Issue 9-29 July 16, 2015

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Oscar Wilson. We have Part II of the photos from the Chicago Blues Festival. We have 10 Blues reviews for you this week including a DVD called Cheeshead Blues plus reviews of music by Chris Daniels & The Kings, The Bluesbones, Don Hoffman Bluz, Sugarcane Collins, Jimmy Nick & Don’t Tell Mama, Josh Smith, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Bob Malone and Henrik Freischlader.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Have you voted for your favorite artists yet? In case you missed it, the 2015 Blues Blast Music Awards voting started yesterday and man you guys are voting up a storm. As I type this more than 1500 fans have already voted! So be sure you vote at

We also have music from the nominees for you to listen to BEFORE you vote so you can be an informed voter. We know you can’t possibly have heard all the great music that was nominated this year so we have made it easy for you to hear some of it. CLICK HERE to go to the listening page now and check it out!

Also, we are preparing for another amazing show for you at the Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies on September 25th. We have more than 20 artists planning to perform at this years awards show including Altered Five Blues Band, Deb Ryder, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys, Anthony Gomes, Tad Robinson, Chris O’Leary Band, Andy T Nick Nixon Band and 16 more!

To see all the great acts coming, visit our Blues Blast Music Awards website at Click on the CONFIRMED APPEARANCES tab on the right when you get there to see this great event that is shaping up for Blues fans.

While you are there you can check out our “earlybird” discount tickets to this great show that are on sale now. After you see the artists coming, you are gonna want to be there so if you buy your tickets now they are only $35 to see this amazing show. The normal advance price will be $40 after August 1st. Tickets at the door will be will be $45. So grab you tickets NOW! You can also find information on the Fluid Event Center where the show will be held, transportation options for getting there as well as some hotels in Champaign, IL that are offering “Blues Blast” group rates. See you there!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 10 

Cheesehead Blues – Adventures Of A Dutchman In The Mississippi Delta

86 minutes, plus 50 minutes of bonus features

Film Events 2015

Cheesehead Blues is a film by Jan Doense featuring the music of T-Model Ford, Super Chikan, Bill “Howl-n-Madd” Perry, Liz Mandeville, Sean “Bad” Apple, Deak Harp and others/ This highly entertaining documentary centers on the life of Theo “Boogieman” Dasbach, a native of the Netherlands who’s been running the Rock-‘n’-Blues Museum out of a storefront in Clarksdale, Miss., for the past six years. But it also serves as an in-depth study into the minds of residents – both locally born and emigres – who are working at a grassroots level to keep the blues alive at the place of its birth.

Jan Doense, a blues lover and the director of this project, first met Dasbach in 2011 during a trip to Clarksdale, which is both the birthplace of W.C. Handy and the city where Bessie Smith met her untimely end. He was captivated by the extensive collection of blues and early rock memorabilia displayed by his countryman, a fellow “Kaaskop” or “Cheesehead” in Dutch nomenclature.

A barrelhouse keyboard player, Dasbach worked as a banker on both sides of the Atlantic before opening the museum first out of a former butcher shop in Arum, Netherlands, in 1996. He and his American-born wife planned to move it to Memphis, but decided on Clarksdale after realizing they were facing high real estate costs and competition from several other museums.

The decision proved fortuitous because the blues revival in Clarksdale was just taking root. Dasbach’s story is intertwined here with insightful interviews with several of the musicians who make the Delta town, which is situated about an hour south of Beale Street, as well as Mayor Bill Luckett; the late Frank “Rat” Ratliff, owner of the historic Riverside Hotel, home to many blues superstars in the ‘30s and ‘40s and where Smith died; Red Paden, owner of Red’s juke joint, which boasts of being “backed by the river, fronted by the grave”; and Bill Luckett, co-owner with actor Morgan Freeman of the famed Ground Zero blues club.

Also featured prominently are several other folks who’ve relocated to Clarksdale and opened blues-related establishments, including Ohioan Roger Stolle, owner of the Cat Head Delta Blues And Folk Art Store; and Stan Street, a harmonica player and folk artist formerly based in Florida, owner of Hambone Art Gallery; as well as Guy Malvezzi, an area native who’s co-owner of the popular Shack Up Inn and Juke Joint Chapel complex, where Charlie Musselwhite recorded a stunning CD a couple of years ago.

If you’ve never been to Clarksdale, this video, which is far, far more than a travelog, will give you an in-your-face view of all of the sites mentioned above with snippets of performances by a diverse group of artists, ranging from Clarksdale transplant musicians Watermelon Slim and Deak Harp, who’s featured in a one-man band performance in front of his harmonica emporium at the start of the show, to Minnesota-based Davina And The Vagabonds and Chicagoan Liz Mandeville, as well as locals Super Chikan, Sean “Bad” Apple, Bill “Howl-n-Madd” Perry and his family band, Selwyn Cooper, Rosalind Wilcox, Charlie Moore and others.

Fifty minutes of bonus footage include a six-minute trailer plus not-to-miss live performances from Terry “Harmonica” Bean, Super Chikan keyboard player LaLa Craig, Perry, Ford, Mandeville and Donna Herula, and David Raye and David Summers.

While Clarksdale still looks much like it did 100 years ago – for the most part ramshackle and dirt-poor, which this film clearly shows – the spirit is strong. Cheesehead Blues displays the music and people who make and support it as they truly exist, warts and all. If you’re looking for a slick performance video, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a look at the blues as it exists at ground zero, definitely add this to your collection. 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 Interview – Oscar Wilson 

Oscar Wilson’s resume checks off a lot of boxes.

First-and-foremost, he’s a charismatic frontman. Most would agree that at 6-3, 300-pounds, he looks larger than life stationed up on the bandstand.

He’s also a talented songwriter, a well-respected harp blower and just an all-around hard-working and extremely nice guy.

But as he found out recently, there’s one skill that is most definitely lacking from Oscar Wilson’s resume.

Motorcycle rider.

“Yeah, man, I waited until I got to 60-years-old to try and ride a motorcycle and I dumped it twice. It was crazy and I ended up with a broken bone … my wife is pretty hot about it … yeah, she’s real warm,” he recently said. “The bone that leads down the foot cracked. The doctors said it will heal up … but I’m done with that, man. That bucket list thing is over.”

Cracked bones from two-wheeled steel demons aside, things have been running pretty smoothly for Wilson and The Cash Box Kings during the first half of 2015.

The group’s latest album – the marvelous Holding Court (Blind Pig Records) – has struck a favorable chord with the blues-loving public, overseas and closer to home, as well.

“We just came back from Europe and we sold a bucket full of them (Holding Court) over there and people have been real receptive to it, pretty much everywhere,” he said. “And finally, it’s (the new CD) actually something that my family kind of likes. It’s something that they admit to liking, anyway.”

With his family firmly on board, there’s no holding Wilson and The Cash Box Kings back. Holding Court is nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album, while the group itself is up for Best Blues Band at this year’s Blues Blast Music Awards. Those looking for a refreshing mix of Chicago-styled blues from the ’40sand ’50s, but liberally dosed with 21st century themes and sounds, should at this point in time be well aware of just what The Cash Box Kings bring to the party.

“I would describe it (the sound of The Cash Box Kings) as a throwback to the golden age of blues, with some kickin’ fresh young blood, but yet not goin’ overboard. You can tell what it is without there being a bunch of notes in there sayin’ nothin’,” Wilson said. “You got a lot of people out there claiming they play the blues – and I’m not sayin’ it’s not the blues for them – but we try to stay with the traditional sounds, although our musicians are a little fresher. But our music is all about the feeling it gives you.”

Blues with a feeling is something that Wilson has known about from an up-close-and-personal perspective ever since he was a young child growing up on the south side of Chicago on 43rd Street in a six-room apartment split by two families. Back there, more than just idle noise in the background, music was almost like a weather forecast for young Oscar Wilson and his siblings.

“I was the youngest of nine children and I learned that the same song that made someone laugh could also make them cry. You understand? They (the adults in his house) would play this record by Junior Wells – “Come on in this House” – and a song by Little Milton – “Feel so Bad.” As children, we knew when those records came on that either something very good or something very bad was going to happen,” he said. “We would cry, ‘Please don’t put those records on,’ because we knew that something was going to go terribly well or terribly bad. A lot of things I truly didn’t understand back then, but that I remember.”

Wilson knew the words to a lot of songs – even back then – and could recite them at will, even if he didn’t know for sure just what those words that he was singing meant. However, he did know that the playing of certain records at certain times of the day meant good times for the family, while that same record spun at a different time could indicate things were not going to be so smooth.

“When my step-father and them would come home late and put on “Come on in this House,” that was a bad sign. But if they came home at the right time – the time they were supposed to – and that record went on, that was a good sign. A sign that we’d get some goodies and things,” he said. “That usually happened on Friday, when the eagle was flying, you know? But that’s how I learned that the same song that will make me laugh will also make me cry like a baby, because it’s attached to something.”

Unlike the lion’s share of bluesmen who went on to make a name for themselves in Chicago, Wilson was born-and-raised in the Windy City, as opposed to being born in the south and then working his way up north as so many before him did. Still, just as was the case with his southern brethren, the real-deal blues were not foreign to Wilson and his family in the big city.

“When I was real young, all the older guys would ask me, ‘How can you remember all the words to those songs?’ I knew them because I had heard them and they like went into my soul. I mean, we had a hard time growing up. We lived, ate and slept the blues,” he said. “That’s how it was with us. We had plenty of hard times. A lot of times we didn’t even have food. I had the blues and that’s how I was feeling.”

‘Feeling’ also sums up the way that Wilson approaches a song up on the bandstand. If it ever was in his plan of attack to separate the song from the way that it makes him feel, that plan would be doomed from the start.

“I do sing about how I feel. I can’t sing it (the song) verbatim, like I see most people do, because I may feel differently every time I sing a certain song. This day I may not feel the same way as the day I recorded it, so I can’t sing it exactly the same way, you see?” asked Wilson. “It’s really hard to explain, but that’s how it is. I sing like I feel.”

Called ‘the human jukebox’ by Billy Flynn, one thing that is constantly in the front of Wilson’s mind when it comes to working at his craft is to be himself and not fall into the convenient trap of trying to sound like someone else.

“I would love to sound like someone else, but I’ve had to make myself not emulate other singers. A lot of people say, ‘Hey, Oscar, you sound just like Jimmy Rogers.’ Well, before I started with The Cash Box Kings, I didn’t even know who Jimmy Rogers was. So I sound like me, and that may just happen to sound a little like Jimmy Rogers,” he said. “But I didn’t know who he was, even though I did hear his music. The mainstream was Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf and that’s who I knew. I didn’t know all the guys that were backing them up. I didn’t know about Jimmy Rogers and Eddie Taylor and all those guys back then. I mean, I didn’t know it was Eddie Taylor that made Jimmy Reed’s music sound so good, or how Jimmy Rogers made Muddy sound so good.”

Even though Wilson has played with Kenny ‘Beady Eyes’ Smith plenty of times over the past several years – in the studio and on the concert stage – there was a time he didn’t know he was playing with the son of Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith.

“No, I didn’t know who his daddy was at first, you know? Most of the white artists do all that research and they would tell me about all those guys, but I sure didn’t know all of that back then,” he said.

The same thing could also be said of Wilson’s knowledge of musical theory. Even though he’s self taught on the guitar, piano, drums and the harp, don’t expect him to deliver a seminar on what song is in what particular key.

“I didn’t know nothin’ about what keys songs were in. I’d just say, ‘Play it like the record and I’ll sing it.’ They’d start playin’ it and if I could sing it, I’d let ’em know,” he said. “But now I’ve learned what my strong keys are – like E, F, G. I can do some A’s and B’s, but those are my strong keys. And I have learned good players can play in any key. I used to be intimidated by that, but not anymore.”

It’s hard to think about The Cash Box Kings without the dynamic Wilson front-and-center these days, but at one time, the two were completely separate entities until a fateful meeting in Wisconsin.

“I had just moved to Janesville, Wisconsin in 2007 and was bored and went up to the corner VFW, where the paper said they were having a blues jam. I was just sitting there and this guy came up and introduced himself as Travis Koopman of The Cash Box Kings. He was the guitar player before Joel (Paterson). I told him I played a little harmonica and sang the blues, so he asked me to come up and jam,” said Wilson. “When I got up there, we just brought the house down. So he asked me what I was going to do and I said, ‘Man, I don’t know.’ I’d always had to take care of my kids and work and stuff, but I thought about it and told him I’d always wanted to play at Buddy Guy’s. He said, ‘Give me two weeks and I’ll be back.’ Well, two weeks later, I was playing at Buddy Guy’s.”

His talent was undeniable from the get-go, as Wilson was virtually born to play and sing the blues. But that didn’t mean that he was necessarily welcomed with open arms right of the bat by the rest of The Cash Box Kings.

“No, I wasn’t really well-received, because they were set in their ways. The leader of the band – Joe (Nosek) – was splitting vocals with Travis … and then here I came in. So it was a little rocky there,” Wilson said. “But now Joe is my best friend in the music world. But back then, the transition was not really easy. But we were made for each other and we quickly realized that. I mean, they had a great sound, but when they opened their mouths, it was the traditional white sound. I brought the flavor to it, you see? It was a marriage made in Heaven for both of us.”

While it may seem -at least from the outside looking in – that the members of The Cash Box Kings are all cut from the same cloth, Wilson says that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The personalities of this group are so different. It’s like Joel Paterson is a freak of nature. When I first got to the group, Joel was stiffer (on stage) than he is now, but I make him go. I say, ‘Come on man, get up here!’ But he’s a genius. The music part of it, he puts together,” Wilson said. “When me him and Joe are on stage – which we’re primarily the ones that are there all the time – we have built a bond to where we know what the other will do before we even do it. Joe knows what I’m going to do before I do it … they feel me, you know?”

Chances are very good that no one who has ever caught the group doing their thing live has ever fallen asleep, or probably even batted an eyelash, when The Cash Box Kings are engaged on the bandstand. A lot of that is due to Wilson, who admits that he’s really a natural-born entertainer.

“Yeah, I am. That’s just the way I am. That’s just me and I’ve been that way since I was a child. My father, who passed away two months before I was born, was a bluesman. My mother and them knew a lot of bluesmen like Junior Wells and Big Smokey Smothers and Elmore James … Little Mack Simmons, Honeyboy Edwards,” he said. “They all used to come by my house and would sit there and play. As a little boy, I was always more interested in what they were doing than anything else. I never developed ball skills and all that, because I’ve always been involved in the music in some kind of way. That’s how I got started and I’ve always been willing to perform ever since then.”

Despite the fact that Wilson has been performing in front of crowds of all sizes and shapes since he was three years old, one thing has never changed over the course of all those years.

“Every time I perform, I’ll be so nervous that sometimes I have to throw up. To this day I have those feelings … it’s hard to explain. We just did the Chicago Blues Festival and finally some of mypeople came to see me (perform) and I’ve got a big family,” he said. “And it was like I had a panic attack or something. There were just some many people out there and even though I’ve played in front of many more people than that before, for some reason, I just couldn’t catch my breath. I wanted to do good so bad, I guess. Then my mouth got watery. I was telling myself to calm down. But Edward (Chmelewski) and Jerry (Del Giudice) said we put on one Hell of a show. I usually have that (nervous feeling) until I get that first note out of my mouth, but it was just super-bad that day.”

The Cash Box Kings are not the least bit hesitant to tackle issues that they see going on right outside their foot door, as evidenced by a pair of original tunes off Holding Court that Wilson and Nosek authored – “Download Blues” and “Gotta Move Out to the Suburbs.” The latter tune even has a cool video to go along with it that more than tells the story of the song (

“I’m not the visionary writer of it – Joe thinks of these things – and I pump it up with my life. It’s (“Suburbs”) about me and about where I came from, 43rdStreet,” Wilson said. “It’s (the song) like a changing of the guard … they tore down the projects and now have high-end houses and got stuff like Starbucks. When we were there, there was nothin.’ It’s changed so much, so Joe had the idea and I just dropped the facts in. We went around and I showed him the neighborhood and the places we used to be and we just shot the video on it. When we were shooting it, some of the people that I grew up with just happened to be around and it all just fell right into place. It was just like it was supposed to be.”

The title track of 2013’s Black Toppin’ sprang to life from a statement that Wilson made, a statement that he soon found himself having to tear down, piece-by-piece, in an attempt to explain its meaning.

“Were playing at a blues dance in Lafayette, Indiana and there were just so many pretty girls there and it reminded me of back when my mother and them used to be dancin.’ They would dress up and wear fine clothes and everything,” he said. “I said, ‘All these pretty women here, I’m gonna’ go black toppin.’ And he (Joe) was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ He didn’t get it. So I went home and wrote that song by myself. He just never got it. But now, we make a funny skit out of it on stage. I always say, ‘I’m from the public school, so I had to learn things fast.’”

As a youngster, one of Wilson’s close neighbors was none other than Robert Johnson’s one-time running partner – the late, great Honeyboy Edwards. Although Wilson says he went by another name back in the old neighborhood.

“Well, they call him Honeyboy, but my mother and them always called him Honeyman. If you said Honeyboy back in the neighborhood, they wouldn’t know who you were talkin’ about, cause he was Honeyman,” Wilson said. “He was always around and I was about 10 or 11 and we had walked up to the store and Honeyman was playing a house party. The other kids kept going, but I heard the music and stopped and stood in the doorway. Honeyman said, ‘Hey, little boy. You wanna’ come in and sing the blues?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I do.’ He said, ‘What you wanna’ sing?’ I said, ‘”Two Trains Runnin’” And he fired it up and I went to singing it. Me and Honeyman’s daughter went to school together, too. And Big Smokey Smothers is my nephew’s father and he would come by the house; we’d call him the ice cream man because he rode a bicycle with an ice-cream thing (cooler) on the front of it. He always came by and brought us ice cream.”

The immediate area around Wilson’s house was stuffed to the gills with juke joints of all kinds, but his age kept him from entering many of them, although he still managed to hear a bit of the festivities that were going inside their four walls.

“Even though I couldn’t go inside, I’d go and listen. That’s when they had plenty of taverns in the neighborhood. There was always somebody playing,” he said. “I’ve always just loved the music that I heard coming out of those joints and I’ve tried to recreate some of that. Like “Hobo Blues.” I remember my mother working around the house and playing that, but I never really thought I could sing that. But Joel kept trying to get me to sing it and I said, ‘Man, I can’t sing no (John Lee) Hooker. But Joel kept on, so I finally sang it and we did it in one take (the tune can be heard on Holding Court).”

The way that Wilson sees it, there’s a huge difference between just singing the blues and SINGING the blues.

“Anybody can sing it, but can you SANG it, you know? You get all these hot-shots out there these days and they’ll finish playing and you’ll go, ‘OK, now where are you going?’ And then you’ll have some old dude come up that plays two strings and will knock you straight to the floor and you go, ‘Oh, my God.’ To me, that’s when I know I’ve felt the blues,” Wilson said. “If the song finishes and it make me want to have a drink or to cry or makes me feel nostalgic about something, then I know I’ve heard the good blues.”

There’s no doubt that just a few notes from Wilson and The Cash Box Kings can evoke all those emotions, plus a whole lot more. That’s a powerful thing and despite holding that power in the palm of his hand, Wilson is surprisingly not very enamored at his own abilities.

“I don’t like my own songs, I must tell you that. I’m not a fan of myself. I never listen to me. Once I do it, I don’t listen to it again. I don’t know why it (the finished product) doesn’t sound right to me, but it doesn’t,” he said. “I just try to stay in key the best that I can.”

Had Wilson never crossed paths with Koopman and The Cash Box Kings back at that open-mic blues jam in Wisconsin, there’s still a better-than-average chance that music would be an integral part of his daily existence in 2015.

“I would still be in music in some way. I was an All-City concert baritonist and All-City jazz trombonist (in high school). And I would have been a teacher; that’s what I wanted to be. I had scholarships to go to Jackson State, Grambling, Florida State and Knoxville College, but my mother didn’t understand the concept of a scholarship,” he said. “So I came home one day and was going to Devry to be a TV repairman and that was the end of it. There was no more conversation. Then I started having kids and stuff and got away from music, pretty-much all together. I’d stop by the joints every once in awhile and sing; I used to sing with Johnny B. Moore, who was Koko Taylor’s guitar player at one time. I also played with Melvin Taylor, too. When I first started singing with him, we’d do “Cadillac Assembly Line” and bring the house down. We would just kill it.”

It was during one of the times that Wilson was on stage with the immensely-talented Melvin Taylor where he witnessed something that had he not seen it with his own eyes, he might be hard-pressed to believe it really happened.

“We were playing at a little tavern on 44thand Whitworth in Chicago and he broke a string. Well, I’ve never seen a man’s hands move that fast. I’m not saying nobody’s done it – maybe Hendrix could be that fast – but I’m serious about what I’m about to say,” Wilson said. “He broke the string and never stopped playing. Every time I’d look around, he’d be reaching in this box. He never missed a beat and reached in that box, got an E string and put it on without ever stopping playing. I’d never seen anything like that in my life … I’m telling you, that was something else, man!”

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 

Chris Daniels & The Kings – Funky To The Bone

Moon Voyage Records

10 songs – 42 minutes

Funky To The Bone represents a welcome return to recording for Colorado’s masters of “funk ‘n’ roll”, each track served up with a foot-tapping side of soul. Band leader, Chris Daniels, put the original band together in the early 1980s and he and his cohorts have been serving up a spicy dish of pop, funk, soul, rock and blues ever since. After both Daniels and singer Freddi Gowdy took some time out to recover from serious illnesses, the band recently reconvened to record and release their 16th album, Funky To The Bone, which features 10 songs of uplifting, life-enhancing funk-soul-pop-rock music. With influences ranging from the 1950s to the present day (“Cool Breeze” even features some rapping from Chris Kimmel), this album should have something for everyone to enjoy.

The album kicks off with the title track, in which Colin Jones’ rocky, angular guitar riff is nicely contrasted and counter-pointed against the muscular horn section and a chorus that Tower of Power would love to have written. It’s a great way to start the album and a superb statement of intent.

Next up is Chris Kenner’s classic “Something You Got”, which has been recorded by everyone from BB King to Bruce Springsteen. Played slightly slower than many other version, the band emphasize the carnal desire of the lyrics, but with a joyful smile.

Many of the songs have a strong 1970s influence, from the wah-wah guitar of “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “Don’t Let Your Mouth Write No Checks” to the gospel-style backing vocals and even to one or two of the vocal melodies and harmonies themselves (“Nobody Knows), but this should not be taken as a criticism – that period produced some of the best funk, soul and dance music ever. And the serious quality of the musicians and the grooves they lock into on Funky To The Bone make it difficult to do anything other than get up and dance to this album.

The core of the band, in addition to Daniels and Gowdy, is Colin “Bones” Jones on lead guitar; Randy Amen on drums and vocals; Kevin “Bro” Lege on bass and vocals; Darryl “Doody” Abrahamson on trumpet and vocals; and Jim Waddell on sax, flute and vocals. Additional help comes from Billy Payne on piano and B3, Christian Teele on percussion, the horns of Darren Kramer, Bob Rebholz and Carlos Chavez, plus the voices of Hazel Miller, Coco Brown and Carl Carwell.

As may be obvious, Funky To The Bone is not by any stretch of the imagination a blues album. The closest that the band gets to blues is in the swing of “What A Day” or the shuffle of “Happy Birthday” (which has the excellent line ““Happy birthday baby… You know about 3 o’clock in the morning, darling, when you are all dressed up in your birthday suit, looking so fine and so cute, I hope all your dreams will come true.”), but neither track feels like a genuine blues song, perhaps because Chris Daniels & The Kings don’t hold themselves out as a full-on blues band. They describe themselves as a “funk’n’roll” band, which is a pretty accurate description.

Overall, this is a well-produced album of cleverly written songs, played with panache, exuberance and a big smile. If your tastes extend to the likes of Sam and Dave, Tower of Power or Earth, Wind & Fire, you will find much to enjoy in Funky To The Bone.

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

 Featured Live Blues Review – Chicago Blues Festival Part II 

On the second day of the Chicago Blues Fest we started off with a bang with a set by Marquise Knox. Marquise is a young (24yo) Bluesman from St Louis who sings and plays as if he has already been at it for years. And he has, his first album, Man Child was released in 2009 when he was 18 and was nominated for a Blues Blast Award and a Blues Music Award. If you have not seen him yet, get to it!

Then we headed over to catch a set by Austin Walkin’ Cane. Austin was nominated for a Blues Music Award last year.

Next we got to hear The House Rockers form Jackson, Mississippi. Nice full sound, lots of southern soul.

Then things really started heating up when we got to hear a set by Blues legend Lurrie Ball. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Next up we saw Alligator Recording artist Jarekus Singleton. Jarekus is quite an amazing player. He is the only artists nominated for 3 Blues Blast Awards this year.

Next we saw harmonica player, guitarist, singer and songwriter Paul Oscher. Paul played harmonica in Muddy Waters band when he was only 17 following some other great harmonica players who played with Muddy before him including Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, James Cotton and Junior Wells.

Paul also played some unique harmonicas like the big monster in the photo. That puppy don’t fit in a harmonica holder and was the lowest tuned harmonica I have ever heard.

Next up we heard a set by the great Johnny Rawls.

Johnny is nominated for Soul Blues Album along with Otis Clay in this years Blues Blast Awards. He had the owner of Catfood Records, Bob Trenchard, playing bass with him.

Then we headed over to catch Shawn Holt & The Teardrops. Shawn is the son of Magic Slim and as they say , the apple does not fall far from the tree. This guy can play.

Shawn’s debut album, Daddy Told Me, won a Blues Blast Award last year.

The final act of the afternoon we saw were the amazing Cash Box Kings. These Blind Pig Records artists had Joel Paterson on guitar, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on drums, Brad Ber on upright bass, Joe Nosek on harmonica and our cover story subject, Oscar Wilson as lead singer.

The Cash Box Kings are one great band. Every musician in their ensemble is one of the best in Chicago. They are nominated for a Blues Blast Award this year.

After a great afternoon we headed over to the Petrillo Music Shell for the day’s headliners. First up was Toronzo Cannon.

Toronzo is another legend in the making. His first two albums on Delmark Records, Leaving Mood in 2011 and John The Conquer Root in 2013 were both nominated for Blues Blast Awards. He recently signed with Alligator Records and has a new album coming soon.

The final act we saw before the heavy rains came was Shemekia Copeland.

Shemekia is the daughter of Blues legend Johnny Copeland and you can see that great breeding in the amazing artists she has become. She is a legend in her own right and a fitting way to end our day at the Chicago Blues Fest.

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 10 

The Bluesbones – Saved By The Blues

self release

11 songs time-57:16

I got dem ‘ol Belgian blues again mama…Or in this case blues-rock with a bit more emphasis on blues than usual.. This Belgian blues-rock crew has surely been doing its’ homework as far creating potent and hard-rockin’ blues-rock. It is sure a relief to have a foreign lead vocalist without an accent in Nico De Cook. It makes for a smoother listening experience. In fact his confident blues-worthy voice is a big plus for this well-versed unit. The guitar playing of Stef Paglia is spot on whether it’s in high or low gear. Drummer Dominique Christens applies a more spare and stylized approach instead of beating the listener over the head. All the way around this is a band to be reckoned with.

Drum sticks and bass drum lead into a boogie entitled “Find Me A Woman” that brings Canned Heat to mind with its’ infectious slide guitar pattern. Stef contributes two guitar parts here as he does on most of the tunes. “I’m On The Road Again” contains a Stevie Ray Vaughn style rhythm guitar part as it show cases Nico’s vocals and Stef’s guitar magic.

After a slow build up “I Try” progresses to some screaming blues-rock guitar soloing, slows again, revs up and finishes out with some quiet piano by producer Tim Jaanssens. The only song not composed by the band, “The Devil’s Bride”, is a hard rocker that finds Edwin Risbourg’s Hammond organ low in the mix until the finale. Hammond organ returns on the slow blues of “I’m Still Your Man”.

The title track is upbeat blues-rock, short and sweet punctuated by horns. Acoustic guitar and drums start off “Moonshine”, the tale of a man driven to drink by his nagging wife. It contains some nice and lazy slide guitar that eventually ignites, sending out sparks. Nico shows the first signs of being the Belgian Eric Burdon with a bit of jive rapping on “Crazy”, that also features electric piano, mellow guitar and some nice short bass runs by Ronald Burssens.

The following two songs continue the Eric Burdon similarities. The narrator on “Call Me’ declares that he is his girl’s love machine…Oy Vey! He then goes into Burdon-style rapping. Slow “stringy” guitar is the background for the poignant “Wrong”. Some crystal clear guitar changes to distorted guitar backed by what appears to be synthesizer-strings.

This record is definitely a “keeper”. Well-executed and produced blues-rock is done here in fast and slow tempos. This band knows what it is doing and does it superbly. We have here further evidence that great blues inspired music knows no boundaries.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 10 

Don Hoffman Bluz – Unfinished Business


CD: 10 Songs; 53:12 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues, Blues Rock

Many musical artists start playing as children or teens and continue through adulthood, without a hiatus. However, others, such as Pennsylvania’s Don Hoffman, have Unfinished Business with the blues. Hoffman attended a live show featuring the Chicago band West Side Winders back in 1991. He reveals in his promotional info sheet: “Afterward, as Dan [Peters] was starting to tear down his stage, I approached him and thanked him for awakening the desire in me to play guitar that had laid [sic] dormant for fifteen years. When I got home that night, I picked up my rusty old Telecaster and played it until three o’clock in the morning, and I’ve been hard at it ever since.” Featuring the fluid style of such greats as SRV and Johnny Winter, Don is on his way to becoming a contemporary blues rock star. He proves this on a premier album that will surprise even the most die-hard aficionados of the “bluz”. Never mind the Z in his band’s name – Hoffman’s tunes constitute the real deal on ten original tracks.

Alongside him on his debut release are drummers Pat Allen and Brian Berlanda; bassists Brad VanEtten, Scott “Bone” Ward and Brian Bortz; Karl Frick on Hammond organ; Jansen Kelchner on blues harp; and Jenn McCracken on vocal instrumental track five. Don himself plays guitar as well as performing lead vocals.

His style on the mic is crisp and conversational, although he talk-sings through some passages. Nevertheless, Hoffman possesses some keen writing skills. These, along with his prowess on electric shredder, are displayed to best effect on three songs:

Track 01: “I Remember the Day” – The album’s opening number features a growling riff, in the opening intro, that devotees of SRV will love. “I remember the day I promised my guitar I was going to make it play, someday. I remember the day I promised my guitar I was going to make it say things my way.” All artists start somewhere, even if it’s with as-yet unfulfilled vows. Groove along to Don’s rhythmic guitar refrain and a smooth bass backbeat by Brian Bortz.

Track 07: “Damned if I Do” – Sometimes love’s a dastardly double-bind. If you do one thing, you’re in trouble, but you’re also in trouble if you do the opposite. This is the dilemma our narrator faces: “I want to love you, baby, but you make it so hard. It’s only ‘cause of the love in our hearts that we could make it this far.” Oddly enough, lucky number seven is perfect for a mid-tempo spin around the dance floor with a romantic partner.

Track 10: “Unfinished Business” – The atmospheric title track, running seven minutes and twenty-seven seconds, begins like a killer instrumental a la Joe Walsh’s “The Confessor”. Drummer Pat Allen and bassist Brad VanEtten lend their talents to this aptly confessional tale. Our protagonist hears “whispers of a destination that I don’t yet understand. And all that I keep prayin’ is to feel the master’s hand.”

Got Unfinished Business with the blues? Check Don Hoffman out!

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 – 5 of 10 

Sugarcane Collins – Going Back To Clarksdale


CD: 11 Songs; 51:52 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Ensemble Blues, Acoustic Blues

Why are the tried and true standard songs of the Blues so consistently popular? In some quarters, covers are seen as the “old bones” of the blues, so why do performers keep on playing and recording them? What is the key to their enduring power? The key is this: They point straight to the past, to the roots and the masters of the music itself, and therein they reveal the future. And, after listening to Australian Sugarcane Collins’ brand new album Going Back to Clarksdale, it is obvious that this “wonder from downunder” gets it. He speaks the old language of the blues. But he isn’t merely warming up “dem old bones” here. Collins is inventive enough to enrich everything he touches with new angles and fresh ideas and has fleshed out a tasty set of timeless tunes that, like the best of Fourth-of-July barbecue sauces, are intriguingly tangy and so savory that you’ll keep coming back for more.

Going back to Clarksdale, Sugarcane’s sixth studio album, was recorded in New Orleans and Clarksdale, Mississippi employing hot, talented musicians from these two great bastions of the blues, with the finishing touches added back in Australia in his home town of Cairns. As the first two locations suggest, the sounds move from the sizzle of big brassy swing and smoky Jazz/Blues N’awlins style, up to the raw, stripped back acoustic guitar and small band sounds of the Mississippi Delta.

Big Joe Turner’s “Flip Flop Fly” starts off the set with exuberant horn driven big band blues. New Orleanians Mac Carter – drums, Cornell Williams – bass, Bill Malchow – B3 organ set up an easy rolling groove on which Aaron Fletcher – saxophone, Glen Hall – trumpet and Terrance Taplin – trombone go to work punching out the accents. Sugarcane’s smooth, powerful vocal and sax / organ solos from Fletcher and Malchow round out a fine opening track. “Trouble in Mind”, Richard M. Jones classic tale of suicidal blues (“I’m going to lay my head on some lonesome railroad line”) and ultimate redemption (“the sun’s going to shine on my backdoor someday”) reveals Cairns regulars Ruedi Homberger on melancholy sax with Paul Green on slow-burning electric guitar. Next up, Collins delivers a husky vocal and some solo acoustic fingerpicking on a gentle, dreamy version of Mississippi John Hurt’s “Creole Belle”. Sugarcane’s imaginative arranging skills are highlighted to good effect on the following track – a fresh new reading of the traditional New Orleans funeral blues “St. James Infirmary”. The eerie atmospheric intro featuring spacious, reverb drenched organ, piano and clarinet creates perfectly the desolation felt by Big Joe McKennedy, the song’s protagonist/narrator, as he observes his dead lover laying on the cooling board “so pale so cold and so fair”. The full ensemble then kicks in to build to a joyous upbeat middle section as Big Joe invokes the band “to raise some hell as we go strolling along”. And to conclude this remarkable track, a suitably raucous New Orleans “Second Line” picks up the outro and fades it off into the distance.

The title track, the first of Collins’ three originals, harks back to those “old bones”, and when he sings “from New Orleans up to Clarksdale that’s a ten hour greyhound ride”, you know damn well this tough and talented Aussie troubadour, on his sixth tour of the USA, has traveled every inch of the way. Clarksdale luminaries Stan Street on harmonica and Lee Williams on drums combine seamlessly with Cairns guitar-slinger Paul Green and Wil Kepa’s bass on this light hearted ride from the Big Easy up to the world famous Riverside Hotel, his “home down in the Delta”, where room 2A was recently named the “Sugarcane Collins Room” in his honor. Stan Street’s harmonica alongside Sugarcane’s acoustic guitar takes center stage on the Mississippi Sheiks’ “Sittin’ on top of the World” and to spice the fast finger-picked ragtime on Blind Willie McTell’s “Baby it must be Love”, Collins brings in Peter Ella on mandolin and Homberger on clarinet.

“Hungry Broke and Blue” a sweet little swinger featuring bull fiddle, shaken matchbox, and Ella’s mandolin, and “Blind Willie” his solo tribute to the great Georgia bluesman McTell, are thoughtful Collins originals and good examples of his deft fingerpicking. “Walking Blues” the Son House hit rockets like a Roman candle into the 21st century with its modern day makeover. This penultimate tune has Stan Street on hot harp, Lee Williams on hard driving drums, Wil Kepa on booming bass, Ella’s melodic mandolin and Paul Green on electric slide guitar providing some tasty licks. Closing the album on an up vibe, Collins reprises a little known Leroy Carr number “Memphis Town”. Recorded in Clarksdale, Cairns and New Orleans, Sugarcane welcomes back Bill Malchow on steady rolling piano and Ruedi Homberger on tenor and soprano saxophones for an all-in romp from Clarksdale up to Memphis, replete with soaring harmony vocals.

If there was an award category for most uniquely recorded CD, Going Back To Clarksdale with its international mixtures and locations would be the blue ribbon winner. The resulting album is clearly and pleasantly distinct in the ears of this reviewer who has heard and critiqued 214 CDs in just the last four years. A person who moves to a different part of the US soon begins to unwittingly emulate the regional dialect there. Similarly, American blues musicians, listening to each other, have a homogenized sound. Here, from Australia, is a new and fresh approach and sound that are noteworthy, outstanding, and first rate on the entertainment meter. As Collins is Going Back to Clarksdale, travel along with him, and learn the secrets of the “old bones” yourself!

James “Skyy Dobro” Walker contributed to this review.

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 – 6 of 10 

Jimmy Nick & Don’t Tell Mama – Rare Breed

Self Release

11 Songs Time – 48:36

Chicagoan blues-rocker Jimmy Nick colors his music with his self-proclaimed and diverse influences such as AC-DC, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, Ted Nugent and Earl Hooker among others. Add to this a hefty helping of rock and roll attitude. He also has plenty of guitar skills in his bag of tricks to go along with his enthusiastic vocal approach. The band is basically a power trio supplemented with sax, keyboards and harmonica as needed. There is a lot to grab your interest on this wild ride.

Jimmy jumps right in at the deep end with the manic guitar and harmonica driven “Can’t Have It Both Ways” taken at break-neck speed. Boisterous guitar infused rockabilly bolstered by Ronnie Hicks’ piano playing is displayed on “Gonna Get Me A Cadillac” as Jimmy’s guitar goes from Chuck Berry to the blues. Thick AC-DC style guitar rhythm chords super charge the title track which is perfectly suited to Jimmy’s gruff and energetic vocal approach.

“Jimmy’s Little Diddley” is a tribute to Bo that gets the trademark Bo Diddley beat down to a tee. One of two blues songs here is the slow and deliberate “Evil I Need” that includes some simmering sax courtesy of Ben Thompson. At the half way point the guitar kicks things into overdrive and then levels off. Sexual dysfunction is covered in the self explanatory “Couldn’t Rise For The Occasion”, taken at a brisk pace with guitar and saxes blazing.

“The Scar Never Goes Away” is another slow blues this time featuring a strong bass line by Lowell Todd. A beefy riff powers the power trio blues-rock of “Dug Your Own Grave”. “I Got Mama Drunk In Memphis” is an old fashioned rockabilly kicker that is a lot of fun. Maybe inspired by Howlin’ Wolf, “The Wolf In Me” isn’t a tribute to the man. Jimmy’s dexterity on the guitar strings are on full display here. The only non-original is Eddie Shaw’s “Greedy Man”, on which the writer contributes a very brief vocal and a sax solo. It’s a nice and funky end to a trip to Jimmy Nick land.

Jimmy Nick & Don’t Tell Mama have served up a fresh stew of their musical vision. Things are well mapped out while sounding completely spontaneous. This small unit packs a punch, lead by Jimmy’s vocals, guitar and occasional harmonica. These guys must really tear it up at a live show.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 10 

Josh Smith – Over Your Head

Crosscut Records

12 songs – 62 minutes

Josh Smith is in the vanguard of the latest generation of blues guitar heroes, albeit that he may be slightly less well known than the likes of Kirk Fletcher, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall II. It is difficult however to see that situation continuing for too much longer – Smith is more than capable of holding his own in such hallowed company. Indeed, both Fletcher and Bonamassa make guest appearances on Over Your Head, Smith’s eighth solo release.

While his recent CDs have seen Smith exploring his soul/blues/roots influences, Over Your Head is very much in the blues-rock camp, with particular nods towards Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The opening track, “How Long”, is reflective of the overall approach of the album, a riff-based, slow-burning stomp that recalls early Led Zeppelin combined with some fuzzed-out, Hendrix-inspired wah-wah guitar. Bonamassa contributes guitar to the second song, “Over Your Head”, displaying a magnificent creamy tone on his solos. The title track is actually one of a number of highlights on the album, with outstanding solos from both players as they vie back and forth with each other.

The majority of the songs on the album are mid-paced rockers, often based around a relatively simple guitar riff, but executed with an authority and energy that lifts this release above many albums from the plethora of superb technical guitar players out there. Smith, who wrote all the songs on the album, also benefits from having a warm, smoky singing voice that perfectly fits his music. Of course, it does no harm whatsoever to have a top drawer rhythm section in Calvin Turner on bass and Lemar Carter on drums. Together, they provide a seriously solid, rocking foundation on which Smith is able to stretch out. The band is joined at various times by Charles Jones (vocals on the airy ballad, “Better Off”), Jeff Babko (keys on “Better Off” and “Still Searching”), BJ Kemp (backing vocals on “Smoke and Mirrors”) and Chicco Gossoni (guitar on “First Hand Look”). The legendary Charlie Musselwhite also guests on “You’ll Find Love”, adding typically mournful harp.

The always-outstanding Kirk Fletcher features on “…And What”, a loving tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan and this writer’s favorite track on the album. In his own “Say What!” from Soul To Soul, SRV famously played two wah-wahs simultaneously. In “… And What”, Fletcher and Smith trade wah-wah’ed solos, whilst capturing the sense of joyous abandon that separated Vaughan from so many of his imitators. “… And What” is one of three instrumentals on the album, together with the heavily Hendrixian “How Long (Reprise)” and the “Intro to Smoke and Mirrows”, both of which are essentially an excuse for Smith to play some (excellent) guitar.

This is a very impressive album, but it is important to note that the music on Over Your Head is much closer to rock than it is to blues. Some more traditional blues fans may find it a little over-blown. If your tastes include the likes of Jimi Hendrix, early Led Zep or Free or the rockier side of Joe Bonamassa, however, you will find much to enjoy in this album. It features top notch playing and singing, solid songwriting and first rate production, with typically impressive packaging from the Germany-based Crosscut Records. Highly enjoyable.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 10 

Royal Southern Brotherhood – heartsoulblood

Ruf Records

12 tracks

Royal Southern Brotherhood’s 2014 release is a big production of a big band with an even bigger sound. A modern day “Supergroup,” featuring the likes of three stars (Cyril Neville, Devon Allman and Mike Zito) along with Yonrico Scott on drums and Charlie Wooton on bass, the band is an amalgamation of rock, blues, Cajun and other styles of music. Having just seen the band, some of the stars are being replaced by new talent (Mike Zito was first to go, being replaced by guitar slinger Bart Walker and then Devon Allman being replaced by second-generation guitar prodigy Tyrone Vaughn), this album is a little different mix than today’s sound, but the band carries on a a brotherhood of Southern rock music royalty.

The CD opens with the jointly penned and led “World Blues.” It begins with a traditional blues groove and builds to alow each of the three front men to do their thing with a very rock overtone to the blues element. “Rock and Roll” is a homage to it’s roots, rocking and rolling like an ole Bachman Turner Overdrive cut as Neville testifies in this track that he wrote. Devon Allman’s “Groove On” begins with an intro that reminded me of Electric Light Orchestra and then gets into a rock samba of sorts where he fronts the band in a song he co-wrote with other band members. It flows well and is a nice cut. The ELO-like stuff is used to bridge between chorus and verses with a neat effect. Neville and the band wrote “Here It Is,” is a funky piece with a deep groove. Very soulful and funk laden. ”Callous” follows, lyrics by Neville and music by Zito. Is a dark rock song with some bluesy influences, talking about the callous left on one’s soul by life’s events. “Ritual” is a Zito song and he delivers a great performance on vocals and guitar. Mixing blues, rock and a little funkiness, the song talks of some masochistic stuff and packs a big musical punch!

“Shoulda Known Better “ is an Allman blues ballad with Devon in the lead on vocals and some nice acoustic guitar. Next up is “Let’s Ride,” written by Neville and brother Omar; it’s a heavy New Orleans tune with big bass and Cyril growling out the lead vocals and singing about giving his girl the ride of her life. Another Allman tune follows; “Trapped” features music by the band and Devon’s lyrics. Allman sings of a relationship he’s trapped in. It’s a nice, slower rocker with a blues overtone. “She’s My Lady” features Neville lyrics being delivered by him in a soulful manner. This one’s more of a softer R&B /soul cut and it has a nice Motown retro feel to it. Zito’s “Takes A Village” enumerates the traditional theme that it takes a village to raise a child. Zito also shows his softer side in this emotional tune. The final cut is “Love and Peace” featuring Cyril’s lyrics and a big, driving beat. Neville and other members join in on a John Lennon-esque song that sings of what the title says. Mixing funk and rock, the song closes out the album sweetly.

This is a good album. With the level of star power here, the singing and playing are not overdone and the sols are even somewhat restrained. I really never have thought of these guys as a blues band, but they are a darn good band despite that. I prefer this album that they wrote themselves to some of the prior studio stuff they did that was written for them They are in synch and work well together. A well done production by Jim Gaines and David Z here, too. I enjoyed the CD!

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 – 9 of 10 

Bob Malone – Mojo Deluxe

Delta Moon Records – DMR 008

12 songs – 51 minutes

Bob Malone is perhaps most widely-recognized as the keyboardist with rock legend John Fogerty. His multi-faceted, rhythmically-propulsive style also lends itself well to his solo career, however, with a mix of rock, blues, and New Orleans-style R&B, combined with a warm, lived-in singing voice and top notch song-writing. Mojo Deluxe is Malone’s seventh and perhaps most impressive solo release.

Opening with “Certain Distance”, the overall ambiance is actually closer to early Deep Purple (the “Mark 2” version for the connoisseurs out there) than classic blues, from the overdriven, descending guitar riff and the assertive Hammond organ and electric piano, to the curiously engaging “off-mic” asides and – a common trait on the album – a great knack of capturing a sound-bite lyric and combining it with a melody that nails itself into your cranium instantly. In this case, you may find yourself wondering around town politely singing to yourself: “It ain’t personal if I don’t know your face. I feel a certain distance from the whole human race”.

“Toxic Love” takes the pace down slightly, with a threatening groove that captures the dangers of an all-consuming relationship: “I ain’t got cigarettes, I ain’t got weed. Ain’t got Jesus, ain’t got the need, cos I got you…. And I’m addicted to your toxic love.”

The mood shifts again as Malone delivers a beautiful take on the Ray Charles classic, “Hard Times”, one of only two covers on the album (the other being a stomping version of Muddy Waters’ “She Moves Me”). Malone either wrote or co-wrote the remaining 10 songs, ranging in style from the lonely ballad of “Paris”; the riff-based blues-rock of “I’m Not Fine” with its dynamic changes between quiet and loud in every verse; the New Orleans-via-Delbert McClinton of “Looking For The Blues”; and the jazz-rock instrumental of “Chinese Algebra” with its searing harmony slide guitars.

A range of different musicians provide top drawer support on Mojo Deluxe, including the likes of drummers Kenny Aronoff, Mike Baird and Rich Zukor; bassists Jeff Dean, Tim Lefebvre, David Santos and Ritt Henn; Stan Behrens on harp; Chris Trujillo on percussion; and Tommy Williams and Marty Rifkin on guitars. Lavone Seetal and Karen Nash contribute stellar backing vocals to several tracks. A special mention should also go to Bob Demarco for producing the album, co-writing three songs and contributing electric and acoustic guitars, slide guitars, dobro, eBow and mellotron.

Perhaps the highlight of the album is the closing song, “Can’t Get There From Here”. With hints of John Hiatt’s “Feels Like Rain”, Malone spins a story of the despair of seeing life pass you by: “Once I was beautiful, now I just look good for my age. I was so full of promise, now I’m just full of rage. Yeah, I got regrets, and soul-crushing fear. I know where I want to go, but I can’t get there from here.” As the song develops and builds, however, the protagonist sees a glimmer of hope, leading to an ultimately uplifting message: “I got a woman that loves me and picks me up off the floor. Always took that for granted, I won’t anymore. This is my last shot at redemption and my moment is near. Just one place left to go, and I’m going to get there from here. I’m going to get there from here.”

Bob Malone writes intelligent, clever songs and sings and plays them with deep emotion and almost casual virtuosity. Mojo Deluxe is not a traditional blues album, but the blues infuses everything Malone does. If your tastes lean towards the rockier end of the blues spectrum, then you will find much to enjoy in this album.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 10 of 10 

Henrik Freischlader – Night Train To Budapest Farewell Tour-Live 2014

Cable Car Records

10 songs Time -70:42

The first time I hear of this guy is on the live document of his farewell tour…What’s up wit dat? How did this German blues-rock guitar hero fly under my radar? Able to bend a note in a single bound, faster than a speeding bullet. The band is highly capable of slowing things down and to deliver quiet and intricate moments. Then before you know it here they come again beating your brains out with some incredibly intense blues=rocking power. Henrik sure knows his way around a guitar. Henrik is his name and note-bending is his game. He is able to impress with his hard attack or can give you chills with some tender soloing. His keyboard player Moritz Fuhrhop supplies the alternate solos in an often jazzy and energetic style. The drumming of Dirk Sengotta and the bass playing of Theofilos Fotiadis is powerful but precise. All songs are Henrik Freischlader originals. All in all this is the kind of well-played blues-rock that works for me.

The band comes out swinging as they beat you over the head with the heavy and noisy “A Better Man”, with Henrik’s strong and gravelly voice pleading that he will change his ways. His vocals drip honesty. We get the first taste of his take charge guitar style. Crashing drums are the icing on the cake. A bit of sarcasm is dished up in “Too Cool For Me” with it’s slow, loping riff peppered with a jazzy Fender Rhodes piano solo and string-bending galore. Henrik plays straight blues guitar before he charges it up. He also begins “Disappointed Women” with blues soloing before really catching blues-rock fire.

The slow and brooding “Keep Playin'” touches on personal relationships. Moritz’s organ solo switches to a piano solo and the guitar is spot on as usual. “Everything Is Gone’ is heavy goodness as Henrik delivers precision-perfect notes. “Gimme All You Got” delivers all they got with some heavy and funky playing tinged with a bit of Heavy Metal oomph. A Stevie Ray Vaughn-like rhythm underlies some speed-freak guitar fireworks on “She Ain’t Got the Blues” about leaving a woman alone because she ain’t got ’em.

The jazzy and pensive “Guitar Intro” segues into “Desert Love” that basically exists as a vehicle for guitar soloing that soars ala Jeff Beck and Robin Trower. It starts off with lyrics that aren’t an after thought but the gist of the song is instrumentally driven. The guitar solos drip with soulful, heartfelt energy.

This tight unit takes you on a journey that at times jars you with noisy delight and then tugs at your heart strings with some touching instrumental moments. This is another example of music crossing culture lines to show us music is music. It also helps that there is no accent in Henrik’s singing voice to confuse his message. It’s curious how he slips from his German language between song patter right into perfect English singing. This is blues-rock at its’ finest.

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

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Minnesota Blues Society – St. Paul, MN

The Minnesota Blues Society presents the Annual Member Appreciation Picnic/Food Drive Sun, July 19 starting at 1:00pm at the Rosetown American Legion Post 542, 700 W. Cty Rd C Roseville, MN.

Music by Big George Jackson Blues Band, and the Cajun stylings of Kathy Smithson. Pulled pork/turkey sandwiches provided. Bring sides. Cash Bar, $2.00 beers on patio. We are collecting canned goods for Keystone Community Services. Bring chair, no coolers. Free for members, $5.00 donation for guests. More info:

Southeast Iowa Blues Society – Fairfield, Iowa

The 2nd Annual “Blue Ribbon Blues Fest” will be held on Saturday August 1st, 2015. Gates open at 4:30 and music begins at 5:00pm on the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Fairfield, IA. Featuring Van & the Movers (5:30-6:30) and then The Nick Schnebelen Band (7-8:30)and finishing with Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King at (9-10:30). In Between acts brings Uno-Blu (Tony Blew)

Along with some great Blues there will be a Beverage Garden and BBQ, Bring your chairs …No outside food or drink. Ticket are $20 Day of Show and $15 in advance and SIBS members Call 641-919-7477 for tickets For more information visit

Boise Blues Society – Boise, ID

On Sunday July 19, Boise Blues Society presents the 2015 Boise Blues Festival , 6 hours of great live music, dancing, eating, and outdoor fun, noon-6pm in Julia Davis Park. All ages welcome. Admission price: 3 cans of food for Idaho Foodbank.

2015 lineup features incredible guitarist and showman Matthew Curry, who played two sold-out shows in Boise last year. The Idaho Statesman raved that Curry “has it all—unreal-wicked guitar chops and a soulful singing voice that belies his years.”

Local band Freudian Slip kicks off the Festival with a rare performance of blues songs from the 30’s and 40’s, then the Hoochie Coochie Men deliver a set of tightly honed traditional blues. Jimmy Lloyd Rea and the Switchmasters promise to get folks out of their seats with a helping of raw, rockin’ blues before Curry takes the stage for the grand finale.

More info at and

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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Friends of the Blues – Kankakee IL area

The Friends of the Blues announce their 2015 Concert Series. All shows start at
7 pm. 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. July 20 – Anni Piper, July 27 – Holland K Smith Blues Band, August 3 – Josh Hoyer & the Shadowboxes, August 10 – “Bad” Bill Robinson and the Hard Road Blues Band, August 17 – Polly O’Keary & the Rhythm Method, August 24 – Albert Castiglia, August 31 – Maurice John Vaughn.

Additional ICBC
shows: July 16 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6-9 pm Guest host: Blues Expressions, August 6 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6-9 pm Guest host: Black Magic Johnson, August 20 – 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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