Issue 9-7 February 12 2015

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

  In This Issue 

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with Blues Blast Music Award nominee, Josh Hoyer.

We have 13 reviews for you including reviews of new music from Low Society, Josh Hoyer And The Shadowboxers, The Sidney Green Street Band, Moondog Medicine Show, Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King, The Chris O’Leary Band, Tommy Cox, Rita Engedalen, Howard Glazer, Lisa Mills, Fathead, Dave Ray and Mick Kidd.

We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

I wanted to remind you that we still have some of the new Blues Blast Magazine t-shirts available as low as $12 and FREE shipping until the end of February. So show your support for Blues Blast Magazine and get yourself one.

We have lots of sizes available, some in long sleeve, plus we also have ladies sizes to fit the stylish Blues woman! To get yours now, Click Here.

Also we want to announce we will be starting up our Blues Blast Overdose issue again starting with the last issue in February. Each month we will be offering free downloadable tracks from Blues artists everywhere.

If you band has a track that you would like to offer to Blues Blast readers, please check out the details at Then drop us a line to tell us what you got!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 13 

Low Society – You Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down

Icehouse Records

12 songs time-56:20

Controlled chaos in the hands of the right people can be a glorious thing to behold. These are definitely the right people. The main perpetrators here are Mandy Lemons on raging vocals and Sturgis Nikides providing the guitars that come at you from all directions. Nick Dodson provides the bass and Mike “Drummerlife” Munn the drums and percussion. His busy cymbal work is refreshing. Other musicians contribute keyboards, saxophone, accordion and harmonica as needed. The music they present here is a concoction of rock, blues, R&B, roots, Memphis rock n’ soul, etc…All served up with attitude. Ten originals and tw0 covers are all given the Low Society once over.

Slide guitar “as slippery as deer guts on a door knob” lead into Mandy’s take charge guttural vocals, as you are rudely awakened by the joyful noise of “Crammed And Jammed”. This is a pummeling of the best kind. Koko Taylor’s “Voodoo Woman” is also spearheaded by raucous slide work. The vocal is urgent and over-the-top. Dr. Herman Green, who has played with B.B. King and Lionel Hampton, delivers some tasty saxophone. With Mandy’s brazen vocal delivery you get a picture in your head of her maniacally stalking the stage.

The dramatic reading of “Need Your Love” sounds like it could have come from the movie “Cabaret”. Rick Steff’s accordion lends a bit of “oom-pah-pah” atmosphere. Greasy Memphis funk is the stuff that “Son House Says” is made of. Organ chords washing under some gritty guitar supports the strutting vocal. The title track throttles the point home as slide guitar and piano battle it out. A slow and moody intro leads into “This Heart Of Mine”. Mandy pleads her case with a deeply soulful and heartfelt vocal performance.

Strugis Nikides’ slide gets all jumpy and melodic on the upbeat “Up In Your Grave”, although the lyrics are threatening. The band handles Memphis Minnie’s “Let Me Ride” as a “Sunday go to meeting” religious rant. It includes a male answer vocal and nifty piano and acoustic slide guitar. Shuffling snare drums move the down-on-my-luck “No Money Down”. Mandy gets righteous from her pulpit on the hard charging “You Got A Right”.

Our girl sounds possessed on the atmospheric “El Diablo”. The sole accompaniment here is acoustic guitar and spare percussion. Mandy repents on “Should’ve Known Better> Her vocal reeks of sincerity. Organ and saxophone are added to the stew.

After a listen you know you have experienced something very special and energizing. Mandy is the obvious vocal point, but when mixed with the manic slide guitars and rhythm section an unstoppable force is created. Nothing is held back here. Mandy’s voice and delivery are something to behold. It’s the tough girl vibe, but there is more at work here. The lyrics come from a real place. When Mandy leaves your CD player there is no question she was there.

Don’t take my word for it, pick this puppy up and make a believer out of yourself. You can thank me later.

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

 Featured Blues Interview – Josh Hoyer 

It was John Lee Hooker who sang, “It’s in him and it’s got to come out”. That memorable phrase has been uttered countless times – and certainly serves as an appropriate starting point when talking about singer, songwriter, musician and bandleader Josh Hoyer.

His self-titled debut recording with his band, the Shadowboxers, received critical acclaim in addition to a nomination for a 2014 Blues Blast Music Award nomination in the New Artist Debut Album category.

Hoyer’s story starts when at early age. At the ripe old of four, he participated in a talent show at the high school where his father was teaching, singing John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good”. That experience was the start of his musical journey that continued with singing in the church choir. During fifth grade, all of the students got to try out different instruments. The staff determined that Hoyer was best suited for the trombone but he only had eyes for the saxophone. His stubborn nature won out and he played sax and sang all the way through high school.

“I was in show choirs in junior high and planned to continue that in high school. But a teacher there, Tim Sharer, noticed that I had a really good ear, good pitch and the ability to improvise, so he put me in the Jazz choir. I wasn’t real happy about it at first but grew to love it. Up until then I was singing what everyone else was singing on the sheet music. It was a pivotal moment because it helped me cultivate my own voice and ideas through improvisation. It really broadened my horizons and I am thankful that he noticed that ability in me.”

After a short attempt at college, Hoyer began checking out shows at the Zoo Bar, the famous club that is a home for roots music in Lincoln, Nebraska. Not old enough to get in, he would hang out in the back alley listening to music through the vent. One of his favorite musicians was organ player Ron Levy. “He was the guy I always wanted to come & see. He was super funky – great songs and really original ideas. I was also a big fan of Medeski, Martin & Woods.”

At the same time, Hoyer started listening to a lot of jazz records, leading him to pick-up the sax again. “I started over from scratch without sheet music, playing by ear & trying to figure out what I was hearing.”

The urge to roam prompted Hoyer to leave Lincoln and travel the country, eventually settling in Oregon. Finding it hard to lead a band while playing his sax, he had begun teaching himself how to play keyboards on an old Roland synthesizer he purchased, figuring out to get the sounds he was searching for.

“I‘d write chords, melodies, and bass lines, then my buddies would play them. I was fortunate to know people that were willing to play my ideas and help me learn how to write songs.”

Next up was a stop in New Orleans, which was a breath of fresh air.

“That music scene really turned me on! Music is life and everything down there is based on music. I felt at home there, more than I ever did in Nebraska. I was very excited about my music.”

Always a hard worker, he would get up early in the morning and work all day in the heat at landscape maintenance – “a glorified lawnmower” – and then spend his evenings hitting club after club. But a falling-out with his roommates over a brawl in the middle of the night ended his stay.

“They broke my bed, and under the bed was my saxophone which got smashed. I said screw you, I’m going home. So I left & went back to Lincoln. Good things have happened since I came home but I’ve always wondered what might have happened if I had stayed in New Orleans. I sure loved it there.”

Back in Lincoln, Hoyer became a fixture at several weekly blues jams, playing regularly with Magic Slim and his bass-playing brother, Nick Holt. In 2003, he took his sax on the road with singer E.C. Scott.

“That was a learning experience. She is a phenomenal bandleader and ran a tight ship. She got the sound she wanted while treating the band members with respect. There was no messing with that. If she wanted you to play a certain lick, that is what you were going to play or else you can catch the bus home. As an independent artist, she managed herself. No record label, no booking agent – she inspired me and showed me what it took to be make a band successful.”

Hoyer also learned that he has a hard time taking orders and, when his head was filled with his own ideas, he returned yet again to Lincoln to form his own band. His first project was Electric Soul Method, a collection of some of the best local players. The band did one record, winning local awards for Best Artist and Best Album. But the highlights did not last very long.

“It was a fun project. But it fizzled out because it was filled with bandleaders who also didn’t want to be told what to do. The bass player left to form a band. The piano player moved to New York & is currently touring with Lenny Kravitz. The band had lots of talent but I learned that there can only be one cook in the kitchen. Otherwise nothing is going to happen.”

“Then I started the Sons of 76. That was a dark period in my life. I became introverted and wanted to tell more stories. It had an Americana sound with some New Orleans and rock flavors. I did three records for that band, which also won some local awards.

But we never made people very happy. They would come to hear us on a Friday night and would leave saying you guys sound great but, now I’m depressed! After a while I started to see that.

Magic Slim had always told me that the music business is not about you, it’s about the people that paid to see you. When you see them happy & dancing, that’s the kind of music you want to play.”

“That tied into what I experienced in New Orleans, when people got together and had a good time, the music was something really powerful. So I decided to go back to playing dance music, soul & funk music with some horns.

So we put the Shadowboxers together just two years ago and, man, things just took off for us! It is a very positive, uplifting experience at our shows. I have redefined my job description over the last couple years. There is enough sadness in the world. We can talk about it lyrically but it doesn’t have to sound depressing. I want to lift people up.

The leader plays keyboards, clarinet and baritone sax and uses his powerful voice to bring life to his lyrics. The Shadowboxers include Benny Kushner on guitar, Justin Jones on drums & percussion, Josh Dargar on bass, Mike Dee on sax, and Tommy Van Den Berg on trombone. Hanna Bendler, Kim Moser, and Megan Spain provide backing vocals on the band’s recordings and some live shows. Brian Morrow plays flute on the latest recording.

Hoyer’s influences include Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, and the funky side of Etta James. Listening to their music, he would often be moved to dance, throwing his arms around like he was boxing,

“I would get ready for the day. I am going to conquer the day. Today is my day & I’m going to go out and get what I need to get. I love that feeling of empowerment that music can give you. It also relates to our need to box away at the shadows, the fears and doubts that prevent us from being the best person we can be.”

Despite learning many valuable lessons from the many blues players he encountered, Hoyer never really felt at home with the music, preferring the sounds of soul and jazz that inspired him. But no matter what music he is playing, the bandleader knows the importance of building strong relationships that can withstand the pull of egos, long stretches on the road, and the constant financial strain of playing music for a living.

“Everyone’s motivation has to be in the right place. I try to stay away from people that are all about themselves, people who have a need to show off. The music has a lot more strength when we are all together.

It’s important to me to take care of the guys in the band, especially now that we are getting out on the road more. When we play at a club, they want us back. But it is tough right now to get your foot in the door. I booked bands at the Zoo Bar so I have experience on that side. It is tough for a club struggling to make ends meet week to week to take a chance on a new band, to pay them enough money to make it worthwhile to drive 500 miles for the gig.”

“But we aren’t owed anything as musicians. You have to earn it. If your music is strong, you perform it well and you connect with the audience, then you are earning your money. Some bands have some unrealistic expectations. But it’s tough times whether you are working as a mechanic or a nurse or a musician.

You have to give someone a product they can sell at their club. I feel I owe the club something and need to do right by them.”

The reality of tour finances has been weighing on Hoyer as the Shadowboxers prepare to hit the road to support their new release, Living By The Minute, on Silver Streak Records. The various dates scheduled only offer enough guaranteed money to cover less than a third of the projected expenses for the trip. Only two clubs are covering hotel rooms for the band, which means Hoyer has to pick up the tab for housing for the other five members of the Shadowboxers the other nights.

“We do real well locally, so we save money. The corporate gigs help out. But we set money aside just like everyone else in any other business. We just hope we can open some more doors.

Charlie Hull is the primary force at Silver Streak records. He developed successful campaigns for Red Bull and Adidas that focused on youth marketing and branding. Also a music lover, Hull decided to get into the business and is a big supporter of the band. Hoyer appreciates being relieved of some responsibilities regarding promotion, registering music, and maintaining a strong web presence.

“I still do the booking, the management and songwriting. It has given me more free time but not enough yet. I am a stay-at-home Dad with a one year old and a five year old that I take to school every day I am home. I have a great support system here with my parents, my wife and her folks.

They try to give me time to write. I hope that when we get back from this tour I’ll be able to get the latest batch of ideas out. Booking & management can take thirty hours a week. I’d love to have that time to focus on the art form. So we are going out there to earn that time!”

Monterey International booked the upcoming tour dates. The company regards the band as an emerging artist and will be monitoring their progress carefully. Hoyer says that the Monterey staff was blown away by how far the band had come in two years. While Hoyer is booking the band now, if the progression continues this year, Monterey may step in and give Hoyer those extra hours for songwriting.

“My songs have strong grooves. Lyrically, I like writers like Bob Dylan that talk about real shit. I try not to be too heavy. One strength of music is the opportunity to address issues that you can’t address in any other social platform. I don’t want to be preacher – but I also don’t want my songs to be about nothing.

Blues has been a music where the honesty always comes out. I learned about the concept of space from listening to Miles Davis – that what you don’t play is almost more important than what you do play. And John Coltrane was constantly searching for that right note that would elevate the listener. I strive for that kind of tenacity.”

To see a video of Josh Hoyer’s performance at the 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards,CLICK HERE.

Visit Josh’s website at

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

Interviewer 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 Review – 2 of 13 

Josh Hoyer And The Shadowboxers – Living By The Minute

10 songs – 57 minutes

Silver Street Records

The winters are long, cold and brutal in the Midwest, but Josh Hoyer And The Shadowboxers are doing their best to heat things up for anyone with courage enough to venture out and catch their red-hot blend of blues, soul and jazz.

Hoyer was a nominee for Best New Artist at last year’s Blues Blast Awards. He and his tight ensemble emerged from the Plains two years ago at the Las Vegas Blues and Rhythm Revival festival at the Riviera Hotel and Casino, and they’ve been burning a path wherever they’ve gone since, performing original music that’s hints of sounds of the past while delivering a message of social consciousness.

A Nebraska native who works out of a home base in Lincoln, Hoyer’s musical journey includes several years on the road in the Pacific Northwest, a long stint in New Orleans, where he developed his chops, and a return home, where he spent years working with the homeless and acquired a different outlook on the world, complete with all of its joys and blemishes. His musical influences range from John Coltrane and Miles Davis to Ray Charles, James Brown and Otis Redding. A family man, he took a leap of faith not long ago and started hitting the road fulltime.

In their full alignment, the Shadowboxers are a throwback to the past: a full band complete with horn section and backup singers. A strong tenor vocally, Hoyer doubles on keyboards and saxophone as he fronts the group for their second release, a follow-up to last year’s self-titled debut album. Josh wrote and produced all the material you’ll hear here. Benny Kushner, who’s toured with The Millions and the Mescal Brothers, handles guitar, backed by a rhythm section of veteran road warrior Justin G. Jones on drums and 19-year-old phenom Joshua Barger on bass. Sax player Mike Dee and trombonist Tommy Van Den Berg round out the sound, aided by vocalists Hanna Bendler, Kim Moser and Megan Spain. Brian Morrow sits in on flute for this session.

The soulful “Living By The Minute,” a jazz-tinged statement about living from check to check, kicks off the disc with a complaint that most working folks can relate to: Not having enough time for the woman who holds down the top spot in your heart and thoughts. The horn- and organ-driven “Misfit Children” is a hard-hitting funk with jazz overtones about folks turning a blind eye to suffering. Hoyer’s vow is to keep working forward as he urges society to compromise despite their differences and make the right choices. The theme about social inequity continues for the minor-key “Over The City.” The city looks peaceful from a distance, but teams with problems on closer inspection.

“I write about what I think about and see in the world,” Josh says. “Not all of that is happy…but the groove is!”

That’s true about the next tune — “A Man Who Believes His Own Lies” – too, as Hoyer and his backup singers trade riffs as he vows to love his woman longer and stronger after hurting her in some unspoken way. It’s an upbeat pleaser that swings from the jump and remains full of hope despite the theme. The pace heats up for “Let It Out,” a rapid-fire lesson to take a lesson from the rock-‘in’-roll generation and release your frustrations, and then slows down dramatically again for “The First One,” a straight-ahead love song that’s a cross between Macon and Memphis soul. Hoyer’s relaxed delivery powers the number and allows him the opportunity to show his vocal prowess full-force, aided by a sensual sax solo.

The hard-driving “Real Time” is an observation about people losing grip on doing their best as they struggle and toil through the day. The horn section gets to step out mid-song. A staccato rhythm kicks off “11:11 333,” the message of which has spiritual significance. Living in 333 synthesizes mind, body and spirit with angels loving, surrounding and protecting you, while 11:11 signifies a conscious spiritual journey in which you’re aware of things in your life that others dismiss. “Blood And Bone,” a tune about living together, and “Don’t Turn Away,” a message to be responsible in the choices you make because they’ll affect your children.

It’s not old-school Memphis, Detroit or Chicago, but modern soul blues for modern times. Hoyer delivers on all counts: Fresh tunes, solid rhythms and a message worthy of being heard.

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 13 

The Sidney Green Street Band – SGSB

Self Release

11 tracks / 51:08

The Sidney Green Street band is promoted as a New Jersey bar band, but don’t let that description fool you into thinking they are amateurs – these guys are the real deal. But you do not have to travel to the Garden State to appreciate their brand of blues-rock, as they have recently issued their sophomore CD, SGSB.

Though they have only put out two albums, this quartet has more than enough experience to get the job done no matter where they are playing. Lance Doss (guitar and vocals) toured the world for over six years with John Cale, and guitarist Justin Jordan has over 20 years of professional experience, touring and appearing with artists as diverse as Sean Fleming, Shirley Allston Reeves and Gary US Bonds. Bassist Paul Page toured with John Cale too, and appeared with some really cool acts including Dion, Popa Chubby, Gary US Bonds, Bo Diddley, Del Shannon and Ben E. King. And rounding out the group is drummer Steve Holley whose resume includes work with Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker, and Chuck Berry to name a few.

The Sidney Green Street Band has a few things going for it that most North Jersey bar bands do not, and the first thing is original material: Lance wrote all eleven guitar-heavy tracks for this album. Another plus is a high level of musical ability, and the last piece is their take on Southern blues-rock. Apparently, Doss picked up a good dose of this from his home state of Alabama, but their vibe is still original with just a touch of Skynyrd here and there.

The band took a chance by opening the set with a slow song, “Bye, Bye, Bye,” but this burning rocker paid off for them. Jordan and Doss’ smoking hot guitars are run in stereo and Lance knocks the vocals out with his diverse style, which can be described as a rough on one side and smooth on the other — kind of like a sheet of A-C plywood! This leads into the almost-pop “Sadie,” a play on the original Sadie Hawkins story as introduced in the Li’l Abner comic strip back in 1937 (in case you were wondering).

This change of genres is not unusual for the Sidney Green Street Band. “Some Things Ain’t Never Gonna Change” is a soft rock tune, but with hard hitting rhythm guitar work over the awesome backline of Page and Holley. It has a few unique guitar breaks, including a standalone dry solo and a heavily processed Wah pedal solo. Also, the modern boogie of “Number” is a jaw-dropping bit of guitar fun.

There are also a few standout tracks on the album that should be pointed out. The first is “Divine,” which has a catchy hook and an acoustic rock foundation. It shows mature songwriting, though it is uncertain if comparing your lady to a “good Southern Whiskey” will get you in her good graces. Doss’ voice is in fine form here with a surplus of emotion, and his harmonies with the other members are spot on. The other winner track is the country rocker, “Payin’ the Price” which is carried by its clever lyrics, an infectious rhythm guitar line, and some truly tasteful solo work.

The album ends with a really cool tune, “Consumer,” which has a lot going on. The rhythm section builds a sweet Boz Scaggs riff on the bottom, there is a smoking twin guitar attack on top, and a fun vocal history cuts through the middle. This track would be a good set-closer, and that is exactly what the band does with it on this disc.

The Sidney Green Street Band’s new album is a solid collection of original blues-rock with a Southern flavor. If you are a fan of heavy guitar blues with a killer beat this will be your cup of tea. And if you ever find yourself on US 46 between the Del Water Gap and NYC, make sure you stop in at the Great Neck Inn – they might just be on stage!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 13 

Moondog Medicine Show – Let It Go

Self Release

10 tracks; 36 minutes

Moondog Medicine Show is a band from Western Maryland and consists of Lana Spence (vocals) Joel Newman (guitar, backing vocals), Keith Sylvester (bass, backing vocals) and Danny Tait (drums). The band’s second album is now out on the Vizzable label, the new sub-division of Vizztone and on it they are joined by Jeremy Leber on keys, Tom Crawford on sax on two tracks and “Fast” Eddie Galvin on one. All the material here is original apart from two tracks and is mainly in the blues-rock area. Lana’s strong voice at times recalls Janis Joplin but she has a wider range, as can be seen on a tune like Roquel ‘Billy’ Davis’ 1961 song “Seven Day Fool” which blends some surf guitar with a fast rhumba rhythm to good effect.

The album opens with some stonking sax and rocking piano over a strong riff as Lana tackles Memphis Minnie’s “Hot Stuff”. Joel’s solo takes an oblique line to the main riff and the band add to the chorus enthusiastically to make a great opener. “She Wears Trouble (Like A Crown)” is based round a wah-wah riff and a powerhouse rhythm section which give Lana ample space for her powerful vocals. Title cut “Let It Go” opens with slide guitar, Lana entering in storming style, the rest of the band joining in gradually as the song gathers pace. Bluesy slide is also at the base of “Desire”, Lana adopting a gentler style as she beseeches her lover to “put out my fire, as you’re my desire”. Arguably the strongest song on the album is “How I Love Ya’” with its hard rocking rhythm and rousing chorus: “the day will come when you will see the light, yes you will. You’ve got to pick yourself up, it’s your destiny”. A fine sax solo is the icing on this particular cake.

The aforementioned “Seven Day Fool” is followed by what might be seen as an interval, a short instrumental entitled “Tirer Le Blues” in which Joel shows us his ability on the acoustic with just a little support from the rhythm section – though why the title is in French is hard to imagine! Next up is the more orthodox blues-rock of “Mama”, organ adding additional support. “It’s All Good” drops the pace as Joel switches back to acoustic slide for a duet with Lana’s powerful voice. The band is joined by Eddie Galvin’s harp for the closing track “The Day After Yesterday” on which the Joplin vocal comparisons are particularly in evidence.

This is an enjoyable CD mainly in blues-rock style so if that is your enthusiasm, you should definitely check this one out.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 13 

Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King – Fat Man’s Shine Parlor

Blind Pig Records – 2015

12 tracks; 48 minutes

Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King return to Blind Pig after a gap of nine years in which time they have released four albums, two on Alligator, two on Delta Groove. Named after a store in a disreputable part of Dallas, the new album finds Kubek and King doing what they do best, rocking out in Texas roadhouse style on a series of tough blues, boogies and rockers. All the material here is original with Steve Hecht aiding on one song. The band is Joe and Bnois on guitars, Sheila Klinefelter on bass, Eric Smith on drums and Kim LaFleur who adds yet more guitar to three tracks. Bnois, as usual, handles all the vocals in his distinctive style. Joe produced the album which was recorded and mixed right at home in Dallas, Texas.

The album opens with a trademark boogie, Bnois singing of how he “Got my heart broken” by a girl. However, we soon learn that this is far from an unusual event: “I wish I could say this time was my last but I can’t be sure, judging by my past. I get so turned on it feels just like magic, but if I get caught the ending could be tragic.” The twin guitars intermesh excitingly to give us a great start to the album. Big fat chords open “Cornbread” which extols the virtues of that great southern accompaniment, Bnois assuring anyone unfamiliar with the delicacy that they are missing out. Kim’s additional guitar provides a sound that is almost like keyboards to this cut. “Diamond Eyes” drops the pace on a mid-paced ballad which Bnois sings really well and the two guitars play off each other superbly. “Crash And Burn” is extremely catchy as the guitars again interact over Sheila’s rumbling bass, Bnois taking a nimble plucked solo; “River Of Whiskey” finds Joe on slide adding a touch of country to the tune.

Some great guitar from Joe introduces the bluesy “Don’t Want To Be Alone” which has an attractive lilt to the tune and an outstanding solo with lots of sustain. Steve Hecht is credited alongside Joe and Bnois on “Brown Bomba Mojo” which has a long instrumental intro before Bnois enters on vocals – lots of fun guitar to enjoy on this one, from catchy rhythm work to leads from the two guitarists that range from delicate picking to amped up rock. “How Much” finds Bnois objecting to the costs of everyday living for the travelling musician, from cab fares to excess baggage charges for transporting guitars. Musically this is a solid shuffle with drummer Eric right in the pocket, another good track. Some echoey guitar introduces another tale of lust and infidelity as Bnois confesses that he cannot be satisfied by “One Girl By My Side” – “the magic disappears however hard I try”. “Lone Star Lap Dance” is aptly named as the band shuffles along in support of some light picking that sounds a little like a lap steel guitar, followed by some fine, stinging guitar in the main solo to provide another highlight. Bnois returns to that familiar theme of infidelity in the classic slow blues “Done Got Caught Blues”. Bnois sings of getting caught “with my pants down” as Joe emotes on guitar between the verses and Bnois finds some jazzy chords to support him. That style of guitar duetting is typical of Joe and Bnois and this is one of the best examples. Bnois’ vocals are slightly distorted and distant on “Headed For Ruin” though the guitars are present and correct, a touch of twang reminding us where the album was recorded.

As one might expect, Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King deliver another solid album with much to enjoy. Long-term fans will lap this one up and the album has enough solid tunes and playing to attract some new fans to the band.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 13 

The Chris O’Leary Band – Live At BLUES NOW!

VizzTone Label Group

CD: 12 Songs; 74:36 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric and Harmonica Blues, Ensemble Blues, Blues Rock

February is the time for the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, and Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras is fast approaching, and a great way to celebrate it is by grooving to feisty New Orleans blues by New York’s Chris O’Leary Band. According to their promotional info sheet, “In March 2014, the Chris O’Leary Band traveled to Basel, Switzerland to perform at the prestigious BLUES NOW! concert series. Joining the band as a special guest was renowned blues guitarist Alex Schultz. Schultz’s storied musical career includes long associations with blues harmonica players William Clarke, Rod Piazza and Lester Butler….” With that said, Chris O’Leary is destined to join the ranks of these hallowed harp masters. In his band’s concert set of twelve songs – eleven originals and one cover – they set Switzerland’s blues-cravers on fire!

Alongside O’Leary on vocals and harmonica are Chris Vitarello on guitar, Andy Stahl on tenor saxophone, Chris DiFrancesco on baritone sax, Matt Raymond on upright and electric bass, and Jay Devlin on drums. As mentioned earlier, guitarist Alex Schultz lends his electric expertise. Together they play high-voltage ensemble blues that takes no prisoners, powerfully combining the influences of the Windy City, Memphis, and the “Big Easy”. Of their original numbers, these three are proof that worldwide blues fans will love them just as much as the Swiss did.

Track 01: “Give It” – The band’s opener is a gritty blues-rock ballad featuring a shady narrator: “Well, you ain’t got no money. I can’t hold down no job. If you would be my honey, well, I’d beg, steal and rob. Give it to me, baby!” The guitar solo in the middle is a five-alarm inferno, as are Chris O’Leary’s vocals and harmonica.

Track 05: “Water’s Risin’” – BLUES NOW!’s crowd claps along to track five, a warning of stormy weather when it comes to romance: “I hope you can swim, honey – our relationship might sink.” The best part of this song is the infectious background chorus of “Water’s risin’, taking on water….” Once again, the mid-song fretwork is fabulous.

Track 08: “Blues is a Woman” – With a slow-burning, Stevie Ray Vaughan-style guitar intro, number eight is blues as pure as Swiss mountain air. “Blues is a woman, and she don’t mean me no good. She never does like she ought to, no, that woman never does just like she should.” Every concert contains at least one selection that’s perfect for slow dancing, and this is IT.

The band’s promotional material reveals: “Chris O’Leary has put in his time on the front lines – as U.S. Marine Corps infantry squad leader, and seven years as singer, harp player, and front man for Levon Helm’s Barn Burners.”

With its considerable instrumental talent, vivacious energy, and award credentials, this terrific ensemble will make Mardi Gras last all year long!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 35 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 13 

Tommy Cox – Acoustic Blues

Self release

10 songs – 31 minutes

Lynchburg, Virgina-based Tommy Cox started on the blues scene in 1992 with the blues trio Tommy C and The Blue Hounds, who released one album, Blues in B-Town, and toured across the South-Eastern US. These days, Cox still plays electric blues in the Tommy C Band, but he also plays traditional acoustic country blues, in a solo, duo or trio format, with Tommy C’s Delta Blues Revue.

Cox has now released Acoustic Blues, a collection of ten all-original songs that does exactly what it says on the tin. Something of a master class in country blues styles, Cox has a strong affinity for both Delta-style blues, as on the opening track, “Buggin’ Me”, where the walking bass is reminiscent of a modern day Willie Brown, or the thumping , Patton-like “Truth Blues”, as well as the Piedmont blues of Blind Boy Fuller and the Reverend Gary Davis, with the complex alternating thumb-picking of “Too Many Mules Kicking In Your Stall”. It is apparent throughout the album that Cox has a authentically solid sound and technique, whether strumming, finger-picking or playing bottleneck on the likes of “Sinking Down” and the Blind Blake-esque “Brand New Pair Of Shoes”.

He is also an intelligent and clever songwriter, keeping all the tracks heavily based in traditional country blues, but with unexpected twists throughout, from the jagged rhythm and note selection of the instrumental “Church House Hollow Rag” to the key change at the very end of “Brand New Pair of Shoes” or the unusual descending chords that appear half-way through “Truth Blues”. On the closing track, “Too Many Mules Kicking In Your Stall”, over-dubbed guitars add an extra layer of rhythmic interest, while “Virginia Highway 29” rocks with a vengeance as Cox hails the joys of living in the Appalachian region.

The vast majority of the songs feature just Cox, his voice and his guitar. He adds spicy harmonica to “Buggin’ Me” and Robert Johnson-esque “Right Your Wrongs”, which sounds like an updated “Sweet Home Chicago”, but the absence of other instruments merely serves to highlight Cox’s superb playing.

He sings in a clear, warm, slightly worn voice that suits the songs perfectly, but it is his guitar playing that really grabs the listener’s attention, with a powerful, muscular assertiveness.

At just over half an hour, Acoustic Blues is not a long album, but this is also part of its attraction. No track overstays its welcome and as it ends, you are left wanting more. Acoustic Blues is a very enjoyable slice of acoustic blues and is highly recommended.

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 Review – 8 of 13 

Rita Engedalen – My Mother’s Blues

Bluestown Records

CD: 12 Songs; 38:35 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Acoustic Blues, Mellow Ballads

What better time than frozen winter to review the fifth album from Norway’s Rita Engedalen? According to her promotional information sheet, “Rita Engedalen is Norway’s Queen of the Blues. She creates and performs her own music, and is thoroughly genuine.” This may be the case, but Rita’s heavily-accented yet belting vocals are definitely an acquired taste. To be more easily accessible to English speakers, there is a lyrics booklet included with My Mother’s Blues.

The info sheet continues: “The music on My Mother’s Blues is Rita Engedalen’s personal mix of blues, roots, rock, gospel and country. The influences from [her] travels to Mississippi leave a clear mark on the music, as does her inspiration by and love for Norwegian folk music. Her songs are expertly crafted, and every song has its story to tell, all deeply rooted in Engedalen the traveling musician, as mother and in her family background. Sometimes shockingly honest, filled with realism, while at other times the lyrics are barely scratching the surface of a bigger story, leaving the listeners to interpret on their own, with imagination and fantasy adding, thus, the stories to the listener’s own personal experiences and stories. Rita Engedalen has won the Norwegian Grammy Award for the album Heaven Ain’t Ready For Me Yet, and she has numerous Norwegian Grammy nominations for previous recordings.”

With all of that said, what to make of My Mother’s Blues, and of Rita? Sometimes she sounds like a wise and haunting Native American shaman, as on her first track, “Snow Falls”. At other times her voice is almost atonal, equally balanced between singing and talking. Despite that, she plays melodic acoustic guitar alongside her band, Backbone (named in the CD liner notes).

With her are guitarist Morten Omlid; bassist Jens Olav Haugen; drummer/percussionist Eskil Aasland; fiddle player Knut Nyheim; background vocalists Kiare Robinson, Shanekqua McAbee, Gary Vincent, Margit Bakken, and Myra Turner; Gøran Grini on vocals, grand piano, and Hammond organ; guitarist Geir Sunstøl; and Espen Fjelle on Hammond organ.

“HI FOLKS!” Rita exclaims in the CD liner notes. “My band, Backbone, and I have been rocking for 20 years – and we are still going strong. I am proud and happy to have Jens, Eskil and Morten with me on the road and on this recording. I hope you feel good when you hear us, and when you meet us on the road with the guests we have on the album, My Mother’s Blues. The album was recorded in the new location for the Juke Joint Studio in Notodden at the Book and Blues House. The album includes a live cover version [the only cover out of twelve songs] of the powerful ‘Epitaph (Black and Blue)’, written by Kris Kristofferson/Donnie Fritts for Janis Joplin after she had passed away.”

Die-hard fans of Rita Engedalen should definitely purchase her fifth release to supplement their Scandinavian blues collection; others should be cautious!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 35 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

 Featured Blues Review – 9 of 13 

Howard Glazer – Looking In The Mirror

Lazy Brothers Records LAZ 13002

12 songs – 59 minutes

Currently reigning as the best blues and R&B Instrumentalist in Detroit, where he’s a perennial nominee for top honors, Howard Glazer delivers searing signature guitar lines regardless of the format. Equally accomplished on slide, electric and resonator guitars and a longtime veteran of the Motown music scene, he follows up his highly acclaimed 2013 release, Stepchild Of The Blues, delivering a collection of originals that stick closely to the blues format rather than blues/rock common to his most recent work.

The son of a professional sax player who worked with Don Pablo & His Orchestra, Glazer put down the trumpet for the six-string at age seven and has worked in everything from jazz to punk ever since. He grew up listening to the MC5 and the Stooges, but made his foray into the blues in the early ‘70s after meeting poet/activist John Sinclair. That relationship resulted in an introduction, recording session and long friendship with first generation superstar Honeyboy Edwards. He’s also worked extensively with Harmonica Shah.

Glazer’s style of blues has always incorporated a sense of rawness and anticipation common to Motor City Music as well as containing his own inner-most thoughts, and that’s definitely evident here. Joining Howard in the studio for this session are a rhythm section of Chris Brown on bass and Charles David Stuart on drums. They’re augmented by singers Maggie McCabe and Stephanie Johnson as well as organist Larry Marek on four tracks and trumpeter David Kocbus and flutist Tom Schmaltz on one track each.

“Midnight Postman” kicks off with a catchy riff on the electric guitar as Glazer swings from the hip and delivers plenty of sexual innuendo about “delivering the mail at nighttime and in the morning, too.” His skills come to the fore during a mid-song solo with organ response. Howard switches to tremolo for “Broken Down Hotel Blues,” which features the rhythm section and paints a picture of suffering while positively yearning for change.

The blues rocker “Take Me Baby” features some rapid-fire fretwork and a duet with McCabe before the pace slows and mood darkens for “All I Ever Wanted,” an introspective tale about always winding up with something entirely different than what was desired. Glazer and McCabe trade vocal riffs accompanied by trumpet solo on “Walking In Detroit.” It’s a blues shuffle full of hometown imagery about the joy of hanging with friends. The slow burner “Eviction Blues” follows, allowing Glazer and Marek to stretch out their chops for seven-plus minutes. Next up, “Feeling So Bad” is Howard’s tribute to guitar hero Johnny Winter, featuring some rock-steady slide work on the resonator. The title cut, “Looking In The Mirror,” which follows, is a blues rocker that offers a flavor of the 1960s blues movement in England.

A catchy slide guitar riff carries the introspective “Wandering Trails” forward as Glazer wonders about various aspects of a relationship and needing to care and live for today to reach your goalsThe straight-ahead rocker “Pushing The Limits,” with a psychedelic Chuck Berry-esque riff, precedes “Misunderstood The Devil,” a retelling of the legend of Robert Johnson selling his soul at the crossroads, albeit with a modern twist, before the modern Detroit blues “Emergency” concludes the set.

Never repetitive or boring, Looking In The Mirror presents Glazer at his finest. Good songs, great musicianship throughout. Highly recommended.

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 – 10 of 13 

Lisa Mills – I’m Changing

Mills Bluz Records

12 songs – 53 minutes

Singer/guitarist Lisa Mills fuses blues, roots, gospel and country into a powerful package in this CD, which is a back-to-the-future trip to the past.

A Mississippi native who now calls Mobile, Ala., home, Mills initially released the tunes on an album of the same name in 2005, but recently reworked the package, re-recording and completely reconstructing it with the aid of producer Trina Shoemaker, the first woman ever to earn a Grammy for album engineering, along with an all-star lineup of sidemen.

A truly soulful vocalist who for a time successfully stepped into Janis Joplin’s shoes to front a modern-day version of Pearl’s Big Brother & The Holding Company, Lisa’s aided here by Wet Willie guitarist Rick Hirsch and drummer T.K. Lively, Black Oak Arkansas and Bo Diddley guitarist Corky Hughes and Ian Jennings, who’s been recognized by one blues magazine as the best bass player in the United Kingdom and who’s worked with Van Morrison, Jimmy Paige, Robert Plant, Jeff Beck and Tom Jones. Also contributing to the mix are Jimmy Roebuck (upright bass), John Milham (drums), Britt Meacham (lead guitar) and Pat Murphy (fiddle and banjo).

Like Joplin, Mills possesses a dynamic vocal range, capable of blowing the doors off in one breath and then captivating the audience in barely a whisper the next as she delivers what only can be described as blue-eyed soul, a perfect mix of Muscle Shoals and Memphis atop a Nashville feel. Not counting the previous release of this material, this is the fourth CD in her arsenal and the follow-up to 2010’s critically acclaimed Tempered In Fire. She’s penned 10 of the 12 tunes here, with covers from the catalogs of Jimi Hendrix and the Rev. Robert Wilkins.

Mills kicks off the disc with simple guitar progression for the sultry “Better Than This/I Don’t Need You Anymore,” a plea for a lover to leave because he’s a cheat who simply won’t be missed. It leads perfectly into “I Don’t Want To Be Happy,” which carries forward with the verse: “I just wanna be with you.” The theme continues in a brighter fashion with “I Need A Little Sunshine” before “I’m Changing,” a love song in which the vocalist is growing, but the object of her affection remains the same.

“Eyes So Blue” relies on a reggae beat to convey the memory of a romantic encounter in a field of flowers. The disc takes a rhythmic and melismic turn for “Shake It” as Lisa recounts the feeling that she and a lover “just won’t make it” before a straight-up gospel pairing of the Mills original “Tell Me” with a cover of Wilkins’“I Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down,” accompanied only by bottleneck resonator guitar. Three more originals — “Rain In The Summertime,”“Take My Troubles” and “The Truth” – follow before a burning, six-minute version of Hendrix’s “Little Wing” conclude the album.

Available from Amazon and iTunes or directly from the artist’s website, I’m Changing will definitely sing to you if you like Beale Street with a hint of Music Row.

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 – 11 of 13 

Fathead – Fatter Than Ever

Electro-Fi Records

15 songs – 57 minutes

Fatter Than Ever is Fathead’s 10th release and the band continues to mine the same rich seam of blues-based modern electric roots music as on their previous efforts. Actually released in July 2014, the album has already spent several months in the Blues and Roots album charts. If you haven’t heard it yet, however, you are missing out on a treat.

Led by Al Lerman (harp, saxophone and resonator guitar), Fathead benefits from the solidly swinging rhythm section of Bucky Berger on drums and bassist Bob “Omar” Tunnoch, and marks the debut of new guitarist Papa John King (who previously spent 20 years with the legendary Long John Baldry). Lerman and Tunnoch both contribute lead vocals to one song each, but the majority of tracks are sung by John Mays, with his distinctive gospel-inflected voice. The band plays with the easy confidence of top drawer musicians at the top of their game. Lerman in particular adds a rainbow of colour with his lyrical harmonica and horn playing.

Although the blues are a key element to Fatter Than Ever, this isn’t a straight-ahead traditional blues album. “My Brother” has a mid-70s Doobie Brothers feel, in the driving mid-pace, the lyrical content and the vocal harmonies. Likewise, the acoustic ballad of “Life Goes On” would not sound out of place on a classic rock radio station. There is also the funk of “Cost To Boogie”, the soul of “Twenty Second Chances”, the flat-out rock of “When Did You Ever?” and even a Louis Jordan-esque “Shoot That Rooster”, which features guest musician Lance Anderson on piano.

All 15 tracks were written by Lerman or Tunnoch, who both have a knack for combining a clever, intelligent lyric with a memorable melody. On the Louisiana-styled stomp of “Better Off Taking Chances, we are advised that “Standing at the bottom, looking at the top. If it don’t work out, you‘re gonna need a mop to clean up that mess. You know it’s anybody’s guess if you’re gonna make it, or you’re gonna fall…. If you want my advice, ain’t no need to think it twice, for you might as well shoot for your dreams. Make your bucket list, and you just might get your wish but you never really know until you try….”

The closing track, “I Don’t Want To Leave The Party”, is an addictive toe-tapping Texas-style shuffle that almost obliges the listener to get up and dance. It’s a great way to finish the album. When Mays sings (with a neat nod to the Floyd Dixon classic) “I don’t want to leave the party, it’s too much fun in here, so hey, bartender, pour me one more beer”, he might well be talking about the album itself. It is one of those albums where you want to start it again as soon as the final song ends.

With two Juno awards (Canada’s Grammy) and a slew of music industry awards and nominations, Fathead have been seen as one of Canada’s top blues/roots acts pretty much since their formation in 1992. Fatter Than Ever will add more lustre to an already glowing reputation.

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 Review – 12 of 13 

Dave Ray – Legacy

Red House Records – 2014

3 CD retrospective, total running time: 213 minutes

Minnesota’s Dave ‘Snaker’ Ray was an acoustic guitarist and singer who is probably best remembered for his role in the Koerner, Ray & Glover trio whose music was enjoyed by as diverse a group of musicians as Bowie, Lennon and Beck, all of whom cited the trio as an influence. Dave passed away in 2002 but his legacy is well represented here by former collaborator and close friend Tony Glover. Both tribute to his lost colleague and labour of love, Tony has assembled material from right across Dave’s career, drawn mainly from unreleased recordings as well as some tracks taken from out of print and difficult to find albums. The material is “rare and unreleased recordings from 1962 – 2002” which are predominantly solo or duo material and is accompanied by a well-written and informative booklet of 32 pages in which Tony presents his friend’s legacy.

CD1 1962 – 1987: 16 tracks; 70 minutes.

The first few tracks date back to recordings made in Dave’s parents’ basement, Dave solo on material from Leadbelly, the Carter Family and Leroy Carr. Leadbelly was clearly an early influence, Tony recalling his first meeting with Dave when he was amazed to find a young white guy playing Leadbelly music. As Tony was equally as keen on Sonny Terry harp riffs the two immediately bonded! The two’s duo style is well represented by the rest of the first CD, ranging across material from Muddy Waters, Blind Blake, Sleepy John Estes and Skip James to less likely sources such as Rufus Thomas’ “Walking The Dog”, a song that Dave played frequently throughout his career. Some of the early material is relatively lo-fi, notably Dave’s improvisation around a Robert Johnson tune entitled “Hot Rod Terraplane”, recorded by a fan and fellow motor-head at a live show in 1963.

CD2 1998 – 1994: 22 tracks; 72 minutes

This CD represents a far shorter period but a very productive one for Dave and Tony with four album releases in those eight years. Generally the sound quality is far better than on Disc 1, unsurprisingly given the age of the earliest recordings and the advances made in recording techniques in the intervening 26 years! The music on Disc 2 is almost entirely duo performances with a good selection of well-known tunes. Highlights include a rare slide outing for Dave on a live version of Muddy’s “Can’t Be Satisfied” and a sprightly “Statesboro’ Blues” that reminds us that the tune had a life before Duane Allman got hold of it. Tony notes that the duo were vehemently opposed to the digital age at the time, adding an EP to the vinyl LP but refusing to put those EP tunes on the CD version, an omission rectified here with Tommy Johnson’s “Big Road Blues” one of the ‘lost’ tunes. Primary influence Leadbelly reappears with “Fort Worth And Dallas”, alongside Jimmy Reed, Yank Rachell and Memphis Minnie. The final track on Disc 2 is a band recording by a short-lived ensemble Three Bedroom Ramblers (Dave, John Beach on keys and Kory Baderischer on drums) and it is something of a shock to hear Dave playing electric in a band setting (and doing so very well).

CD3 1995 – 2002:18 tracks; 71 minutes

The final CD represents a more diverse range of recordings from Dave, including several band numbers. However, the CD opens with four duo outtakes from a long out-of-print album “One Foot In The Groove”; Tony’s harp is particularly good on Tommy McLennan’s “Shake’Em On Down”. Dave demonstrates his versatility with a bluegrass tune – Bill Monroe’s “With Body And Soul” – which did make the album. Dave was clearly ready and willing to take on any musical challenge as witnessed by “Radio Spot”, a commercial recorded for a department store! Two outtakes from an album made by the Back Porch Rockers (Dave, Tony, Camille Badouin, guitar, Reggie Scanlan, bass) provide the contrast of a Percy Sledge ballad and Slim Harpo’s “Got Loving If You Want It”. A further combo of Dave, Jeff Dagenhardt on guitar and David Kasik on bass was called 6L6 and provides a couple of tracks from an album entitled “A Hollowbody Experience” including a solid version of Bobby Womack’s “It’s All Over Now”. Towards the end of his life Dave’s struggle with lung cancer caused him problems at gigs but the two tracks taken from his last local show on November 2, 2002, demonstrate that he was still making good music, here in conjunction with Geoff Muldaur on “So Glad I’m Living” (Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup) and solo on his own “Almost As If”. Both songs sound particularly poignant knowing that these would be his last recordings. The retrospective closes with the only example of a tune being out of chronological order as Dave is found solo on “If It’s Really Got To Be This Way” (Donnie Fritts, Gary Nicholson, Arthur Alexander), a cover released on the 1997 album “Snake Eyes”, a really beautiful finale.

Tony Glover has done a fine job of paying tribute to Dave’s music in this well presented collection which will definitely appeal to all lovers of acoustic blues. In the sleeve notes Tony hints at the possibility of a further release of band recordings, so Dave’s legacy may not yet be complete.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 13 of 13 

Mick Kidd – Winter Sun

Self Release 2014

10 tracks; 45 minutes

On his previous album Rehab & Camel South Australian left-handed guitarist Mick Kidd was in predominantly acoustic mode. This time around he has changed focus and mixes acoustic tracks with electric, supported on most tracks by drummer DD McGee and harp player David Blight; Mick sings, plays all guitars and bass and Emily Kelly provides backing vocals on one cut. Mick had a hand in all the material here with assistance on three songs.

On the last CD Mick’s voice was mixed a little too low but here he is clear and well suited to the material. The album opens with “What Don’t Kill You (Makes You Stronger)”, a mid-paced rocker with David’s harp to the fore. “Free Wheelin’ Feelin’” finds Mick on acoustic finger-picked guitar with slide as David blows sensitively on this gentle instrumental which he co-wrote, the drums also catching the feel with an understated performance. “When My Old Dog Died” is a co-write with Edward (not Elmore!) James, a duo performance with Mick on acoustic and David’s harp keening like a sad dog, Mick’s voice expressing the loss of an old friend. “Voice Inside” brings back the drums on a down-home piece about drinking and relationships. There are not many blues songs about heritage railway lines but Mick has written one in “Duke 621”, singing about a vintage steam train in Australia: “journey back in time on the oldest broad gauge line to a place in time when mighty locos run”. This one is a full production with backing vocals from Emily, buzzing harp from David and steady drumming from DD, Mick again on acoustic and bass.

“Loanshark Blues” was the title of a Rory Gallacher tune but this one is Mick’s, mining a similar vein to Rory in a catchy tune with Mick on electric rhythm and a tasty solo. “Sights Set On You” is another catchy blues while “Sawpit Gully Stomp” is a second instrumental, this time with an Eastern flavour. The tune (and opening verse) of “Tick Tock Blues” bears a strong similarity to Muddy’s “Trouble No More”. The album closes with the solo acoustic “I Just Can’t Hold On”, Mick being joined by co-writer David who adds a plaintive touch on his harp to make this a very effective tune.

The addition of drums on some tracks and the quality of David Blight’s harp playing both add to Mick’s guitar and vocals to make a pleasant and interesting album which fans of acoustic and traditional blues will enjoy.

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

 Blues Society News 

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

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The Colorado Blues Society – Windsor, CO

The Colorado Blues Society Remember John-Alex Mason. The legacy of John-Alex Mason’s music is an essential part of Colorado Blues History. Please join us for this amazing event, headlined by the Cedric Burnside Project, as we celebrate the memory of John-Alex on Sunday, February 22nd. Held at the beautiful Soiled Dove Underground in Denver, all seats are reserved, so get yours early for what promises to be a celebration of one of Colorado’s own.

The Colorado Blues Society is putting together a special show to benefit the John-Alex Mason Scholarship Fund. In addition to Cedric Burnside this will be an acoustic blues show with some interesting pairings, the tentative lineup has Dan Treanor & Randall Dubis; Erica Brown, MJ and Michael Hossler; Nic Clark, Andy Sydow and Curtis Hawkins; Dr. Izzy, Robert Morrison and Richard Yale; Rex Peoples & Jack Hadley; Eef & Stacey Turpenoff, and possibly more. John-Alex was a huge believer in getting our youth involved in blues and music and his scholarship continues that belief today. Doors open at 1PM and the show starts at 2PM. Info at

Madison Blues Society – Madison, WI

Madison Blues Society will host the 8th Annual Wild Women of the Blues featuring Lisa Wenger and her Mean Mean Men on March 5, 2015, 7:00PM at the High Noon Saloon, 01 E. Washington Avenue in Madison.

This is a Benefit for Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS), the only Dane County area shelter for survivors and children of domestic violence. DAIS continues to promote awareness and education to our communities through several vital programs, and has made phenomenal strides in providing necessary resources for those in crisis and need. More info:

Also supporting MBS Blues in the Community programs. This event celebrates the talent and empowerment of women in an environment of inspirational musical performance. An exciting national blues act and her band result in a not-to-miss event.

Tickets: $15 advance / $18 day of show or MBS for members: $12 advance / $15 day of show. More Info:

The Great Northern Blues Society – Wausau, WI

The Great Northern Blues Society of Wausau, WI (GNBS) is Proud to announce the lineup for our 16th Annual Blues Café fundraiser to be held at the Historically Registered Rothschild Pavilion (near Wausau, WI) on 3/14/15.

The Lineup will include Left Wing Bourbon, Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders, Bobby Messano, The Chris O’Leary Band, and Samantha Fish. Doors open at noon, and Music will start at 1:00PM and continue non-stop until 11:00PM. Chairs, Food, and Cold Beverages will be available on-site. Special Hotel Rates available at the nearby Stoney Creek Inn utilizing the Code: “BLUES20”. Limited supply of rooms available so make your reservation now.

Please come, sit by the huge stone fireplace, with a beverage of choice in hand, and join us for 10 hours of non-stop glorious Blues Music on 3/14/15. Artist Biographies, directions, and Tickets are available on our Website at –

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. February 9 – Nigel Mack & the Blues Attack, February 16 – David Lumsden and Friends, February 23 – RJ Mischo

Additional ICBC shows (all held in Springfield, Illinois): Feb. 19 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, March 21 – Ronnie Baker Brooks ICBC 29th Birthday Party w/special guests the Blues Expressions. K of C Hall on Meadowbrook Rd. Springfield, Illinois.

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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