Issue 9-2 January 8, 2015

Cover photo by Arnie Goodman © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

 In This Issue 

Tee Watts has our feature interview with Guy Davis.

We have 9 music reviews for you including new music from Kelly’s Lot, Michael Barclay, AC Myles, Aki Kumar, The Knickerbocker All-Stars, Wailin’ Walker, Devon Allman, Jimmy Carpenter and Sauce Boss.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Just another reminder of our clearance sale on Blues Blast t-shirts. Until the end of February we are offering Free Shipping on all Blues Blast Ts. We ordered a wide array of colors and sizes in both men’s and women’s. We even have a few long sleeve ones.

But hurry. Sale ends at the end of February or when our supply is gone. For more info or to get yours now with FREE SHIPPING
click HERE

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 9 

Kelly’s Lot – Don’t Give My Blues Away

Self-Produced/Frankie’s Chew Toy Publishing (BMI)

CD: 12 Songs; 52:25 Minutes

Styles: R&B, Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues

What do Taylor Swift, Adele, Madonna, and Southern California native Kelly Zirbes, of the band Kelly’s Lot, have in common? They’re all female dynamo singers who are the main showcases of their respective bands. In time, these first three have ascended the pop charts to become some of the country’s best household names. Hopefully the fourth will as well, in the dual arenas of R&B and straight blues. Kelly and her Lot have a great horn section, and twelve original songs, on their new CD Don’t Give My Blues Away. Those searching for sizzling saxophone and tasty trumpet will definitely find it here, but the guitar work is slightly less noticeable. This is a lighthearted party album, featuring Kelly’s good-natured vocals with a sharp-edged kick. The three tunes below are the most danceable, whether fast or slow.

Kelly’s Lot consists of Kelly Zirbes as the lead chanteuse, guitarists Perry Robertson and Rob Zucca, bassist Matt McFadden, drummer Robert Dill, Bill Johnston on saxophone, Dave Welch on trumpet, pianist Teresa James, and Fred Mandel on B3 organ. All of the album’s selections were written by Zirbes and Perry Robertson, except “Woman’s Love” which was co-written by Kelly and Rob Zucca. Each track is played with a nice balance of energy and musical technique.

Track 01: “Hush Up” – This CD’s opening number contains its title, belted out at the beginning. Listeners might be tempted to forget the real name of “Hush Up”, but that’s a minor risk. What do people do when their lovers start blabbing relationship secrets to everyone around? One solution is to give the gossip-mongers an ultimatum: “When I get lonely, you’re all that I need. When I get those feelings, I’ll come clean. When I get down, I always get up. I think it’s time for you to hush up….” The Lot’s instrumentation is in top form, especially the horns and bass beat.

Track 04: “Woman’s Love” – This is one song in which Perry Robertson and Rob Zucca’s guitar work is simply brilliant. Electric shredders don’t always have to scream in order to be effective. Sometimes soft strumming and notes that fall like snowflakes are far better mood-setters. “Can you hear me? Can you feel me?” cries Kelly in equal parts desire and frustration.

Track 06: “Right Now” – With a tempo as urgent as its title, track six is a rollicking blues rocker. Love can’t wait, and neither can our narrator: “Tonight, I’m going to open up my soul. Tonight, I’m going to let everybody know that nothing’s going to make me turn around and go.” This the perfect tune to play if you’re in a hurry to get to a swinging celebration, if not on one’s morning commute. Check out the killer guitar solo in the middle.

Kelly’s Lot sure has a lot to give to the R&B world in 2015!

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 – Guy Davis 

Breaking Down Schisms With Blues Activism

Midway through our roving conversation, Guy Davis explains his first meeting with Robert Jr. Lockwood.

“In 1993, I went down to Memphis to accept the Keeping The Blues Alive Award which, at the time was called the W.C. Handy Awards. I received it for my portrayal of Robert Johnson in Trick the Devil. I go out on stage and Robert Cray hands me the award.

Out in the audience are Buddy Guy and the late Johnny Clyde Copeland. My mom is there. All the Blues luminaries are there including Robert Lockwood, Jr. Now Robert Jr. Lockwood, as he was called, learned a lot of his Blues directly from Robert Johnson

After the awards ceremony there was a jam session on Beale Street in an auditorium. You could actually walk from the aisle of the auditorium, right up some steps onto the stage. So I got a chance to play a short acoustic set. That did it!

As I was coming off the stage at the end of my set, I looked way up to the top of the aisle at the back of the auditorium. Robert Lockwood, Jr. was standing under an exit sign. He raised his hand to beckon me to come to him.

I’m thinking, damn man, if he accepts me, I’ll be part of the Blues Mafia and I’ll never have to explain again that the only cotton I’ve ever picked is my underwear off the floor. So I walked up that aisle and put the most humble expression on my face that I could find. I slowed down as I got to him and it was if I was bowing to him, like he was the Godfather. Robert Lockwood put his arm around my shoulder and said, ‘Son, do you know where the bathroom is?’

It was like he saw right through me. I can say, I told him where to go. It was funny. I thought I was some hot shit and all he wanted was to know how to get to the shit house! And from that time on we were friends. That broke me down. Playing Robert Johnson in Trick The Devil brought me a lot of good stuff, both onstage and off.”

The stage is linked directly to the DNA of Guy Davis. It is his muse. Most baby-boomers familiar with African-American film and stage know that the Bluesman’s parents, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee were groundbreaking, critically acclaimed thespians. Combined, they appeared in close to 300 film, television and stage productions. Ossie Davis also had director’s credit on five films.

Guy Davis’s own acting career stretches back at least as far as his 1984 lead role with Rae Dawn Chong in Beat Street. He had a steady television roll as Dr. Josh Hall for two seasons on the seminal soap opera One Life To Live. The aforementioned Trick The Devil, was an off-Broadway production. Before that, in 1991, he made it to the bright lights of Broadway in the Langston Hughes/Nora Neale Hurston Musical Mulebone. He created and wrote his own one man theater piece, In Bed With The Blues: The Adventures of Fishy Waters. Davis’s other theater and writing projects have been met with critical acclaim. Though his acting chops commingle with his musical endeavors, for the past twenty-plus years he has focused his artistic expression on acoustic Folk Blues. There was a time though, before he even picked up an instrument when the music of Leadbelly got to him.

“Before I heard his music, I saw people playing his music on12 string guitars, although I didn’t know it had to do with him. I couldn’t play any instrument at the time. All I could do was kinda dance around and fall over the furniture. That was because it got into me, got in my bones. Then people would talk about him. Sometimes they would substitute the character Lost John. Or, Long Gone Lost John, that character who was gettin’ away from the Captain and the hound dogs. He had a special pair of shoes, with a heel in the front and a heel in the back, so they couldn’t tell which way he was runnin’. And then, sometimes they would substitute Leadbelly for the Lost John. But yeah, I definitely have a soft spot for Leadbelly.”

Guy Davis’s soft spot also includes a deep reverence for the Blues and what it means to him.

“I believe the Blues is an endangered species. Much of the support you hear about coming to the Blues is provided by Caucasian folks. They go down there and say hey, this cat was a treasure.”

“Now with Black folks, so much of our time and effort is spent trying to get ahead, we don’t even think about that; the ones that came before. We don’t think about some of the older music because it was back there in the direction of slave times, minstrel times, shufflin’ with the banjo and things like that. I think it is time for us to stand up and take ownership of our music. We may never get it back financially cuz whatever money is being made from the Blues to a large part is not being made by the descendents of the people who invented the music. But we gotta take emotional ownership of it. We’ve got to stand up, learn it and know it. The Blues is a collection of stories connected to us, made up of our flesh.

In the Guy Davis archives, there is a radio interview that quotes his dad, Ossie Davis as saying, “There is not a Black man in America that has not sold his soul to the devil.”

Guy Davis clarified the quote for Blues Blast.

“Oh, that’s kind of both of us. What my dad said was, “Never sell more of yourself than you can afford to buy back before the sun goes down.” What I said was, “People out here lookin’ for Robert Johnson, this man who sold his soul to the devil and my thoughts are, you ain’t met a Black person in America who has not been down to the Crossroads and had to sell something, make a deal, talk it over, get it figured out, find out how much interest you gotta pay. Oh yeah, that includes the president of the United States. People talk about Obama’s attitude being churlish and whatnot when the Republicans challenge him on things and he doesn’t come right out and blurt out the truth.”

“Look at that great athlete Arthur Ashe, the tennis player. He was known for his cool. He never spontaneously spoke out about stuff. That is because Black people have known that if you want to survive, you do not run your mouth without thinkin’ it over really carefully first.”

“So, all of us Black skinned people are living in the country of those who kidnapped and enslaved our ancestors. The deal we make is that we gotta love them. We gotta love ourselves in order to survive. Do you think you’re gonna survive if you tell the White man exactly what you think?”

“What I’m taking right now, I’m not tryin’ to ferment some kinda discord, Black man rise up, go to the streets and get yourself shot and killed by drones. No, I’m not tryin’ to do that. I’m tryin’ to say that there is a deeper truth than what you see on the surface. The forces that invented this marvelous music called the Blues didn’t just come up outta nowhere. The real Blues is something that can leave you in tears. I’m glad I can approach it as an artist rather than man who has to live hand to mouth and struggle for every nickel he gets and be incredibly grateful for any cup of coffee or glass of water he gets.”

“Now, if you wanna get real, I make my living performing the Blues. That makes me somebody who for money, is taking the culture of the descendants of those who were enslaved and selling it to the descendants of the enslavers. That in a way is worse than giving it away. That makes me, I don’t know if you wanna say, Uncle Tom, traitor, mole. All these things go in it. You gotta understand that I approach it as an artist, somebody who loves it and knows that much more pain went into it, than I deserve to take out.”

“The men and women who created the Blues spent time in prisons, buried under the foot of this country. So, as much as I love the Blues, as much as I Love Black people, as much as I love this country, there are still things that just cannot be spoken. Ask the president about that. He’ll tell you by his silence.”

Guy Davis’s political stance is not by accident. His parents, besides being award winning actors, writers and directors, were potent activists. Blues Blast asked him what musicians came through the Davis home as he was growing up and his answer was not very many.

“It was primarily actors who would come to the house. I mean, musicians would show up but my parents were known as actors, writers and directors so I would see more people in those aspects of show business. Even in the early days before they had a lot of fancy furniture they’d be sittin’ on crates partyin’ and talkin’. Kids would be welcome up to a point, but we needed to be quiet. There would also be political activists at the house. I don’t know where I was, maybe summer camp, cuz I didn’t get to meet him, but Huey Newton slept in my bed in my absence. Paul Robeson came by the house. Malcolm X came by the house. He looked like the tallest man I ever met. These were the types of people that came in and out of our lives. I never met Paul Robeson either, but he is my Blues contemporary Eric Bibb’s godfather. Paul Robeson’s name was mentioned all the time around my house. I got to speak to Jimmy Baldwin; James Baldwin the writer. I spoke to Langston Hughes on the phone, you know, people like that.”

When asked what visitors impacted him the most coming through the Davis household, he gives the following examples:

“I can’t say that it would be anybody that you might know easily. I can think of several people. I can think of Sidney Poitier. We would call him Uncle Sidney. There was no, quote unquote, business relationship where I was a young acolyte studying to be an actor under him or something like that. I just knew his daughters and I was in love with them! I think my job was to walk one or two of them to school. Stuff like that.”

“I’m trying to think of someone else who had a deep impact on me. Again, I have to say it was nobody that had a name you would know. There were things that happened that I never will forget. I would actually have to sit and talk awhile to figure out my own answer to this. I remember my dad comin’ out of the house one time. I had called him to come out, cuz there was this man standin’ in front of the house. I had no idea who this man was. But if I had to give him a physical comparison, I’d say he looked something like Blind Willie McTell. I remember the white part of his eyes looked yellow. He stood there on the corner with his hands in his pockets, spitting on the ground from time to time and looking up and down the street, like he was expecting or waiting for someone. I told my dad and he came out and spoke to the guy for no more than a couple of minutes. My dad handed him a couple of bills and sent him on his way.”

“This isn’t exactly what you asked, but has to do more with people I met at that house I also remember one of our neighbors who was a volunteer fireman who also delivered milk in the morning, came by our house because their was a smoky fire in our house. I mention him because if I wasn’t a Bluesman, there are two other things I would thing about being. One would be a fireman, the other a carpenter.”

“I’ll give you one more. There were some people who lived down the hill from us; Lou and Helen Thomas. Across the way from them was a lady named Mom Baucher. I remember my older sister and I looking out of our back window one morning and Mom Baucher got up in her night gown and was running around our back yard like she was dancin’. Then somebody called the police or paramedics because Mom Baucher lay down with her arms open and died in our yard. My sister and I may not have known that she was dying, but we saw the men walking around her, doing whatever they thought they needed to do to keep her alive. They told us later that she died. I think those neighbors, just ordinary people had the biggest impact on me.”

The conversation turns to the spiritual power of the Blues when a NPR interview that Guy Davis did is mentioned. In that radio broadcast, Davis speaks of visiting the Stovall plantation in Clarksdale Mississippi and the very shack that Muddy Waters lived in and trying to remove a nail from the structure.

“As a matter of fact, it was during the rehearsals for Robert Johnson-Trick The Devil, that I went down to Clarksdale, Mississippi to the shack that Muddy Waters stayed in on Stovall’s plantation. What I was trying to say was that after it was over, I realized that removing that nail was as tough as the times that the people had to live under. The hardness of the wood pointed to the resilience of the people who lived there. This was an emotional, spiritual, perhaps mystical experience that cannot be adequately explained.”

“Looking at the place from across the field, I knew something was there and it turned out to be my personal crossroads. I was going to have to meet that which would make me the most vulnerable and/or the most powerful. And there it was in the middle of a field where shacks that used to stand that looked just like that shack. It was the after effect of slave times telling me that this is what the Blues came up out of.”

I don’t know if I referred to the Black Codes in that NPR interview, but, I’m not sure if they came about before or after the Civil War, but they definitely went into effect after slavery. When they no longer had slaves as a source of labor to build this country, you would find it in the prisons. So the objective became to fill the prisons with Black men so they could be sent out to work. And it would be not unlike slave times in a certain way; you had to feed ‘me, you had to do this, you had to do that, but you didn’t have to pay them as free men and women who needed to make a living wage. All that stuff was in that shack on the Stovall plantation for me. That’s my source as a mystic. That’s where the mystery of all that is and was that was in that shack and was the crossroads for me.”

Urged on, Davis spins more of his perceptions of the mystical experiences that have happened to him as a Blues artist.

“Well, I’mo tell you this as best I can. It was within a few months of when my dad died nine years ago. I’d made a deal with myself that uh, I was not gonna call out to my dad or his spirit for any help unless I really, really, really needed it. I mean, I loved my dad, he was gone. It took me a long time to cry for myself as a son without a father. I was able to cry as a member of my family for all of us, but it took me a while to cry for myself. So I made a deal with myself, that unless it was something very important, that dad was gonna rest where he was and I would think about him and love him from that distance.”

“Well, my son was having some problems. There was a crisis involving him and school and I remember it dug into me so deep that one night while he was here in my apartment, sleeping in his bed, I went into my room, laid on my bed with my arms open. I looked up at the ceiling and I prayed. I said, ‘Dad, if you’re listening, I need help with my son, your grandson.’

“At the time I had a rented car for a gig I was doing. Whenever I rented a car, I would drop my son off and pick him up from school if I could. So when I picked him up at school one day, there was a pair of shoes he had on that I think he was going to need the next day and he also had another pair with him. So I said, ‘Okay son, why don’t you leave your shoes in the car and put on the other pair. Just leave them in the front passenger compartment and put on the other ones.’

“So we did that. I parked the car on the street down the hill from the highrise where I live. We walked back to the apartment, he wearing his other pair of shoes with his bags, homework and whatnot. I went to retrieve the car the next morning to drive it up into the complex to the front of our building.”

“When I got in the car, I didn’t notice the shoes where I’d instructed my son to leave them in the front passenger compartment. I looked in the backseat area, the trunk of the car. I thought to myself, well maybe I just sorta went brain dead yesterday and went on automatic pilot, picked them up and walked them into the house with him. I went upstairs and asked my son if the shoes were there. He said that he had left them in the car like I’d asked him to. Okay, so I had him put on his other shoes and took him to school. I just couldn’t figure out what happened to the shoes.”

“The laundry machines in the complex were not working that day so I went home and picked up some clothes and drove to do a load of laundry. I remember looking at the car as I got out to do the laundry. There was nothing unusual about it. When I drove back with the laundry, this time I parked up the hill and across the street from the apartment complex.”

The only things beyond the car were a fence and some grass leading down to the highway. I walked across the street, went into my apartment and took a nap until it was time to go pick my son up from school. Still, in all this time I could not figure out what happened to those shoes.”

“When it was time to go pick him up, I got outta my bed and went outside the complex. I was just about to cross the street and there was a bus coming from my right. I could’ve made it to the car safely but the bus would’ve had to slow down and wait for me to open the door and get in the car, so I opted to run past the drivers side, all the way to the sidewalk on the passenger side and then wait for the bus to go by so I wouldn’t have to slow him down. As I’m standing on the sidewalk waiting for the bus to go by, outside the passenger front door of the car, I saw those shoes. They looked as if they’d been placed there as if by a parent tucking a child’s shoes under his bed at night, snugged up under it.”

“Now this was a completely different place from where I’d left the car with the shoes in it. That I believe, was my father’s way of saying that my son’s footsteps would be guided. I have no clue where those shoes were all day, how they got out of the car and back to the car, tucked as if under a bed. This was just after I said, ‘Dad I need your help.’ That broke me down. That was the most recent experience. That was a positive and beautiful experience.”

“There was a mystical experience I had once before. This was back in 1988 when I was driving a cab. I’d gotten married and my son was born and I needed the money. I was broke. I was an actor but I wasn’t getting enough work to pay the rent. I’d already had a job on the soap opera, One Live To Live, making plenty of bucks. But in that world, stuff does not always stay where you think it’s going to stay.”

I would have to do twelve hour shifts in that taxi, that’s what cab drivers do. I figured it in such a way that I was gonna try to drive as long as I could without stopping. So I generally did not eat or drink much water so several times, maybe five times I went into this weird place. It’s like the result of meditation. Now meditation is basically doing something boring for a long time until your mind shuts down and stops thinking. You move into a different consciousness. Well, in this state that I went into several times, my mind would stop thinking and I would become omniscient. I literally knew everything. I knew where all the money in the world came from. I knew stuff that you can’t hold onto when you come out of that state. I knew that I would make a lot of money on my shift that day. When I was in that state, my cab would go from customer to customer to customer. Ordinarily you’re driving down the street, you’re distracted, you’re thinking about whatever.”

“Say there’s three cabs parked side by side on the street and there’s a hand that goes up on the left side, well, the guy on the left should get that fare. If a hand goes up on the right side then the guy on the right should get that one. Sometimes the guy in the middle zooms ahead and cuts off the other guy, so he breaks the other guys thread. But in the process, he breaks his own thread to hijack that ride and then he will go without customers for a substantial amount of time. When I was in this state, it seemed like the cab was driving itself. I was behind the wheel but the cab went from customer to customer to customer. I didn’t have to worry about whether the light was red or green. It’s like the whole world is in slow motion and I was the only one in regular consciousness. I could see where everything was going to happen. I could see where to be. It wasn’t thinking about it. It was direct knowledge.”

“One Sunday I was driving and I was desperately hungry. My belly felt like a big cavity. It was a gnawing hunger. And then I went into that state and the hunger became pure energy. I felt as energized as I’ve ever felt and I heard a voice. And it wasn’t my mind thinking about something I heard. It wasn’t my mind repeating a voice. I heard a voice from the center of the universe or the center of my soul, whatever you wanna call it. That voice said, “Open up your live to the light of love.” The voice repeated, “Open up your live to the light of love.”

“While you’re in that state, it’s a state of bliss so you don’t care. It’s not an emotional state. I knew I’d make a lot of money in that state but I didn’t care. I didn’t have desire. It wasn’t until I came out of that state that I broke down crying. I wrote it in my notebook that I kept with me in the taxi. And then, at the end of the shift I was so tired and confused that I left the notebook in the taxi.”

“I never forgot the experience. Meditating is like knocking on a door that you’re trying to get in. And you’re banging and you’re banging and you’re banging. No answer. You shake the handle, it will not open. Then you give up. And it is just when you give up that the door opens and a hand reaches from inside that door grabs and yanks you into this room. It is in the act of surrendering to you own failure that you will find that power. So that was one of the deepest, most profound experiences that I’ve ever had. Driving’ that taxi.”

Shifting subjects again, Guy Davis’s voice lightens up when he speaks of his involvement with teaching schoolchildren about the Blues.

“They put me in classrooms all over the world. It’s just me and those kids. I whip out that harmonica and let them know what time it is! I play ’em some Blues. You’ve got to understand, it’s not just teachin’ kids about the Blues. Heck, I’m hopin’ those kids will be my audience in twenty years and I’m still workin’!”

As we finish our time with Guy Davis closes with a comparison of modern day Blues musicians to the first generation Bluesman who lived the live they sang about.

‘Um, I think it was Buddy Guy who once said he was a Blues Musician, not a Blues Man. Being a Blues man is a tough thing. If you live long enough, bad health is gonna get ya. Diabetes is one of the killers of not only Black People but Bluesmen to. The overuse of alcohol will break you down. It’s a luxury for us to be able to experience this music as musicians as opposed to the first generation that had to live this stuff. They had to sing their way out of heart sickness, from being under the thumb of Jim Crow. Such hard times. If I could get us all in a room, I would try to cut most of my drinkin’ in half, to get a lot more health food into us. I’m not necessarily saying end the smoking and drinking but get it under control. We need that kind of love and attention and care. There’s something so attractive about that stereotypical Blues Man with the cigarette and the hat. That’s all well and fine, but you gotta go home and rest after that. Get your sleep. Nourish your mind and heart. To all the Bluesmen I would say, let’s look after ourselves.

Visit Guy’s website at

Photos by Arnie Goodman © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

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


 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 9 

Michael Barclay – King Of Hearts

Chatterbox Records

14 songs – 59 minutes

Northern California-based Michael Barclay has been around for a long time, playing with Chuck Berry in the 1960s and jazz singer Randy Crawford in the 1970s. His new album (his fourth solo release), King of Hearts, is a self-produced 14 track collection of first class blues-rock songs.

The track listing is an enjoyable mix of classic covers and originals. The choice of covers may appear at first to be slightly uninspiring, including several songs that are played every night at every blues jam in every city in the world: “Everyday I Have The Blues”, “Someday After A While”, “Key To The Highway” and “Stormy Monday”, as well as The Beatles’ “Come Together”, Tom Waits’ “Way Down In The Hole” and a jazzy instrumental version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind”.

However, whilst some of the covers are played straight (“Key To The Highway” for example keeps pretty close to the Derek and the Dominoes version), others are given a fresh lick of paint. “Everyday I Have The Blues” is played as Texas-style guitar-heavy shuffle and “Stormy Monday” is given an organ-heavy, almost funky treatment. “Someday After A While” adds horns where Freddie King’s original featured more piano, resulting in a less gospel-sounding piece that still retains the essential threat underpinning the lyrics: “I may be blue, but I don’t mind. Because I know that way down the line, someday, babe, someday after a while you’ll be sorry.”

Barclay’s original songs display a mature lyrical tilt, for example in the funky blues of “Married Man,” in which he declares to an amorous fan: “I found your note on my car on my way home. And I’ve got to say, there’s something you really should know: my woman’s waiting there for me and I’ll never leave that girl alone. Because I’m a married man and my heart is really in my home.” Likewise, in “King of Hearts”, he looks back on his mis-spent youth with affection, but he is clearly happy with his current state of affairs: “I’ve always been the King of Hearts, the big Chief of some fine Creole. But then my baby came along and now she’s the Queen of my Soul. I thought I’d be the Prince of Thieves, and steal her heart away. But her body and her mind claimed me and I won’t ever play.”

King of Hearts is very much a labour of love for Barclay, who produced, arranged and mixed the album himself, in addition to programming the drums and organ/synths, singing lead vocals, and playing lead guitar, bass, electric piano, clavinet, organ and trumpet. He also wrote five of the songs himself and co-wrote one with tenor and alto sax player Roger Volz (the 70s-esque funk instrumental, “Fatass Funk”). Other musicians include Midge Gannon on background vocals, Joel Rudinow on acoustic piano; Jack Jacobsen and Lowell Levinger on organ; Blair Hardman and Evan Palmerston on bass; and Kendrick Freeman on drums.

To his credit, Barclay manages to create the feel of a full band playing live on each song, and he has an enjoyably assertive, full-bodied guitar style, that displays hints of the influence of Eric Clapton, B.B. and Freddie King in the note selection and warm, mid-range tone. He also turns in some fine, slashing slide guitar playing in the title track. His voice is less strong, struggling at times, especially on the slower, bluesier tracks. It also however displays a vulnerability at times which is genuinely affecting.

King Of Hearts doesn’t break any new musical ground, but is a solid and enjoyable blues-rock effort from Barclay. Particularly recommended for fans of the likes of Eric Clapton and Chris Antonik.

Reviewer Rhys Williams lives in Cambridge, England, where he plays blues guitar when not holding down a day job as a technology lawyer or running around after his children. He is married to an American, and speaks the language fluently, if with an accent.

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 9 

AC Myles – Reconsider Me

Self Release

11 tracks / 41:48

Fresno, California does not get as much publicity as its two big neighbors, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but it is a cool city that helps support one of the largest agricultural areas in the United States. You may not think that there is a lot of blues music going on there, but with half a million people there are plenty of blues enthusiasts to be found. In fact, guitarist and singer AC Myles grew up in Fresno, and he is a fine representative of the town!

AC Myles has a fine pedigree; after touring with his own band as a young man he ended up in San Francisco where he found work as a sideman for killer acts such as Fillmore Slim and Joe Nemeth. This experience honed his performance skills and helped him develop his own brand of blues chops on both guitars and vocals. For his debut album, Reconsider Me, he hooked up with the legendary Kid Andersen, who produced this project as well as recording and mastering it at his Greaseland Records in San Jose, California. Things happened quickly, as they only had to spend two days in the studio, which gives this disc a righteously vibrant feel!

This album is made up of eleven tracks that include four of Myles’ originals and seven special covers. These were not culled from usual list that other artists choose from, as he mostly picked songs that were from some of the artists he has worked with over the years. For this project, AC took on the lead vocals and guitars, and he was joined by Derrick Martin behind the drum kit, Nate Ginsberg on the keyboards, Lisa Andersen with the backing vocals, Endre Tarczy on bass and keys, and Kid Andersen with the rhythm guitar and keyboards.

Things start off with a tight soul tune written by Fenton Robinson, “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” and one thing is for sure: Myles has a fabulous voice. He stays in tune across his impressive range, and his vocals have an honest inflection and character that bring the words to life. Next up is Rory Gallagher’s “Do You Read Me,” which is an ambitious undertaking as Gallagher was a true guitar hero. AC fills the role well, and this turns into a roaring blues rocker with blazing guitars, a thumping bass line, and awesome organ accents. This is one of the top tracks on the album, without a doubt.

After stirring rock with a little gospel in Elvin Bishop’s “Rock My Soul,” the band takes on the title track from Johnny Adams. “Reconsider Me” features some jaw-dropping falsetto, and extra cool roadhouse piano over the solid foundation of Tarczy’s bass and Martin’s drums. This duo also sets up Roman Carter’s 1965 classic, “Queen Bee,” for Myles’ best James Brown imitation.

The most pure blues tune on Reconsider Me is “Death Bed Blues,” which was penned by Myles. His lead guitar has a super-clean tone in this 12-bar Chicago-style tune, and Andersen backs him up well. The slow tempo creates tension for the classic low-down lyrical themes that are sung with emotion and gusto.

AC laid down two very strong original rockers, “Call ‘em All Baby” and “Three Ways to Fall,” and then the set ends with Fats Domino’s “Blue Monday.” But, this time it a Fillmore Slim arrangement with funky wah-wah rhythm guitar and 1970s-issue electric piano. Myles digs deep (and even wails a bit) for this closer, leaving things on a happy note.

If there were anything that is missing with this release, it would be more of AC’s own material. Myles’ career has advanced to the point where his fans would surely like to hear a more personal take on his music. He is a fantastic singer, guitarist, and arranger, so surely he can perform whatever thoughts he puts down on paper and make them work.

It is true that AC Myles has talent galore, and Reconsider Me proves it on every track. This is a solid album of soulful rhythm and blues that is expressed with his own style thanks to his years of experience. Check it out, and we should all hope that he starts working on a follow-up soon!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 9 

Aki Kumar – Don’t Hold Back

Greaseland Records

13 songs – 53 minutes

Since Charlie Musselwhite planted roots on the West Coast decades ago, San Francisco has evolved into a hotbed of sensational harmonica players, most notably Rick Estrin, Mark Hummel and the late Norton Buffalo. But as most locals already know, there’s a new reed-bender in town, and he’s ready to make a name for himself on a broader scale.

Born in Mumbai, India, and only working as a musician full-time for the past six years or so, Akarsha “Aki” Kumar is the real deal if you love traditional blues harp with an extra dose of originality. As a teen, he studied keyboards and tabla (Indian drums) before picking up a tremolo harmonica, instrument commonly used in popular Hindi music. Now in his mid-30s, Kumar emigrated to the U.S. in 1996 to study software engineering, settling first in Oklahoma City before transferring to San Jose State University, where he earned a degree that landed him a job in the industry.

Aki’s love for the harmonica eventually lead him to the San Jose School of the Blues, where master instructor Dave Barrett quickly turned him onto to the works of Little Walter Jacobs, George “Harmonica” Smith and James Cotton. Kumar burst onto the West Coast scene in 2009, fronting one of the Bay Area’s favorite bands, Tip Of The Top. He now fronts his own tight ensemble and also does service with Little Jonny And The Giants.

Kumar makes his recording debut on this disc, which was co-produced with Chris “Kid” Andersen at Andersen’s award-winning Greaseland Studios. Joining him for the session is lineup that includes four of the best guitarists in the area: Andersen (who also adds keyboards, tabla and sitar), Rusty Zinn, Little Jonny and Johnny “Cat” Soubrand of the Terry Hanck Band. Blues Music Award nominee June Core and Vance Ehlers contribute drums and bass, while Frankie Ramos sits in on saxophone. Bob Welsh sits in on piano and Kid’s wife Lisa Leuschner Andersen backing vocals.

The end product, which features four originals and nine covers, is a grabber right from the start. A simple low-resister three-note turn-around kicks off Kumar’s straight-ahead version of the Snooky Pryor classic. “Judgement Day” He’s a powerful, stylish vocalist who delivers his lyrics without a hint of accent, and his attack would be well received in the smoky bars of Chicago’s West Side, where the music originated. Kumar puts down the harp and dips into ‘50s rock for a cover of Hank Ballard’s “Hoochie Coochie Coo” next, aided by a driving horn line from Ramos, tasty accents from Soubrand and Zinn on six-string and keyboard work from Welsh.

The Kumar original “Don’t Hold Back” features sexually suggestive lyrics atop a swinging bottom and a solid sax solo as the singer instructs: “Just tell me what’s on your mind/Don’t wait for another time/Don’t hold back.” Aki stretches his chops on an extended harp solo to finish off this instant pleaser. Next up, a trip to the Gulf Coast for a ripping version of Slim Harpo’s “Buzzin’.” It’s an ultra-modern take on the original with Little Jonny coming to the fore for a tasty solo.

The original “Let Me Get Closer” is a simple Chicago-style harmonica-fueled shuffle about falling in love at first glance with a woman uninterested in romance. She just wants to dance. Aki delivers a rock-solid mid-song solo before working his way into the Jimmy Reed standard, “She Don’t Want Me No More,” featuring Andersen on guitar. The song differs dramatically from the Reed version as Aki uses the entire harp instead driving home the theme in high register. He splits the solo with Welsh.

Four more covers follow – a dazzling, completely new version of Charles Brown’s “Drifting Blues” complete with sustained work on the reeds, a straight-forward take on Little Walter’s “Blue Baby” with Aki accompanied only by keys, a horn-driven interpretation of Willie Dixon’s “I’ll Get You Too” and a swinging version of Peter Chatman’s “Wish Me Well.” In each case, Kumar makes the song his own.

Little Jonny takes over the vocals for “Freight Train,” billed as an original, but thematically resembling railroad songs of the past. Kumar picks up the chromatic harp and gives a tip of the hat to his hometown in the self-penned “Mumbai Express,” based on the Junior Parker hit, “Mystery Train,” before concluding the set with a legitimate taste of his homeland. “Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh,” a popular South Asian song from a ‘60s Hindi movie, gets a total makeover as a blues tune, with Aki delivering the lyrics in his native tongue, aided by Lisa on vocals and Kid on tabla and sitar.

Definitely one of the best new artist new releases of 2014. It’s a little late for Christmas, but pick up a copy of “Don’t Hold Back” today. You deserve it.

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 9 

The Knickerbocker All-Stars – Open Mic At The Knick

JP Cadillac Records – 2014

13 tracks; 46 minutes

Here is an interesting ‘concept’ album! Two Westerley, Rhode Island, natives, Bob Christina and John Paul Gauthier, decided to recreate the jam sessions that were once held at the Knickerbocker Café, ultimately leading to the establishment of possibly Westerley’s finest export, Roomful Of Blues. The core band here is Ricky King Russell on guitar, Bobby Christina on drums and Bob Worthington on bass, with the addition of a horn section which includes Rich Lataille of Roomful on sax, Dennis Cook on bari sax, Bobby ‘Breeze’ Holfelden on trombone and Doc Chanonhouse on trumpet. Piano is played either by David Maxwell or Al Copley and Nick Adams plays guitar on one cut.

The material is drawn from the great era of big band R n’ B with songs associated with BB King, Freddie King, Lowell Fulson and Bobby Bland amongst others. So, how to get the authentic vocals to go with this stellar band? Just ask seems to be the answer, as the following all appear: Sugar Ray Norcia, Curtis Salgado (both one-time vocalists with Roomful), Malford Milligan, Johnny Nicholas, Brian Templeton, JP Sheerar, Willy Laws and Mike O’Connell. Finally another Roomful connection was established by having original drummer (and Bob’s brother) Fran Christina play on three tracks.

Every track here is great so it is hard to pick out just a few favourites but the album starts with a bang with the great Sugar Ray Norcia singing “You Upset Me Baby” brilliantly, the horns absolutely on fire with exciting solos from Ricky on guitar and Rich on alto. Johnny Nicholas sings superbly on “Jelly Jelly”, a song written by Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine and Malford Milligan (former vocalist with Texan band Storyville) delivers a fine Bobby Bland style vocal on “Turn On Your Lovelight”.

Another song associated with Bobby, “Ain’t That Lovin’ You” brings Curtis Salgado to the microphone in very relaxed mood for a jazzy rendition of the song. Two songs strongly associated with Freddie King appear late on the CD with Brian Templeton leading from the front on “Tore Down” and Mike O’Connell delivering an equally strong performance on Don Nix’s “Going Down”. Appropriately both tracks feature some determined soloing from Ricky on guitar, well supported by the horn section and David Maxwell’s piano (David played with Freddie in the 70’s). Elsewhere Willy Laws sings well on a solid version of “Mother-In-Law Blues” (Gene Barge) and Roy Milton’s “It’s Later Than You Think” romps along with Sugar Ray’s second vocal contribution, twinkling piano and honking sax.

Classic material, great horn arrangements, fine singing – what is there not to like? Despite there being no original material this CD it is well worth investigating if horn driven, big band blues is your interest and comes highly recommended by this reviewer.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 9 

Wailin’ Walker – No Regrets Volume 1

Jitterbug Records

13 songs time-48:10

Much of this record could have easily been called “Music To Be A Biker By”. A lot of what Vancouver, Canada native Al “Wailin'” Walker does here is crushing testosterone-charged blues-rock with some rockin’ blues and soul-searching introspection thrown in for good measure. The band’s bag of tricks is more diverse than it appears at first glance…They are capable of pulling off a slow blues, a shuffle and some moving moments. Walker’s husky vocals and take-charge guitar playing is presented basically as a power trio with a muscular rhythm section and occasional keyboards. The “man’s man” vocals complement the atmosphere of the music perfectly.

Wah-wah guitar, crunchy chords, bent notes and throaty vocals begin the assault on “Stop Talkin”, a scathing attack on lying politicians and other “blow hards”. “Lookin’ Good” is Z.Z. Top inspired biker-rock showcasing Walker’s fleet-fingered guitar skills. The traditional blues “Drink Muddy Water” is given the blues-rock treatment with catchy guitar interplay with guest Jerry Doucette.

If Willie and Waylon were bikers they might have conjured up a heavy tune like “Don’t Make Outlaws”. The music here sounds like Chuck Berry channeled through The Rolling Stones. Robin Trower-like spacey guitar textures vaguely creep into the moody “Just Like Gold”. A driving guitar assault leads into Ventures-like guitar over a heavy guitar backing in the instrumental “Knuckle Sandwich”. The Robin Trower influence also rears its’ head in the heavy “Save Some Love”.

The boys serve up a T-Bone Walker-type shuffle in “What Kind Of Woman”. They do a fine job on Frank Zappa’s “Lucille Messed My Mind Up” with its’ phased guitar sound. The narrator of “Balls On Fire” digs his girl so much that it feels like his balls are on fire…That’s gotta hurt! “Black Mass” closes things out with a demonic narrative spoken over the music.

After all is said and done Walker and associates show their versatility. They are able to crank out some heavy-handed rock along with some more subtle fare. What is revealed is that there is a lot of skilled technique at work here. At times the testosterone level of the music gets to be a bit much, but just when you think the roof is about to come crashing down on you, here comes some intricate guitar playing to bring things back to mother earth. These guys know what they are doing and do it well.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 9 

Devon Allman – Ragged & Dirty

Ruf Records – 2014

12 tracks; 49 minutes

Devon Allman is clearly a guy who hates taking it easy. If he is not touring with Royal Southern Brotherhood he is playing or recording solo material. For this album Devon broke away from his habit of recording ‘down south’ and headed to Chicago to record with another hyperactive musician, Tom Hambridge, who produced and played drums. Devon used Felton Crews on bass, Marty Sammon on keys and Giles Corey on rhythm guitar; Bobby Schneck Jr plays guitar on one track and adds backing vocals on two tracks, as does Wendy Moten. The material is a mixture of five Devon originals, three well-selected covers and material written for the sessions by Tom Hambridge and his regular writing partner Richard Fleming (three songs, plus one written by Tom and Lee Roy Parnell).

Strangely the CD opens with three of Tom’s songs but they all fit Devon’s style really well. “Half The Truth” has some searing lead guitar from Devon over an insistent rhythm riff from Giles as well as displaying Devon’s distinctive voice from the start. Devon has always avoided direct comparisons with his father Gregg but on “Can’t Lose Them All” the band creates a very Allman Brothers feel, especially in the twin guitar work and Marty’s B3 underpinning. Devon may not play slide but he has clearly inherited some of Uncle Duane’s abilities as a sinuous solo here demonstrates. The third Hambridge tune is “Leavin’” on which Giles plays acoustic guitar, Devon electric rhythm and Bobby Schneck takes the solo honours. The combined effect of the guitars takes us back to “Brothers And Sisters” era ABB on a tune with an excellent hook in the chorus. The Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around” is given a sprightly makeover with more fine rhythm work from Giles, allowing Devon to embellish with small guitar accents while combining his vocals with those of Wendy Moten to good effect. A striking solo tops off the song which is a highlight of the album.

Marty Sammon takes a break on Devon’s “Traveling” which is a muscular workout with plenty of wah-wah rhythm, a song that clearly reflects Devon’s globe-trotting with RSB as he observes “funny how cities at night look like galaxies from 30 000 feet”. Undoubtedly the centrepiece of the album is the lengthy “Midnight Lake Michigan”, an instrumental in which Devon’s guitar ranges from eerie sounds at the beginning to full-on aural assault, primitive but effective, especially when supported by improvised percussion effects from Tom – the effect at times recalls Santana in the “Caravanserai” period. One suspects that this one was a late night studio jam which just took off, as only Devon, Marty and the rhythm section are present. A cover of Otis Taylor’s “Ten Million Slaves” hardly lightens the mood but is very well done, Devon’s gruff vocal particularly suited to the song’s bleak portrait of slave trading. Tom’s superb percussion on this track deserves a special mention.

Two more of Devon’s originals follow, “Blackjack Heartattack” tells of gambling addiction, Devon using a slightly distorted vocal over a funky rhythm while “Back To You” is more personal, an overtly romantic song with some fiery playing over a gentle tune on which Wendy Moten’s b/v are a great addition. The last of Tom’s tunes is “Times Have Changed”, a foot-tapper with some rocking piano and guitar. Luther Allison’s “Ragged & Dirty” gives the album its title and is covered here in a short version with Devon singing strongly as well as playing some aggressive wah-wah. The album closes on a gentle note with Devon’s resonator set against percussion from Tom in a duo performance. Devon sings convincingly of needing to get away from the city, escape to the country and enjoy the quiet life – an unlikely possibility with his current schedule!

Although recorded in Chicago there is little straight blues here. What there is in abundance is further proof of Devon Allman’s abilities as singer, guitarist, writer and interpreter of songs. An excellent album worth seeking out.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.

 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 9 

Jimmy Carpenter – Walk Away

Vizztone 2014

13 tracks; 60 minutes.

Jimmy Carpenter’s storming sax has been heard with Jimmy Thackery, Eric Lindell, Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington and, most recently, Mike Zito & The Wheel. However, until now we have not really heard Jimmy as a writer and singer. Those omissions are certainly corrected with this outstanding CD, recorded in Jimmy’s base of New Orleans with a solid core band and some interesting guests.

Jimmy wrote all the material, handles the lead vocals and, of course plays sax, joined by John Fohl on guitar, John Gros on keys, Cassandra Faulconer on bass and Wayne Maureau on drums. Michael Skinkus adds percussion, Reba Russell sings co-lead on one track and backing vocals on three more, Anson Funderburgh and Mike Zito play guitar on one track each and Antonio Gambrell adds his trumpet to Jimmy’s sax on three cuts. The overall style is quite varied but what is consistent is the quality of the songs and the playing. In the liner notes Jimmy gives much of the credit to a new lady in his life, as well as some previous female influences.

Opening track “Can’t Let Go” only has the sax and trumpet in a support role, solo honours going to John G’s organ and Anson Funderburgh’s guitar, but it’s a great start to the album, a really catchy little tune with Jimmy’s voice immediately making a strong impression. The title track adds some non-PC humour to the album with Jimmy’s admiration for his girl’s shapely rear view: “Sometimes I wish you’d leave so that I could watch you walk away”. The chugging R n’ B rhythm propels the song and Jimmy plays some great sax throughout. “When You’re Ready” has a funky Texas roadhouse feel with the piano and some buzzing guitar from Mike Zito who takes an intense solo, Jimmy leaving his sax behind but delivering a good vocal.

“She’s Not You” demonstrates Jimmy’s song writing ability with a superb piece of soul balladry. Opening with Jimmy’s expressive sax the song progresses into a wonderful chorus: “I don’t know how to say it, but it’s not her it’s you. In the end there’s nothing she can do ‘cos you’re a hard act to follow, after what we had what am I supposed to do. You’re a hard act to follow, there is nothing wrong but she’s not you.” The sax solo that follows the chorus blows through the speakers like a storm – fantastic stuff!

Across the rest of the album there are more songs in a variety of styles, all infused with Jimmy’s new found love: “Crazy ‘Bout You” sounds like a lost Springsteen song with Jimmy’s blazing sax and a rousing chorus and “More Than Meets The Eye” has a great hook on its soulful chorus; “Hard To Be Cool” has a big band feel with Jimmy on baritone and trumpeter Antonio creating a fine wall of horn sounds; “No One’s Ever” is a ballad with some gentle wah-wah and sax; “Favourite Muse” has a slightly latin, jazzy feel while “On The Outside” recounts Jimmy’s frustrations at not being able to get on to the inside of his target in a piece of pop/rock.

The final track “Fellow Traveller” is another departure, a country duet with Reba Russell, the two voices combining on a rather sad ballad, the atmosphere accentuated by Jimmy’s lonesome sax solo.

Two fine instrumentals complete the album, both featuring Jimmy’s sax. “C King Blues” has a soul feel (think King Curtis) and is the longest cut here; more of a NO feel pervades “7th Street Shuffle”, a lyrical mid-paced number that gets the toes tapping with solos on organ and guitar as well as Jimmy’s statement of the main theme.

Overall this is a fine album that deserves attention and is highly recommended by this reviewer.

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 – 9 of 9 

Sauce Boss – 100% Pure

Burning Disk, Inc/Peckerwood Publishing (Self-Released)

12 tracks

Sauce Boss is Bill Wharton, a mostly one man band who mixes true life into his songs. It’s perhaps an odd life as evidenced by some of the material in the songs, but interesting none the less! Hailing from the Motor City, Wharton wails on his guitar and lays out the lyrics with abandon.

“Zipper Bird” opens the set. See? I told you. Guess what that one is about! There is a nice groove that he lays out as he sings a migratory story. “Marquis De Swamp” is a crazy and wild slide ride on his guitar. His crazed vocals are only topped by the spaced out guitar. More blatant innuendos fill the song as Wharton moans and laughs like a madman. “Gonna Be All Right” hearkens to better times as the dark is before the dawn, but Wharton has hope as he repeatedly screams out the title as chorus to the tune. “Chains” is not the pleasant Beatle’s number but a tune about how love is a double edged sword and we hold down the ones we love. It’s always good to take relationships to this high level. “Delta 9 Blues” tells us a little THC not only helps pain and glaucoma but also clears the mind. An odd, throbbing beat and groove just makes this more out there. “Peckerwood” ends the first half of this set of tunes and while I am half way through I was probably more lost that when I started. It’s a funky tune about a town that is out there with grass all colors of the rainbow. Great groove!

Next up is “Chicago Combat Zone” where Wharton hearkens back to his early youth on the South Side where his Dad was beaten with a black jack when Wharton was just 3 years old. They moved, but Wharton still reflects about the town with over 2,000 shootings per year. He’s going back but leaving his gun home because they don’t need any more in that combat zone. “Cadillac of a Woman” is a beautiful country blues slide piece with whacked out lyrics about the Virgin Mary. He sings that, “she’s a diamond deluxe, a Cadillac of a Woman.” Yes, it’s weird. “Hey Wilbur” is a rocking little number. It goes down from there in a twisted call and response sort of way. Next up is “Sun” where the song relates a little sun in your face is a good thing. A tight groove, it’s pretty weird in comparison because it’s pretty normal. “Song of the Irish Band” is a Celtic sort of piece on how songs come into being and give us life. I was confused but I think I liked it. “Outlaw Blues” tells us of Wharton’s arrest in 1984 for cultivating weed. His timein Couty Jail is immortalized here. He shouts out the lyric on top of some heavy guitar. Wild. Sort of .

OK, it’s odd. The Sauce Boss appears in chef attire, with the large, white floppy hat atop his head with beaming visage. 7 of the 12 cuts are marked with an asterisk in the accompanying flyer to denote they are bluesiest, just in case the listener was confused. Somehow, I think I’d like to go see this guy and listen live. It would have to be some twisted, crazy fun. Until then, I’ll have to just savor the Sauce Boss CD. Or maybe not again…

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

 Blues Society News 

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

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

The Columbus Blues Alliance – Columbus, OH

The IBC is only a few weeks away, and we need to raise more money for our Challenge Winners, so please come out on January 10th to the Roadhouse 66 and have some fun with The Good, The Bad & The Blues and Li’l Red and the Rooster!

We award the winners of our Challenge with prize money to help pay the way to Memphis, but it’s an expensive trip and we want to send them off with a little more cash in their pockets. We’re asking for $10 donations at the door, and 100% of any proceeds that night go directly to the musicians.

Doors are at 7:30 pm, and the music starts at 8pm. We really appreciate all the support you’ve given our Challenge winners over the years, so please come out and help just a little more. For more info visit

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.  January 12 – Blues Expressions, January 19 – The Groove Daddies, January 26 – The Greg Glick Blues Band, February 2 – Robert Sampson & Blues Junction, February 9 – Nigel Mack & the Blues Attack, February 16 – David Lumsden and Friends, February 23 – RJ Mischo

Additional ICBC shows (all held in Springfield, Illinois): Jan. 15 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, Jan. 23 – Maurice John Vaughn @ Post 809, 8 pm, Feb. 5 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, Feb. 19 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, March 21 – Ronnie Baker Brooks ICBC 29th Birthday Party w/special guests the Blues Expressions. K of C Hall on Meadowbrook Rd. Springfield, Illinois.

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

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign, Illinois

Saturday, January 10th, join Prairie Crossroads Blues Society as we celebrate our IBC Solo/Duo winners, Monica Morris and Josie Lowder and raise funds to help send them to Memphis. The party starts at 5 pm at Bentleys, 419 N. Neil St., Champaign. Monica and Josie will be performing. Local musicians Jiggy & the Source and Susan Williams will be sitting in. Cover is $5 and goes to Monica and Josie to help with their travel expenses to the International Blues Challenge later in January. Join us for a great time!

River City Blues Society – Pekin, IL

River City Blues Society presents Live Blues featuring: The River City Blues Society 2015 International Blues Challenge entry The Smokers Blue Band, 7:00pm Saturday January 17th 2015 at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St. Pekin, Illinois. Admission: $7.00 general public or $5.00 for RCBS members.

For more info visit: or call 309-648-8510

Minnesota Blues Society – St. Paul, MN

The Minnesota Blues Society presents Road to Memphis Fundraiser Sunday, Jan 11, 2:00 pm-7:00pm at Wilebski’s Blues Saloon, 1638 Rice St. , St. Paul, MN.

Let’s give the Minnesota IBC representatives, Jimmi and the Band of Souls-Band, Brother Sun Sister Moon-solo/duo and Black Water Blues Band-Youth Showcase a rousing send off.

Also performing at the fundraiser: former IBC participants, Annie Mack, Tampa Spatz, and the IBC All Stars. plus a silent auction and a bake sale. $10.00 suggested donation. More info, or to donate: or

Visit our website at:

P.O. Box 721 Pekin, Illinois 61555     © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine 309 267-4425



Please follow and like us: