Issue 9-47 November 19, 2015

Cover photo by Arnie Goodman © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Leslie West. We have 5 music reviews for you including reviews of music by D. L. Duncan, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, Guy Forsyth Blues Band, Leslie West and Dave Hunt. Bob Kieser has Part II of the photos from the King Biscuit Festival.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 5 

D. L. Duncan – D. L. Duncan

15 South Records

10 tracks / 40:28

You may know D.L. Duncan as Dave Duncan, but no matter what you call him he is truly a fine bluesman, with a beautifully soulful voice and an amazing touch on the guitar. Dave has been on the music scene for more than 35 years, and he has made his mark as a gold-record songwriter for other artists (Curtis Salgado, Lorrie Morgan, and Buddy Jewell), but he also writes songs for his own projects. On his albums he has also been pulling in some first class talent to help him in the studio and the results have been solid, to say the least.

His new album, D.L. Duncan, is no exception. On bass there is David Hood, a famed producer (Willie Nelson and Cher) who has played with Traffic, Boz Scaggs, and The Waterboys. The other half of the rhythm section is Vince Santoro on the drums (Rosanne Cash, Charlie Louvin, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). It would be a dream to have Grammy-winner Delbert McClinton on the harp and Sonny Landreth on the slide guitar for your album, and D.L. made this dream come true. And the icing on the cake is the inclusion of Kevin McKendree on the keys and the amazing McCrary sisters on backing vocals. Duncan was the producer and wrote eight of the ten songs on this disc, plus he took care of the vocals and guitars. There is no question that all the right pieces were in place to make this a wonderful record, and blues fans will not be disappointed.

The band kicks off the set with “I Ain’t the Sharpest Marble,” an easy-going blues song with a touch of boogie and heaps of humorous lyrics. D.L. mostly hangs back on the guitar with just a few pointed leads, but he lays down a nice solo midway through. McKendree delivers a fine performance on the piano, bringing the whole thing together into a neat package. The production values are first-rate here, with good mixing and nothing out of place (courtesy of multiple Grammy-winner Tony Daigle), and this work ethic blessedly carries over to the other nine tracks on the disc.

There is not a bad song to be found on the album, but there are a few standouts. One of these is Jerry Lynn Williams’ “Sending Me Angels,” which has been covered by luminaries such as Coco Montoya and Peter Frampton. This countrified soul song is done Duncan’s way, with some tasteful acoustic and resonator guitar playing, a killer beat, and a chorus that is just a bit sweeter because the McCrary sisters pitch in.

Another favorite from D.L. Duncan is an uptempo rhythm and blues tune, “Orange Beach Blues.” This song is orchestrated perfectly, with a wonderful synergy between the McCrary’s harmonies and McKendree’s Hammond. The backline of Hood and Santoro once again lay down a righteous rhythm and Duncan’s guitar work is smooth and soulful (including an Allman-esque close), which plays perfectly with his growly vocals.

All good things have to come to an end, and this time it is with “All I Have to Offer You is Love,” a sweet country blues ballad written by Craig Wiseman that was previously done very well by both Tanya Tucker and Dusty Springfield. The listener will find this song is built with a nice helping of Hammond B3, plenty of Landreth’s slide guitar and some cool pedal steel from David Pinkston. Duncan’s heartfelt lyrics are poignant, and this was a savvy choice to close the album out with.

D.L. Duncan’s new self-titled CD is a well-written, well-played, and well-produced, making it his best record to date and a must-buy for fans of blues and Americana music. He gets around the country quite a bit, so check out his website for the latest tour dates so you can see and hear his act in person. It will definitely be worth your time!

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


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 Featured Blues Interview – Leslie West 

If only they could talk.

If they could, the bandstands at legendary venues like the Fillmore (East and West), the Warehouse (New Orleans) and the Kinetic Playground (Chicago) would tell tales of the big man’s unholy and never-to-be-duplicated vibrato.

The hastily hammered-together planks in Bethel, New York would speak of how he stood on them and played in front of nearly 500,000 people on the second day of the unforgettable Woodstock Music & Arts Festival in 1969.

Yes, Leslie West has stood on those bandstands – and a whole heck of a lot more over the course of the last four-plus decades – playing his thunderous mixture of blues and rock-n-roll for hordes of fans.

He’s jammed with everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Slash.

He’s been called ‘The King of Tone’ and ‘The Fattest Fingers in Rock-N-Roll.’

But as West explains, there’s another title he holds – maybe un-officially – and it’s one that most of his fans might never have dreamed of.

Leslie West, King of Hip-Hop?

“I wrote a song in 1969 that was on the first Mountain album, called “Long Red.” Well, it’s been sampled some 400-plus times by hip-hop and rap artists. If you look on, you’ll see that artists like Kayne West, Common and Jay-Z have used it. Jay-Z took that song – and Billy Squier’s “Big Beat” – and turned it into “99 Problems.” It’s sold like six-million copies. So there was something about that song (“Long Red”) that appealed to rappers. I think it was Rick Rubin, the producer, who sampled it first. And then everybody else started after that,” West recently said. “I’ve got six different Platinum albums on my wall from all these different guys sampling my stuff. When I wrote that song in 1969, there was no hip-hop. It just so happens that song has a hip-hop beat.”

West may want to make sure that he’s got enough wall space to accommodate all the accolades that his latest – and 16th overall – solo album, Soundcheck (Provogue Records), looks like it’s poised to garner.

Although he lost his lower right leg back in June of 2011, due to complications from diabetes, the former Mountain man – who recently celebrated his 70th birthday – refuses to slow down and is still intent on creating new works of art in the studio.

“Well, since I lost my leg, it’s not that easy to tour anymore. But I do love going in the studio, it’s really simple, for me, to sit there with an idea and turn it into a song,” he said. “It’s (going in the studio and recording) something that still turns me on, even after all this time.”

The inspiration for a good bit of West’s material these days doesn’t come from hours of laborious toil in some studio without windows. Rather, it comes from a couple of things that just about everybody can hopefully relate to; getting up in the morning and then kicking back on the sofa in the evening.

“Yeah, waking up. That’s what me and my brother say, ‘Everyday above ground is a good day.’ That’s a good start to get the juices flowing. And then I have what I call a ‘couch guitar.’ When I sit down on the couch and watch television or whatever, I automatically grab the guitar,” he said. “I’m not even thinking (about writing), but something subconsciously might come up and I’ll go, ‘Whoop, I better hit the recorder and get this down so I don’t forget it.’ The couch guitar is good motivation for me.”

That environment of couch+television+guitar= song birthed one of the biggest surprises on Soundcheck – a song that probably everyone knows by heart – and one that the late, great B.B. King favored to play on his last handful of tours – “You Are My Sunshine.”

“Yeah, everybody knows that song. I was watching Sons of Anarchy – the motorcycle-gang show – and somebody was playing that song in the background, but doing it in a minor key. Everybody knows that song as a major key song. I said, ‘I really think I can do something with that,’ and I started fooling around with it,” West said. “I knew I wanted Peter Frampton to play on this album – I’ve known him for a long time, like 50 years – so I sent him the song and he wrote back and said, ‘Man, that’s incredible, changing the key like that.’ I told him I couldn’t take credit for that ( changing keys), but I would gladly take credit for the arrangement of the song. It just worked out perfectly; he’s the perfect guitarist to have play with me on that. I’m playing slide and Peter is playing regular guitar on it.”

Taking such a well-known cut and giving it a fresh paint coat of paint to customize it into something that stays true to the original, but yet also has your own mojo all over it can be one heck of a daunting task. The way that West sees it, the approach to such a task has to be started with the way you view the job.

“I don’t like calling them ‘cover songs.’ I call them ‘interpretations.’ It’s taking something that someone else wrote and seeing what I can do with it,” he said. “I mean, what’s the point of doing a song if it’s exactly the same (as the original)? I think the songs that I wrote for the album fits in really well with the interpretations on it. Then you have a song like “Going Down” which is one of my favorite guitar songs … ever … to jam on.”

“Going Down” has long held a lofty spot in the pantheon of blues and rock-n-roll, thanks to the work of Freddie King and Jeff Beck. On Soundcheck, another guitarist of equal stature plays foil to West on the jam-heavy track.

“I did that (the version of “Going Down” on Soundcheck) a long time ago, like 10 or 11 years. It has Brian May (Queen) on it and it was originally for an album that the guy who wrote the song – Don Nix – was doing. My friend Jon Tiven produced the track, but it never got used. Well, I was talking to him (Tiven) on the phone one day and said that I’d like to have the master to the track. So he said, ‘I’ll send you the master tomorrow and then you go into the studio and sing it,'” said West. “Sure enough, he sent me the files and I noticed that Brian May was playing on the second-half of the song. I’m not sure whether Don Nix realized that or not. So he called Brian and said that I wanted to use the version of “Going Down” with him and me on it and Brian said, ‘I’d be honored to be on that with him.’ So you have me playing until around 2:48 or 2:50 (time into the song) and then Brian takes it from there. And Bonnie Bramlett sings background harmony on it and Max Middleton – Jeff Beck’s piano player who played on his version – is on there. That’s my favorite intro (Middleton’s piano part) to a song … ever. So I was lucky that track was laying around. A lot of things have to fall into place for something to work out, you know?”

Soundcheck features mostly tunes with lyrics, but there are a couple of instantly-catchy instrumental workouts on the disc, including “A Stern Warning” which is a cool blending of blues and classical music.

“For the last several years, my wife Jenny has written some really good lyrics. I never really used to think about lyrics so much, but now I do, so more than likely, the songs I write will have lyrics with the melody.” he said. “There’s an instrumental on this album (“A Stern Warning”) and then my bass player, Rev Jones, does a version of “Eleanor Rigby” on it. He also does it on stage and it sounds like four bass parts all at once. But he didn’t overdub it; that’s all at once. I watch him do it on stage and it just amazes me, so much so that I just have to laugh sometimes.”

West was also a longtime friend – and one-time bandmate of (in West, Bruce and Laing, back in 1972) – the amazing Jack Bruce. The iconic bass player’s resume certainly speaks for itself and West honors his musical running partner on Soundcheck with a song that both Howlin’ Wolf and Cream made famous – Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful.”

“It really broke my heart when Jack died. I had this version of “Spoonful” that I did, I can’t tell you how many years ago, with him. It has Joe Franco on drums and it was about 16 or 17 minutes long. Me and my producer (Mike Goldberg) went through and edited it down to about a seven-minute version,” said West. “It’s like having a great tribute to Jack Bruce on there. When I was playing that song, I was thinking in my head that I was Eric Clapton. That’s what I tried to visualize.”

The song that opens the album – the grimly-titled “Left By The Roadside To Die” – was very much inspired by West’s lengthy hospital stay and the decision to have part of his leg amputated.

“That’s what I thought when I lost my leg … Jesus Christ! I was down south in Biloxi, Mississippi and it was supposed to be Mountain’s last show at the Hard Rock Casino. They had to put me in a coma for four days to see if they could save my leg by using what they call ‘clot-busters.’ And it didn’t work. My wife told the doctors they had to wake me up from the coma they put me in, because she needed to tell me something,” West said. “The doctors told her either they amputated my leg, or I would die. My blood was so thin (from the drugs used to induce the coma) that they couldn’t do that anymore. They woke me up and she said, ‘We have to amputate the leg or we’re going to lose you.’ So I said, ‘Do whatever you want to do.’ I was really pretty high at that time (from the medication), so I said, ‘Do whatever.’ So the next day I said, what if I had said, ‘Jenny pass the salt – you evil bitch – you cut my leg off.’ But that’s the way I felt … just leave me by the roadside to die … fuck it. I was actually able to write a song about that.”

For a large part of the 1970s, West was known for his love and his use of Les Paul Juniors. The guitar’s P-90 pickup helped stamp West’s unique playing onto classic cuts like ‘Mississippi Queen,” “Blood Of The Sun” and “Never In My Life.” These days, West has his very own line of custom made Dean guitars.

“Yeah, I have about five models now, along with my own guitar pickups. I mean, how cool is that? Most people would love to have their own line of guitars and I have five of them. If you go to you can look up the different models,” he said. “They’re in all price ranges, because I didn’t want to have just one model that was $5,000 and normal people couldn’t pick up. We have them for a whole price range and I play them all. It’s not like I’m playing something that someone can’t get their hands on or afford. I know what I want a guitar to sound like and these guitars are it.”

There have always been a rainbow of different styles and textures that make up the ‘Leslie West sound.’ At one moment he’s heavier than the baddest death metal band on the planet and the next, you might swear he was playing in a country band. But through it all, there has always seemed to be a core of the blues at the heart of West’s guitar styling.

“That’s just how it comes out, man. You don’t have to be dead broke or black to have the blues,” he said. “You can be a middleclass Jewish kid from Queens, New York and have the blues. I just love the way that the blues sound … I always have. But I listen to some of these country bands today and they think they’re rock bands. Miranda Lambert has been doing “Mississippi Queen” on stage for a couple of years now. Well, I recently played with her at Mohegan Sun (resort in Connecticut) and we did “Mississippi Queen” and it was fantastic. The band she has is a kick-ass rock band. They told me they thought of themselves as a retro classic rock band from the ’70s.”

Over the years, West (who is also the announcer on VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show) has amassed a huge legion of fans – from blues and rock lovers to iconic names like Ritchie Blackmore, Eddie Van Halen, Warren Haynes and John McLaughlin – just to skim the surface. Heck, a pre-Foreigner Mick Jones was even a member of the Leslie West Band before he went on to become rock-n-roll royalty. They all wait with baited breath for West to roll into town to play a show or for a new album to hit store shelves. But even the most die-hard of West’s fans would probably had understood completely had he decided to call quitting-time after his recent spate of health woes. So, did that thought process ever enter West’s mind?

“You know, if it was my arm, instead of my leg, that would be a different story. I was lucky in that aspect. But I really don’t know what my considerations were at that point,” he said. “As long as I still love to play guitar, that’s what I’m going to do.”

They sure didn’t sound the same – Mountain was at the ‘heavier’ end of the spectrum, while The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was at the ‘bluesier’ end of things, but both groups left huge footprints on what we now consider to be ‘classic rock.’ Both bands set the wheels in motion for countless other acts to follow and their impact on modern music can’t be underscored enough. Even though it has been slow going, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may be beginning to catch on and The Butterfield Blues Band finally earned a spot inside the organization’s doors.

Can the entrance of Mountain’s classic lineup (West, bassist Felix Pappalardi and drummer Corky Laing) into the Hall also be looming on the horizon?

“Yeah, that’d be great, man,” West said. “We’ll see … we’ll see.”

Visit Mountain Band’s website at

Photos by Arnie Goodman © 2015

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 Live Blues Review – King Biscuit Blues Festival – Part II 

On day two of the King Biscuit Blues Festival things got really intense as the festival featured 24 acts and expanded to 4 stages. I am telling you this one is a huge fest and is actually quite hard physically to cover by myself but I gave it all I had!

My day started on the main stage with Charlotte Taylor & Gypsy Rain.

Next I got to hear some solo blues by Austin Walkin’ Cane on the Lockwood Stackhouse Stage.

Next I got over to the Front Porch Stage to hear a few songs by Louis “The Gearshifter” Youngblood.

Louis was followed by Terry “Big T” Williams on the Front Porch Stage.

Then I headed back to the main stage to catch some great Blues by Super Chickan.

Then I headed back to the Lockwood Stage to catch a few songs by the Selby Minner Band. Selby is from Oklahoma where she and her deceased husband D. C. Minner started the The Rentiesville Dusk til Dawn Blues Festival more than 25 years ago. I have it in my plans to make that one possibly next year on Labor Day Weekend.

Then I headed back to the main stage to catch a set by Reba Russell Band.

Now keep in mind that these stages at the King Biscuit are 2 or more blocks apart so going back and forth can wear you down but the good thing is that in addition to all the scheduled performers on the stages the streets are lined with food vendors (Some of the best BBQ on the planet can be had here too!) and other vendors selling all kinds of wares. In between all of the booth spots and on many of the street corners there are Blues performers busking for tips all along the way. One of the buskers I caught was Rip Lee Pryor, a solo guitar player, harp players and singer who had a crowd watching every time I passed by him.

Another musician busking on the street was RB Stone, one the 2014 Blues Blast Music Award nominees for Best Blues Rock Album.

Continuing on to see more great Blues I caught Samantha Fish on the main stage

Samantha was followed by Anson Funderburgh who is always a favorite at King Biscuit.

Then it was back to the Lockwood stage to catch a few songs by Big Jay Cummings.

Then I trekked back to the main stage to hear Paul Thorn. Paul is another favorite and I believe he has played at King Biscuit every year since this festival started.

He was followed by Texas Blues legend Jimmie Vaughan.

By this time things were winding down for the day but I made one more trip to the Lockwood stage to catch Chicago Blues great Jimmy Burns.

I know I walked at least 10 miles and my feet hurt but it was a small price to pay for an amazing day of Blues music! Next week, Part III of the King Biscuit Blues Festival photos.

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 5 

Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters – Father’s Day

Stony Plain Records SPCD 1385

13 songs – 80 minutes

Perennial award nominee guitar maestro Ronnie Earl delivers a soulful, poignant, but upbeat tribute to his late father, Akos, with this release, his ninth on the Stony Plain imprint, and he cuts some new ground in the process: Not only does he add a horn section for the first time in years, but he also calls upon two singers who are on the cusp of super-stardom themselves – Diane Blue and Michael Ledbetter — to provide all the vocals.

New Englander Blue possesses a smoky set of pipes and has worked with Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson, Big Jack Johnson and Irma Thomas, and tours nationally while Ledbetter formerly sang opera professionally for several years in Italy before returning to Chicago and immersing himself in the blues tradition laid down by one of his grandparents, first-generation superstar Leadbelly. He’s been a featured part of the Nick Moss Band for the past four years, both as a vocalist and burgeoning guitar player.

Providing their usual rock-solid comfort zone are Ronnie’s band of more than 25 years – drummer Lorne Entress, bassist Jim Mouradian and keyboard master Dave Limina. They’re joined by Mario Perrett and Scott Shetler on saxes and a trio of guest guitarists – Nicholas Tabarias, Tim O’Connor and Larry Lusignan.

A deeply spiritual man after emerging from years of personal torment as well as being one of the most polished guitarists on the planet, Earl chose this collection of ten covers and three originals carefully. At first glance, they might appear random. But look closer and you’ll see that the subject of each deals with a rite of passage between a father and son while delineating the stages of grief following the elder’s passing.

Ronnie’s at his bluesy best as he dips into the songbook of Otis Rush, one of his major influences, for the opening track, “It Takes Time.” Ledbetter comes roaring out of the gate with the lines “I know what it means to be alone/Today your life is pretty, baby/Tomorrow you could be crying.” No truer words could be sung when applied to the loss of a parent. Earl’s mid-song solo soars as his strings emit emotion. The original, “Higher Love,” which follows, features a percussive horn line, a Hammond B-3 solo and a jazz feel as Ledbetter and Blue trade verses about the relationship between parent and child that often isn’t realized until it’s too late.

The two songs that follow — a slow blues riff on Rush’s “Right Place Wrong Time” and a churning cover of Magic Sam’s “What Have I Done Wrong,” which features Blue – fit together like hand and glove to describe the dark years that many of us endure before we finally come to the point of understanding and accept a parent for who he or she is after years of discord. Ronnie expresses that moment through an unlikely source: Van McCoy, who fueled the ‘70s with “The Hustle.” Aided by Ledbetter’s melismic vocal, he reinterprets the disco king’s “Giving Up” into a perfectly chosen blues burner.

Fat’s Domino’s “Every Night About This Time” is up next. Written about a cheating woman, it could reveal that Ronnie’s dad was – in the words of St. Louis Jimmy Oden – going down slow. A plaintive guitar line signals the truth in the album’s title tune, “Father’s Day,” which delivers the message: “Can you make peace?/Can you be the generous one?/Can you forgive?/Can you cancel all the debt?” In Earl’s case, the answer is yes because they make peace at song’s end.

The B.B. King tune, “I Need You So Bad,” signals that death is near, followed by an oath of loyalty as Diane covers Brook Benton’s “I’ll Take Care Of You.” Both she and Michael provide the message as Ronnie lets go in the uptempo original, “Follow Your Heart,” which states: “Do what you’ve got to do.” Earl slows the tempo slightly as he provides an instrumental cover of the Art Blakey hit “Moanin’,” aided by the horns, to his grief before finishing the disc with another Magic Sam standard, “All Your Love,” and Rev. Thomas Dorsey’s “Precious Lord.”

On the surface, Father’s Day is a tour de force of great guitar play, outstanding songs, strong supporting musicians and seamless production. On that level alone, Ronnie has produced a masterpiece that’s rocketed to the top of my personal favorites in his catalog. On a deeper level, having been in his position of loss myself, it means much, much more. Pick it up today. You won’t be disappointed.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 5 

Guy Forsyth Blues Band – The Pleaser

Small and Nimble Records

CD: 12 Songs; 54:20 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Texas Blues, Blues Rock

“Illegal duplication is a violation of applicable laws and can get you socked in the nose, too.” So reads the hilarious warning on the back of Austin TX based Guy Forsyth’s eighth studio album, The Pleaser. Guy makes a valiant endeavor to please several types of music lovers at once: electric guitar fans, harmonica fans, straight-up rock-and-roll fans, and Texas blues fans. He mostly succeeds, but, for an artist, being so hard to classify is a two-sided coin. Guy will turn people’s “heads” with his versatile style, especially if they want to party. On the other hand, purists might turn up their “tails” at some of his twelve original tunes.

Nevertheless, his promotional info sheet features impressive credentials. Not only has Guy performed as a part of several bands (this one, the Hot Nut Riveters, his solo act, and the Asylum Street Spankers), but he and his music have been featured in festivals and films alike. Forsyth has performed across the U.S., as well as in Canada, France, and the Netherlands. His movie soundtrack credits include The Waking Life, The Newton Boys, Hands on a Hard Body, and Before the Music Dies, among others. He was voted Male Vocalist of the Year at the Austin Music Awards in 2005, and his sixth CD, Love Songs: For and Against, was a Billboard chart’s Top Ten Blues album.

Accompanying Forsyth on this album, as he performs on vocals, harmonica and guitar, are George Rarey on lead guitar and vocals, Naj Conklin on bass and vocals, and Mark Hays on drums and vocals. Three of the twelve tracks were either written or co-written by Rarey, and Conklin co-wrote one. The following are top picks for private listening, if not radio airplay subject to FCC regulations:

Track 02: “Play to Lose” – As heartbroken souls might tell you, love is always a gamble, especially if one or more partners is cheating. With a smoldering guitar intro that would make SRV proud, this slow burner’s a great song to play at bars: “Why’d you want to go and [expletive] it all up? You gonna lose, baby if you play with me, but you don’t have to take my word…I said, baby, just you wait and see.” The second verse possesses powerhouse vocals.

Track 03: “Carried By Six (Pop’s Blues”) – The saying contained in the title and refrain contains one man’s answer to a possibly-fatal dilemma: “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.” Meaning, he’d rather face a courtroom and prison cell than his own coffin, borne by pallbearers. The guitar solo here is the best on the album, hotter than Texas barbecue sauce.

Track 04: “Put a Little Sex In It” – “Paint yourself a pretty girl, but forget to paint the dress,” is our protagonist’s advice to aspiring artists. “Put a little sex in it. It makes the world go round.” This ultimate guilty-pleasure song has a lot of hot sax in it, as well as sass.

To Texas blues and blues rock fans, The Pleaser will appeal!

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.

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 5 

Leslie West – Soundcheck

Provogue Records- Mascot Label Group

11 tracks

Leslie West and Mountain helped to shape my love of music during my early teen years and I remain a huge fan of him all these years later. West has also influenced many artists over the years, from early contemporaries like Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre, John Mac Laughlin and Deep Purple’s Richie Blackmore to Eddie Van Halen and so many more. The little, fat Jewish kid with the big guitar and vocals (that Felix Papallardi discovered with West’s band The Vagrants) remains solid in his guitar playing and appreciation for doing things in a big, musical way. Papallardi produced West’s solo album Mountain,* which gave rise to the band and subsequent albums which he and West were instrumental in making legendary. After Papillardi’s passing in 1973, West has done a lot of different things; his solo work is probably some of the best music he’s done over the years.

“Left by the Roadside” gives us some gutsy vocals and nicely done acoustic resonator slide guitar as an intro before breaking into the big electric sound. West demonstrates the massive guitar sound he made famous in his Mountain Days on the solos here. “Give Me One Reason” gets a gritty makeover with West growling out the lyrics and playing a guitar lead and solos with real bite. He turns the Tracy Chapman from a somewhat sedate classic into a big rock song. “Here by the Party” is a typical 70’s rock anthem that West goes over the top in his exuberant way. “You Are My Sunshine” gets shifted to a minor key and the tempo gets slowed way down to turn it into a blues song. Interesting take with Peter Frampton sharing the guitar work as West takes the slide side. “Empty Promises/Nothin’Sacred” is something west calls his tribute to AC/DC. I think little else is needed here to describe that!

“A Stern Warning” is a solo acoustic piece and refers to Howard Stern. Stern apparently called West one day to ask the meaning of the Mountain Song “To My Friend,” a song that West paid tribute to Felix Papallardi after he was given a 12 string guitar by Felix. West pays tribute to his friend Howard here. Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” gets made over with lots of laid-over guitar riffs and completely Westiified. Queen’s Brian May appears on “Goin’ Down” along with Bonnie Bramlett, Max Middleton, David Hood, and Bobby Whitlock. West starts with the guitar lead and May finishes it here on this cut. West intentionally states he had Middleton reprise his intro from the song that he did on The Jeff Beck Group album. “Stand By Me” pays tribute to Ben E. King who passed in April. Arielle Pizza adds here vocals to Wests’; she’s a 16 year old with great chops! West’s bass player Rev Jones is featured on “Eleanor Rigby,” it is a staple on West’s tour and Leslie made sure he included it here. “Spoonful” concludes the set, done live in 1988 with Jack Bruce and originally from their album Theme. West edited it down and pays tribute to Bruce (who also recently passed) by including it here.

This is not a purist blues album. There is a lot of big rock here, too. The songs get some very different takes. It may turn some people off while it certainly will also turn some people on. If you are a big, ballsy, rocking blues fan or a fan of Leslies’, you will find something that you like here! It’s got some blues and it’s got a lot of rock. If that’s your cup of tea, then drink deeply!

*The one-sheet that comes with the CD talks about West first gaining notoriety with his band Mountain, but it really was his earlier solo album of that name that launched his fame and his fantastic career.

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 reer 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 – 5 of 5 

Dave Hunt – Whiskey and Demons

Mad Ears Productions

CD: 12 Songs; 48:20 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues, Harmonica Blues, Southern Blues Rock

One main cause for playing the blues is being plagued by Whiskey and Demons, as the UK’s Dave Hunt boldly proclaims on his new album. As his promotional information sheet raves, it’s “an exciting mix of Delta Blues, Southern Rock, and harmonica-driven Rhythm and Blues”. As a little kid, Hunt played drums to “The Little Red Rooster,” and the rest is European blues history.

He turned pro at age 18 and toured Germany, but during a trip to Frankfurt, his lead singer became so sick that she had to return to England. When Dave got a taste of a “front man’s” life and took over lead vocals, he never went back to playing the drums again. He performed in the bands Grecco and Snatch in the 1970’s, and in Spain, he worked with the Blues Thunder Band. Hunt’s gained a lot of recognition playing at prestigious blues festivals in Europe, and even for Harley Davidson and Fiesta gigs. His debut album, Box Full of Blues, received airplay from Paul Jones on BBC Radio 2. It also reached the top 20 in the Independent Blues Broadcasters’ Association (IBBA) chart, and was voted Album of the Week in the Hit Tracks Top 100.

With Hunt as he performs lead vocals, harmonica, guitar, bass and mandolin are producer/engineer Andy Littlewood on guitars, keyboards and backing vocals; Mick Simpson on lead guitar; Pete Nelson on drums and percussion; and the MEP Collective on horns and brass. All twelve tracks were either written or co-written by Dave, with his bandmates collaborating. His musical style is reminiscent of Tim “Too Slim” Langford and the Taildraggers, instrumentally and vocally. On balance, he leans more to the rock side of blues, but his energy and good-natured, conversational tone make up for this minor flaw. These three are surefire hits:

Track 02: “Mississippi Blues” – This soulful stomp will let listeners know the reason why Dave Hunt’s nickname is “Harmonicadave”, especially the intro. Our narrator’s life is a hard one, filled with toil and whiskey: “When the day is done, I go to drinking at the still on my way home. Sometimes, devil on my back, whiskey on my breath, and back at the shack – My woman holler, ‘Where’s a dollar?’”

Track 03: “Whiskey and Demons” – One of the most popular blues myths is Robert Johnson’s Faustian bargain at the crossroads. Lucky number three describes it well, detailing what Old Scratch says. Our narrator seeks to rescue an entrapped soul from his clutches: “With whiskey and demons, he calls you in the night. Got mojo, going to try to save you, but the Devil’s holding tight.” There’s great electric guitar in this title track.

Track 04: “Roadhouse Rosie” – Owners of taverns in the middle of nowhere have to be tough, as this brilliant line shows: “There’s fighting and blood and bottles flying through the air. The band keeps rocking, safe behind that chicken wire.” This rocker ROCKS.

Blues rock fans, let Whiskey and Demons come to haunt you!

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.

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River Basin Blues Society – Evansville, IN

The River Basin Blues Society will host the 5th annual River Basin Blues Blast from 4 p.m.-midnight at Lamasco’s Bar and Grill at 1331 W. Franklin St., Evansville, IN, on Saturday, November 28, 2015. The $5 cover will benefit the River Basin Blues Society. Bands performing include Ryan Rigdon & the Hi-Rize Hillbillies, Honey Roy, Dale Niehaus & Bad Mojo, 2 Miles Back and the Boscoe France Band. There will be items for auction. For more information, visit the River Basin Blues Society on Facebook.

Central Mississippi Blues Society – Jackson, MS

Central MS Blues Society presents Blue Monday, a blues jam – November 2, 2015 and every Monday night at Hal & Mal’s, 200 Commerce, Jackson, MS. The Front Porch portion of Blue Monday starts at 7:15 pm, and the Blue Monday Band comes on at 8:45pm. Blues entertainers are invited to sign up and participate in the jam! Admission $5 ($3 for Central MS Blues Society members). Cash bar, food service available, free parking, security.

Check out our events calendar at!calendar/cf5a Join us for the best blues in Mississippi on a Monday night!

Piedmont Blues Preservation Society – Greensboro, NC

This year’s Piedmont Blues Preservation Society Blues Challenge winners in the Band category: The Dangerous Gentlemen’s (Anderson, SC; Brevard; Lexington; and Mooresville, NC), in the Solo/Duo category: Michael “Blind Dog” Gatewood (Greensboro), and our first Youth Challenge winner, Seth Williams (Reidsville, NC)

To help the winners with expenses, The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society is having a Telecaster Guitar Raffle in which one lucky winner will win a beautiful black limited edition Telecaster Guitar! Raffle tickets are available through their website: One may also make a tax-deductible donation directly to the Memphis or Bust Fund at the Society’s website. (PLEASE NOTE: Raffle ticket holders do not have to be present to win)

A Memphis or Bust Fundraising Party will be held January 10 at The Blind Tiger, 1819 Spring Garden St. Greensboro, 27402. The winners will be on hand to perform at the event. The benefit will have silent auction items, raffles, and the winner of the Telecaster Guitar will be announced.

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Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, IL

Crossroads Blues Society continues to work hard to keep the blues alive.

Our second Saturday monthly blues at the Hope and Anchor English Pub in Loves Park, IL go on. 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. There will also be a special New Years Eve Show featuring Dave Fields and then 2016 starts off with John Primer on January 9th and Tad Robinson on February 13th.

First and third Fridays at the Lyran Society Club on 4th Ave in Rockford: 11/20 and 12/4 with the New Savages and 12/18 The Blues Hawks. 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. 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.  Macyn Taylor on 12/6. Shows are free, donations go to People Helping People, the local food pantry.

We are almost ready to announce our 2016 festival lineup for August 27, 2016. Stay tuned for more upcoming events!

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. Nov. 23 – John Lisi and Delta Funk, Nov. 30 – Studebaker John, Dec. 7 – Mary Jo Curry & Tombstone Bullet, Dec. 14 – Brother Jefferson, Dec. 21 – Hurricane Ruth, Dec. 28 – James Armstrong

Additional ICBC shows: Nov. 19 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, w/ guest host Sally Weisenburg, Dec. 3 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm w/ guest host, Dec. 17 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm w/ guest host

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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