Issue 9-32 August 6, 2015

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

  In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Chicago bluesman, Quintus McCormick. We have 2 videos of the week. One is Tinsley Ellis performing his song “Seven Years”. The second one is Sugar Blue playing his rendition of “Messin’ With The Kid”. We have 9 music reviews for you including music from Thayer Hambone Wilson, Joe Filisko & Eric Noden, Jorma Kaukonen, two new Canned Heat releases including one with John Lee Hooker, Amazing Electric Guitar Heroes (James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett, and David Wilcox), Dave Peabody, The Ted Vaughn Blues Band and Amanda Fish.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

If you are in the eastern part of the U.S. our friends at the Gloucester Blues Festival have a great Blues show for you this Saturday. Their festival in Gloucester, Massachusetts on the beach at Stage Fort Park and features Sugar Blue, Mitch Woods, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Joanna Connor, Albert Castiglia, Alexis P. Suter and Juke Joint Five. It is going to be a real beach Blues party! For tickets and info visit their website at or click on their ad below.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 9 

Thayer Hambone Wilson – Thayer Hambone Wilson


16 songs – 42 minutes

Originally from Washington D.C., long-time Washington state resident Thayer Hambone Wilson’s fifth solo release (not including his 38 Below – Live At Sandbanks DVD) is a punchy set of 16 self-written, roots-orientated, blues-infused tracks.

Roaring out of the starting blocks with the old-fashioned rock’n’roll of “Dance, Dance, Dance”, the most immediately striking aspect is Wilson’s warm but wonderfully ragged voice, which has a muscular, emotional depth to it. He is also a first class guitar player, as evidenced by the weeping slide guitar of “Sweet Virginia”, the Johnny Winter-inspired slashing bottleneck guitar of “Good Grief” or the outstanding Roy Buchanan-influenced solos of “Cheating and Lying” or “MurderMe.”

Wilson uses a wide variety of musicians on this self-titled release. Particular highlights include Benson Hardesty’s mournful cello on the acoustic “Tumble Weed” and John Mclung’s wailing pedal steel on “Wasting Time”. The majority of the backing comes from Dr Jimmy on bass; Adam Drake, Kenny Gradney on bass; Dave Stone on organ; Amanda Grace Wilkins on backing vocals; and Ricky Wilkins or Willie Maccalder on piano. The multi-talented Chad Wilson adds bass, mandolin and trombone, with saxophone and trumpet contributed by Greg Thomas and Paul Litteral respectively. Thomas’s roaring solo on “Virginia Creeper” is almost worth the price of admission by itself.

Despite the obvious musical talents of the players, however, there is no room for over-playing on Thayer Hambone Wilson. Rather, this release has echoes of an earlier age. Of the 16 songs, only five last longer than three minutes and four clock in at less than two minutes. This is how the early rock’n’roll albums sounded and it is refreshing to hear someone in today’s day and age resisting the urge to play long solos in every song.

Wilson is a fine songwriter, adroitly using both acoustic and electric instruments, who knowingly mines the traditional lyrical seams of modern Americana, from the joys of music in “Born To Rock” and “Dance, Dance, Dance”, the central role of geography and geographical features in American mythology (“Sweet Virginia” and the CCR-esque “Run To The River”), and traditional matters of the heart in the likes of “Torn, Twisted and Blue”.

What lets this album down, however, is the overall production, which is credited to Wilson and Adam Drake. There is a compressed muddiness to the sound in every song, without clear differentiation between instruments, so the end result sounds like a rough demo rather than a professional album. Given the wide availability today of first class recording devices, there is no excuse for this and it makes no sense to release an album that fails to take full advantage of them.

As a result, Hambone Thayer Wilson might well be a pleasant reminder of a great gig, and one can imagine a lot of people purchasing it for this reason, but it struggles to stand on its own merits. This is a shame, because Wilson is clearly a talented individual with a lot to offer. He is definitely worth keeping an eye on, however, and I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.

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 Interview – Quintus McCormick 

At the end of the day, it might just be a simple song for most.

But for Quintus McCormick, it was so much more than just a song. It was a beacon – almost divine intervention, if you will – because had the technology of the day been a little bit more on his side, McCormick might have passed over it completely.

Instead, it helped him to spread his wings and fly away from the comfortable nest that he’d been residing in.

“I was trying to find “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” on a cassette tape (Albert King’s I’ll Play The Blues For You) and I never could find it. The tape player would always stop on the wrong song and that song was “Little Brother (Make a Way).” And after about 10 tries or so, I finally let that song play. And the story that song told was about the man did this and the man did that and about you having to take things on and find your own way,” McCormick recently said. “I thought that was so strong and some kind of powerful. It was like that song was specifically for me … from that point on, I knew I had to get out on my own.”

And so after years spent in the service of cats like James Cotton, Otis Clay, A.C. Reed and Lefty Dizz, McCormick heeded the words of advice sung by the late, great Albert King and indeed did go his own way. That’s a path that the multi-talented guitarist/vocalist/songwriter still travels today, having established himself as one of Chicago’s must-hear bluesmen over the course of the past two decades.

But just because you are established, that doesn’t mean that everything will always fall into place on a regular basis, as McCormick explains.

“We’ve been looking for an agent and I’ve been diligently looking for one this year,” he said. “(It’s not a good thing) when people see the albums, but they don’t hear us (live). And for us, it’s way past time to be seen by the rest of the blues world, where they can relate the artist they saw with the album they see in the stores. That helps the band, but that also helps the clubs and the towns that the band comes to … it works out for everybody.”

It’s important for a working musician to have both sides of the coin in their favor. They really need to have fresh product on the shelves in order to get out and tour behind it, but they also have to get out and tour in order to raise awareness (not to mention, sales) of their newest album. McCormick seems to be right on the edge of that coin currently, with a round of some severe health issues a couple of years ago not helping his musical predicament, either.

“I got sick and was in intensive care in November, 2013. Because of that, I was off work for awhile,” he said. “And as I started getting back into the swing of things, Delmark had set up some new policy that if the band was not currently working around the city, then they were not going to produce another CD on them, because album sales are kind of low. So because of my health, we weren’t working at the time.”

Despite that setback, McCormick has a stack full of new compositions in his hands, just begging to be laid down to tape in the studio.

“Well, I figure that there will be somebody out there that wants to do an album on us. I’m ready to go … got the songs in shape and everything,” he said.

Songwriting has never been an issue for McCormick. He’s composed his very own songs for years now and would rather take the requisite time and effort required to craft his own tunes, as opposed to just hitting the studio and cranking out versions of songs that have already been recorded to death.

“That’s most definitely important to me. For one, (cover songs) a bunch of those songs have been heard and played 30,000 times or more. People have to put new blues music into the fold,” he said. “Or else, we won’t have any blues. The only thing we’ll have is like museum pieces that people have seen over and over and over. I try to write because I want to create songs that will stand the test of time … it’s part of our heritage and my culture to sing and play and write this music and I want to add new things to it. That’s real important to me as an artist.”

However, circumstances sometimes dictate a more flexible approach than the one that is initially favored. In McCormick’s case, that means time constraints.

“We were rushed on this last CD (2012’s Still Called the Blues (Delmark Records)), because there’s no way I would have dropped seven originals (for covers). In the beginning, I was told that the studio was wide-open October 1. But we were scheduled to do Lucerne (Blues Festival in Switzerland) in November, so I had to get my mind off writing and get ready for my first trip over to Europe,” he said. “We really wanted our focus (at that time) to be on the festival and our performance over in Europe.”

And according to McCormick, the energy spent on getting ready for the prestigious Lucerne Blues Festival paid off, big-time.

“The show was really good … it was hot, hot, hot. It was one of those nights when everybody in the band was just on fire … it was just clicking, just hitting from me to the drummer to the keyboard player to the bass player,” he said. “That fire just spread throughout the time we were on stage. That 70 minutes we did was just awesome. They didn’t know what hit them. I felt sorry for the young lady that came on behind us, because she had to wait a little bit for the audience to calm down after we left the stage.”

McCormick’s music owes as much to Jackson, Mississippi as it does to Chi-town and the blending of the two different regions has meshed into something that has been labeled as ‘Chicago soul/blues.’ His tunes do have urban vibes and themes to them, but they’re swaddled in the rich, warm and smokey textures of the deep south at the same time.

“We do play the blues, but Bob (Koester) has said, ‘Some of your blues sound soulful, even songs that only have three chords in them.’ You know, songs like “Fifty/Fifty” or “I’m Alright Now” (both from 2009’s Hey Jodie! (Delmark)), that’s the blues, but that’s also soul, too. I just can’t help that … I just write what comes to me,” he said. “It seems like most blues artists these days either go towards rock or towards soul, and that’s whether the songs are covers or originals. Well, we go towards soul. But you know, I was born and raised in Detroit, so maybe that’s (soul) just way down deep in me and it keeps coming out. I mean, the music has to go someplace, and for me, that someplace is the soul side of the tracks.”

As it turns out, McCormick’s first recordings easily could have came out on a record label that was long-known as the gold standard in soul/blues – the mighty Malaco Records.

“In about 1995, Tommy (Couch) Jr., and I had discussions at length about me recording for them. He was like a kid in a candy store when he heard some of my songs. But he also mentioned that there were several good labels here (in Chicago),” McCormick said. “So he told me to go and check out some of the labels here at home and see what I could do about getting a deal.”

McCormick was prepared, having basically already recorded a complete disc, meaning all he was missing was a record label and the distribution powers that it brought to the table. That’s where Delmark Records comes in.

“They took a chance on me and we went and re-recorded it,” said McCormick.

One of McCormick’s biggest hits off that first album for Delmark was the title track, “Hey Jodie! (Take Good Care of My Baby)” And like so many of his other compositions, this tune is largely based on real life happenings.

“It’s got stuff in it that a lot of other blues songs don’t have. It’s got this guy that’s fed-up with going to jail and having the law involved, but he’s not fed-up with his woman; he loves her. Jodie knows what this lady is puttin’ out and he ain’t about to let her go,” he said. “And he says, ‘Let’s just be playas about this; just take good care of my baby when I’m gone. You would want the same thing out of me.’ That’s a true story, man. It’s stuff that can and has happened in someone’s life and times.”

While the lyrics and the scenario of the song came relatively quickly and easily for McCormick, getting it all down on tape was another matter entirely.

“Man, they made me cut that thing three times and I started getting upset. I thought, ‘What is wrong with these people?’ Then it dawned on me,” he said. “They wanted it cut three different times to see what kind of a vibe each take had. They were looking for a certain vibe that they didn’t get on the first one, but might have on the second or third one. We did it until they said we got it. Then after that, we cut about 12 others, back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Then we took a break.”

Originally from the Motor City of Detroit – where he listened to plenty of rock-n-roll while growing up – McCormick relocated to Chicago back in 1978. No familiar surroundings and no familiar faces staring back at McCormick – who has been playing music since he was 4 – didn’t faze him one little bit upon his arrival in the Windy City.

“I just kind of always felt at home on the stage … but I really didn’t know anybody (in Chicago), so no matter what I did, I had to pay my way through,” he said. “I started out doing little singing contests with me and an acoustic guitar.”

He didn’t just enter ‘little singing contests,’ he started winning them, along with the bounty that was attached.

“You’d get up there and sing a song that was popular at the time and if you won, you got $100. Well, I won. And then I went on to a couple of other places and won there, too,” he said. “I think the last contest I won was at the Horizon West. I sang “Give Me the Night.” And after that, I said, ‘That’s it. No more singing contests. I’ve got to get me a band together.’”

Once classes started back up at Harold Washington College, McCormick hooked up with some like-minded members in the music department and started playing anywhere they could, anytime they could.

“It kind of just blew up from there and grew. We started doing concerts in the school and even though we didn’t have a keyboard player at that time, we had a fat horn section that wouldn’t quit,” he said. “We’d do concerts in the basement and charge 50 cents for T-shirts and then we started doing a few things outside the school; and then we started working every Sunday night.”

While he was beginning to find solid footing in the musical community in Chicago at that time, McCormick really wasn’t playing the blues back in those days. His combo was mainly playing the current pop and soul hits of the day.

“We’d play pop and stuff like Maze and some Steely Dan. I do like like pop music with good songs. I mean, I was in love with Michael McDonald’s singing and the way that Donald Fagen could write a song. I liked all that stuff,” he said.

His immersion into the blues would come with a visit to a club not far from where he was living.

“Buddy Guy’s (Legends) was on Wabash and 8th and I stayed at 8th and State, so I would go down there all the time. The managers and all the cats around there really got me tuned into the blues,” he said. “I knew nothing about the artists or the history of the blues at that time. Nothing.”

Hanging out around Legend’s ended up paying dividends for McCormick as he was about to hook up with a legend that rivals the stature of Buddy Guy, only maybe not as quickly as he would have liked.

“(James) Cotton was needing a guitar player and they told me about it. And I was like, ‘Sure, I’d love to play with him, but I need to graduate, first.’ I was still in college and hadn’t finished my finals yet. Well, this particular week, they (Cotton’s band) were going to New York for the weekend and then coming back for a week and then the next week, they were going to Belgium for 12 days,” McCormick said. “Well, I called my mother and she said, ‘Boy, are you nuts? If they want you now, they’ll want you even more when you cross that stage (at graduation). Why would you waste a whole semester of school to go on the road and not finish what you started? That’s ludicrous. You better not do anything like that, or I’ll come to Chicago and beat your brains out.’”

Mama’s message firmly understood, McCormick hopped on the phone and told Cotton’s manager that he did want the gig … just not right then.

“They got Larry McCray to do it, but they did call me back in July and we started rehearsing and it was cool,” he said. “I told him (Cotton) that I wanted to be a blues star and I wanted to learn as much as I could from him. And James – he called me ‘Quincy’ – told me to do what I could for him and that he was not going to hold me back (when it came time to leave). He said he would do anything he could to push me in the right direction and he was a man of his word.”

McCormick and his group found steady work at the Kingston Mines in the mid-90s, but he was still a bit unsure about the way he was being received by the rest of the blues community in Chicago at that time.

“I really didn’t know any of them (other musicians) at the time, but I couldn’t understand why the ones that were out in the crowd didn’t want to get up onstage and sit in with us. I didn’t like that and I felt bad because they didn’t want to sit in with us, like they did with everybody else,” he said. “Well, Rick Hall – Buddy’s guitar player – was telling me, ‘Q, that’s a good thing. That means they (other musicians) are so into what you’re group’s doing that they want to just sit and watch, as opposed to get up and play with you. That’s a great thing.’ I never thought about it that way, I felt kind of embarrassed about it. But after I found out (why) that gave me even more confidence about what I was doing.”

That confidence has never ebbed or waned since then, and it looks to be that way from here on out.

“Once I head that Albert King song (“Little Brother”), that was it, man. I said right then that was the starting point and I’m playing the blues for the rest of my life. This it it, right here,” he said. “There’s too many of us (bluesmen) that are dying off … somebody has to carry this torch and that’s what I want to continue to do. There’s a lot of cats out there playing hip-hop, but I don’t know how to rap. I do know how to write and that’s what’s I’m going to do – write and sing the blues.”

Visit Quintus’ Facebook page 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 9 

Joe Filisko & Eric Noden – On The Move


12 tracks

The release of a new Filisko & Noden CD is always a big thing to me. Joe Filisko is the king of the traditional blues harp and Eric Noden is a master of pre-WWII blues. Together, they can figuratively scale the highest peaks with their superb music. No one can spin old time blues like these two can, and adding the fine upright bass player Beau Sample to the mix just make the sound more genuine and cool. The duo has traveled the world together and appeared on many huge stages to the delight of adoring fans. This album further cements that legacy of fine musicianship.

The album opens to the freewheeling title track. A pumping harp sound, the beat of the guitar strings an d slap of the bass strings gives this an old time feel as the duo sings about being on the move. Both artists co-wrote this song and offer fine instrument solos and give us a nice opening taste of their fare. Filisko’s harp work here is utterly magnificent. “Mystery” follows, a Noden tune, where he explains he needs his women, “It ain’t no mystery.” Filisko’s “Kick Myself” is next, another high energy and rollicking cut. Filisko gets the lyric lines out in rapid succession as Noden gives us a little kazoo for emphasis and two do a cool harp and kazoo duet. Noden’s “Complicate” takes things down in tempo as he groans out that there is no reason to complicate. Filisko comes in for a sweet harp solo near the end and then Noden takes us home and into his next cut, “Sonic Breakdown.” This song picks up the beat as Noden sings and Filisko come in with more driving harp. The tune is a real sonic breakdown as the beat pounds and the harp blows intensely. Filisko’s “Always There For Me” closes out the first half of the album. Joe sings to us how his girl is his dream and always there for him. Very folky, very cool.

“Buckeye Rag” has Joe bending and blowing some mean harp in this jointly written instrumental cut. No one, absolutely no one, can make a harmonica do the things Joe can. This and several of the cuts on this CD reaffirm this. Noden is there with Filisko but Joe is the big star of this song. Basic, primal and totally captivating harp work! “Peaceful Man” is a Noden cut with him offering up some gravelly vocals and sweet guitar picking. Filisko pumps the harp to create a throbbing beat for Noden to build on and he does so quite well! “I Like A Woman” hearkens to a more modern time of the late 1940’s and 1950’s where Joe and Eric lay out some licks like Little Walter and Muddy but without the big electrification. It is urban and deeply Chicago blues. Filisko attacks on his harp and Noden picks out some great acoustic guitar here. Back to the old time sounds we go with the next track, “Sinkin’ In Love.” Noden offers the vocals again and takes us back in time as he sings and picks and the low numbered harp holes keep the beat and time before a nice solo by Filisko. “Worst Enemy” is the third and final Filisko solo written song on the CD and he takes the lead vocal as Noden does the response to Joe’s lead. It’s a simple and effective approach with Sample beating out a sparse groove for them. Slow and deliberate, the song winds back and forth with the singers calling and responding and then harmonizing a bit; I enjoyed this. The album concludes with Noden’s “Down in New Orleans,” a tune with a bit of a Cajun flair as Noden picks out some heavy notes as Filisko compliments him on the harp.

There is nothing to complain about here at all- this is an outstanding album! Joe and Eric are some of the best at what they do if not the best. I thoroughly enjoyed this album and if you like your blues in an old time style then you need to add this CD to your collection! This is really great stuff!

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 – 3 of 9 

Jorma Kaukonen – Ain’t In No Hurry

Red House Records RHR-CD 282

11 songs – 47 minutes

Master fingerpicker guitarist Jorma Kaukonen returns to his roots for this unrushed visit to the music of his childhood, interspersing familiar standards with new material. It’s a sweet, well-balanced mix of old and new that’s certain to please, and it gives new life to a long lost verse by folk music superstar Woody Guthrie, which he sets to music for the first time.

Recognized by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top 100 string benders of all time, Jorma’s no stranger when it comes to producing roots music despite being recognized as one of the fathers of the psychedelic movement as a founding member of Jefferson Airplane. He grew up in Washington, D.C., where he fell in love with bluegrass and blues. He quit Airplane at the height of their success in the late ‘60s and founded Hot Tuna with bassist Jack Casady, a musical relationship that endures and tours today.

Ain’t In No Hurry is the third solo album Kaukonen has released on the Red House imprint after about a dozen more on other labels. He’s joined here by a stellar lineup that includes Casady on one cut as well as Larry Campbell (mandolin, fiddle, bass, guitar, pedal steel and vocals), Barry Mitterhoff (mandolin), Myron Hart (bass), Justin Guip (drums) and Teresa Williams (backing vocals) throughout.

The overall presentation delivers a Twenty-First Century approach to what many of us old-timers would recognize as the popular acoustic blues stylings of the ‘60s as delivered by artists that included the sensational Dave Van Ronk.

But don’t be fooled. Kaukonen’s approach and modern recording techniques give this music a feel that carries it to another level altogether. Jorma harkens back to the Depression area for the kick-off number, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out.” Written by Jimmy Cox and popularized by Bessie Smith, it’s warmly and unhurriedly delivered with a traditional arrangement. Kaukonen glides effortlessly across the strings, aided by some fine fiddle work from Campbell.

A funky original, “The Other Side Of The Mountain,” follows, providing imagery about life as it relates to climbing up and descending from a peak. It’ll have you dancing no matter if you’re standing or sitting as you listen. Next up, “Suffer Little Children To Come Unto Me” breathes life into a song by Guthrie layered atop new music from Jorma and Campbell. It’s basis is a parable based on a lesson from Jesus.

The original “In My Dreams” is a tender love song focused on the golden years of life in which the object of the singer’s affection never seems to age. “Sweet Fern” sings to the slow passage of time. It’s a thoroughly modern take on a bluegrass number first recorded by the Carter Family. The title tune, “Ain’t In No Hurry,” follows. It’s a thinly disguised song about death.

Next up is a reprise of another Depression-era hit, “Brother Can You Spare A Dime,” written by Yip Harburg and Jay Gorney and popularized by Bing Crosby. It sparkles as Kaukonen and Mitterhoff trade licks on guitar and mandolin. Written by Michael Falzarano, “Where There’s Two There’s Trouble” features the entire band with Jorma singing about the problems of relationships atop a military shuffle rhythm and Williams adding vocal accents.

Kaukonen dips into the songbook of blues pioneer Georgia Tom, better known as the Rev. Thomas Dorsey, founder of gospel music, for a new arrangement of “The Terrible Operation.” It’s a humorous love song thinly disguised as a tune about surgery and service on an automobile. Two more originals, “Bar Room Crystal Ball” and “Seasons In The Field,” conclude the set.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, everything beautiful and blue, and available through all major retailers. If you like your music laid back, warm and fuzzy, you’ll definitely love this one. I sure 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.

 Blues Wanderings 

Blues Blast Magazine made it to the Prairie Dog Blues Festival last weekend in Prairie du Chien Wisconsin. One of the fine Blue artists we caught at the festival was Larry McCray.

Larry put on one fine show for us. There were many other great acts at this festival that was held on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River. Look for a complete review of all the fun in an upcoming issue!

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 9 

Canned Heat With John Lee Hooker – Carnegie Hall 1971

Cleopatra Records

songs-6 time-49:53

Canned Heat and one of their major influences John Lee Hooker recorded live at the venerable Carnegie Hall shortly after the release of the boogie summit recording “Hooker’n’Heat”. Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson died shortly after the recording to be replaced by guitarist-vocalist Joel Scott Hill. Bassist Antonio de la Barreda was also added to he band. This is the outfit that toured with John Lee Hooker behind the release. They performed separately and together.

Unfortunately for some inexplicable reason the entire show wasn’t recorded. What remains is of varying quality. The vocals were mixed way high up with the band sounding distant during vocal passages. At times the guitars sound unintentionally distorted. The performances themselves are of varying quality, but what remains is an interesting meeting of mentor and protégés.

“Framed”, a song I never heard done by Canned Heat is presented here in a good version although as elsewhere the sound is off. Henry “The Sunflower” Vestine lends his trademark acid-drenched guitar sound to a sprightly take on “Let’s Work Together”. John Lee Hooker joins the band for “Hey Babe” with a powerful vocal. He appears briefly Shake’n’Boogie” which turns out to be a noisy and messy boogie workout.

Guitar feedback leads into a fleet-fingered guitar intro from Henry that turns into a noisy version of “Back Door Man” with harsh sounding vocals by Bob “The Bear” Hite and Joel Scott Hill. The guitar playing is pretty much a mess and we get an ok drum solo from Fito de la Parra displaying his amazing bass drum skills. Remember any self-respecting band in the late sixties and early seventies had to have a long drum solo.

Hooker and the band close things out with a nicely rollicking “Tease Me Baby” featuring some good but un-credited piano playing.

Although John Lee Hooker gets some quality time here Cleopatra Records’ Canned Heat-Stockholm 1973 release is of much better quality. This recording serves as a document of a highly touted collaboration of the seventies rock era. There are some good moments here, but a few too many slipshod ones. Some good Canned Heat is better than none.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 9 

Canned Heat – Stockholm 1973

Cleopatra Records

7 songs time-49:35

Canned Heat were the epitome of 60’s-70’s good vibe blues, boogie and rock bands. At the helm was a giant in both stature and presence in the person of Bob “The Bear” Hite. He along with Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson were big time blues record collectors that eventually started up the band in the 60’s. The musical guiding light was Alan Wilson who contributed unique vocals, slide guitar and harmonica. It was he who sang on most of their signature hits. Unfortunately he passed away from a drug overdose, but the band pushed ahead for many years in various configurations. I actually had planned to see them at New Jersey’s Lambertville Music Circus but he died a day or two before the show. I finally got to see them years later. They were good, but it wasn’t quite the same since Alan died and bassist extraordinaire Larry Taylor left the band.

The version of the band represented on this live recording taken from the Swedish TV show Opopoppa includes two of the founding members in vocalist Bob Hite and guitarist Henry “The Sunflower” Vestine. Drummer Fito De La Parra was preceded by Frank Cook, but has been a mainstay of the band through the majority of its’ existence. Although their hit making days were over by this time, they still remained a viable, vital and popular band particularly overseas. Only two of their signature songs are included in this set, but the current material holds up well and they also play a version of a boogie which was one of the bands cornerstones. The addition of a keyboard player gave a different twist to their sound.

They lead off with “Let’s Work Together”, one of their big hits and they still had it. The “Bear’s” voice sounds a bit hoarse here as elsewhere on the record, but it doesn’t detract from this powerful version. Ed Beyer’s organ sounds great and fits right in. Bob handles the vocal on “On the Road Again” as Alan was no longer on the planet. Henry Vestine plays some of his trademark distorted guitar solos. Guitarist James Shane takes the lead vocal on “Harley Davidson Blues” and it’s a tune that fits right into their repertoire. “Election Blues” finds Bob commenting on the political scene of the time. Bob’s brother Richard Hite, the bass player, lends his strong voice to “So Long Wrong”, a nice stretched out song that boogies along quite well.

They offer up their latest version of a boogie jam entitled “Shake ‘N’ Boogie” that is mainly an instrumental featuring the various band members along with some jiving from the vocalists. The sign-off song “Goodbye For Now” offers up much the same.

This live set stands up on its’ own, not as a relic of a long gone era. It’s totally enjoyable and features some fine playing along with the feel good hippie vibes.

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

 Video Of the Week 1 – Tinsley Ellis 

Here is Tinsley Ellis playing his song “Seven Years. You can hear Tinsley live at the Illinois Blues Festival on Saturday, September 5th at 6:30pm. To see all of the great artists at this years Illinois Blues Festival, visit their website at or click on their ad below.

 Video Of the Week 2 – Sugar Blue 

Here is a video Sugar Blue doing his signature version of Messin’ With the Kid. Sugar Blue is headlining at the Gloucester Blues Festival in Gloucester, MA on Saturday, August 8th at 6:15pm. For tickets and full info visit or click on their ad above in this issue.

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 9 

Amazing Electric Guitar Heroes – Making History

Stony Plain Records

CD: 11 Songs; 64:00 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, Rock Covers, Traditional Electric Blues

In the Oscar-winning film Amadeus, one of the Emperor’s court composers accuses Mozart of having “too many notes” in one of his operas. Walter Trout fans might recognize this criticism, too, as it has been applied to their blues-rock guitar idol. However, as Mozart and Trout both know, musical showmanship is what makes a legend. Canada’s Stony Plain Records proved it in 2014, showcasing Guitar Heroes on a single album. Its cover art states that they are “IN PERSON”, with this phrase upon a guitar pick that eerily resembles an Ouija board’s planchette. Below the marquee bearing the CD’s title on the cover, there is another circle proclaiming that James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett, and David Wilcox are “MAKING HISTORY”. For two final superlatives, this posse is “Amazing” and “Electric”.

Truly, no one makes the shredder sparks fly quite like they do, especially when performing instrumental solos. They’ve selected ten perennial blues covers, including “Susie Q”, “That’s All Right (Mama), “Flip, Flop and Fly” and “Leave My Woman Alone”, on which to display their powerhouse prowess. Track ten, “Bad Apple”, is the sole original, mentioned further below.

According to the CD liner notes, James Burton’s career highlights include eleven years with Rickie Nelson and Elvis Presley. He’s also played with Jerry Lee Lewis, John Denver, Merle Haggard, and Roy Orbison. Albert Lee spent five years with Eric Clapton and has also accompanied Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band, along with the Everly Brothers. Amos Garrett has performed with Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Garcia, Martin Mull, and in Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight at the Oasis”. David Wilcox has garnered broadcast fame on the Ian Tyson and Nashville North TV shows, along with being one of Canada’s premier guitar pickers, with gold and platinum solo albums to his credit. All of these accolades add up to a resume that almost can’t be topped.

Backing these guitar gods, live at the Vancouver Island MusicFest on July 12, 2013, are Jon Greathouse on keyboards/lead vocals, Will MacGregor on bass, and Jason Harrison Smith on drums/background vocals. They wowed the crowd with timeless tunes, plus one of their own:

Track 10: “Bad Apple” – This slow stomp with a growling intro is David Wilcox’s originaly-written rebuke to anyone who thinks he might spoil the blues barrel: “My teacher tried to tell me, my teacher tried to tell me, I could never succeed in the world of business. I said, ‘That’s okay, Teacher, ‘cause I never did want to give anybody the ‘business’. But, Teacher, we have a message for you, Teacher. You need to eat a slice of humble pie, and the longer you wait, the worse it’s going to taste!” Millions around the globe can probably relate to having the reputation stated in the title.

Remember Veni; vidi; vici – “I came, I saw, I conquered”? Blues fans, when you put this CD into your boom-box or player, come for the guitar. See how fantastically these four tear up the floor. Conquer your doldrums with these Guitar Heroes!

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 9 

Dave Peabody – Right Now Blues

Blind Lemon Records

CD: 14 Songs; 42:34 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, Traditional Acoustic and Electric Blues

In the music world, the “British invasion” refers not to a forcible entry of our country by its former colonizers, but a peaceable importation of bands from the UK, such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. All of these groups turned rock into a worldwide phenomenon, but that’s not the only genre that has benefited from our neighbors across the Atlantic. So has the blues, in both the acoustic and electric varieties, and Southall’s Dave Peabody knows it. For over 50 years, Dave has been performing in the studio and on tour. Perhaps his greatest feat is being voted “Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year” three times by the British Blues Connection and Blues in Britain magazine. Peabody realizes that what fans around the globe want is Right Now Blues.

A mixed bag of three original songs, renowned standards, and a popular ballad from the 1920s, this release is akin to a Lifetime Achievement Award. It may not be the one with dynamite vocals or guitar solos that would register on a seismograph, but that’s not the point. Dave’s paid his dues in the world of the blues, and his newest CD is a testament to that fact. The covers he plays include “Muddy Water”, “Ducks Yas Yas Yas”, “Evil Hearted Woman Blues”, and the title track. His overall style is like Heinz 57 sauce – “ketchup with a kick”, according to an old commercial. Where Dave shines most is in his original tunes, but his covers are worth perusing.

Accompanying Dave is classically-trained violinist Regina Mudrich, According to his promotional info sheet, Dave first met her on the evening of one of his own concerts, in October of last year, in Gewoelbe Vegesack, Germany. “Although blues was not previously part of her repertoire, her sensitivity and immediate grasp of the music adds a fresh feel to the selection of songs that Dave had chosen to record.”

Besides Regina, Peabody has also shared the stage with such greats as Charlie Musselwhite, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Sonny Terry, Memphis Slim, Sonny Rhodes, Bick Lucky Carter, and Roy Bookbinder. Dave has released ten previous CD’s under his own name, and has also appeared on over thirty albums with other blues and folk musicians, such as the ones just mentioned. The following song is one of his three catchy originals on his current album:

Track 03: “Dark Side of Town” – Nearly every city, no matter how small, has two sides: the side that the locals want visitors to see, and the side they don’t. Track three concerns this latter half: “House there selling fornication, house there is selling bad booze. Den over there selling opium, anything that you might use…Who’s going to pray to the Lord above the day that the Devil comes?” Salvation by any means is nowhere to be found in these parts, but sorrow is plentiful.

Few musicians of any kind are popular and resilient enough to last as long as Dave Peabody, who is still performing Right Now 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 – 8 of 9 

The Ted Vaughn Blues Band

Harbinger Northwest Records 2015

10 tracks; 48 minutes

The Ted Vaughn Blues Band comes from the Pacific Northwest and this is their first release though they are an experienced outfit who have been playing in their area for some time. Leader Ted is on vocals and harp, Clay ‘Bone’ King is on guitar and vocals, Leon-Forrest produced and plays keys, Ted Larson is on bass and vocals and Ian Henderson on drums. There are three originals and seven covers.

The CD opens brightly with “Them 12-Bar Blues”, a witty play on words where Ted finds that the bars that interest his girl serve drinks rather than concern music: “I thought she loved the music, I thought she loved the blues but all she really loves is her whiskey, wine and booze”. With strong harp and neat guitar and organ solos this is a good track.

“Nothin’ But Trouble” is a lengthy slow blues, the classic tale of the guy whose run of bad luck is hard to credit – his girl left him, he lost his job, got evicted from his home, etc! Nothing startlingly novel here but a solid number. “Swang Thang” is a short instrumental feature for Ted’s harp with some synth horns added to the mix to give the piece some extra swing and it works well.

If you take on the classics you will be compared with the originals, so with Howling Wolf’s “Killing Floor” you have to match up to Wolf’s vocals and either Hubert Sumlin’s original guitar riff or Michael Bloomfield’s cover with Electric Flag and the band cannot stand those comparisons. They also take on two BB King tunes in “The Thrill Is Gone” and “How Blue Can You Get?”: the former has some nice harp at the beginning but otherwise brings nothing new to the tune; the latter is working quite well until half-way through when a weird solo is played, a sort of scat which jars with the rest of the song using either a vocoder or some form of synth.

A run-through of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom, Boom” fails to convey the menace of the original but “Treat Her Right” fares better with some of the same ‘snap’ in the rhythm that the original had. It was disappointing to find that none of the originals are credited and, even though we know most of them well, a band should give credit to the authors.

So, this release is something of a mixed bag. It would be good to see the band produce more of their own material which, on the basis of this album, they are more than capable of doing.

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 9 

Amanda Fish – Down In The Dirt

Vizztone 2015

12 tracks; 57 minutes

‘There are more fish in the sea’ goes the old saying and to prove it here is Amanda Fish, sister of Samantha, with her first album. The band is Amanda on guitar and vocals, Sean McDonnell (Stone Cutters Union) on guitar, Cole Dillingham on guitar and bass and Kris Schnebelen (Trampled Under Foot, Albert Castiglia) on drums. Guests include Brody Buster on harp on two tracks, Cliff Moore and Derek Tucker on bass on one track each, Coyote Bill on guitar on one track, Matt Peters on guitar on two tracks, Tyson Leslie on organ on one track, Liam Goodrick on piano on two tracks and Jacob Hiser on fiddle on one track. Amanda wrote all the material, much from her own experiences and Sean co-wrote four of the tunes.

Opener “I’mma Make You Love Me” bubbles along with a nice bass line, energetic harp and guitar solos, Amanda’s voice well suited to the uptempo tune which foretells the conquest of her quarry. “Player Blues” explores the life of ‘the other woman’ as the protagonist kisses her lover goodbye and sends him back to his wife. Amanda’s vocal sounds suitably anguished and Sean adds a fine slide solo that suits the mood of the song. The band moves into a rockier phase with “Wait”, the chugging guitars giving a North Mississippi Hill Country feel. Lyrically it’s another ‘down’ song: “If you think it’s going well you can’t be that far down the range, wait, wait, wait, that’ll change.” In complete contrast the piano, fiddle and acoustic guitar that introduce “Guess I’ll Lay Down” take us right into country blues territory, Sean sharing the lead vocals with Amanda who both acquit themselves well here. They repeat the exercise on “Prisoner Of Your Touch”, a definite standout track with a latin feel, the two guitars playing gently against each other over some lovely piano.

After the interlude of those two quieter songs things get a little funkier with “Boots On The Ground” where we learn that Amanda is “not one to be told” with a very nicely done solo from one of the guitarists set against the core riff. “I Don’t Need It” is a blues with moody harp and greasy slide, Amanda singing stridently that she “don’t need that kind of bullshit in my life”. “Hard Walkin’ Blues” follows with a very repetitive riff and refrain, marching drums giving another ‘down’ song a feeling of doom. “Lady Of The Night” is lighter musically with its bass and finger snap intro but lyrically it’s another dark tale of the hooker who “don’t care what I mean to you, ‘cos, honey, your money’s just fine”. Very quiet acoustic guitar opens “Breaking Me Down” with some very high pitched slide adding to the eerie feel of this one where Amanda seems to have found a relationship that she needs to save. However, as the lengthy track develops we get the sense that this relationship may also be doomed: “Hold me close while you wound me once more; in a sea of you I cannot find the shore. Don’t let me go ‘cos every beat of your heart is breaking me down”. Amanda has put her trust in another guy in “Watch It All Burn” in which Sean’s slide solo certainly does burn but, again, the relationship appears doomed. Will we get a more positive slant in the title cut “Down In The Dirt” that closes the album? Not really, Amanda describing some of her problems as she tries to establish herself as an artist: “dirty old man don’t care what I have to sing. He don’t want to hear the songs I have to play. He judges my worth by the length and the width of my skirt, I keep him down in the dirt”. Against a slow rhythm the guitars lay waste to the ground in the middle section of this lengthy track before Amanda returns to complete the song with some very strident vocals, repeating the title many times over more sonic noise from Sean’s guitar – not this reviewer’s favourite cut!

To produce an all original debut album of such personal songs is a brave move which we should commend. Not all the tracks worked but Amanda demonstrates here that she and her band have something a little different to contribute.

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

 Blues Society News 

 Send your Blues Society’s BIG news or Press Release about your not-for-profit event with the subject line “Blues Society News” to:

Maximum of 175 words in a Text or MS Word document format.

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!

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. 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 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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