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Hey Blues Fans,
The 2010 Blues Festival is in FULL swing with several Blues Fests happening over this Memorial Day Weekend. And it will only get better in the next couple weeks! (More about that below.)
Our friends at the Watseka Blues, BBQ & Arts Fest in Watseka, Illinois, have a great deal of music this Saturday if you are in the Illinois Area. They have 9 bands and 13 hours of Blues for the very low price of $5! (See their ad below). And speaking of that festival, we have an interview with Watseka Theatre owner and festival promoter Chuck Gomez in this issue. Chuck was a stage manager for the biggest fest on the planet, The Chicago Blues Festival, for the first thirteen years of that legendry fest. He tells us all about how this great event got started and of some of his experiences with many of the Blues legends who have played that great event.
Other great festivals this weekend include the new Blues stage at the Cajun Creole Music Festival in Simi Valley, California on the West Coast which features many of the great artists on Delta Groove Records.
Also this weekend are the
Chautauqua Hills Blues Festival in
Sedan, Kansas, the G. Busy Blues Room Blues
Festival in Lexington, Kentucky and the
Edmond Jazz, Blues & Green
Festival in Edmond, OK among many others. So no matter where you are you
should be able to find some great Blues music within driving distance this
The BIG one is coming and will be even bigger this year!!!!
In two weeks the Chicago Blues Festival will again offer one of the best Blues Festivals anywhere for FREE. Three days of music on five festival 5 stages running all day long with a total of more than 70 great Blues performers.
Like past years we have created a festival schedule page on our website with the complete schedule along with links to most of the artists websites for more information. CLICK HERE to view it or to visit the festival website CLICK HERE
But the BIG news is there will be a 6th stage at the Chicago Blues Festival this year sponsored by the Windy City Blues Society. Their stage will also run all three days and features 19 performances including Will Jacobs & Dirty Deal, Chris James, Patrick Rynn & Rob Stone, Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Lurrie Bell & Chris Harper, Dave Specter, Barrelhouse Chuck, Rob Blaine Band, Adam Gussow, Bob Corritore, Gerry Hundt, Cash Box Kings, John Primer, Jimmy Burns, Carl Weathersby, Kenny Smith, Jimmy Sutton, Steve Doyle and Dave Katzman, Lil’ Ed, the Joe Moss Band and many more.
Blues Blast Magazine roving reporter Marilyn Stringer made it to the Doheny Blues Festival last weekend.
This fest is a HUGE event on the West coast
and Marilyn sends us picture and a story of all the fun in this issue.
In This Issue
Seven NEW reviews this week!
James "Skyy Dobro"
Walker reviews 2 new CDs by Shawn Pittman. Gary "Wingman" Weeks reviews a new
DVD by Johnny Winter and also reviews a new book about Johnny Winter.
reviews a new CD by Peter Karp & Sue Foley.
Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Anders Osborne. John
Mitchell reviews a new CD by Tad Robinson. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Seven NEW reviews this week! James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews 2 new CDs by Shawn Pittman. Gary "Wingman" Weeks reviews a new DVD by Johnny Winter and also reviews a new book about Johnny Winter. Sheralyn Graise reviews a new CD by Peter Karp & Sue Foley. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Anders Osborne. John Mitchell reviews a new CD by Tad Robinson. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Live Blues Review
2010 Doheny Blues Festival -May 22nd & 23rd
Photos & Comments by Marilyn Stringer
Dana Point Park and the Doheny Blues Festival is located at one of the most beautiful beach settings in the country. With the ocean breezes cooling off the sunny days, this year's weather was perfect and the lineup had something for everyone - it was sold out! When the gates opened, it was a mad dash to get "my spot!"
I circled the three stages for two days, alternating between the main Doheny Stage (DS) and the intimate Back Porch Stage (BPS) which are on opposite ends of the festival and have the same time slots. The Renaissance Stage (RS) is in the middle and always plays alone. Saturday morning jump started on the RS with FlatTop Tom & His Jump Cats, including Dona Oxford-boogie woogie piano player from NYC, and his swing dancing partner.
At noon Lisa Haley & the Zydecats woke up the festival at the DS while Barath and His Rhythm Four roused out the morning coffee drinkers at the Back Porch.
Having never heard of, but trusting the very sound judgment of the festival's talent coordinators, I moseyed back to the RS to hear Igor Prado's Band from Brazil, with Linwood Slim. They may have broken English but their sound is solid blues and tight! Tight enough, that Igor happily told me they have just signed with Delta Groove. Lynwood Slim (another DG artist) joined them with his impressive harmonica, flute, and blues vocals.
Next round at the DS included The Fabulous Thunderbirds, with Kim Wilson doing his magic on vocals and harp. And equally fun, was Eric Lindell at the BPS, having a grand time. (The Back Porch Stage might actually be the best stage because the performers are right there with you and they always seem to have a great time with the audience). As I got close to the stage I heard Eric shout "We are having a great time! We came here to PLAY!!"
Another new band for me was Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. They were revved up from the first song and the more they heated up the blues, soul, funk, and attitude, the more I got hooked.
At the BPS was James Intveld and his band who's style was a more traditional blues with a hint of country and rockabilly. Back at the DS was Taj Mahal singing his favorites, dancing, joking, wiggling - backed by the Phantom Blues Band. Both have been around for a long time and their music is well known and loved so the audience was having a great time bantering, singing and dancing along with Taj.
By the time I got back to the Back Porch Stage, Big Sam's Funky Nation had the entire area packed and in an uproar of partying and dancing. (Sam - Trombone; Andrew Baham-trumpet) I have never seen any band control the crowd that way-they had every last person down on their knees and then back up and roaring even more-resistance was futile. They kept playing at the BPS stage long after Jackie Greene, the Americana Blues balladeer, started his set at the RS. Since those two stages are back to back, there was no escaping the noise. So Jackie, with good humor, just danced along between his songs, until BSFN finished.
The headliner, The Black Crowes, closed the DS and there was a huge crowd of fans gathered to see their performance. They sounded great as I crossed the festival grounds to make one last stop at the BPS to see 2,000 Lbs of Blues and meet up with my friends.
What treat 2,000 Lbs was! (I am a blues girl even though I grew up on rock). Michael Arguello, aka "Pink" is a "notorious, off-beat entertainer " and his style included jump-blues, swing, blues, and a lot of humor. It was a great time to put my feet up, hang with my friends, and be entertained.
SUNDAY: The lineup for Sunday was just as enjoyable as Saturday and although the day started out windy and chilly it turned out to be "just another day in paradise". The morning started with an hour of Nathan James, a roots and blues singer, combined with Kim Wilson's harmonica, at the DS, a combo that really worked well. And competing for my attention was the Taj Mahal Trio at the BPS. Kester Smith-drummer and Bill Rich-bass have been with Taj for more than 30 years and came in just for the morning set. It was hard to split my time!
The John Nemeth Revue included John's new guitar player-Josh Fulero (formerly with Curtis Salgado), his bass player-Smokey Davis, and a new horn section, and was in fine form Sunday. John Nemeth is a harmonica virtuoso and his vocals range from retro to modern blues, soul, funk, and beautiful tenderness. I always look forward to his performances - he is flawless.
The fabulous, and loveable, Bettye LaVette pranced and laughed her way on to the stage bringing smiles to our faces and then drew us to quiet reverence. On the BPS, Jackie Greene sat down for an acoustic set. 24 - 25
The final act on the BPS was the legendary Duke Robillard, with Bruce Bears-keyboard, Brad Hallen-bass, and Mark Teixeira -drums. It is always an honor to see Duke and the band perform - and I always want to get up and dance! Duke is "a one-man cheering section for the blues in every permutation" and just about every performer has recorded with Duke at one time or another.
The final two performances on the RS were the Otis Taylor band (and his amazing fiddle player), and the Booker T. Band.
Finishing at the Doheny stage was the Robert Cray Band with Richard Cousins (bass) and Tony Braunagel (drums).
and closing the festival was - CSN - Crosby, Still, and Nash! What is there to say about them that hasn't already been said - they are icons!
What a fantastic weekend!! Thanks to Omega Events and all the staff that put on another successful festival with a great lineup and perfect weather. (All quotes are from the festival program. An eventual full set of photos will be available at MJStringerPhoto.com ). See you in Chicago!
Featured Blues Review 1 and 2 of 7
Shawn Pittman - Undeniable (2010 USA release)
Self Release - 11 songs; 43:57 minutes; Suggested
Shawn Pittman - Too Hot (2010 European Release)
Feelin’ Good Records (Italy) - 15 songs; 56:21 minutes; Suggested
Styles: Texas Blues, “Good old butt-rockin' Blues and Rock 'n' Roll” S. Pittman
When it comes to CD output, there are three levels: productive, prolific, and Shawn Pittman. In 2009 and 2010, Shawn, who first broke nationally in the late 90s, has released two CDs in each year. His latest, “Undeniable” is, incredibly, the eighth album for a guy only 35 years old!
His latest stateside release “Undeniable,” contains ten of eleven original songs and is titled as such, according to Pittman, because “It's simple: when you hear this record, you can't deny the fact that it's fundamentally sound, good blues. I don't use any pedals; I get my tone from my fingers, guitar and amp... I write and sing my own songs” Pittman and Stuart Sullivan did the producing.
Also available for 2010, in both Europe and here, is his seventh release, the aptly titled “Too Hot”(not a slow Blues song on it!). It was recorded in 2009 in a studio in Italy on Pittman and the band’s only day off from his tenth tour across the pond. They recorded “live” in the studio and knocked out 15 songs! Feeling Good Productions, an agency owned by Tano Ro based out of Milan, Italy had earlier released a compilation of Pittman's first four albums “Moovin and Groovin” (from '99-'05).
Undeniable’s opening track “Hard to Hold On” was our first spin on the Friends of the Blues Radio Show. Shawn’s solid and appealing vocals plead with a wavering lover while his guitar is at some of its melodic best above a chunky rhythm. "Change of Heart" is another killer track we’ll play. Howlin’ Wolf fans will enjoy the “Forty Four” inspired “Mindin’ My Own Business.” The set closer “Looking Good,” is a ferocious instrumental created by the late Magic Sam and the only non-original on the CD. “Looking Good” is also captured on the other 2010 release, “Too Hot.”
Too Hot’s title track is radio-ready. It is the Jerry “Boogie” McCain number that was the impetus for the recording session in Italy. The Italian back up band is solid across all 15 original and cover songs adding bass, drums, and harmonica. “Too Hot’s” tasty harp work is eclipsed only by Pittman’s scorching guitar runs. Another McCain song, “Geronimo Rock” is laid down as a dance floor filling rip snorting Texas shuffle. Larry Williams's “Slow Down” is anything but slow with its chooga-chooga, freight train out of control rhythm and smoldering guitar solo.
Overall, Pittman is a master of his guitar in playing the recognized styles of the Lone Star State. Thankfully, Pittman is not one to overplay in tedious, too-long solos, and he keeps song times averaging four minutes. You’ll hear influences of the Vaughan brothers, Albert King, Smokin' Joe Kubek, Jim Suhler, and Mike Morgan. Pittman's songs usually rely on a guitar powered trio, but Texas means occasional keyboards like in Undeniable’s “Blues for Juanita” with Shawn himself on piano.
By age 18, this Oklahoma born (1974), Texas honed
singer, songwriter, and guitarist was making a name among Texas guitar slingers.
Critically lauded and popular by age 23, Pittman released his first two records
on Minnesota’s now defunct Cannonball label.
Still considered “young” at 35, Pittman is a lot older and wiser than he was at 23. His dedication and perseverance has paid off while maintaining a soulfulness that simmers to a boil. Fans of a hard driving Texas shuffle who have yet to discover Shawn Pittman will be well rewarded.
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 Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org 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 3 of 7
Raisin Caine -The Wild and Raucous Story of Johnny Winter
Written by Mary Lou Sullivan
Published by Backbeat Books
It wasn't an easy task for author Mary Lou Sullivan to write her story on Johnny Winter. Having to contend with Johnny's manager Ted Slatus' juggernaut of politics, eccentricities and alcoholism were barriers to completing the project. Once Slatus was fired and co-guitarist Paul Nelson was brought on board to manage, only then was the project to come to complete fruition.
This is not an unauthorized biography done without the consent of the artist. Johnny himself gave his blessing and in his foreword, credits Sullivan for painting an accurate picture. Movie rights should be brought to this book. Raisin Cane covers the entire spectrum of Johnny's career. It's one wild ride and when the train stops, we are sad its over.
Nothing is left out. From Johnny's upbringing in Beaumont, we see his struggles. Being albino made him an easy target for prejudice and slander. It never slowed his confidence down in learning guitar, listening to old blues and playing in numerous bands.
Interviews are conducted with Tommy Shannon, Uncle John Turner, Bruce Iglauer, Edgar Winter and many other cronies and misfits. Johnny himself is a willing candidate and is open and blunt about this alcohol and drug abuse, stints in rehab and his open door policy on chasing women. It's not all dirt. We see a man whom Rolling Stone magazine elevated to God like status. His tours playing at stadiums and clubs always left audiences wanting more.
Winter's business acumen wasn't the best one. Managed by pirates and cutthroats such as Slatus always left Johnny in a financial hole. Even he will admit his temperament wasn't an easy one. When he made contact with Alligator Records, it proved a short lived relationship due to conflicting viewpoints of both him and Iglauer.
In the final years with Ted Slatus, his concert performances turned into shoddy affairs with Johnny being too medicated on prescriptions to perform. What the audience got was a caricature of a man who once brought blues to the forefront.
Thanks to Paul Nelson, Johnny's life changed. Firing Slatus, editing the financial records and cutting out the meds, Johnny's star went back on the rise.So nothing is ruined for the readers, I will stop here. What I will say is Johnny wants to be remembered as a great bluesman. Those who have had the pleasure of jamming with him wont disagree..
Reviewed by Gary "Wingman" Weeks.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Blues Society News
You can submit a maximum of 175 words or less in a Text or MS Word document format.
More than 4,000
Blues fans are expected at the 8th Annual Blues Picnic on Saturday, June
19. There'll be 9 1/2 hours of FREE music from 11:30AM to 9:00PM
featuring Tate and the 008 Band, Shake Daddys, Joe's Blues Kids, Cash
Box Kings, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys, John Primer
and the Real Deal Blues Band and Grana' Louise. We'll have lots of great
food, drinks and beer and don't miss out on the Prize Raffle and the
50-50 Cash Raffle. Get the full story at
The Washington Blues Society’s local competitions for the 2011
International Blues Challenge will be held on Sunday, June 20th and
Sunday, June 27th at the award-winning Highway 99 Blues Club in Seattle.
Depending on the number of entries received, there may be an additional
competition on July 11th or July 25th. The preliminary solo/duo
competitions will be held on either Sunday, June 27th or one of the July
dates above. Competition finals will be held on Sunday, August 22nd at
the the Snohomish Taste Of Music Festival.
Any Washington State blues act may enter, and the act must include at
least one who is a member of the WBS. Band entry fee is $30.00 and
solo/duo entry fee is $15.00. Entry deadline is Thursday, June 10th. For
complete info see the website at:
www.wablues.org or email
Blues Society - Rockford, IL
The Washington Blues Society’s local competitions for the 2011 International Blues Challenge will be held on Sunday, June 20th and Sunday, June 27th at the award-winning Highway 99 Blues Club in Seattle. Depending on the number of entries received, there may be an additional competition on July 11th or July 25th. The preliminary solo/duo competitions will be held on either Sunday, June 27th or one of the July dates above. Competition finals will be held on Sunday, August 22nd at the the Snohomish Taste Of Music Festival.
Any Washington State blues act may enter, and the act must include at least one who is a member of the WBS. Band entry fee is $30.00 and solo/duo entry fee is $15.00. Entry deadline is Thursday, June 10th. For complete info see the website at: www.wablues.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL
Crossroads Blues Society is producing their very first Blue festival this year. The Byron Crossroads Blues Festival will run from noon to midnight on Saturday, August 28, 2010, in downtown Byron, Illinois.
The festival lineup includes The Resistors, noted artists Filisko and Noden, The Cashbox Kings, Westside Andy/Mel Ford Band and Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames. For more information visit the Crossroads website at: www.crossroadsbluessociety.com
Columbia College - Chicago, IL
Free Blues Camp Audition - Thursday, June 3, 6:00 – 8:00 PM, at Guitar Center, 4271 West 167th Street, Country Club Hills, IL. This is an opportunity to audition for this great youth Blues Camp held at Columbia College July 4 – 9, 2010 by Artistic Director, Fernando Jones at Columbia College Chicago Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago. Go to www.BluesKids.com for more details. RSVP Online at Bluesnewz@aol.com
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
2010 Friends of the Blues shows - June 15 - Albert Castiglia 7 pm , River Bend Bar & Grill, June 22 - Al Stone, 7 pm , River Bend Bar & Grill and August 10 - Sean Chambers, 7 pm , River Bend Bar & Grill For more info see: http://www.wazfest.com/JW.html
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 $3 cover. May 31 - Frank
Herrin & Blues Power, June 7 - The Avey Brothers, June 14 - Jim Suhler &
Monkey, June 21 - The Texas Groove Blues Band, June 28 - Bryan Lee, July
5 - Little Joe McLerran, July 12 - Michael Charles Band, July 19 -
Laurie Morvan, July 26 - Bill Evans Birthday Bash
River City Blues
Society - Peoria, IL The River
City Blues Society present the Main Street Blues Party featuring: Eric
"Guitar" Davis & Doghouse Blues on Saturday June 12th, 2010 from 4pm to
10pm on Main Street in Downtown Pekin, Illinois. Also they
have more of their weekly Blues shows during the summer season.
The shows start at 7:00pm at Good Fellas Pizza and Pub, 1414 N 8TH St
Pekin, IL. Admission for all shows is $4 or $3 for RCBS members. Shows
currently scheduled are: Wednesday June 16th, 2010 - Albert
Castiglia, Wednesday June 23rd, 2010 - Chris Beard, Tuesday June 29th,
2010 - Bryan Lee, Thursday July 15th, 2010 - Joel Paterson and Wednesday
July 28th, 2010 - Andrew "Junior Boy" Jones.
BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $3 cover. May 31 - Frank Herrin & Blues Power, June 7 - The Avey Brothers, June 14 - Jim Suhler & Monkey, June 21 - The Texas Groove Blues Band, June 28 - Bryan Lee, July 5 - Little Joe McLerran, July 12 - Michael Charles Band, July 19 - Laurie Morvan, July 26 - Bill Evans Birthday Bash
River City Blues Society - Peoria, IL
The River City Blues Society present the Main Street Blues Party featuring: Eric "Guitar" Davis & Doghouse Blues on Saturday June 12th, 2010 from 4pm to 10pm on Main Street in Downtown Pekin, Illinois.
Also they have more of their weekly Blues shows during the summer season. The shows start at 7:00pm at Good Fellas Pizza and Pub, 1414 N 8TH St Pekin, IL. Admission for all shows is $4 or $3 for RCBS members. Shows currently scheduled are: Wednesday June 16th, 2010 - Albert Castiglia, Wednesday June 23rd, 2010 - Chris Beard, Tuesday June 29th, 2010 - Bryan Lee, Thursday July 15th, 2010 - Joel Paterson and Wednesday July 28th, 2010 - Andrew "Junior Boy" Jones.
The Chicago Blues Fest "In The Beginning"
An Interview with Chuck Gomez
By Terrance Lape
Chuck Gomez is a saxophone player and a music venue owner. He worked as a Stage manager for the very first Chicago Blues Fest. He then continued for 12 additional years in a stage management position. I have visited his venue many times, but I’ll let him tell you about it.
Blues Blast: Mr. Gomez, Chuck I understand that you were the stage manager for the very first Chicago Blues Fest and many others?
Yes Terry, I worked and stage managed one of the stages at the first and next 12 Chicago Blues Fests. The Chicago Blues Fest (CBF) was the vision of Barry Dolins of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events and came together out of the hard work from that office.
I was a crew member back in 1984, we were building summertime weekend stages for Mayor Jane Byrne who had established these wonderful neighborhood Festivals in all the grand parks. We did Maynard Fergusson in Marquette Park to the North and the Count Basie Band in Jackson Park with national talent performing at every park in between. It was a glorious musical time in Chicago. Out of those events grew the Jazz Fest and in the next few years the world renowned CBF. The CBF became the largest free Blues fest in the World! I worked with everyone and each year the event grew bigger, stronger, and better without equal.
Blues Blast: When did you start with the fest?
That was back in 1984, the year of George Orwell and the City never looked back as the Blues Fest became the most popular Event City wide.
Blues Blast: How did you get that job?
As I said earlier, I had been working out of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, also known as M.O.S.E., doing the local events so it was a natural progression to move downtown for the City’s main Festivals.
Blues Blast: Where did they stage the first one?
Grant Park was the home location of the Blues and all the main festivals for the City. The Petrillo band shell was named after James Petrillo. He was one of the earliest president’s of the Federation of Musicians. That was back during Chicago’s golden age of music.
Blues Blast: What were some of the obstacles encountered at the very first Chicago Blues Fest?
The first CBF did have some early growing pains but many of the problems had been worked out due to the fact that the Chicago Jazz Fest had been running a few years at the same location. Sound was the main concern. How do we present sound to a crowd of 125,000.
Blues Blast: How did you solve these obstacles?
As with the local park fests, we would build main speaker towers next to the stage with delay speaker towers all through the outfield. We would throw several JBL line-arrays and a few crown power amps, set the delay and we had instant outfield sound, enough for the sea of Blues lovers that attended the Fest.
Blues Blast: Did the first Chicago Blues Fest have any Technical problems?
There was not enough time to set our sound towers, which included the front of the house mix tower with a spot light on top of it, the day of the show. We of course had to set-up days before hand.
A huge early summer storm hit the park the night before the first day of the Fest. The crew and I were called to the park at about 4:30AM! As luck would or wouldn’t have it, the main tower was blown down right on top of the seating area in front of the stage. The seats were a type of permanent steel seating and the tower left this giant footprint on the seats as it crashed to the ground.
It was as hard rebuilding the tower as it was removing the tangled mass of seats all bent together.
Blues Blast: How did the very first fest play out?
The start of the Fest was a magical night, a cool June night. The City’s skyline became a back drop and a mist helped illuminate the rays of light from the spots to the stage. Magic. At times the crowd would became completely silent as the stage and the players captured all our hearts with the love of the Blues.
Blues Blast: Did any of these artists have weird or unusual instruments?
I am a professional musician myself, a sax player because of this I ended up as stage manager of the front porch stage which also held jam sessions. I had a way of working and talking ‘Blues’ with the players/musicians. That rapport helped me put together bands at a moment’s notice. These pick-up bands filled the gaps between acts.
Up came Bo-Diddley with that wonderful and huge homemade guitar. Can any of us ever forget the rhythm he established? It is one of the true foundations for Blues and Rock, then and now.
Homesick James, also a guitar player and builder, had this wild guitar that he had made out of a 2" X 4" for a neck. How it ever played at all was and still is a mystery to me, but play it he did, blew us all away.
Blues Blast: I understand that you became quite good friends with Albert Collins.
My friend Albert Collins, the Iceman, the man with the 100' guitar cord way before wireless guitars. I remember the first time he played the Fest. He was running late, real late. Where the heck were Albert and the band? Then at long last a few of the band members started to show up, but still no Albert. I was panicked and asked, where the hell was Albert?” His guys said calmly, “He’s parking the tour bus. That man loves to drive”. Well that was Albert, down to earth, kind, funny and what a player.
“I Ain’t Drunk, I’m just drinkin’” became our pet saying that year. It of course was based on one of his hit tunes.
That Telecaster (tele) guitar of his was filled with golden tones, but was not without its troubles. The next day he came over to play the Front porch and just before he hit the stage his guitar strap and strap stud fell off. It screwed into the heel of the body of the guitar and had become stripped out. I just reached down, grabbed of all things a twig, stuffed it into the hole and reattached the stud for the strap. Albert never missed a beat. What a guy. I really miss that Blues master. You know, he was a legend after that one gig where he kept playing with that 100' guitar cord while he walked out the back door of the club, crossed the alley and ordered a pizza next door, never missing a beat! How can you not love and miss a guy like that!
Blues Blast: I remember reading somewhere that Keith Richards played at one of the fests. Was it unbeknownst to the staff or planned?
It was the night Chuck Berry was the head-liner. Matt guitar Murphy was with him and all of a sudden Keith Richards shows up back stage. We ask if he’s going to sit in with the band and in his thick English accent he says he doesn’t have a guitar. So off we all run to find a guitar he can borrow and yes it has to be a Tele.... One of the back-up players from another band had a brand new Tele. We borrowed it and didn’t say who it’s for.
We gave the black guitar to Keith. He pulls out this giant Bowie knife that was strapped to his belt. Why did he carry a knife, don’t ask me? He had one on him in case he needed it for something. Well this was exactly what he needed it for. He turned the guitar over and with the point of the knife began carving these giant initials into the back of the Tele, the borrowed Tele. KKKKKKK, RRRRRRR!!!!! Dot, Dot!!!! After the set he sheepishly handed the guitar back to the owner, not really knowing what to expect only to have the guy scream with joy that Keith Richards of the Rollin’ Stones had ‘signed’ his guitar!!!!!
Blues Blast: Everybody knows who Stevie Ray Vaughn was. Some people say he played like Albert King on Steroids. Did you meet Albert King? If you did what struck you the most about him?
Albert King, the gentle giant of a man. I called one of the other stage managers over to met Albert, Keith Fort. Keith is a big tall man too, but was dwarfed by Albert. I asked Albert if I could take his picture alone with my friend Keith and Albert just said, “Sure” with that big strong low and soft voice of his. He put his arm around Keith’s shoulder and I took the picture. It’s now one of Keith’s most treasured photos from those old Blues Fest days!
Blues Blast: John Lee Hooker was the very first blues man I can remember listening to. Did he play CBF?
Man, do I have a story about John Lee Hooker. I grew up in Chicago and, do in fact, remember going down to Maxwell Street and seeing and hearing John play. He would play on the sidewalks in front of the record stores that really only sold Jazz and Blues cuts.
So there’s John on the Front porch (Chicago Blues Fest), playing this tobacco Gibson 335 (guitar) and he is playing through one of our back line amps, a Fender Twin. He has the amp turned up to 11! So much so that all we hear is distortion, nothing but distortion.
Keith (Fort) gets low and creeps out to turn the amp down just enough to make it musical once again and John Lee must have had eyes in the back of his head. He turned around and said, “Don’t touch that amp”. “But John we only want to turn it down to make music out of.....” “Don’t touch that amp”. “Yes sir” and away he played — the most unmusical set of my entire career at the CBF!
Did I mention that he pulled up to the stage in an old beat up dark blue caddy that must have been at least 15 to 20 years old? Almost hit the stage the way he came barreling in the grounds in the park!
Blues Blast: How has the fest changed over the years?
There was a time that the growth of the fest showed no bounds and then the economy started to change and after all that growth, more stage, more sponsors, more clubs involved, more beer being sold, the fest has started to down size like everything throughout America.
Down size for the better as it was almost getting to be too much work deciding what and where to go, who to see and hear and where to find an area to spread out a blanket and kick back.
Blues Blast: Before we end this interview tell me what you have been up to after stage management.
My stint with the Mayor’s Office lasted 13 years, from the very first Blues Fest up to and through 1996. What valuable lessons I learned from all those years, so much so I now own my own Performing Arts Theatre just South of Chicago, 80 miles south in Watseka, Illinois, 60970. My very own Blues, BBQ & Arts Fest now takes place there the last Saturday of May each and every year. This year it’s May 29th - 13 hours of non-stop Blues played by 9 different bands and or groups. Starts at 11:00AM and goes past midnight and if it rains we all head inside to the Theatre.
If you enjoyed reading about the Chicago Blues Fest and attend it on a regular basis, please take the time to cruise down and enjoy my own small but mighty Blues Fest. We even now have sponsors for our Fest! Blues Blast Magazine of course, the best Blues on-line publication in America, and this year Mr. Mark Baier himself owner of Victoria amps is supplying our back line (stage amplifiers). WOW! We're not as crowed as the CBF, not yet at least and maybe even way more fun with at least as many great Blues and Blues artists all day and all night long.
Authors note I have attended each Blues Fest in Watseka. It is truly a great time. I even played at the very first one. I was never asked back I wonder why,,,,,,, Hmmmmmmm…..
Interviewer Terrance Lape AKA “Gatorman” is a 35 year veteran of the Chicago Blues scene. He is songwriter, blues guitarist, founding member of the American Blues News, owner operator of Chicago Blues News and is the publicity director for Electro Glide Records.
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Featured Blues Review 4 of 7
Johnny Winter - Live Through the Seventies DVD
The visual and audio components are not the best in this dvd Johnny Winter Live In The Seventies. It's something you expect to find in the bootlegger and trader's circles. A roughly thrown together collage of performances acting as reference points for Johnny's multi-colored career.
For the hard-core fans it wont matter. Though Johnny's heart has been true to the blues, watching him rip through "Rock N Roll, Hootchie Coo" and "Stone County on the Don Kirshner Rock Concert segment was testimony of his prowess. His Gibson Firebird trademark licks put him on the top, making him a contender for the serious gunslinger roll.
Taken from performances on Danish Television, Royal Albert Hall, The Beat Club or other European venues, this is a vintage jeep ride throughout that decade.
Through a revolving door policy of musicians, Winter always stood out. Yes. The albino part stands out. But it takes a backseat when watching Winter tear into songs with uncontrollable abandon.
Joined by Junior Wells and Doctor John, Winter has the time of his life when he puts his spin on "Walking Through The Park."
Interview coverage from Detroit Tubeworks in Detroit, MI (1970) find an affable Winter making jokes, providing insight and playing with his bass player alone on a "Key To The Highway." It may be sloppy although it doesn't result into a train wreck.
Before going into "Mississippi Blues" shown on the Rockpalast segment, Johnny mentions if it wasn't for the blues, there wouldn't be no rock 'n' roll. At that time, the interest in blues wasn't high. Now over thirty years later, the missing link is in place.
Though it's not on a par with music DVDs being released today, Live In The Seventies showcases a man who connected well with his audiences. Adept at rock with a strong blues base, Johnny knew how to shake it. He's still alive today. Playing at Clapton's Crossroads festival this year proves that the man has a little magic left in his mojo..
Reviewed by Gary "Wingman" Weeks.
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Blues Blast Magazine is looking for reviewers to review new Blues CDs, DVDs an books. If you have a background and experience with Blues music and like to write we can provide new music releases for you to review. Person must be willing to write a minimum of one review every other week. Reviewer keeps the CD/DVDs for writing the review. If interested please send a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to Please include your phone number with the reply.
Featured Blues Review 5 of 7
Peter Karp and Sue Foley - He Said She Said
“Runaway” Peter Karp is a multiple threat, a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and keyboard player. He has been compared to John Hiatt and John Prine. Karp is the son of an air force captain who grew up in rural Alabama and suburban New Jersey. His adult wanderings have taken him to the Amazon, Japan, Mexico, and the South Sea Islands of South Carolina. In the South Sea Islands he immersed himself in the Gullah culture of slave descendants. Although he has hobnobbed with the Hollywood set, like Timothy Hutton and Tony Randall and with music heavy hitters like John Lee Hooker, Don Henley, and Michael Brecker, he is his own man. He once walked away from a corporate record contract.
Sue Foley is a Canada native who spent several years honing her blues-rock skills in Austin, Texas before returning to Canada. She has received a Juno Award (Canadian Grammy equivalent), 18 Maple Blues Awards (Canadian Blues Music Award equivalent), three Trophee de Blues from France, and a WC Handy Award nomination (Blues Music Award). She has released at least 12 CD on various labels and has plans to launch her own label, Guitar Woman and publish a book of the same name.
He Said She Said is a collaboration between a roots rocker and a blues rocker based on correspondence between them over a two year period. Their letters started as casual exchanges between performers regarding life on the road and their commitment to music. Over time, their correspondence grew to be much more including fodder for a concept CD.
The CD is a mix of country rock, i.e., “Treat Me Right” and “Dear Girl,” rock like “Valentine’s Day,” and of course, love ballads. “So Far So Fast” is the first of the love ballads. “Danger Lurks” is an acoustic number sung by Foley. The following song, “Ready For Your Love” sung by Karp seems to be his answer. “Mm Hmm” was my favorite with the bass lines, horn, and guitar strumming until I heard “Scared” which then became my new favorite. Foley’s voice is its smoothest on this track. The muted horns add to the smoky mood. The lyrics are poignant.
The music is easy to listen to if you have eclectic tastes in music. Blues however is not the mainstay of the CD. Although Blind Pig is primarily a blues label, He Said She Said is more of a pop rock CD with love ballads.
I read that Karp and Foley are coy on the nature of their actual relationship. But if anyone listens to He Said She Said knowing that the songs are based on letters to each other, it’s not hard to decipher. This is probably not the end to this story..
Reviewer Sheralyn Graise graduated from the University of Akron a while back. A former Social Services professional, she is now pursuing other interests such as music history, writing, and photography. She has been a member of the Blues Foundation since 2001.
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Featured Blues Review 6 of 7
Anders Osborne - American Patchwork
Anders Osborne rocks. He is an eclectic guitar slinger who is amped up and plays roots and gutsy music with big, distorted and amplified sort of sound. He has gained a big following by being more American in his music than Americans are. Perhaps social commentary is best done by someone born outside of the mix. I’ve seen him a couple of times and was very impressed with his work. I still am unable to classify it as truly blues, but then it isn’t really straight up rock, cajun, country, jazz, folk, pop, funk, or purely anything else, either.
Osborne blends musical styles into his Swedish and New Orleans mélange of a gumbo with a little Neil Young and Jackson Brown thrown in to boot. Now at home on Alligator Records, he has come to the big time home of the blues on the preeminent blues label and he delivers a fine effort. Sporting long tresses and a new, bushy beard, he looks more like something out of Woodstock than anything else.
Osborne pays homage to a few internal demons and his feelings about the world on this album. His personal life and life in general must weigh heavily on him and he represents those feelings oh so strongly in his songs. “On The Road to Charlie Parker” is where he begins and we get to see some really fuzzed up guitar with some slide and nice B3 organ work by Robert Walter that will be a theme throughout the CD. Osborne slows down the tempo with “Echoes of My Sins”. His folksy high-pitched vocals have never been my personal favorite, but he’s right on here with a very folksy tune. The sound mix and his vocal work on this CD are probably his best yet. Reggae is up next; “Got Your Heart” is Jamaica goes to New Orleans. The B3 remains in the forefront, and we get to see yet another side of this chameleon-like musician. “Killing Each Other” is a dark and foreboding commentary on our society, with an almost Bachman Turner Overdrive like set of riffs with B3 that later get really distorted and kitschy.
“Acapulco” is a song about escaping from life where Osborne wails about getting away from it all in the sun with a new identity. A slow rock ballad, he follows it with a driving rock song called “Darkness at the Bottom”. He sings of his going to either a personal or actual hell here, a very desperate song. But right after his bottoming out he’s “Standing With Angels” in a tune inspired by Bob Dylan and dedicated to his friend Christopher Carter whom he hopes is now with the Maker. He continues with “Love Taking It’s Toll”, another sad song about how love has ruined him; he delivers it with a big driving guitar sound and some huge solos. We finally have Anders in a somewhat good mood and relationship with “Meet Me In New Mexico”, where he misses his baby. Phone calls are not sufficient he and needs to meet up with her. The chorus of
“Baby if you still got it
is some of the most positive stuff he sings about, yet even here his love
may be unrequited. This is a pop rock type melody with a bouncy flair. He
finishes with an acoustic “Call on Me”, a song of returning home to his love
from the road.
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Featured Blues Review 7 of 7
Tad Robinson – Back in style
10 tracks; 47.21 minutes
This is the 50th release on Severn which has established itself on the blues and roots scene, particularly for those who appreciate well crafted and produced soul blues albums. Darrell Nulisch and Lou Pride also record for Severn, but top of the tree for me is Tad Robinson who returns with his third CD for the label. Produced by Tad, with label boss David Earl and bass player and composer Steve Gomes, the CD is full of the smooth soul vocals we have come to expect from Tad.
For those new to Tad’s music, he hails from NYC but moved to Chicago in the 1980’s where he soon became part of the blues scene, playing harp and singing. His first real break was recording with Dave Specter on the 1994 Delmark release “Blueplicity”. That led to two of his own CDs on Delmark before the switch to Severn in 2004 for “Did you ever wonder” which was nominated for a BMA for Soul/Blues album of the year, as was the follow-up “A New Point of View” in 2007. In all Tad has gathered five BMA nominations and it would be a surprise if this new CD did not follow suit.
Now based in Indianapolis, Tad has become better known both through the quality of his recordings and festival appearances in the States and in Europe. Last year he appeared at the Cognac Blues Festival and ran a week long blues workshop in southern France; this year he was on the Tampa Bay Blues Festival for a second time.
One of the great advantages that Tad has is the availability of the Severn house band which gives him superb accompaniment on all his CDs. Steve Gomes on bass, Robb Stupka on drums, Alex Schultz on guitar and Kevin Anker or Benjie Porecki on keys are consistently excellent. On several tracks a horn section (including Wayne Jackson of the Memphis horns) adds colour and a real old school soul feel.
Of the ten tracks Tad contributed to five, as does co-producer Steve Gomes (who also co-wrote one song with label stable mate Darrell Nulisch). The emphasis is definitely on Tad’s voice and this time out he only plays harp on two tracks. Two covers are included; “Just out of reach” was a track on an Atlantic album by Sam Dees and “You name it I’ve had it” was a Chess single by Clarence Shields. Both are what might be described as ‘lost soul gems’ and I had never heard either song before, but they fit Tad’s voice like a glove.
Lyrically we are in love territory throughout. I particularly liked the chorus of “Sunday morning woman”: ‘We’re in two different worlds; she’s a Sunday morning woman, I’m just a late night Saturday man’. So, how can this dilemma be resolved? The answer lies in the later lyric: ‘When I disappoint her, you’d never see it on her face. Is it the way her momma raised her? Or is it just her natural grace’. What a charming lyric!
Everything on the CD works really well, but if you have to single any tracks out, try the opening and closing cuts. “Rained all night” sounds like Al Green, with lovely horns and a lilting chorus – a great start to the album. Closer “Get back to love” features a pretty guitar part that underpins the vocal alongside warm backing vocals. However, you could pick any of the ten tracks and be guaranteed a great performance.
Another very strong album from Tad, well worth investigating.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music. He went on his first Legendary Blues Cruise in January 2010 and had such a good time he will be back in 2011!
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