Issue 9-31 July 30, 2015


Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

  In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Chicago bassman extraordinaire, E. G. McDaniel. Marilyn Stringer has photos from the Blues From The Top Festival. We have 2 videos of the week and each of them feature an amazing Blues women. One is Danielle Nicole and the other is Joanna Connor. We have 11 music reviews for you including music by Lazer Lloyd, Bey Paule Band, Henry Townsend, Sonny Landreth, Levee Dwellers, Charlie Parr, Eric Noden Band, Billy Price and Otis Clay, The Texas Horns, David Corley and Voo Davis.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

It is your last chance to get discount early bird priced tickets to the 2015 Blues Blast Music Awards to see nominees Tad Robinson, Anthony Gomes Band, Chris O’Leary Band, Altered Five Blues Band, Reverend Raven And The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys, Ghost Town Blues Band, Andy T Nick Nixon Band, Magnus Berg, Bobby Messano, Slam Allen, Alexis P. Suter, John Ginty, Bob Corritore, The Duo Sonics, Fo Reel, Markey Blue Band, Big Dave McLain and Steve Dawson, Deb Ryder, Big Harp George, Eight ‘O Five Jive, Missy Andersen and Dan Phelps on September 25th at the Fluid Event Center in Champaign, IL. It is THE biggest Blues show of the season!

But you better act fast to get ’em because the early bird price of only $35 ends Friday July 31st. Prices go up to $40 on Saturday August 1st, so hurry. Get your tickets now at:

Also, our good friends at the Prairie Dog Blues Fest are throwing a great Blues party this weekend in Prairie du Chien Wisconsin. Friday night they feature Devon Allman, Davina & The Vagabonds, Larry McCray, Girls With Guitars and Owen Campbell. On Saturday they have Davey Knowles, Moreland & Arbuckle, Sugaray Rayford Band, Renee Austin, Danielle Nicole and Jimmy Nick & Don’t Tell Mama. For tickets and info visit their website at It is gonna be a great day and Blues Blast will be there too. Look for me in the Blues Blast Magazine T-shirt and be sure to say hello!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 11 

Lazer Lloyd – Lazer Lloyd

Lots of Love Records

12 tracks / 56:01

There are not exactly a ton of blues albums coming out of Israel, but fortunately for us one of the most talented artists around, Lazer Lloyd, is the country’s blues statesman. His new eponymous album is a departure from the tasty acoustic folk blues that he perfected on Lost on the Highway, and this blend of electric blues and rock is a winner!

Lazer Lloyd has taken quite a journey to get to this point in life. He was born in New York (his birth name is Eliezer Blumen), and he started playing the guitar when he was 15. After attending Skidmore College he drew the notice of producer Gary Tallent (from the E Street Band) and was ready to continue his music career in Nashville when another opportunity presented itself. After playing a gig with the late Ray Shlomo Carlebach (The Singing Rabbi), he decided to visit Israel and he figured out that was where his calling was. For the past 20 years he has been using that as his home base, and been busy gigging, recording, touring, and raising a family.

Lazer Lloyd is a powerful collection of twelve songs, with all but one being written by Lloyd. He is the frontman, harp guy, and guitarist, and he is joined by a seriously dangerous backline that features Moshe Davidson on bass, Elimelech Grundman on drums, and Kfir Tsairi on the keys. He co-produced the album with Yocheved Seidman and all of the tracks were cut at a studio in Tel Aviv.

Though Mr. Lloyd has a wonderfully strong voice and good harmonica chops, his most notable talent is his uncanny guitar feel and tone. He is a bit of a gear hound and is always searching for the perfect sound, but electronics are only the icing on the cake. Without his fingers channeling the mojo from his soul, it would not be possible to produce the killer tone that he achieves.

This disc is a journey through blues and rock, and all of the songs should please blues fans and guitar aficionados alike. If you like traditional blues, “Time to Love” is as close as you are going to get, though Lloyd does throw a few jazz chords into the mix. There is also a little country rock in “Rockin’ in the Holy Land,” which features some slick harmonica work from the man, as well as a little insight into how he ended up in Israel.

But this album is most populated by catchy blues-rock, including the opener “Burning Thunder,” the extra greasy “Out of Time,” and the poppy “Love Yourself.” The latter is ripe for airplay, and could certainly be a great opportunity for Lloyd to get some radio time in the states.

This is all good, but where Lazer Lloyd really shines is with “Set My Soul Free,” an awesome 1970s style psychedelic blues-rock song that is chock full of licks that would make Robin Trower jealous. This song has everything: smooth guitar virtuosity, fat bass from Davidson, and amazing drums courtesy of Grundman. In fact, the drums have a tremendous presence, and at times it sounds like a drum solo that just happens to have a song happening on top of it.

Then there are a couple of softer songs to round things out. Notably, there is an acoustic cover of “Dock of the Bay” that transforms it from Otis Redding’s easygoing melancholy tune into a stone cold bummer. The other is Lloyd’s testimony, “Whole Heart,” a soft blues-rock ballad that closes out the set with a touch of Hammond organ from Tsairi.

Though all of the songs are very good musically, his lyrics might be even more powerful. They are not terribly fancy, but they are heartfelt and most seem autobiographical. They are a portfolio of sadness, hope, love, and faith. There is a spiritual feel to much of it, but this is not a preachy or religious album – instead, the words come across as personal and heartfelt.

With his new disc, Lazer Lloyd shows once again that he has strong writing skills, a mature voice, and guitar skills that are hard to match. Each of the dozen tracks has a different feel and they are sequenced perfectly so that this is project is a complete picture. It would be a shame to cherrypick a few songs off this album, as they are all winners. So, do yourself a favor and buy the whole disc, not just a few tracks from your favorite online seller. Also, if you go to his website you will see that he is touring Israel and the United States extensively through the end of the year (including my home town!), so make of note when he is coming to your area so you can catch his live act. It will certainly be a worthy use of your time!

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

 Featured Blues Interview – E.G. McDaniel 

From Will Shade’s (Memphis Jug Band) washtub to Homesick James’ plank to Kyle Perry’s (Homemade Jamz Blues Band) Ford muffler version, the bass guitar has undergone numerous tweaks and changes in the world of blues music over the past 80 years or so.

But according to Chicago blues great Greg ‘E.G.’ McDaniel, it really doesn’t matter what the configuration is – or even how many strings the thing has – at the end of the day, a bass is just a bass.

“Under certain instances in the past, I’ve come under scrutiny from some people for playing a 5-string bass. I find it funny, because really and truly, if you want to play bass, a 4-string bass is three strings too many, because a washtub only had one,” McDaniel recently laughed. “I don’t see too many people playing 4-strings and complaining about the extra three strings, so I just marvel at that. But bass is just a frequency – it’s a foundation – it’s how low you need to get. If it’s done tastefully, it doesn’t matter how many strings you have. I mean, some guys on the circuit even play 6-string basses … but I can’t play a 6-string.”

Smart money says that should McDaniel ever decide he wanted to play a 6-string bass, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel for the gifted musician. A quick rundown of a few of the projects that he’s currently involved in – and who he’s involved in them with – says all that one needs to know about the talents of E.G. McDaniel.

“I’ve got several little projects going on and at the same time, I still play with Jimmy Burns. Sadly enough, Byther Smith is kind of retired, so I’m not really playing with him anymore,” he said. “But I’ve been helping friends out – I’ve been working with Matthew Skoller and working with Studebaker John and I’ve been playing bass with Mud Morganfield for six years and three albums, now. Of course I worked on Linsey Alexander’s newest material (Come Back Baby (Delmark Records)) and I just played on a track for my friend Dave Weld. And Jimmy’s (Burns) got a new one coming out, too. I’ve also worked on Eric Noden’s new album, along with Joe Filisko and Kenny Smith. So this has been a really productive year for me so far.”

As if he didn’t already have enough irons in the fire, McDaniel has also been busy playing with his trio, SonicSoul.

“It’s John Bruhnke on guitar and vocals, along with Kevin Johnston on drums and vocals and yours truly on bass and vocals,” McDaniel said. “We play at Buddy Guy’s all the time; he loves us. It’s a power-blues trio and we play everything from traditional to classic blues and Clapton and Hendrix.”

SonicSoul recently wrapped up recording sessions for an upcoming album.

The Urban Tumbleweeds – a duo comprised of Scott Neve and McDaniel – can also be found gigging around the Windy City.

McDaniel was recently a part of the Muddy Waters Centennial Tribute at the 32nd annual Chicago Blues Festival.

“It’s a very cool thing, because my dad would also be 100 years old. I understand how traditions go; I mean everybody only really thinks of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, but there were other people that were around before they were, of which my dad was one of them,” he said. “In my eyes, he (McDaniel’s dad) didn’t get the fame he deserved, because people would say that he was too bluesy for jazz and too jazzy for the blues. But my dad really was a catalyst in this city and I’d liken him to be pretty much like the T-Bone Walker of Chicago. Matter of fact – he knew T-Bone Walker well.”

McDaniel’s father was none other than Floyd ‘Butter’ (“Billie Holiday gave him that nickname,” he said. “Because he was smooth on chord changes and was impeccably dressed, as well.”) McDaniel, famed guitarist that worked with Fats Waller and was also in the Ink Spots and The Four Blazes. Floyd McDaniel passed away 20 years ago on July 22, 1995.

“My dad was to be on the cover of Living Blues Magazine, but unfortunately he passed away a day after his birthday, so they gave him the centerfold (of that month’s issue). He was only 80 years old for one day,” McDaniel said.

When McDaniel speaks of his father, it’s easy to understand the bond the two men shared.

“I miss my dad a great deal … I really do. My dad was my best friend – incredibly so. Our bond-ship was very, very deep. My dad also delivered me (when E.G. was born). We never had an argument and we never raised our voice at each other,” he said. “I’ve got a sister who’s 82-years-old and she can vouch for that. We never got spanked. We talked things out with our folks. My dad always said, ‘Hey, I don’t have to treat you like you’re a farm animal in a zoo. We don’t have to go there.’ He was just an awesome guy. And when it came to music, the thing I really loved about my dad was that he got it. He was the one that really opened up my eyes to hearing sounds and listening to what people were trying to play and what they were trying to do. That still carries over to this day.”

McDaniel’s parents met when Floyd was playing with Cab Calloway.

“My mother (Bessie Jackson) was a pianist, she was one of Marian McParland’sWomen of Jazz. So, I pretty much grew up with music,” he said.

In addition to having parents that were famous musicians, one of McDaniel’s cousins also ended up setting a trend or two in the world of rock-n-roll and roots-related music.

“Well, Bo Diddley – Ellas Otha Bates McDaniel – was my cousin. So my family all had their own things going. My folks were all active in my development (as a musician), for sure. I started playing early on,” he said. “It’s funny, but when I came into the Chicago blues as we know it, I really didn’t get my feet wet until around 1983. But I was basically Byther Smith’s bass player on and off through the years since I was 14.”

With the musical pedigree that has long run through the McDaniel family, it sure seems like young E.G. was almost pre-destined for a career of playing music. However, he says there were a few bumps in the road of the path that he ultimately chose to travel.

“Well, to be honest, there were moments where I actually had my doubts,” he laughed.

Long before he would become one of Chicago’s first-call bassists, McDaniel’s initial endeavors of the musical nature began with him bashing on the drums.

“I first started on drums and I had my cousin Terry Thompson teaching me how to play. But I switched over to bass because he was getting a little heavy-handed with me, and I was like, ‘Look, I don’t want to do this,’” McDaniel said. “But I loved the drums and I still do play them, but for the most part, bass was the new first love and I’ve never put it down since I was 6-years-old. And I had a lot of terrific bass players around me to pull from – guys that played with my dad. One of the first bass players I ever met was a friend of my dad’s – Bob Stroger. Bob is still one of my great mentors.”

McDaniel’s relationship with the great Byther Smith didn’t start out on the bandstand; rather, it started out on the front porch of Smith’s house.

“I was his paperboy – he lived in the neighborhood – and I saw him playing and that started it. Really, Byther was the one that is pretty much responsible for me getting to know a lot of the inner-people of the blues,” he said. “I don’t know if many people know this, but Byther Smith was the first bassist in the city to have an electric Fender bass. Unfortunately, he just sold it. It was a 1954 Fender P-bass. Byther was the bass player, with Buddy (Guy) the guitarist, Junior Wells on harp and Fred Bellow and S.P. Leary as drummers back then (that artists called upon).”

Leary was a close friend of the McDaniel family, as was Detroit Junior, who lived with Smith at the time.

“There was no shortage of people around to play with,” said McDaniel. “The list of people that I’ve had the pleasure of playing with is a long one. I’ve had the privilege of not only playing with the newer guys, but with the older cats, as well. Guys like Eddy ‘The Chief’ Clearwater and Carey Bell and Hubert Sumlin and Robert Junior Lockwood and Otis Rush – he lives down the street from me. And Magic Slim was a good friend.”

He would grow up and play with some of the most-accomplished bluesmen to ever hit Chicago, but back when he initially started spreading his musical wings, cats like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton were front and center in McDaniel’s musical universe.

“Someone asked me one time if my musical influences were guys like Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? When I was coming up and playing and was 10 or so, that was my grandparent’s music, man.’ And they didn’t want you around their records,” he laughed. “They played those records at their parties, where children were to be seen and not heard. But we were into our own music, which was not the stuff they listened to, which we thought of as old-fashioned. I was listening to everything from Frankie Avalon to Johnny Mathis and Brook Benton and Roberta Flack and on to The Yardbirds and Turtles and The Byrds. That was all in my face.”

His grandmother on his mother’s side lived on fabled Maxwell Street and even though he was not old enough to identify just who it was playing outside, young McDaniel did hear bits and pieces of the blues ever so often while visiting there.

“When the bands were out there, I would hear them bangin’ and clangin’ down the street, but I didn’t know who those people were, because I was just a kid,” he said. “I could have seen Muddy Waters then – could have. But those were grown-ups playing for grown-ups and us kids weren’t to go out there.”

Mud Morganfield’s Son of the Seventh Son (Severn Records) grabbed a whole host of awards when it hit the streets a couple of years ago and it immediately brought back memories of the hey-day of the Chicago blues, days when Mud’s father – Muddy Waters – was the king of the Chicago blues. According to McDaniel, the album was every bit as fun to play on is it is to listen to.

“It’s a wonderful experience to be involved with Mud, because Mud’s a good friend of mine. And of course, Kenny Smith is playing drums and he’s a good friend of mine, as well … but more importantly, I also used to play bass for Kenny’s dad (Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith),” he said. “So that’s a bond that we all share, our dad’s were all well-known musicians. It’s just so much fun to play with Mud. He’s well on his way and is really doing it. I admire him in so many ways. I can’t emulate my dad, because I don’t play guitar. I wished I did, but I don’t.”

McDaniel is just as at home with a big, ‘ole standup bass pinned up against his body as he is with a smaller electric one cradled under his arms.

“I just love bass. It’s all in the application. Everybody plays electric these days, so if I play standup with people that are playing loud, it’s not going to work. It’s just going to feed back. It’s hard to play an upright through that, with all the loud guitars,” he said. “It’s hard to manipulate a standup through all that electric power, but I love upright as much as I love the electric bass. And for the past few years, I’ve also been playing a B-flat tuba … and I’m getting better. One of these days if I can get enough money together, I’d love to be able to own a sousaphone. I just love bass … it’s the foundation for everything.”

That helps explain why, when it comes to listening to – or breaking down – music, McDaniel’s ears are immediately interested in what the lower frequencies are doing.

“I like rhythm sections. I’m not the keenest on guitar players, because my attitude is – while guitar players are great – they can’t do it without a bonafide rhythm section. Guitar players get all the credit, but it’s like, ‘Man, listen to the band that’s kickin’ behind them.’ No doubt, Albert Collins was awesome, but when he had Aron Burton playing behind him, Albert was allowed to do his thing,” McDaniel said. “And then you’ve got Johnny B. Gayden and Marty Bender – who are both friends of mine – and when they were playing behind him, he could stretch out even more. So rhythm sections are really important and I think they should get their just due. People don’t notice them because they’re so focused on the guitar. But at the same time, those people are stomping their feet and bopping their heads and breaking their necks and they don’t understand, but that’s the rhythm section doing that.”

Over the years, McDaniel has laid down the low end on more studio sessions and on more bandstands than the average person can shake a stick at. From Eddie Taylor, Jr., to Fruteland Jackson to Little Arthur Duncan to Jody Williams and everyone in between, McDaniel has played with them all. But no matter the situation – or the artist that he’s playing with – McDaniel’s mission remains the same each and every time out.

“Job number one is really focusing on the individual that I’m playing behind. If I can get in the mind of the person that I’m working with, I can pretty much give that person what they need. I’m not just up there to play whatever. I’m up there to play what the artist wants,” he said. “But I can’t do it alone. For example, in the Jimmy Burns Band, I play with two other great musicians that really go unsung. One is (guitarist) Anthony Palmer and the other is Bryant T. Parker. Bryant is a fantastic drummer that’s played with Mavis (Staples) and with Taj Mahal and Anthony’s played with Otis Rush and Joanna Connor and just a who’s-who of other great artists. He’s smokin’. I would really like to think that we’ve helped to propel Jimmy Burns to where he is today.”

McDaniel’s ‘Blues Godmother’ – Katherine Davis – was not only instrumental in introducing him to Jimmy Burns, she also helped McDaniel realize just how rich his musical legacy really was.

“She’s the only one of my dad’s friends – and I do mean the only one – to reach back after my dad died and say, ‘You guys really need to listen to this guy play.’ She’s opened up the doors to so many opportunities … I really owe her a debt of gratitude,” McDaniel said. “She’s looked after me close to 30 years now. She introduced me to so many people … just all these wonderful people.”

Robert Junior Lockwood was long known as a person that wanted things done his way and was never in the mood to put up with any gruff. But on the flip side of the coin, if you were in his inner-circle, he could be one of the kindest men around and McDaniel saw both sides while playing with the legend one evening at Eddy Clearwater’s Reservation Blues club.

“He (Lockwood) could really strike fear into the hearts of people. I’ll never forget this humbling experience. Two songs into his set, all these flashbulbs start going off and Robert Junior didn’t like that. He didn’t want to be exploited and have his picture taken and then sold and have his image marketed or whatever. In the old Indian culture, they didn’t want a photograph taken of them because they thought you were trying to steal their soul. Well, Robert Junior stops the music and yells for Leroy Brown – who was working the door – to lock the front door. He then told Leroy to get everybody’s cameras, or to get their film, because he didn’t want pictures taken of him,” McDaniel said. “Well, I was really nervous because in my bag, I had a picture that was taken at a blues festival of the two of us playing and I was going to have him sign it. After we finished the set, he was still hot under the collar about people snapping his picture. Well, I never ask for autographs, but I did want that picture signed as a memento, seeing how he was the son of Robert Johnson. So I asked him and he said, ‘Are you kidding me? You know me better that that. Give me the picture.’ So I did and he signed it and I freaked out. I said, ‘I know how you feel about autographs and people taking pictures.’ He said, ‘Yeah, but I know you. I don’t know them. I know you’re not going to sell this.’ That was very humbling and was a ‘wow’ moment for me. He was really a nice man.”

It was while hanging around and playing at the once-mighty Checkerboard Lounge when McDaniel received some essential advice from one half of the legendary Aces – bass player Dave Myers.

“He was a very discerning bass player. He’d always tell me, ‘Don’t you be like the rest of them … all that modern stuff … yuk,’” laughed McDaniel. “But you know, everybody has their era; that’s just inevitable. I mean, even now, we don’t play blues like they did in the ’20s and we we don’t play blues like they did in the ’30s, even though some of us would like to try to reenact those days.”

According to McDaniel, the way the Chicago blues sound in these days and times has as much to do with the social, political and economic climates of the 21st century as it does with anything else.

“Take it from a person who had a dad that came from those days (early days of modern Chicago blues); he was like, ‘Well, times were different (back then), presidents were different, money was different, Eco-systems were different, social systems were different, so you really can’t go back.’ You can try, but you just had to be there,” McDaniel said. “And I understand that. I think it’s great that people keep the traditions alive, but there comes a point in time where I believe there are a lot of musicians that have their own voice for the next coming of the blues and they shouldn’t be left alone just because people may think, ‘They’re not playing the blues.’”

No matter how they may be dissected, labeled – or even totally ignored – the blues of today are still the blues and that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon.

“The blues will always be here; it just has different values attached, due to everybody’s social and economic system. That’s what my dad said back then and that’s still the truth today,” McDaniel said. “This is just a different era. I don’t believe in pigeon-holing – I say, ‘Let people play.’ I remember as a kid playing in the ’60s and ’70s, it was all about doing your own thing. People didn’t care back in those days whether you were white or black. It didn’t matter; it was about doing your own thing, your own vibe, your own bag. That’s why they let Hendrix do his thing and just look at what he did. I don’t like the tags that sometimes go with the blues these days. For instance, if John Mayer does it, it’s great. But then say you have someone like Eric Davis – God rest his soul – doing it, then it’s like, ‘That’s not the blues.’ Well, Eric was playing the blues, John Mayer plays the blues … it’s all the blues … and it’s all good. Not everybody can play the same.”

And just what are the blues?

“The blues is always about somebody’s life history. Somebody’s telling you about their story; about their life,” McDaniel said. “Whether something happened with a woman they had, or like when Byther Smith talks about Housefire, which was about a real house fire he was in. To me, the blues speak about your life.”

Visit E.G.’s website at:

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

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

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 11 

Bey Paule Band – Not Goin’ Away

Blue Dot Records

12 tracks/51 minutes running time

Not Goin’ Away is a strong followup to the Bey/Paule band’s multi-nominated (BMA’s ,BBMA’s & Best of Living Blues) album effort of 2013 Soul For Your Blues.

From the biographical opening strains of Black Bottom to the final phrases of If I Could Reach Out, the Bey Paule Band continues their dazzling display of Soul Blues prowess with their 4rth collaborative offering, Not Goin’ Away. Frank Bey and Anthony Paule have marshalled a muscular convention of Bay Area first call musicians that instantly calls to mind the apex of the Stax Volt sound.

Oakland’s Own Tony “Macaroni” Lufrano conjures up shades of Booker T. on the Hammond B-3. He wrote one and co-wrote two other tunes on this project. He has worked stages with Taj Mahal, Steve Miller, Carla Thomas, Ernie K-Doe and many others including Booker T. himself.

Kickin’ the skins is San Francisco native Paul Revelli who spent five years as drummer for Joe Louis Walker & the Boss Talkers.

Monster tenor player Nancy Wright is one third of a murderous horn section that includes trombonist Mike Rinta and Tom Poole. This horn section sets further apart a band that’s already set apart by it’s one off rhythm section.

Bass veteran Paul Olguin is a much sought after bassist whose credits read like the history of West Coast session work, anchors the bottom end of the BeyPaule Band.

Standout tracks include; “Noel’s Haze,” an instrumental ode ( in the vein of Booker T’s Memphis Group) to executive producer Noel Hayes who actually brought Bey and Paule together in 2011. “Kiss Me Like You Mean It,” a catchy bounce of a tune co written by Paule and his wife Christine Vitale. The background vocals sound like they could’ve been the Chips or the Veltones from the early Stax years. Bey takes the song out with classic Otis Redding consonance/alliterative scatting, if you will (Ga ga ga gotta, you, you you!)

“Next To My Heart” kills from the gate with its Memphis Horns/Bar Kays opening horn lines. This is another Anthony Paule/Christine Vitale composition with a melody line similar to the obscure Atlantic 1964 single, “I Found A Love,” by Rockabilly turned R & B for a season, singers Jo Ann & Troy. For the record, two great yet dissimilar songs.

Essentially, one could make a case for every song on this disk being superlative. this product is a must have for the collector. It is engineered and co-produced by the great Kid Andersen of Rick Estrin & The Nightcats who plays slide guitar on “Nodbody’s Angel,” and second guitar on “If I Reach Out.” Backup vocals by Lisa Andersen, Loralee Christensen and Larry Batiste further augment this production

This group has unlimited potential. Their live stage shows are equally powerful. As the title suggests, they ain’t goin’ nowhere. This record smokes!

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

 Featured Festival Review – Blues From The Top Festival 

Blues From The Top Festival, held each year in Winter Park, CO, is presented by Grand Country Blues Society ( A portion of the proceeds goes to KBA Award winning Blue Star Connection: “Our mission is to provide access and ownership of musical instruments for children and young adults with cancer and other serious challenges. We also provide music therapy departments with instruments.” With that goal in mind, the festival is a family friendly festival in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, and deeply focuses on presenting music from all age groups, with a stage specifically dedicated to The Keeping The Blues Alive kids playing in between sets. And many of those kids have gone on to become headliners at the festival, have their own bands, and are an integral part of this festival.

Thursday night there is music at Hidaway Park, the home of the festival. The Keeping The Blues Alive Band (KBAB), created for this festival, featured many of the kids who play throughout the festival. The future of the blues is in good hands! John Catt, organizer of this festival, has been working with these kids for years, and this year he also brought in Hans Kristian Nordin, from Norway, who will be studying at Berkley this summer. The band also included Albert Castiglia and The Boogie Boys, brought back by popular demand, from Poland. (Opening photo).

FRIDAY NIGHT: John Catt believes that if the performers are in town the night before the festival, then it should begin that night. Therefore, Friday night, at Smokin’ Moe’s is the true beginning of the festival. The Pre-Fest Party included the opening band – Katy Guillen & The Girls, followed by the KBAB, and Chris Cain Band.

Kathy Guillen & The Girls, from Kansas City, include: Katy Guillen-guitar, Stephanie Williams-drums, and Claire Adams-Bass. The KBABB included: Sadie Johnson, Albert Castiglia, and Kris Schnebelen-drums.

Chris Cain took over with his band and brought up guests Albert Castiglia, Jim Pugh, Byron Cage, Lenny Bradford, and Kate Moss for a big jam.

SATURDAY: Saturday is an early morning start for the kids who also played the night before. But as tradition will have it, he starts out the festival with the Keeping The Blues Alive Band. After hearing them Thursday night, and then Friday night, I was really looking forward to seeing them again. Although they don’t play with each other throughout the year, they always come together at this festival, and each year they just keep getting more seasoned and tight. This year was no exception. Austin Young’s band provided the bass (Ales Goldberg) and drums (Forrest Raup), and they were joined by Sadie Johnson, who just got off a tour with Ruf Records “Girls With Guitars.” Michaela Rae Knox is the original blues kid at BFTT, starting 10 years ago. A nice addition was Zach Bahn on the marimbas. With the addition of Hans, the kids started off the festival with high standards.

Next up was Katy Guillen & The Girls from Kansas City. The band made the finals at the IBC’s in 2014 and just played the Joe Bonamassa cruise and are impressing audiences with their original songs and style.

Next was Kirk Fletcher with guest Reese Wynans. Kirk has been playing the blues for years, including The Mannish Boys and Fabulous Thunderbirds and just recently, the JB cruise. Pairing up great combos, John Catt added Rock & Roll HOF’er Reese Wynans to the set. And for all you Mighty Flyer Fans, it was great to see David Kida on drums with the band, along with bass man Bobby Tsukamoto.

Next….Chris Cain Band. What else is there to say? Just mention his name to anyone who has seen him, and the response is “I love Chris Cain!” With Bay Area bass man, Steve Evans (who plays with everyone!), Mick Mestek on drums, and (35 year veteran from Robert Cray Band) keyboard player, Jim Pugh, this band just knocks it out of the park every time. Chris not only plays guitar but is an accomplished pianist and what a treat when he sits down and shares the keyboards with Jim (or Dave Mathews for their Ray Charles Tribute gigs). Zac Harmon joined Chris for part of his set also.

One of the great concept that John Catt supports is mixing it up at his festival. This year he had Albert Castiglia and Zac Harmon in attendance to just “float” around and play with different bands. Last year he had Deanna Bogart and Jimmy Carpenter add some sax whenever possible. It all makes for great combos and a friendly, fun “jamming” music experience for the bands and the audience. “The more the merrier!” seems to apply at BFTT.

This year Deanna was back, with her band, which includes Dan Leonard on guitar. Her vocals, piano, and sax playing are always great, and her duet with her bassist, Eric Scott, caught my immediate attention from back stage. Her vocal pairings with Dorothy Morrison made the set beyond special. The fun part about this festival is all the musicians hanging around, enjoying the music, and jumping in on a whim. Two drummers – Cedric Goodman from Zac’s band, and Byron Cage from Joe Louis Walker’s band, jumped up behind Deanna’s drummer – Michael Aubin – grabbed whatever percussion instrument struck their fancy from a milk crate full of drummer’s toys, and proceeded to add some funky percussion to the set. Three drummers jamming, with more cowbell, and Deanna walked back with her sax and just joined in. Typical BFTT fun!

Saturday ended with Joe Louis Walker and his band: Byron Cage-drums, Lenny Bradford-Bass, and Phillip Young-keyboards and sax. As always, a top notch set with serious blues and serious fun!

Throughout both days, in between the main stage sets, the “Keeping The Blues Alive” stage features young performers playing and singing. These kids are great and in all stages of their musicianship development. Being encouraged to perform on a real stage, in front of real crowds, is thrilling for them and for the audience. And you can always see John Catt somewhere nearby with a gigantic smile on his face during each performance. There is nothing like this anywhere that I know of, at least in my travels.

SUNDAY: Every year, the Sunday Morning Gospel show keeps growing and getting better! This year John went all out and put on the best group of All Stars he could find. Wow! The lineup included: Ashley Cleveland, Dorothy Morrison and her daughter, Adrianna Marie, Eleanor Tallie, Deanna Bogart, Sadie Johnson, and Zac Harmon bringing in the spirit, backed up by Reese Wynans, Cedric Goodman, L.A. Jones, Andy Irvine, Eric Gales, Kirk Fletcher, and all the girls from the KBA bands. What a show, especially since it started at 10 a.m.!!

The energy level on stage just grew for the rest of the day. The weather grew cloudy, and tried to rain later, but nothing stops the blues!

Jarekus Singleton made his debut appearance in Colorado next. Jarekus and his band are gathering huge crowds of fans everywhere they go. Hailing from Mississippi, he brings the southern blues, infused with a huge dose of the new blues to the stage. Joining him was his Mississippi brother and home-state legend, Zac Harmon. His band includes Ben Sterling on bass, John “Junior” Blackmon on drums, and Sam Brady on B3. More fans for Jarekus and the boys! (I have been on the list for years…)

Back by popular demand, The Boogie Boys, from Poland, hit the stage with a vengeance and never slowed down. They have Boogie Woogie Blues down to a fine art and they know how to put on a really fun show with their antics. And they love to share the stage too! Deanna joined Bart Szop on double B3/keyboards and vocals, Andy Irvine commandeered the bass from Janusz Brzezinski for a few songs, and Michel Cholewinski did his double handed playing with Bart. Kate Moss and Albert Castiglia joined in the set to add some guitar to the mix. Sitting in for Bart’s brother, who couldn’t make the US tour, was San Diego’s Marty Dodson, who has recorded with the Boogie Boys and was a perfect substitution. Marty is an “in-demand” drummer all over Southern California.

Ah, next was Eric Gales – a new band for this part of the country, although hailed as one of the best guitar players in the blues by his peers. (He is performing on the Tonight Show the evening this article comes out with Lauryn Hill.) The weather tried to stop his show but Eric was not daunted, “I will keep playing as long as you let me and hopefully I will get to come back to this beautiful place next year!” And play he did. An eclectic mix of tunes with the most amazing interpretations I have heard. And let’s hope he does come back! Ironically, every musician still in the park stood on the side of the stage and was glued to his every movement for the entire set. A phenomenon! His band included: Orlando Thompson-bass, Nick Hayes-drums, and on vocals were LaDonna Gales and Tyrone Thomas Jr.

Next up was Danielle Nicole’s band. Danielle is a favorite at this festival and John made every accommodation he could to make sure she came with her new 1 month old baby who was being well cared for while she played. Her set was great, as always, with her new band: Brandon Miller-guitar, Jan Fairchild-drums, and Mike “Shinetop” Sedovic on B3.

A special performance occurred in the afternoon. One of the kids who has performed every year at BFTT is Sadie Mae Moss, daughter of Nick and Kate Moss. This year, after one month of lessons, Sadie hit the big stage, backed up by an all-star band, and played piano, singing “Let It Be”. She is so very comfortable on stage and did a great job!!

The final act of the day, amongst tarps covering amps, and threats of more rain, was Ronnie Baker Brooks Big Band. Great Show! Great Band! Included were Ari Seder-bass, Daryl Coutts-B3, Maurice Jones-drums, and on horns: Norman Palm, Dudley Moore, & Phil Perkins.

And after Ronnie’s band did their set, the stage became a showcase of all the performers who were still in the park,(although mostly men were still in attendance – all performers were welcome) in the Grand County Blues Fashion of the Blues From The Top’s Finale. What a perfect way to end a perfect festival weekend.

Thanks to John Catt, Grand County Blues Society, the staff and volunteers, and the wonderfully friendly crowd that shows up each year for the best festival in the country. If you haven’t attended this festival, it is a well-kept secret that I am sharing and hope you put it on your list of “must attend” events next year!

Photos and commentary by Marilyn Stringer © 2015

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 11 

Henry Townsend – Original St. Louis Blues Live

Wolf Records – CD 120.496

17 songs – 59 minutes

When Henry Townsend passed at age 86 in 2006, the music world lost the last surviving member of the early blues community of St. Louis. But audiences everywhere get to enjoy him again in top form in this loving tribute from Wolf Records, captured live on the label’s home turf in Austria 21 years before he died.

Lovingly dubbed “Mule” because of his sturdy build, was born in Mississippi and raised in Cairo, Ill., but ran away from home at age 10 to the future home of the Gateway Arch. Equally gifted on piano and guitar, he walked into a recording studio for the first time at age 20, and was the only musician of his generation to be captured on disc in every decade from the 1920s through the 2000s, with his music appearing on most of the major labels of his time, including Paramount, Columbia, Bluebird and Brunswick.

Townsend’s piano style – influenced by Roosevelt Sykes, with whom he toured — fused St. Louis shuffles with barrelhouse, ragtime and jump, while his guitar picking drew comparisons to Charley Patton because of his unconventional style. His tenor vocal delivery harkened back to blues shouters, and his vivid memories provided invaluable material for researcher Paul Oliver, whose work in the ‘50s and ‘60s exposed the history of the blues to a worldwide audience.

Recorded in Linz, Lienz and Kufstein, Austria, on three consecutive nights in November 1980, this session captures Townsend in solo acoustic performance alternating from song to song on each instrument, assisted by wife Vernell, a blues and gospel singer in her own right, who handles vocals on two cuts. He’s on guitar for the familiar “Sloppy Drunk,” written by Sonny Boy Williamson, to kick off the set, accompanied by the audience with eager rhythmic clapping before delving into the Willie Brown classic, “M&O Blues,” on the keys.

Three originals — “Come On In My House” with an extended guitar solo, “All My Money Is Gone,” a song for piano written during the Great Depression, and “Old Clock Tickin’” – precede a version of the Sykes standard, “44 Blues.” Vernell steps to the mike for a duet on the original “Why We Love Each Other” before delivering the St. Louis Jimmy warhorse “Going Down Slow” by herself while her husband dazzles on the ivories.

A pair of early blues standards — Henry Spaulding’s “Cairo Blues” and “Rollin’ And Tumblin’,” penned by Hambone Willie Newbern – follow before Townsend launches a run of seven more originals — “Guitar Talkin’,” “When The Sun Rise,” “I Cry All Night,” “Got To Go,” “Moanin’ And Cryin’,” “I’m Sorry My Heart” and “Biddle Street” – to conclude the set.

This CD is a must for fans of old-time blues. It captures a first generation superstar at the top of his game, recorded in a manner that displayed his talent superbly. Pick it up. You won’t be sorry you did.

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 – 4 of 11 

Sonny Landreth – Bound By The Blues

Provogue Records

10 songs time-41:36

I like me some Sonny Landreth. What’s not to like? The Creole influenced slide guitarist-singer-songwriter has full control of his guitar as he slips and slides through our conscience and conjures up images of New Orleans and other places south. I’ve been hooked since I bought his “South Of I-10”, a rockin’ creole masterpiece. He brings his unique slide wizardry to this project whether playing blues or singing about it and life. This is his first blues outing since 2003’s “The Road We’re On”. The approach here is Sonny backed by drums and bass with occasional backing vocals. As per his usual practice at times he overdubs two or three guitar parts. He is meticulous without lessening the energy.

On the cover songs he retains the original foundation of the songs while at the same time stamping them with his easily recognizable style and tone. His voice is as expressive as ever. He adds a few new lyrics to “Walkin” Blues” and swirls his guitar magic to make your head spin in a good way. The title song isn’t a blues, but rather a Landreth-style song paying tribute to the universality of life’s experiences-love, death, birth and transcendence all punctuated by his keening slide work. Much of the slide on this tune is acoustic. “The High Side” follows in much the same fashion. Both of these songs could of easily fit into “South Of I-10”.

His treatment of Elmore James’ “It Hurts Me Too” finds him sliding all over the place. On the original “Where They Will”. “Let the blues take me were they will”. It speaks about his relationship to the blues. It contains some fine syncopated guitar. He pays tribute to another slide guitar master, Johnny Winter in the slow instrumental “Firebird Blues(In Memory To Johnny Winter)”, played on Sonny’s vintage Gibson Firebird a model associated with Johnny. Although Robert Johnson’s immortal “Dust My Broom” has been covered umpteenth times over the years Sonny unsurprisingly breathes new life into it.

His rearrangement of “Key to the Highway” features a smooth vocal along with more crazy good slide. The original instrumental “Simcoe Street” closes the album out as it jauntily bounces off the walls with some juicy slide.

Everything works here from Sonny’s multi talents, the spot on rhythm section and the production values of Sonny Landreth and Tony Daigle. If you are a long time fan like me, never heard of him or dislike music you’ll find much to enjoy and get your spirit moving here. Sonny’s guitar playing thrives in its’ own universe. Shut off your computer NOW and pick this gem up.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 11 

Levee Dwellers – Leveling Up

Blueshine Records

CD: 13 Songs; 48:58 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, Contemporary Electric Blues, Ensemble Blues

Whether it refers to the social presentation of a wealthy young girl, or a band’s very first album, a debut is always a risky affair. There is a chance that both kinds of debutantes won’t have many “takers” at a party, or distribute lots of “calling cards”. The same is as true of blues artists in the 21st century as it was of socialites in the 19th and 20th. The latter made a grand first impression by covering themselves with lavish gowns and fine jewelry; the former do the same by “covering” some of the most popular blues classics of all time. In both cases, high expectations must be met. The Levee Dwellers, from Rotterdam in the Netherlands, certainly sparkle on their fresh material, two songs out of thirteen on Leveling Up. As for their covers? One might think of it this way: A debutante would be mortified if she saw one of her rivals wearing the same dress on the same gala night. However, blues bands often take pride in wearing identical song “fashions” on their CD’s. Covers are a great beginning point for first-time artists, but a mediocre finish.

Perhaps a better title for the Levee Dwellers’ first release would have been Level One. Everyone must start somewhere, musician or not. As it is, they include some standards that are as well-trod as the tracks of polished shoes on a ballroom floor: “Hoodoo Man” by Junior Wells, Willie Dixon’s “Built for Comfort,” and Paul Butterfield’s “Lovin’ Cup”. Others stick out like the pitted holes of stiletto heels. They’re still covers, but less obvious: Billie Holliday’s “Tell Me More”, “Beware” by E. Randle and D. Carter, and “Cut You Loose” by B. London. On every song, they provide good energy and above-average vocals by songstress Daniëlla Eerhart. Their ensemble work is smooth, but it could use a bit more glitz and glamour.

With Eerhart on lead vocals are Jeroen Heeselaars on tenor, baritone and soprano saxophone; Onno Roëll on drums, Stefan Soares on guitars, and Ed Weeda on electric and upright bass. Guest musicians include Peter Struijk on guitar, Fran Genis on percussion, and Leon den Engelsen on Hammond organ.

The two tunes below are the only original tracks on Leveling Up, but they’re worth mentioning for another reason. They prove that sometimes, bold yet unheard statements shine the most.

Track 08: “Boogie You Down” – This barroom boogie is a growling threat as well as a festive fiesta. It’ll get people dancing, for sure, but look out: At live festivals, this one might inspire partygoers to form a mosh pit. “I’m going to boogie you six feet underground,” Eerhart warns. Savor Jeroen Heeselaars on sizzling saxophone, perfect for a summer soiree.

Track 13: “The Empress of Big Willy’s” – Traditional, auspicious number thirteen is a tale of a clairvoyant: “She knows more about your future than you ever will.” This one predicts doom – after all, this is the blues!

Hopefully, the Levee Dwellers will be Leveling Up with more original songs soon!

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.

 Video Of the Week 1 – Danielle Nicole 

Here a a great video of Danielle Nicole (aka Danielle Schnebelen formerly of Trampled Under Foot) doing a song with the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band on the Blues Cruise last year. You can hear Danielle Nicole Band live at the Prairie Dog Blues Fest this Saturday, August 1st at 2:30pm. To see all of the great artists at this years Prairie Dog Blues Fest, visit their website at or click on their ad below.

 Video Of the Week 2 – Joanna Connor 

Here another a great video of an amazing Blues woman, Joanna Connor. A legend in Chicago, this lady makes the hot shot guitar playin’ boys cry with envy. She has few equals on slide guitar. You can hear Joanna live at the Gloucester Blues Festival in Gloucester, MA on Saturday, August 8th at 2:30pm. For tickets and full info visit or click on their ad below.

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 11 

Charlie Parr – Stumpjumper

Red House Records

CD: 11 Songs; 54:41 Minutes

Styles: Pre-1950s-Style Blues, Traditional Acoustic and Electric Blues, Bluegrass

Long before electric shredders took center stage in the blues, as they often do, banjo and acoustic guitar varieties were king. There was a fine line between blues and bluegrass back then, as today there lies a wobbly tightrope between blues and blues rock. Minnesota’s Charlie Parr captures this earlier style of blues music so aptly that upon first listen, if they don’t know the 2015 release date of Stumpjumper, listeners might believe that the eleven songs on it are covers dating from the 1920s through the 1940s. As it stands, ten of these eleven are atmospheric originals. The only cover is the last song, “Delia”, a traditional murder ballad with a fresh arrangement by Parr. Some fans might find his style of blues an acquired taste on three counts: 1) they might be far more used to electric guitar; 2) they might believe banjo and fiddle don’t belong in their favorite musical niche anymore, and 3) Charlie’s vocals are heartfelt but mumbled, making it nigh impossible to decipher his lyrics. Despite all these potential minuses, the big plus is that he takes us back in time to the very birth of the genre – labor pains included. No one can claim Parr’s blues aren’t blues. They’re just reminiscent of an era lost in the mists of years, revealed again.

Joining Charlie as he plays 12-string, National steel guitar, and a fretless banjo are Emily Parr on vocal harmony; album producer Phil Cook on background harmony, short piano, steel guitar, banjo, and electric guitar; Ryan Gustafson on electric bass, fiddle, and banjo; and James Wallace on drums and piano.The following three selections may not be blues as the baby boomers and their descendants know it, but as the boomers’ own parents might have. They’re played with soul, sass, and spontaneity.

Track 01: “Evil Companion” – The opener’s jaunty acoustic guitar intro is worthy of being in any contemporary Western, especially if the opening scene features a broken-down pickup truck barreling down a dusty road. “If you don’t love me, it’s nobody’s fault but mine,” Charlie sings in a moment of vocal lucidity. He might remind some of Loudon Wainwright, musical humorist.

Track 04: “Remember Me If I Forget” – Bluegrass or blues? That is the question, but the answer is: it’s great! Banjo sparkles in the musical spotlight as vocal harmonies complement it with good-natured warmth.

Track 05: “On Marrying a Woman with an Uncontrollable Temper” – With a title that yours truly nominates for one of the best of the year, track five might bring back unsavory memories for some. It’s a banjo and fiddle extravaganza running for four minutes and fifty-four seconds. This sounds like drone or trance blues, before such a subgenre was ever invented. “Oh, my Lord, my Lord, my Lord,” Charlie intones in monk-like fashion. “I went ahead and married an angry girl, whose father wants to kill me and her mother just don’t mind.”

Even though the songs of Stumpjumper take getting used to, they’re pure pre-1950’s-style blues!

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 – 7 of 11 

Eric Noden Band – Solid Ground


12 tracks

The album cover with an electric guitar prominently displayed on the back should have given it away; when I heard the opening chords of this album I knew it was going to be a little different album for Mr. Noden. This is a rocking album of original tunes that he’s assembled here, having written all but one of them. Joining Noden are Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on drums, E.G. McDaniel on bass and Joe Filisko on harp. I really found it intriguing and a lot of fun.

Noden opens with the title track. A big electric guitar intro with harp accompaniment sets the tone that this won’t be an ordinary Eric Noden album. It’s got a heavy groove laid out by Smith and McDaniel and Noden almost growls out the vocal lead. This is as dirty a blues sound I’ve heard from Noden and Filisko and I love it! “Second Day of June” has Noden testifying that he’s got a Terraplane so he doesn’t need any bus fare. His finger picking is very intriguing as he skillfully attacks the acoustic guitar with reckless but refined abandon. “Can’t Stand to Lose You” is in the style of 1950’s Chicago blues with Noden telling us of his baby and his allegiance to her. He swings a little bit in a slow boogie sort of way and then Filisko punctuates the proceedings with some big harp. McDaniel opens “Rhyme or Reason” and Noden gets a little funky for us as he tells the story of how he feels. Filisko give us a nice solo but later Noden gives us his best and then the two join up for duet on their instruments. Funky, electrified fun! “Incident” is another grooving and rocking cut with a big rocking sound. Heavy guitar work and vocals by Noden on a dark groove and some mean harp make this an interesting cut. Noden layers in more guitar on top and makes the feel even heavier. “Sikth Sense” is a very cool instrumental with Filisko and Noden going almost a little Peter Gunn on this one. I could see it being the theme song for an old B&W detective TV show. Loved it; this is the only cut penned by Joe Filisko and he shows us another side as well with the song.

“Alaska” is another rocking cut with a bit of a rockabilly beat. This followed by “Fix it Tomorrow,” a blues rock song of procrastination. Noden shows us where he can take his music to with these cuts, and then returns deep in the blues with “I Like A Woman.” He sings to us that he likes women who stay out all night and get him all worked up so his head is in the clouds. He and Filisko then impress as they pick and blow together on the bridge. Noden gets the slide out for “Lost Turnpike,” a dark piece that he sells with an ethereal slide. “Deep Wells and Deep Pockets” is a big blues piece with some wailing harp work as Noden makes some commentary on the oil men running things. Filisko adds some big harp and Noden sells the vocals and guitar well. The album finishes up with “Sonic Breakdown,” a great high tempo cut with a thumping beat. Filisko does the first big solo and some more later; a great, driving song with a cool boogie beat. It’s another great song that concludes an album of winners!

I like Eric Noden playing with a more rocking side to his music. Going with a more modern sound, Noden shows us that he’s versatile and effective in a more contemporary setting. I enjoyed listening to a modernized Noden with Filisko and two other very talented friends and think that most blues fans will, too. This is a really good album of all original tunes that will make you tap a toe or two- nicely done!!!

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 – 8 of 11 

Billy Price And Otis Clay – This Time For Real

Vizztone Label Group 2015

12 tracks; 50 minutes

Southern soul master Otis Clay has been a busy man recently and fans of his magnificent voice have been fortunate enough in the last year to hear him on a solo album, with Dave Specter on “Message In Blue” and now on this collaboration with another fine soul singer, Billy Price. Otis Clay, of course, hit the charts as long ago as 1972 with “Trying To Live My Life Without You”, one of the gems of the Hi Records catalog; Billy Price is a generation younger but took inspiration from the great soulmen like Otis’s Clay and Redding. He sang with Roy Buchanan and once he started his own band reached out to Otis Clay to work together. They have sung live on many occasions since 1982 but this is the first time they have recorded together and for fans of Southern Soul this is a treat for the ears. The material comes from a wide variety of sources but names such as Hayes, Porter, Henderson, Womack, Hodges and Jackson tell you all you need to know – we are in deep soul territory here. More surprising is to find that the core band here is Duke Robillard’s, Duke and his band demonstrating their versatility as they provide backing that sounds like it should have been recorded in Memphis but in fact were sessions at home in Rhode Island, with vocals recorded in Chicago. Duke produced and plays all guitar parts with Bruce Bears on keys, Brad Hallen on bass, Mark Teixiera on drums; Roomful of Blues horn players Mark Earley on tenor and baritone sax and Doug Woolverton on trumpet appear on most tracks and Theresa Davis, Dianne Madison and Diana Salmon add backing vocals to five cuts.

The album opens with a storming “Somebody’s Changing My Sweet Baby’s Mind”, Mark Earley delivering a wild tenor solo as the two singers exchange lines and verses like old-school soul acts such as Sam & Dave. The ballad “I’m Afraid Of Losing You” has some beautiful guitar lines from Duke and is followed by a great version of Syl Johnson’s “Going To The Shack”, the horns pumping hard over the funky riff and here the Sam & Dave comparison is even more evident. “All Because Of Your Love” is a second tune with George Jackson’s name on the credits and is one of those tunes that grabs your subconscious and keep coming back to your mind! Mark Earley’s sax introduces the deep soul ballad “Love Don’t Love Nobody” with both singers taking turns to lead while the other joins the chorus backing.

Joe Tex’s “I’ll Never Do Anything Wrong” finds the two singers working in harmony with a gentle horn arrangement supporting their efforts. Motown is also within the pair’s sights as they tackle Holland, Dozier and Holland’s “Don’t Leave Me Starving For Your Love”, the backing vocalists providing some of those vocals typical of the Detroit sound, Duke’s band switching effortlessly to the Motown feel with Bruce’s piano and organ particularly noticeable. “Broadway Walk” has some strong credentials with Bobby Womack and Dan Penn among the five writers credited and it’s another song that suits the duo vocals approach perfectly, the horns providing the punctuation with short stabs of bari and trumpet. Next is another tear-jerker ballad with both singers sounding suitably wounded by the loss of the lover who has committed them to her “Book Of Memories”, Bruce playing a delightful piano solo and Duke some reverb-drenched guitar in country mode at the center of the tune. “Too Many Hands” returns to that slinky Memphis Hi Records style with another fine horn arrangement whereas Los Lobos’ “Tears Of God” takes us to church as the singers take a verse each in turn. Finally the duo take it home with a tune associated with Sam & Dave who appear to this reviewer to have been something of a template for the album. Isaac Hayes and David Porter’s “You Got Me Hummin’” is a great finale to a fine disc, this version easily equaling the original: the horns sound absolutely authentic, the rhythm section nails that Stax sound and Otis and Billy deliver the vocals perfectly.

Fans of Southern soul will love this disc: the band is peerless, as one might expect from Duke Robillard and his cohorts, Otis and Billy both sing wonderfully and the material has been carefully selected to maximize their talents. Highly recommended.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 9 of 11 

The Texas Horns – Blues Gotta Holda Me

Vizztone Label Group 2015

13 tracks; 51 minutes

Mark ‘Kaz’Kazanoff has played sax and harmonica on many albums over the years, particularly on Texas recordings. For the past fifteen years he has joined forces with two fellow Texas horn players for live shows but this is the first time the three have recorded and the disc is a keeper. Kaz plays tenor and harp and handles some of the vocals, John Mills plays baritone and tenor saxes and Adalberto Gomez plays trumpet and flugelhorn. Kaz has clearly built up an impressive contacts list as the three horn players are joined throughout by Derek O’Brien on guitar and Barry ‘Frosty’ Smith on drums, the bass duties being shared between Ronnie James, Johnny Bradley and Roscoe Beck. Nick Connolly adds keys to several tracks and guests include Anson Funderburgh, Marcia Ball, WC Clark, Danny Levin and Johnny Nicholas. The tracks are a pretty even split between originals from within the band and covers.

The music ranges far and wide wherever horns play a role. Opening instrumental “Soul Stroll” is soul-inflected and wears its Memphis influences on its sleeve, Anson Funderburgh adding some typically understated flourishes. Dave Bartholomew’s “Go On Fool” is a natural fit for Marcia Ball’s vocal and piano as the band sets up a measured New Orleans beat and Kaz takes one of many fine tenor solos. Kaz steps up to the mike for “You’re Driving Me Crazy”, a song once covered by Roomful Of Blues and typical of 1930’s swing with all three horn players getting solo space. John Mills’ “Kick Me Again” adds Danny Levin’s piano and features Derek’s guitar and John’s bari sax on an instrumental that brings us forward to the present day with elements of funk. WC Clark’s unmistakable voice leads us on “Cold Blooded Lover”, a song he first recorded on his 2004 album Deep In The Heart; it’s a pounding Texas blues with author Kaz on harp and Derek hitting an Albert Collins stride in his solo.

Percy Mayfield’s “Lost Mind” cools things down a little with Kaz’s relaxed vocal perfectly suiting the ensemble horn approach, Adalberto’s muted ‘growling’ trumpet solo fitting the style like a glove. Earl King’s anthemic “Sing, Sing, Sing (Make A Better World)” takes us on a second trip down to New Orleans and the interplay between the horns at the beginning is superb; Nick Connolly delivers a fine vocal and plays some solid NO piano on this one. Kaz’s “Rippin’ And Trippin’” rocks along really well with his tenor solo an outstanding feature placed alongside more excellent piano from Danny Levin. The title track is a co-write between Kaz and Johnny Nicholas who is featured on piano alongside all three horns and Derek’s guitar on a seriously rocking tune. Two well-known songs are then covered, both in interesting versions: Curtis Mayfield’s powerful “People Get Ready” is given an instrumental reading with outstanding solos from Roscoe Beck on bass and all the horn players but a special mention has to go to John’s bari solo; Fleecie Moore’s “Caldonia” has been covered by everyone from Louis Jordan to BB King and is always great fun to hear, this version being in big band style with Nick’s piano and Johnny Bradley’s bass pumping the rhythm, Kaz doing a good job on the familiar lyrics. Probably the most obscure cover here is “Home Cookin’”, a tune written by Hilton Ruiz, a Puerto Rican pianist who was a mainstay of Roland Kirk’s band, an instrumental with a touch of Latin jazz that again provides solo space for all three horn players. Another of Kaz’s instrumental tunes “Spanky’s Twist” takes us back to the early 60’s when dances like the twist set the world alight and this pastiche of those tunes works well with Nick on B3 at the heart of things, providing a cushion for all the horn players to take exciting solos.

Whilst one understands the financial logistics involved with larger bands it is most regrettable that we don’t hear and see as many horn-driven bands now as in ‘the good old days’. But never mind, for 51 minutes we can put this disc on and think about how great it would be to see this ensemble play these tunes live. Highly recommended!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 10 of 11 

David Corley – Available Light

Self Release

10 tracks / 54:21

Some artists need to produce a few albums to find their groove, but that is not the case with David Corley as his debut, Available Light, is a heavy piece of work. He is not some fresh-faced, wet behind the ears kid, either: he passed the mid-century mark a few years ago and has been writing and playing for over thirty years. Fortunately he has chosen now as his time to shine, and he has delivered the goods in a big way!

Corley has a lifetime of cool experiences. Starting off life in Indiana, he moved all over the country and held down plenty of day jobs, but finally settled down back in the Hoosier State where he is a carpenter. But over the decades this mostly self-taught musician never quit reading and writing. His literary influences are no lightweights, with the works of Walt Whitman, James Joyce, and William Blake (and untold others) rattling around in his mind. You can get a glimpse of how his mind works as, breaking from what other artists are doing these days, he actually included handwritten lyrics for many of the songs on this disc. They are perfect evidence of his mature songwriting skills.

David wrote the music and lyrics for all ten tracks on Available Light, and laid down the vocals as well as some of the guitar, piano and bass parts. It is a self-produced effort and he enlisted the able help of Hugh Christopher Brown, who took on the producer role and manned the keyboards. They were joined in the studio by a respectable crew that included Tony Scherr on bass and guitar, Gregor Beresford behind the drum kit, and backing vocals from Kate Fenner and Sarah McDermott.

It is not possible to classify these songs in any neat or orderly way. There is a bit of roots, blues, folk, country, and rock to be found here. Americana is probably the closest you will get to pigeon-holing this thing, but the depth of the lyrics and the musicality goes a bit beyond what you might expect from that genre. Corley’s voice is equally hard to place: there is some Lou Reed, Tom Waits, and Bob Dylan in there somewhere, but David has definitely developed his own unique growly baritone style.

Production values are high for this release, almost sounding like it was recorded live in the studio, but it is just a little too slick and well put together for that. Not that there is any digital trickery going on here: just a lot of hard work with analog equipment and a good set of ears to guide things. This is true for every song, including the title track, which kicks things off. “Available Light” is a solid opener that is built around the acoustic guitar and vocals, and it builds with drums, electric guitar, piano, B-3, and ethereal backing vocals.

After a few of these softer tunes, Corley turns up the rock with “The Joke” which layers acoustic guitar with electric rhythm and lead parts, and a significantly harder dose of drums and bass. This ability to switch easily from folk to rock, and everywhere in between, shows that David is not a one-trick pony. Somewhere in the middle of this spectrum is “Dog Tales,” which is the standout track from Available Light. The intro and the music are beautiful, but it is his vocal delivery that sells this song. His emotional howls are a marvelous contrast with the sexy sighs of Fenner and McDermott.

It was hard to pick a favorite song, though, as there is not a single clunker to be found here. The sequencing of these diverse songs is spot-on and they flow well into a singular entity. With a running time of almost an hour, most of the tunes are pretty long, but before you know it, “The Calm Revolution” closes thing out with a slightly more psychedelic take on things thanks to its gloriously distorted electric guitars.

Though Available Light might not sound like the blues as you have come to expect it, David Corley certainly captures the spirit of the genre, and there is no denying that this is a mature album that is very well crafted. If you are willing to step outside the land of more conventional blues and venture into the realm of roots and Americana, this disc will be a great addition to your collection. Hopefully he will be gigging in the United States soon, as he is currently touring Europe where his music has really taken off. The really good news is he is thinking about starting another album this fall – you didn’t think that he spent thirty years writing and only came up with ten songs, did you?

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

 Featured Blues Review – 11 of 11 

Voo Davis – Midnight Mist

Butter & Bacon Records

14 songs – 63 minutes plus bonus video

Chicago-based singer Voo Davis is recognized for the wide tonal variety he produces on guitar, but he outdoes himself on Midnight Mist, the third disc in his solo catalog.

A native of Anniston, Ala., who relocated to the Windy City as a child, Davis blends the traditional sounds of the Delta and Deep South with smattering of West and South Side licks. He learned his chops at the feet of Blues Music Award winner Eddie King, longtime lead guitarist for Koko Taylor’s Blues Machine. But his technique doesn’t end there. He draws influences from roots music and jam bands, too.

This album, a follow up to the well-received Vicious Things, was recorded in analog instead of digital format and in one take with no computer wizardry tweeks at the Studio In The Country in Bogalusa, La., with Davis playing an assortment of vintage guitars as well as mandolin, pedal steel and keyboards. He’s joined here by Reggie Winterland (bass), Craig Borchers (drums), Michael Burkart (Hammond B-3 organ), Calvin Conway (fiddle and harmonica), and Carolyn Broussard and Dorian Rush (backing vocals).

While the instrumentation and sounds deliver a familiar feel, the music – all of which was penned by Davis — is rooted firmly in the modern. There’s not a single taste of material that would hint at being borrowed or being a cover.

“When I Get Back To You” kicks things off with a breezy guitar intro before Voo sings about waiting for his woman after a long time on the road. His voice is somewhat smoky with a delivery that some might compare to Joe Cocker as he promises to “get myself together” when the reunion finally occurs. His guitar playing alternates between single-note and chord progressions as he finishes the tune with a long solo.

Davis goes acoustic for the title-song ballad “Midnight Mist,” a reverie about driving south through Mississippi on Route 49 while thinking about friends and home and listening to Muddy Waters on the radio. “My Love” is a powerful blues-rocker that continues the trip, this time with Voo heading back to the woman he loves. A finger-picked intro introduces “Cajun Sun,” which speaks of staying up all night looking for knowledge he couldn’t acquire during the heat of the day.

Next up, the search for truth continues in the straight-ahead “Riverside Blues,” which is complemented by rich backing arrangements. Filmed in and around Clarksdale, Miss., a bonus video of this tune also appears on the disc. “Low Hangin’ Fruit” provides a backwoods feel with simple harmonica accompaniment as the search for truth continues. The lyrics suggest that you search early in life in order to achieve your goal.

“Howling Out Your Name” is an interesting love song in which the singer keeps returning to the woman again and again. But this time, he’s had enough … he won’t come back until she walks out the door. It’s full of rich imagery with “shame-seekers waggin’ their fingers/Infiltrating my doubt.” An intro that hints of American Indian drums and a steady rhythm pattern that would be a comfortable fit in any juke introduce “Find Me A Black Bone,” a cry out for a device that will mystically enable the singer to help him deal with a woman who’s totally out of control. It’s a reference to the black cat bone, a lucky charm in the African American tradition, that brings good fortune and provides protection from evil.

“Nothing Changed At All” is a welcome change of pace. It’s a slow tune with rich tonal qualities atop a syncopated rhythm pattern. It sings about the difficulties of everyday life. The funky “Music In The Streets” follows. It’s an uptempo bit of funk with just a hint of rap. “You Gotta Wait” is a pleasing blues shuffle that proclaims: “My reputation is shot/But my soul is true.” But the singer still won’t wait for the woman he loves because she’s wearing someone else’s ring. It’s simply her turn.

The slow-paced, tenderly delivered “Laughing Out Loud” provides a rundown of the mistakes in life the singer’s made, while “Void,” a simply stated song of lost love delivered with powerful musical texture. The disc ends with “You Wanna Know Why” in which Davis provides a stinging answer as to why a relationship fell apart.

Available through Amazon and iTunes as well as direct from the artist through, Midnight Mist is perfect for folks who are looking for modern blues that aren’t trapped in the only one-four-five progression. Davis possesses traditional sensibilities in his craft, but delivers his music with one step in the future. He’s learned from his elders, but he’s making a statement that’s all his own.

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.

 Blues Society News 

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DC Blues Society – Washington D.C.

Join us at the DC Blues Society’s Festival Fundraiser on Saturday, August 8, 2015 from 4:00 to 11:20 p.m. Enjoy non-stop blues from area artists at the American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring MD 20910. Building entrance on Fenton Street near the large public parking lot. Tickets are $15. Go to to purchase online or call (301) 322-4808.

This event will raise funds for the free 27th Annual DC Blues Festival which attracts a diverse, family-friendly crowd of old and new blues fans every year to Carter Barron on Labor Day weekend (Saturday, September 5, 2015 this year). Nine (9) great area bands have graciously agreed to volunteer their talents for the August fundraiser, including Mike Westcott, the Ron Hicks Project, Jesi Terrell and The Love Mechanic Band, and Reggie Wayne Morris. Food and drinks are available for sale. Dancing – Door prizes- Cash raffles!

Also the free 27th Annual DC Blues Festival is Saturday, September 5, 2015 from noon-7:30 pm, featuring Sharrie Williams, “Princess of Rockin’ Gospel Blues”. Festival venue: Carter Barron Amphitheatre, 16th Street and Colorado Avenue NW, Washington DC 20011. Bring the family for a day of soulful and electrifying blues, music workshops, Musical Instrument Petting Zoo and other child-friendly activities. No tickets required.

The festival offers an exciting lineup of diverse blues. Sharrie Williams is a three-time Blues Music Awards Nominee and international performer, trained in jazz, gospel and drama. Although she credits Koko Taylor, Etta James and Aretha Franklin as influences, her style is all her own and she’s earned a reputation for outstanding vocal performances. Also appearing is guitarist, singer and songwriter James Armstrong, “The Ambassador of the Blues”. The son of musicians, James was born to play the blues and his style honors traditional blues while adding contemporary grit. Rounding out the lineup are several DCBS favorite bands. Be a part of the excitement and spirit at the premier DC Blues event!

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. 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 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. 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: 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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