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Hey Blues Fans,

The National Academy Of Recording Arts & Sciences has announced their nominations for the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards. The Blues nominations are in Field 13 -  Under American Roots. Here are the nominees:

Best Traditional Blues Album (Vocal or Instrumental.) - Category 66

A Stranger Here - Ramblin' Jack Elliott [ANTI]
Blue Again - The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band Featuring Rick Vito [429 Records]
Rough & Tough - John Hammond [Chesky Records]
Stomp! The Blues Tonight - Duke Robillard [Stony Plain Records]
Chicago Blues: A Living History (Various Artists) [Raisin' Music]

Best Contemporary Blues Album (Vocal or Instrumental.) - Category 67

This Time - The Robert Cray Band [Nozzle Records/Vanguard]
The Truth According To Ruthie Foster - Ruthie Foster [Blue Corn Music]
Live: Hope At The Hideout - Mavis Staples [ANTI]
Back To The River - Susan Tedeschi [Verve Forecast]
Already Free - The Derek Trucks Band [Victor Records]

We are not surprised by Chicago Blues: A Living History getting nominated. We could of predicted it. In fact we did predict it in Ben Cox's March 20, 2009 review of the CD. To see the review CLICK HERE.

Plus all you folks voted Chicago Blues: A Living History the Best Traditional Blues Recording in the 2009 Blues Blast Music Awards.  If you saw these guys (Lurrie Bell, John Primer, Billy Branch, Billy Boy Arnold, Carlos Johnson, Matthew Skoller, Billy Flynn and Felton Crews) perform at the Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies in October you certainly are not surprised. They had the house rockin!

The 52nd GRAMMY Awards will take center stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 31, 2010, and will be broadcast on CBS Television Network.

Blues Wanderings

We made it out to Blue Monday to hear an Illinois musician named Steve The Harp. Steve "The Harp" Mehlberg is one heck of a singer, harmonica player and songwriter. He was recently inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame. (Note: Not affiliated with the Blues Foundation). Steve and the band were tearing it up and the crowd loved it.


In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!

James Walker reviews a new tribute CD of Mississippi Sheiks music. Brian Holland reviews a new CD by Long John Hunter. Steve Jones sends us another review of the new CD from Dave Riley and Bob Corritore. UK reviewer Ian McKenzie send us a review of a new CD by English artist Marcus Bonfanti. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 4

Various Artists: A Tribute to the Music of the Mississippi Sheiks

Things About Comin’ My Way

Black Hen Music

17 songs; 66:19 minutes; Suggested

Styles: String Band music done in varied styles including Country Blues, Delta Blues, Gospel, and Jazz

“Sitting on Top of the World” is a song with which I had a casual acquaintanceship. That is until the year 2000, when Willie Nelson issued the CD “Milk Cow Blues” with a cover of “Sitting on Top of the World.” In the liner notes, he credits Bob Wills (of Texas Playboys fame) as the author. “That can not be correct,” I thought, as I was sure Howlin’ Wolf had written the song, and, thus began my continuing-to-this-day search for the full truth. Along the way in 2001, a noted Blues DJ assured, “Yes, Howlin’ Wolf wrote it; end of story!” Well, that is not the end of the story.

Evidently “Sitting on Top of the World” is an old traditional song passed down through generations with varying title versions and lyrics. But, the first recorded version was written and recorded by guitarist/singer Walter Vinson and fiddler Lonnie Chatmon on February 17, 1930 in Shreveport Louisiana for the OKeh record label (OKeh #8784 released 1930). Vinson and Chatmon were members of an immensely popular string band known, mainly, as The Mississippi Sheiks, who recorded around 70 bi-racially popular songs during 1930-1935.

I do not know how it is legally possible, but many subsequent artists have recorded this song listing themselves as the author, including, yes, Howlin’ Wolf, and Bob Wills. At, there are over 90 title versions, song versions, and artists listed who have recorded the song, many claiming authorship, and some crediting Vinson and Chatmon.

In my hobby-like search for the full story, I have many unanswered questions, the latest of which arises from a wonderful new 17-song CD by various artists celebrating the works of The Mississippi Sheiks. Produced by Steve Dawson, the CD includes a version of “Sitting on Top of the World” recorded faithfully (but with nice added banjo melodies) by The Carolina Chocolate Drops. BUT, the lyrics are shorter and not the same as the 1930 original #8784 recording, and the song is credited only to Walter Vinson. Perhaps Vinson wrote a second version, and, for a fact, The Mississippi Sheiks would sometimes slightly change the lyrics in performances.

Confusion and mystery surround The Mississippi Sheiks, and in the liner notes, Dawson confides that there is a “...lack of proper information on the exact credits for most of these songs....” First, Walter Vinson was also known as Walter Jacobs (his mother’s name) which caused to confuse him with harpist “Little Walter” (Marion Walter Jacobs) as they claim that The Mississippi Sheiks “performed songs by Little Walter” – a chronological impossibility. Further, “Chatmon” is sometimes spelled “Chatman,” and Lonnie Chatmon was also known as Lonnie Carter.

Additionally, group member and brother Armenter Chatmon also had a successful recording career as the famous “Bo Carter.” The Chatmons recorded under a number of different names: Walter Jacobs and the Carter Brothers, The Chatman Brothers, The Mississippi Mud Steppers, The Mississippi Blacksnakes, and the best known name, The Mississippi Sheiks. “Sheik” came from Rudolph Valentino’s sultry 1921 silent film (“The Sheik”) and designated a playboy on the prowl.

This tribute album reinterprets 17 of The Mississippi Sheiks’ songs using a broad range of styles.The Black Hen label is dedicated to producing music that is diverse, eclectic and primarily acoustic-based. Black Hen Music was started by Steve Dawson in 1995, and began releasing albums in 1996.

The first songs I played on the Friends of the Blues Radio Show were back to back versions of the Sheiks’ original “Sitting on Top of the World” followed by the Tribute’s aforementioned cover. Next was the humorous and sexually suggestive “It’s Backfirin’ Now” by the North Mississippi Allstars. The third week found Bob Brozman’s slow, bare-bones Delta Blues take on “Somebody’s Gotta Help You.” This week, I’ll play a similar approach from John Hammond on “Stop and Listen.” Future shows will include a mellow gliding “Honey Babe Let the Deal Go Down” by Bruce Cockburn and producer Steve Dawson’s sweet slide guitar backed by Matt Chamberlain – drums, Keith Lowe – bass, and Wayne Horvitz – keyboards on “Lonely One in This Town.”

For serious Blues fans, a copy of a Mississippi Sheiks CD is a must have addition to one’s library. Now, adding this tribute CD affords the knowledge-gaining-fun of comparing back-to-back versions of originals and covers. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to finger this one out!.

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

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"workin Blues folks" ONLY can place Want Ads here for FREE.  NO Commercial Ads! 
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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

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 4

Dave Riley and Bob Corritore - Lucky to Be Living

Blue Witch Records

10 tracks

Dave Riley and Bob Corritore have come out with their second album together after an acclaimed inaugural effort. “Travelin’ the Dirt Road”, their 2007 release, was nominated for the 2008 Blues Music Award for Acoustic Album of the Year and was a Blues Blast Music Award Nominee for Best Traditional Blues Recording. There is no sophomore jinx with this CD as it builds upon the great music and firm foundation between these two artists.

Riley offers us some down home vocal work and understated yet gripping guitar work. Corritore’s harp provides a superb compliment for Riley’s vocals and fretwork. I am becoming more and more impressed with what Bob is doing with his harp as he moves into the realm of being a long-time and well-respected bluesman. Both Riley and Corritore offer true love and appreciation for the blues in approaching their music without being over the top in their style. From the opening chords of the first track I was hooked on this great approach to traditional blues.

Riley upholds the great traditions of the Jelly Roll Kings, of which he became a member of in the mid 1990’s. This album pays homage to them as Riley covers and reworks several of their songs along with offering us four new and original tracks. The first song “Jelly Roll King” is a Frank Frost number that Dave has redone the lyrics to and pays tribute to Frost, John Weston and Sam Carr. Sam Carr who recently passed away was the last surviving member of the Jelly Roll Kings that Riley sings about, making this track somewhat sad, but one can revel in the friendship and love expressed by Riley’s reworking of this song.

Henry Gray and Chris James provide some great solo work on the second track, “Ride with Your Daddy Tonight”. Another Frost tune, Riley and Corritore blast their way through this number to a heart pounding beat.

“On My Way” takes a Gospel melody line that Corritore came up with along with Riley’s lyrics; it was turned into a cool little fast paced number. Dave’s gravelly vocals and Bob’s harmonica chugs punctuate this song nicely.

The next track returns to a homage to those who have passed. Frank Frost’s tune becomes the album’s title track and the slow wailing harmonica and Riley’s vocals really serve to testify to their luck to be living. The boys then revisit their last album with “Back Down the Dirt Road”, a song they came up with as they rehearsed to lay down the other tracks for this CD. It was so good that it had to be included and they certainly have done right in including it. Dave’s inspired vocals and aside conversations make this a great piece.

Henry Gray returns to the keys to support “Let’s Get Together” as Corritore pleases the listener with a big harp solo. Dave’s “Country Rules” follows, a catchy song that Dave sells with his Delta inspired vocals. They return to Frost’s library of songs and rearrange “The Things You Do” in an inspired manner. The harp work in the upper register is sweet and poignant as is Riley’s guitar and singing.

The next to last track features Dave getting deep, down and dirty as he winds his way into the darkest blues on the CD. His guitar work rings like a bell as Corritore fills in his greasy harp along with Dave’s intense vocals; this IS the blues! Riley closes out with Fred James song “Automobile” that he originally covered many years ago on a Helena compilation. Henry Gray and Chris James are on this track; their piano and guitar really add to the sound. Corritore opens with and fills in some great harp, too, but Riley’s vocals are what make this song and the album a big success.

If you liked their prior album, then this release is for you! If you didn’t like their last album you might not be impressed, but I would have to say that just don’t like good blues music if you can’t appreciate the musical love affair between Dave Riley and Bob Corritore on their first two albums. With chemistry like these guys have, I can’t wait for their next offering!

Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 4

Long John Hunter - Looking For A Party

Blues Express

Though Long John Hunter has been a genuine bluesman with authentic style and showmanship since the 50s, he was a virtual unknown until Alligator Records released his debut CD, "Border Town Legend", in 1995. The Texas bluesman, known locally as the Texas Shuffle King, honed his craft for many years in the bars along the border. His juke joint audience was never scarce of big names either, as Etta James, Gatemouth Brown, Lightnin' Hopkins, and others would often stop by to see and hear the nasal tenor with the clean and melodic guitar licks. Hunter's latest 2009 release on Blues Express, "Looking For A Party", is a solid collection of appealing blues songs. And it just might be his best recorded work to date.

In listening to Hunter's raw yet electrifying guitar chops, it's easy to comprehend that he had influenced the likes of Lonnie Brooks, Phillip Walker, and even Buddy Holly at one time. But even though he's the frontman herein, the incredible diversity in the music from the angle of everyone involved confirms the existence of independent expression in the studio. With producer and chief songwriter Dennis Walker involved, who also produced Robert Cray's "Strong Persuader" and "Midnight Stroll" albums, traditional blues becomes something new and different when treated untraditionally. It's all about arrangement and filling in the spaces.

The title song highlights Hunter's clean guitar sound and relaxed vocal technique. Though the vaudeville piano of Jim Pugh, whose credits read like a who's who in blues, is veiled translucently beneath the rhythm and horn section strength, it's alright, as the keyboardist inserts interesting little additives everywhere. His attention-grabbing chord melody in the next song, "What Comes Over You", is a perfect example of independent expression, and what a talented musician can do to an arrangement to diversify things. Hunter's guitar work is clean and vibrant once again, a sound that seems to pop up out of nowhere, adding character and spirit to every song.

The art of the slow blues is represented in a few places. Although background orchestration broadens the arrangement in "Beggar Man", as does Pugh's piano presence, Hunter's guitar and vocal resonance keep it in a blues mood. "Greener Pastures" is the ideal slow blues in every way. It highlights the band as a whole, especially Hunter's supple and relaxed fretwork. And although Pugh once again does his own thing on the keys, he doesn't stray from slow blues terrain here.

Music like this makes one wonder how much influence Hunter may have had on the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, especially when in Texas shuffle mode. Doing what he's famous for in "Apple Of My Eye", complete with horns amid an impressive rhythmic drive, this solid shuffle dazzles in liveliness. The band sustains the shuffle rhythm and segues nicely into "You Say You Want A Caddy".

"I Know A Man", one of the album's finest tracks, possesses a Van Morrison feel. Nevertheless, the vocal emotion is all Hunter, and his signature guitar style fits the song completely.

"Looking For A Party" is an exemplary blues album. Although it's about as bluesy as electric blues gets, the musicianship throughout is astonishingly creative and unique. The songs are cheerful, pleasant, and just right for the festive atmosphere. Though Long John Hunter may still be unknown to some, "Looking For A Party" is an awakening for fans. It should confirm him as one of the original greats in blues circles everywhere.

Reviewer Brian Holland is a music journalist who resides in Massachusetts.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

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2009 Blues Blast Music Awards

Visit their Stores at the following locations

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 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

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.  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 4 of 4

Marcus Bonfanti - What Good Am I To You

P3 Music Limited

12 tracks 47 minutes 37 seconds

Well, now here’s a thing! Marcus Bonfanti is a young man, he’s only 27 years of age, with a voice that already sounds like a mixture of Tony Joe White, Tom Waits and Keb Mo, marinated in some kind of bootleg hooch since he was old enough to drink alcohol and with an attitude that’s as in-your-face as that of a disaffected rapper. But that’s not meant to be an unpleasant criticism, rather is intended to be a solemn tribute to a young man with an unusual talent.

Bonfanti comes from North London, but sounds, to these ears more like a man from the swamplands of southern Louisiana. Not only is he an excellent guitar player (P3 Music is subtitled, ‘The Home Of Great Guitar Music’) who has already trained at the Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts (yes that’s right, the place partly set up and financed by Paul McCartney (amongst a huge list of others)), he has also done session work, fronted his own band, done a string of solo gigs, oh, yes, and this is his second CD. Preceded by, ‘Hard Times’, this new one is a stunner.

All songs on the album were written by Marcus, who of course does all guitar work and singing too. Marcus is supported by some excellent drumming from Alex Reeves, keyboard work by Paddy Milner and some super bass by Scott Wiber. The album opener, ‘Will Not Play Your Game’, is strong and gutsy and Bonfanti’s growling, bass baritone voice is simply excellent. ‘Goin’ Down’, sounds like music from the bayou with an added touch of JJ Cale on speed. More reflective is ‘Don’t Wanna Come Home’ and the excellent ‘Bleeker Street. The instrumental ‘Tweed Blazer’ is a stunner; Link Wray, meets Albert Lee!

In short this is an amazing album that will be on my CD player for a long time to come. No sign of the immanent demise of the blues here, just solid passionate music with a real twist of raw talent.

Reviewer 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 (see and has a web cast regular blues radio show on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central).

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

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