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January 20, 2010           

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Hey Blues Fans,

Blues Blast Magazine is headed to Memphis to cover the International Blues Challenge this week. We will send you updates on the finalists and the winners as they happen! Plus we will bring you photos of all the IBC fun next week.

Blues Wanderings

A week in California to visit the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchandisers) was loads of fun. And man were there ever some HUGE music stars there! Yoko Ono Lennon, Jackson Browne and Quincy Jones hosted the Kick-off of John Lennon's 70th Birthday Celebration at the 2010 NAMM show in support of the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus project.

The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is a non-profit state-of-the-art mobile Pro Audio and HD video recording facility that provides hands-on experiences for students of all ages. It is very much in same spirit as the Blues in the Schools tradition we are all familiar with. You can see a video of the cool stuff in the bus at

Of course we also ran into a few Blues musicians and some useful new Blues products at the NAMM show too. See the complete story below in this issue.

We also made it out to hear some live Blues in Los Angeles at Cozy's Blues Club and Restaurant. The show on a Saturday night was Honeyboy Edwards with Chris James and Patrick Rynn backing him up.

If you make it to LA and you want to find some great Blues, be sure to stop at Cozy's Blues Club in Sherman Oaks!

In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!

James Walker reviews a new CD from Moreland & Arbuckle.  Greg 'Bluesdog' Szalony reviews a new CD by John Earl Walker. We welcome 2 new reviewers this week. First from the UK, John Mitchell sends us a review of a new CD by Latimore. Also from new reviewer John Piott, we have a review of a new CD by Al Basile. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by the Todd Wolfe Band. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!


National Association of Music Merchandisers Show (NAMM)

January 14th to the 17th, 2010 - Anaheim, California

NAMM is a trade organization to promote music products. The organization was founded more than a century ago in 1901and currently has more than 9,000 members in the United States and in more than 100 other countries. Music merchants gather from all over the world to exhibit their wares. This years show attracted more than 1600 companies showing off every kind of music product under the sun. More than 65,000 people attended the show which completely filled the huge Anaheim Convention Center.

Walking around the show floor there was quite a bit to see. More brands of guitars than seemed possible were everywhere. Many were obviously built in the booming Asian manufacturing powerhouse country of China. There must have been at least 800 different brands of guitars, 750 of which no one has ever heard of before. More kinds of drum equipment than you could shake a stick at, and more new amplifiers, microphones and recording software than one could possibly investigate in the 4 days of this show.

OK, but this is a Blues Magazine and we were there to find out about new Blues products and see some of the Blues artists who showed up. So we looked hard and there was some interesting Blues stuff there.

We caught a performance by Blues Blast Magazine contributor and guitar player Nikki O’Neill. Nikki is an artist rep for Daisy Rock Guitars. She performed some tunes from her forthcoming new CD.

We also found UK blues guitarist and singer Matt Schofield jamming in one booth. GREAT Stuff!

We wandered around all day from booth to booth asking what new products would be of interest to Blues fans and musicians.

To be honest almost no one had an answer. Beyond a great tube amp and a Fender or Gibson guitar what else does a Blues picker need anyway?

Blues is in fact usually best when it is the simplest and many great Blues guitar player do not even use any pedals to modify their sound. A pure guitar tone is always the best!

We did however find a couple of things which looked of Blues interest.

Hohner has a new harmonica out that harp players may want to check out. The Marine Band Crossover harmonica has a laminated bamboo comb and is completely sealed, making it water repellent and exceptionally stable according to Hohner.

To us it looked like the large Phillips head screws would make it easy to tinker with the reeds and tune it as some of our harmonica friends like to do.

We looked for more but didn't find much the first day. On the second day we met up with our Blues friend Roger “Hurricane” Wilson and headed down to the lower level where many of the acoustic vendors had their booths set up. The decibel level was much more tolerable on the lower level but there was some hot picking going on.

We first stopped at National Reso-Phonic Guitars and spoke with their President and CEO, Don Young. He had an answer for us when we asked about new products of interest to Blues players.

National has a new version of their famous Tricone guitar. The M-1 Tricone has an all mahogany wood body and offers a new tone for those who like the Tricone sound. All of the body is wood except for the Tricone resonator itself, which is painted to match the wooden body of the new instrument.

Prices for the new guitar start at $2900 for a 6 String version. We didn't get a chance to hear anyone playing this new guitar but there was a steady stream of great pickers at this booth.

Blues picker Doug Macleod was in the house and he and Roger were really jammin away with a couple of the Nationals they grabbed off the wall. These two sounded so good it was hard to tear away to explore more of the other booths on the lower level for some time!

We finally did move on though and soon found another Blues musician at the Hering Harmonicas booth.

We were not familiar with this brand but apparently they must make some good stuff since both Rod Piazza and Peter Madcat Ruth are endorsees of harmonicas from Hering. Each of them has their own signature model too and Peter Madcat Ruth was there to show us who to really blow the hell out of these harps.

We wandered back up to the main level a just in time to catch the final moments of a fan greeting event by legendary guitar picker Jorma Kaukonen.

Jorma as you may know was a guitar player for Jefferson Airplane in the 1960s and later started the legendary acoustic group Hot Tuna with bass player Jack Casady.

Jorma's 1970 version of the Reverend Gary Davis song "Death Don't Have No Mercy" from their first recording Hot Tuna Live is a real classic that still sends chills down my spine every time I hear it. We only had time to snap a quick picture of Roger and Jorma before he had to leave for a show later that evening.

As we moved around the show floor one of the biggest draws was a fan autograph signing by Jason Moraz. The line to meet him blocked the entire center of the show floor. He performed at the Taylor guitar booth on the third floor later that afternoon but the room was so packed there was absolutely no way to get in for a photo.

We headed back down to the main floor and noticed another huge crowd gathering to see 10 year old Blues guitar player Tallan "T-Man" Latz. Tallan is a tiny figure about 4 feet tall and the crowd of photographers and listeners curious to see this little Blues dynamo blocked the aisles.

Not that I am complaining, but covering such a huge event is quite tiring and I was fading fast as dinner time approached. But I wanted to make one more visit to the National Reso-Phonic Guitars booth and I am glad I did.

As luck would have it I was rewarded for the effort when picking wizard Bob Brozeman showed up and started trying out several of the National guitars hanging on the wall of the booth. What a great way to end the day.

The National Association of Music Merchants convention is a private trade industry event and is not open to the general public. But if you somehow know someone who owns a music store or other business that is a member of NAMM and you get the chance to go, don't pass it up.

Review and photos by Bob Kieser.

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 5

Moreland & Arbuckle - Flood

Telarc International, a division of Concord Music Group

13 songs; 48:26 minutes; Splendid

Styles: Mississippi Hills Blues, Hard Driving Roots music

The music of cigar box guitarist Aaron Moreland, singer/harpist Dustin Arbuckle, and drummer Brad Horner can best be described as a:
A) ruckus
B) fracas
C) brouhaha
D) donnybrook
E) hurly-burly
F) all the above

Take your pick, but guaranteed: this is not “ease back on the couch and get your baby comfortable” music! This CD says get up off the divan, stomp the floor, get naked and chase your baby down the hall – let’s boogie! If you are driving your vehicle, these tunes are mile-makers (and likely speeding ticket magnets). Flood’s ten original songs and three covers are house rocking party material, scheduled for release on February 23 as their Telarc debut and fourth CD overall.

What impresses me most is the passion the players use in performing, and evoke in listeners. Like an Oscar winning actor who can emote convincingly through a character, Moreland and Arbuckle turn every song into something that seems critically important. Even on an “I don’t give a damn” day, their performances make me want to listen and have a care. An example is “Legend of John Henry,” recorded live. I have heard versions of this old classic since I was old enough to listen, but Arbuckle sings it (and plays harp) like John Henry was his blood brother.

One song truly is from the heart, track four about a “Flood” - titled “18 Counties.” Track three at 1:17 minutes sets the mood with a cacophonic mish-mash of sounds that sets hairs to standing on end. Set to the Trance / Drone Blues rhythms of the north Mississippi hills, Arbuckle sings, “Rain keeps fallin’; you watch the water rise / See it all get swept away before your eyes.” The lyrics are based on an actual flood in the southeast of their native Kansas that took Dustin’s father’s home and left other people even worse off.
The rumpus begins on track one, “Hate to See You Go,” with squealing harmonica inspired by the song’s author, Little Walter. The song is paced by Moreland’s vamping guitar and Horner’s metronome-like, relentless drumming.

Track two’s afore mentioned “John Henry” features Moreland on a Mike Snider created fretless cigar box guitar. It has one bass string wired to a separate bass amp and three treble strings, stroked with a metal finger slide, played through a guitar amp.

My favorite song, track six’s “Don’t Wake Me,” is not typical of the other cuts. It starts with a deceiving nine seconds of pleasant sounding acoustic piano before Elmore James style slash-and-burn slide guitar lights it up. Done as a Chicago Blues number, the lyrics about making love all night long and not getting to sleep until 7 o’clock in the morning are humorous to a man my age. What I used to do all night long; now, it takes me all night long to do, but these youngsters put the “root” into Roots music.

For “Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone,” Moreland brings out an acoustic resonator guitar on this Country Blues cut. Arbuckle’s harp is more ethereal, and this time the lead vocals are done in close harmony to the guitar’s notes, plus there are two and three part vocal harmonies. This song became my first earworm.

Moreland and Arbuckle have spent nearly a decade exploring the edges of American roots music. In the process, with help from drummer Brad Horner, they have forged a relentless and pulsing sound that merges Delta Blues, Folk, Rock, traditional Country, Soul and numerous other pages from the American songbook. Along the way, they performed for U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. Polished? Hell no. Contagious? Yes! It is good to shake things up once in a while, and these cats are the bone shaking-est!

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine 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.

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 5

John Earl Walker - Live In Germany

Walkright Records

63:07 minutes

John Earl and his New York based blues band recorded this live at The Burghausen Jazz Festival in March 2009. First the good news. The guitar players are well versed in hard driving blues licks at times tempered with some Chuck Berry shadings. The acoustic piano player Tommy Keys adds delightful boogie woogie-blues stylings throughout. Some of the best moments are when his piano is out front for a solo. Drummer Frank Diorio adds sturdy backing. The bass playing is adequate.

The lead off instrumental "Tess's Shuffle" gets things going nicely. This music is rockin' blues opposed to blues rock. The piano sound gives their sound authenticity. The other instrumental "Nightwalker" is a driving track were Berry's influence is seen briefly.

Now for the bad news. There is no singing per se on the record. John Earl talks the words on all other songs. I'll be kind and say talk-singing, but it's more like reciting. As a well written hip blues rap with a 'punch line' or moral this could of worked in the middle of one song. Not to sound mean, but over the duration of an entire cd it's downright annoying. And the words are of the pedestrian type. It's obvious these guys have the best of intentions and the right tools for the job. But what they need is a carpenter to assemble the parts. Somebody to compose songs that have more imaginative lyrics than these. Too many blues clichés are used. Maybe a few obscure Blues cover might flesh out their sound. I'm sure John could commit himself singing a few songs. Or enlist another singer.

John and Slinky's guitar playing is thought out and energy driven. With the quality services of Tommy Keys I would feature him on a New Orleans tinged tune or a piano instrumental. The backing capabilities are here. Some fine tuning could work wonders.

The interplay within the band is enjoyable until the talking kicks in. I can see them evolving into an exciting band. The love of the genre shows. All the ingredients are there. The right recipe has to be found. I hope they prove me wrong and come up with a flawless approach. I feel guilty coming from a guy who has issues playing a CD player, but players of their skill can surely get it together.

Reviewer Greg 'Bluesdog' Szalony is from the New Jersey Delta. He is proprietor of Bluesdog's Doghouse website.

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. Limit 100 words. 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

Drummer Seeks Band

Steve Parrish / drummer available for road work with professional blues group. Equipment, attitude and chops are at peak performance. Playing since 1966. Audio/video promo available.
Lexington, KY 859 537 5423 or

Magazine Seeks Summer Festival Reviewers

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for a few good men (Or Women)! Over the 2010 summer season we are looking for folks who attend Blues Festivals and take good photos for festival reviews.  If you attend multiple Blues Festivals or Blues shows and could volunteer to send us 500 to 1000 word reviews and a few good photos, please reply to .

Reviewers are needed for the Southwest and Texas area, the Florida and Gulf area, the Eastern coast area and also on the European, Asian and Australian continents. A short sample of your writing, a sample photo and info on your Blues background would be helpful. Please include your phone number with the reply.

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 5

Latimore – All About The Rhythm and the Blues

Lat Stone Records

11 tracks, 58.46 minutes

Latimore is best known for his hit song in the 70’s "Let’s Straighten It Out". He has continued to record and tour since then with his blend of soul and R & B. This CD was produced and released by longtime collaborator Henry Stone. All the songs are written by Latimore except for covers of "Everyday I Have the Blues" and "Drown In My Own Tears".

Musicians here are few in number and therein lies the problem. In keeping the personnel to a minimum, the sound becomes bland and rather synthetic. This is disappointing, as George “Chocolate” Perry, who provides bass, drums and strings, as well as mixing the album, is the very same person who played with Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Bee Gees and Joe Walsh. The only other player is Roach Thompson on guitar, all keys and vocals being by Latimore himself.

This is a smooth soul sound and while Latimore has a strong voice, the material is very one paced, so tracks tend to merge into one another. Several titles invoke the blues ("Singing and Playing the Blues"," Pass the Piano Blues") but there is little blues content in them.

The covers offer little new. "Drown In My Own Tears" is done well, but the version of "Everyday I Have The Blues" is one of the tamest heard in a long time. It is bland and lacking in any sense of anguish.

Smooth soul fans may well enjoy this one, Blues fans may want to pass.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a Blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live Blues music.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 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.

Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents guitarist Jim Suhler and his band, Monkey Beat, on Sunday Jan. 31 at Creekside Bar and Grill, 3303 Brady Street in Davenport, IA. The show starts at 5 p.m. and admission is $8, $6 for Blues Society members. For more info call the MVBS office at 563-32-BLUES.

The Arkansas River Blues Society - Alexander, AR

The Arkansas River Blues Society & Juanita's will present Chris Duarte on February 2, 2010. The Joe Pitts Band will open this event at 9 p.m. Juanita's is located at 1300 Main Street in Little Rock. There is $12 cover. For more info check

Blues Kids of America  - Chicago, IL

Blues Kids of America is offering a free Professional Development Workshop Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 3:30PM at Columbia College Chicago Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan Avenue Chicago IL 60605. The session "Use the Blues to Improve Literacy & Help Close the Achievement Gap: Music as a Second Language" is designed for Teachers, Administrators and LSC staff. Participants do not have to be musically inclined and can earn CPDUs

The Workshop is hosted by Fernando Jones, Columbia College Chicago, Blues Ensemble Director and Illinois State Board of Education Professional Development Provider. The workshop is designed to engage administrators and teachers (pre-K through university), by demonstrating how to improve literacy, attendance, discipline and academic success using America’s root music, the Blues.

Some participants will receive harmonicas and classroom resources. Jones is also a “Keeping the Blues Alive Award” recipient in education. For further information go to  or confirm your reservation by contacting Fernando at  or (312) 369-3229

 Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL

Crossroads Blues Society and Big Cities Lounge present Kim Wilson Thursday, February 11, starting at 8 pm at Big Cities Lounge, 905 E. State St., Rockford, Illinois . The band will include Billy Flynn on guitar and Barrelhouse Chuck on keyboards.  Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. The other two past shows were sold-out, so don't wait - get your tickets now at Big Cities - or by contacting Mark Thompson at

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.

 More information: contact Steve Wells at 304.295.4323 or

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.  Jan 25 - Lil Dave Thompson

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 5

Al Basile - Soul Blue 7

Sweetspot Records

What a wonderful experience to hear this for the first time. I completely enjoyed it on it’s maiden play. It brings to me all what I love about today’s blues music. From the stable of the best in today’s Blues music that is Duke Robillard comes a unique talent Al Basile.

Not his first effort, it is actually his seventh. But this is Al Basile arrived. A clean, refreshing listen into today’s contemporary Blues/Jump, Jazz music. He has been nominated for a Blues Music Award (Handy Awards) as best horn instrumentalist with good reason. A Coronet/Trumpet player that sings, writes music, poetry, and novels, truly a multi talented gifted artist with a long lineage of fine accomplishments.

We understand the important connected value of Jazz and Blues and he brings them together in a harmonious fashion. As gravy is to potatoes the two are for our enjoyment and forever entwined.. Here is this musician’s approach to the melding, mixing, or what Mayall coined so many years ago “fusion”. It is a perfect mix of swing blues, blues, with some jazz sides. His vocals are forefront, up-front, but smooth, slick, controlled and easy in is his style. I hear a little Gary Moore in his vocals.

With great backup and production by one of the best in Blues guitar Duke Robillard the mood is smooth, relaxed, comfortable and soft. It just feels good! Duke takes up a back up roll and leaves the work to Al. A New Orleans sound persists with a touch of reggae. The lyrics are cerebral, clever, a thinking man’s view in each song.

Track notes:
Track #1 A light tune with good sax, organ and some crispy licks by Duke that are reminiscent of Albert King.
Track # 5 “I Hope You’re Right” a great upbeat happy tune that you could listen to daily.
Track # 6 “Causing Joy “ has a good easy reggae style and easy lyrics. Possibly a look into how he sees his work, (causing joy)
Track # 8 is a nice flowing ballad with a great sax lick at the end.
Track # 11 “Fool Me Again” is a superbly written and arranged piece that really gets you thinking.

This is an enjoyable comfortable C/D that I will not grow tired of anytime soon. Four Strats for Al!

Reviewer John Piott writes "Blue Collar" Blues reviews that look at today's Blues music from the perspective of a long time lover of the Blues.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 5

Todd Wolfe Band - Stripped Down at the Bang Palace

Bluesleaf Records

13 tracks

Sometimes I am a little naïve when it comes to record reviews. Todd Wolfe was not in my blues and rock vocabulary, so when I encounter an artist that is new to me I first just pop the CD in and listen without doing any research, let alone reading liner notes or any other promo material that may come with the review CD copy. I listened straight through this and said, “Whoa Nellie!,” in my finest imitation of Keith Jackson calling an Ohio State and Michigan game. This is a serious guitar player with some equally serious talent.

As it turns our, Todd was Sheryl Crow’s lead guitarist from 1992 to 1998. He and Sheryl toured with the Stones, Dylan, the Eagles, Page & Plant and Elton John. Before that and also now after that stint, he plays what he calls “bluesadelic”, a 1960’s styled blend of psychedelic blues rock. The band features Todd on guitars, vocals and Mandola, Suavek Zaniesienko on bass and BG Vox, and Roger Voss on drums and percussion. These guys are tight and hot.

Recorded live with minimal overdubs, Wolfe and company deliver huge performances of some original and some quite interesting covered material. Wolfe begins with original acoustic blues in “Wing of a Dove”. His vocals and playing here are strong, swamp filled blues. It’s a great song but in no way does it prepare the listener for the mega roller coaster ride of electric guitar work that follows. Elmore James “Stranger Blues” follows, and the guitar gets fully amped up and fuzzed out. He shuffles through Eddie Taylor’s “Bad Boy” in convincing style and with great restraint that gives the cut a very cool blues shuffle sound. He goes back to the Delta with Robert Johnson’s “Come On in My Kitchen” and gives this old standard new life.

Willie Dixon’s “Evil” gets a hot and greasy play from Wolfe as does “Three O’Clock Blues”, played with a full force guitar lead that will impress you. These are songs we all know and love and Wolfe picks and plays through them with reverence. "It's All Over Now" is a sweet rendition of this Bobby Womack number, and in the midst of a big guitar solo he breaks into an homage to the Allman Brothers with the riffs from "One Way Out" blended in before he closes out with a big finish. The CD ends with Howlin’ Wolf’s “Wreck My Life”. When I played it the song reminded me of the Doors doing the Wolf; when I opened the promo stuff that came with the CD it touts the tracks as “Doors-esque”, so I guess I am on the same page as his publicist!

If I had to have some small criticism it would be with the vocals. While mostly very strong, they do falter a bit at times. Where they least appeal to me is in a very cool National Steel slide guitar (perhaps it's his slide mandola?) cover of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen”. The guitar is smooth and sweet but the vocals are a little uneven. The other rough spot is in Muddy's "She's Nineteen Years Old". He covers these tracks in his own style, which is fresh and very cool; it's just that he seems a little uneven on the vocal lines. But this is minor and the huge guitar presence and very tight sound of this band make this a hot CD for the rocking blues lover. One can hear the influences of the Stones, Doors, Cream, Derek and the Dominos along with the older blues masters in Todd's guitar style. Wolfe is a great guitar player that folks need to sit up and listen to. This CD, his sixth, showcases a guy who can really make the guitar wail!

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Live Blues Calendar

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