Issue 9-17 April 23, 2015

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2015

 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with John Németh. Our 2015 Blues festival coverage starts this week as John Mitchell has a review and photos from the Springing The Blues Festival.

We have 5 music reviews for you including music from Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar, Brian E Cope, Los Tijuana Blues, Mary Hott and Billy Boy Arnold.

We have the latest in Blues society news. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 5 

Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar – Send the Nightingale


CD: 11 Songs; 36:50 Minutes

Styles: Gospel, Americana

Ever since the time of Shakespeare, the nightingale has been a symbol of any bard’s craft. According to Wikipedia, “During the Romantic era the bird’s symbolism changed once more: poets viewed the nightingale not only as a poet in his own right, but as ‘master of a superior art that could inspire the human poet’.” Canada’s Samantha Martin, along with her band Delta Sugar, call for this winged muse to inspire them on their third album, Send the Nightingale. They offer eleven original songs that are far more gospel and Americana than blues. Martin sounds like a novice Bonnie Raitt at times, as on the latter diva’s “Shadow of Doubt.” Samantha’s also been compared to Mavis Staples, Sharon Jones and Tina Turner.

As she sings lead vocals and plays acoustic and resonator guitar, with her are Mikey McCallum on electric guitar, Jimmy Hill on organ, and background vocalists Sherie Marshall and Stacie Tabb. All of these musicians stomp and clap along on certain tracks, as does fellow performer Rench. Martin’s promotional materials state, “In November 2014, Toronto blues fans were introduced to Martin’s dynamic voice when she was featured in the Toronto Blues Society’s annual Women’s Blues Review at Massey Hall, followed by opening for the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama at Roy Thompson Hall.” This year she performed at the TBS’s Blues Summit and the Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City. She’s certainly busy, as listeners will be once they hear the three songs on Send the Nightingale that are closest kin to the blues.

Track 04: “Don’t Shoot” – No one ever said that the road to relationship redemption was easy: “Compromise is a pastime better left to friends. The harder it becomes, the more time that I spend. Trying to fix what’s broken, trying to hold my tongue. I want this to be a good thing in the long run. Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, don’t shoot the messenger.” Such a chorus is catchier than this reviewer’s latest cold, as is the combination of Martin and McCallum’s guitar work.

Track 05: “One More Day” – The next song is the most danceable, sure to put live crowds in high spirits. “One more day to ramble, one more day to dream, one more day to love you.” Such is the life of a blues and roots musician on the road, and it’s well-encapsulated.

Track 09: “My Crown” – Our narrator resembles a slave more than a queen in this song, but she’s counting on coronation in the afterlife. “Can’t keep me down. When I’m done, I want my crown!” That’s a demand, not a request – and a refreshing one in our era of too-hard work for too little pay. The background harmonies by Marshall and Tabb surge to the foreground here.

Dear blues muse: Send the Nightingale to Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar some more!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 35 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 Interview – John Németh 

Despite his own admission that he’s ‘the first to throw in the towel if something’s not going right,’ harmonica ace and soul singer deluxe John Anthony Németh is by no means a quitter.

Check this out for requisite proof of that:

On his move from Oakland, California to Memphis, Tennessee two years ago, Németh’s rental truck broke down in Flagstaff, Arizona in the middle of the desert night. Instead of saying, ‘Heck with it,’ and making Flagstaff their new home, Németh and his wife Jaki loaded all their belongings from the incapacitated truck onto a new one – right on the side of the road – and continued their 2,000-mile quest to Memphis.

But there’s more than just that to Németh’s intestinal fortitude to not wave the white flag when things are not going his way. Take for example an incident that happened in his hometown of Boise, Idaho when he was a young man; a setback that for adults would most likely be no big deal, but for a budding young musician, it was something that had the potential to derail a promising career before it ever got off the ground.

It all started when Németh discovered a couple of tunes he was bound and determined to learn on the harp.

“Yeah, I was like, man, I really want to play “Snatch it Back and Hold it” (Junior Wells) and “Mellow Down Easy” by Little Walter. So I made the trip to the music store and I got me a harmonica and I got home and turned on the record player … but I had bought the wrong harp,” Németh recently said. “I didn’t have the right harp for either of those songs. Man, you talk about disappointment. I spent six bucks on that harp and couldn’t play it on either of those songs. When I was on my way home from the music store, I was really getting pumped up about playing those songs and then …”

Thankfully for lovers of authentic soul and blues music, instead of saying, ‘Heck with it,’ Németh just shifted things into reverse.

“Well, I went back to the music store and wound up having to get like six harmonicas,” he laughed. “I decided; well, if this is the way it’s going to be … I’m the first to throw in the towel if something’s not going right for me. If I don’t feel it and don’t get hooked on it, nothing’s going to happen.”

Ever since Németh hooked up with the right harp, it’s been a match made in heaven and he’s long since traveled the globe playing his brand of soulful blues.

“Everything’s going great; I’m just so lucky and fortunate that I get to perform my music – stuff that I write – and go out on the road and around the world,” he said. “This year’s been fantastic – we’ve been working a lot. We did a northeastern tour in February – that was a brilliant idea (because of the record-breaking snowfall in the area this year), but it was a lot of fun. And then last month, we did a big tour in Spain and Switzerland and France, and this month we’re down in the south; Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Then next month, we truck on out to my old stomping grounds on the west coast; California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. And then this summer – for the first time – I’ll be performing at the great Chicago Blues Festival, the king of them all. I’m really excited about that.”

With almost clockwork precision the past few years, Németh’s name has regularly appeared in multiple categories of the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards. This year is no exception, with Németh nominated in an impressive six categories (Album of the Year; B.B. King Entertainer of the Year; Band of the Year; Song of the Year; Soul Blues Album of the Year; Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year). Németh is currently the reigning Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year.

Like they say, when you’re hot, you’re hot.

“What all that (BMA accolades) means to me, is that someone out there appreciates my art – which is my music – in a fashion that is considered to be high-caliber. That means a lot to me. I spend a lot of time writing this music for my sheer enjoyment of it … I mean, it’s not like this music makes any money on the radio or the royalties are piling in,” he said. “This music is a labor of love, so to find the time and inspiration to write music that’s probably not going to go anywhere – other than to be loved by your fans and friends – that’s huge for me to have it loved by the folks at the Blues Foundation that votes for the BMAs. That means I’m accepted as an artist. That really feels great.”

His latest release – Memphis Grease (Blue Corn Music) – is one of the main reasons Németh is creating such a huge buzz this year. The album is up for two awards, while “Bad Luck is my Name” is the tune off that record that garnered a Song of the Year nod. Even Németh himself is a bit surprised at all the attention that Memphis Grease has received to date.

“I’m always surprised, because on all my records I take chances mixing genres and ideas. There’s so much original thought going on there, that until it’s tested in the marketplace, you don’t really know if it’s any good or not,” he said. “I have a personal attachment to it, so I love the music, but I never know who’s going to like it. My previous studio release before Memphis Grease came out in 2010, so that was material that was probably written in 2009. So it had been quite a few years – I cut Memphis Grease in 2013 – since I had complied original music for a record, so I had spent quite a bit of time with the material, more time than I had with some of the material for my other records. I think the song-writing is better; I’ve learned quite a bit from writers that have passed on some information to me about editing songs and making the message really clear in them. I used a lot of that wisdom on the Memphis Grease record and I think that’s what made it better than some of my other ones. And that’s probably why that record is still sticking. It seems to be picking up steam in Europe and some other places right now.”

Another key factor – in addition to Németh and the songs – that makes Memphis Grease so special is the presence of the legendary Bo-Keys on it. Those cats have probably forgotten more about real-deal Memphis grooves that most people will ever know.

“Talk about a group of guys that Memphis soul is their religion and you’re talking about the Bo-Keys. Especially that really heavy soul attitude from Memphis in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s; that Willie Mitchell-influenced stuff. I think Willie Mitchell is one of the greatest producers, ever,” Németh said. “So working with those guys is just a ball. To have Percy Wiggins go out on the road touring and singing harmonies with the guys – he sings all the beautiful, high falsetto stuff – is dynamite. The background vocals are a big piece of the music and having him there is fantastic. But everybody in the band is just top-notch. They’re great studio musicians and have cut a lot of records. They know how to bring the special moments to the songs; to make them very memorable.”

The Bluff City of Memphis has long been heralded as the epi-center of the kind of music that Németh has been creating for over two decades now. But as it turns out, the musical climate in Memphis is just a small portion of the reason that led John and Jaki to call it home after deciding to split from Oakland.

“Honestly, two of the major factors in moving to Memphis was that it was centrally-located in the U.S. and I could tour out of there a lot easier than having to come all the way over from California to tour the central United States and the east,” Németh said. “And also, my daughter was just born and the bills started stacking up – we were living in Oakland and the price of living there was going up really high – and we just couldn’t afford it. Well, Memphis is really an affordable place to live. Then of course, the third factor is that Memphis has always been a city where musicians can go – especially if they like real roots music – and maybe find a twist in something that they do that will make them real successful. There have been a lot of people that have moved to Memphis and cut records in some of the great studios there and have found real success. So I thought, ‘Shoot, for my kind of music, that’s the place that I should be living and maybe something positive will come out of it, other than the fact that I’ll be able to pay the rent.’”

There’s still more reasons for pulling up stakes from the west coast and heading to the town on the edge of the Mississippi River:

“The icing on the cake is that you have the Blues Foundation and the IBCs there, and then on the outskirts of Memphis, you’ve got Clarksdale and Oxford (Mississippi), so there’s a lot of energy and a lot of cool things happening around Memphis,” said Németh. “Industry-wise, Memphis is kind of ground-zero for the blues. Plus, man, I’m an eater and Memphis is just a great eating town. My wife and I were a little worried that we wouldn’t get some of the other specialties that we could get in California – like the Mexican food and stuff like that – but boy, were we wrong. Memphis has got some fantastic Mexican restaurants, along with Tai and Vietnamese and everything else. I think they just love to eat in Memphis, which suits me fine. Other than the summer weather (heat and humidity), Memphis is a slam-dunk for John Németh.”

Another ‘slam dunk’ for Németh has to be the resurgence that soul music has enjoyed the past several years. From the blues side of things, all the way to the top of the mainstream pop charts, soul sure seems to be the industry’s new darling.

“I think pop music always has to go back to find something to reinvigorate itself. Throughout the decades since the ‘60s, it seems like pop music goes back to soul every three or four years. Just right now, what they’ve got is some of these groups that are really trying to copy the old sound, rather than just using influences. Now, they’re going and making dedicated soul records and that’s really interesting to me,” he said. “Soul music is really modern pop music – it’s just everywhere. They’re really going back to test the waters and there’s some really good stuff out there and some bands are making really nice music. The ones that are really dedicated to the sport seem to be doing really well, like St. Paul & The Broken Bones (Al Gamble, the keyboard player on Memphis Grease, also plays with St. Paul & The Broken Bones). It’s really amazing the amount of money that’s being invested in some of these groups. If you want to be known, it costs money. So somebody’s tossing money at some of these guys and I think that’s really neat. I don’t know if it’s profitable, but the names are getting out there and the music sounds really good. But that movement all kind of started with Amy Winehouse and then Sharon Jones capitalized on it. Who knows, we’re either just getting going on this (new soul resurgence) or it’s about to fade away; I don’t know. I hope it sticks around.”

Németh is a central part of this latest soul movement, but while it certainly does influence his music, the sounds of Stax, Hi Records and Motown are just part of his creative inspiration. His refusal to be a paint-by-numbers mimicking of that music starts at square one with the way that he composes the material that makes up his albums.

“For me, it’s this; I come up with the vocal hook for the song, which is the title. The title is the first and foremost part of the song and when you have a good title, then you need to come up with a great melody for it. The title will dictate the mood of the melody, whether it’s major or minor,” he said. “I try to come up with a free-thought melody and not something from another record. Once I’ve got the right free-thought melody for the title, that’s the first step in the creative process for the song. Now I’ve got an original melody with an original title and now I’m going to tell the story within that. Usually when you have an original melody for the title, coming up with an original melody for all the parts is not that hard for me. But the first part is the tricky part.”

It may seem hard to believe now, but at one time in his younger days, country-and-western music was a formulative influence on young John Németh, specifically the outlaw side of the country tracks.

“There was a song off the Waylon & Willie album – “It’s Not Supposed to be That Way” – that really got me. My brother had that record on 8-track and I’d sing along with that tune. I thought it was unusual how the song picked up on the seven chord – on the one – and that’s very bluesy That’s a real bluesy song, but I didn’t know that then. Another 8-track that my brother had that was very influential for me was by Johnny Paycheck (Take This Job & Shove It). The song was “The Fool Strikes Again,”” he said. “Johnny Paycheck taught me how to sing on the top. He was one of those guys that had this smooth transition from a husky baritone all the way up to a tenor. I learned to move all the way up to the top by listening and mimicking Johnny Paycheck … he was just so effortless. He knew how to take the weight out of his voice to move up the registers. When it came time for me to sing the blues, that’s exactly the technique you need to sing the blues like the way B.B. King or Percy Sledge – who just passed away – could do. All those old blues singers just had such amazing technique. I really don’t think people nowadays really understand what a singer was back in the day.”

However, Németh’s ears were not totally filled with Waylon, Willie and Johnny.

“A couple of years later, I heard that great song “Going Down” by Freddie King and man, that one really got me, too. I always thought, ‘Man, how cool would it be to do that song with a band?’ I’d copy all these signers and sing along with their songs. Then I was fortunate enough to get with some guys and play in a band.”

He was singing long before he began blowing harp, but when Németh did decide it was time to give an instrument a whirl, one basic factor led him to the harmonica.

“Affordability; it was cheaper than a piano or any other instrument. So I got a harp and got into that Junior Wells stuff early on. His groove playing the harmonica is just so devastating,” Németh said. “Snatch it Back and Hold it” was another of those songs that really got to me. As a harmonica player, that song affected me more than anything else that I ever learned. The song is in ‘B,’ but you use an ‘A’ harmonica to play it. It’s in the third position and what I love about the third position is it’s much easier to use the whole harmonica on those cascading melodies. The harmonica is just such a cool instrument, it really is. I treat it much like I treat my vocals and song-writing. I really try to play a lot of stuff that’s really true to myself; my own ideas.”

It has to be like uncovering a chest full of buried treasure when a young harp player is turned on to legends like Junior Wells and Little Walter, and that was most definitely the case for Németh.

“I just got really lucky early in life and got to listen to some really cool music and was lucky to have a knack for it. I was also fortunate that the club scene back in the day was really vibrant and there was still a lot of respect and deeper understanding of the music, too,” he said. “I could work a lot and it was a real job right from the beginning. Man, the stars were just aligned, I guess.”

If it seems like it’s a long way from Boise, Idaho to Memphis, Tennessee, that’s because it is. And even though he may not have known some 25-plus years ago that he would go from playing in the Boise club scene to living in Memphis and playing clubs and festivals the world over, Németh still had a deep-rooted feeling that he was headed toward becoming a successful blues musician.

“Honestly, I thought (back then) I’d be playing Carnegie Hall by now. But you know, when you’re a kid and starting out, you think the music you’re playing is really cool and you think everybody should just love your music if you think it’s cool,” he said. “And then after you get your band started, you think within six months or a year, you’re going to have a major record contract and things are going to be rolling. The first band that I was in, the guys were thinking like that and I really didn’t know what was going on, but it didn’t take long before I was thinking like that, too. Hell, I grew up in the MTV generation and everybody wanted to be on MTV.”

“But so far, through it all, it’s been a really neat experience because there’s just so much power to the artists in this music. And if it’s really good, then you can go out there and you and your band can make a real living playing this kind of music. It’s really special that this music ever came around. I think it’s the most important musical contribution of the last 200 years. It’s changed so many things and made so many new styles of music. For me, it’s just a very special situation to be a part of it.”

Visit John’s website at

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2015

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer 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 5 

Brian E Cope – Old, New, Borrowed & Blue

Flagstop Records RIDE CD004

15 songs – 50 minutes

In the years before affordable transportation, and decades before the invention of the internet, there were advantages and disadvantages to growing up outside the States and loving the blues. The physical distance made it much harder to access the sheer range of wonderful music that was available to those lucky people living in the USA. But it also created a drive and commitment verging on obsession for what music could be found, perhaps all tied up in the romantic mythology of the Land of Opportunity as viewed through the exotically distorted prisms of Hollywood, rock’n’roll and visiting American servicemen and women. It is easy to imagine a teenage Keith Richards at Dartford railway station in 1960, striking up a conversation with his old classmate Mick Jagger purely on the basis of the Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records that Jagger held under his arm.

And when people think of the British blues boom of the 1960s, it can be a facile assumption that it was primarily driven by the electric blues coming out of States in the 1950s. After all, The Rolling Stones named themselves after a Muddy Waters song; John Mayall’s classic “Beano” album featured re-workings of gems by Otis Rush, Little Walter and Freddie King. Eric Clapton wanted to be Freddie King with a hint of Buddy Guy. Mick Taylor loved Albert King. Peter Green channelled B.B. King.

It can be easy to forget how early acoustic blues had an equally powerful impact. The American Folk Blues Festival tours of the UK featured acoustic artists like Lonnie Johnson, Big Joe Williams and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. The music of Robert Johnson touched everyone who heard it. Mississippi Fred McDowell and Son House were huge influences on British slide guitarists like Brian Knight and Dave Kelly. A certain English rock band even named themselves after the first names of two of Syd Barrett’s favourite blues singers: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

These pre-war masters also influenced English acoustic guitar player, singer and songwriter, Brian Cope, whose Old, New, Borrowed & Blue is an apt title for an album featuring seven classic covers and eight originals. The seven covers will all be familiar to most blues fans. He essays early blues like Mississippi John Hurt’s “Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me”, Blind Blake’s “Diddy Wah Diddy” and Robert Johnson’s “Travelling Riverside Blues”, as well as turning in acoustic re-workings of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful”, B.B King’s “Bad Breaks”, the Stones’ “The Spider And The Fly” and Keb’ Mo’’s “You Can Love Yourself”. His own compositions sit nicely alongside the covers.

The songs primarily feature Cope alone with his guitar, with occasional simple harmonica on songs like “All I Need” and “Spoonful”. He is a tasteful finger style guitarist, although his gentle voice is better suited to the more folk-influenced, up-beat, Piedmont-style songs rather than the deep melancholy of the Mississippi blues.

Old, New Borrowed & Blue is an enjoyable album, but it feels more like a demo than a fully polished release. There is a pleasantly rough sound to the recordings, with several of the songs starting with the sound of Cope composing himself and settling into his seat, and some tracks, for example “You Can Love Yourself” stand out for having a very different recorded sound, although it is unclear whether this is deliberate or not. Overall, therefore, this is an agreeable effort, worth checking out if you enjoy Piedmont-style finger style blues. Available through or via Amazon

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 Festival Review – Springing The Blues 

Springing The Blues, Jacksonville Beach, Florida, 17 – 19 April 2015

Friday – The 25th Springing The Blues Festival was opened by Cedric Burnside with a short but well received set of heavy Mississippi Hill Country style blues with Cedric on drums and vocals and Trenton Ayers on guitar; local harp player Manu Blue joined them for a couple of numbers.

Toots Lorraine And The Traffic have now relocated to San Francisco but returned to their old local area to provide a great set of swinging blues. Toots’ strong vocals and stage presence were well supported by husband Chad Mo’ on guitar, David Frank on keys, Lawrence Buckner on upright and electric bass and Cody Walker on drums.

Regi Oliver’s baritone gives the Selwyn Birchwood Band an unusual ‘push’ and their blend of blues and funk pleased the audience with a high energy set including two walkabouts by Selwyn through the crowd, one solo and one with Regi. The rock steady rhythm section were Huff Wright on bass and Courtney Girlie on drums.

Over on the smaller Blues Lounge stage local guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Brady Clampitt made his debut and provided a great set of soul/blues including several cuts from his debut CD. In a large band were Tom Rowe and Eric Riehm on saxes, John Jopling on trumpet, Mike Spottswood on keys, Corey Waddington on rhythm guitar, Kelly McCarty on bass and John Lumpton on drums – a fine set that might earn his band a place on the Main Stage in a future year.

Closing the evening on the Main Stage was Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band. With accordion, washboard, bass, drums and two guitarists the beat was aimed at the feet and Chubby soon had most of the audience (‘My Zydeco People’) dancing. Chubby included a version of Fats Domino’s “Walking To New Orleans” that he dedicated to the recently passed Percy Sledge.

Saturday – Tampa’s Betty Fox Band opened proceedings with Betty’s strong vocals being well received by the crowd. The band has a new CD out soon and mixed songs from that with classics. The band was Kid Royal on classy guitar, Chuck Riley on bass and Sam Farmer on drums.

A week earlier Chuck Ross had produced the Tampa Bay Blues Festival but here he turned musician in his stage guise of ‘Sonny Charles’ as his Backtrack Blues Band delivered some classic Chicago blues with plenty of nasty slide work from Spider Ingram and amplified harp from Sonny. The band included Little Johnny Morris on rhythm guitar, Joe Bencomo on drums and former Amazing Rhythm Aces bassist Jeff ‘Stick’ Davis.

The Homemade Jamz Band provided a thoroughly entertaining set with their easy stage presence and custom made ‘muffler’ guitars. Combining their own originals with classics from the likes of Albert King their high energy set of “Mississippi Backwoods Music” delighted the crowd. The three Perry siblings are Ryan on guitar and vocals, Kyle on bass and Taya on drums.

Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang have played the festival on several occasions and before the show Eddie was presented with the key to Jacksonville. Playing a set heavy on Wolf tunes proved a winning formula and the band was well received by the afternoon crowd. With Eddie were his son Vaan on his custom-made triple-necked guitar, Kenny Pickens on bass and Robert Pasenko on drums.

John Nemeth was on amazing form with his soulful vocals and harp in a set of entirely original material. His rock solid band was Danny Banks on drums, Matthew Wilson on bass and Johnny Rhoades on guitar. All three band members were on hand to give vocal support when needed and this was definitely the set of the day though the arrival of a thunderstorm part way through depleted the crowd.

After an enforced weather break Samantha Fish took to the stage on vocals and a variety of guitars including cigar box and oil can! An uptempo set drawn mainly from Samantha’s last album “Black Wind Howling” reached its climax with a thunderous version of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”. Samantha’s rhythm section were ex-Tommy Castro basist Scott Sutherland and Go-Go Ray on drums.

Tinsley Ellis headlined the inaugural STB festival back in 1990 and was a very popular choice to close the Saturday night. Introduced by Alligator CEO Bruce Iglauer, Tinsley was on top form, mixing songs from across his many albums with some classic blues in a trio format. “A Quitter Never Wins” was, as ever, a highlight of the set.

Sunday – Sunday featured a number of bands from the local area who have been popular performers over the years at the festival. First up was John Miller & Bay Street who gave a pleasing mix of material from across their career: John Miller, bass and vocals, Mike Hollingsworth, keys and vocals, Cliff Huber, sax, Jim Brown, guitar and Tom Haller, drums.

Jim McKaba And The After Hours Band brought their swing and boogie music to the festival with some fine playing from Jim on keys, Ben Champion on tenor sax, John Miller on T-Bone style guitar, Lawrence Buckner on bass and Jim Buck on drums.

Stage manager Chuck Saunders came up front in his ‘Chuck E Chuck’ persona on guitar for the festival’s favorite rockers Woody & The Peckers, alongside Woody on bass, Geno on drums and Joey on vocals and guitar. The Woody T shirts were out in force for this one!

Meanwhile on the Blues Lounge stage Little Mike & The Tornadoes were making a last-minute appearance and rocked the stage with their classic Chicago sound: Little Mike Markowitz on harp and vocals, Tim Gant on guitar, Danny Hamilton on bass and Rusty Valentine on drums.

Also appearing on the Blues Lounge stage was Mama Blue whose great vocals and stage presence went down very well with a packed crowd mid-afternoon. With Mama Blue were James Rhodes on guitar, Javian Francis on keys, John Mortensen on bass and Omar Torres on drums. Mama Blue has a CD coming out soon and, to judge by the fine songs played on this occasion, it is one to look out for.

Back at the Main Stage Lightnin’ Malcolm gave us a taste of Mississippi Hill Country blues with a solo performance on guitar, vocals and foot pedal drums. Unfortunately Malcolm had to cut his set short as a thunderstorm hit Jacksonville Beach.

Once the rain stopped Sharrie Williams came on with her extended band all dressed in white. Their set combined gospel, blues and rock with Sharrie certainly living up to her “Princess of Rocking Gospel Blues” tag. With Sharrie were Anthony Burns on keys, John Swain on guitar, Marco Franco on bass and Booney Dottery on drums. Sharrie was also backed by a trio of vocalists in Angel Dottery, Twyla Birdsong and Charles Allen to add further to the gospel feel of the set.

Headliners The Lee Boys are always a popular draw at this festival and the Miami band’s blend of funk and gospel had the crowd dancing throughout. Brothers Alvin (guitar), Derrick and Keith (vocals) were aided by Roosevelt Collier’s distinctive sacred steel attack and the powerful rhythm section of Earl Walker’s drums and Alvin Cordy’s bass.

So another fine Springing The Blues came to a close. Make a date for the 26th edition on the weekend of 1-3 April 2016.

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 – 3 of 5 

Los Tijuana Blues – Thunderbird Motel

Self Release

10 tracks / 30:17

Los Tijuana Blues is a band out of Valencia, Spain that has found inspiration from the Chess Records and Excello Records catalogs of the 1950 and 1960s, and added a healthy dose of Tex-Mex style to end up with the Spanish equivalent of the whacky North Carolina band, Southern Culture on the Skids. Their first album, Thunderbird Motel, is a fun and fascinating blend of blues-rock, rockabilly, rhythm and blues, and surf rock.

Guitarist Javier Tijuana founded the band a few years back, and he is joined on this release by vocalist Vince Lewinsky, and a rhythm section of J.C. Mota on the bass and Alexis Alemany behind the drums. Coming in at 30 minutes, this is a short album (almost an EP), and it is made up of ten tracks, eight of them originals written by Tijuana. None of these songs lasts more than four minutes, so you will not find any epic guitar solos or psychedelic experimentation here.

This quartet hits hard right from the start with “Sweet Evil Mama” and Javier’s jangly Telecaster hammers this catchy blues rocker into your head. Get used to it, you are going to hear a lot of this over the next nine songs. Lewinsky’s vocals are raw and enthusiastic while Alemany’s dry snare keeps the beat with precision.

After the opener they run through the two cover tunes, both of which they put their own spin on. Bobby Fuller’s 1964 song “Wine Wine Wine” has been roughed up into a country rocker, which is a debatable improvement over the original. And the Midnighters’ “Open Up Your Backdoor” loses the piano and do-wop and ends up as a slightly faster blues rocker. Javier is quite a good guitarist, and he gets to cut loose a bit on this track, which ends up being one of the standouts.

After some straight-up blues (“Last in Line”) and a little rhythm and blues (“Callin’ Me Blues”), Los Tijuana Blues gives a quick nod to their Spanish heritage. This break starts with an instrumental “Corrido Amoroso,” which is a Latin-tinged surf rock tune, then segues into “Dices Que Te Alegras,” the only song from the disc that is sung in Spanish. When these lyrics are presented with old-style reverb-soaked guitar the effect is mesmerizing, and it turns vintage-feeling rock and roll into something special.

Lewinsky croons on the swinging “Caught by the Tail,” showing a smoothness that has not appeared previously on the album, while Tijuana matches him with slick chords and a very pretty guitar solo. But they keep changing the tempo and feel from track-to-track so the listener never gets bored, and after the Texas boogie of “She’s a Hot One” the band finishes up their set with a another surf instrumental, “Blue Monkey.” Before you know it the album is over.

Unfortunately, there are a few hitches along the way. For starters, for ten bucks it would definitely be good to get more than a half hour of music. Also, the album is mixed with really heavy guitar and vocals, so much that the kick drum is lost and Mota’s bass is very hard to hear, either through speakers or headphones. That being said, it is still a fun record with very catchy tunes that would be a great soundtrack for your next cookout.

Los Tijuana Blues is off to a good start and they have created their own distinctive sound that should have staying power. Check out a few of their songs on iTunes and see what you think!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 5 

Mary Hott – Shaman Lover

Soul Stew Records CD-4206

7 songs – 31 minutes

Singer/songwriter/keyboard player Mary Hott steps out of the shadows for the first time to produce this interesting collection of jazz-tinged blues on this CD after serving for years as one of the most sought-after backup and session singers in New York.

A West Virginia native who was schooled at the prestigious Berklee College Of Music in Boston, she’s fronted 10-piece R&B ensembles in New England and jazz and swing bands in New York in addition to supporting other musicians. Her strong Southern gospel roots are clearly evident in her vocal delivery, which exhibits the polish of professional training. She’s backed here by a powerhouse band, which includes former Little Milton and Albert King guitarist Billy Thompson, sax legend Ron Holloway, keyboardist Wes Lanich and a rhythm section of bassists Tim Lyons and Daniel Zarcone and drummers Gary Rosensweig and Eric Selby.

Hott borrows the mystical title of this CD from Elizabeth Lesser’s book, Broken Open. Lesser describes a shaman lover as a person who enters suddenly enters your life and changes it dramatically on a subconscious level. For Hott, that lover was music, and this disc of original material is the result. Available through Amazon, iTunes and CDBaby, it fuses blues with rock and jazz into a seamless package.

First up, “Possibilities” kicks off with a bright sax solo before Hott launches into a funky message that you have to abandon needs to allow the spirit to set you free if you want to fulfill your dreams. Her delivery, which is slightly behind the beat, propels the music. Next up, a syncopated drum beat introduces “Shaman Lover,” in which Mary delivers a plea for the spirit to deliver her from the ashes of living a lie.

Thompson’s straight-ahead blues guitar stylings are featured on the sultry “Empty Again” as the singer carries the message forward. This time, she has to look within to find the cure for relationship problems with a man who “leaves my soul lost and longing.” Another strong guitar solo starts the uptempo “You Don’t See Me,” with Mary confused because the object of her affections hasn’t got a clue about her desire.

The pace slows as Hott delivers the ballad “I Think Of You,” the poignant recollection of a failed love affair from the perspective of someone who’s healed and moved on. But the pain returns with the memories. The mood brightens for the bluesy fast shuffle “Long Road To Travel,” which puts a positive spin on the future of a relationship with a true love who doesn’t even know you’re there, before “Shaman Lover (Reprise)” closes the set.

Available through Amazon, iTunes and CDBaby, this strong debut will leave you wanting more, both because of its brevity and its polish. All of the material shines with fresh polish. It will be interesting to hear what Mary has to say going forward.

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 – 5 of 5 

Billy Boy Arnold – The Blues Soul Of Billy Boy Arnold

Stony Plain Records

14 Tracks/59:57 Running Time

Billy Boy Arnold is a 2014 Blues Music Award nominee and one of the few remaining original Chicago Blues musicians actually born in Chicago. He took harmonica lessons from Sonny Boy Williamson 1 and played the compelling harmonica riff from Bo Diddley’s classic, “I’m A Man”.

This is Billy’s second album with guitar wizard Duke Robillard at the production helm. The result is a tight smorgasboard of three original compositions by Arnold as well as covers of songs written by Sir Mack Rice, Eddie Miller, Ted Taylor, Joe Tex, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Oscar Brown, Jr. and others.

The songs presented herein are all crisp, precise examples of why Billy Boy Arnold is still very much in the game. The band drives, swings and rocks effortlessly.

The Joe Tex penned, “Mother’s Prayer” is laden with juicy hooks from the gate –

“My son is 9 Lord, he’s on dope,
my teenage daughter refuses to use water and soap,
I tell my children something, they talk back,
Lord, what makes my children act like that…”

One can’t resist the lyric nor Billy Boy’s presentation. Arnold is, of course augmented by the core of the Duke Robillard Band featuring Duke Robillard on guitars and background vocals, Bruce Bears on piano and Hammond organ, Brad Hallen on acoustic and electric bass and Mark Teixiera on drums and background vocals. Robillard’s go to horns, Rich Lataille on alto and tenor sax, Mark Early on tenor and baritone sax and Doug Woolvertoon on trumpet round out the fat sound.

Add Billy Boy Arnold’s harmonica riffs to the formula and the result is a remarkable achievement as Robillard writes in the liner notes. His phrasing is uncanny in that he can flow with monosyllabic lyrics that seemingly threaten to bust the cadence at the seams but economically slide right in.

At first listen, one might crave more than the three songs written by Billy Boy Arnold on the disk. Upon closer inspection, it is obvious that Master Arnold has selected tunes that need to be passed down and examined by future generations of musicians. These are not tired reworkings. Soul school is in session.

Mr. Arnold may be turning eighty years of age on September 16 of this year but another portion of his gift is that he plays and sings like a man half his age. May his prosperous renderings continue Ad infinitum.

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

 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:

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The Detroit Blues Society – Detroit, MI

The Detroit Blues Heritage Series will present a tribute to Eddie “Guitar” Burns hosted by Carlton Washington and many others. This event will take place at the Scarab Club (217 Farnsworth in Detroit Michigan) on Saturday May 9,2015 from 2 PM until 4:30 PM.

(Wikipedia) Eddie “Guitar” Burns (February 8, 1928 – December 12, 2012) was an American Detroit blues guitarist, harmonica player, singer and songwriter. His career spanned seven decades, and in terms of Detroit bluesmen, Burns was deemed second only in stature to John Lee Hooker. Special Guest for this event will include Carlton Washington, Little Sonny (Aaron Willis ) and Billy Davis, as well as, other artists TBD. Admission is a $5 Donation/ For more info visit The Detroit Blues Society at: or email

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society – Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society, Central Iowa Blues Society, Southeast Iowa Blues Society, and South Skunk Blues Society present the 2015 Iowa Blues Challenge (IBC) Quad-City Round – Sunday 26 April, 5:00 p.m. Redstone Room, Davenport, IA. The IBC is a cooperative effort among the four organizations to select a solo-duo and band participant to represent the State of Iowa at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, in January 2016. Bands and solo/duo acts moving on to the Iowa State finals will also have a chance to win cash prizes, recording time, opportunities for paid performances, and money to help with travel expenses for 2016 International Blues Challenge.

The Final Round of the IBC will be held in Des Moines, IA on May 16, but first each solo/duo and band, made up primarily of Iowa based musicians, must surmount a Preliminary Round. The Mississippi Valley Blues Society Preliminary Round of the IBC will be held at the River Music Experience, 129 N. Main Street, Davenport, IA on Sunday, April 26 starting at 5:00 pm. Three (3) bands and three (3) solo/duo acts will be competing with only one (1) solo/duo act and one (1) band moving on to the final round in Des Moines.

The 2015 Mississippi Valley Blues Society Preliminary Round participants are: Down the Drain (Band) 5:00pm, Dan Peart (Solo/Duo) 5:45pm, Zach Harris Band (Band) 6:20pm, Myers Brothers (Solo/Duo) 7:05pm, Concreteslim & the Sidewalks (Band) 7:40pm, Rowdy Rooster (Solo/Duo) 8:25pm. Admission price is $8 for Blues Society members and $10 for non-members.

Also come to the Mississippi Valley Blues Society’s Festival Fundraiser on Sunday May 3 at the Redstone Room in the River Music Experience, 2nd and Main Streets, Davenport IA. Doors open at 1:30 for a silent auction and raffles, with music from 2:00 until 9:00 p.m.

In addition to a silent auction featuring memorabilia such as signed posters, there will be raffles throughout the day and MVBS merchandise for sale. Seven musical acts have donated their performances for the cause, many of them former Iowa Blues Challenge winners. Music will be provided by: Ellis Kell-2:15-2:45, Larry Davidson and Charlie Hayes-3:00-3:45, Joe and Vicki Price-4:00-4:45, Detroit Larry with Blues Rockit-5:00-5:45, Mercury Brothers-6:00-6:45, Hal Reed and Blues Journey-7:00-7:45 and The Candymakers-8:00-8:45. Admission is only $15. Proceeds go to the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival scheduled for September 5 and 6 in LeClaire Park, Davenport. For more info visit

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign, Illinois

Friday, April 24, Prairie Crossroads Blues Society is proud to bring legendary recording artist, Johnny Rawls, to the Chanpaign-Urbana community. Join PCBS at 9:00 pm at The Iron Post, 120 S. Race St., in Urbana for this great show. Johnny’s CD “Ace of Spades” won the 2010 Blues Music Award for Best Soul Blues Album and this year he has been nominated for Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year and Soul Blues Album of the Year for “Soul Brothers”, with Otis Clay. Cover is $10 ($8 with current PCBS membership card). For more information visit;

Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

Iowa Blues Challenge FINALS will be held at the Downtown Marriott in Des Moines on Saturday, May 16 at 6:30 PM. Admission is $10 with a $2 discount for current Iowa Blues Society members with card. For more information and band bios go to

DC Blues Society – Washington, D.C.

The DC Blues Society proudly announces the DC-area appearance of the Nick Moss Band on Saturday, April 18, 2015. The dance floor will be jumping when Nick and his band play guitar-fueled blues from 8 pm-midnight at the American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring MD, 20910. Doors open at 6 pm and parking is plentiful. Tickets are $15 in advance ($12 for DCBS members) and $18 at the door (no member discount). Buy your tickets early! Go to to purchase online or call (301) 322-4808.

Nick’s style uses a broad sonic palette, weaving textures of R&B and blues-influenced rock into his playing and songwriting. Time Ain’t Free, his most recent release, “reaches deeper into soul, funk, and rock ‘n’ roll,” according to, with shades of P-Funk, Little Feat, Faces, and world music, all filtered through Moss’s deep blue lens.

Blues Kids Foundation – Chicago, IL

Fernando Jones’ Blues Camp – For Kids 12 – 18 years Old – “Summer 2015”  The Blues Kids Foundation proudly presents, in partnership with host sites below, Fernando Jones’ Blues Camps. We will award tuition waiver scholarships to over 250 music and audio/visual students (ages 12 to 18), collectively, who attend.

Through this priceless, fun-filled experience the Blues Kid will learn and perform America’s root music in a week long program with like minded others under the direction and supervision of highly qualified instructors. Entry is competitive. Audition dates can be found at under the host city’s name.

Openings for entry-level student musicians may also be available. Participants are expected to audition online at International students may audition. Out-of-town Blues Campers must be accompanied by a legal parent or guardian, and are responsible for their own lodging and accommodations.

2015 Blues Camps will be host cities include Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Nashville, Miami, Hampton, and Corona.

For more details or call 312-369-3229.

Friends of the Blues – Kankakee IL area

The Friends of the Blues announce their 2015 Concert Series. All shows start at 7 pm. April 28 – Mississippi Heat – Moose Lodge – Bradley IL, May 12 – Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat – Kankakee Valley Boat Club – Kankakee IL, May 21, The Ori Naftaly Band – Moose Lodge – Bradley IL, June 9 – Frank Bang & Secret Stash – Moose Lodge – Bradley IL, June 23 – Victor Wainwright – Moose Lodge – Bradley IL, July 7 – Brent Johnson & Call Up with Sugarcane Collins – The Longbranch – L’Erable IL, July 21 – Nick Moss Band with Chicago Blues Angels – The Longbranch – L’Erable IL, July 30 – Studebaker John & Hawks – Kankakee Valley Boat Club – Kankakee IL, August 5 – Damon Fowler Band – Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club – Bourbonnais IL, August 18 – Too Slim and Taildraggers with Polly O’Keary and Rhythm Method The Longbranch – L’Erable IL, August 27 – Albert Castiglia with Maybe Later – The Longbranch – L’Erable IL

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. April 27 – Tom Holland and the Shufflekings from Chicago

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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