Issue 9-3 January 15, 2015

Cover photo by Gary Eckhart © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with 2014 Blues Blast Music Award nominee, Adrianne Marie.

We have 11 music reviews for you including new music from The Veldman Brothers, Twice As Good, Chad Strentz, Chris Duarte Group, Erin Harpe & The Delta Swingers, Jimmy Thackery, A vintage 3 CD collection of keyboard classics called Midnight Steppers, Jordan Officer, Sean Costello, Mike Stern and Eric Johnson and EG Kight.

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

 Blues Want Ads 

Do you really know your Blues and enjoy telling others about it?

Blues Blast Magazine looking for a few good writers to volunteer to help us out. We need reviewers who know Blues and can write a minimum of one review or story each week. We will provide access to downloads or physical CDs, DVDs and books for review. The writer keeps the album, book or DVD for doing the review. We get music submissions from all over the world and we publish music reviews each week so there is a steady flow of things that need reviewed.

We are also looking for folks to write stories for our website, blogging style, and other occasional story assignments. We will assign subjects and stories and also entertain your ideas too.

These are volunteer positions that need a persons who really loves the Blues and wants to spread the Blues word! All of our Blues Blast Writing staff started out as volunteers like this and we kept them on as staff writers afterwards.

If you are interested, please send an email to and tell us about your Blues background. 

Please be sure to include your phone number in the email.

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 11 

The Veldman Brothers – Livin’ By The Day


CD: 11 Songs; 42:21 Minutes

Styles: Blues Rock, Contemporary Electric and Harmonica Blues

As the New Year dawns, what better way is there to start it off than listening to great American blues rock from – Holland? Indeed: the Veldman Brothers are back! This time, they’re Livin’ By the Day as they gain fame throughout their native Netherlands and around the world. This reviewer first critiqued them three years ago, on their debut album Spreadin’ Around. Since then, they have only improved, increasing the stupendous energy of their performances. According to their website, they earned the 2011 title of “Best Band” from the Dutch Blues Foundation. Since they’re heavily influenced by masters like the Vaughan Brothers and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, purists might think they sound like far more of a rock band than a blues band. Nevertheless, they’re like the perfect New Year’s Eve party: wild and uninhibited.

The Veldman Brothers are Gerrit on all guitars and vocals, and Bennie on organ, Rhodes, piano, harmonica and backing vocals. They’re joined by bassist Donald Van Der Goes and drummer Marco Overkamp. All eleven songs on this album are originals written by Gerrit, except “Real Deal”, with music by Bennie and lyrics by his slide guitar-slinging sibling. The following three are prime examples of their postmodern style. They may not copy the legends of old note-for-note, but that’s a good thing.

Track 01: “Frenzy” – This opening instrumental sounds the most like a Stevie Ray Vaughan number, especially its peppy guitar intro and background organ by Bennie. Considering the title, one might expect the tempo of this song to be frenetic, but it’s not. It’s extremely danceable and conducive to playing air guitar along with Gerrit’s feisty licks.

Track 02: “I Want You” – If there were a class in school entitled ‘Blues 101’, the second selection would be one of its first lessons. It has all the features of a traditional blues song: a classic rhythm, repeated lyrics, and incendiary solos of all its main instruments except drums: harmonica, organ, and guitar complete with wailing wah-wah pedal. It also has one of the most perennial messages of this genre’s favorite subject: “I can’t share you; I can’t share you with another man.”

Track 05: “Livin’ By The Day” – Featuring melancholy acoustic slide guitar, the title track is a poignant tribute to the Veldman Brothers’ father: “He worked hard all his life, had a job from nine to five. He took care of kids and wife. What more can you expect from a man?” However, “some changes came along”, and his life began to fade. One of the purposes of the blues is catharsis – the release of strong (and often unpleasant) emotions. To those who are losing a loved one and are doing what the title says, this song offers hope and empathy.

We will all be Livin’ By The Day in 2015, so Happy New Year from Rainey Wetnight!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 35 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

 Featured Blues Interview – Adrianna Marie 

Mind-numbing hours spent behind the steering wheel of a moving vehicle are certainly nothing to get excited about.

For musicians in a working blues band, it’s all par for the course.

But those that can somehow manage to break free from the fatigue and mild hallucinations caused by day after day of gazing out the windshield onto the never-changing blacktop, may actually stumble across something new … maybe even have a stroke of genius or an epiphany. Or at the very least, have inspiration for the name of a band.

California-based blues diva Adrianna Marie sheds a bit of light on just how one enlightened moment on the open road ended up becoming the name for her group.

“It’s kind of a funny story. We were out on the road, touring the southwest and were coming through Las Vegas on our way back to do our last show and were talking about a cool name for the band. We drove past one of those big, giant (road) machines that was cutting the grooves in the road for the little reflective road markers, and the drummer that we were playing with at that particular time goes, ‘Whoa, look here! How about the Groovecutters?’ And I said, ‘MY Groovecutters.’ Because I’m constantly having to correct people, but it’s Adrianna Marie and HER Groovecutters. But that’s how it happened and it just stuck. It’s got the double-entendre … most people don’t think of cutting grooves in the road, but that’s where it came from,” she said.

Those that have not yet had the chance to hear Adrianna Marie sing should be forewarned; a couple of notes from the sultry, sexy and downright intoxicating lady is all it takes to immediately fall under the spell of this remarkable chanteuse. And from there, you’re hooked.

The group spent a large part of 2014 in support of their debut album, Double Crossing Blues.

“Last year was a great year for us; I couldn’t be happier. We put our first record out and it got nominated for a Blues Blast award and for a Blues Music Award (Best New Artist Debut, in both cases), along with a couple of other awards, internationally,” she said. “It just couldn’t have been any more exciting for us. It was just a wave that was almost too good to be true. Last year will sure go down in the record books, for me.”

Adrianna and her band (LA Jones, David Kida, Honey Piazza, Dave DeForest, Larry David, Lee Thornburg, Ron Dziuba) felt that they had cooked up a pretty tasty treat upon exiting the studio after sessions for the album had wrapped up. What they weren’t sure of, however, was how everybody else would feel about it.

“I really believed in the project, right from the beginning when it started to take shape. We were so excited about it, because it was so different. We put it out as a real labor of love,” she said. “There was such a big collaboration on the record from everyone that played on it, but we really weren’t sure how it would be received. We knew that we loved it and were passionate about it, but we just weren’t sure how it would go over. We knew it (the kind of music on Double Crossing Blues) was such a big part of musical history, but we just weren’t sure how it would be received in the 21st century. Was there still a place for this kind of music? Would people still dig it?”

The resounding answers to those last two questions would be – ‘yes’ and ‘yes.’ Make no mistake about it, Double Crossing Blues is an album filled to the brim with the real-deal blues. However, the kind of blues contained within may bring to mind an evening at a turn-of-the-century ballroom – where a big band occupies the stage in the late 1940s – as opposed to a lonesome shack nestled in the middle of nowhere in the late 1950s or 60s – with a solitary figure hunched over a well-worn acoustic guitar. Call it blues with sheen and sophistication instead of sawdust and sweat.

“I keep bringing it back to all the guys in the band and all the people that were involved in the writing and arranging. All the guys that I play with and who were involved in the record, these are guys that have a background in the Chicago-styled, traditional blues and that’s what they’ve done for decades over the course of their careers. But they all cut their teeth, in large part, not just in the early country blues that really influenced the Chicago scene, but they also studied guys like Charlie Parker and Charlie Christian and Lester Young and Duke Ellington. They all grew up learning early jazz and R&B, as well as the early blues.”

Since that music has long been inside her Groovecutters, it didn’t take much to coax it out of them in the studio.

“It was very natural for them to play in the style that’s on the record. It was interesting to watch them grab onto this music that they’d had all this experience in, but couldn’t help but hide in the decades of playing in the styles they normally play in,” she said. “It was just infused inside them and I can’t help but think that might have been the magic ingredient that made people able to hear and relate to this music. That’s just a guess on my part, but I think that’s a big part of it.”

Another big part of the charm that has made Double Crossing Blues so successful has to be the overwhelming sense of honesty contained within the tracks. This is not part of an act, this is just who Adrianna Marie & Her Groovecutters are, and this is just the kind of music they play.

“There are a lot of bands that do swing-era music and dress in zoot suits and they try to mimic the music. I said to the guys, ‘OK, this (music) is a point of reference and this is what we’re doing, but I want you to make it yours and ours. I don’t want to this to be a Vaudeville act.”

‘Vaudeville’ it’s certainly not, but in another tip of the hat to the golden days of yore, a great deal of the modern recording technology that’s readily available at the twist of a button these days was bypassed in favor of a method that once ruled studios from coast to coast – analog recording.

“That was an interesting decision. LA Jones, who played guitar on the record, played all vintage gear and in talking it over with everybody, we thought let’s do this. The guy that produced the record – Bobby Owsinski (noted producer and surround-sound guru) – and I talked about it at length and he was against it (recording in analog). But we got to the point where we felt pretty adamantly that we wanted to try and do this on tape,” she said. “We felt that it would give us a tonal quality that we thought maybe couldn’t be accurately re-produced doing it digitally. We had many a debate about it and in the final analysis, we chose tape. It did make the project go from something that could have been in about a week-and-a-half long session to something that lasted weeks. We were running out of tracks for the horns. But we have no regrets and it was a wonderful experience; it’s just a lot more complex (than recording digitally).”

Adrianna’s parents were in The Carolee Singers, a group that was an important part of the vibrant folk scene back in the 1960s. That’s where young Adrianna’s first exposure to roots-based music occurred and although it tends to be forgotten about to some extent these days, there was a strong unifying bond between folk music and the blues back in those heady days.

“My parents didn’t just listen to their own kind of music; they were listening to the really early country blues and stride piano players and even some jazz,” she said. “They were deeply influenced by that. I think traditional folk music and the stuff they grew up listening to really was influenced by the blues.”

The folk scene that was such an intrinsic part of Adrianna’s childhood was so big in the United States back in the ‘50s, ‘60s and even into the early ‘70s, that it was almost a mainstream movement. That hasn’t been the case for quite awhile, however.

“The only thing I can think of (why folk music isn’t as big as it was) is that everything is amplified with electric guitar and electric bass and going to a show where everything is miked,” she said. “I think it may be part of the social fervor for technology. There’s still folk clubs – especially throughout New England – so they’re still playing it. I do see a connection with folk music and the Americana roots scene … sort of the indie Americana scene. I think the folk influence is infused in that. So it’s there, but it’s certainly not mainstream. When I was a toddler, I was going to folk clubs and festivals with my parents. I couldn’t believe the amount of people that would be there. It was astonishing just how popular folk music was.”

When she was just 17, Adrianna packed up her guitar and left her east coast home for California. Traipsing from one side of the country to the next – leaving your comfort zone in the rear-view mirror – has got to be an uneasy experience for anybody; especially when they’re still a teenager and are making the trip alone. But for Adrianna, it was all part of a growing-up process that she had been engaged in for several years at that point.

“I didn’t do the things that most kids do at that age. I got involved in musical theatre and dance and singing and acting at such a young age (she was a veteran performer by the time she was 10), that I had a very untraditional childhood. It made me grow up fast. I became an adult very young and I had to get going,” she laughed. “My folks had divorced and my dad had moved to California. Even though I knew I didn’t want to live with him, I knew I had some roots … a bit of a lifeline, there. And when you grow up in New England, everybody wants to go to California. I was no different.”

In addition to singing and performing off-Broadway in New York from a young age, Adrianna also took to the catwalk for a period of time in the world of high-fashion. The way she views it, there are common threads running through all of the above.

“That’s all just part of who I am. If you don’t have all that experience, you might have a different stage presence (singing the blues), but because I have those influences, I interpret the musical dynamics of what’s happening with the band differently than some might,” she said. “The guys are always saying, ‘Quit coming over here and messing with me (on the bandstand).’ I’m always interacting with them, almost like a conductor, in a way. And I can’t help that because of my past experience. I’ve had that conversation with Sugaray Rayford, who has also done a lot of musical theatre, and he’s the same way. I think all that experience makes you more interactive on stage with the band and with the audience, as well.”

Though she may not singularly bear all the weight of influencing Adrianna to become a blues singer, ‘The Empress of the Blues’ was a major guiding light in her formualtive years.

“I was deeply influenced by Bessie Smith – she was a favorite of my mom’s. I listened to her music and there were a lot of modern artists re-interpreting her songs that I could listen to, artists like Janis Joplin. So I was able to hear some of her songs in a more modern interpretation. I don’t know that she made me sing the blues, but she had the influence of that early, New Orleans stride piano-kind of sound that I liked,” she said. “It was not only her, but other music from that particular era really captured me, because it was in theatre productions and my folks were listening to it, as well.”

It just wasn’t the early jazz and blues songstresses that piqued Adrianna’s ears.

“Most people don’t know this about me, but I’m a big Carole King fan. I grew up listening to her – my mother was a huge fan of hers – and I saw her many, many, many times. Even though she didn’t sing blues on all her albums, she did in her live shows. In her live shows, she sang a lot of country blues. And she wrote songs that were blues-oriented and told a story, much like folk music, a song like “Smackwater Jack” for instance. So I was very influenced by her, as well. She was like a crossover – a folkie who was deeply influenced by the early blues.”

In 2012, Adrianna lent her immense talents to the Mannish Boys’ Double Dynamite (Delta Groove Music) album, singing backup on a couple of tracks for the southern California all-star collective.

“Randy Chortkoff has big visions … he goes big on all his projects. It was such an amazing experience to be in the session with all those heavy-hitters. It was just incredible. Working with guys like David Z, a guy that’s produced and engineered many a Grammy-winning record, I mean, he’s tough,” she said. “In the studio, you have to have big ears and even though you may be your own artist outside of there, in the studio with those cats you’re just following directions. I was an outsider doing background vocals, because they had a couple of other girls that have been on all their records and it was their territory, but it was really fun and I think it turned out really well … just a terrific album.”

As if trying to usher in a new era of richly-elegant and lushly-arranged big band styled blues – the kind that Big Maybelle and Dinah Washington once prevailed over – wasn’t enough to keep Adrianna busy, there’s always her ‘day-job,’ something she’s been doing ever since she was a little kid.

“I train horses and I train people to ride them. It’s something I’ve been doing ever since I was little and when I came to California and started going to college and making music – just because I was already nearly a professional from doing it all my life – that’s how I made money on the side, riding and training show horses. And I’m still doing it today.”

That may take up some of her daylight hours, but at night, it’s all about Adrianna Marie and Her Groovecutters.

“We’re working on a project that we’re going to put out this year and I’m very excited about that. We’re just now starting to get some European dates together and some festivals, which is very cool,” she said. “I think it’s the dividends that last year created for us. I’m hoping that will continue. I really want to reach more people with this music. I hope in the next few years that people will see us in a much bigger way. We’re going to build on what we started to do and make it even grander.”

To see Adrianna’s performance at the 2014 Blues Blast Awards, CLICK HERE.

Visit Adrianna’s website at

Photos by Gary Eckhart and Joseph A. Rosen as marked © 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 11 

Twice As Good – That’s All I Need

2xg Records

Running time 50:28 – 12 tracks

Twice As Good is, at it’s core, a father and son duo from the wellspring of the Indigenous Pomo people of Northern California. Father Rich and son Paul Steward have now released seven albums since their meteoric blastoff in 2003. Told early on that to make it in music, they had to be twice as good, they chose the phrase as their moniker and haven’t looked back.

Rounding out the sometimes revolving Twice As Good lineup currently are three superlative A-list players. James Brown’s last guitar player Robert Watson anchors the rhythm section on bass. Bobby Gaviola, original drummer for Latin Rock group Sapo and protege of Tony Williams and Dave Garabaldi kicks the skins. Robert Reason, producer and former member of the band ConFunkShun aptly handles the keyboards.

In the early years Rich Steward shared his music knowledge with Paul who fast-tracked into an explosive, multi-intrumentalist. Rich plays rhythm guitar and sings background vocals and Paul plays lead guitar, keys, alto sax, harmonica and sings all leads.

Seven of the tracks are written by Paul Steward. The band also covers selections by Alicia Keys, Fats Domino, Magic Sam and Willie Dixon. Their rendition of Harry Dixon Loes children’s Gospel song, “This Little Light Of Mine,” is also included.

Standout tracks include # 10 “Wait So Long,” a slow driving, hook laden ditty with shades of B.B. King guitar and Bobby “Blue” Bland vocal inflections. #12 “These Blues Is Killing Me” with it’s Jr. Walker flavor showcases Paul’s laid back alto sax chops juxtaposed against his staccato guitar solo. Thumbs up as well to #4, their cover of Fats Domino’s “I’m Ready” which stays true to the 50’s feel Rock & Roll vibe including a tad of reverb on the vocal. Track #5 “Dance With Me,” lays a jazzy R&B groove also hearkening back to when records were king.

Twice As Good has good karma going. They work frequently. As Blues Blast goes to press, they have 7 gigs remaining in January. They have played all over including Clarksdale, Mississippi. That gig happened on a tip from the Blues icon Charlie Musselwhite who told them in a personal message after their set, “We were knocked out at how good you all sounded…good real deal blues.”

With another solid album under their belt, their ascent continues.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 11 

Chad Strentz – Shake – Down

Tree House 44 Limited Records

15 tracks / 59:07

Chad Strentz is one of the hardest working frontmen in the British blues scene, and you may be familiar with his work with Paul Lamb and the King Snakes, who has earned numerous British Blues Awards, including UK’s Best Blues Band. He has music deep down in his soul, having started playing guitar and singing in his early teens while taking inspiration from all the right artists: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Big Boy Crudup, and Bo Diddley, to name just a few. After gaining a firm foundation in rockabilly, he dove deep into the blues that he practices each day, both with the King Snakes and his own band, the Chad-illacs.

After decades of touring and recording, it is amazing that Chad had not cut a disc of his own before now. Shake-Down is Strentz’s debut album, and it was recorded in only three days at drummer/producer Mike Thorne’s Rimshot Studios in the English countryside. Chad and Mike were joined by a group of excellent musicians from all over Europe, including Jim Leverton on electric bass, Pete Pritchard on double bass, Christian Rannenberg on piano, and Raphael Wressnig on the Hammond C-3. Jimmy Reiter and Kai Strauss shared electric guitar duties and British acoustic blues guitar giant Danny Kyle sat in on this session as well, which is a real treat!

This disc clicks in at just under an hour, and it includes 15 tracks that are made up of eight Strentz-penned originals and seven really cool covers from some of the artists that have inspired him. Listening to his own songs, it is obvious that Chad is not just a gifted singer, but also a very talented songwriter that has a good feel for American music. The title track kicks things off with up-tempo 1960s soul that has plenty of organ and razor-sharp vocals from Strentz, and this sets the tone for the rest of the album.

After this first song, it is apparent that Shake-Down has a raw and vibrant feel, which is intentional as it was decided to record it live with few (if any) overdubs, and with only tube amplifiers and analog recording equipment. Strentz wanted to honor the music he listened to as a youth by recreating its sound and vibe as genuinely as possible, and it all came together beautifully.

This tribute continues over to his choice of cover songs, as well. These include Ray Charles’ “Hard Times,” “Hey Porter” from Johnny Cash, and the jazz standard “Paper Moon,” complete with boogie-woogie piano and a healthy dose of carnival organ laid over the top of it. On the more obscure side of things are Cowboy Jack Clements’ “It’ll Be Me” and Clarence Carter’s “Someone You Use,” which you may remember from Vonda Shepard’s Ally McBeal soundtrack recording. But the strongest of these is the most pared down: a gorgeous remake of the Miracles’ “Tracks of my Tears.” Chad does an admirable job of living up to Smokey Robinson’s original lyrical style, accompanied solely by Kyle’s subtle acoustic picking.

But Strentz’s originals should not be discounted, as they take the listener on an interesting journey through different American music genres. He throws out a couple of serious shuffles, “Don’t Get Me Wrong” and Street Shuffle,” as well as a little boogie on “Gone for Good” that features killer piano work from Christian Rannenberg. Things really shine when Chad focuses on his influences, such as the rockabilly of “Cardboard Street,” or when he channels his inner Johnny Cash for “So Much Time.”

The set ends with a favorite, “Always on My Mind,” one of the most-covered songs ever (and rightfully so). Though Willie Nelson did a bang-up job with it, the Elvis Presley version defines this song and that is exactly where Chad went with it. The highlight is when Wressnig lays down a sweet Hammond organ break that fits perfectly with the emotional timbre in Strentz’s voice. Please note that if you are patient, after this song ends there is a killer hidden vocal/acoustic howling blues song that should not be missed.

Shake-Down from Chad Strentz is a winner, with 15 solid tracks that are an enjoyable mixtures of blues, soul, and the foundations of rock and roll. His decades of performing and recording have taught him how to do things right in the studio, and it is apparent in this release. Check out a copy for yourself, and see if you agree!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 11 

Chris Duarte Group – Lucky 13

Blues Bureau International BB2092-2

14 songs – 1 hour 18 minutes

Chris Duarte delivers a strong dose of pyrotechnics in this collection of 14 original tunes. This is his seventh CD on the Shrapnel Records/Blues Bureau International imprint, home of several crossover guitar masters, including Leslie West, Rick Derringer, Eric Gales and Pat Travers, and, not coincidentally, the 13th in his extensive catalog. It features a heavy dose of blues with the same strong, searing psychedelic, rock and jazz overtones that fans have come to love since he emerged from San Antonio, Texas, moved to Austin in the mid-‘90s and ascended to prominence following the death of Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Recorded at Count’s Desert Moon Studios in Las Vegas, Duarte delivers all the material here in his normal power trio alignment, aided by John McKnight and Kevin Vecchione on drums and bass. Buckle your seatbelts for the deluge of riffs that begin with “You Know You’re Wrong.” The song is delivered from the point of view of a man whose woman is gone for good. It begins mildly enough with a blues jam feel, but quickly erupts into a solid six-minute flurry of six-string magic complete with a strong Jimi Hendrix feel. It includes a rapid-fire run of single notes that will have many less skilled guitarists shaking their heads in disbelief.

The rocker “Angry Man” leads into “Crazy For Your Love.” The pace slows and the riffs become less frenetic as Duarte yearns for the love of a woman in this loping, Texas-flavored blues. The sound changes dramatically for “Who Loves You,” delivered with a Texas-meets-California feel established by T-Bone Walker and Gatemouth Brown. Duarte’s fretwork here is the closest you’ll hear to old school, and it definitely rocks in the best possible way. “Here I Come” is a bluesy pop song in which Chris playfully makes fun of his looks, but insists there’s “No stop-stop-stoppin’ me, ‘cause here I come.”

Fans of extended burning slow blues will be particularly interested in “Let It Go,” a nine-minute showcase of Duarte’s ability to deliver sweet, sensitive runs amidst the fury of fretwork on previous tunes. In this one, he urges an ex-lover to release him, stating that he can’t make it in life while she still “owns the keys to me.” Rock blues dominates “Man Up” before the rhythm section lays down a solid rhythm pattern and Chris jams out “Not Chasing It” with Frank Zappa overtones.

Layered atop a hard, funky beat, “Weak Wheels” sings the praises of the legendary muscle car, the Shelby Cobra, before Duarte returns to his Texas roots with “Ain’t Gonna Hurt No More.” The three-tune “Meus Via Vita Suite” – “Let’s Go For A Ride,” “Minefield Of My Mind” and “Setting Sun” – is a progressive rock-blues opus that goes from pop to progressive to ballad format, harboring back to music of the psychedelic era, before Chris adapts John Coltrane themes for the concluding blues shuffle instrumental, “Jump The Trane.”

Always interesting, never boring. It’s blues. It’s rock. It’s something else altogether. But it’s solid throughout. Duarte doesn’t disappoint as he continues to redefine the power blues trio idiom.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 11 

Erin Harpe & The Delta Swingers – Love Whip Blues

Vizztone Records 2014

10 tracks; 44 minutes.

This is the debut CD from Erin and her band who formed in 2010 and competed in the IBCs in 2011. The Boston-based band comprises Erin Harpe on vocals and guitar, Jim Countryman on bass, Bob Nisi on drums and background vocals and (despite Erin’s surname) Richard Rosenblatt on harmonica. Richard was, of course, the MD of Tone-Cool Records and is now President of Vizztone. Erin is the daughter of a bluesman, Neil Harpe from Maryland and began her career working in an acoustic setting with her Dad.

This album was initially recorded in Boston and then post-produced, mixed and mastered by ace studio man Dave Gross in New Jersey. Dave added guitar, piano, bass, mandolin, Wurlitzer and percussion as required and brought in Bob Margolin and Sonny Jim Clifford to play slide on a total of three tracks. The outcome is an impressive debut which mixes five originals with some pre-war blues in a seamless manner.

The opening track “Delta Swing” is an upbeat country blues with some nice acoustic guitar and harp up front and some shimmering electric guitar (presumably Dave Gross) in the background. Title track “Love Whip” has a suggestive element in the lyrics as Erin tells us that “When I crack that whip you never hurt so good”. Richard’s harp again features and the jungle drums add a different feel to this one.

The band covers a number of little known pre-war artists. Willie Brown played with Son House and Charlie Patton but disappeared from the music scene in the 1940’s, passing away before the blues revival in the 60’s. Willie must be an influence as the band covers two of his songs and another that he recorded. One of the rarest records in history is Willie’s “The M&O Blues/Future Blues” (only three copies are known to exist) and the band covers both of those songs on this album.

“Future Blues” was the title track of an album by Canned Heat and the band does a solid version of the tune here, the Delta feel being accentuated by Sonny Jim’s slide. “The M&O Blues” (Lucille Bogan) is a slow country blues that opens with Erin’s acoustic guitar and Bob Margolin on slide alongside the harp. Willie also wrote “Mississippi Blues” and the band adapts it under the title “Charles River Delta Blues”. The lyrics of this one refer to ‘white lightning and gambling’ which don’t sound much like Boston! Richard blows some nice harp over some strong riffing from Erin.

Another obscure pre-war artist is Luke Jordan whose 1927 recording of “Pick Poor Robin Clean” came from one of only three recording sessions. Erin’s version is authentic country blues with acoustic guitar and harp and gentle accompaniment, Bob using brushes and Jim taking a short solo. In a similar vein “One Way Man” is adapted from another pre-war artist, this one being a version of Virginian country bluesman William Moore’s “One Way Gal”.

The remaining three tracks vary the styles, but in different ways. The lyrically rather strange “Virtual Booty Machine” sets a fast pace with some fine acoustic picking and Richard’s harp again to the fore. “Good Luck Baby” is quite dissimilar to the rest of the album, far more of a pop/soul approach as Erin sings of a departed lover: “Good luck baby, I hope it don’t go to hell”. Richard’s restrained and emotional harp is beautifully poised against the soulful guitar settings and this one is a winner, perhaps indicating a direction that the band might follow on a future release.

John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” is frequently covered, especially by female vocalists, but the band take the tune for an outing to the country on the closing track of the album. The sparse arrangement of the first verse allows us to hear the quality of Erin’s vocals before the band joins in full tilt with some gentle slide embellishments from Sonny Jim and more fine harp from Richard.

This is an enjoyable debut CD from a band that clearly honours the past of the music yet can also create its own material to go alongside the covers. Anyone who enjoys country blues and danceable tunes should like this one a lot.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 11 

Jimmy Thackery – Extra Jimmies

Blind Pig Records 2014

13 tracks; 62 minutes.

Jimmy Thackery certainly needs no introduction to readers of Blues Blast! During his time on Blind Pig he produced seven albums, three of which are now out of print. The tracks here are all culled from those three albums and the set therefore makes a good companion to the previous compilation of his BP material, “The Essential Jimmy Thackery” (2006). The albums involved here are “Empty Arms Motel” (1992 – 4 tracks), the live “Wild Night Out!” (1995 – 4 tracks) and “Switching Gears” (1998 – five tracks). Jimmy is a constant on guitar and vocals, as is Mark Stutso on drums who also sings lead on two tracks from the live album. Bass on the two earlier CDs is Wayne Burdette and on “Switching Gears” Michael Patrick replaces Wayne and Al Gamble adds keys. Chubby Carrier plays accordion, Zack Patterson rhythm guitar and Reba Russell background vocals on one track each.

From 1992’s “Empty Arms Motel” we get four covers that show some of Jimmy’s influences: Lowell Fulson’s “Honey Hush” is played pretty straight with a good vocal from Jimmy, “Lickin’ Gravy (George ‘Wild Child’ Butler) is a lengthy slow blues with plenty of guitar bends and some suggestive lyrics and “Rude Mood” allows Jimmy to revisit his affection for SRV’s guitar style with a frenetic rhythm and plenty of Texas twang on the guitar. The fourth selection is “Love To Ride” by Keith Sykes which has a great chugging riff at its centre which suits Jimmy well and is one of the standout tracks here.

“Wild Night Out!” caught Jimmy in his natural habitat on stage and combined material from his recent albums on Blind Pig with some classic blues. The four cuts we get are a driving version of BB King’s “You Upset Me Baby” on which Mark Stutso sings lead, as he also does on “Flyin’ Low”, another song by Keith Sykes, this time in collaboration with Swain Schaefer. Jimmy’s insistent riff carries the tune along as Mark sings of troubles encountered while having a quiet drink in a bar. The other two selections are the title cuts from two of Jimmy’s albums, “Trouble Man” and “Empty Arms Motel”, both Jimmy’s compositions. “Trouble Man” is classic Jimmy with its immediately catchy riff and screaming guitar; “Empty Arms Motel” is more upbeat in rhythm but not in subject matter: “At the Empty Arms Motel you can get the blues for free.” The tune works round Jimmy’s core riff with Zack Patterson’s second guitar adding some nice embellishments before Jimmy cuts loose in his solo.

“Switching Gears” saw a wider palette of sounds from Jimmy with added keys; later albums would see Jimmy Carpenter’s sax added too. Another change is that all five selections from “Switching Gears” are originals and two strong cuts from this album bookend the CD. “Write If You Find Love” is a good choice for the opener with the B-3 providing warm support for Jimmy’s convincing vocal and superb solo; “Monkey” closes the CD with an exciting rocker which owes much to Chuck Berry; the track is so hot that it is hard to believe that it is a studio recording! “I Got To Be Strong” finds the band cooking up a rhumba rhythm with some fine piano and guitar fills between lyrics. Chubby Carrier’s accordion brings the sounds of the bayou to “Take Me With You When You Go” as Mark sets the mood with his New Orleans style drums. “I Wouldn’t Change A Thing” is a heartfelt and dramatic ballad with an emotional guitar solo that builds well to a great climax.

As there are no new tracks here long-time fans of Jimmy will not need to investigate this release but for anyone who started off with “The Essential” this makes a good addition to their Blind Pig era JT collection.

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 – 7 of 11 

Various Artists – Midnight Steppers

Fantastic Voyage – 2013

CD1: 23 tracks; 68 minutes: CD2: 23 tracks; 69 minutes: CD3: 24 tracks; 70 minutes

This extraordinary triple CD set follows on from two earlier releases from the same label which features guitarists (“Screaming And Crying”) and harmonica (“Wailing The Blues”). These three CDs cover just about every pianist of note in the blues world from the 30’s to the 50’s and also some obscure artists that most blues listeners will not have heard before. All credit to the UK label Fantastic Voyage for the work they have put into this series of discs.

The music on these discs is separated by categories though most of the music was recorded between 1935 and the mid-1950’s. CD1 is subtitled ‘Bluebird Beat’ as much of the material originally appeared on Victor’s Bluebird label; CD2 is ‘The Boogie Woogie Trio Plus’ with many exponents of that particular style; CD3 is ‘Post-War Piano’.

‘Bluebird Beat’ includes the source of the title of the whole set in “Midnight Steppers” which is actually a Big Bill Broonzy tune with piano by Josh Altheimer (one of those less well-known pianists, at least to this reviewer), a really catchy Big Bill number. More famous pianists and more famous songs appear: Big Maceo performs the original of “Worried Life Blues”, later covered by many blues artists including Eric Clapton, as well as the wonderful instrumental “Chicago Breakdown”; Champion Jack Dupree gives us “Junker Blues”; Memphis Slim plays “Grinder Man Blues”; Curtis Jones’ “Tin Pan Alley” is the original of a tune later played by SRV. Roosevelt Sykes (The Honey Dripper) was possibly the best known of the pianists of this era and he is represented by five cuts including the classic “44 Blues”. Walter Davis appears three times and readers may forgive a liking for “Tears Came Rolling Down”, recorded in St Louis on the exact date of birth of this reviewer!

CD2 opens with what is probably the all-time classic of the boogie woogie style and the earliest track on this collection, Meade Lux Lewis’ “Honky Tonk Train Blues”. An influence on many pianists (even Keith Emerson of ELP did a cover of this tune), Meade played solo and in a trio with fellow boogie pianists Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson. In fact these three pianists dominate the set with 13 tracks featuring one or more of them on CD2. Also weighing in are Jimmy Yancey, Montana Taylor and Cripple Clarence Lofton. Many people will think that “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie” was Pinetop Perkins’ tune but in fact it was written and recorded in 1928 by Clarence Smith, so the version here is also a cover! Towards the end of this disc Albert Ammons gives us covers of two well-known popular songs in “Roses Of Picardy” and Gershwin’s “Lady Be Good”, albeit done up in typical Ammons style, probably demonstrating the decline in public interest in pure boogie woogie.

CD3 is all post-war and includes both the largest number of names familiar to blues listeners as well as some of the most obscure too! Muddy Waters appears doing “Young Fashioned Ways” at Chess studios with Otis Spann at the piano; a 1955 Chess session finds Howling Wolf singing “I Have A Little Girl” with Henry Gray (still performing today) at his side; Robert Lockwood Junior is heard in 1951 covering Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom” with Sunnyland Slim at the piano; Amos Milburn’s “Chicken Shack Boogie” features some great, cool sax playing in a 1947 LA session and the 1952 original of Eddie Boyd’s classic “Five Long Years” also features. It is always a pleasure to hear such great artists and tunes but equally fascinating to discover some less well-known names such as Bob Gaddy, Dr Hepcat, Thunder Smith, Lonnie Lyons and Leroy Ervin, all of whom were discoveries for this reviewer. Little Willie Littlefield was only 16 when he recorded “Little Willie’s Boogie”, a tune that would have fitted into CD2 with equal facility; he recorded for many years, passing away only in 2013. Otis Spann, Muddy’s pianist for many years, died far too young and was not heard on his own until 1960; his “Otis In The Dark” is the final cut on the collection and the only track to creep into the 1960’s, recorded 23 August 1960.

This excellent collection contains something for all blues lovers and is well worth investigating, both to hear all the fine music and to learn about some of the lesser known players here from the very informative sleeve notes written by Mike Rowe.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 11 

Jordan Officer – I’m Free


10 songs – 44 minutes

I’m Free is a highly enjoyable release from Montreal-based singer-guitarist-songwriter, Jordan Officer. The first song, “At Least I’ve Got The Blues”, aptly foreshadows the contents of the album, as Jordan talks over the walking bass and minor key chords, telling the listener: “Hi, my name is Jordan Officer. I’m 36 years old and I have two kids: a boy and a girl. I’m from Montreal but I’m in New York right now. We’re all trying not to drive each other too crazy while I make this record. I love and have played many styles of music: jazz, country, rock and roll. But these days, I’m back to my original style. My first love. The blues.” Subtly, the spoken voice transforms into song, and what sounded at first like a stuttering rhythmic backing slips almost unnoticed into a shuffling, swinging groove.

Officer spent six months in New York having received a grant from the Conseil des arts et des letters du Quebec and the result is I’m Free: eight self-penned tracks and two covers of jazz-inflected blues, played with energy, passion, originality and intelligence.

The two well-chosen covers are the classic “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” and a magnificent reading of the Western movie theme, “Hang ‘Em High”, in particular when Officer lays down some dirty, single-note blues playing on the fade-out. The original songs touch on various blues styles and there are great moments in nearly every song. “A Night Of Fun” is a dancing, calypso blues; “When We Were Just Two” features a Bo Diddley beat with heavily tremoloed guitar; and the upbeat, swinging “Two Will Do” reflects Officer’s jazz background. The latter two songs, together with “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”, were recorded with just guitar and drums as backing instrumentation, no bass, which adds an almost “live” feel to the recordings.

One of the highlights of the album is “I’m All Alone”, a relatively simple 12-bar blues that borrows the riff from the Surfaris’ “Wipe Out”, but the band captures an irresistible toe-tapping groove from the first note, and the riff is given an elastic inevitability by Officer.

Officer is a superb guitar player, with his own style and a warm full-bodied tone. His playing throughout is exemplary, but is particularly impressive on the slow blues of the title track, perfectly matching his voice as he sings “I’m free, free, baby. I’m free as any man can be. But if you know what’s good for you, honey, you might not want to mess with me.” His jazz-tinged playing at times suggests hints of the likes of T-Bone Walker or Ronnie Earl, but his sound is very much his own, especially when he slowly bends a single note over several bars. His solo on this track is an outstanding example of restraint and taste and the song is one of the stand-out blues recordings of 2014.

The backing musicians on I’m Free fit Officer’s musical vision perfectly. The contributions of drummers Charley Drayton (Keith Richards, Johnny Cash, Herbie Hancock) and Tony Mason (Joan Osborne, Martha Wainwright, Bo Diddley) are especially important, adding grit and innovative rhythmic drive to the bass of Andy Hess and Jeff Hill.

Overall, I’m Free is a very impressive, guitar-led, contemporary electric blues album from a distinctive talent that deserves wider recognition. Highly recommended.

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 – 9 of 11 

Sean Costello – In The Magic Shop

VizzTone Label Group

12 tracks/46 minutes

April 15th is not a great day. Oh, yes, Income Taxes are due then but that is not why I note the date. It is the day that a young and bright star of the blues left us. Sean Costello was on the eve of his 29th birthday when an accidental overdose took him from his family and us only a week after beginning an alcohol addiction program and being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Enveloped in depression, he had difficulty sleeping and told a friend he was taking something to help him sleep that fateful night. A shy and unassuming soul, Sean was also a premier blues guitar player, singer and songwriter. His family keeps his memory alive through the Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bi-Polar Research and we can remember him through his music. This CD, recorded in Fall of 2005 and finally mixed this past Spring at the Magic Shop in New York City, was produced by Steve Rosenthal, engineered by Will Berlind and mastered by Jessica Thompson. It is sold as a fund raiser for Sean’s fund which is cause enough to buy one (as I did). But even more so, it is a superb CD worth adding to any blues lovers’ collection.

Costello begins with a soulful BB King tune- “It’s My Own Fault.” The stark guitar sound is sad and lonely. The band fills in thoughtfully as Costello bears his blues soul on his fret board. This is an instrumental for over three and a half minutes before Sean begins signing; it is masterfully done and is worth the price of the CD alone. Costello grits out the vocal lines in the last minute and then closes out the beginning of a great CD. His own “Can’t Let Go” follows. Brian Jackson adds Wurlitzer and synthesizer and backing vocals were added to fill out the funky tune as Costello growls out the lead. A bouncy guitar line and beat complement each other as Sean sings of the love he can’t let go of. “Hard Luck Woman,” another original, follows. Costello’s guitar and Linden’s harp grind it out for us in this danceable and catchy cut. He takes it down a notch as Costello goes acoustic in a very Elvis style and Costello tells his lover to “Trust in Me.” Beautifully done! An old tune first recorded by Mildred Bailey in 1937, it was a small B-side hit for Eddie Fisher and then Louis Jordan (both in 1951) and then was revived by Etta James in 1961. This is a fantastic version!

“Feel Like I Ain’t Got A Home” is an original where Costello lays it out on this this song made for driving with the top down and playing music loud. The music must be this song- I could blast this out and enjoy it any day while driving around! Fenton Robinson’s “You Don’t Know What Love Is” is next with some deep blues and then Bobby Womack’s “Check It Out” follows that, a soul-filled and soulful number where Costello shows us more of what he’s made of. What fine covers! He then stays soulful with “I Went Wrong,” an original blues with stinging guitar and a great set of lyrics.

Rod Stewart? Why not? “You Wear It Well” adds Jim Zhivago on the 12-string National and Costello and the band gut out a really nice bluesy rendition. “Told Me A Lie” is some breathy and tasty slow blues while “Make A Move” is a bit funky. Both originals, they show Costello’s diversity as a song writer and performer. He closes with “Fool’s Paradise,” the Johnny Fuller song. The lyrics are now almost eerie, with Costello hauntingly singing and playing. I can say it no better than the song itself. He sings:

I often think of the life I’ve led

And oh, it’s a wonder, I ain’t dead

Drinking and gambling, staying out all night

Living is a fool’s paradise

My mother told me and my father told me too

Said my child, it’s all catch up with you

Drinking and gambling, staying out all night

Living in a fool’s paradise

Though I’ve learned my lesson

Like all fools I’ve met

Oh, I’ve learned things in this life

That I haven’t forgotten yet

My father told me, my mother said it right

Said my son, you’re ruining your life

Drinking and gambling, staying out all night

Living in a fool’s paradise

Oh yeah, living in a fool’s paradise

Joining Costello on this recording are Paul Linden on B3, harp and keys, Melvin Zachery on bass and Ray Hangen on drums. A few others perform here and there, too, but the foursome of Costello and these three comprise the main band. It took Rosenthal six years to get the gumption up to play these recordings again and then by Summer 2014 he had recompiled and re-created this masterful recording. Half new and half fine covers, this album gives us but a glimpse of what we’ve missed with the loss of this fine musician. Please add this recording to your collection. You will be glad you did and it also helps fund bi-polar research which hopefully will prevent this disease from consuming more fine humans like Sean.

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 – 10 of 11 

Mike Stern and Eric Johnson – Eclectic

Concord Music Group

12 tracks / 72:22

Two powerhouse guitarists, Mike Stern and Eric Johnson, first got together when Mike asked Eric to play a few tracks on a recording project, which led to a performance together at the Blue Note in New York City. They had such a good chemistry on this show that they could not just go their separate ways, so they recently completed a neat cooperative effort, Eclectic.

Mike Stern is a top shelf jazz guitarist and Berklee graduate who has released 16 of his own albums, six of which were nominated for Grammy Awards. His big break was in 1976 with Blood, Sweat & Tears, and since then his career in the various genres has been nothing short of impressive. He has performed and recorded with an amazing cadre of artists, including Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, David Sanborn, the Brecker brothers, and Bela Fleck. The list goes on and on, bit you get the point.

Eric Johnson provides the rock half of the equation, and his curriculum vitae is no less solid, with a Grammy Award and five nominations of his own. Eric took up the guitar at the age of eleven (as Beatlemania took hold of the US) and in just a few years he jammed with Johnny Winter who later remarked, “When I heard Eric, he was only 16, and I remember wishing that I could have played like that at that age.” After a four-year stint with Austin, Texas’ seminal fusion band, the Electromagnets, he went on to cut ten of his own albums. Along the way he garnered the respect of big name guitarists such as B.B. King, Billy Gibbons, and Steve Morse, and had the opportunity to tour with his fellow guitar gods Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.

Eclectic was recorded in just 3 days at Johnson’s Austin, Texas studio, with few overdubs and a decidedly live feel. It clocks in at well over an hour and serves up eleven original tracks and one kicking cover. Stern and Johnson handle the guitars (obviously) and they are joined by the rock solid backline of Anton Fig on drums (late night with David Letterman’s World’s Most Dangerous Band) and Chris Maresh, Johnson’s regular bassist. A few key guests contributed as well, and their disparate backgrounds ensure that Eclectic is not just a clever name.

Austin’s pre-eminent soul man, Malford Milligan, helps kick things off with his growly vocals on “Roll with It.” His chops are a good match for the intricate guitar work on this funk rock piece, and the backline delivers a rock steady beat without being too flashy. After this things get jazzy with “Remember,” a six-minute fusion instrumental piece that might not be terribly radio-friendly, but it is super-listenable and features a killer bass groove from Maresh, who has no trouble keeping up with Johnson and Stern.

The instrumental “Benny Man’s Blues” is a tribute to Benny Goodman, and though it has the word “blues” in the title it defies categorization. There is a blues backbone, but it is layered with distorted bluesgrass picking, jazz rhythm guitar / bass, and knockout rockabilly drumming. Things calm down a bit for “Wishing Well” which is peaceful despite its fast tempo. This is surely helped along by the sweet vocal stylings of Grammy winner Christopher Cross, Johnson’s longtime friend and fellow Texan.

Maresh’s “Bigfoot” benefits from a world music intro that features Mike’s wife, Leni Stern, on vocals and n’goni. After 90 seconds of her lovely melodies, things go all experimental electric jazz, and it is hard to believe that the band was able to put songs this complex together in just a few days and still have them sound good.

Eric is not known for being a jazz guitarist, but one of his big inspirations is Wes Montgomery, and “Tidal” is a tribute to him. He also does not forget his own musical past, as he placed an Electromagnets song, “Dry Ice,” into the mix. This high-energy fusion instrumental exercise sounds huge, and Fig’s driving snare and kick drum propel this thing into overdrive for almost seven minutes.

In keeping with the eclectic theme the horn section of saxophonist John Mills, trombonist Mike Mordecai and trumpeter Andrew Johnson join in on “Hullabaloo,” the most poppy and accessible track on the disc.

The album finishes up with a fresh take on Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House” with Stern and Johnson switching off on the vocals, and it turns out that they can both sing well too. Jimi inspired these guys, and their talent makes sure it is a fitting tribute. For good measure Guy Forsythe kicks in some tasteful harmonica work, which add a new element to this blues-rock classic.

Mike Stern and Eric Johnson’s Eclectic is a spontaneous collection of very good songs that were recorded by two of the best axe men in the business. If you love guitar music with no boundaries, this is the album for you. Hopefully their collaboration will continue after this project and we will get to hear more from this dynamic duo!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 11 of 11 

EG Kight – A New Day

Blue South Records-2014

10 Tracks-39:04

Originally from Georgia, EG Kight is recognized as a versatile vocalist and guitarist whose roots are gospel, blues, jazz, & pop. In 2013 EG won the Georgia Music Legend award; consequently, she has had six Blues Music Award nominations as well as two Blues Blast nominations. Kight has also had two Grammy nominated albums and songs that maintained Billboard chart positions for over a year. She has traveled and performed around the world including Japan, Germany, and Mexico for fundraising activities.

EG battled meningitis & encephalitis (life threatening illnesses) a few years back, which helped her to write in a more “from the heart” perspective. Her latest release, “A New Day”, has ten originally composed tracks highlighting some of that uplifting tone. The CD is co-produced by Paul Hornsby who has worked with the likes of Marshall Tucker and Charlie Daniels. Other guests on the disc include Greg Nagy, Tommy Talton, and Randall Bramblett. Several tracks on the new album spotlight the artists’ new zest for life and gratitude.

The opening song, “Hold On”, is a song of carrying on against all odds. Life is short and you have to give it all you got. She sings of having another day to live, the sun warming her, and the some days are good and some are bad life story. “Coming Down With the Blues” is a feel it in your gut slow blues ensemble with crafty guitar work. Lack of sleep, an empty quiet home, and the longing for a touch of another is the blues. “Bad Times” features fantastic piano work and vocals that talk of reflecting the good and bad of a love relationship. Greg Nagy (a talented artist in his own right) is featured as a vocal artist on this tune and that helps power the sultry, romantic wording of the track.

Future endeavors for EG Kight include promoting her current work and touring. Touring arrangement is flexible as it is done with a band, as a solo artist, or as a duo. By all rights, life seems to be healthy and prosperous for Kight these days. Along with music, she enjoys being on her farm in the country with her animals as album cover work dictates. She also enjoys photography and is currently working on a portfolio.

Shannon Courto has been a Blues enthusiast since 1999. Her favorite types include delta Blues, Chicago Blues & jump/swing. She is lucky to live in St. Louis, Missouri where the music is flourishing.

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Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

Central Iowa Blues Society announces The 21st Annual Winter Blues Fest, a two night event with The Iowa Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony January 30th & 31st, 2015 at the Downtown Marriott – 700 Grand Ave – Des Moines, IA

On Friday, January 30 the 2014 Iowa Blues Hall of Fame Inductions with host band Sumpin Doo begin at 7:30 PM, followed by Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials at 10:00 PM.

Then on Saturday we have 12 bands on 7 stages starting at 5:00 PM featuring Moreland & Arbuckle, The Bel Airs, Danielle Nicole Band, Kevin “B.F.” Burt, Joe and Vicki Price, Brian “Taz” Grant, Bob Pace and the Dangerous Band, Blues Challenge winning bands from IA, NE, MN, MO, Blues in the Schools performers, After Hours Jam and more.

Admission is $15 for Friday night, $20 for Saturday night or $32 for both. Special hotel room rates at the Downtown Marriott for this event are just $109 per night. For more information, complete line-up, tickets and discount lodging go to

River City Blues Society – Pekin, IL

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

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

The Great Northern Blues Society – Wausau, WI

The Great Northern Blues Society of Wausau, WI (GNBS) is Proud to announce the lineup for our 16th Annual Blues Café fundraiser to be held at the Historically Registered Rothschild Pavilion (near Wausau, WI) on 3/14/15.

The Lineup will include Left Wing Bourbon, Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders, Bobby Messano, The Chris O’Leary Band, and Samantha Fish. Doors open at noon, and Music will start at 1:00PM and continue non-stop until 11:00PM. Chairs, Food, and Cold Beverages will be available on-site. Special Hotel Rates available at the nearby Stoney Creek Inn utilizing the Code: “BLUES20”. Limited supply of rooms available so make your reservation now.

Please come, sit by the huge stone fireplace, with a beverage of choice in hand, and join us for 10 hours of non-stop glorious Blues Music on 3/14/15. Artist Biographies, directions, and Tickets are available on our Website at –

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for the Blue Monday live performances and jam sessions held every Monday night at The Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 8:00pm to midnight.  January 19 – The Groove Daddies, January 26 – The Greg Glick Blues Band, February 2 – Robert Sampson & Blues Junction, February 9 – Nigel Mack & the Blues Attack, February 16 – David Lumsden and Friends, February 23 – RJ Mischo

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

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

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



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