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November 25, 2009           

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Latest news, photos, reviews, links & MUCH MORE in this issue! - Scroll or Page Down! quick website links: Reviews    Links   Photos    Videos     Blues Radio     Blues Shows near YOU!    Advertise for FREE!     The Blues Blast Archives

Hey Blues Fans,

This issue of Blues Blast magazine is dedicated to Junior Wells. Junior was born on December 9, 1934. He would have been 75 in two weeks. In honor of his birthday, we have found a "vintage" never before published interview by Blues journalist Lisa Zimmer conducted in 1995 (three years before his death in 1998).

We include the interview and some never before seen photos from Lisa Zimmer as well. We also feature three great vintage videos of Wells and also three links to sites with more info about this Chicago Blues legend. Enjoy!

BUMMER Festival News! 

We have some sad Festival news to report. The Mid-Mississippi Muddy Water Blues Society (Quincy IL) just announced that they will NOT be holding a 2010 Quincy Area Blues Fest. There has been an annual Blues Festival in Washington Park in Quincy, IL for the last for sixteen years. Reasons include economic conditions, difficulties in fundraising, reduced attendance, hours of operations restrictions as well as other contributing factors. The situation will be re-evaluated in fall 2010. Details can be found at the Society's Webpage at

And in another sad press release our good friends at the Simply The Blues Festival in Fort Madison, IA are hanging it up after six years of bringing you the best international lineup anywhere in the Midwest. Simply The Blues Fest promoter Matt Eimer says the Midwest's first festival of the summer season has not had the attendance required to continue the great line ups this festival is known for. "We do not want to turn this into a “parking lot” event." says Matt.  The Blues festival season wont be quite the same in the Central US next summer.

Blues Wanderings

We made it out to hear some of Central Illinois best Blues ladies this weekend.  Robin Crowe Band was playing at Blues at the Five Spot at the Contemporary Arts Center in Peoria, IL. Robin is one of the most widely respected performers in the area and has a huge local following. The trio includes Kurt Grey on lead guitar and Tony Crowe on bass. They played a great set to a packed early Friday crowd.

After the performance by Robin and company we headed out to hear another great Central Illinois performer a short ways away. Southside Cindy & The Slip Tones were playing at the Rhythm Kitchen which is just downstairs in the same building.

Cindy Youngren has been a noted performer in the Central Illinois area for many years. She and the band played some of the material they are preparing for their January trip to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Cindy and the band will be representing the Illinois Blues Coalition. Look out Memphis! This lady is a real performer.

In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!

James Walker reviews a new CD from Corey Harris. Gary Weeks reviews a new CD from Atlanta artist Liz Melendez. George Fish reviews a new CD by Indianapolis Blues artist Craig Brenner & the Crawdads.  UK reviewer Ian McKenzie send us a review of a new CD by English artist Chris Collins & Blues Etc. Lisa Zimmer send us a previously unpublished interview with Junior Wells

Our Blues videos of the week are 3 clips of Junior Wells and our Blues Links of the week are sites full of biographical information on Junior  Wells. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 4

Corey Harris -

Telarc Records

14 songs; 52:54 minutes; Suggested

Genre: Roots Music

Styles: Reggae, Blues, R&B, Soul

Did you listen to music while doing homework in high school (or college)? I tried that simultaneous approach, but it never worked to enhance my academic status. The music was always so much more interesting than the subject I was studying that my attention constantly got diverted.

Now, further on down the road, I try to listen to music while I write checks, pay bills, and do the family budget each month. I have learned by now that only a certain kind of music will allow me to concentrate on the arithmetic while the select music greases the wheels. Generally, mellow music works best.

Having given 40 year old Corey Harris’ latest CD a cursory listen, I knew it was mellow acoustic, mainly Reggae music, and, therefore, should have been appropriate. The reality was this: trying to concentrate on accurate numbers in each budget line item did not work worth a damn during the poly-rhythms and intricate 5 and 6 piece full band arrangements. But, mainly the lyrics to those soothing songs were way too thought provoking.

For example, as a retired American history teacher, I was immediately distracted from my calculations by the song “Columbus.” Harris sings, “Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar” referring to an old theme touched upon by Dick Gregory in his book “No More Lies” about the ridiculousness of saying that Columbus “discovered Jamaica” (America) when there were native American people (“Arawak Indians”) already living here. Well, I do not think Columbus was a liar. Columbus was a man who did not know where he was going; did not know where he was when he got there; and died never knowing where he had been. Columbus was unaware and misinformed, but unlikely a “liar.” Anyhoo..., see what I mean about thought provoking lyrics?

Utilizing a different musical style for each song, Harris and band mates explore more thinker’s themes including joy, tender love, freedom, freedom fighters, injustice, struggle, poverty, oppression, more history (“Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, The Vatican”), and a brutal indictment of the entertainment industry that pimp people out and steal from them (“Pimps and Thieves”). “There’s a blues song at the end of the sequence that’s simply called ‘Blues,’ and a song at the beginning called ‘Black,’” Harris says of the range of material on the recording. “The record is both of those things and everything in between. All the styles in all those songs represent everything between blue and black.”

Mostly, I could agree with, be informed by, and was definitely entertained through the lyrics of the fourteen original songs that examine the African-American story of earlier centuries and connect it to the present day. An immediate ear worm (song that gets stuck in you head) for both my wife and me was “My Song.” Harris as song narrator embodies all African slaves brought to America and stripped of everything, but, he sings, “You can’t take away my song.” Truly, Blues music would not have developed without the remembered rhythms and instruments from Africa. Musically, the song is Gospel-like with swelling and powerful, yet intricate piano by producer Chris “peanut” Whitley with only Harris’ acoustic rhythm guitar for accompaniment. Harris’ lead vocals backed by the harmony of Davina and Davita Jackson is the song’s true forte as they repeat “Can’t take away my song” while shifting from higher to lower then back to higher registers.
Overall, lovers of rich musical melodies will enjoy the eclectic album, although for fans of Blues-Rock, Texas Roadhouse Blues, or Chicago Blues, for examples, this CD will be Python-esquely “And now for something completely different.” It may even seem different for Corey Harris fans only familiar with his 1995 Alligator Records release, “Between Midnight and Day.” Note: for those folks, he does include one traditional 12 bar shuffle, titled “Blues” in conjunction with the CD title. Harris also steps away from 1995 by affecting his dialect to Caribbean Rastafarian culture, nicely performing in a form far from his Colorado upbringing and Maine college years.

While enjoying his music, also check out the erudite Harris’ bio of world travels and culture immersion, especially the last seven years, which reveals how the intersection of art, history and culture remains at the center of his work.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Thursdays from 7 - 8 pm and Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL

To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE 

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Blues Want Ads

 Blues Musicians Place Your Want Ad here for FREE

"workin Blues folks" ONLY can place Want Ads here for FREE.  NO Commercial Ads! 
Buy or sell equipment , musicians wanted, gigs wanted, help wanted, information wanted etc.
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Steve Parrish / blues drummer for 30 years is available to travel with a working blues group. Hear samples of playing at Ph: (859) 537 5423 Email:

Detroit Rhythm Section Available

Experienced Rhythm Section (Drums, Bass (and Guitar if wanted) with limited backing vocals) available to support your Band or Project.  If you're coming to town for a night or a week and need musicians, you can count on us! We're not rock stars and will only be as flashy and out-front as you need us to be. You're the Star, we're the sidemen.

Equipped for venues from very small to 1,000 plus capacity. Willing to travel for the right opportunity.  Contact Dan for samples, availability, references.

Seeking Blues Rhythm Section

Experienced blues band is looking for Bass and Drums to join our project. We have a professional level practice studio in the western suburbs of Chicago. Drums and Bass amp are in studio. All you need to bring is your ax and or sticks. Rock stars need not apply but if you are either a drummer or bass player who loves to play the blues, please call 630-217-9537. Ask for Tom.

Drummer seeks band

Former Walter Trout Drummer - Joey Pafumi formerly with Walter Trout for 6 years 2002-2007--looking for full time touring band. Contact Joey at or 818-749-8856

All ads submitted will be used if space allows. If space is limited, ads will be randomly selected to appear in the Blues Blast. Ads may be edited.  Send your ad submission to

 Blues Videos of the Week

Junior Wells Videos

Chicago Blues legend Junior Wells was born Amos Wells Blakemore Jr. on December 9, 1934 in Memphis, TN. Wells came to Chicago at age 12. In 1950, at the age of 16 he joined forces with guitarists Louis and David Myers and the Deuces were born. Later when drummer Fred Below joined the band they changed their name to the Aces. Two years later Wells joined Muddy Waters band when Little Walter left. He had some success in Chicago before hooking up with Delmark records Bob Koester to produce the classic Hoodoo Man Blues. The recording had Buddy Guy playing lead guitar on such hits as "Snatch It Back and Hold It," "You Don't Love Me," and "Chittlin' Con Carne."

Later Wells fell off the radar for awhile in the 1970 as he stayed at his Chicago home venue ,Theresa's. He and Buddy Guy opened for the Rolling Stones on one memorable tour . He cut a few other albums in the 1970 and 1980 but his last notable recording was the 1996 release Come On in This House. It was his last recording and featured an interesting group of slide guitarists including Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris and Sonny Landreth.

He had continued performing until he was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 1997. He suffered a heart attack while undergoing treatment, sending him into a coma. He died on January 15, 1998. In early 1997 he made an appearance in the movie Blues Brothers 2000. The film was released less than a month after his Wells death.

The first video is from the 1960's. It features Junior along with Otis Rush on Guitar and Fred Below on drums playing "The Hoodoo Man"

To see this cool video on our website, click the play button below or click the photo on the left.

The second video is a later one featuring Junior and Buddy Guy sitting in with John Mayall and his band plying "Messin With The Kid"

To see this cool video on our website, click the play button below or click the photo on the right.

The third video is a 1974 clip of Junior Wells with Nick Gravenites on vocals and Michael Bloomfield on guitar.

To see this cool video on our website, click the play button below or click the photo on the left


For other videos on our website CLICK HERE.

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A ‘from the vault’ interview with the legendary blues harp ace Junior Wells

Interview and photos by Lisa Zimmer

This interview, ‘from the vault’, was conducted in 1995; it has never been published, and is now being featured as a tribute to Junior Wells’ 75th birthday, December 9, 2009.

LZ: The blues means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, However, a catch-all definition that has universally been agreed upon is that ‘’the blues is a feeling’’. Junior Wells, what does the blues, personally, mean to you?

JW: You just said it, the blues is a feeling, but also a thing that you look at each and every day of your life, you see people and write about true things, cause you see other people going through different chances about different things, you write blues about that. It doesn’t mean that everybody has a problem when they have the blues, because the blues can be sad but they can also be happy, and I’m not the type of man that would say the blues means that everybody has such a hard time, cause it’s not that pathetic, cause I never had a lot of hard times, I’m not speaking about anybody else, but I’m a happy man. I try to sing the blues as closely as I possibly can about what I truly know in my heart, things that I have experienced and things that friends of mine have talked about. I don’t think that the blues should be just a thing that somebody should just come up with like ‘boom bam boom‘. The blues is the most true type of music I’ve ever encountered in my life.

LZ: Let’s talk a little about your superb current album: Everybody’s Gettin’ Some [Telarc]. What about the album title, what is the meaning of it?

JW: It means to me that everybody’s gettin’ some, everybody’s gettin’ some blues that don’t have it, them that don’t have it is gettin’ some of it. I got ‘em, but I say that everybody’s gettin’ some but me, I say that part of it [‘but me’] cause, one thing, I be playin’ music but everybody gettin’ more recognition than I get. I say everybody’s gettin’ some but me, means that I’m trying to let you know how I feel about what I’m going through, I give you some of it too.

LZ: Carlos Santana is one of the many guest artists on the album. He has always had the blues in his heart, soul and music, He’s contributed his very distinctive guitar style to the funky ‘’Get Down‘’. How did that collaboration with him come about?

JW: Because for a number of years me and Santana have been good friends. We had done the Chicago Blues Festival. He heard that I was supposed to be doing a recording, so he asked my manager, Marty Salzman, ‘am I on it?’ So Marty said, ‘I don’t know. You have to talk to Junior.‘ So Santana said, ‘Hey Junior, am I on this thing here?’ He said, ‘I gotta be on it.’ Who loves him, Carlos Santana? Junior Wells loves him.

LZ: Speaking of distinctive styles, Louisiana slide guitar master Sonny Landreth is featured on three of the CD’s 12 tracks: the title track Everybody‘s Gettin’ Them Some’’; ‘’Keep On Steppin’ ’’; and ‘’Don’t You Lie To Me’’. When did you first hear Sonny play, and how did you team up with him for the recording of these songs?

JW: Sonny said when he first came in and met me, he said: ‘Junior, I’ve heard you play before but I never got a chance to meet you , I saw you at the Jazz Festival down in New Orleans, but never got a chance to talk to you, but I always wanted to perform with you. I’m not here for your money or anything like that, I’m here for one thing and that is to, I’d love to play behind you.’ And he did it. And he said that sometimes if you go and do a festival or something like that, I’d like to be there also, if that is not a problem. You don‘t have to pay me, I just want to be there cause I like the way you doin’ things.’ He told me then that I’ve always been his idol. I didn’t know that I had been his idol. He’d told John Snyder [the album’s producer] that he would like to be there to play on it because I had been his idol for so many years, and he always wanted to perform with me cause he liked the way I played harmonica, and he knew that me in particular could take that slide and do a lot of things together; and we did it from that.

So that‘s a great thing for me. I appreciate them [Sonny and Carlos] and they appreciate me. I think it was an honor for them to give that much respect for me to even come and try and be on there [the CD] with me.

LZ: Is that the first time that you heard him play, when you both performed the songs for the album?

JW: [nods head in acknowledgement] That’s the first time I heard Sonny, first time I heard him, he did a thing on ‘’Everybody’s Gettin’ Them Some‘’. Then Sonny mess around with the guitar and I said, ‘lets get some funky type thing,’ so we started singing the thing, and him and John Snyder and everybody in the studio liked it, so we did some of that part of the tune, a delta type thing. And I’m so happy because I didn’t know that I was his idol, and he asked me, he said that maybe sometime, when you play a festival could he be there to play something with me too, and not because of it being his thing, it’s gonna be my thing. Who loves him? Junior Wells loves him. He’s a musician’s musician.

LZ: You’ve toured all over the world including the Far East. What country would you say has the most appreciation for the great American art form, the blues?

JW: I can’t say which one I think, but I can say one thing, everybody does one thing, you go to a lot of countries, they speak French, and a lot of places you go they speak Chinese, Japanese, but everybody understands one thing, they love music; they understand, they try to translate. I say to myself that you should be grateful for each and every day of your life, cause you have such a great following of people that’s really into it; they know what you’re doing, they know how to turn it over to English, and they understand and hear the music.

LZ: What country is your personal favorite and where you would like to live if you had the chance?

JW: I love the Fuji islands, cause the Fiji islands, they speak English and they also speak Fijian, and that’s where, I’m like a god there.

But my mom, she wants to live no place than Chicago, so I can’t go no place without my mom. And I ain’t never goin’ no place until she passes. When she passes, I’ll do what I have to do but I don’t want to go until she passes, so I will not live there yet.

LZ: Is there any plans to do a full scale tour in support of the album, if so, what destinations?

JW: Israel, Poland, back to Australia, Japan, Hawaii. I’ve been so many places, there’s not too much more places I can go to now, other than what I did with the State Department when I was doing cultural presentations. They sent me to so many places, it was pathetic. But that was for them. I want to do this one here, not for, not me as a diplomat, but for me as Junior Wells.

LZ: You’ve played in just about, if not, all the blues clubs in the Windy City, such as Theresa’s , the Checkerboard, Peppers. Which one brings back the fondest memories?

JW: Theresa’s.

LZ: Why that club in particular?

JW: Cause Theresa’s is a small place, in a basement, but for a while, she put some paneling up on the wall and the sound got to be so great up in there. Then a lot of big time performers wanted to come and record down there, like the Rolling Stones. People like that came around down there cause of the sound.

LZ: One million people have probably asked you these following questions about Muddy and Buddy, so I’ll be the one millionth and one [chuckles]:

How did you first meet up with and first perform with Muddy, and how was it to work with him?

JW: I had never worked with Muddy when I first met him cause I was working with Tampa Red, Big Maceo, Big Bill Broonzy, Sunnyland Slim. and cause I had my own group, the Aces, and at that time I was doin’ all Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red and even the original Sonny Boy Williamson John Lee Williamson. We did Sunday matinees which was called Cocktail Parties, and when I played some Muddy, Muddy called out to me and Little Walter did too. He [Muddy] asked me, ‘How long you been playin?’ I said, ‘13-14 years.’ He said, ‘Yeh?’ I said ‘ Yeh.‘ He said, ’You got the blues?’ I said, ’ Guess so.‘ So from that, we started doin’ things. It was a great thing to work with him.

LZ: Can we expect any type of collaboration with you and Buddy in the future?

JW: I’m waiting on that day; it’s gonna happen.

LZ: Well, thank you, Junior, for the interesting chat, and is there anything that you’d like to say before wrapping up this interview?

JW: I’m just a happy man, an old person like me, I have so many people I have respect for and they have so much respect for me. Sonny, Santana, Bonnie, I want to say, I thank you so much for being such loyal people and that would come and decide that you would like to do some thing on my album, I love you so much.

Lisa Zimmer is a music journalist based in the San Francisco Bay area. Over the years, she has conducted numerous interviews for print publication with recording acts including Bob Weir; Eric Burdon; Francis Clay (Muddy Waters’ band); Savoy Brown; and Jeremy Spencer. Her interviews and also various articles she has written about music have been published in an array of periodicals. Zimmer has also co-conducted interviews for radio broadcast, featuring musicians such as Tommy Shannon; Chris Layton; Robert Cray; Jorma Kaukonen; Buddy Guy; and Johnny Winter. Other aspects of the music business in which she has been involved include photography; album jacket design; record retail; music merchandising; and publicity.

 Blues Society News

 Send your Blues Society's BIG news or Press Release to:  

You can submit a maximum of 175 words or less in a Text or MS Word document format.

The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society - Marietta, Ohio

The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society will hold its 18th Annual Blues Competition on February 19 and 20, 2010, at the historic Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, Ohio. Blues Bands and Solo/Dou blues acts will compete for cash prizes and BJFMS sponsorship to the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis.

First-place will receive $1,000. dollars in cash and BJFMS sponsorship to the IIBC in January, 2011. Second place wins $200 and third-place wins $100. NO geographic restrictions apply. Any serious blues musician is invited to apply. Winning this preliminary competition gets your ticket punched to Memphis. Gain valuable exposure to record labels, A&R representatives, blues industry professionals and festival promoters capable of providing real career advancement.

Complete information, format, application & rules are available online at Deadline for application submission is January 9, 2010. More information: contact Steve Wells at 304.295.4323 or

Washington Blues Society - Seattle, WA

The Washington Blues Society’s IBC Fundraiser & Annual Holiday Party Bash will be held from 5-11pm,  Sunday, December 13th, 2009 at Forecaster’s Pub at the Red Hook Brewery, 14300 NE 145th Street, Woodinville WA.  Please show your love and support for your 2010 International Blues Challenge Representatives: Mia Vermillion & Orville Johnson (Solo / Duo Act) and The Randy Oxford Band (Band).

In addition to being our annual Holiday Party, this is also a FUNDRAISER to send these guys to Memphis in January to represent the Washington Blues Society. $5 for WBS Members / $10 for Non-Members (this is an All Ages venue)  First 200 people through the door will receive a free CD with their admission, The show features The Randy Oxford Band, Mia Vermillion & Orville Johnson, The Red Hotz, Lady A and the Baby Blues Funk Band and The Mary McPage Band, Blues Redemption. PLUS, a guest appearance by Santa…we can’t very well have a Blues Christmas without the Big Guy in Red! For more info visit or

The Capital Area Blues Society - Lansing, MI

The Capital Area Blues Society presents the Holiday Blues Cruise on the Michigan Princess With Capital Area Blues Society Blues Brawl Winners Stan Budzynski & 3rd Degree, and Mike Skory are joined by Capital City Blues Queen Twyla Fleming and national blues artist James Armstrong, 8pm Friday November 27. The riverboat has three levels with gorgeous views of the stage. Appetizers, snacks and a cash bar are available on board. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online, or at the dock for CABS Members (with a membership card) for a discounted $10. Call 517 627-2154, purchase tickets or get more information at Directions to the Michigan Princess: Take I-496 west to Exit 4 (Lansing Road). Continue under the RR trestle. Go 500 feet and turn left into Grand River Park.

Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society - Santa Clarita, CA

Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society's "2009 Winter Fundraiser" will be held on Saturday, December 5th at Cozy's Blues Club, 14058 Ventura Boulevard (at Hazeltine), Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. The Fundraiser will feature our 1st and 2nd place Band and Solo/Duo winners from our September "Battle of the Blues Bands" competition - Barry Cullison, Thelonius James & Greger Walnum, The Laurie Morvan Band and Artwork Jamal & The Acid Blues.

Doors open at 7:30pm, Music from 8:30pm till 1:30am. $12.00 General Admission and $10.00 for ALL Blues Society Members (no matter which one) showing a valid up to date Society Membership Card. Call ahead for table and dinner reservations - (818) 986-6000. Plenty of free parking on the street next to Cozy's and also in the Ralph's lot across the street.

SCV Blues Society Memberships, Tshirts, Artists CDs and Raffle Tickets for A Gibson Guitar signed by the 2005 Blues Music Awards Nominees and many other prizes will be available at the Society Sales Table. Funds made at the Event will help us send our Winning Band and Duo Act to Memphis to compete in the 2010 International Blues Challenge. For more information, contact:

Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL

The Crossroads Blues Society - and the Charlotte's Web organization present Blues Mandolin Madness Sunday, December 6, 2009, at 7 PM at Big Cities Lounge, 905 E. State St, Rockford, IL. Rich DelGrosso and Gerry Hundt bring on the Mandolin Madness- A unique musical experience showcasing the often-neglected mandolin, which has a small but important part in the legacy of blues music.

Rich DelGrosso hails from Houston, TX and is one of the premier blues mandolin players in the world. He was nominated for two Blues Music awards in 2009. Rich has a deep, booming voice and a deft touch on the mandolin. Get more info at :

Gerry Hundt is a multi-instrumentalist who has been a key member of Nick Moss & the Flip Tops for the last five years. A skilled player on bass, harmonica and guitar, Gerry features his mandolin playing on his 2007 release, Since Way Back. Info on Gerry at :  Joining the duo for the evening is Nick Moss on bass guitar and the great Bob Carter on drums. Nick promises a killer version of "The Godfather Theme" on mandolin.  Tickets $10 in Advance, $15 at door Call Mark Thompson at 414-416-1884 or email him at for tickets and information - or get tickets at Big Cities Lounge!

Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents James Armstrong and his band for a Holiday Party on Saturday December 5 at Rascal’s, 1414 15th Street, Moline, IL. MVBS members are admitted free; for non-members, admission is $10. The fun starts with food at 7 p.m. for members, and the music starts at 9 p.m.

Also, The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents Ontario’s best-known guitar slinger Shawn Kellerman at Rascal’s, 1414 15th Street, Moline, IL on Thursday December 10. The show begins at 6 p.m. Admission is $7, $5 for Mississippi Valley Blues Society members. Following Kellerman’s show will be the regular Thursday night blues jam with the Steady Rollin’ Blues Band featuring Jimmie Lee Adams. For more info call the MVBS office at 563-32-BLUES.

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL

BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover.  Nov 30 - Steve the Harp Blues Band,  Dec 7 - Eric "Guitar" Davis, Dec 14 - Reverend Raven & the Chain Smoking Alter Boys, Dec 21 - The Suns of Circumstance, Dec 28 - Sally Weisenburg

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 4

Liz Melendez - Liz Melendez Live

Self Release

Taken from live recordings at Eddie's Attic in Atlanta, GA, Liz Melendez' CD "Live" demonstrates why this woman is the torchbearer of blues passed down from Stevie Ray Vaughan among many others.

The tipping of the hat to Vaughan is obvious in the long instrumental track "Lenny" in which Liz pulls out the stops with notes and riffing from the Texas Flood songbook.

But she doesn't stay in this groove too long. Her original tune "Sacrifice" takes a knife-cut beat in rocking defiantly against any barriers holding her back.

Whether Liz was thinking of Carlos Santana or not when she penned "Milagro," it's an instrumental passage with Melendez doing Latino flourishes in notes and chording that resembles a psychedelic samba riding an electric snake. The rhythm section of bassist Lex Luther and drummer Shannon Bridges erupt in sync when Melendez' soloing takes flight.

When saluting Stevie Ray, Liz does justice in "Tin Pan Alley" that is as slow and foreboding as Vaughan's studio version. But you get the impression that Liz can handle any black cat crossing her path. Her picking of notes is perfectly executed because there's enough space to appreciate them and get between the sound.

For fans of Liz, having this cd in their collection will hold them over when she releases a new CD full of original material. At least with this live one, she can pull in some new fans who are finally getting wind of a young woman who can hold her own against any guy.

Review by Gary “Wingman” Weeks

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Blues Links of the Week

Junior Wells Resources

This week we present 3 links to information on Junior wells is a page from the website Fuller Up - The Dead Musician Directory "A Site About Dead Musicians...and how they got that way". It has quite a few resources about Junior and many other musicians who have left us. You can look up any deceased musician at their site CLICK HERE

All Music Guide has great bio info and even some music samples of Junior Wells CLICK HERE

Wikipedia also has some good info and resources on Junior Wells CLICK HERE

Check out other great Blues Music Links Click HERE

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 4

Craig Brenner & the Crawdads - Live to Love

Bloomington, Indiana’s Craig Brenner & the Crawdads have a new CD, Live to Love, that not only romps with boogie and blues, but also with jazz, R&B and even country in a delightful potpourri of ten original songs. Craig Brenner, leader of the group and composer, lyricist and arranger of all ten original numbers on the CD, is an exemplar of what can happen when formal musical training meets deep-inside soulfulness and creativity. Brenner graduated from Florida Southern College in 1970, then studied jazz piano with Wally Cirillo in Miami. Brenner attended the justly renowned Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington from 1976 to 1980, where he studied piano, composition and improvisation, then undertook additional study through a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, studying boogie-woogie and stride piano under Bob Seeley and blues piano under Big Joe Duskin. He regularly performs solo as well as being a sideman in the roots-rock Ragin’ Texans, and formed Craig Brenner & the Crawdads in 1985. Though there’s been changes in the lineup of the Crawdads over the years, most of the Crawdads are on board on Live to Love as a fine cast of musicians indeed.

Craig Brenner and the Crawdads, in addition to being a fine ensemble that sports horns, guitars and even vibes and accordion, is also somewhat of a family affair. Craig’s wife Lori Brenner, newest member of the group, is lead vocalist, and delights with her beautiful, melodious voice that’s filled to the brim with expressiveness. Son Nathaniel Brenner plays stand-up and electric bass and does backup vocals, while stepdaughter Antonya Wallace plays vibes and also does backup vocals. Craig Brenner himself, given his training, obviously plays piano, but also organ and clavinet, does backup vocals, and adds percussion.

Other Crawdads are guitarists Mike Baker and Gordon Bonham, one of the finest blues guitarists in Central and Southern Indiana. Tim Brookshire plays drums, congas and other percussion, Dena El Saffar plays viola, David Wierhake accordion, and T.J. Jones is featured excellently on funk guitar on the CD’s “Homage to New Orleans” track. The dynamic horn section comprises Joe Donnelly on baritone and tenor saxes, Forrest Means on trumpet, and Dave Pavloka on trombone. The horn players unite on substantive ensemble work, but each is given ample space to do excellent solos as well. Craig Brenner himself also contributes solo work to Live to Love, as we would expect, but is also a non-competitive accompanist as well, which is part of the solidity of Craig Brenner’s arranging. For most of the tracks are ensemble affairs, and Brenner as arranger knows well how to incorporate solos and soloists to enhance, not egotistically compete, with the ensemble base.

Of the ten tracks on Live to Love, four are instrumentals, with two of them boogie and blues piano pieces, and another one a funk-blues. These two piano pieces are Craig Brenner solos accompanied with drums, with his original compositions in boogie-woogie and blues piano and excellent craftsmanship on the ivories demonstrating that he is indeed the “fine and funky pianist” Living Blues magazine said he was. The first of these, “The Bloomington Breakdown,” is a rocking boogie-woogie; while the second, “The Crawdad Shuffle,” is an up-tempo blues that features an excellent blues guitar solo, probably by Gordon Bonham. The six-minute instrumental, “Homage to New Orleans,” opens with the horns playing an ominous hymn, then breaks into 1970s funk-blues led excellently by T.J. Jones’s funk-style guitar with special effects, ably abetted by sax and Craig Brenner on organ, where he is just as adept as he is on piano. The opening track, “Hey Anna, Come Back to Indiana!” features a male vocal chorus developing this plaintive theme with counterpoint response from Lori, especially in the blues bridge in the middle of what is, overall, a 1930s boogie swing with the horn section complementing Brenner’s boogie piano with a big-band sound. Lori Brenner’s vocals are excellent on “Just One Glance, ” which is 1950s R&B with horns and viola accented by Craig Brenner’s musical triplet piano riffing, as well as on “How Many Times?” a more contemporary blues-influenced R&B number.

That’s the blues and boogie end of Live to Love, which also features a variety of other musical approaches—jazz, Bossa Nova, country. “I Live to Love” is an upbeat jazz samba reminiscent in its feel of Bossa Nova, while “Standing On My Own Two Feet Again” is a contemporary country number that prominently features David Wierhake’s accordion. The last track, “The Garden,” is a horn-and-viola-driven jazz instrumental with a Latin beat. The longest track on the CD is an eight-minute-two-second anti-imperialist screed set to modern jazz, “Loading the Boats to America.” This is a song that works well both politically and musically, and is an impassioned call to the consciences of us here in the U.S. to become aware how much our material over-consumption comes at the expense of the poor in Latin America who produce the coffee and bananas we so love, and which expresses beautifully those truths found in John-Paul Sartre’s “Silence is complicity” as well as in Che Guevara’s “I can’t help it if reality is Marxist.”

Many of Craig Brenner’s original boogie-woogie and blues piano compositions are available as sheet music. For more information, go to his website, Visually enhancing Live to Love is the brightly colored painting by Joel Washington on the sleeve jacket of Craig Brenner playing piano, which Washington adapted from a photo by Jeff Hammond.

So there’s a lot more to be found on Live to Love than just blues, boogie and R&B, but as I’ve indicated, the blues and boogie are ample, with excellent, original compositions that partake of other genres as well.

This review is adapted from my review of Live to Love in my August 23, 2009 “Blues and More” column that appeared in the online Bloomington Alternative.

Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He wrote a regular music column for two years called, “Blues and More” for the online Bloomington (IN) Alternative. He’s also published in the regional Indiana blues and alternative presses as well as Living Blues and Blues Access, and wrote the notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has also published on blues and pop music for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy, as well as the online Political Affairs and MRZine.

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 Featured Blues Review 4 of 4

Chris Collins & Blues Etc. - I Ain’t No Guitar Slinger

Fuzzy Pig Records

Southampton is a large city on the south coast of England. It’s the place all the big tourist ships sail to and from and is forever associated with the RMS Titanic which left on her ill-fated journey from the port. There must be something in the water in that area for there seems to me, to be more blues fans and blues musicians in that city and its sub-divisions, than in practically any other in the United Kingdom. There is also a phenomenal number of top-rate blues bands, few better than Chris Collins and Blues Etc.

Chris, an axe man of the first order (despite the modesty of the title of this CD) works in Europe and the UK and has backed or supported numerous visiting American Blues Artists including Billy Boy Arnold, Sonny Rhodes, Magic Slim, John Primer and Koko Taylor. Chris started his musical career in 1992 after forming Southampton band ‘The Bluescasters’. After a year playing local gigs around the Southampton area, Chris joined The Bob Pearce Band in 1993. Although for a number of years after that Chris remained associated with Bob Pearce, also a Southampton blues guitarist and singer songwriter, Chris now fronts his own band Blues Etc (say Blues Etcetera). The band specializes in Chicago and West Coast blues, as well as soul and rock 'n' roll and this is their third album. Although in live gigs, the band perform some covers, one of the major strengths of their shows is that a good deal of the material they present is stuff written by Chris himself. No mean song writer, his ‘Cheatin’ On The Man You’re Cheatin’ With’, was recorded by C.J. Chenier on his Alligator Records release ‘The Big Squeeze’, and all of this CD is Chris’s own songsmithing.

Joined, as he is in gigs, by harp man Pete Welland, drummer Steve Faithful, and bass man Darren Stevens, the band gives you just what they say they will; fifteen tracks of high quality blues based music, all, as noted above, originals. Often sharing the floor with other Southampton musicians, the tracks include Cajun based stuff (‘Text Me’) that comes with super atmospheric accordion from Ray Drury), through the soulful ‘Knock On My Door’ with a great and all too brief sax solo from Steve Taylor, to a nicely ironic song ‘Too Old To Cut The Mustard’ with a really Muddyesque slide part from Chris’s old boss, Bob Pearce.

Chris is into irony; the CD title is a sly (and ironic) reference to a 1984 album by Johnny Winter (Guitar Slinger) which, like much of Winter’s stuff is a triumph of technique over soul. Not so with Chris. So, no thousand notes a minute stuff here, but thoughtful and skilful axe work (including some slide work too) plus soulful and controlled singing. Check out  for proof.

The song writing is exemplary and if anyone out there is looking for new stuff for the set list, you could do much worse than this.

Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer and has a webcast regular blues radio show on Phonic FM in Exeter (1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central).

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