Issue 9-52 December 24, 2015

Cover photo by Nelson Onofre © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

 In This Issue 

Blues Blast Magazine welcomes writer Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. this week. Henry has our feature interview with Brad Vickers. We have 11 music reviews for you including reviews of music from Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames, Jay Stollman, Shemekia Copeland, Jason Rosenblatt, Buddy Guy, Jim Pharis, Greg Miller, Charles Wilson, Sugar Daddy Blues Band, Eddie Taylor Jr. and Bert Deivert & Copperhead Run.

Our video of the week is Chris O’Leary Band performing at the 2015 Blues Blast Music Awards.

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

 Featured Blues Music Review – 1 of 11 

Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames – Slip Into a Dream

Delmark Records

13 tracks

Dave Weld is today’s guitar master of the Chicago West Side blues sound. Studying under J.B. Hutto and influenced by Hound Dog Taylor, Weld has been immersed into the grit, power and energy of the West Side’s very pronounce blues style. In this, his second effort for Delmark Records, we see further maturation in the song writing by him and his partner of many years, “The Lovely Monica”(as Dave calls her at their live shows). He and Monica Myhre have penned together or alone 11 of these cuts. Drummer Jeff Taylor wrote another and the lone cover is from Weld’s mentor, J.B. Hutto.

The songs here feature Weld and his band playing with hjigh energy and near-reckless abandon. This is not an album for the faint of heart. Dave does all of the guitar work and he and Monica share the vocals except for Taylor’s cut which he sings. Also here on the CD are Harry Yaseen on piano, Greg Guest on piano and organ for a few cuts, Brother Dave Kaye on bass, Greg McDaniel on bass for one cut, and a horn section of Parris Fleming, Rajiv Halim and Bryant Smith on cut 4 and Kenny Anderson, Hank Ford and Bill MacFarland on track 6. Bobby Rush is a guest on harp+ for a couple of tracks, Greg Guy appears on guitar on track 11 and Sax Gordon makes three appearances on the album.

The title track kicks things off with Dave testifying and playing some stinging lead guitar. Yaseen’s piano and Guest’s organ work add a great dimension to the song, but its Dave’s guitar that steals the show. Monica comes in after the big solo to front the band, showing restraint when needs and tearing it up when appropriate. Weld, Myhre and Taylor harmonize nicely. This has to be among the best songs Weld has done in his repertoire. “Sweet Rockin’ Soul” is a boogie woogie rocker that Weld blasts out the vocals along with a lead guitar of mega proportions. His solos leave nothing behind, big, meaty and juicy guitar that could wake the dead. Yaseem keeps up on the piano and makes the boogie woogie feel just right as you grab for your dancing shoes. Kaye and Taylor also get some solo time near the songs end, a totally rollicking ride throughout! Myhre leads the charge in “Looking for a Man,” a song that the title completely explains for us. Myhre lays out her criteria as she growls and belts out the lyrics. Rush makes his first of two appearances and, as expected, nails the harp here. Weld offers another huge solo; this is another big, up tempo tune that makes one want to dance to. The first horn section appears on “Take Me Back,” a tune with a funky groove and nice horn arrangement. Weld takes charge of the vocals as the groove drives it all along and Monica assists on a couple of choruses. It builds to an almost frenetic end; one can almost feel the beads of sweat rising on Weld’s brow as he figuratively rips the strings off the guitar as the horns blare in an impassioned manner. The next cut is classic Dave Weld; “May Be Right, May Be Wrong” is a great song for Weld to shout out the lead vocals in classic style. The tempo is driving here, too; this band never rests! Monica comes in and demands to be held and squeezed; she and Weld harmonize some more and Weld’s great guitar takes to his final vocal. The two take us home as they demand physical attention as they jointly sing, “Come on and hold me!”

They finally take the tempo down a notch in “Sweet Love (Dulce Amour)” where the horns join Monica in a more restrained cut. Weld’s guitar is also more subdued to match the timber of the tune. Myhre croons in both English and Spanish as she weaves a beautiful web of a tune for us. Ford gives us a nice solo on tenor sax that also rates a mention. The shackles then come off for “Louise” when the band hits high gear and Monica moans and screams her warnings to Louise about marrying that man. The beat is driving and Weld offers a distorted solo before Sax Gordon makes his first appearance, a nice, greasy tenor solo. “Tremble” is another cut where Gordon makes an appearance to fill as Weld testifies both vocally and on guitar. Weld begs for help with his ‘trembles” as the tune builds into a whirling finish. Slow blues is next in “Walk on Down” where Weld show us his chops on guitar and Myhre gives another effective performance. Yaseen gives us a nice, big solo here, too.

Jeff Taylor takes over for “Dorothy Mae,” offering up his sonorous tones as he tells a tune of church folk gone bad. According to Taylor, the titled woman appears not to be too truthful; his vocals are solid and offer a cool contrast to Weld and Myhre. Weld and Gordon offer up some more good solos again. “Too Bad, So Sad” is another driving cut with Monica taking the reigns and Weld offering up some more big time guitar along with some fine assistance from Greg Guy. J.B. Hutto’s “20% Alcohol” has Weld giving a passionate rendition of his mentor’s old song. Bobby Rush appears again with some sweet harp throughout and also adds a great solo to make things sweeter. Weld shouts and growls out tune and then blazes in another well done solo on guitar. The title track is reprised to close things out. The guitar is gutsy and stinging and Weld, Myhre, and Taylor doo wop along with it to finish out a truly fine set of tunes.

These new songs have become staples of Weld and the band’s live shows. The energy is high and the songs make you want to get up and boogie. Weld and company are at their best. This is their best album to date, surpassing Burnin’ Love (their inaugural album for Delmark) in sound and song quality. That album was no slouch either, but in my mind this one is even better. Weld’s guitar hits the stratosphere as he and band have come out to make a statement. If you want to hear how well the West Side of Chicago remains represented in today’s blues then look no further; this is a great album that you will enjoy over and over again!

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 Interview – Brad Vickers 

Brad Vickers began his professional career by learning how not to walk.

Although he and his brother had been playing guitar together for several years, his first opportunity to play for a living legend—though Vickers didn’t know it when he took the gig—came one night when he was 18.

“A friend of mine who was playing there called up my mom—I still wasn’t old enough to play in clubs—to ask her if she would let me sub for him; he asked her not to tell me who I’d be playing with because he knew I was such a huge fan of this guy and he knew I might be too nervous to do it if I knew beforehand,” says Vickers. Always supportive of her children’s musical lives, his mother sent her son off.

When he walked into the club to set up, he saw “a Latino drummer and a Latino piano player” and was a little worried about being able to keep up since it wasn’t his usual style of music. Pretty soon, though, he found out what kind of music he’d be playing when Chuck Berry walked out onto the stage.

“Now I knew why my friend didn’t tell my mom,” he laughs. In the moments before Berry launched into his signature opening riffs, the guitarist walked over to each musician to tell him how he wanted him to play. When he came to Vickers, Berry said, “bass player: no walking.” “Well,” said Vickers, “I didn’t know what walking was, or I’d never called the way I sometimes played by that name, but I just nodded in agreement.”

When Berry launched into his first song, Vickers started walking up and down the bass, playing the groove he knew to play with the song. Berry stopped the song in after a few bars, saying something wasn’t right; they launched into another song, with Vickers playing the way he knew to play, and Berry stopping the song again. Finally, Berry launched into “Maybelline,” with Vickers playing the same lines. “Chuck did his little duck walk over on my part of the stage, and he was smiling at the audience on one side of his face, and scowling at me with the other.

He growled at me, ‘didn’t I say no walking, bass player?'” Vickers replied, “But Mr. Berry, I’m not walking; I’m just standing still.” He started laughing, and Vickers started a career playing with bluesmen from Pinetop Perkins and Hubert Sumlin to Bo Diddley and Jimmy Rogers, among many others.

Vickers was attracted to the blues early. He’s grateful that his parents gave him the opportunity to hear so many different kinds of music; his dad as into country and his mom listened to jazz.

“When I was 9 or 10,” he says, “I started to hear a certain cut of music that I was attracted to: blues, country blues, jazz.” Then, one Christmas, Vickers’ mother bought him a record that changed his life and sent him down the blues road. “She bought me Jimmy Reed Plays 12-String Guitar, which was all instrumental, and I heard the way he used the guitar as his vocal track; I was so into that sound that I started going to record stores looking for more Jimmy Reed albums; then I found out he sang, too,” Vickers laughs. Jimmy Reed led to Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley; “I was attracted to music with a groove,” he says.

Vickers and his brother used to sing and play guitar around the house growing up. Tired of playing on a beat up guitar, he asked his father one Christmas for a better guitar; instead, he got a bass. “I found out later that my grandfather had told my father to get me a bass instead of a guitar, that I would get more work that way since guitar players were a dime a dozen. He turned out to be right, of course, but I remember that I was really disappointed that Christmas,” Vickers laughs. “I wish I had started guitar earlier,” Vickers reflects, “because even though being a sideman has helped my career a lot, I feel like I’d have been a lot farther along by now if I’d started guitar sooner.”

After his gig with Berry, though, Vickers has never lacked any work. Early on he once got a gig playing bass with Lightnin’ Hopkins. “Lightnin’ prayed to God that I could play his music,” Vickers laughs, “and I had to show him and tell him that I’d been playing his music all my life.”

Vickers played with a Chicago Blues band in the mid-1980s, Little Mike and the Tornadoes; they were a little like The Nighthawks, according to Vickers, whom Mike had backed on the East Coast. Vickers left Mike in the mid-’90s with the idea of doing his own thing, and he met up with Margey Peters, who became his musical partner, and with whom he sometimes writes songs. Eventually he formed the Vestapolitans—”Margey suggested the name”—which is named after the open chord tuning—Vestapol—that Vickers uses and “it also starts with the same letter as my last name,” laughs Vickers.

Along the way to forming his own band and crafting his own eclectic brand of blues that he refers to as “American Roots and Roll,” Vickers traveled with, backed, and learned some valuable lessons from great bluesmen like Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, and Bo Diddley.

Vickers was playing with Pinetop Perkins on the East Coast at the time, and Perkins said he had a friend he’d like to get into these clubs. Perkins’ friend, of course, turned out to be Sumlin, and Vickers recalls what a humbling experience it was working with Sumlin. “He was a great human being,” says Vickers.

According to Vickers, playing with Sumlin is itself a one-of-a-kind experience: “When one plays with Hubert, it’s almost like a spiritual experience. When he took a solo on a song, he’d just turn the room around; a lot of people can do that with loud vocals, but Hubert had this way of expressing himself on guitar that was very organic and could take you to another plane with his music.” It’s no wonder, Vickers emphasizes, that guitarists from Clapton to Santana to Jeff Beck and others would come to pay homage to Hubert; “it was fun to watch that happen.”

Sumlin wasn’t just a musical mentor to Vickers, though. “He taught me a lot of stuff about life,” recalls Vickers. “I learned how to live on the road from him: how to sleep sitting up, how to roll up my clothes so they wouldn’t get wrinkled, the little tricks and trades of life,” laughs Vickers.

If Sumlin was Vickers’ uncle and best friend, Pinetop Perkins was Vickers’ self-proclaimed godfather.

“That’s what he called himself,” says Vickers. A lot of other entertainers questioned it when he called himself my godfather, recalls Vickers, but he was like my grandfather.”

Albert King took Vickers under his wing because Vickers was Perkins’ godson, and in the South being asked to play the role of godfather means that the child’s family is especially close to the person on whom it bestows that title. Perkins was the elder statesman, remembers Vickers. “Muddy Waters always treated Pinetop as an equal. Pinetop could do anything on stage, and Muddy wouldn’t say anything.” Perkins always put on a good show and was full of fun, according to Vickers, and he was an inspiration to a lot of people. “He also showed me some tricks of life,” laughs Vickers; “he taught me to eat hard boiled eggs and cheese before I drank to keep from getting drunk.”

Vickers also spent some time with Bo Diddley, though not as much as he would have liked; Vickers says he wished he could have spent more time with Diddley. “As a musician, Bo Diddley was underappreciated for many years; he’s a great songwriter, and many people don’t recognize that about him. But, like Chuck Berry and Jimmy Reed, his music has such a groove—it has the rhythm but then it takes that rhythm one step further—that it acts like a bridge to all this music and makes it easy for you to get into it right away.”

Vickers draws on all of these influences, and more, in his music. On their newest album, That’s What They Say (ManHatTone) Brad Vickers and His Vestapolitans (Dave Gross, Margey Peters, Bill Rankin; joined by friends Matt Cowan, Jim Davis, Charles Burnham, Mikey Junior, Christine Santelli, Gina Sicilia) celebrate the eclectic sounds of the music that is at once the roots and the branches of blues: folk, swing, jazz, gospel, gypsy, ragtime.

The album opens with a rousing version of Tampa Red’s “Seminole Blues,” and moves into the folk blues of “Don’t You Love Your Daddy No More?” which Vickers learned from Leadbelly. Vickers confidently leads his band through old-time Appalachian music on “Mountain Sparrow,” gospel-inflected blues on “Fightin’,” and rag-mama-rag good-time music on “Twenty-First Century Rag.” Although the album features two covers—and Vickers tries to put at least one song by Tampa Red on his albums—the remainder of the songs on the album are originals, written either by Vickers or Peters, or co-written by them. “Songwriting is a process,” he says; “it usually starts with an idea of what I want to convey; sometimes I pick up a guitar and a passage or chord changes or a lick comes to me.” Vickers also writes poetry which helps with his songwriting. “I deal with emotions in my songs—in-and-out-of-love—but Margey writes great stories with social commentary in them.” “Blues,” he laughs, “is about the mistreatment you’ve felt; either the bad times when you’re going through it or the good times you want to have.” Vickers concludes that great songs “make you aware of your surroundings and provide some kind of understanding of life. They help you enjoy life and share that joy with others.”

According to Vickers, the blues are in good shape these days.

“I think it’s in a renaissance, and it’s very healthy,” he says. Blues encompass a lot of genres, Vickers believes, and people are discovering just how integral blues is to many different kinds of music and that it can’t really be isolated from other genres.

“I know I’ve grown,” he says, “from having a narrow mind to having an open mind. I’ve started to appreciate everything; I grew up playing Chicago blues but I have grew to embrace and appreciate the similarities that blues has with pop and country.” Vickers’ embrace of the broad spectrum of the roots and branches of the blues comes across loud and clear not only on That’s What They Say but also on his previous album, Great Day in the Morning (ManHatTone 2013). Vickers adds fiddle and banjo to the tunes on these albums as he captures some of the earliest sounds of acoustic folk blues. On Great Day in the Morning, he and his Vestapolitans cover a Tampa Red song, “Anna Lee Blues,” featuring the bottleneck guitar sound that Tampa Red started in 1925, as well as Memphis Minnie’s “Frisco Town,” and adds some Hammond B3 organ to one number (“Together for Good”) for that gospel feel. “I want people to hear the soul of the blues and see the persona I’m creating with my music,”

Vickers definitely has a vision of the blues that sets him apart and gives him access to come circles that other blues musicians might not always have. Although he feels like he’s just at the start of getting his name out there, Vickers music cuts across many genres and broadens its appeal to listeners now hearing the similarities in the country blues and bluegrass-fueled rock rhythms of Chris Stapleton, or the blues shouts of roots musicians Alabama Shakes, or the gospel and blues driven tunes of Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams.

“I know people are looking for the next Stevie Ray Vaughan,” Vickers observes, “but there are a lot of talented people out there playing blues in this Americana tradition that recognizes the ways that genres weave into each other.” Vickers says that he’s come full circle himself starting out in folk blues and now returning to it.

With his and Peters’ fun and insightful lyrics and his romps through the fields of jazz, ragtime, folk blues, country blues, rock, and gospel, Vickers demonstrates he know just when to lay down the right lick on the right instrument and create and deliver the tasty mix he so fondly calls “American roots and roll.”

“I’m just trying to carry on tradition,” he says; “I want to make people aware that there was a cut of blues that was there all along.”

Visit Brad’s website at

Photos by Nelson Onofre © 2015

Journalist Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. writes about music and music books for No Depression, American Songwriter, Country Standard Time, and Wide Open Country.

 Featured Blues Music Review – 2 of 11 

Jay Stollman – Room For One More

Number 7 Records/Vizzable 2015

14 tracks; 60 minutes

Jay Stollman was recently invited to front the Johnny Winter band on vocals for a tribute tour to the late guitar slinger and his debut CD is an interesting listen with plenty of fine music ranging across blues, rock and blue-eyed soul. Jay hails from the East Coast and appeared on Debbie Davies’ last album “Love Spin”; Debbie returns the favor by playing guitar on most of this album, alongside two other guitarists in Andy Abel and Jeremy Goldsmith. Bass duties are handled by Scott Spray (from Johnny Winter’s band) and Johnny Mennonna, drums are either Tommy Nagy or Gerald Myles, Matt Zeiner is on keys and Kevin Totoian adds harp to two tracks. Jay wrote five of the songs, four with bassist Scott, one with guitarist Andy; the covers range widely from Lonnie Johnson to Motown.

The album opens with a solid cover of Walter Trout’s “Ride Till I’m Satisfied” with Debbie playing some tasty lead lines and Jay sounding quite a lot like Walter on vocals. The original “I’m Done” rocks along on some great slide work from Andy as Jay says goodbye to the relationship with a warning to future partners that things will not last long with this lady! Johnny Winter’s “Tired Of Tryin’” has a similar theme lyrically, set over a Muddy Waters style riff and some nice harp work from Kevin. The source for “Lonesome In My Bedroom” is Luther Johnson, a slow blues with some particularly expressive playing from Debbie that matches Jay’s vocal well. Eddie Miller’s “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water” is a frequently covered song and here the band plays it as a fast shuffle, making it a very different listen to the usual cover – Debbie’s lead lines respond well to Jay’s vocals which are very strong on this tune. Another tune that is often covered is Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Jay plays it pretty straight but still delivers a fine version with some appropriately churchy organ from Matt and sympathetic guitar from Jeremy Goldsmith.

Jay takes us to Soul City with “Pucker Up Buttercup” (Johnny Bristol/Harvey Fuqua/Danny Coggins), a hit for Junior Walker & The Allstars back in the day and it’s another good cover which suits Jay’s voice well, Debbie helping out on the chorus vocals. Chuck Berry’s “Back To Memphis” is great fun and another excellent choice for Jay’s voice as he nails the cover perfectly (though the idea that you “can walk down Beale Street in your pajamas” definitely sounds as if it was written a while ago!). “Trouble” comes from the pen of Don Castagno, drummer and songwriter for Debbie’s band and it provides another change of pace with its Latin lilt and catchy chorus. “Can’t Slow Down” is an original that takes us into blues-rock territory with heavy drums, pumping bass and Andy tearing it up on guitar. Lonnie Johnson’s “Another Night To Cry” drops the pace a bit with some nice piano work and fine vocals from Jay, Andy providing the strong guitar solo.

The album closes with three originals, the first of which has a very familiar title – “Devil In Disguise”. However, led by Kevin’s harp, this is certainly not the Elvis Presley song, though it carries a similar message of caution. “Love Me And Leave Me” is a more old-fashioned blues with some nice slide from Andy matched up against Debbie’s lead lines. Lyrically the song is another one about the ending of relationships, Jay apparently quite happy to see this one end. The final song is Jay and Andy’s, an acoustic piece with Andy doubling up on acoustic and slide guitars and it is something of a positive footnote to the many tales of failed relationships on the album: “There’s room for one more mile in the journey, there’s room for one more step at the game; always room for trying, there ain’t no use denying, always room for something worth fighting for; there’s always room for one more.”

This is an enjoyable CD with plenty of fine musicianship. Jay has a good voice for the variety of styles on offer here and this debut CD is well worth your attention.

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.

 Video Of The Week – Chris O’Leary Band 

Click on the image to see this video – Performance from the 2015 Blues Blast Music Awards. More 2015 Awards videos coming soon!

 Featured Blues Music Review – 3 of 11 

Shemekia Copeland – Outskirts Of Love

Alligator Records 2015

12 tracks; 44 minutes

Everybody knows Shemekia, daughter of Johnny Copeland and now firmly established as one of the top singers in contemporary blues. Still only in her thirties, this is her seventh album, again with Oliver Wood (with whom she made the Grammy-nominated 33 1/3) as producer and guitarist. Executive producer John Hahn again contributes material, having a hand in four of the songs here, three with Oliver. As ever, Shemekia includes one of her Dad’s songs and also covers songs from the repertoires of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, ZZ Top, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Solomon Burke, Jesse Winchester, Creedence and Albert King – quite a range! The musicians featured alongside Shemekia’s powerhouse vocals and Oliver’s guitar are Jano Rix on drums and keys and Lex Price on bass. Guests include guitarists Billy Gibbons, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Arthur Neilson, Guthrie Trapp, Will Kimbrough and Robert Randolph and horns are added to two tracks by Matt Glassmeyer.

The CD opens with the title track, a song typical of Shemekia – a powerful rocker with a social conscience – as she tells of the difficult lives that people in poor areas have to survive. A second Hahn/Wood tune explores more difficult lyrical territory as Shemekia takes us to “Crossbone Beach” where she appears to have been passed a drugged drink – “my soul washed up on Crossbone Beach, close to hell as you can reach”; however, she gets her revenge later in the song! Johnny Copelan’s “Devil’s Hand” is lower key to start with, more doom and gloom as Shemekia “saw the devil playing his hand; you know he wrecked my life just like a hurricane” but soon ramps up as the horns back up the chugging guitars, another excellent track. “The Battle Is Over (But The War Goes On)” was a tune done by Sonny Terry/Brownie McGhee and it fits perfectly with the social conscience nature of much of this album, as well as having a great core riff and some fine slide work at its heart. A gentler tune but equally tough in terms of subject matter is “Cardboard Box”, a co-write between John Hahn and Briton Ian Siegal. Alvin Youngblood Hart plays guitar and shares vocals on this harrowing tale of homeless people which is mainly acoustic. Shemekia takes us on a jaunty country detour on the amusing “Driving Out Of Nashville”, the last of the Hahn/Wood songs, Pete Finney’s pedal steel giving the song an appropriately country feel. Shemekia seems to relish some of the funny lines here: “I’m driving out of Nashville with a body in the trunk, trying to figure out the depths to which I’ve sunk. I never hit the big time, but I went out with a bang, ‘cos country music ain’t nothing but the blues with a twang”.

The second half of the album is all covers, starting with a great version of “I Feel A Sin Coming On”, a song once sung by Solomon Burke. Those are big boots to fill but Shemekia is more than capable of doing so and you can really believe that she is about to fall to temptation, her vocal well supported by backing vocalists and horns. A rumba rhythm opens Jesse Winchester’s “Isn’t That So” and the lyrics follow on nicely from the previous song, as Shemekia sings of following your heart and “finding the line of least resistance”. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons joins in the fun on the remake of the band’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago” with some meaty power chords well supported by Lex’s bass and some interesting percussion additions from engineer Mike Poole. John Fogerty’s CCR anthem “Long As I Can See The Light” is a superb song and Shemekia’s version compares well to the original with plenty of guitar work on both slide and ‘twangy’ lead. The Albert King cover “Wrapped Up In Love Again” adds Shemekia’s regular road guitarist Arthur Neilson who plays some strong blues licks for us, even managing some of Albert’s famous sustains. The album closes with a gentle acoustic reading of Jessie Mae Hemphill’s gospel piece “Lord, Help The Needy”, Shemekia’s voice set against just echoey slide, acoustic bass, minimal percussion and what sounds like some ethereal harp work (uncredited). As on several tracks, Shemekia wears her social conscience on her sleeve.

This is a fine album with no weak cuts, probably even stronger than 33 1/3 which was nominated for a Grammy. Recommended and likely to be on many ‘best of’ lists at the end of the year.

Editor’s Note: This album is nominated for a Grammy Award and is also nominated for a Blues Music Award.

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 Music Review – 4 of 11 

Jason Rosenblatt – Wiseman’s Rag


CD: 13 Songs; 52:51 Minutes

Styles: Jazz and Jazz-Influenced Blues, Jam-Session Blues and Jazz, Instrumentals

Israel Jason Rosenblatt’s newest album Wiseman’s Rag, produced in Canada, is interesting, eclectic, and improvisational. Depending on the connotation of these three descriptors, they can attract or repel, entice or annoy. “Is it ‘interesting’-good or ‘interesting’-bad?” one might ask, and it’s the same with the other two. The answer depends upon how well one likes jazz, and blues mixed in with it as an accent flavor. All thirteen of the original songs on this CD, several of which are instrumentals, contain the primary hallmarks of jazz – horns, wild variations in musical meter and tempo, and a meandering quality that lets one’s mind wander, too.

As for blues hallmarks? One clearly stands out: Rosenblatt’s prowess on harmonica, which typically isn’t a jazz instrument. He’s also an above-average singer, one not afraid to take risks. It’s impossible to pigeonhole his style of music. It’s definitely NOT pure blues, but on the other hand, it wouldn’t totally be in the same vein as Count Basie or Louis Armstrong. An album such as this might not appeal to U.S. pop record companies, but that’s a good thing. Rosenblatt is an artist, with a capital A, which also begins “avant-garde” and “auteur” (French for “at the vanguard” and “author”). These thirteen selections are jazz-club tunes, not dance-club tunes.

According to his website, “His music has been heard on radio and in film, including the 2010 Bravo production, Last of the Wild Jews. In 2010 Jason spearheaded the first Montreal Jewish Music Festival and as artistic director continues to promote Jewish music concerts and workshops to a multi-generational, multi-cultural and multi-lingual audience. Jason is especially concerned with educating the next generation of musicians and has given workshops and lectures on harmonica, and klezmer music to students of all ages. Jason’s skills as a composer and musician have been recognized through awards granted by the Canada Council for the Arts – Conseil des Arts du Montreal – the Lasko Foundation and PennPAT.”

With Jason Rosenblatt, as he performs on harmonica, piano, B3 organ (another typically non-jazz instrument) and vocals are Joe Grass on guitar, Joel Kerr on bass, and Evan Tighe on drums.

In literature, a “synecdoche” is a part of a story that stands in for the whole, as in the main character of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn symbolizing Brooklyn itself, and its growing modernity. Likewise, the title track of Wiseman’s Rag stands for the whole of it, containing its whole essence in three minutes and eleven seconds:

Track 01: “Wiseman’s Rag” – With a bouncy tempo and honey-laced harmonica that will lift one’s spirits, this ragtime tune invites listeners to kick back and enjoy a cup of smooth java. Short and sweet, it“says” everything that needs to be “said” about the album. It’ll put instrumental fans in a feel-good mood. The groove of every instrument featured fits perfectly into every other one. It’s like a jazz jigsaw puzzle, with no pieces missing. Joe Grass displays melodic electric fretwork.

Wiseman’s Rag may be 99% jazz, but it’s “hep” jazz!

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 Music Review – 5 of 11 

Buddy Guy – Born To Play Guitar

RCA Records

14 tracks/ 59:20

Many blues fans will rejoice when they get a listen to the latest offering from the current standard-bearer for a generation of blues artists that created much of the foundation for modern electric blues music. Producer & drummer Tom Hambridge surrounds guitarist Buddy Guy with veterans like Rob McNeely on guitar, Glenn Worf on bass plus Kevin McKendree and Reese Wynans on keyboards. Hambridge had a hand in co-writing most of the tracks with Guy or Richard Fleming.

Backed by a lone guitar, Guy opens the disc eloquently singing the deep blues on the title track, switching from a vintage Fender Stratocaster to an acoustic guitar once the band kicks in. It is the first of many highlights. Next up is a ferocious boogie number with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame joining Guy on “Wear You Out”. Things settle down quickly on “Back Up Mama” as Guy spells out his variation on the back-door man theme while he and McNeely switch between several guitars. He mines a similar vein on “Turn Me Wild,” with Billy Cox on bass and Kenny Greenberg on guitar. Guy goes back to the beginning, singing,”When I was young, I stayed in line, didn’t do no midnight creeping. My Momma had a broomstick beside the bed – let me tell you it wasn’t for sweeping”. Later he adds the telling lines “You can’t pick how they remember you. You just hope someday they do”.

Van Morrison joins Guy for a vocal duet on “Flesh & Bones,” a moving tribute to B.B. King with Guy switching between a 1957 Strat and 1974 Telecaster while the McCrary Sisters supply a heavenly vocal chorus. A sprightly run-through of “(Baby) You Got What It Takes” features vocal interplay between Guy and a sassy Josh Stone. Two tracks benefit from Kim Wilson’s outstanding harp playing. He pays tribute to the Little Walter legacy on “Too Late” before blowing up a storm on “Kiss Me Quick,” with able-bodied support from the leader playing a Gibson ES-335 plus Bob Britt on guitar and Tommy MacDonald on electric bass.

On “Smarter Than I Was,” the band cranks out a swirling, heavy-layered sound as Guy grieves over a broken relationship. Hambridge creates an eerie sonic landscape for the leader’s plea for sanity on “Crazy World”. The horns return on a raucous take of “Thick Like Mississippi Mud,” complete with Guy’s fiery guitar work. Three tracks feature Doyle Bramhall II on guitar and Reese Wynans on a variety of keyboards. “Whiskey, Beer, And Wine” is a thick-toned testimonial to life in blues bars and juke joints powered by Michael Rhodes on bass. Guy ‘s restrained vocal is a highlight on “Crying Out Of One Eye,” a somber reflection on heartbreak.

Guy and Bramhall II switch to acoustic guitars on the closing song. With Wynans on upright piano and Rhodes on bass, Guy is at his best on another superbly executed tribute, “Come Back Muddy”. His emotionally charged performance is another stellar moment on a disc that makes it clear that Buddy Guy still has plenty to say – and is still reminding us of what the blues is all about.

Editor’s Note: This Album is nominated for two Grammy Awards and is also nominated for two Blues Music Awards.

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 Blues Music Review – 6 of 11 

Jim Pharis – Sure to Offend


CD: 11 Songs; 41:29 Minutes

Styles: Mellow Solo Acoustic Blues, Acoustic Folk

In his 2014 article Trophy Fury, educator and public speaker Alfie Kohn analyzed the phenomenon of school-age students getting participation trophies and medals. His main theme was that the anger of some parents towards such awards is misplaced. Instead of claiming that kids are over-celebrated and coddled by receiving them, Kohn questioned the value of competition over collaboration in the first place. Nothing’s wrong with the child; it’s the trophy that’s wrong. Consider the case of Lafayette, Louisiana’s Jim Pharis, and his second album Sure to Offend. Does he automatically win the “trophy” of recognition in the blues/folk world because he succeeded in following up on his debut CD? The answer depends on whether listeners prefer mellow, solo acoustic blues to more traditional (and electric) varieties. If so, the “prize” is his.

On eleven original tracks, Pharis talk-sings about several subjects that concern him in today’s postmodern world. His flat, slightly nasal vocals and sketchy grammar (“Him and me – we’re kind of the same”) will annoy English teachers and voice coaches. Nevertheless, Jim’s lyrics are hilarious when he’s lampooning people and things he doesn’t like. “The Boss Song” and “Gun Rag”, reviewed below, are prime examples of this. When it comes to common blues themes, such as drinking “Whiskey” and running wild in “The Reckless Years”, he could have used more poignancy. Both songs are tragic, as their words clearly show, but their mellow tone doesn’t.

According to his website, “Pharis began playing guitar as a 12-year-old on a 3/4[-sized] second hand Sears and Roebuck guitar that he bought with grass-cutting money. After his parents realized how obsessed he was with it, a new, full sized guitar appeared at Christmas time.

“Thanks to a local guitar teacher who was a devoted Chet Atkins fan, Jim was exposed to the world of fingerstyle guitar. He began delving into the music of Paul Simon, Brownie McGee, Mississippi John Hurt and John Fahey.”

Jim Pharis plays solo acoustic guitar with aplomb on one of the absolute funniest songs of 2015:

Track 05: “Gun Rag” – Our narrator thinks his neighbor is a helpful, stand-up guy, but there’s just one little problem – make that a lot of little ones: “Boxes and boxes and boxes of ammo. His house catches fire, it’ll go KA-BAMMO! There’ll be a hole in the ground like an atom bomb. There’s enough rounds to fight a war. When I ask him what for, he said he might need ‘em down the road.” “Bomb” and “road” may not rhyme, but no one can miss the hypervigilant sentiment. Pharis’ ultimate conclusion is that “Somebody’s cleaning up; someone’s making a buck; somebody’s cleaning up with this Gun Rag.”

Intermixed with these ditties are quirky instrumentals, which might be the best songs on the album. Overall, Pharis is in the middle of the road when it comes to his efforts. According to his promotional note with the CD, it was recorded over a period of two days on a single microphone.

Jim Pharis’ laid-back latest is Sure to Offend blues purists.

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 Music Review – 7 of 11 

Greg Miller – Destination For Dreamers

Self-produced CD

10 songs – 41 minutes

French harmonica virtuoso Greg Miller makes a stunning debut with this sweet, sensual disc on which he delivers everything from traditional mainstream Chicago blues to blues-tinged jazz in a refined café society style that’s popular in Europe but rarely heard on this side of the Atlantic.

He attended the Paris Harmonica School at age 19 after teaching himself how to play two years earlier. He trained internationally with Canadian Carlos Del Junco and compatriot Nico Wayne Toissaint before immigrating to the U.K., where he founded the London Harmonica School, quickly established himself as one of the fastest rising talents in Europe. That notoriety was well deserved. Miller was honored by Britain’s National Harmonica League, which named him its player of the year in 2011 and jazz world harmonica champion.

Now in his early 30s, Miller accompanies himself on vocals with only the slightest of accents. His delivery is breathy, but strong and clear. He attack on the reeds is reminiscent of Sugar Blue’s jazzier stylings when he returned to the U.S. in the late ‘70s after a lengthy stay in France. Miller uses a well-controlled single-note attack and a light touch as he delivers most of the material here. But when he shifts in to straight-ahead blues mode, it’s clear that he understands the style because his delivery is dead on target.

He’s joined here by Hannah Olive, who handles some of the vocal chores, Giulio Romano Malaisi (guitar), Fran Okine (bass), Alessandro Cineffi (drums), Alberto Manuzzi (keyboards) – who shares songwriting credit with Miller on everything you’ll hear here, Anna Rawlings (trumpet) and Ross Moore (trombone). And making guest appearances on one cut are guitarist Davide Mazzantini, bassist Enzo Strano and drummer Loris Peverani.

Listen to the first few notes of the first cut, “Prison In My Head,” and you’ll wonder what all the hype is about. Miller tricks the listener with a few very simple chords as he breathes in and out on the diatonic harp. The sound is almost childlike in nature. But once he launches into the song a few notes later, it’s clear he means business. The musical hook is sweet and tender. The tune is a breezy jazz in blues scale with a familiar feel, and it describes Miller’s difficulties adjusting to life in a different culture.

Rawlings delivers “Down To The River,” which comes across with a Delta feel. Miller’s attack comes in the form of whole notes and small chord runs behind the vocal as Hannah’s alto delivers her yearning for a man who’s no longer around. Miller’s mid-song solo is brief, but soaked with feel as it builds tension throughout. The sound returns to Euro jazz for the delightful “Paris Melody,” a pastiche of songs germane to the City Of Lights. His technique changes as he flows effortlessly from one segment to another, aided by a beautiful, simple guitar solo from Malaisi.

Miller attacks the high reeds like few folks in America for “Dreamer,” another jazzy blues with a melody with a comfortable, familiar feel. His tone is round and clean as he glides from note to note. Rawlings handles the vocals again for “Queen Of Blues,” a slow and steady song of forbidden love delivered with a gypsy feel and featuring an extended piano solo, before “Blues, My Woman And Wine,” a traditional Chicago blues delivered in a classic manner. It features Mazzantini, Strano and Peverani making their sole appearance.

The Parisian jazz feel returns for the instrumental “Funky Man” with Miller channeling Blue closely, borrowing slightly from one of Sugar’s melodies, but reworking it into a tune all his own, before delivering “The One That I Am Lovin’,” a modern blues with a definite American feel. “Just You,” an acoustic love ballad, and “Summer Blues,” a dreamy jazz, conclude the set.

If you love great harmonica playing that’s not limited to Sonny Boy/Little Walter/Big Walter stylings, you’ll totally enjoy Destination For Dreamers, which is available through Amazon or iTunes. Miller is definitely someone to keep an eye on.

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 Music Review – 8 of 11 

Charles Wilson – Sweet & Sour Blues

Blues Critic Records

11 songs – 47 minutes

Charles Wilson has been something of a fixture on the Chicago soul scene since the 1970s, although he didn’t cut his first full album until 1990’s Blues In The Key Of C. Over the years, he has moved closer to the blues, in particular on his 2005 Delmark release, If Heartaches Were Nickels, which garnered a W.C. Handy nomination for Best Soul/Blues Album.

His new album, Sweet & Sour Blues, continues to mine that rich seam of music that is equal parts soul and blues, and with great success. The album contains 11 original songs packed into just over three-quarters of an hour, and there isn’t a duff track on there.

Wilson has a rich, vibrant, emotionally-charged voice, capable of expressing love, lust and longing. It’s very much a classic soul-blues voice, particularly suiting to the pleading, desperate “Love Coupons”. He also benefits from being backed by the mighty Travis Haddix and his band, who provide stellar yet understated support.

Haddix is in something of a frenzy of activity at the moment. His last studio album, Love Coupon, was favorably reviewed in the 14 September 2015 issue of Blues Blast Magazine, quickly followed by the excellent career retrospective It’s My Turn Now – The Best Of (reviewed in the 22 October 2015 issue of Blues Blast). And now he and his band play on the 11 songs of Sweet & Sour – all of which were also written by Haddix. As usual, the rhythm section of Ed Lemmers and Jeremy Sullivan nail a variety of grooves with authority, while Haddix’s solos and fills offer a master class in modern day B.B. King-influenced electric blues guitar. His first solo on “2 Steps From A Lie” is outrageously good.

The songs, as one might expect from Haddix, are well-constructed with clever lyrics. On the slow shuffle of “Old Fashioned Justice”, Wilson sings: “You want a man who won’t make you sob, and do anything you say. The man you got, he got you working two jobs, and bringing him all your pay. That’s old-fashioned justice – the craziest thing I ever heard. You didn’t get the man that you wanted – you got the one you deserve.”

But despite Haddix’s heavy involvement in Sweet & Sour (he also produced the release), there is no doubt that it is Wilson’s album. Wilson stamps his own personality and style on every song and his voice is really a wondrous thing. On the slow blues of “Dinner With The Devil”, he expertly treads the delicate balance between the explicit humor of the lyrics and sub-text of the pain and rejection felt by the protagonist – “They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I know you disagree. Lean cuisine is not a part of your scene. That’s why you never cook for me. I never say that I’m hungry when I’m out in the street. It’s like having dinner with the devil every time we sit down to eat. I don’t care – anything you do is alright. But I keep some money in my pocket so I can eat out every night.”

Sweet & Sour is a very impressive, highly enjoyable album of traditional blues-soul. If you like the music of masters such as James Carr, Johnny Adams and Little Milton (Wilson’s uncle), you will want to hear this album.

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 Music Review – 9 of 11 

Sugar Daddy Blues Band – Schemes And Dreams

Self-produced CD

13 songs – 41 minutes

Sugar Daddy Blues Band is a veteran three-piece group of multi-instrumentalists and vocalists from who deliver a pleasant mix of modern blues from their base in Greenville, S.C., as evidenced by this disc, the fourth self-produced CD in their catalog.

Former winners of the Director’s Award in the 2011 Nashville International Song & Lyric Contest, the group has about 100 combined years in the music business and is composed of drummer/harmonica player John Hawkins, guitarist/keyboard player Warren Rollins and bassist/keyboard player/guitarist Mike Lagerholm, who trade turns at lead and background vocals and who’ve written all 13 tracks of this CD.

The project kicks off with “Dreaming Of Loving You,” a medium tempo shuffle remembrance of a first meeting with a good woman and the upbeat message of still being together and holding hands. The vocalist has a pleasant tenor delivery as he paints the picture. I’d identify the singer, but can’t because the liner notes are woefully brief. “Island Time,” a song of desire driven by a simple, repeating keyboard line, features “evergreen water and sugar-white sand” and the offer to “show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” The singer on this one has a much huskier, weathered voice as he clearly delivers his agenda.

The aural texture changes dramatically for “Lightning Boy,” an uptempo boogie, as a baritone with a smoky voice takes control. It’s a reworking of the blues legend of meeting the devil at the crossroads and trading one’s soul for guitar skills. In this one, the devil returns 40 years later for payment. And the texture changes once more to modern keyboard-driven soul-blues for “Never Ending Cycle Of Love.” In it, the first vocalist takes command to deliver an image-filled opus that compares the ebb and flow of a relationship to waves hitting the shore.

“Blues Cruisin’” is an upbeat, gentle, down-to-earth tune about the desire to pack up everything and hit the road for gigs. It’s clear that someone in the band, which is based in South Carolina’s northwest Upcountry, has a hankering for the ocean because this tune contains images of the sea, too, as do others. “Corner Of My Mind” is another medium, modern blues shuffle about the memories that remain after a relationship has fallen apart. In this case, the couple’s still together in the place cited in the title.

Not to be confused with the old standard, “Blue Moon” is a simple, quiet slow blues about the realization that a love affair is over while “Hot Summer Days” sings about the wait for warm weather and the resumption of a relationship that’s been put on hold. “I’m Your Sugar Daddy” is a steady-rocking modern blues about supporting someone who’s deserving and simply needs a helping hand in life to get by. The syncopated “Cool Blue Night” describes a tantalizing hypnotizer with coal-black hair and raven eyes – “through her smile came only lies.”

“It’s A Hard Day” starts off with a guitar flourish but quickly settles into a steady blues-rocker about the last days of a romance. “Oh Temptetion” – the band’s spelling, not mine – deals with someone who’s bad news and is curled up and about to strike. The title song, “Schemes And Dreams,” concludes the set. It’s a fast shuffle in which the singer believes he has more money and women than he could ever need before realizing it was all a dream.

Available through direct download from the Sugar Daddy Blues Band website, Schemes And Dreams features first-rate material and musicianship throughout. The band’s a polished group of veterans who are worthy a spin.

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 Music Review – 10 of 11 

Eddie Taylor Jr. – Stop Breaking Down

Wolf Records 120.834

12 songs – 49 minutes

It’s been three long, hard years since Eddie Taylor Jr. released an album. During that time, he endured a painful trip through the blues wilderness, experiencing health problems of his own as well as the death of a son which he experienced health problems and the death of a son on the mean streets of Chicago. But he bounces back with vigor on this rock-solid disc on Germany’s Wolf Records imprint.

Still a relatively young man in blues terms and heir to the legacy of his father, who was both Jimmy Reed’s guitar player and a superstar in the genre himself, Eddie Jr. was born in 1971 and envisioned himself as a rapper. It wasn’t until after Eddie Sr.’s death in the mid-‘80s that he began teaching himself how to play guitar, using his father’s recordings as a guide.

Now in his late 40s and with six prior releases on the Wolf label, Eddie Jr. is firmly established as one of the few folks left in the city who deliver traditional Chicago blues, tempered by a strong taste of Windy City soul. Most of the 10 covers and two originals here were recorded on the shores of Lake Michigan backed by Tony Palmer (guitar), Greg McDaniel (bass), brother Tim Taylor (drums) and Bob Waleso and Harmonica Hinds (harp). The other two were laid down in Vienna, Austria, in a stripped-down format with Eddie aided solely by Hinds on reeds.

If you’re familiar with Taylor’s recordings, you’ll find his play a little different on this one. In an attempt to win and retain a younger audience, he’s modernized his style a bit and enlisted the aid of several guitar effects he hadn’t used previously.

Stop Breaking Down kicks off with a loping cover of Slim Harpo’s “I’m A King Bee.” Eddie’s rich voice fits perfectly atop a chart with true Swamp feel. The B.B. King/Dave Clark classic “Ghetto Woman” follows with Taylor delivering a crisp, clean single-note guitar line as he sings about a faithful woman waiting for her man to come home. His pedal work gives the mid-tune solo a contemporary feel while he stays comfortably in format.

Next up is a version of Brook Benton’s “Kiddio,” once a minor blues hit for Chicago slide guitar master John Littlejohn. It swings sweetly as Eddie’s voice lilts from verse to verse. “Baby What You Want Me To Do,” a song his father played regularly behind Reed, follows before a funky take on Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying” and a new, uptempo and flashy arrangement of the traditional “I Got To Find My Baby (Before That Evenin’ Sun Go Down.”

Two originals with an old-time feel — “Baby Please Come Home” and “You Gotta Pay The Price” – sandwich a modern stab at Robert Johnson’s “32-20 Blues” before a cover of the traditional “Low Down Dirty Shame (Oooh-Wee Baby).” Two more covers — Tommy McClennan’s “Whiskey Headed Woman” and Johnson’s “Stop Breaking Down” – conclude the set.

While it’s true that most of the material here is a collection of tried-and-true blues warhorses, Eddie Jr. has proven once again that he’s a standard bearer for the Chicago blues tradition. This disc might have been better if it had contained more new songs. But if you’re a traditionalist, you’ll enjoy this one. I did.

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

 Featured Blues Music Review – 11 of 11 

Bert Deivert & Copperhead Run – Blood In My Eyes For You

12 songs – 53 minutes

Despite being a key component of many early blues/jug combos, and despite the stellar contributions of artists like Yank Rachell, Carl Martin and Johnny Young to blues music generally, for many years the mandolin took a back seat in the cabal of blues instrumentation. In recent years, however, the likes of Steve James, Billy Flynn and Ry Cooder have blazed a fresh trail for fans, re-emphasizing how perfectly the airy, tenor tone of the mandolin sits in the frequency spectrum to complement the contrasting tonal qualities of the guitar and the piano. While not as famous as the likes of James, Flynn and Cooder, Bert Deivert certainly deserves his place in the pantheon of modern-day blues mandolin masters.

Blood In My Eyes For You is Deivert’s 12th album and the fourth featuring his melodic blues mandolin mastery. Featuring two self-composed songs and 10 covers of classic blues songs, Blood In My Eyes is a little gem of an album. Deivert was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but has led a peripatetic existence. Recently, he has been based in Sweden and is backed on the album by Copperhead Run, featuring the local (and very impressive) acoustic talents of Fredrik Lindholm on drums, Janne Zander on guitars and Per-Arne Pettersson on bass. Together they provide subtle support for Deivert’s voice and mandolin, locking into irresistible rhythms on tracks like “My Baby’s Gone” and “Drop Down Mama”.

While many of the songs are well-known, Deivert and crew prefer to re-interpret the tracks in their own way. The title track, for example, replaces the violin and folksy octave-bounce of the Mississippi Sheiks’ original with slide guitar and mandolin, whilst still retaining its distinctive toe-tapping groove. Big Joe Williams’ “Baby Please Don’t Go” probably owes as much to Them’s famous cover as it does to the original. And Son House’s “Death Letter” is actually slowed down a tad, adding to its haunting tone, albeit within the primal dread of House’s original.

Deivert’s two original songs sit comfortably with the classics. “Black Nanny” features a busy bass line under-pinning the hypnotic, one-chord verse, and “Cuckoo Crowed” has a slightly more modern feel and some superb slide guitar from Zander.

Throughout the album, Deivert’s mandolin alternates between contributing driving rhythm to the likes of “Special Agent” or adding beautiful, nuanced emphasis to particular vocal lines, for example in the up-beat shuffle of Sleepy John Estes’ “Mailman Blues”.

Recorded live in the studio in Karlstad, Sweden, by Mattias Perez, the album captures the feel of a juke joint gig in the American south in the warmth and immediacy of the instrumentation as well as that indefinable magic of musicians playing off each other.

Blood In My Eyes For You is a really enjoyable album of superbly-played, mandolin-led blues. If one were to nit-pick, it would be good to see more original songs but maybe that’s something for the next album. Until then, this is a great place to start to enjoy the blues of Bert Deivert.

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.

 Blues Society News 

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Ventura County Blues Society – Ventura, CA

The Ventura County Blues Society presents “The Session” every Wednesday night at Bombay Bar & Grill in Ventura. Hosted by the group Crooked Eye Tommy, “The Session” features some of the best names in both the local and national blues scene, with no cover charge. Recent guest artists have included Coco Montoya, Teresa Russell, Ray Jarique, and John Marx.

Southeast Iowa Blues Society – Fairfield, IA

The Southeast Iowa Blues Society presents the 5th Annual “Rockin’ in the Blue Year” January, 2. the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Fairfield, IA featuring an Evening with SAMANTHA FISH, with Opening Act – Quay Thomas.

You don’t want to miss a chance to see her live, she will rock your Blues and Quay is a local favorite who is young and going places. What a way to kick off the new Blue year !!

Doors Open at 6:30 and Music Begins at 7pm. Tickets-$16 Advance & SIBS members; $20 Day of Show.

For more Information go to or call 641-919-7477

DC Blues Society – Washington, D.C.

The DC Blues Society rings in the New Year with Full Power Blues and special guest Clarence “The Bluesman” Turner. The evening includes a traditional southern-style dinner, party favors, midnight champagne toast, raffles and a very reasonable cash bar. Seating is limited. Buy tickets at or call 301-322-4808: only $35 in advance ($30 for DCBS members) and $40 at the door ($35 for DCBS members). Metro accessible and ample parking. Full Power Blues provides the groove to dance into 2016, playing smooth Chicago-style blues with a side of modern soul. Appearing with them: Clarence “The Bluesman” Turner, who was inspired by the songs of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf at the age of 8. Clarence never fails to entertain with his skillful and joyful guitar playing.

Join DC blues lovers on December 31 for electrifying entertainment, great food and a friendly atmosphere. The DC Blues Society provides the best New Year’s Eve value in metro DC.

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. There will 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.

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. Dec. 28 – James Armstrong

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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