and we got out there and started playing all the small clubs on the west side and that’s where we really created our style. We didn’t have anybody telling us what to do.”

By the time Hutto had passed on, Lil’ Ed and Dave had managed to start playing gigs in the place that he was initially rejected in – the city’s north side. And the benefits of that move were quick to deliver themselves.

“On the west side, we were earning like $7 or $8 a guy a night. And on the north side, we started earning a whole $25 each,” he said. “That was a big jump. Then we started working at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted and that’s when Bruce (Iglauer) came in and said, ‘I think I can help you guys out.’”

That help came in the form of an invitation to record a tune for a Chicago blues compilation that Iglauer was assembling, called The New Bluebloods. Upon entering the studio and cutting their first number, the group heard cheers and yells of approval from the control booth. That led to another number … then another number, then …

“We played the whole night there, just like we were playing at a bar. Then the next thing you know, he (Iglauer) comes out and we work a record deal,” said Weld.

Those sessions would see the light of day as Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials’ first album, Roughhousin’ (Alligator Records).

The group then went out and hit the road to support the album, but it wasn’t long before Ed and Dave parted ways for the first time.

“I saw some trouble ahead (with the band) and we agreed to get a replacement for me and I would stay at my day job. We also agreed that I would start my own band and call it Dave Weld & the Imperial Flames, to designate where I came from – from the Blues Imperials to the Imperial Flames,” he said. “It was a smooth transition, but it was also an exciting challenge.”

Weld got in touch with his former Houserockers’ mate Ted Harvey and he became the Imperial Flames’ first drummer. Harry Yaseen came on board to play piano and Mike Scharf played bass for the band upon its formation in 1987.

In short order, the group started getting steady work – both inside the Chicago city limits, as well as other locales farther away – and then hit the studio to cut Roughrockin’ in Chicago (Parsifal Records), the band’s first long-player. “A guy that I had met at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted, Andre Hobus (writer for French publication Soul Bag), got me that (record) deal,” Weld said. “I’ll never forget that guy. He’s friends with me to this day. He’s a nice guy.”

Just because Weld had his own group, and Ed had his, didn’t mean that the two would never work together again. Ed joined Weld’s band on two different occasions – each time for a couple of years – and their second hookup resulted in the album Keep On Walkin’ (Earwig).

“Ed was always welcome in my band. He’s got a great personality, plus he plays the shit out of the guitar,” Weld said. “He’s from the old school and can play lead or rhythm equally as good. But whenever Ed needed a place, he had one with me. There were times that I’d wake up at 2 a.m. to a knock on the door and it would be Ed standing there. I’d go, ‘Ed, you don’t have to say anything … come in, there’s the couch.’ He’s a great guy.”

The Imperial Flames would undergo a few more personnel changes over the years before settling down to its current roster, one that has been together as a unit for over 15 years.

“We’ve been overseas and have played almost every state in the union … Canada, the Caribbean … just everywhere, working almost every weekend since 1989,” Weld said. “And we’re currently nominated for Best Blues Band at the Chicago Independent Music Awards.”

Jeff Taylor mans the drum throne for the group. “He’s been with me for 20 years now. He’s a good singer and a great drummer and is dependable and easy to work with,” Weld said.

The legendary Abb Locke, a prominent member of Howlin’ Wolf’s band and walking encyclopedia of the blues, plays saxophone in the group. Locke has played with everyone from Memphis Slim to Elmore James to the Rolling Stones. Dave Kaye, who’s played with heavyweights including Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Dave Hole and Bo Diddley, to name a few, handles the bass chores. Weld knows what a special unit he has and shows his appreciation for their talents.

“I’m the type of guy that likes to take care of his band. I mean, we’ve been working every weekend since 1989. That’s a lot of work and guys (band members) want to go where they can work,” he said. “I’m old school – I provide a decent, running van that guys feel safe in and I make sure they always get paid. There was a time at a club in Madison, Wisconsin when the IRS came in and locked up the cash register. But I made sure that the guys still got paid. There’s none of this ‘leader’s cut’ on a $400-$500 gig for me, only when we get $800-$1,500. That’s how it works. I had to take care of my mother for about 10 years, but I still made it to the gigs on the weekends and that’s credit due to my band. These guys are loyal.”

Equal distribution of the funds is not the only thing Weld prides himself on as a bandleader. As anyone who has ever seen the Imperial Flames up close and personal knows, Weld is more than happy to give his band members their turn in the spotlight up on stage.

“That’s a big deal with them staying with the band. If I’ve got this guy that’s just brimming with talent, why would I want to hold him back? I’m proud to be with him or he wouldn’t be in this band,” said Weld. “A lot of bandleaders may be afraid of getting the spotlight stolen from them, but I’m not one of them. If I can’t play good enough and entertain the people, I shouldn’t be up there in the first place.”

Weld and the Imperial Flames are hard at work on a follow-up to their 2010 CD, Burnin’ Love (Delmark Records 806).

“This one will be on Delmark, too. I met Bob (Koester) almost 35 years ago and I love the guy.” said Weld. “And Steve Wagner is so wonderful to work with; he’s just so talented and inspired. It’s really great to work with everyone over at Delmark. We’re really looking forward to finishing it.”

The group is also looking forward to their spot at the Pennsylvania Blues Festival this summer.

Much like that Howlin’ Wolf tune that caught his ear in the desert, another key component in Weld’s life showed up out of the blue, this time at a benefit concert in Rockford, Illinois for the Crossroads Blues Society – Monica Myhre.

“There was this girl that actually put the benefit together standing there and that’s how I met Monica. She turned out to be the biggest thing in my life. For years she would e-mail me saying that maybe she could help me get a few gigs. So I finally called her and she turned out to be one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met,” Weld said. “We started talking every night for about an hour and that went on for a year. She used to come to our gigs, but never told me she was a singer. Then I found out her musical background was extensive and that she’d been singing ever since she was six.”

These days, everyone knows just how impressive a singer Monica is.

“When I come off the stage, the first thing people say is, ‘You’re a great guitar player’ and then they turn to Monica and say, ‘You’ve got the best voice I’ve ever heard’,” said Weld. “And it’s wonderful. She helps with everything; helps get the gigs, helps load the equipment and set up the PA and she’s one of the main attractions because her voice is so stunning. Her and I even write most of my tunes.”

It’s hard to imagine things going much better than they are for Dave Weld these days. And whether he’s planning for a gig, writing songs or just jamming away on his guitar, maybe the best piece of advice he ever got is never far from the front of his mind.

“One of J.B.’s famous quotes that sticks out in my mind is, ‘Don’t ever … don’t ever … let anybody tell you that you can’t make it. Don’t let your girlfriend tell you, don’t let your brothers tell you, don’t let your friends tell you, don’t let your mother or father tell you, or your uncles or cousins. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t make it.’ That’s powerful stuff.”

For a list of all the stellar musicians that Weld has played with over the past 40 years, visit his Facebook page, or his Web Site,

Photos by Marilyn Stringer and Bob Kieser as marked © 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.

For other interviews on our website CLICK HERE.


 Featured Blues review – 2 of 6  

James Armstrong – Guitar Angels

Catfood Records

CD: 11 songs; 45:26 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues, Soul-Influenced Blues

One of the most time-honored blues legends is that of how Robert Johnson gained his mastery of the guitar: he sold his soul to the Devil for it. Los Angeles native and now Springfield IL resident, James Armstrong, however, communes with a different source for musical inspiration – four “Guitar Angels,” namely his father James Armstrong, Sr., Coco Montoya, Joe Louis Walker, and Mike Ross. On this second release through Catfood Records (his fifth CD overall), the incredible Armstrong pulls out all the stops when it comes to contemporary electric and soul-influenced blues. Armstrong’s veteran guitar work is consistently lively, creative, and interesting. He has crafted along with his fellow artists ten stellar original songs and two covers (The Eagles’ “Take It to the Limit” and a stellar and Soulful take on Johnny Copeland’s “Blues Ain’t Nothin’”), their upbeat and crowd-pleasing energy never fails to uplift listeners. At Armstrong’s side are seventeen remarkable musicians, including producer Michael Ross on guitar and percussion, Dan Ferguson on keyboards, and drummers Richy Puga, Rick King, and Warren Grant. They traverse through humorous blues tales, heartfelt tributes, and heated party songs with the greatest of ease, as they demonstrate in these four tunes:

Track 01: “Grandma’s Got a New Friend” – Co-written by James Armstrong and Michael Ross and based on true events, the song serves as an explanation to a visiting and inquisitive granddaughter who has whispered, “Grandma, who is this guy?” The irresistible earworm explains how the Baby Boomer approach to aging differs from that of previous generations: “Her friend’s a player, but not that kind. He plays guitar, but she don’t mind. He treats her right; he makes her smile. She makes him happy, geriatric style.” Upon listening to the guitar intro, blues novices might think this is Albert Collins’ “I Ain’t Drunk,” but they’re in for a pleasant surprise. Saxophonist Andy Roman, Mike Middleton on trumpet, and trombonist Robert Claiborne play one hot horn “hook”!

Tracks 04 and 11: “Guitar Angels” and its “Radio Edit” – Due to a horrible home invasion and attack he suffered in 1996, Armstrong was temporarily left without the use of his left hand and arm, including permanent nerve damage and finger impairment (“I’m a two fingered guitar playin’ man”). He believes that one reason he’s able to play the guitar again, beyond intensive therapy, is the guiding influence of the “guitar angels” mentioned earlier. As for the divine purpose behind his tragedy, he sings a pensive revelation: “When I became a man, I could play fast, wild and crazy, but the Lord wanted to slow me down.” Supporting James are Jessica, Jillian and Arlen Ivey on sweet and harmonic background vocals.

Track 08: “Saturday Night Women” – When the weekend arrives, men aren’t the only ones who want to have a good time: “Fellas, don’t throw your lines. They’ll laugh in your face, send you back to your buddies a crying disgrace.” This funky ditty is as edgy as a razor blade and as smooth as the foam on a glass of beer, all at once. Bassist Malcolm Gold, drummer Warren Grant, and organist George Papageorge go all out, just like “Saturday Night Women” do once their work week is finished.

James Armstrong’s “Guitar Angels” will make soul-influenced blues lovers shout, “Hallelujah!”

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.

For other reviews on our website CLICK HERE


 Featured Blues review – 3 of 6  

Eric Bibb – Jericho Road

Stony Plain Records

13 songs – 59 minutes

Eric Bibb proves once again that he’s a standard-bearer for the most basic of blues traditions with this warm and lovingly produced CD. With more than 35 discs to his credit during a career that began in the early ’70s, the New York native has cut a groove for himself as one of the foremost songsters traveling the world today. Like stars from the first generation of the art form, he melts blues, folk, jazz and other stylings into a rich tapestry clearly identifiable as his own.

The son of a musical theater star and folk artist and the nephew of John Lewis, the pianist in the Modern Jazz Quartet, Bibb received his acoustic guitar at age seven and cut his teeth on the works of Leadbelly, Big Maceo, Josh White and Mahalia Jackson. Now touring extensively out of his new home in Helsinki, Finland, he’s joined here by a collection of international superstars. Multi-instrumentalist Glen Scott produced “Jericho Road” and contributed keyboards, percussion, vocals and guitar.

The extensive and eclectic ensemble includes Ale Moller (clarino), Staffan Astner, Chuck Anthony and Oskar Winberg (guitars), Neville Malcolm and Victor Wooten (bass), Jerry Brown and Scott (drums), Julian Wiggins (pennywhistle and accordion), Grant Dermody and Jenny Bohman (harmonica), Michael Jerome Brown (banjo), Solo Cissokho (kora), Olli Haavisto (dobro), Knut Reiersrud (Turkish saz), Samantha Banks (spoons), Goran Kajfes (trumpet), and Ruthie Foster, Mamadou Sene, Andre De Lange, Chinika Simon, Linda Tillery, Tammi Brown, Bengt Skogholt, Paris Renita, Sara Bergkvist, Cyndee Peters and Oscar Bibb on guest vocals. Session Horns Sweden add power to four tracks.

Recorded in Sweden, all of the material on this CD is original, and, as Bibb explains in the extensive liner notes, reflects the influence world music has had on all of the participants. The album title refers to a Bible passage in which the Good Samaritan stops to aid a stranger in distress after others had passed him by to suffer alone.

The first cut, “Drinking Gourd,” is a reworking of a traditional song made popular by The Weavers, one of the most important groups in the folk revival of the ’60s. Referring to the astrological Big Dipper, it’s an allegorical message for folks traveling the Underground Railroad to escape slavery. The theme continues with the new tune, “Freedom Train,” in which Bibb emphasizes the courage necessary to reach the intended goal.

“Let The Mothers Step Up” was inspired by a poem by Alice Walker. The message: “Callin’ all brothers/the world around/Take all your weapons/Lay ’em down/Stop killin’ each other/dyin’ in the mud/While someone’s makin’ money on/Our children’s blood.” Next up, “Have A Heart” offers a plea for humanity to be more acceptant of pilgrims from foreign lands who should be treated as friends, not enemies. “The Right Thing” borrows on an idea from the Rev. Martin Luther King, that “It’s always time/To do the right thing.” Written for a film, the next tune, “Death Row Blues,” simply states: “No matter who you are when your time has come/You got to go.”

“Can’t Please Everybody” was inspired by Bill Cosby who joked that failure to please the multitude keyed his success, before Bibb turns to the teachings of the Dalai Lama for “The Lord’s Work,” delivering the message that world peace begins with peace from within, that society should teach love instead of hate.

More positive thoughts gleaned from Mother Teresa and Eastern philosophers Khahil Gibran, Jidda Krishnamurti and Rabindranath Tagore follow before two bonus tracks: “Now,” a call for a new world order, and “Nanibali,” performed and sung solo by Cissokho, a celebration of international understanding.

Beautiful messages, beautiful dreams delivered in a beautiful way. Highly recommended, both for musicality and thought..

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.

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 Featured Blues review – 4 of 6  

Roosevelt Sykes – The Original Honeydripper

Blind Pig Records

14 tracks; 42 minutes

This set was recorded in 1977, live at the Blind Pig Café in Ann Arbor, Michigan when Roosevelt Sykes was in his early seventies. The original LP was one of the earliest releases on Blind Pig and has now been remastered for CD with the addition of two previously unreleased tracks from the original concert. Roosevelt plays solo piano and sings material from across his career. The live setting is not overly intrusive and adds atmosphere to the recording of what must have been a very entertaining evening of music: the pace never drops as Roosevelt runs one song into another.

Roosevelt opens with the classic stride piano of “Cow Cow Blues” with plenty of action from both hands. “Drivin’ Wheel” is next, a real blues and probably his best known song. He then dips into Fats Waller with a jaunty version of “Honeysuckle Rose” and the previously unissued “St James Infirmary” which is played pretty straight as a slow blues. Of course, apart from his great piano playing Roosevelt’s repertoire included a number of comic and risqué songs which added to his attraction as a performer. The first example here is “I Like What You Did” which includes some scat-style singing to cover some of the more suggestive elements of the lyrics!

Tipping his hat to another giant of the piano Roosevelt does a nice cover of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” (sort of returning the favour as Ray had covered Roosevelt’s “The Night Time Is The Right Time”) before the funny “I’m A Nut” which shares some of the changes of the Ray Charles song so they work well as a pair. No piano player of his generation would have ignored the classic boogie style and Roosevelt gives us “Running The Boogie” in which his left hand keeps the rhythm rolling throughout. “Too Smart Too Soon” is a wistful slow blues in which Roosevelt realizes the error he made in letting his girl drift away. “Viper Song” is another from Fats Waller’s repertoire and gets a great audience reaction when he mentions the word ‘reefer’.

The closing section of the CD starts with “Don’t Talk Me To Death”, another comic piece with lots of fine piano and a strong vocal performance. The slower-paced “Early Morning Blues” is followed by the catchy tones of “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” with its advice “Don’t talk at all, that’s my advice”. Closing the set is one of Roosevelt’s best known (and notorious) songs, “Dirty Mother For You”. The title is of course a very thinly concealed version of another, much used phrase which would easily fit into the lyrics – Roosevelt being very careful to enunciate his title properly – he need not have worried, the audience are right with him, whooping and hollering in delight as the tale unfolds, the tongue-twisters getting ever more difficult for Roosevelt to get through, he even breaks into laughter at one point.

A very worthwhile reissue and definitely one for the piano fans out there.

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.

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 Featured Blues review – 5 of 6  

John Ginty – Bad New Travels

American Showplace Music

10 tracks / 55:02

Outside of weddings, funerals and hockey games, the organ does not get a lot of love and often only plays a supporting role in music, so it is refreshing to hear what John Ginty has done with his new release, Bad News Travels. His Hammond B3 takes the center stage on this CD and he serves up ten tracks of righteous organ-based blues, rock and funk.

Ginty hails from the northern end of the Garden State, and has been around the block a few times in the last 15 years. He is a master of the keys, and has recorded and performed with high-powered acts, including the Allman Brothers, Carlos Santana, the Dixie Chicks and Matthew Sweet (among others). Along the way he picked up a couple of Grammy nominations as well as a Gospel Music Award for Urban Album of the Year.

For Bad New Travels, John gets writing credit for all of the songs and takes up residence behind the B3 as well as the electric and acoustic pianos. He is joined by Dan Fadel on drums and Paul Kuzik on bass, and a passel of fabulous talent is featured throughout the album. The production quality is very good, thanks to producer Ben Elliott (who has worked with Eric Clapton and Keith Richards), and with almost an hour of content you will certainly get your money’s worth.

The opening track, “The Quirk” features Blues Blast Magazine Award winner Albert Castiglia (Ka-steel-ya), who lends his guitar talents to this smoking hot instrumental. This tune starts out with a funky organ riff and quickly morphs into a burning blues jam with rolling bass and tons of ride cymbal. This is five minutes of fun and Albert and John set the bar high with their massive chops. Castiglia also appears of the next track, “Black Cat,” this time with a soulful vocal performance as well as his guitar. This straight-up blues song is more laid back, and Ginty rolls out a masterful combination of organ and acoustic piano.

Castiglia made the most of his trip to the studio from his home state of Florida, also appearing on “Damage Control,” a 1970s-style funk tune and “Elvis Presley,” a funky blues rocker that poses the age-old question of whether the King is really dead. It was a wise decision for Ginty to bring his old friend onboard for this project, as his charisma, strong vocals and stellar guitar set the tone for the album.

John is not shy about including instrumental jams, with guest guitarist Todd Wolfe appearing on the huge-sounding “Peanut Butter” and Warren Haynes kicking it out on “Mirrors,” the stand-out instrumental on Bad News Travels. This Allman Brothers / Gov’t Mule guitarist is breathtaking as he lays down an impressively reserved and tasteful performance that weaves in and out of the stellar backline of Fadel and Kuzik and the mind-blowing leads of Ginty.

“Seven & the Spirit” is the best track on the album, with another long-time friend Neal Casal on guitar and Brooklyn chanteuse Alecia Chakour on vocals. Her performance is genuine and her soulful voice is a force to be reckoned with, so much so that she was able to push the keyboards into more of a supporting role for the only time on this disc. She is the real deal and this song will probably make you want to seek out more of her work.

Ginty changes throws the listener a curve ball with “Rock Ridge” which includes the fiddle of the Dixie Chicks’ Martie Maguire. It is not possible to describe this instrumental with any one genre, as there is everything from Appalachian and Irish folk music to a little Booker T and the MGs with some Gene Krupa drumming thrown in. It may sound weird when seen on paper, but coming through the speakers this is a pretty darned neat combination of unique elements.

“Trinity” finishes things up, and it features Baltimore axe-slinger Cris Jacobs trading riffs with Ginty. This instrumental starts as fast-paced blues romp and it moves on to include a subtle influence of honky-tonk piano underneath heavy layers of Hammond. It may sound from this review that John Ginty jumps all over the place on this album, but his style and tone ties all ten of the songs together, and it works well when considered as a single entity.

After a few decades of playing the sideman, John Ginty has finally taken a leadership role with Bad News Travels and the spotlight suits him well. This CD is chock full of first-rate talent and fabulous blues-based music, and whether you are a fan of the organ or not it is definitely worth your time to give it a listen!.

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

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 Featured Blues review – 6 of 6  

Lewis Hamilton – Ghost Train

Label: Self-released

11 songs – 48 minutes

Lewis Hamilton is a 19 year old from Scotland, but he has already released two solo albums before Ghost Train, as well as compiling and releasing a highly-regarded three volume series of Scottish Blues, Jock’s Juke Joint, which featured both Hamilton’s own songs and those of 50 other contemporary Scottish blues artists. He sings, he plays guitar, he writes the songs and he produces the music. If only all 19 year olds had a similar work ethic. And the good news is that all that work is paying off. Ghost Train is an impressive and enjoyable slice of traditional blues rock.

Despite (or perhaps as a direct result of) Hamilton’s relative youth, there is a distinctly retro feel to Ghost Train. Other than the modern production values, many of the songs could have come straight out of the 1970s or early 1980s. There is even a hint of disco in the funky guitars in “Trust In Me”. Primarily, however, from the opener “Lonesome and Blue” with its overdriven guitar riff around which the vocals fit, to the arpeggios of “By The Old Oak Tree”, this is guitar-driven blues-rock. The retro theme even extends to the cover art photographs, which depict Hamilton walking into an apparently deserted railway station with a guitar in his hand, and then sitting on the platform, presumably waiting for his Ghost Train to come in. In both photos, a cigarette dangles from his mouth, even though smoking in public places has been illegal in Scotland since 2006. Lyrically, Hamilton also demonstrates enthusiasm for all those things we are meant to frown on in the modern world, as titles such as “Cheap Cigars” and “Whiskey Boogie” might suggest.

Although Hamilton himself is the primary point of focus on the album, fine and supple support is provided by Nick Hamilton on bass and Ian (Santa) Wallace or Pete Rabjohns on drums. Rich Young also adds Hammond organ or keyboards on four songs. Lyndon Anderson adds harp on one song (“Whiskey Boogie”) and Bruce Michie adds trumpet and sax on “By The Old Oak Tree”.

The album was recorded and produced by Hamilton at Sawmill Cottage Studios in Auchterarder, Scotland and benefits from a warm sound quality. He is an impressive guitar player, switching from electric to acoustic to slide with equal dexterity and he turns in some beautifully melodic solos. He also has a warm, smoky singing voice, although as with many lead guitarists who also sing, the voice often takes second place to the guitar. There are definite hints at various points in the album of the influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan (on “Breaking Heart” especially), but Hamilton is also finding his own voice. The acoustic “Sunrise” is one of the highlights of the album, featuring a couple of over-dubbed acoustic guitars and providing perfect melodic support to Hamilton’s weary voice as he sings “Oh, alcohol, you caused it all. That don’t mean my feelings ain’t true. Oh, sleepless nights, I held you tight. Let me feel the way that I do. When I see the sunrise, don’t be surprised, if I show some pain, when you push me away, once again.” Equally impressive is the closer “Journey Home”, an acoustic instrumental with Hamilton accompanying his own melodic resonator guitar playing with a gently strummed acoustic rhythm.

Lewis Hamilton is clearly on an upwards trajectory. One of his previous albums, Gambling Machine won the Best Jazz/Blues Recording category at the 2012 Scottish New Music Awards, while “I Got To Know” from the same album won a preliminary nomination in the British Blues Awards song writing category. Ghost Train is another step in the right direction.

Expect Hamilton to go onto bigger things. He clearly has all the talent necessary. Let’s hope he gets the breaks too

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.

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 Blues Society News  

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The Madison Blues Society – Madison, WI

On Thursday, March 20, the Madison Blues Society will host its annual Wild Women of the Blues event. Wild Women will be singin’ the Blues at the High Noon Saloon, 701 East Washington Avenue in Madison. The show starts at 7:00PM. This year’s event will be a benefit for the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) and MBS Blues in the Community Programs.

This year’s Wild Women will be power vocalist Blythe Gamble with the Stand Back Blues Band and world-class entertainer Peaches Staten with the Groove Shakers.

Tickets will be $15 advance / $18 day of show ($12 adv / $15 dos for MBS members). Tickets are available now at the High Noon Saloon, the Knuckle Down Saloon and the Bristled Boar Saloon. Donations to MBS programs will be gratefully accepted at the MBS table. For more info, check us out at

River City Blues Society – Pekin, IL

River City Blues Society presents live Blues featuring The Moonshine Brothers from Iowa, 7:30 pm Friday February 28th at For more info visit or call 309-648-8510

Phoenix Blues Society – Phoenix,AZ

The 23rd Annual Blues Blast, presented by The Phoenix Blues Society, 501(c)(3), will take place March 8, 2014 at Margaret T. Hance Park at 3rd St. & Moreland near downtown Phoenix. Gates will open at 10 a.m. with music starting at 11a.m. Headliners: Samantha Fish and SugaRay Rayford with the Rhythm Room All-stars will join The Mike Eldred Trio, Paul Cruize Blues Crew and Leon J’s Juke Joint. Local favorite Hans Olson will provide entertainment between acts throughout the afternoon.

Food, beverages and vendors will be on site. There will be master musicians holding a free music workshop for kids 12-18 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. There also will be an art project open for everyone’s contribution. Admission is $22 in advance and $25 day of show. Children under 16 accompanied by a parent will be admitted free. Early Bird tickets are available now until Feb.1 at  Tickets can be purchased online until day of show.

Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, Illinois

Saturday, March 8th is back to the Hope and Anchor with guitar virtuoso Bobby Messano and his great band. $5 cover, 8 PM start.

Crossroads Blues Society is proud to present the second annual Field of Blues Festival on Saturday, June 28th at Rockford Aviators Stadium in Loves Park.

Alex Wilson Band is opening beginning his set at noon. Next up is an international act, Italian blues and singing sensation Linda Valori at 2 PM along with super guitar player Luca Giordano and our own Barstool Bob Blues Band with Bob Levis on guitar, Al Terrano on bass, Link Leary on drums and Don Collins on harmonica.

The Jimmy’s will bring their swinging blues at 4 PM. At 6 PM, the ever cool Doug Deming and Dennis Gruenling will take the stage with the Jewel Tones.

At 8 PM our headliners will be John Nemeth!

Between acts we will feature local acoustic blues man Dan Phelps. 10 hours of music from noon to 10 PM (we close at 10:30 PM). Tickets will once again only be $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

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.

Feb. 24 – Alex Jenkins & The Bombers. March 3 – Stone Cold Blues band, March 10 – Eddie Snow Tribute with Wayne Carter and the All Star Blues Band, March 17 – 24th Street Whalers from Toronto, March 24 – The Blues Deacons, March 31 – Kilborn Alley, April 7 – Jim Suhler and Monkey Beat, April 14 – The Blues Expressions, April 21 – Brad Vickers and the Vestapolitans, April 28 – Greg Glick

Additional ICBC shows of interest: Feb. 20 – James Armstrong Presents @ Casey’s Pub, March 6 – James Armstrong Presents @ Casey’s Pub with special guest, Mary Jo Curry & Tombstone Bullet

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

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