Issue 9-24 June 11, 2015

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

  In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with slide wizard Roy Rogers. Marilyn Stringer has photos from the Doheny Blues Festival. We have 10 music reviews for you including a DVD from Joe Bonamassa, and music from The Rusty Wright Band, Roy Rogers, Celso Salim Band, Eight O’Five Jive, Jon Spear Band, John Campbelljohn, Missy Andersen, Tomislav Goluban and Michael Jerome Browne.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Our friends at the Illinois Blues Festival have released their lineup for this years festival. The festival is over Labor Day Weekend and features Jonny Lang, Taj Mahal, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Rusty Wright Band, Nick Boettcher, Chris Stevens, Bret Bunton Project, Victor Wooten and Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band on September 4th and 5th on the riverfront in Peoria, IL. Information at:

This weekend there is some great Blues at the world famous, Chicago Blues Festival. You can see some of the best Blues on the planet in a park setting for FREE.

The Chicago Blues Festival in held in downtown Chicago in Grant Park and admission is free. The festival runs Friday through Sunday and features 5 stages of continuous entertainment and includes more than 65 real blues artists. Check out the schedule HERE.

Look for the Blues Blast photographers Bob Kieser and Marilyn Stringer at the fest this weekend and be sure to say hello!

Also, Marilyn will have signed copies of her book “Blues In The 21st Century” available for purchase at the Windy City Blues Street Stage area. Get yours personally inscribed by the author!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

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

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 10 

Rusty Wright Band – Wonder Man

Sadson Music

10 tracks

The Rusty Wright Band hails from Michigan and offer up here their fifth release on Sadson Music. Not made for the faint of heart, RWB features blazing dual guitars that blend blues and southern rock into a mélange of hot sound. Featuring Rusty Wright on guitar, lead vocal and keys, Laurie LaCross-Wright on guitar and vocals, Dennis Bellinger on bass and vocals, Robert John Manzitti on keys, and Marc Friedman on drums.

This quintet makes a huge driving sound that crowds love. The husband and wife duo spar on guitar in the style made popular by the Allman Brothers and taken to heart by the blues infused southern rockers who followed them in the 1970’s. All original songs are featured here.

The cover song “Wonder Man” opens the set. It’s a big, well orchestrated piece with lots of synthesized horns and a big production sound that drives 100 mile an hour. The band really showcase their individual talents and work well as a team as they set the hook and open the album with my favorite song.

“Ain’t That The Blues” is a cool little shuffle that tells us about a life filled with the blues. Rusty gets into a couple of big solos, including one that takes us out with a fade into the “Black Hat Boogie.” This is odd but fun number with Rusty yelling out the choruses as the band joins in backing him; he does a spoken set of verses in an interesting style. The dual guitars go stratospheric and the beat is frenetic.

“You Know I Know” is a mid-tempo tale of love gone bad where keys and guitar swap solos back and forth; piano, guitar, organ and then guitar blaze and then Wright returns to bellow out how his women is, “Doin’ me wrong.” “Loves Gonna Treat You Right” is basically a 1970’s arena rocker a la Lynard Skynard with big guitar sound and the band doing a little harmonizing on the choruses. Not blues- this is a big, monster rock song.

They take a bit of a breath with “Gonna Come a Day,” going into a slow blues that begins with a stinging guitar solo intro. Wright then testifies about heartbreak as the song builds and builds for impact. “Corvette Sunday” is another rocker with blazing dual guitars; Wright and company seem to have the Southern rock sound down to a science. This time it’s a huge instrumental where the keys and even the bass get aired out for some solo work.

The ballad “Arms of Another” is more rock than blues, but effectively delivers another message of love gone wrong. Dirty, rocking stuff is next with “Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman;” the one-sheet included with the CD called it “a Lo-fi vibe” and I must say that is a succinct descriptor. Huge, rocking sound, a little distortion on the vocals and they play around with the guitar pedals for effect. “Chinfoot Ball” closes the set with another huge rocker. Electric companies must have to increase capacity when they play songs like this; big-assed rocking stuff.

While it’s not all blues; a huge infusion of rock and country with the twang of Skynard, Marshall Tucker and perhaps even Charlie Daniels make for an interesting ride. Those who enjoy a rocking and rolling sound from south of the Mason-Dixon line will enjoy this band from the Great Lakes State.

Blues infused into an arena rock sound, check these guys out!

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 Interview – Roy Rogers 

The distance from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) hall on Admiral Callaghan Lane in Vallejo, California to the old Fillmore West on South Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco was roughly 40 miles.

Yet, back in 1968, the distance between those two venues had to be roughly the same distance as it was from Memphis to the moon for the late, great B.B. King.

It was at the Fillmore West where King – who had been playing the blues since the early 1950s – received his very-first standing ovation. The audience’s reception that evening moved King so much that it brought tears to his eyes right on stage.

Also in attendance at both the Vallejo VFW and the Fillmore West shows was a young Roy Rogers. And although he may not have had any idea of it at the time, he would one day be able to say that he shared the stage, as well as the recording studio, with B.B. King – along with John Lee Hooker – and a host of other legendary bluesmen over the years that were yet to come.

“I first saw B.B. King back in 1968 when he came to my hometown of Vallejo, California. He played the local Vets hall and we actually helped him and the band up the steps with their gear,” Rogers said. “It was a Sunday night and two weeks later was when he played the Fillmore, which was a real pivotal time for him. The audience in Vallejo was mostly older black folks who were long-time fans and dressed to the ‘nines’ and then two weeks later, he’s playing for Bill Graham’s crowd of young, white, long-haired hippies at the Fillmore and I was there for that show, too. I like all three Kings – B.B., Freddie and Albert – but as far as playing, it was always B.B. For me.”

Ever since Rogers (call him Roy, not Mr. Rogers, as ‘that’s the guy that stops and changes his sweaters and shoes, man’ – in reference to the dearly departed Fred Rogers from the long-running PBS series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) first placed a round tube on his left pinky finger, his highly-personal style of slide-guitar playing has left many jaws dropped and has raised many eyebrows as to just how he does what he does. His guitar playing will never be confused with B.B. King’s, yet Rogers does not hesitate to recite just what King meant to him as a guitarist.

“His impact on me was incalculable, I’ll put it to you like that. I had been to a folk festival and saw Muddy and Lightnin’ and Mance before that, so I was already in to the blues,” he said. “But B.B. Was always front-and-center for me. Early on – I wasn’t playing slide at that point – I wanted to play guitar like B.B. King. I mean, didn’t everybody? Then later on, I remember reading that one of the reasons that B.B. developed his style was that he never could learn how to play with a slide. That’s pretty amazing to think that vibrato of his came from that. He was basically trying to sound like a slide.”

Even after he had begun to make his mark on the world of the blues and had started to have his own impact on a generation of guitar players that were beginning to find their own way, Rogers often crossed paths with the King of the Blues.

“Well, I saw him so many times coming up and then of course, later on in life, I opened up a fair amount of shows for B. and then even recorded with him and got to play second guitar to him and John Lee Hooker for a track (“You Shook Me” from King’s Blues Summit album),” he said. “That was a wonderful experience. Separate from being the greatest blues musician you ever heard, B.B. was just the most gracious and friendly man you could ever meet. You hear that said about a lot of people, but with B.B., it was really true. He was so genuine. I mean, how many people do you meet that when they’re talking to you, their attention is genuinely focused on you? That was B.B.”

Rogers, who was indeed named after the famous cowboy (“Believe me, it’s given me a sense of humor my whole life,” he laughed. “Especially like that one time only that I wore my cowboy boots to the pencil sharpener (in school)”) started playing guitar when he was 12 and by the time he was the tender age of 13, he was in his first band and when he was in high school, he had his first blues band. By the time he was a ripe 15-year-old, Rogers was terminally infected with the love of blues music. But the slide bug didn’t really bite him until he fell under the spell of the iconic Robert Johnson.

“He’s the main man. We all have our stories, but as far as me, when I was a kid, I was like a sponge. For me (as a young guitar player), the blues trek took me to the Delta blues and the slide guitar just hit that chord for me. And Robert Johnson still is – as far as Delta blues – the quintessential guy,” Rogers said. “There’s lot of other great slide players, like Elmore James – who really electrified things, which undoubtedly Robert Johnson would have done, himself. I always put it this way – when you talk about influences, you can hear Robert Johnson’s influences in his playing. You can hear Son House and Charley Patton and the guys before him in his playing. But for me, Robert Johnson put it all together in a way that was so unique and so virtuoso and so masterful. How he did that, I have no idea and it really doesn’t matter. He really stands out among all the players in that idiom of Delta blues for me.”

Robert Johnson may occupy the headline spot in Rogers’ Mount Rushmore of slide guitar players, but that doesn’t mean that the Bay Area maestro is content to just sit and back and copy all of Johnson’s licks.

“I certainly played more traditionally when I started out, but I never considered myself a traditionalist, per-say, as in preserving anything. I point to Robert Johnson, but back during his time, he was the new kid on the block,” said Rogers. “He really defined it in a way, especially rhythmically, that had not yet been defined. But I think everybody has to find their own voice. And for me, using slide guitar has always helped me to stretch the boundaries. It’s obviously going to come out as blues, but not always as traditional blues in that fashion.”

Some musicians go through a lot of strife and struggle throughout the whole of their career to ‘find their own voice.’ This doesn’t seem to be the case for Rogers, but that still doesn’t mean he’s reached the ultimate destination of his signature sound.

“I think I’ve found my voice in slide guitar, but I’m still looking for the right notes,” he laughed. “I think if you give up looking for the right notes, man, you’re done. As the poet (Robert) Browning once said, ‘A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.’ You don’t ever want to say, ‘Hey, I’ve reached the pinnacle.’ That’s what keeps you going … it’s the whole performance of reaching for it.”

With one quick spin of Rogers’ latest solo CD – his first in half-a-decade – it is readily apparent that the man is not content to simply plow over the same old ground. The tracks are fresh, fierce and leave no doubt that Rogers is not content to rest on his previous laurels. Like most of his solo work, Into The Wild Blue (Chops Not Chaps Records) is made up of lively instrumentals, as well as songs that do feature vocals.

“It was just time to make another solo record. You can view this one as exploring new possibilities,” he said. “For this new record, I wanted to explore some different things, like R&B things and not just ‘rock it up.’ I approach making a record in a very old-school way. It’s important that the sequencing and the songs go together. It’s like chapters in a book to me. I like to make a record that’s a record. I grew up with that process and even though you don’t have a ‘Side A’ and a ‘Side B’ anymore, I still approach it that way. Hopefully that gives you an overall feel of listening to a real record.”

Four of the tracks on Into The Wild Blue feature Rogers letting his guitars do all of the talking. And in Rogers’ hands, those guitars can sing a mouthful; especially on the ethereal “Song For Robert (A Brother’s Lament)” a stirring and delicate song for his younger brother, Robert, who had recently passed away.

“Instrumentals have always been a big part of it for me. I just love the different slide textures. Like I said, it’s all blues to me, but it’s not like straight-ahead blues. Normally when I write a song, I start with the music, because the music gives me the mood that I’m in, either you’re happy or sad or pissed off or whatever,” he said. “Lyrics are always harder for me. They’re more difficult to capture. I mean, you can feel something, but describing that feeling in words can be tough. I can come up with riffs all the time. If I feel something is strong – like the title track, Into The Wild Blue – that goes through different feelings in the song, if that’s strong enough and stands on its own, I don’t need to try and come up with lyrics or match it with some words. But if I did, I would approach it from the same way of writing the song. I have had songs in the past where I’ve had a lyric and tried to put something together … but that’s not as prevalent as having a riff that’s great and is poignant. The rhythm of the music is and has always been so important for me. I sometimes consider myself a better rhythm player than a lead player. Rhythm moves you every bit as much as a good melody, if not more so. If you don’t have a groove, you don’t have much, man.”

Rogers has never limited himself to strictly absorbing the blues and nothing else. He’s always been intrigued by the sounds of funk, jazz, good old rock-n-roll and even a bit of Motown sounds, and all those elements can be deciphered on Into The Wild Blue.

“All of your influences do come out. One of the tunes on the record, “Got To Believe,” has that kind of R&B groove that’s straight out of Al Green. And I wanted that kind of groove,” he said. “But as far as most of the riffs, they just come out. I’ve been doing this long enough to where I want this kind of riff for this song and that’s just the way the tune comes out. I don’t think, ‘Oh, this is a Motown riff.’ But we’re all products of our influences and we can’t get away – nor should we want to – from that.”

Maybe it was just from the outside looking in, but Rogers’ trio of collaborations with the late Ray Manzarek, legendary keyboardist and founding member of The Doors, seemed like a bit of a head-scratching pairing. After all, you had a dyed-in-the-wool blues guitarist in one corner and in the other, a key component of the swingin’ psychedelic ’60s. But as it turns out, the pair were really closer to kindred spirits than they were musical opposites.

“That was just such a great collaboration and friendship that I had with Ray. I didn’t even know this, but Ray was originally from Chicago. We just clicked. They asked Ray about his influences in some of the interviews that he did and he was always so eloquent. He’d say, ‘Well, you know I grew up in Chicago and I remember when the local radio went from playing “How Much is that Doggie in the Window” to “Hoochie Coochie Man,”” laughed Rogers. “But he grew up around that music (blues) and The Doors music certainly was steeped in the blues. Ironically – and Ray and I used to have fun with this – but I wasn’t a big Doors fan, at all. He would jokingly say, ‘To hell with you, Rogers.’ But at that point (late ’60s) I was a blues fanatic. I came to appreciate the sound of The Doors later on, but not back then. I wanted to see Wolf and to see Muddy and Bo and Freddie, back then.”

Rogers and Manzarek issued three albums – Ballads Before The Rain (2008), Translucent Blues (2011) and Twisted Tales (2013), before the multi-talented Manzarek passed away in May, 2013.

“When I first met Ray, he was doing solo shows and telling Doors stories and I sat in with him (the two shared a mutual agent) and took my little Valco amp and played behind him. And it was one of those situations that just clicked,” said Rogers. “He was playing solo piano and I was playing guitar and I thought, ‘This is fun, why don’t we do this again?’”

Which is just what the duo of Rogers and Manzarek began doing.

“We did that for a couple of years (played as a two-piece) and became fast friends. We said, ‘This is too good. Why don’t we record this, but do it as a band?’ So I put the band together with some players from here in the Bay Area and that’s what led to Translucent Blues,” he said. “And it was highly-successful and hit the charts, so we started touring it, on a kind of limited basis. That was a fun record … it kind of defined the blues in a new way. Ray always liked to call it 21st century blues.”

Those ’21st century blues’ that he and Manzarek forged were light-years away from the sounds of the master where Rogers really started to become a household name in the blues – the one-and-only John Lee Hooker. Rogers joined Hooker’s Coast to Coast Band back in the early 1980s and eventually became bandleader and later produced four of Hooker’s late-period – and most critically acclaimed – albums (The Healer (1989), Mr. Lucky (1991), Boom Boom (1992) and Chill Out (1995)). The Healer even earned a Grammy Award.

“I was such close friends with John … and I played with him from ’82 until ’86 and that was a real thrill. People ask me all the time what I learned about music playing with John Lee Hooker. I say, ‘I didn’t learn about music, I learned about life playing with him.’ It was one-and-the-same for John and guys like that,” Rogers said. “He was his music. He was such a deep cat. If he felt like it, John could take it as deep as anybody … anywhere … think about that. We’re talking more than just being able to hear a pin drop in a room. We’re talking about a man who’s expressing himself through music so profoundly … it’s amazing to witness, or in my case to play with a guy, who can take it down so heavily. That’s the kind of stuff that I reach for in music, because that’s the brass ring. And I just loved his laugh … man, what a great laugh that man had.”

Those Rogers-produced albums by Hooker featured a cornucopia of star musicians in their own right; such as Keith Richards, Van Morrison, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray and Bonnie Raitt, to name just a quick few. But according to Rogers, there was no doubt as to who the real star of those sessions was.

“We had all these great players in the studio, but the focus was always John Lee Hooker. A lot of people do those kind of records (classic artists paired with newer, or ‘big-name’ stars), but they don’t keep the focus on who they should focus on. I always kept the focus on John Lee Hooker, period,” Rogers said. “People were just happy to be in the studio playing with him and we got some great tracks.”

One of the most incendiary duets of all time has to be Hooker’s run-through of “I’m in the Mood” with Bonnie Raitt from The Healer. That track is so sexually-charged that it threatens to explode from the get-go and is so swampy you can almost feel the heat and sweat the studio session generated. And for a real mind-blower, Rogers says all he had to do was just press ‘record’ one time for that song.

“Yeah, that was a first take. That’s amazing, isn’t it? We did try a second take, but we put up a rough mix of it (the first take) and went out to John’s car and me and him and Bonnie and a bunch of us listened to it and I said, ‘Folks, that’s it to me. I don’t think we can get any better than that. This is the one that makes your hair stand on end.’ Everyone agreed, so I said, ‘We’re done with that one,’” he said. “It’s pretty rare, I’ll tell you that. But to his credit, John was always up to try new things and we threw a lot at him. John was a very spiritual guy … and when he sang, that voice was just unbelievable. It just really moved people. Those were special times.”

When he’s not on the road with his Delta Rhythm Kings or working on his own material in the studio, Rogers can be found producing records for a variety of other artists. He’s quick to point out what he considers to be job number one when he’s sitting in the producer’s chair.

“To be a facilitator. You have to facilitate and maybe assist someone in defining what they do. Maybe with an arrangement, or with tempo. I feel like a lot of times in this music that we’re talking about, producers have too much power,” he said. “I want to work with an artist and achieve what their vision is. With John Lee Hooker, it was a little different, because he was a living legend. You could still have a bit of an edge in the studio, but you wanted him to be in a comfort zone, as well. I heard stories about when he recorded with Canned Heat that they recorded all night. But that was a different deal; they were going for the boogie to have an all-night feel and to feel the sweat coming off the record. In our situation with John, I wanted him to be in a comfort zone and to have the studio set up for him. But the bottom line is, you’re (the producer) not playing the music, they (the artists) are. I’m harder on myself when it comes to my own music.”

Another hallmark of a Roy Rogers-produced album is the efficiency in its birth. While he’s not trying to rush things just for speed’s sake, he’s also not one to do a bunch of goofing around or hanging out at the studio as some kind of a vacation destination, either.

“When I hear stories of people taking a year to make a record in the studio, I just can’t imagine that. You want it to be right, but whoa! I think I recorded Into The Wild Blue in two weeks, then I took a break and went back to mix it, which was another two weeks. So it took about a month, which is just right for me,” he said.

In 1990, Rogers was also involved in the Grammy-nominated soundtrack to The Hot Spot, where in addition to John Lee Hooker, he also rubbed shoulders and worked with Taj Mahal and Miles Davis.

“That was completely wild … Dennis Hopper had made this film and his favorite jazz guy was Miles Davis and his favorite blues guy was John Lee Hooker. And so Taj Mahal and I backed them up,” Rogers said. “That was pretty amazing … every time Taj and I see each other, we talk about The Hot Spot, because it was such a special deal. I mean, think about it, John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis? Wow.”

Rogers also teamed up with the highly-underrated harmonica genius of Norton Buffalo (Steve Miller Band) for a few albums and the pair quickly developed a chemistry that worked on all levels, as their albums most definitely attest to. Another Bay Area-artist that Rogers has collaborated with over the course of the past couple of decades is the Red Rocker himself – Sammy Hagar.

“That was really fun, jeez. He had the idea some years back to do a blues-oriented record, but I think he tabled it. When he had left Van Halen, he had written this song called “Little White Lies” and that’s how I synced up with him,” Rogers said. “Someone had recommended me to him, because he wanted the song to have a bluesy feel. It ended up being kind of a minor hit for him. Then I started playing with him (live) and on a couple of his records and then we went on Letterman together and all that stuff. Sammy’s just the real-deal; a wonderful guy. You know, slide guitar can really fit into a lot of different music.”

Blues music has been around longer than most people on this earth have been alive. It certainly pre-dates Rogers and even goes back further than B.B. King’s debut at the fabulous Fillmore West. And the way that Rogers views things, no matter what you want to call them, the blues will probably outlive us all, as well.

“Well, as far as I’m concerned, people have always put together their influences and came up with new music. When people say ‘blues’ well what kind of blues are you talking about? Kansas City blues? Delta blues? Piedmont blues? People can get so wrapped up in labeling things that they can miss what’s in the music,” he said. “You’ve got to remember, labels were put on music to sell it. That’s the only reason for labeling music. You can call it whatever you want, but you should listen to the music first. But this music will always survive. When you look over the last century, it amazes me as to how much music got recorded that there was supposedly no audience for at all. That’s just amazing and it will still be so.”

With so much already inked onto his resume, what’s left for Roy Rogers to accomplish?

“Well, when I look at my career – if I could be so blunt – I’m not trying to get anywhere. I just want to make good music. I’m not trying to be more famous or anything like that,” he said. “Everybody wants to sell more records, but that’s a real chore these days. It’s really always been all about the music for me. And I’ve been fortunate enough to work with such amazing people.”

Visit Roy’s Website at:

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Terry Mullins is a journalist, author and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staples Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He’s also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Miss., eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 10 

Roy Rogers – Into the Wild Blue


Self Release through Chops not Chaps Records

11 tracks / 42:09

Grammy Award-winner Roy Rogers has worked hard on his way to the top to become the premier slide guitarist in blues music today. He has a history that most other guitarists can only dream of, having played with luminaries of the industry such as John Lee Hooker, Steve Miller, B.B. King, and the Doors’ Ray Manzarek. But his fretboard talents are not his only skill, as he is also a master songwriter, which can be heard in his 12th solo release, Into the Wild Blue.

Fans have been waiting five years for a new Roy Rogers solo disc, and Into the Wild Blue does not disappoint. He spent the last year writing the music, and most of the eleven tracks were laid down in just four days. This self-produced album includes a cast of awesome musicians that teamed up with him. On this effort, Rogers took care of the guitars and vocals, and he was joined by Steve Ehrmann on bass, Kevin Hayes behind the drum kit, and Jim Pugh on the keys.

Things get started on a fun note with “Last Go-Around,” a peppy tune with jangly slide playing galore. It is a lot more amicable than most songs about break-ups, and is well arranged with a full sound and a danceable beat. This is followed up by “Don’t You Let Them Win” which brings a world beat with some nice stringed-harp from guest artist Carlos Reyes, who brings his expertise to a half dozen tracks on this release. There is also a tasteful bit of Hammond B3 courtesy of Pugh, and a funky drum break from Hayes.

“Got to Believe” is the best vocal track on Into the Wild Blue, with Rogers’ inimitable voice, and lovely backing vocals from Omega Rae. Reyes brings his violin into the mix, giving the song a spooky aura over its Afro-Cuban beat. This is one of the tracks that highlight what a fine job they did in the studio and behind the mixing board. All of the parts are perfectly balanced and to the listener it clicks just perfectly. This is rare for self-produced albums, and the attention to detail is much appreciated.

This set also includes a handful of instrumentals, and they are just killer in every respect. They mostly defy efforts to shoehorn them into any one category as they have elements of blues, rock, jazz, and country. But the unifying theme is they are all truly original and played with consummate skill. “Dackin’” and “High Steppin’” are both righteous jams with stout backlines, plenty of organ and incredible guitar lines from Rogers. And then there is the title track, which is extremely ambitious. “Into the Wild Blue” has a foundation of piano and fat bass, and an intricate interplay between Reyes’ harp and Roy’s six-string. This is definitely one of the standout tracks on the album, even though it almost falls into the jazz/easy listening camp. The band should be proud of the work they put in here!

The album ends with a one last instrumental, “Song for Robert (A Brother’s Lament),” which is a tribute to Roy’s younger brother who passed away last year. But rather than being a sad song, this beautiful coda is melodic and intricate, yet still joyful. Reyes’ stringed harp is an appropriate counterpoint to Roy’s heartfelt slide work. You can truly feel the love here, and it is a wonderful testimony to the brothers’ relationship.

Into the Wild Blue was well worth the wait, and it is great to hear that Roy Rogers is still at the top of his game. This well-produced album is a collection of different genres that are thoughtfully sequenced into a cohesive whole, so it would be a disservice to just cherry-pick a few tracks off of iTunes.

It is a must-have for fans of guitar music, and if you are anywhere near the Bay Area check his gig schedule so you can check him out in person. You will not be disappointed!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 10 

Celso Salim Band – To The End Of Time

GRV 2015

11 tracks; 51 minutes

This is the fifth release from Brazilian guitarist Celso Salim. Celso plays acoustic and electric guitars, dobro and mandolin and is assisted by regular collaborator Rodrigo Mantovani on bass and Jason Sterling on drums. The core trio is supplemented by Ari Borger on keys, Darryl Carriere on harp (one track), Denilson Martins on sax and Sidmar Vieira on trumpet (one track). Vocals are by Celso except on two tracks where Bia Marchese and co-producer Rafael Cury step out from their backing vocal roles to take the lead. Celso wrote all of the material with Douro Moura except for three covers of classic blues songs.

The album opens in relaxed late-night mode with the title track. Celso handles the vocals well with plenty of backing from the other vocalists and there is some good rolling piano from Ari and dobro from Celso. Celso moves to electric guitar on the soul-blues of “Fool Of Me” which benefits from Denilson’s sax. Celso’s vocals express his anguish and that is echoed in a strong solo, the whole having something of an Albert King feel to this reviewer’s ears.

“Red Light Blues” has more of a honky-tonk feel courtesy of the piano work and Darryl’s harp adds blues authenticity though Celso’s vocals seemed to be mixed a bit low on this one. “Leave It To The Moon” presents a shift in style and pace as Bia sings the lead on a sultry, jazzy blues with sax and trumpet playing a major role in the production. Celso returns to the mike for “Blind Man With A Gun” which, despite its title, is a gentle piece of dobro and piano-led Americana.

We then get two old-time blues tunes. Barbecue Bob’s “It’s Just Too Bad” is another of those classic blues that asks why his woman is messing around with someone else and features some fine dobro, drummer Jason using brushes in a minimalist production. Sleepy John Estes’ “Liquor Store Blues” adds Ari’s piano to Celso’s acoustic work on an upbeat tune, the shortest cut on the album. In contrast the next cut “Devil In You” clocks in at over 7 minutes and it’s a full band production with Ari’s piano and Denilson’s sax there from the start of a slow blues which finds Celso playing some excellent electric guitar.

“Old Blues Goodbye” returns to a simpler trio style before the final cover, Elmore James’ “Talk To Me Baby”, hits us with raucous sax, slide and impassioned vocal. The tune is so familiar one wonders whether the world needs another version but this is a really good cover and adds something different to most covers of the song – a definite highlight of the album. The CD closes with “Rest My Bones”, another strong song with the extended band and Celso putting plenty of ‘twang’ into his solo and Denilson getting a well-deserved solo opportunity.

This is an interesting album that clearly demonstrates Celso’s versatility as he covers a wide range of styles from acoustic country blues to big-band soul-blues.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 10 

Eight O’Five Jive – Too Many Men

Self-Produced/Red Rudy Too Tunes

CD: 12 Songs; 37:28 Minutes

Styles: Jump/Swing Blues, Jazz-Influenced Blues

In the middle-to-late-‘90s, there was a revival of the big-band swing sound in popular music. Songs such as “Mr. Pinstripe Suit” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and “Jump, Jive and Wail” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra were gigantic successes. There’s a related subgenre known as “jump” or “swing” blues, which mixes high-tempo beats with traditional blues rhythms and melodies. Some may say this isn’t blues in the pure sense, but more related to jazz. Whatever the case, the Nashville, TN band, Eight O’Five Jive, plays it with panache in their debut album Too Many Men. Some blues is slow and relaxing, but theirs is better spelled D-A-N-C-E. Their twelve songs, ten covers and two originals, will propel audiences out of their seats and onto their feet.

In the CD liner notes, broadcaster Pete Wilson of the Nashville Jumps radio show comments: “‘Don’t let that music die,’ sang the Big Three Trio, and it never did. Never will. It’s immune to time. And that brings us to Eight O’Five Jive.” Performing alongside lead female vocalist Lee Shropshire are Patrick Mosser on saxophone, Duane Spencer on cocktail drums, guitarist Andy Scheinman, and bassist Bill Bois. All of these four gentlemen support Lee on background vocals. Even though Too Many Men over-relies on covers, most blues fans won’t know this right away unless they peruse the CD case. At times Shropshire talk-sings on the long notes, but this flaw is minor compared to the bouncy nature of their tunes. The three below will get crowds cavorting:

Track 01: “I’ve Got a Feelin’” – A fantastic cover of a Sid Wyche hit encapsulates one of the most popular blues themes: “I’ve got a feeling someone is trying to steal my man. Strange things are happening, things that I just can’t understand.” Duane Spencer’s peppy drum intro and Patrick Mosser’s blazing sax solo are the highlights of this opening number.

Track 07: “Feed Them Monkeys” – Legal or otherwise, we all have our addictions. Original composer S. Monick knows this too well, as does the band. “One smokes cigarettes; the other smokes crack. They drink too much beer; they drink too much wine, but they’re hanging around having a good time.” Sing along with the earworm refrain, and keep an ear out for the monkey of our social-media age.

Track 10: “Young Enough to Be My Son” – There is a downside to chasing so-called “cougars”, as this hilarious original ditty by Shropshire shows. “What you want with this old pickled beet?” she asks of her youthful paramour. The pace of this song is like a train barreling down the tracks, frenetic and unstoppable. Andy Scheinman’s guitar fretwork burns with hot sauce.

According to their website, Eight O’Five Jive won an award for Best Live Blues Performers at the 2014 Nashville Independent Music Awards (NIMA). They may have Too Many Men, but they’ll never have too many fans!

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 – Doheny Blues Festival 

Doheny Blues Festival – 2015 – Dana Point, CA

The best of California is how to describe Doheny Blues Festival. Situated right on the beach at Dana Point, the Sailor Jerry Stage looks out across palm trees to the ocean. The cool foggy mornings break away to beautiful sunshine for the crowds of blues fans. There is great food and drinks, and some of the best line-ups available on the West Coast. Hosting three stages, the festival rotates acts with the main Doheny Stage (DS) and Back Porch Stage (BP) performing on opposite ends of the park. In between those stages, and sets, is the Sailor Jerry Stage (SJS), where the majority of the festival goers converge to catch those acts.

The only damper for this year’s festival was the announcement of the passing of BB King the day before the festival began. The entire festival was dedicated to his memory, including a well-respected moment of silence across the festival for BB. In addition, many of the performers were part of, or had a relationship with Southern California’s Delta Groove label, and were still mourning the loss of CEO Randy Chortkoff the week before, who was a staple at Doheny. In addition, due to health issues, headliner Taj Mahal cancelled his tour a few days prior to the festival. With some quick rescheduling and new flyers hastily printed, Scandinavian Band Trickbag drove all night after their performance in Phoenix to fill in the open slot. We at Blues Blast Magazine send our condolences to all the family and friends of both BB King and Randy Chortkoff, and wish a speedy recovery for Taj Mahal.

Each morning, while the lines gather at the crack of dawn outside the festival, raring to go and eager for their favorite spot on the grass, performers put on a Breakfast Set in the parking lot. The first morning was a solo set by Ben Powell (pictured). Sunday morning was Whitney Shay & Robin Henkel (just missed this one by a few minutes).

Due to the limitations set on the pro photographers at the main stage, the coverage on the main Doheny Stage is minimal for this article. Needless to say, the music is great no matter what stage is playing and the music can be heard throughout the park. I was just happy to be there for the festival!

Saturday morning started out at the main stage with Candye Kane’s band. Bobby Abarca (bass) is responsible for the “R.I.P BB King” on the back of his standup bass in the opening photo. Along with Bobby, Laura Chavez (guitar) and Kurt Kalker (drums), Candye never fails to inspire the crowd with her music and her stories of strength and endurance. No matter how her day is going, or her battle with her health, the minute she walks on stage she lights up the world around her.

Over on the BP Stage, Southern California newcomer- Shari Puorto Band – had the crowd in an early morning wake-up roar. Looking forward to seeing her perform again!

Next up, on the SJ Stage, was Trickbag, a European favorite, hailing from Stockholm, Sweden. The band includes Tommy Moberg (vocals), Lars Näsman (Upright Bass), Tomi Leino ( Guitar/Harmonica), Per Norin (Drums) and Fredrik Von Werder (Piano). Joining them on harmonica, from Northern California, was Aki Kumar.

Back to the DS, Kim Wilson and Mud Morganfield put on a tribute set for Mud’s father, Muddy Waters, for their release of “For Pops”. Joining them on stage were the legendary guitar players – Billy Flynn and Rusty Zinn. The rest of the band included: Carl Sonny Leland (piano), Steve Gomes (bass), and Rob Stupka (drums).

Texas bluesmen, Eric Lindell and Anson Funderburgh took over at the BP Stage. Eric’s style is hard to describe, Anson is a legend and together they killed it!

At the SJ Stage was the North Mississippi Allstars. Brothers Luther (guitar) and Cody (drums) Dickinson started out nicely and then proceeded to wind up both their set and the crowd. With Lightnin’ Malcom on bass, they garnered a huge new set of fans with their powerful Mississippi style of blues. And then Lightnin’ and Luther traded out bass and guitars, with equal ease, and Cody left the drums and played an electric washboard, creating a new appreciation for the versatility of a washboard. They had the crowd wrapped around their fingers, begging for more.

Back to DS, and a great set by Los Lobos.

After a break, I realized I was missing Nico Wayne Toussaint and rushed over there, only to catch the encore song. The crowd was in a frenzy, the people were dancing on the tables, and one on looker was so excited, he stepped onto the stage to get photos of Nico – in his face – for half the song!! And from what I saw, I am so sorry I didn’t run over for the entire set. I remember being impressed with Nico at the finals at the IBC’s in Memphis. He is French, extremely talented, and happy to be playing the blues!!

And, at long last, this 15 year fan, finally got to see, and shoot, the legendary Mavericks for the first time. It was worth the wait. What an incredible band And Raul Malo has a voice and style that hypnotizes you into loving anything he feels like singing. His version of “Blue Bayou” will melt chocolate and I waited patiently for my other favorite “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down”, although it wasn’t hard to do. As I finally had to leave to rush over to the Doheny stage to catch those first two songs, I heard the band singing it as I crossed the festival. Big Smile!! And it was nice to see James Intveld on standup bass. The rest of the band included: Eddie Perez (guitar), Jerry Dale McFadden (keyboards), Paul Deakin (drums), Max Abrams (sax), Paul Armstrong (trumpet), and Michael Guerra (accordion).

Back over at the DS, headliner Paul Rodgers took the stage.

And, closing out the night at the BP Stage was the Igor Prado Blues Revue. What a great way to end a great day! Igor Prado’s band is one of the most popular and in-demand bands in Brazil. He was joined by harmonica great, Mitch Kashmar, and Austin’s own Jai Malano. The all-star band included Marty Dodson (drums – and member of too many bands to list), Carl Sonny Leyland (piano), Rodrigo Montovani (bass), and a special guest appearance by Kim Wilson.

Sunday morning promised to be another great day as the fog lifted early and Big Jon & The Nationals hit the main stage. Big Jon may seem young be he is not new to the blues. He is extremely active keeping the blues alive in Southern California along with recently joining the new Phoenix,AZ, Rhythm Room Allstars. Jon, Troy Sandow (bass), Bob Corritore (harmonica), Danny Michel (guitar), and Brian Fahey comprise that new iteration. For Sunday’s show, Marty Dodson was on drums. (Marty and Troy are also part of Nathan James’ Rhythm Scratchers). These guys know how to play the blues, no matter who is in the band!! Great start for Sunday.

Another first for this cub reporter was to finally see the highly acclaimed Carolyn Wonderland at the BP Stage. And yes, she deserves the accolades.

One of the favorites of any festival is the Otis Taylor Band and his Trance Blues. He knows how to mesmerize the crowd with his laid back electric banjo and guitar and with the music he chooses to showcase the other members of the band. Always poetically beautiful to watch is Anne Harris on violin. Todd Edmonds (bass) and Larry Thompson (drums) keep the trance going and Taylor Scott brings the high energy to the guitar portion of the show. Since last September, Otis has been bringing young Brandon “Taz” Niederauer with him to his shows. Taz is 12 years old and one would easily believe he has been playing since before he was born. His talent is huge. The best part about Otis is his generosity to add young talent to his band. The highlight was when the three generations (although Taylor reminded me he is only in his early 20’s) put their guitars together and let loose. So much talent being encouraged by the legends is what the blues has always been about. Kudos, Otis!

2-3 all

Next at the main DS, was New Orleans’ Rebirth Brass Band. There were so many of them it took two photos to catch them all. And who doesn’t love a New Orleans Brass Band? Great music to march over to the Back Porch.

Chicago’s finest, Lurrie Bell, was already well into his set by the time I arrived. Lurrie is pure, traditional, Chicago Blues. Being the son of Carey Bell, the blues is in his blood. He is famous for breaking strings with his strong finger picking, and that day was no exception! By the end of the set he was down to four but if you weren’t close enough to notice the missing strings, then you wouldn’t know! Lurrie can play it on two if he needs to!! His band is all from Chicago: Willie “The Touch” Hayes (Drums), Melvin Smith (bass), and Russ Green (harmonica).

Next on the JS Stage were the Alvin Brothers: Dave and Phil. They are completely loved by the Doheny Festival and the excitement when they are scheduled is apparent. They are the heart and heroes of roots music and when they play together, all is right with the world!! The band includes Chris Miller (guitar), Lisa Pankratz (drums), and Dave Fordham (bass).

Back on the main DS was Boz Skaggs.

Nashville native, Valerie June, did a solo show over on the BP Stage.

First time to Doheny, Beth Hart and her band pretty much blew away the entire festival. Her talent is huge vocally, standing or sitting, and on the piano and guitar. The crowd could not get enough of her. She is a must see, wherever and whenever she is near your town!!

Closing out the festival was headliner Bonnie Raitt. Great way to end a wonderful weekend of music and friends.

Thanks to Omega Events and all the volunteers who strive hard to make this event one of the most popular and well run festivals on the west coast. Hope to see you all next year! A big wave goodbye from the crowd at the beach!

Comments and photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 10 

Jon Spear Band – Old Soul

Self Release

10 tracks / 45:53

There are a lot of reasons why bands head into the studio: to make a name for themselves, to make a little money – maybe even to make their fans happy and provide entertainment. The Jon Spear Band from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia has not forgotten these last two things, and their debut release, Old Soul, is a stone cold cool collection of blues, soul, rock, and a touch of country.

The band is a talented quartet with more than enough experience and creativity to get the job done. Jon Spear is the leader and main songwriter for the band, and on this record he provides guitar and vocals. He was joined in the studio by Dara James (also on vocals and lead guitar), John Stubblefield on the skins, and Andy Burdetsky on bass. For a small group they have a big sound, and you will like what they have to offer on this collection of nine originals and one awesome cover tune. Besides their more obvious talents, they also give back to the art and are active participants in the Central Virginia Blues Society.

They kick off with a slow and funky groove on “I Can’t Help Myself.” Right off, it is apparent that the backline of Burdetsky and Stubblefield is as tight as can be, and they provide a solid foundation for the rest of the album. The vocals are sweet and really clear which makes it easier to understand the lyrics, which are a funny account of a man who is stricken with love at first sight. If you listen carefully, you will hear some tasteful conga work from guest artist Nate Brown.

The title track is one of the slickest numbers on the album, and it is more radio-friendly than most songs you will hear on modern blues albums. “Old Soul” is a smoky mid-tempo burner featuring fabulous sax lines courtesy of D.C jazz saxophone legend, Ron Holloway. The story of a young woman that is mature beyond her years is full of vibrant imagery, and Spears paints a vivid image of the scene.

“Mean Mean Woman” has some nifty fast-paced calypso and Latin beats as the singer bemoans ever getting involved with the wrong person. Staying with the theme, it is backed with “Paid in Full,” the story of a long time love that has gone terribly wrong. The vocals are soulful and take advantage of cool backing harmonies on this powerful ballad. It is all about the lyrics on this one, but they make time for a rocking guitar solo that works naturally into the flow of the tune.

These fellows are able to cut loose and have a little bit of fun, too, and there is a fair share of lighter-hearted music to be found on Old Soul. “The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese” is a swing tune with killer harmonica from Dara, a fun walking bass line, and a reminder that patience is a virtue. There is very tasty country blues and a wonderful message to be found on “I Love My Skin.” The Dobro comes out and heartstrings are tugged as we get the dog’s point of view “Forever Home.” Lastly, “Live Music is Better” is a not so subtle gig plug for those of us who should get out to the clubs more often. Despite their more whimsical themes, each of these songs is chock-full of fine musicianship and solid songwriting.

The set closes out with the sole cover on the release, an epic take on Jimmy Wilson’s 1953 hit, Tin Pan Alley” (which was also covered majestically by Stevie Ray Vaughan). This is an eight-minute blues-rock jam that has plenty great guitar tones from the talented Spear and James, a tastefully restrained groove, and vocals that find the right blend of emotion and power. This song is a classic, and the boys do not disappoint as they really bring it home.

This is a strong debut from the Jon Spear Band, and throughout all ten tracks they present top-shelf musicianship, mature songwriting, and a most importantly, a good time for the listener. Check it out for yourself, and if you are around Old Dominion this spring or summer click on their website for their gig schedule so you can see them in person!

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

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

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 10 

Joe Bonamassa – Muddy Wolf At Red Rocks

J&R Adventures 2015

2 DVDs: DVD 1 Concert, 211 minutes; DVD 2 Bonus material, 100 minutes

The prolific Joe Bonamassa returns with another live album but this time blues lovers can buy with complete confidence as Joe concentrates on two giants of the blues, Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. A stellar band was assembled for this concert: Joe on guitar and vocals, Kirk Fletcher on second guitar, Mike Henderson on harp, Reese Wynans on keys, Anton Fig on drums and Michael Rhodes on bass plus a three man horn section of Lee Thornburg on trumpet, Rob Dziubla on sax and Nick Lane on trombone.

The music is available on vinyl, CD, DVD and Blu-Ray; this review is based on the DVD version. The opening section is dedicated to Muddy and opens with Joe’s spoken intro about the Delta and the influence that the early blues pioneers had on the music we love before Muddy himself speaks of his early experiences. We then get a snatch of Muddy playing “Tiger In Your Tank” at the Newport Jazz Festival before Joe’s band takes over with a real ‘oomph’ of power, everyone playing superbly. The band is ‘suited and booted’ in white suits and panama hats, Joe dressed in black and the stage, set into the red rocks of Colorado, makes for a spectacular setting.

“Can’t Be Satisfied” is a much-covered Muddy tune and the band gives us a really spirited uptempo version with Joe playing some fine slide and Mike’s harp to the fore. Some less visited Muddy songs like “My Home Is On The Delta” and “Real Love” appear but every tune is brilliantly handled. Listen to “You Shook Me” which ranges from the intro of Mike’s Chicago harp and Reese’s two-fisted piano to Joe’s solid vocal and exciting guitar solo, the horns supplying depth to make an outstanding version. “Stuff You Gotta Watch” is a DVD only track and pounds along with solos for Reese’s piano, Mike’s harp and Kirk’s Strat, the horn section supplying some enthusiastic backing vocals.

The one rather odd choice is “Double Trouble” – not the Otis Rush song but the one written and recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd! Not sure why this was chosen for the Muddy set, but as a classic slow blues it fits in very well. A version of “All Aboard” which blends in “Mean Old Frisco” closes the Muddy section of the show: Mike’s harp sets the scene with some steam train sounds before the razor sharp rhythm section sets a frantic pace which energises everyone, Joe’s solo being a tour de force.

The second segment of the show follows a similar pattern with Howling Wolf’s voice speaking of what the blues is all about before he is heard on “How Many More Years”, the band joining in after the first verse with Reese playing a fine piano solo. As for the Muddy set Joe handpicks tunes from Wolf’s catalogue, starting with a rousing run through “Shake For Me” on which the two Michaels play some great bass and harp and Kirk and Joe both play solos on which their fingers are a blur. A quick-fire version of “Hidden Charms” finds Joe riffing hard over some fine piano from Reese and bouncing bass from Michael.

Joe introduces the band before the familiar strains of “Spoonful” open a run of Wolf’s best known tunes; “Killing Floor” races along with the horns propelling the tune and Reese again starring on piano before Joe takes another jaw-dropping solo; “Evil” opens with a second snatch of Wolf philosophy as he explains that when you’ve got the blues you’ll be thinking evil thoughts about someone before the band creates a suitably moody vibe for the song! The set closes with some great playing on a rollicking “All Night Boogie”, Reese playing some striking piano after Mike’s harp intro. The horns add some push and pull to the tune and Kirk gives us a fine solo, reminding us that Joe is not the only excellent guitarist on show.

As an encore the band gives us a mini JB greatest hits show. The Les Paul is back and Michael switches to a Fender bass as Joe gives us a short tease of Hendrix’s “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)”, reprised from Joe’s last studio album “Different Shades Of Blue”, as are “Oh Beautiful!” and “Love Ain’t A Love Song” on which the horns add some funk. Delving into his back catalogue Joe then gives us extended versions of “Sloe Gin” and “The Ballad Of John Henry”, the former majestic in its balladry, the latter all power chords and heavy riffing.

For the technically minded Joe plays Les Pauls on all the Muddy tracks apart from the opening “Tiger In Your Tank” where he uses a Telecaster; in the Wolf show he plays a Stratocaster on the opening tracks before switching to a Gibson 335; in the JB segment he uses the Les Paul and the Strat.

A second DVD has four elements:

  1. An hour long documentary with Joe and producer Kevin Shirley visiting Mississippi, including a visit to the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale

  2. A twenty minute look behind the scenes at the Red Rocks show, including interviews with several of the musicians. Lee Thornburg’s insights into the horn arrangements are particularly interesting.

  3. Seven minutes of archive footage of Muddy and Wolf, some of which is used in the actual DVD

  4. A gallery of still photos from the rehearsals and show, shown over a fine bonus version of “Who’s Been Talking” which did not make the DVD.

Recorded in front of 9000 fans (the largest audience JB has ever played to), “Red Rocks” is a fine testament to Joe’s ability as a blues player and a great addition to his expanding discography.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 10 

John Campbelljohn – Chin Up

Nood Records

12 songs time-43:30

Journeyman slide guitarist and singer-songwriter John Campbelljohn, a native of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, offers up a roots rock oriented guitar-lyric feast. He has played in the studio or live with the likes of Sting, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Willie Nelson among others. His vocals are serviceable , but the focus here is on his guitar and lyrical prowess. He wrote or co-wrote everything included here and enlists a sure-fire crop of musicians to put forth his musical vision.

A foot-tapping inducing guitar boogie-woogie fueled by infectious lap-steel playing is the jumpy “The Mumble Boogie”, a tale of being berated by one’s better half. A light-hearted romp about possessing everything but one’s love is “I Got It All”. A nice combination of acoustic and electric slide guitar is employed on ones’ preparation to “Meet My Maker”.

“The Poor Man Pays” a little social commentary on the plight of the poor is a clever production that is wholly satisfying. A haunting female backing chorus sings some of the verses. You have to hear this for yourself to truly appreciate the atmospherics this conjures up. Percolating guitars fire up “Castaway” in a seamless brew. “Attitude” can best be described as being nicely noisy as guitars churn it up. This is where the genius slide work of Sonny Landreth comes to mind.

Saying dumb stuff to the little woman is the topic of the light observations of “How Stupid Is That” as Robert Campbell’s piano compliments the tasty Dobro slide playing. “Stop Making Excuses” is a lesson in Roots Rock 101. The tough rocker “Sally In The Alley” shows off John’s vocals at their best. “Fantastico Supremo” sounds like Sonny Landreth at his best backing up tongue-in-cheek lyrics sprinkled with Italian phrases. This is probably the CDs high point for me, I just can’t get enough of this crazy song.

What’s a feel good record without a it’s so good to be alive song, here we are rewarded with “Good Morning Mr. Blue Sky”. How’s about a little melancholy finish in “She’s Gone My “Little Love Song”” to balance things out.

Exuberance, energy and creativity make this a sure winner in the guitar-based singer-songwriter sweepstakes. If you don’t find this nifty little thing repeatedly jumping back into your CD player then you are living wrong.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 10 

Missy Andersen – In The Moment

Main Squeeze Records MS1202

11 songs – 51 minutes

Detroit native Missy Andersen would have been competing in the International Blues Challenge this year if she hadn’t been nominated in the Soul Blues category as the Blues Music Association’s female artist of the year. The sponsoring organization doesn’t allow an artist to compete in both. This CD, which includes five Andersen originals, goes a long way to prove why she deserved to play with the big gals.

Now living in San Diego after a stint in New York, Andersen burst onto the scene in 2009 with the release of a self-titled CD that straddled the line between classic jazz and blues. With In The Moment, however, she delivers blues in a upscale, classic style that holds its own when compared to the delivery of high society songbirds of the past, like her influences, who include Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Holiday, Ann Peebles and Irma Thomas, tastes she acquired while browsing her parents’ extensive record collection.

She and husband Heine, a Danish-born guitarist, worked locally in San Diego with the band Tell Mama, toured Europe for years and finally settled in Southern California. They’re joined here by a powerful group of backing musicians for a varied set that features everything from slow blues and ballads to New Orleans and Memphis soul. The lineup includes Bill Stuve (bass), Marty Dodson (drums), Sue Palmer (piano) and Ben Moore (organ) as well as guest appearances by guitarist Nathan James and harmonica heavyweight James Harman, bassist Michael McKinnon, percussionist Christopher Hoffee, a horn section of Robert Smith (trumpet), Gerard Allen (tenor sax) and Bob Mathes as well as backing vocals from Sonja Mack and Karen Trapane.

A guitar solo echoed by horns introduces “Rent Party” before Missy’s sultry vocals about having a good time despite the need to through jams at home in order to pay the bills. Andersen’s voice is a silky, strong alto perfectly suited to the material, delivered in a tight range. Next up, the original “Whole Lotta Nuthin’” continues the theme anchored by the organ. It’s a percussive blues shuffle that swings steadily from the jump. Heine’s six-string stylings propel the tune mid-song. “Night Stalker” follows. It’s another Missy original, not a reprise of the classic TV show of the same name, and a song that simply shines. It’s got a true Tin Pan Alley feel with sweet work from the horn section and describes the singer as someone who can creep in the shadows to catch a cheat.

The mood changes for “More Than Enough,” a slow, but steady five-minute inspirational message that there’s always someone around to tear you down, but you’ve always got a person to build you back up when things get tough when you have a good partner at your side because love can change anything. The straight-ahead blues “Better Or Worse” features the work of James and Harmon atop a steady rhythm line before “No Regrets,” a slow shuffle propelled by keyboards that deals with leaving a broken home.

Another lesson in life, “Same Things Make You Laugh Will Make You Cry,” follows, delivered with a Memphis feel with full horns and a funky, syncopated beat, before a promise that Andersen will “Reach Out” and bless her oppressors and speak out for folks who don’t have a voice in a tune with a gospel feel, anchored by James’ guitar.

“Ladies Shoes” is a slow blues about going downtown and turning one’s back on troubles by buying caviar and a good bottle of wine in addition to the shoes of the title. The theme continues with the original, “Hey Now!” The message is to go out and get what you want. You won’t get it sitting at home. The disc concludes with a taste of New Orleans as Missy reinterprets the Snooks Eaglin classic, “I’ve Been Walkin’”.

Available through iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby and, In The Moment is a powerful statement from a lady whose career is definitely on the rise. Pick it up. You won’t be disappointed.

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 – 9 of 10 

Tomislav Goluban – Blow Junkie

Menart/Spona 2014

16 tracks; 54 minutes

Croatian musician Tomislav Goluban has been playing harp since 1997 and finds his inspiration among US players such as Paul Butterfield, Kim Wilson and Gary Primich. Two contemporary harp players, Joe Filisko and Eric Noden are credited for their assistance with songwriting on this CD. The material is all original bar one cover and was mainly written by Tomislav, with assistance on four songs by expat American Robert Lon Johnson (not that Robert Johnson) who lived and played in Croatia for a period of time and collaborated with Tomislav. The band is Tomislav on harp and vocals, Lovro Sicel on guitar and B/V, Aleksandar Vesic on bass and Igor Vugrek on drums. Additional guitar on one track is by Nebojsa Buhin.

The CD opens with an instrumental appropriately entitled “Harp Rockin’”. “Blow Junkie Boogie” follows with some dirty slide work underneath the harp, a solid boogie rhythm being maintained throughout. From the lyrics we gather that the ‘blow’ that interests Tomislav is through his harp, not illegal substances! Tomislav sings in quite a deep voice with an accent but the lyrics are perfectly understandable on most tracks; it is only really when Tomislav tackles the cover song that one really hears the difference as the lyrics are so familiar.

“Electric Lights” drops the pace a little and “Gambler’s Blues” is an attractive tune with some echoey guitar from guest Nebojsa and some good picking by Lovro as Tomislav recounts the story of an addiction to the tables, as well as taking a solid solo on harp which also complements that echoey guitar sound. “On The Roof” ups the pace with some cigar box slide work as Tomislav tells us about people “dancing on the roof” after he “moved down south to play some blues” – one of the standout tracks here. “Blues For Mother Earth” bears some similarity lyrically to the Memphis Slim song but is wrapped up in a breezy pop tune that talks of ‘peace and love’ with some more good picking from Lovro and harp by Tomislav. The instrumental “Boogie 44” acts as an intermission on the album at the half way point with Tomislav playing brightly over the foot-tapping rhythm.

“Drivin’ And Ridin’” is a funky tune about…driving around in a car! Another boogie number entitled “Forhill’s Boogie” precedes “Two Rockets”; on both these songs Tomislav sings in a deeper voice which does not always make for easy understanding. “Two Rockets” borrows a little from “Bullfrog Blues” in its lyrical structure but whips along enjoyably. The band drops the pace for “Until The Morning Comes”, Tomislav’s harp having something of a campfire feel as befits a tune with a country feel.

“Freedom King” is another instrumental with some tough harp on top of a rocking riff before the cover of Mel London’s “Messin With The Kid” appears. Tomislav feels that “every blues album must have at least one cover song to pay tribute to the legends”; this is his choice here and his playing is very good indeed. “Speedin’ Train” was apparently a pop hit in Croatia and Tomislav and his American friend RLJ translated it into English and to a blues idiom. As befits the title the track increases in pace and Tomislav produces some fine ‘train’ sounds on his harp. A second version of the title track, this time simply entitled “Blow Junkie” is set at a less frenetic pace than the first version earlier on the album. “Springtime Fever” closes the album with a laidback instrumental on which Tomislav hits some very low notes on the harp.

This was the first time that Croatian blues has crossed this reviewer’s path and it is good to hear the enthusiasm that people in countries distant from the USA have for the music we all enjoy. This album is well-crafted and recorded and deserves a listen. Good luck to Tomislav and his band in spreading the blues word in Croatia.

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

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 – 10 of 10 

Michael Jerome Browne – Sliding Delta

Borealis Records 2015

14 tracks; 51 minutes

Michael Jerome Browne was born in Indiana but has lived in Canada since childhood. Over the years he has won many awards for his fine acoustic playing and is probably best known for his work with Eric Bibb, with whom he will again be playing on Eric’s US tour this year. Michael has released a number of albums over the years and the latest finds him recreating some of the classic blues of the 1920’s/30’s. This is a solo album recorded in three days in June 2014 apart from one track recorded live during a UK tour with Eric Bibb in May 2014.

Michael plays a wide array of guitars, mandolin and banjo, all of which are detailed in a ‘Guitar Nerd’s Corner’ in the extensive sleevenotes. The title track opens proceedings, a Mississippi John Hurt tune about a long-gone train, the song also mentioning the Big Kate Adams, a steamboat on the Mississippi.

Michael’s ringing 12 string and clear vocals give the listener an excellent indication of what is in store here as Michael then gives us songs by Tommy McClennan (“I’m A Guitar King”) and Fred McDowell (“I Heard Somebody Call”), both of which are outstanding versions. Skip James’ “Special Rider Blues” was recorded through an amplifier and Michael gets some ‘spooky’ sounds here; as he says in the sleevenotes, maybe Skip’s spirit was present! Johnny Shines’ “Living In The Whitehouse” is an exception to the 20’s/30’s theme (it was originally written about Eisenhower’s presidency in 1953) but Michael has re-worked some of the lyrics to bring the song up to date and the combination of mandolin and harmonica works well here.

Memphis Minnie’s “Frisco Town” comes from her first recording session and Michael has chosen to play it on banjo as that was apparently Minnie’s original instrument. A second Fred McDowell tune “Write Me A Few Lines” came to Michael via Bonnie Raitt and was used by Fred as the basis for several songs! Michael uses the same guitar (National Trojan wood-bodied biscuit cone resonator) on this and the following Charley Patton tune, the slow blues of “When Your Way Gets Dark” and the contrast in styles could not be greater despite the same guitar being used.

Michael’s spirited version of Barbecue Bob’s “Motherless Chile Blues” is great and certainly gets the toes tapping before he takes on one of his 12 string influences, Blind Willie McTell, on “Broke Down Engine”. “Bulldoze Blues” is interesting as the song (by Henry Thomas) is the likely source for Canned Heat’s “Goin’ Up The Country”. A ‘bulldose’ was a beating with a bull-whip and was a threat made against African Americans to try and stop them from voting in the 1876 elections – so the refrain of “goin’ where I don’t get bulldozed” had nothing to do with bulldozers which were not invented until the 1920’s! Amazing what you can learn from a custodian of the old songs like Michael Jerome Brown!

The classic “Easy Rider Blues” by Blind Lemon Jefferson is another frequently covered tune and Michael adopts a slightly higher vocal here before he tackles a far less well-known song in “My Road Is Rough And Rocky” by Crying Sam Collins which Michael says dates back to an earlier tradition than the blues of the 1930’s when it was released.

The final selection is the live duet with Eric Bibb, “Choose Your Seat And Sit Down” by Dock Reed and Vera Ward Hall which was originally an acapella spiritual recorded for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress in the late 30’s. Eric takes the higher vocal part originally by Vera and Michael sings the deeper vocal and plays some shimmering slide.

There are also two further tracks that can be downloaded from the Borealis website using a code contained in the CD packaging, making a very comprehensive run through well-known and obscure tunes in equal measure.

Those who enjoy acoustic blues will be delighted by this CD which contains a gold mine of information in a really well made and thought-out package.

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.

 Blues Society News 

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The Madison Blues Society – Madison, WI

The Madison Blues Society will hold its 13th ANNUAL BLUES PICNIC on June 20, 2015 from Noon to 9:00PM at Warner Park in Madison, Wisconsin. Admission is FREE!

We are pleased to offer terrific Blues Music from The Birddog Blues Band, The Jimmys, Jim Liban with the Joel Paterson Trio, the Daddy Mack Blues Band from Memphis and the Dee Miller Band from the Twin Cities. No single band is listed as headliner because all are excellent.

Also playin’ the Blues will be this year’s Blues Kids youth group. The Future of Blues is being coached by Jimmy Voegeli of The Jimmys and is expected to show terrific Blues attitude!

We’ll have excellent ethnic and American food offerings and a great selection of brews from Capital Brewery as well as both prize and cash raffles, a local pantry food drive and a picnic art contest!

Check out all the details at

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 3 more shows in June at the Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf IA. Tuesday June 16, 7:00 p.m.—Doug Deming, Dennis Gruenling & the Jewel Tones, Friday, June 19 7:00 p.m. – Markey Blue 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 July through August Crossroads has Free blues at All Saints Lutheran Church from 4 to 6 PM. 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 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 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

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