Issue 9-23 June 4, 2015

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

  In This Issue 

Steve Jones has our feature interview with Bobby Messano. Marilyn Stringer has photos from the 36th Blues Music Awards. We have 7 music reviews for you including music from Johnny Tanner, an album called Hyde And Seek – featuring Earl Thomas, Lady Bianca, Ron Thompson & Neil Barnes, Doug MacLeod, Dan Patlansky, Madison Slim, Kris Pohlmann and Pete Herzog & Dennis Walker.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

The nominators have all made their choices and we a busy tallying up the results for the nominees for the 2015 Blues Blast Music Awards. The awards will be held on September 25th in Champaign, Illinois so reserve the date now. We will announce the nominees in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 7 

Johnny Tanner – Juke Joint Rambler

Self-produced CD

14 songs – 45 minutes

Veteran straight-ahead harmonica player and vocalist Johnny Tanner steps away from his regular unit, His Aces, based in Phoenix, Ariz., for this all-star laced retrospective gathered from two California recording sessions – Pasadena in 1997 and Berkeley in 2001. The resulting product is a well-paced collection of blues that, despite sitting in the can for the past 14 years, delivers with a warm, contemporary feel.

Tanner has been active musically for the better part of the past 40 years. One of his first bands, the Seattle-based Blue Lights Band, featured Barrelhouse Chuck on keyboards, and produced one song – “When Mt. St. Helen’s Blows It’s Top” – that received wide airplay after the volcano erupted a short while later. He’s toured widely and shared the staged with a who’s who of the blues scene, including Sunnyland Slim, Lazy Lester, Lil’ Ed and Eddie C. Campbell, among many others. His harp playing is rock-steady in a traditional style on both diatonic and chromatic, and his energetic tenor vocals swing steadily throughout.

Two of the most prominent West Coast guitar players – Junior Watson in Pasadena and Rusty Zinn in Berkeley – are featured prominently throughout in sets that vary between jump and Chicago stylings. The Southern California set also includes the Hollywood Fats band rhythm section – Fred Kaplan on keys, Larry Taylor on bass and the late Richard Innes, to whom the CD is dedicated, on drums – aided by sax players Jeff Turmes and Tom Faberge. Innes also holds down the bottom on the Bay Area set with Randy Bermudes on bass. Chicago veteran Billy Flynn shares guitar duties with Zinn and takes the lead on two numbers.

The Little Walter standard “I Got To Go” kicks off the set, aided by a steady guitar-driven rhythm pattern from Zinn and Flynn, before Watson propels “Lovey Dovey” with a driving guitar solo beneath and between Tanner’s vocals. The Tanner original “Searchin’ The World Over” follows, featuring a high-register harmonica solo in the style of Jimmy Reed, as he sings about a lost love. The theme continues for the horn- and keyboard-fueled “Bring Her Back To Me.”

A traditional vocal take on Guitar Slim’s “I Done Got Over It” features the horn section before Tanner launches into “It Ain’t Right,” the first of two Little Walter covers in the set. Next up, the original, “Blue Vapor,” is a slow burner that provides plenty of space for Johnny to work out on the diatonic in a number that shines above the rest. Another tip of the hat to Chicago follows, with Tanner sandwiching covers of two Sonny Boy Williamson tunes — “Checking On My Baby” and “Stop Breaking Down,” — around Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Don’t Know.”

Two originals — “Run Around Woman” and “Lighthouse For My Soul” – bookend Little Walter’s “Nobody But You” (featuring Flynn) before another original, the instrumental “Out Arizona Way,” concludes the set.

There’s a timelessness to the blues, and that feature is clearly evident here. Available through CDBaby or Amazon, Tanner delivers a disc that’s just as fresh as the days it was recorded. Perfect for anyone who loves traditional blues delivered in a clean, uncluttered manner. Fine musicianship’s on display throughout.

For a free track off this great album, check out our May Blues Overdose feature on soundcloud at

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.

For a free track off this great album, check out our May Blues Overdose feature on soundcloud at

 Featured Blues Interview – Bobby Messano 

Let me tell you a little about Bobby Messano. His name should be a household word but often it is not.

Messano is a legendary musician with now six modern blues albums under his belt. He has had songs featured in network and cable television shows, he has been heard on the MTV Jingle and on Benny Mardones’ smash hit “Into the Night” (which made the Billboard Top 20 in 1980 and then again in 1989). He has written songs for himself and for many an artist, including the likes of Eric Clapton. His guitar has been heard on over 50 major and indie labels.

He has appeared on records with Clarence Clemmons, Franke & The Knockouts, Joe Lynn Turner and Starz. He produced, appeared and recorded with the 60’s hit act Shadows of Knight for a long run that intermittently continues even today. He has toured with and been the music director for Steve Winwood, Lou Gramm and chart topping Country artists Jimmy Wayne, Rodney Atkins and Steve Holy.

Bobby has played or headlined dozens of major festivals and events. His last four CD’s, Holdin Ground, Bobby Messano Live In Madison ,That’s Why I Don’t Sing the Blues and Welcome To Deltaville have made it into the Grammy first round balloting 19 times. That’s Why I Don’t Sing the Blues was on the American Blues Scene’s Blues Top 5 Chart for 24 weeks and was named 2012 TOP BLUES/ROCK ALBUM (USA) by Blues Underground Network and Welcome To Deltaville was named #3 In the American Blues Scene BEST of 2013 list for U.S. Blues Rock CD. His latest release, Love and Money, hit the market on April 15, 2015 and he was recently recorded and featured on Sirius XM’s BLUESVILLE. On December 22nd 2012, Bobby was inducted into the “BLUES HALL OF FAME.”

I have talked with Bobby over many a good meal (usually Italian, both of our favorites) and a bottle of wine or two (also usually Italian and also our favorites). We recently hooked up to discuss his latest CD. I took the opportunity to interview him.

What started his interest in playing the guitar, writing songs and singing?

“I grew up listening to the Detroit and Philly Soul acts and the Four Seasons, but I also was hearing Freddie King and Chuck Berry,” he said.

“I REALLY started playing guitar after the Beatles, Stones and Yardbirds came on to the scene. I would sing at home and church, and I think that’s when I started paying attention to “THE SONG.”

The song is what people remember and Bobby recognized that without a good one even the best performer and artist is lost.

Messano often mentions seeing Jimi Hendrix in Flushing Meadows when he was 14 years old. Sometimes he even talks about that at his shows. How did that show impress and influenced him?

“Oh man, it freaked me out. What a show! August 23, 1968: the bands were Singer Bowl, Soft Machine, the Chambers Brothers (who I LOVED), Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company and Jimi. HOLY COW! I watched Jimi through binoculars and I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing, and that changed me forever.”

Messano had his own rock band, toured with greats like Steve Winwood, recorded and toured with Lou Gramm and so many others. He even played a big role several times over the years in the band Starz, a proto-metal-glam band from New Jersey. They never made it to the real big time but bands like Poison and Mötley Crüe claim Starz as their primary influence. That’s pretty far from the blues. What made him focus on the blues for the last 25-plus years instead of staying with the hair/metal and rock bands of years past?

“I wanted to go back to music that I felt was more honest. I’ve always been a Blues or Blues/Rock influenced guitarist and I always sang with more grit than the Rock and Pop singers I was with. After a tour of Germany in 1990, I decided that I was tired of playing harder Rock. This is actually my Silver Anniversary in the Blues Biz. Truthfully, when I went back to doing Contemporary Blues, I was just a Rock guitarist returning to a comfort zone, but for my soul I needed to make that change. It’s tough to go from making three to five thousand dollars a week and being on tour buses, to struggling as a solo Blues artist, but I’ve never looked back, despite the trials and tribulations.”

His tone and style of playing guitar is uniquely his own. He described his approach to playing guitar.

“I was nurtured as a player on the greats of the 60’s: Clapton, Beck, Page, and Hendrix, and because of them I was turned on to the three Kings, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon (yes I know he played bass and) the older Chicago players. I loved the English Marshall amp sound and that’s where my ears still are. I’m an aggressive player. I’ve worked all my life trying to be a GREAT rhythm player. ANYBODY can play a solo, and most guitarists can’t stop soloing but they can’t, or won’t lay back and become part of the band and the music. When you can do that and play a SINGLE NOTE that brings a crowd to its feet…well need I say more”

Messano likes to be in front of a crowd and pleasing an appreciative audience. The new CD is a distinct departure from the blues rock styles of past albums. Love and Money is darker, brooding and more edgy. What drove you to take this tact and focus with the new CD?

“I have a life to write about; broken relationships and marriages, evil people that have passed through life and in my family, bankruptcy, a psychopath cyber stalker, major traumas, watching my dad get sick and die and watching my family turn ugly after my mom passed. These life experiences, I feel, have made me a qualified, true life storyteller of MY Blues. It belongs to me, but people can identify with it because the songs are about the same things that happen to them. You need to take the listener/fan along for the ride with you.”

“I don’t sing about getting drunk, picking up women, my Ferrari, growing up in the Depression in The Dust Bowl or living like a millionaire. That’s fake, dishonest writing. It’s not the Blues that I know. You might as well write some plastic pop song. I write about what happens to me. It is very honest and to me, that honesty sometimes brings out the ugliness in people; those who think that they know about you but who are mired in their own self-importance and sad existence. But THAT also makes for some great songs.”

“April Showers” opens the new CD. It sets the tone for the CD when Bobby sings, “April Showers don’t bring no flowers when the rain is mixed with snow.”

What with the dark opening to this album?

“April has always been a tough month for me. In April my Mom was born, my Dad passed away, it was the beginning of a divorce and the last time I saw someone very dear to my heart. It’s supposed to be a time when life begins anew, but I’ve felt that it had mixed blessings” “the rain is mixed with snow.” Love & Money is just what we live our whole lives struggling for. David Michael Rose, my co-writer, and I always try to write humorous, but true lyrics. I mean isn’t that what life is about to most people?? We live and die for Love and Money.”

What inspired him to do a samba-like tune like “Boddentown” that is quite a different sound from the rest of the CD?

“It was originally a slower, more melodic song, but when we were in the studio it started taking on a new life as an acoustic samba. It is such a happy song and Boddentown, Grand Cayman is one of my favorite places on the planet.”

The new CD is dedicated to Messano’s father, Albert Francis Messano with a picture of his Pop in his WWII Army uniform on the cover. How did his father influence his work ethic and career?

“My dad was in the 101st Airborne (same as Jimi) He was a worker bee and worked for the US Postal Service for pretty much his entire life as a Supervisor. He was Mr. Happy, a tough boss and he owned a few bars on the side. He was so proud of me and all of my accomplishments and always said I should follow my heart. I loved the guy and while he was dying, I was there constantly for him. I would like to clarify what a stalker has said in some vicious web attacks on me. My dad was dying in my arms when I was with him, but I wasn’t with him when he died. I had just flown home to Florida for a brief time and woke up to the news of his passing on April 15th, hence the release date.”

Steve Winwood is one of Bobby’s heroes. Messano’s last album featured a Traffic song, “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.” The new album has Blind Faith’s “Had to Cry Today”. How has Steve Winwood influenced him?

“Steve was, and still is one of my idols and the fact that I got to be his guitar player will always be one of the highlights of my life. Geez, just the first jam with him would have been enough. I love his writing, attitude, a voice that came from the heavens, everything. Doing a few songs of his, and hopefully doing them justice, is just my way of showing him quietly how much I appreciated what he did for me as a musician and paying homage to one of the greats.”

Sirius XM Radio took great interest in his new CD. Messano recorded in their Bluesville studio in April, and now his music seems to be all over their rotation. It is expected that the new CD to also be all over Bluesville too.

How did that start and how is that working out?

“I am so thankful to XM/Sirius BB King’s Bluesville for everything that they do for me and ALL the artists they play. I have been on XM channel 70 since it started in September of 2001. They were playing recurrents of my Ichiban CD Dominion Roads and when I released Holdin’ Ground in 2003 they were on it as well as every CD since (Live In Madison, That’s Why I Don’t Sing the Blues and Welcome To Deltaville). I’m one of the Contemporary Blues artists who has been on the Channel since its inception and they appreciate recognize my music. It’s hard for an Indie artist in any genre, and Bill Wax, Tony Colter, Pat St. John and Lou Brutus were always in my corner and I am forever thankful.”

Bobby’s new band is great. So how did he hook up with them?

“They are amazing, aren’t they? Freddie Gasparini joined me on an as needed basis in the Fall of 2013. I met Freddie 30 years ago when I auditioned for his band, but we lost touch. We reconnected in ’13 when I saw him play at Brian’s Backuard BBQ, a great club that’s my home base when I’m in NY State. I was blown away and he starte d playing with me when I could use him. I made a last minute bass player change in January of 2014. These things happen when you’re in business and I had played with Suavek Zaniesienko at a jam, and found out that he had played with Todd Wolfe for years. I was so impressed that I called him at the last minute to fill in and it was like he had played with me forever. He is without a doubt one of the best players I have ever had the honor to play with, and I have played with some killers. Dave Hollingsworth also played for years with Todd Wolfe and he also jumped in at the last minute when my drummer suddenly left. He is the perfect drummer for me…He listens to everything, and just locks it down with Suavek and Freddie. What a BAND!!! I am blessed.”

If Messano could play live on stage with one person, living or dead, who would that be and why?

“OK…this is going to sound strange, especially as a guitar player…READY?? Jimmy Smith! I LOVE Hammond organ, and I just LOVED his amazing playing, and the rhythmic quality that he played with.”

“He also left AIR in the songs…It would be, as someone used to say that I knew…”Like Butter”.

Visit Bobby’s Website at:

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

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.

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 7 

Hyde And Seek – featuring Earl Thomas, Lady Bianca. Ron Thompson & Neil Barnes

Self-produced CD

9 songs – 42 minutes

San Francisco-based producer Neil Barnes came up with the idea for this concept album, which features gospel-tinged blues as it fuses together some of the best musical talent the Bay Area has to offer.

A skilled, but under-recorded harmonica player, Barnes fell in love with all of the tunes contained here and assembled the talent to put them out for the world to hear. A student of Charlie Musselwhite, he fronted the band Bar-B-Q Barnes and the Rib Tones in the ‘80s before an acoustic duo career, but he’s remained primarily in the background.

He’s acquired some pretty powerful friends along the way, however. He recruited three-time Grammy nominated vocalist/keyboardist Lady Bianca, former John Lee Hooker bandleader Ron Thompson, a guitarist with seven stellar CDs of his own, and West Coast soul blues superstar Earl Thomas to join him in the famed Hyde Street Studio — where James Brown, Green Day, Herbie Hancock and the Grateful Dead all laid down tracks — to bring this work to fruition.

They’re aided by the Rev. Paul Smith — who’s worked with Ike and Tina Turner, Bill Withers and Natalie Cole — on organ and a top-notch rhythm section: Oshmin Oden on bass and Winfred Williams on drums. Tia Carroll, another Bay Area treasure, provides backing vocals on two songs while Barnes adds harp throughout.

Available through CDBaby and iTunes, the disc opens with Bianca and Thomas sharing vocals for the powerful “Don’t Let The Devil Ride.” Penned by the Rev. Oris Mays, it may be familiar to some blues fans, having been previously covered by Lurrie Bell. The steady shuffle provides a good clue as to what will follow: A heaping helping of solid blues with a positive message. Thomas takes command for the slow tempo “Heart Like A Locomotive,” a Joe Droukas original, which delivers a message of faith brimming with positive images of love in a relationship affected by separation.

Next up, Thomas and Bianca team to deliver “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked,” an uptempo number first delivered by the rock band Cage The Elephant, before the band put their own spin on the Simon and Garfunkel ‘60s chart-topper, “A Song For Jill (Bridge Over Troubled Water).” The harmonica-and-keyboard lead-in take it straight to church with Bianca leading the choir. The first of two Allen Toussaint tunes on the CD, “When Can I Come Home,” Allen Toussaint follows with Thomas taking command.

He yields vocals to guitarist Thompson for the familiar “Shake A Hand,” giving a churchy feel to what was a hit for Faye Adams in 1953. The ensemble dips into the catalog of Malaco/Atlanta International Records gospel superstar, the Rev. F.C. Barnes for “Rough Side Of The Mountain” before the Thomas original, “Just One Word.” Another Toussaint standard, the syncopated, uptempo “Tears, Tears And More Tears,” concludes the set.

This is a great CD on many levels. The musicianship and messages shine. And if you’re not a religious or spiritual person, have no fear: Despite the gospel flavor, the religious message always bubbles beneath the surface in a way certain not to offend. Play it loud and enjoy!

For a free track off this great album, check out our May Blues Overdose feature on soundcloud at

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.

For a free track off this great album, check out our May Blues Overdose feature on soundcloud at

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 7 

Doug MacLeod – Exactly Like This

Reference Recordings

CD: 11 Songs; 55:42 Minutes

Styles: Traditional Acoustic Blues, Piano Blues

Los Angeles’ Doug “Dubb” MacLeod (pronounced McCloud) has an illustrious history with the blues – and this magazine. In 2013 he won the Blues Blast Music Award for Best Male Artist of the Year, and received nominations for Song of the Year and Traditional Blues Album. In 2015, he wants listeners to know that great acoustic blues sounds Exactly Like This – crisp, original, and engaging. Even though his voice is aging, leading to muffled diction, there’s no denying his legendary musical talent. Dubb’s website reveals, “Over 29 years, 19 studio albums, several live records, compilations, a blues guitar instructional DVD and a live performance DVD, MacLeod has consistently earned raves. His songs have been covered by many artists including Albert King, Albert Collins, Joe Louis Walker and Eva Cassidy. He has co-written songs with Dave Alvin and Coco Montoya.” Nearly three decades have refined him into a renowned blues master.

Performing alongside him on this album are drummer Jimi Bott, bassist Denny Croy, and pianist Michael Thompson. They all prove that music in this genre doesn’t have to be screamingly loud in order to be enjoyable. “Mellow” and “low-key” are compliments here, as they should be. Three things make this Reference Recordings album worthy of a spot in one’s reference collection: 1) Doug MacLeod plays pure blues, with no other styles mixed in; 2) he employs superb songwriting skills; and 3) there are zero covers out of eleven tunes. These three are tops:

Track 01: “Rock It Till the Cows Come Home” – Louis Jordan’s influence can be clearly heard in the CD’s smoking opener. Especially hot are Michael Thompson’s piano intro and MacLeod’s crystal-clear guitar. This should be played at every Chicago blues nightclub and on every blues radio show. Listening to this song is like slipping into one’s most comfortable pair of shoes.

Track 04: “Ain’t It Rough?” – Feisty number four is what’s called a “patter song”, a la “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man and “Uneasy Rider ‘88” by Charlie Daniels. The vocalist doesn’t sing, but rather narrates in a jovial and staccato style. This one’s about a musician who’s finding his significant efforts are insufficient: “…This drunk kept coming on. I said, ‘Excuse me man, I’ve got a cue. He said, ‘Is that more important than me talking to you?’ I said, ‘It’s something we’ve got to do. Don’t get me wrong…Ain’t it rough?” Musicians everywhere will empathize.

Track 05: “Vanetta” – MacLeod channels John Lee Hooker in the next song, an ode to a dame whose “legs reach up to the sky”. According to the liner notes, Dubb used “Bastard G tuning instead of open G, mainly because it’s easier for me to play octaves in Bastard G.” Whatever the case may be, this is blues with a capital B. If crowds don’t dance, they need ants in their pants.

Superior traditional acoustic blues sounds Exactly Like This!

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 Review – 4 of 7 

Dan Patlansky – Dear Silence Thieves


CD: 10 Songs; 42:24 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Rock, Blues Rock

No one ever said that thriving in the music business was easy. In fact, it’s a perpetual tightrope walk: juggling gigs on the road and time in the studio, managing managers and record producers, and paying equal attention to family and fans. Perhaps the most delicate balancing act of all, however, is deciding between art and commerce. What sizzles in artists’ hearts may not sell, and vice-versa. Consider the case of South Africa’s Dan Patlansky. In 2004, he released the CD True Blues. It contained two of the most well-known blues covers of all time: “Hootchi Cootchi Man” [sic] by Muddy Waters and “I Ain’t Superstitious” by Willie Dixon.

Compare that with Dan’s most recent album, 2014’s Dear Silence Thieves. Even though all of its ten songs are originals, either written or co-written by Patlansky, none of them are pure blues. They’re all contemporary rock or an extremely diluted form of blues rock. Only track five, “Taking Chances”, contains a traditional blues rhythm. It’s not that the rest are bad, but you won’t find them in any purist’s CD reference collection. Otherwise, Patlansky is a roaring guitar monster. With Dan on guitars and vocals are bass guitarist Clint Falconer, drummer Andy Maritz, and Theo Crous on keyboards and additional singing arrangements.

According to the “Biography” section of his website, he’s earned considerable plaudits and recognition in the blues rock world: “Ever since his debut album, Standing At The Station, followed by his 2004 major label (Blue Note, EMI produced) masterstroke True Blues, Dan Patlansky has been immersing himself in the rich and rollicking world of blues rock music. In February 2005, and again in July 2006, Selwyn Miller, the New Orleans based manager of David Gates, Bread, Randy Crawford and Petula Clark (amongst others), took Patlansky to New Orleans to showcase his outstanding talent.

“In 2006 Fender acknowledged his talent with a guitar and amp endorsement, making him only one of six on the continent to enjoy such a privilege…Dan started 2014 off with a bang when he was chosen to open for Bruce Springsteen in front of 64,000 people at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg in February on his High Hopes tour. Dan was personally approved by Springsteen as support act, seeing as Springsteen rarely has guest artists for his shows. Also a milestone for Dan’s career when he played in front of the biggest audience he has ever played to.”

Dear Silence Thieves was chosen by Blues Rock Review as its number-one album in 2014; that’s a nice accolade that Dan has won. He may meander all over the musical map, but there’s no denying his instrumental talent. Perhaps by returning to his blues roots, no matter what the invisible hand of the free market may be pushing him to do, Dan will garner the attention of die-hard genre aficionados. The blues are still alive, and Patlansky would do well to play 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.

For a free track off this great album, check out our May Blues Overdose feature on soundcloud at

 Featured Live Blues Review – 36th Blues Music Awards 

36th Blues Music Awards – Memphis, TN

The four days of the Blues Music Awards (BMA’s) are not just about the actual evening where everyone dresses up, and waits to hear their name announced (hopefully). It is a gathering for days of nominees and their bands, friends from all over the world, networking, and squeezing in as many performances on Beale Street as possible. People start arriving on Tuesday and the reunions just don’t end.

This year was a particularly important year. The long anticipated Blues Hall of Fame (HOF) Grand Opening was scheduled for Friday. Either the word got out about that or about how much fun this gathering was, but for the first time, the BMA’s sold out on tickets. The photos at the top were taken at the BMA’s. The first one was a gathering of all the HOF’ers who were at the ceremony. The second photos is of Jay & Priscilla Sieleman, who were honored with a standing ovation for all the accomplishments they have achieved since Jay took over the Blues Foundation, including the completion of the HOF. Jay is retiring in September. The third photo is the induction into the HOF for Tommy Brown.

Starting on Tuesday night, Brandon Santini performed at Rum Boogie to a packed house. His band included Doug McMinn-drums, Nick Hern-bass, and Timo Arthur-guitar. In the meantime, the schmoozing had already begun in the lobby of the Sheraton. Hugs, kisses, and photos were flying!

Wednesday daytime was mostly spent at what is known as the “Lobby Hang”. As everyone starts checking in at the Sheraton, the gathering of the community grows. Early in the evening a performance was held by Barbara Morrison and Bernie Pearl at Rum Boogie.

For those not attending the Blues Hall of Fame and Charter Member Reception that night, the place to gather was the new Hard Rock Café for Big Llou’s 3rd Annual Blues Hall of Fame Tribute Jam. Many of the HOF’ers show up after their event to just enjoy the evening. This was a benefit for Generation Blues & Fernando Jones Blues Kids, who performed first.

This set included some of the kids along with Jackie Scott, Igor Prado (from Brazil), Lisa Mann (Future BMA winner for Bass), and Sax Gordon. Eddie Cotton (IBC Winner) brought his band out for a set and Bobby Rush did a solo performance.

Closing out the stellar evening was the Elvin Bishop Band who were joined by Nancy Wright on sax and a special appearance by Bobby Rush, singing with Elvin.

Thursday finally arrived. Time for the BMA’s!! Who would win? (a full set of the nominees and winners can be found on the Blues Foundation website: Although there were a few events throughout the day, including a health screening for musicians, a music industry panel, and a Yellow Dog Showcase with Eden Brent, the main focus of the day was more Lobby Hang and getting ready for BMA’s. At 5:30 everyone streamed across the street to the Cook Convention Center, armed with drink tickets and dressed to the nines. Lobby & Cocktail Party Entertainment was provided by Annika Chamber’s Houston Allstars. Annika’s band included Tony Braunagel-drums, and Larry Fulcher-bass. The second solo act in the Grand Lobby was Austin Walkin’ Cane. Traditionally, both Lobby performances are nominees for Best New Artist Debut.

(Note: all performances throughout the evening were BMA Nominees). (Note #2: My apologies to all drummers throughout the evening for not capturing them – they are so far back on the stage that it was hard to see them, let alone be in a photo).

As the escalators began to carry the masses up to the Grand Ballroom, the first entertainment of the evening was Mark Hummel’s Golden State/Lone Star Revue with Mark Hummel, Anson Funderburgh, Charlie Baty, RW Grigsby, and Wes Starr.

(Between each set was a smaller side set which will be shown at the end of the band performances along with the awards being handed out throughout the evening).

In order (according to the program) the following bands performed throughout the evening:

Eden Brent, with a full band.

Sugar Ray Norcia and the Bluetones

Elvin Bishop Band

Charlie Musselwhite Band

EG Kight with guest vocalist Lisa Biales

Vaneese Thomas

Sugaray Rayford was scheduled as the next band. On Tuesday, May 5th , as we were all heading to Memphis, Delta Groove CEO and harmonica player for the Mannish Boys – Randy Chortkoff – passed away. Many of the Delta Groove Family were in attendance as the Mannish Boys were nominated for Best Album, along with many members of the Delta Groove Label for instruments and BB King Entertainer, etc. As a tribute to Randy, members of the Delat Groove family took to the stage with Sugaray and dedicated the set to him. As a member of that family, I can attest that it was one of the most moving sets of the night. The love and sorrow that were so present for all of us throughout the weekend were soothed by the DG Family playing and singing their hearts out for Randy. He would be so honored and proud! RIP Randy Chortkoff. On the stage were Monster Mike Welch-guitar, Willie Campbell-bass, Jimi Bott-drums, Bob Corritore-harmonica, Anthony Geraci-keyboards, And Sugaray Rayford – band leader and emotional healer/guide.

Next up was Candi Staton Band.

Andy T-Nick Nixon Band

John Nemeth & The Bo-Keys

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

Jarekus Singleton Band

And closing out the night was Selwyn Birchwood Band

The smaller sets on the side of the stage included:

John Hammond & Bruce Katz, Eric Bibb, Doug MacLeod, Keb’ Mo’, Dave & Phil Alvin, Austin Walkin’ Cane, and the combo of Kid Andersen – John Nemeth-Elvin Bishop.

Some of the winners who were present were:

Janiva Magness, Paul Nelson & Mary Winter (for Johnny Winter), Lisa Mann, John Hammond, Deanna Bogart, Selwyn Birchwood Band, Charlie Musselwhite, John Nemeth, Elvin Bishop and The Elvin Bishop Band, Keb’ Mo’, and Bobby Rush.

What a great evening of music and awards. Just to note, after 16 nominations, Jimi Bott finally won a well-deserved BMA award for Drummer. “Now I won’t be referred to as the Susan Lucci of the Blues” he gladly announced.

Friday was another day packed with entertainment. But the main focus of the day was the Grand Opening of the Blues Hall of Fame. Although I didn’t arrive in time for the ribbon cutting (out way too late), here are a few shots of the interior, along with famed photographers Dick Waterman & Joe Rosen who have been documenting the blues for over forty years each and have many displays in the HOF. Congrats to everyone who worked so hard to have this great museum open in time for us to visit.

Each year, the Beale Street Mess Around is held at the Rum Boogie and is a benefit for the HART Fund, a Blues Foundation Medical Relief Fund for musicians. Many of the bands who were still in town participated in the afternoon of music. Included below are Andy T-Nick Nixon Band, Annika Chambers and Jeff Jensen, EG Kight and Greg Nagy, Jarekus Singleton Band, John Primer with Bob Corritore and Igor Prado, Lisa Mann with Nancy Wright and Wendy DeWitt, and Mick Kolassa with Jeff Jensen.

Later in the afternoon and into the evening was The Play-It Forward Fundraiser for Generation Blues at the Hard Rock Café. Some of the bands traveled over there to help out with more fund raising. The house band was the Andy T-Nick Nixon Band. They were joined throughout the event by Alastair Greene, EG Kight and Greg Nagy, Lisa Mann (who now had her BMA award!), Karen Lovely and RB Stone. The Chicago faction took the stage: John Primer, Bob Corritore, Billy Flynn, and Willie Campbell, who were joined by Diunna Greenleaf and Brandon Santini.

One of the coolest sets was a sit-down show by Bob Margolin, TJ Norton (England), Janiva Magness, and Lisa Mann. I am not sure who had more fun, them or us!! Great show!!

Although there was more music up and down Beale Street, our evening ended there. What a great time in Memphis. Saturday included a trip to Clarksdale for some street bands, including Deak Harp, Stan Street (at Hambone), Liz Mandeville, and Watermelon Slim. After that was a trip out to Hopson Plantation for more music by performers who were still in town. Those included LaLa Craig, Lady A, Billy Flynn & Friends, and any musician who wandered in and wanted to jam.

And so ends another year at the BMA’s!! Next year, buy your tickets early. The word is out! Go to Blues.Org, join the Blues Foundation, and they will let you know when it is time to get involved in the biggest blues party in Memphis.

See you on the blues trail!

Comments and photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 7 

Madison Slim – Close But No Cigar


13 tracks

Mark Koenig, AKA Madison Slim, is a harp player many blues fans from the Midwest know and now Florida’s west coast are becoming familiar with. Many more fans should be aware of this fine musician and perhaps this initial album produced with him fronting a fabulous band will propel him into a larger spot light!

His experience in the blues began in the 1970’s in Chicago with blues greats like Jimmy Rogers. Big Walter Horton was a major influence on Slim as he honed his craft and became a harp great of his own accord. He’s played with Sam Lay and also as part of the Legendary Blues Band. He met up with and played with Reverend Raven and the two became based in Wisconsin and toured and recorded together before semi-retiring and moving to Bradenton, Florida where instead of retiring he now plays with a number of great bands, including Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones.

The musicians here are all masters of the Chicago blues sound. Billy Flynn and Doug Deming provide the guitar work and Barrelhouse Chuck is on piano for Slim. Terry Hanck also appears on sax. Doug Deming’s Jewel Tones backline of Andrew Gohman on bass (upright and electric) and Devin Neel on drums round out a truly sweet sound that provides a back drop for this fine harp master. Doug and his band are one of the hot acts in the blues world and Billy, Chuck and Terry add a who’s-who level of authenticity and musicality to the project.

The festivities begin with Eddie Taylor’s “Big Town Playboy.” This opening cut drips with greasy hot harmonica and guitar licks. Slim’s vocals are authentic Chicago blues, too, and he sets the table nicely for a great set of tunes. He begins the next cut with a shout out of the title, “Bread Maker Baby,” a great Slim Harpo number. It’s a “rhumba sorta numba” and Slim wails on his harp as the boys in the band lay out a slick groove. Billy Boy Arnold’s “Kissing at Midnight” follows as Slim moans out the lead vocals before laying out some more slick harp. Deming and Flynn provide a cool guitar groove as Slim adds some echo to his harp for a nice effect. “Would You Baby” is a slick Willies tune, the Willies Mabon and Dixon. Slim makes his statements and pleas to his woman and Chuck plays some altogether sick piano while Hanck lays a little cool sax. The two intertwine the piano and sax into a sweet set of solos. Nicely done! Muddy’s “I Got to Find My Baby” is next and Slim gives us another minimalistic yet cool vocal and then lays into the harp with gusto. Chuck then fills with a sweet piano solo before Slim returns with the vocals and finishes with more slick harp.

“Stockyard Blues” is a great little Floyd Jones tune that Slim is just all over. He convincingly pleads that he “needs to earn a dollar” and squeaks out some high end stuff on the harp that makes the hair on your neck stand up. Chuck again flavors the pot nicely with his piano work- killer stuff. “New Leaf” is a Jimmy Reed number that Slim also kills. They have a little more guitar up front here, but it’s Slim’s show and he steals it back with his great harp. Jimmy Roger’s “If It Ain’t Me” is more great Slim and Chuck stuff while the rest of the band fills in sweetly. Milwaukee harp master Jim Liban wrote the title cut and Slim pays homage to another great Wisconsin harp great with this cover. He’s quite sultry on the vocal delivery and then lays into some harp as the band lays out a nice groove. There is plenty of harp here in this cut to satisfy even the biggest harmonica appetites and Madison Slim is up for the delivery!

We hit New Orleans next with Fats Domino’s “Let the Four Winds Blow” as Slim sings for us and Hanck blows his horn sweetly. The boys rock out a bit as they back Slim and then Terry closes the tune out with his horn again. “Blue Coat Man” gives us some swinging guitar piano work as Slim sings on this Eddie Boyd tune. Swinging fun in just two fifty one (2:51)! “Wild Cat Tamer” is a New York sort of blues. Tarheel Slim (who wrote the tune) landed in NYC from North Carolina (Allen Bunn) as part of the band The Larks. After they broke up he used NY as a home and wrote this and other rockabilly blues stuff. Slims and the Boys do the tune justice as they rock it out together with some especially fine guitar work. Things close with “Florida Blues,” a slow instrumental blues written by Slim. He wails and cries on the harp as Chuck’s piano tears tinkle down the song’s proverbial cheeks. Thoughtful guitar tones fill in the spaces as this Sunshine State blues really sounds like something out of the Southside of Chicago. It’s a special piece and they pull it off well. It makes me want even more original Madison Slim songs!

I thoroughly enjoyed this CD. Madison Slim and his supporters all have turned in stellar performances. This is a fine CD showcasing a harp player who is deserving of recognition for his mastery of his craft. I urge you to pick up a copy of this CD- you will not be disappointed and it will leave you wanting for more! Highly recommended! Available directly from Slim at

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.

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 7 

Kris Pohlmann – Taylor Road

Black Penny Records

11 tracks

Hailing from the outskirts of London, England and born in 1977, Kris Pohlmann discovered the guitar at 15. Weaned on Status Quo and then ZZ Top, Free and Cream, we see the rock influences that appear in his music. He discovered Stevie Ray Vaughn at 18 and then got hooked on the Freddy and Albert King, Jeff Healy, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore, his biggest influence.

With this we have Kris’ third album with a new band. Featured here is a power trio led by Pohlmann. Dennis Bowens is on bass and Daniel Guthausen s on drums and percussion. Kris Pohlmann’s new CD “Taylor Road” is hyped as blues infused with rock. I’d say that is a bit of a stretch; it’s more like guitar rock with a slight blue tinge.

“Used to Be” opens things up with a huge, rock guitar sound. As with all the songs, this is well done rock music. The title track follows, with a small hint of a blues approach to it. The song is mid-tempo rocker with a huge guitar lead. “One Good Reason” continues in the rocking mode, with a low to mid-tempo beat . “Borrow Time” could be a late 70’ or early 80’s FM rock song with a smashing guitar solo that would have lit up the airwaves. “Look the Other Way” Is a rock ballad of sorts, building and diminishing as Pohlmann growls and displays his adept guitar style. “Ain’t Cryin’ For Yesterday” is another heavy rocker that uses all the big techniques that have rock fans playing along in air guitar in joyful adoration.

“Taking Back What Is Mine” has a bit of a blues riff to it before going all out into the rock world. There is a distorted harp that enters the fray, also big and bold like the guitar here. “The Silence” is a thoughtful rock song where Pohlmann relates about a relationship gone wrong. He builds into a big and long guitar solo, then returns to the more thoughtful pace for a bit and then closes with a flourish. Another rocker follows, “Slow Motion.” “Tarantula” comes next, with an even bigger guitar solo as Kris relates his woman to a deadly spider. He closes with a song that opens acoustically and grows into a bigger sound with full band and electric guitar.

If you like the heavy handed, hard rocking music this may appeal to you. Pohlmann’s gravelly and gruff vocals are effective, the songs are all originals and the lyrics are sound. His guitar technique hearkens to the era of his youth and earlier. But this is a blues magazine and we review blues music. This is not a blues album. It’s a good rock album by a talented guy who apparently appreciates the blues but delivers to us an edgy and high energy rock album.

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.

 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 7 

Pete Herzog and Dennis Walker – Waiting for the Rain


13 tracks

Pete Herzog is a singer and finger picking steel guitar player and Dennis Walker is a bass player and lyricist who penned Grammy winners for Robert Cray and B.B. King while winning six BMA/Handy Awards. They joined forces to co-write and perform this baker’s dozen of new tracks. Herzog infuses what he calls a “dirt road style” blues to Walkers lyrics and it’s a fun CD all around.

Recorded during the “Great Oregon Drought of 2014,” they prove that some bit of good can come from Mother Nature’s woes; this is an interesting set of nice new music that otherwise may have otherwise lacked the inspiration. Many of the tunes relate to the drought or the fires that ensued from the lack of rain that gave birth to new music despite the dearth of rain. The drought related songs are “Lotsa Rain,” “World’s On Fire Again,” “It’s Gonna Rain,” “That Rainy Day,” and “Hot Today” and all offer thoughts of the frustrations experienced when the weather gets out of control.

”Blues Instead” is a swinging little tune with a nice percussive shuffle going on. The song is the antithesis of a love song, with such deep questions being asked like, “why did you ever live?” Reconciliation apparently is not around the corner. The theme continues in “I’m Through With You” where the title seems to be the recurring theme. “Where’s My Sun” tells us his woman took the sun when she left, leaving him in the dark. “I Wish Him Luck” offers hope to the new love of a former lover. Appearing twice on the CD, they offer up a rich and somewhat more sparse and stark version for us to compare and contrast (I liked the former better with great slide, but both were good). “Arizona” is a song of second thoughts for a relationship as he drives long and far away. “St. Louis” is a song that describes the town as a cold hearted city and an apt comparator for his woman. “In the Ground” closes the set. Herzog sings of only being able to get rest when he’s buried as he’s serving time for apparently killing his woman. Lots of broken hearts and blown up relationships are represented here in these tunes.

Pete Wirts provides drums on one track, GT Albright appears on ten others on drums. Antoine Salley does a little percussive work, Bob Pagano plays rhythm guitar on a cut and The Crowfoot Congregational Choir is listed for their support. Also produced by Pagano, this is a cool and interest piece of work. Herzog picks out his tunes and delivers the lyrics written by Walker. Walker’s bass is sublime and adds just enough to move the songs along. Acoustic blues fans will enjoy this immensely. This is too older bluesmen having a good time making harmonious music!

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 Ventura County Blues Society – Camarillo, CA

The Ventura County Blues Society is proud to present a very special concert with “Chicago Blues Royalty,” Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials, Sunday, June 21 (Father’s Day) at Studio Channel Islands Art Center, 2222 Ventura Blvd. in Camarillo. Showtime is 2 p.m. (doors open 1 p.m.). Tickets $30. (General Admission), $50. VIP (includes early 12:30 p.m. entry, two drink tickets, and seating in the first five rows). Info: (805) 501-7122 or Opening the show is VCBS Band Challenge winner and IBC semi-finalist, the always-enjoyable, Lightnin’ Willie.

Mississippi Valley Blues Society – Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society is offering a “Blues Cruise for Two” raffle for a 7-day cruise on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise sailing in January 2016 and featuring Taj Mahal & the Phantom Band, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Elvin Bishop, Mickey Thomas, Latimore, North Mississippi Allstars, Tab Benoit , Tommy Castro, Samantha Fish, Ruthie Foster, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Colin James, Phantom Blues Band, Danielle Nicole Band, Sugar Blue Band, Kelley Hunt, Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers, and more!. Raffle ticket sales will officially begin on May 23, 2015. Only 150 tickets will be sold for $100 each chance. State of Iowa gambling regulations do not allow on-line purchase of raffle tickets. However, the MVBS “Blues Cruise for Two” raffle ticket mail order forms can be found at This raffle is a fundraiser for MVBS and proceeds will go towards producing the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival held September 5 -6, 2015.

The 31st annual Blues Festival is September 5 and 6, but we need your. This raffle is a great way to keep the blues alive and support our organization.” For all rules and facts about this raffle and to get your ticket visit

Also, Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents three shows in June at the Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf IA. Saturday June 6, 8:00 p.m.—Bruce Katz. Tuesday June 16, 7:00 p.m.—Doug Deming, Dennis Gruenling & the Jewel Tones and Sunday June 21, 6:00 p.m.—Daddy Mack Band

Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, IL

Crossroads Blues Society and the Byron Park District have scheduled FREE Sunday Blues in the Park shows in Blackhawk Meadows Park in Byron from 3 to 6 PM. June 14th – Doug MacLeod and Dan Phelps, July 26th – Jimmy Nick and Don’t Tell Mama, August 23rd – Bobby Messano.

Crossroads also hosts blues shows on the second Saturday of each month at the Hope and Anchor, an English Pub in Loves Park, IL from 8 PM to midnight. July 11th – Altered Five, August 8th the New Savages. $5 cover after 7 PM.

The Friday Fish Fries at the Lyran Club on 4th Ave in Rockford also continue. July 3rd – Collins-Grayless Band, August 7th – the New Savages. Free shows, plus a fish fry and steak dinner are available!

First Sunday’s in June through August Crossroads has Free blues at All Saints Lutheran Church from 4 to 6 PM. Dan Phelps (June 7), Macyn Tylor (July 5) ad Justin Boots Gates (August 2); a free will donation for the local food bank, will be accepted.

The 6th Crossroads Blues Festival at Lyran Park is Saturday, August 29th. Featuring Albert Castiglia, Dave Specter with Sharon Lewis, the Mike Wheeler Band, Stormcellar with Jo Fitzgerald, and Jimmy Nick and Don’t Tell Mama $5 advanced tickets. for more info and tickets.

Central Mississippi Blues Society – Jackson, MS

The Central Mississippi Blues Society hosts Blue Monday every Monday night at Hal & Mal’s in downtown Jackson. Blue Monday features a Front Porch segment starting at 7:15 PM, followed by a set by the Blue Monday Band featuring King Edward Antoine on guitar. Blue Monday is an open jam, with visiting performers drawn locally and internationally.

For more information visit or Email: or visit Facebook:

Friends of the Blues – Kankakee IL area

The Friends of the Blues announce their 2015 Concert Series. All shows start at 7 pm. 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. June 8 – Ghost Town Blues Band, June 15 – Dennis Gruenling & Doug Deming, June 22 – The Daddy Mack Blues Band, June 29 – Brandon Santini, July 6 – Laurie Morvan.

Additional ICBC shows: June 18 James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6-9 pm

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

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

Please follow and like us: