Issue 9-41 October 8, 2015

Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2015

 In This Issue 

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with the harmonica ace, Rod Piazza. We have 4 music reviews for you including reviews of music by Jay Willie Blues Band, Andy T Nick Nixon Band, Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen and Gerry Hundt’s Legendary One-Man Band. Bob Kieser has photos and commentary from the Illinois Blues Festival.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 4 

Jay Willie Blues Band – Johnny’s Juke Joint

Zoho Roots ZM 201510

12 songs – 42 minutes

Newtown, Conn., blues-rocker Jay Willie doesn’t hide the fact that the biggest influence in his life has been the late Johnny Winter, and hints of the Texas guitar slinger’s stylings. But despite the CD’s title, this isn’t a tribute album, it is far more than that. Although some of Winter’s influence peaks through occasionally, Johnny’s Juke Joint is a well-conceived collection of covers and originals delivered with gusto from a fresh point of view.

It features stellar guest appearances from new-age harmonica master Jason Ricci, who’s appeared on all three of the band’s albums, and singer Malorie Leogrande, who tours internationally and possesses a distinctively different voice with a five-octave range, and Jay’s brother Tod, who holds down vocals on one number. Drummer/vocalists Bobby T Torello, guitarist/vocalist Bob Callahan, sax player Ted Yakush and bassist Steve Clarke help to round out the group and produce a set that’s certain to keep your toes tapping or your feet on the dance floor.

Leogrande and Ricci blast out of the starting gate to kick off the disc with a version of Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs’ “Wooly Bully,” a Tex-Mex classic and one of the biggest songs of the mid-‘60s. It’s driven by a powerful rhythm pattern as Jason provides the patterns originally laid down on farfisa organ and then launches into one of the rapid-fire solos that fans have come to love. Malorie’s delivery is warm and upbeat. Next up, the pair are featured again in a loping, well-controlled version of Jimmy Reed’s “You Got Me Dizzy.” Ricci opts for lower- and middle-resister notes instead of copying Reed’s high-resister original to add a modern feel to the production.

“One More Mile” follows with Jay on vocals for an arrangement that hints of Sugar Blue’s interpretation of a song often credited to James Cotton, but written by Muddy Waters. Ricci provides harp accents as Willie gets to stretch out on the six-string for the first time in the set. The treatment is rock-solid for a song that deserves far more exposure than it’s received. Next up, Malorie is totally sultry for the original slow blues “Upside Of The Ground.” The message is simple: Any day on the right side of the grass is a good one despite the perils you might face along the way.

Another ‘60s classic, Bobby Parker’s beach music standard “Barefootin’,” precedes the only other original in the set, “Hold On To Watcha Got,” featuring slick guitar work and vocals from Jay. The band dips into Curtis Mayfield’s songbook for “People Get Ready” with Tod singing lead and pleasing choral accents.

Jay gets to demonstrate his slide guitar skills again for “I Love Everybody,” the song Winter commonly used to open performances with Malorie on the mic, before Bobby T takes command to deliver the Buddy Guy/Junior Wells-penned “I Got A Stomach Ache.” A version of Dee Clark’s “Nobody But You” follows before the album concludes with a rocking version of Roy Milton’s “Succotach” and trip to the Bottom via a stripped down, countrified version of Robert Johnson’s “Me And The Devil,” fueled by Ricci’s harp.

Available through CDBaby, Johnny’s Juke Joint delivers on all counts. The two originals are good ones, and the covers all get a fresh coat of paint. Head and shoulders, the Jay Willie Blues Band’s best album yet.

Reviewer’s note: Johnny Charles Marino and I both preceded Jason Ricci as harmonica player for the Nucklebusters.

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.


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 Featured Blues Interview – Rod Piazza 

With a career that has spanned five decades, Rod Piazza has seen it all, often staring out of the window of a van motoring on to the next gig. On the title track on his latest release, Emergency Situation, on Blind Pig Records, the singer and harmonica ace takes a hard look at the current prospects for himself along with his crack band, the Mighty Flyers.

“The inspiration for the song came from an Eddie Harris tune “That’s Why You’re Overweight”. He’s talking about all of these things he wants to eat and you have to eat to live. So I came up with “Emergency Situation” as a satire about the present scene as it relates to a blues musician trying to make it in life. It was pretty great in the 1990s with that big blues explosion. At that time there were thirteen clubs that we could play anytime for good money. Now there is one club.”

“Around 2003 as we were booking tours, we started to notice that the pick-up gigs that we used to get on Tuesday or Wednesday nights weren’t an option. That made it harder to connect the dots for a tour without spending money for hotel rooms for me and the band on off-nights. At that time, I had it where we worked every night on the road for three weeks straight. So we became the first group to do fly-outs. No more driving the van around for five tours plus a trip to Europe every year.”

It was tough for a bit but the band eventually found a way to maintain financial stability by doing a few local shows in addition to festival dates where that paid enough to allow the band to fly in. Piazza knew the change was necessary. “I still have friends out there driving around in the van trying to make it. You’re doing something you love and you want to keep doing it. I’m sixty-seven years old. At my age, I still love to play. But I’ve spent too many hours driving. I’m not going to drive across the states putting 50,000 miles on my body and my car. So I wrote the song as satire, talking about how the clubs ain’t paying, the festivals are hurting too; the only solid gig is on the Legendary Blues Cruise. Roger Naber got a kick out of that.”

“We lost a lot of business when I decided we were done on the road. A festival could get three bands that are out there still driving the states for what it cost to fly five musicians in from California, pay us what we wanted, put up the backline plus pay for hotel rooms and ground transportation. That set our price pretty high so we missed out on quite a few festivals from the old days.”

His musical education started with two older brothers, who shared their love of cool records, cool cars and pretty women with their younger brother. The music inspired him to start playing some guitar at a young age. His first band, the Mystics, already had several other guitar players more skilled than he was, so Piazza made the shift to singing and playing harp. “There were several other blues bands in the area, so we were all pushing each other, making everybody work a little harder. Eventually we moved to Los Angeles and signed with a producer. We cut a 45 rpm record for him. One song was called “Stepped Into The Twilight Zone,” written by Mac Rebennack. I had never heard of Dr. John then”.

The band kept pushing the producer for bigger and better things. He finally parted with them, giving them control of their future. One fateful evening, the band was playing at a club in Huntington Beach. A writer for the LA Free Press, Eileen Kaufman, came in to hear them play, loved the band, and got them in touch with another producer who signed the group in 1967 to the ABC-Bluesway label. “The Dirty Blues Band was the only white act on the label. They had T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner, Otis Spann, and George “Harmonica” Smith. We didn’t like the name change but that was the producer’s idea. We weren’t any good but we had long hair so they probably figured we could sell some blues records to hippies”.

The next year saw Smith and Piazza teaming up in a new band that included Richard Innes on drums, Buddy Reed on guitar, JD Nicholson on piano, and Jerry Smith on bass. They called themselves Bacon Fat and hit the clubs in Watts with the novel two harp line-up. “I didn’t think the world was ready for two harps but George wanted to do it. I’d come out and do the first part of the show and George would do the second half. He’d call me back out for the encore. He made up two fifty foot cords for our microphones. I’d be on one side of the stage with George on the other. Then we would meet out in the middle of the audience. One of us would be standing on something for the big show closer”.

“A lot of guys who later became great harmonica players saw those shows. They were inspired by that and went on to build their own careers. They learned from coming to my gigs or from listening to my records, especially the Bacon Fat records. You never know how many people you touch. I met Rick Estrin at San Francisco show – a big revue with T-Bone Walker, Cleanhead Vinson, Big Joe, and Roy Brown. I told him how to do a few things. Kim Wilson and Curtis Salgado are a couple more that I remember meeting at shows.’

“I was on the scene earlier than the rest. They had someone who was out there playing in a band, so they could pick-up what they could from me and leave what they didn’t want. William Clarke used to sit out there with a tape recorder & tape the whole show. It’s all history now. I just wanted to play my harmonica as close to a saxophone as I could. Your own style is created by what you are able to do on a harp and what you can’t do. Somewhere in-between those two, you fall into a pocket. And that is Rod Piazza. I hear a lot of harp players on the radio and I can’t tell who it is. But if I hear one of my records, even one I forgot I recorded, I can sure as hell tell that it is me playing. I’m not saying that my playing is above everybody else. I have a unique thing to the way I play, the way I phrase”.

“I made a few good records and inspired a few people along the way. When I was at a recording session for Delta Groove Records, Jason Ricci was cutting a couple of songs before me. When I came into the room, he said “Hey man, I want to tell you something. When I heard that record you made, “Tribute To George Smith,” (Harpburn on Black Top records), a tear came to my eye.” That tells you that cats were listening to my stuff.” Other harp players that studied his work include Madison Slim and Dennis Gruenling, who once was dubbed the “hippie stalker” by Piazza as Gruenling was a constant presence at many Mighty Flyer shows on the East coast.

Good fortune struck again when the famed English producer Mike Vernon appeared on the scene, looking for a band to replace the original Fleetwood Mac on his Blue Horizon label. They recorded at a studio owned by Johnny Otis. Vernon also recorded the band live at their home base, Small’s Paradise in Watts, that also had guitarist Pee Wee Crayton sitting in. In 1970, the band toured England to great reviews, some of which proclaimed Bacon Fat to be the best white American blues band.

Once they were back in the states, they toured with Big Mama Thornton in addition to playing clubs in Watts and Los Angeles, often opening for legends like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. In 1975, Piazza was hospitalized with a severe illness. Muddy called George Smith wanting to get in touch with Piazza about becoming the next harp player in his band. Smith let Muddy know that Piazza was laid-up, robbing Piazza of the opportunity to back one of his heroes.

When Bacon Fat had run its course, Piazza formed the Chicago Flying Saucer Band, which released one album on Gangster Records, and eventually became the first version of the Mighty Flyers. Featuring his wife Honey on keyboards, the various versions of the band have always included some of the best musicians around. Piazza has a simple philosophy when it comes to being a successful band leader. “I believe that you can’t stifle creativity. You have to give musicians room to express themselves on the bandstand. Don’t hold them back. The other thing is making concessions. You give a little on some issues – on others you have to stand tall. If you are fair and not an egomaniac, letting someone do their best will create a great band, which is preferable to being a front man with four statues standing there never doing anything worthwhile. You want them to feel like they played some damn shit – and that I paid them fairly for their efforts”.

Spending all of those long days on the road has together was never been a problem for Rod and his wife, Honey, who plays keyboards as one of the Mighty Flyers. . “It is a special relationship – not only wife, husband and lovers but best friends too. We are together all the time whether we were playing or not. We both have a fairly even temperament, know when to back off or stand up. We both have had a common goal, to pursue our love of blues music and follow in the footsteps of the people we loved. For Honey, it was Otis Spann. For me, it was Little Walter and George Smith. That was our lifestyle. I don’t think we have changed at all”.

Piazza misses several musicians and close friends who left this life. ‘Richard Innes used to listen to me all the time, learning to play some harp. We became close friends. He was the best man at my first wedding. The drummer I had in the band at the time got drafted. Richard said he played a bit of drums at school. So we bought a beat-up drum set from another friend for $100 and we proceeded to rehearse every day on Little Walter & Muddy tunes. His first gig was with me & George in Watts at the Sassy Kitten with guitarist Pee Wee Crayton”.

“We had rehearsed to death. Richard really tried to master the Fred Below style of drumming. All these harmonica players loved to play with the cat because he knew what to put behind you from going over that shit over and over again in the garage until we got it right. He learned his craft. He knew what to put in & not to put in. He laid it down like you wanted to hear it and made it easy for everybody that was standing in front of him to do their thing”.

Along with Miss Honey and guitarist Hollywood Fats, Piazza spent many a night playing at the Pioneer Club with the late singer & guitarist Smokey Wilson. “I used to play the first set by myself with just the rhythm section, and then Smokey would be up there for the next two sets. I was driving 65 miles each way, making fifteen bucks a night. I kept on doing it because I loved the music and I didn’t have anything else. George Smith came down there one night to see me play and wound up getting robbed out in the parking lot. Smokey had a great voice, played stinging guitar, and put it out there real strong. The folks that ran the Eugene, Oregon blues fest were looking for some new acts. I recommended Smokey and that ended up being his first show in front of a white audience.”

Known for his work on the chromatic harp, Piazza relates how he got started on the bigger harp. “This guy used to steal B flat chromatics from the music store and sell them to me. Nobody would buy these weird keys. They all wanted the C scale chromatic. So I am playing a lot of gigs with people like Big Joe and he wants to do every damn song in C. I didn’t like blowing that high F harp. They weren’t making low F at the time. I could blow a little bit of third position on the B flat harp but on some of the songs you couldn’t get around on that. On the B flat chromatic, I could play in third position and I could get to C. That worked out real good.”

“I started singing my own songs in C because that was a good key for me. I learned that you could wail on that chromatic. I found a technique to control my breathing so that I could manhandle that harp. The chromatic is a foreign item for cats used to the smaller diatonic harps. It takes different mouthing techniques and ways of to control your air. They usually can’t get enough weight out of it to make it work over the microphone to get a good sound. I worked real hard to that that chromatic real strong through the amp and mike George and I used to play with guys like Albert King, with his Flying V guitar, huge amp, and a sound as big as the Empire State Building. And here I am with this little bitty harp! Some people say that Rod plays too loud, but it stems from being thrust into that environment of the guitar bands coming on so strong. I wanted to make sure people didn’t forget me”.

“I took what I could learn from Walter and George. From Walter it was technique and control of the instrument. From George I learned the strong attack, stage presence, and tonal quality. I tried to apply all of that to the music that I liked to listen to as well as the stuff they did. For example, George used to play “Little Bitty Pretty One,” a fifties R&B hit. So I went home and came up a version of “Rockin’ Robin”. One night when we were playing at Small’s, I broke it out and George just cracked up. Two night later he got up there and played “Rockin’ Robin,” stood there laughing at me like ok, now I’ve got some of yours!”

“I put the 12 hole B flat chromatic on the map. I adapted a lot of the swinging, saxophone style music and the double shuffle kind of thing that people now refer to as west coast blues – that free drum, no backbeat groove. Bottom line, I just wanted to play my harmonica”.

Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2015

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying life without snow. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and the past president of the Crossroads Blues Society of Northern Illinois. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years – just ask his wife!.

 Featured Live Blues Review – Illinois Blues Festival 

The 27th annual Illinois Blues Festival was held labor Day weekend on the riverfront in Peoria, Illinois. The weather was great and so was the Blues entertainment.

While I spent most of my time on the main stage, there were actually 3 stages of blues action at this great festival. The main stage kicked off on Friday night with bass man extraordinaire Victor Wooten. Victor is a monster on the bass and is often seen playing with some of the top players in a variety of musical styles including a continuing spot playing with the legendary Bela Fleck.

Next up was Doyle Bramhall II. Eric Clapton, describes Bramhall as one of the most gifted players he has ever encountered. That talent was on display as he played some classic rock and blues that the crowd loved.

The headliner on Friday was Robert Randolph & The Family Band. Robert’s amazing lead playing on the scared steel guitar ended the night with the crowd singing and clapping along.

On Saturday the show started off with The Bret Bunton Project. Bret is a 20 something guitar ace that I have watched grow up over the last 12 years starting out as a teenager jamming at local Blues shows. He and his music have matured nicely!

Next up was the Nick Boettcher Band. Nick is another Central Illinois musician I have watched grow from a young teen playing at jams through his graduation from Berklee College of Music several years ago. Now based in Texas it was good to see him again. He keeps getting better and better!

Next up was Detroit’s own Rusty Wright Band. Rusty’s brand of blues rock was a great way to cap off the Saturday afternoon music slot.

Next up was Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. While a Reverend Payton show is not your father’s type of blues, Peyton is a real performer who can hold a crowd and get them involved. Great set!

Next up was Tinsley Ellis. Tinsley hails from Atlanta, GA and his brand of blues rock is actually award winning! Tinsley’s latest album Tough Love just won best Rock Blues album in the 2015 Blues Blast Music awards on September 24th. A great set from a talented player!

The Illinois Blues Festival knows how to throw it down with keeping the best for last! The headliner was blues legend Taj Mahal and the 2 time Grammy winner was sounding great at 73 years young. His rendition of the tune “Queen Bee” from his1998 Grammy award winning album Señor Blues was the highlight of the fest for this blues fan. Taj is the master. (If you don’t have that album in your collection, GET IT! I promise complete satisfaction!)

There is no better way to finish off a great blues fest. The Illinois Blues Festival is held each year over Labor Day weekend. Put it on your schedule for 2016.

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser © 2015

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 4 

Andy T Nick Nixon Band – Numbers Man

Blind Pig Records

14 tracks/54:28

The Andy T Nick Nixon Band has pretty much taken the blues world by storm. This is their third release on a major label. It was nominated for both a Blues Blast and a Blues Music Award for Best Traditional Album. Blending the incredible talents of Memphis performer and music educator Nick Nixon and the acclaimed guitar player “Andy T” Talamantez who was Southern California born and raised, this is a superb album and I think it is their best yet. Anson Funderburgh has produced another gem in this CD and he and the band are (and should be) proud of their superb efforts!

The primary band is Nick on vocals, Andy T on guitar, Larry Van Loon on B3 and piano, Jim Klinger on drums, and Sam Persons on bass. The keys and backline are long-standing stalwarts in the band. Guests include Anson Funderburgh (guitar), Kim Wilson (harp), Christian Dozier (piano and accordion), Zeke Jarmon (rubboard), and the Texas Horns (Kaz Kazanov on tenor sax, Al Gomez on trumpet and John Mills on baritone sax). The last track features an assortment of other guests. 10 originals and 4 covers are the mix here.

The CD opens with “Shut the Front Door,” a jumping cut where Nick bemoans his baby leaving him and Anson and Andy T respond to him with some heavy duty, driving guitar work. Anson begins with the lead and a killer guitar solo and then Andy takes the solo and lead. Support by van Loon with some boogie woogie piano and savory B3 really fills out this track, a great opening for this album. “Devil’s Wife” is a song about a woman who, based on the title alone, must be quite “special.” The mid tempo shuffle is very danceable. Great guitar, keys and a heavy dose of horns make this one a winner. “Deep Blue Sea” is a down tempo swing tune with the horns heavily involved in the groove. Nixon paces out the vocals well and the horns do a sort of response to his calls. Andy’s tasteful solo is followed by an equally tasteful B-3 solo. I could envision Cab Calloway singing this to a wild response! “Tall Drink of Water” starts with a bit of a Cajun sound as Dozzler’s accordion sets the tone and pace for this song. Andy T comes in with a short, stinging guitar solo and then it’s back to the bayou for some more two stepping fun. The title track is an ode to a man who has connections and helps regular folks get things done that may or may not be done within the law. This is some nice slower blues with Andy showing us his stuff and the B-3 and horns filling in nicely.

“Pretty Girls Everywhere” is a bopping cut with piano, horns and guitar sweetly supplementing Nixon’s vocals. Andy’s solo is rocking and then Kaz comes in for his solo and does a great job tanking us out. “Blue Monday” is a dirty and low-down slow blues where Andy and Nick give us an outstanding effort. Dozzler play some pretty piano in here, too, but it’s Nick’s testifying that is the key to this one. Andy’s long solo is sweet. Van Loon dodges in and out on the B-3 to make things even more soulful. “Hightailin’” is a guitar based instrumental that Andy excels at. The B-3 support is quite tasteful and well done; the backline beat is also rock steady. On “Sundown Blues” Wilson appears on harp and he and Nixon are at ease trading off the lead. Traditional, straight up blues here; well done! Kim is on fire for his solos and Nick stays right up there with him the rest of the way. “Tell Me What’s The Reason” is a swinging cut that jumps, jives and wails as Nixon bounces through the lead. Andy come in for a bouncy solo and then it’s time for a long instrumental barrage. Great horn work and keys once again!

Anson returns for a solo and some work on “Be Somebody Someday” which is stellar stuff. The baritone horn is a standout, too. “What Went Wrong” has Dozzier returning on the squeeze box and Jarmon doing some cool percussive stuff as Nixon testifies and asks about a relation gone bad. The old Gatemouth Brown tune “Gate’s Salty Blues” offers more great guitar work and horns. Nixon growls out the vocal lead while Andy T blasts out the guitar solo; Nixon closes resolute in finding a new woman and then Andy takes us out on the back of his guitar. Things rap up with “This World We Live In,” a soulful blues ballad. Social commentary about the sad state of affairs is the theme, but Nixon offers hope in stating love is the answer. A great cut to close out a great album! The solos on the B-3 by Kevin McKendree are fabulous. Steve F’dor on piano is solid and the backline of Denise Fraser on drums and Rick Reed on bass is also quite good. Andy’s guitar is poignant and beautiful as he paints a backdrop of our desperate times with his strings.

This is one of the finest albums of the past year. It needs a spot in any blues lover’s collection!

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 4 

Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen – Love & Life

Self Release through Dolly Sez Woof Records

11 tracks / 51:02

Ted Drozdowski, leader of the Scissormen, is one hell of a writer. He has written for glossy publications such as Rolling Stone and Travel + Leisure, but more importantly to blues fans he also does a first-rate job of penning excellent songs. The new Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen album is a testament to this fact.

This is the Scissormen’s sixth album, and it has eleven tracks with ten Drozdowski originals. Matt Snow joined him on this project behind the drum kit, with Marshall Dunn on bass and a few of their friends as guest artists. Ted was the producer and took care of the vocals, guitars, and diddley bow in the recording studio, which was actually a mountaintop tent in Pasquo, Tennessee. But this was not just any tent: this was Omega Lab Studios, home of the Mando Blues Show on Radio Free Nashville. The record was a crowd-funded project, and their faithful fans (including Reeves Gabrels) put up the cash to make sure this record became a reality.

This is not a cookie cutter 12-bar blues album, but is most certainly the blues and there are strong Delta elements to prove it. Ted is a creative soul with a vision that he was able to fulfill by making this a rich tribute to blues legends that laid the groundwork before him. This took the form of righteous overdubs and a heavy sound that venture at times into the land of the psychedelic. And do not let the tent recording studio thing fool you into thinking this is a rough cut – Love & Life is a well-made album that should be listened to with a good set of headphones.

The set kicks off with a song that is more musically complicated than what Scissormen fans have come to expect. “Beggin’ Jesus” features the Hammond B3 of Grammy-nominated Paul Brown, many layers of distorted guitars, and hard-hitting bass and drums. The story here is as old as Adam and Eve, as Ted ponders sin, salvation, and the duality of mankind.

Ted is not afraid to get personal and “Black Lung Fever” was written in memory of Drozdowski’s grandfathers, both of whom died after spending their lives in the coalmines. This song has a fairly normal Delta blues feel to it, but it is spiced up with a modern bass tone, scorching riffs and a hearty helping of Brown’s Hammond. There is a palpable sense of a hardscrabble existence throughout: “My mama had no shoes / till the day she went to school / and her clothes were hand-me-downs / that’s how miner’s families do.”

A favorite moment is a special appearance from the storied soul singer Mighty Sam McClain on “Let’s Go to Memphis.” This track is a marked contrast from the rest of the album, as it eschews modern styles and takes a straight-up 1960s rhythm and blues path. This is the kind of song that is right in McClain’s wheelhouse and his pleasantly aged voice on this romantic tune (about a great blues city) provides a nice break in the middle of the action. Sam passed on in June, and he will be sorely missed in the music community.

There is a sole cover in the set, the Scissormen’s take on the Muddy Waters’ hit, “I Can’t be Satisfied.” But this is pretty far from the source material with only a howling diddley bow and percussion as accompaniment to Drozdowski’s eerie vocals. This totally works on every level and is nearly as revolutionary in this format as the original was when it was released in 1948.

There are a handful of songs that were created in honor of some true musical heroes. “Watermelon Kid” uses a cool drumbeat and searing guitars as the backgrounds as it relates the genius of Watermelon Slim. Marshall Dunn lays down an awesome bass line with killer tone while Ted experiments with stereo effects for “R.L. Burnside (Sleight Return).” And finally, the album draws to a close with “Unwanted Man,” which was written for another of Drozdowski’s inspirations, Weepin’ Willie Robinson.

It may take more than one listen to fully grasp most of what is going on in Love & Life. It is worth the effort, as this is the best effort so far from Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen. Their energy and innovation carry over to the stage too and fortunately this trio tours both domestically and internationally on a regular basis. So, head over to their web site to check out their gig schedule, and try to get out of the house to see their live show if you get the chance!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 4 

Gerry Hundt – Gerry Hundt’s Legendary One-Man Band

SteadyGroove Music

CD: 15 Songs; 51:57 Minutes

Styles: Traditional Acoustic and Electric Blues, Instrumental Blues

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the word “legendary” was only used to describe the most marvelous wonders and audacious feats of humankind. Now it’s commonplace – so much so that there’s an Internet meme saying, “It’s legen…wait for it…dary!”. How can blues listeners help this word regain its former glory? One way is by testing any musician who makes such a claim, as Rockford, IL-raised, Chicago stalwart Gerry Hundt does while promoting his Legendary One-Man Band. A hallmark feature of a legend is that it’s passed on through word of mouth. In Hundt’s case, this is clearly so. He’s been called “Mr. Universal” and “Mr. Versatile” by several die-hards, including fans of Nick Moss and the Flip Tops, in which Gerry performed.

On the inside of his newest CD’s cover, Hundt lists that he plays a “Farmer StompDrum, OME Minstrel, Screaminchickenz Firebird, Gibson Les Paul, National M2, Front and Center G-Rig, kazoo, harmonica, National Dueco, hi-hat drums, ARK New Era Maurer, Supro Dual-Tone, [and a] Farmer Foot Drum”. Three of the guitars listed are acoustic, but one is electric, as pictured in the liner notes drawing. It takes considerable talent to use any one of these instruments and amps, let alone by a sole musician. On six covers and nine originals, Gerry Hundt plays foot-stomping, old-fashioned blues. No one will hear any New Millennium synthesizers here. Even though Hundt’s vocals are a bit flat, the album is first rate.

How does Hundt succeed as a one-man band? As he says in his informational promo sheet, “It’s just practice – doing it all the time. When you start out, you walk [i.e., use both feet] – bass drum, high-hat [cymbals]. Bass drum, high hat. And some folks don’t get past that.” Assuredly, Gerry is not just “some folks”. He’s a veteran of the blues full of dedication, not a dilettante.

Track 02: “Stompin’ and Shoutin’” – Sometimes “raising sand,” as the blues saying goes, just isn’t worth the hassle in a relationship: “Stompin’ and a shoutin’ ain’t gonna do you no good. You gotta calm down, baby, like you know you should.” Is this funny or sad? For a clue, check the back of the CD cover. Above this song’s title is a high-heeled shoe with a broken heel. The best part of this song is the harmonica, rueful and witty at the same time.

Track 05: “Sunset” – Does acoustic reverie belong on a blues album? Yes, indeed! Sometimes the low-down aching chill of regret arrives gradually. On a different note, relaxation and peace are what the blues helps people to find. Kick back and enjoy the mellow “Sunset” while it lasts.

Track 11: “Take It Outside” – When tranquility can’t be found, however, it’s time for a battle. Featuring high hat, drums, and a kazoo that kicks tail, track eleven contains a suggestion for proper combat: “When you’re getting drunk and you want to fight, put the beer down and do it right. Take it outside – that’s just what you’ve gotta do.”

Without a doubt, Gerry Hundt’s got a Legendary One Man Band!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 36 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.

 Blues Society News 

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Minnesota Blues Society – St. Paul, MN

The Minnesota Blues Society presents the 2015 Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame Sunday, Oct. 11, 1:00-6:00pm at Wilebski’s Blues Saloon, 1638 Rice St., St. Paul, MN.

Honorees include “Big George” Jackson, John Beach, Auburn “Pat” Hare, Donald “Hye Pockets” Robertson, Harold Tremblay, Jacquie “Lady J” Maddix, Joel Johnson and Percy Strothers.
The Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame honors musicians, people, and organizations that have significantly contributed to the Blues music genre in Minnesota over the past 20 years or more.

Also, the Blues Studio For School fundraiser will be held
on Sunday, November 15 from 12:00pm – 5:00pm at Minnesota Music Cafe 499 Payne
Ave. St. Paul, MN. 100 percent of the proceeds benefit MN Blue Society’s Blues for Kids program. The suggested donation is $10. The “Blues Studio for School,” is a six-week workshop that seeks to instill in children a deeper appreciation and awareness of blues music, its history, and influence in contemporary culture. The event will feature live performances by Joe Filipovich’s band. The Blue Cities. Squishy Mud, Armadillo Jump and Joyann & Sweet Tea are also scheduled to perform. In addition to live music, there will be a bake sale, auction and a cash lottery.

Support for the Blues for Kids program can also be shown by contributing to the Kickstarter campaign

For more info:

Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, IL

Crossroads Blues Society is working hard to keep the blues alive. Starting with our first two Blues in the Schools programs and an evening show after them and a great show by Liz Mandeville, this fall will be an exciting time in Northern Illinois

Our second Saturday monthly blues at the Hope and Anchor English Pub in Loves Park, IL go on. Josh Hoyer appears on October 10th, the Jimmy’s are in on November 14th and our annual Christmas Party and show will feature Jimmy Nick and Don’t Tell Mama at the Pub. $5 cover after 7 PM.

First and third Fridays at the Lyran Society Club on 4th Ave in Rockford: 11/6 and 12/4: The New Savages, 10/16: Roy Orbison Tribute, 11/20 Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames (CD Release Party), and 12/18 The Blues Hawks Acoustically. All shows are 7 to 10 PM and there is a fish fry or steak dinner available. No cover, open to the public.

The AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs will once again feature blues bands from 5:15 to 6:45 PM prior to every Friday home game. 10/23 is the New Savages, 10/30 is Recently Paroled, 11/27 is Dan Phelps and 12/11 is Macyn Taylor. There are 7 more Friday games in 2016.

First Sunday Blues at All Saints are from 4 to 6 PM. The Blues Hawks are 11/1 and Macyn Taylor on 1/6. Shows are free, donations go to People Helping People, the local food pantry.

Our Blues Challenge is on Sunday, October 11th starting at 4 PM at Mary’s Place in Rockford. $5 admission.

Planning for 2016 include brining Tad Robinson, John Primer and many others into the Rockford area for shows. Stay tuned for more upcoming events!

The Detroit Blues Society – Detroit, MI

On Saturday October 10,2015 the Detroit Blues Heritage Series will present “Blues Meets Soul” featuring Bobby Murray with special guest Wyles “Red” Redding. This event will take place from 2:00PM until 4:30PM at the historic Scarab Club. The Scarab Club is located at 217 Farnsworth in Detroit’s Cultural Center. The Detroit Blues Society and the Scarab Club produce this event jointly. A $5.00 donation is requested.

The Detroit Blues Society is a 501(c) 3 non-profit dedicated to the preservation, education and advancement of the Blues tradition as it relates to the Metro Detroit area.

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. Oct. 12 – The Cadillac Daddy’s, Oct. 19 – The 24th Street Wailers, Oct. 26 – Rockin Johnny

Additional ICBC shows: Oct. 15 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6-9 pm Guest host: Steve the Harp Blues Band

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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