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June17, 2010 

© 2010 Blues Blast Magazine

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Hey Blues Fans,

This week we have a story about Blues musician Gary Allegretto who took his non-profit organization Harmonikids on a music therapy mission to aid children who survived the earthquake in Port Au Prince, Haiti. Check out the healing power of the Blues in this narrative about the trip. Scroll down

We have part one of our three part Chicago Blues Festival coverage this week with a review of the Recording Academy's Blues Fest Kick Off.

If you are looking for some Blues this weekend there is plenty to be found. Our friends in Linden, Texas have a great event with the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest featuring Johnny Winter, Zac Harmon and Dorothy “Miss Blues” Ellis on Friday and Guitar Shorty, Honeyboy Edwards and Henry Gray & the Cats on Saturday night. See their ad in this issue or visit their website at

In the Midwest there is the Blues On The Fox in Aurora, IL and the Blues on The Green in Mount Prospect, IL. Plus Friday night Buddy Guy will see if the Blues will play in Peoria with a riverfront show in Peoria, IL.

Blues Wanderings

It was an GREAT time at the Chicago Blues Festival last week. We heard more good Blues in 5 days than most folks hear in months!

Here are a couple pics from the fest on Friday night with more coming next week. These clearly show how much fun this festival is for the musicians and fans.

First a photo of James Cotton on the left, all smiles as he does his main stage set on the Petrillo Music Shell Friday.

A set earlier Hubert Sumlin's love of music nearly moved us to tears of joy. 

Hubert wasn't having the best day but he showed up to play with his oxygen tank in tow. It was a set he was not going to miss! He got to play with other Howlin’ Wolf alumni featuring Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang with Jody Williams, Sam Lay, Henry Gray, Abb Locke and Corky Siegel. (More photos of this set NEXT week!)

Hubert just lit up with the biggest sh*t eating grin as soon as he hit his first note. He had an ear to ear smile on his face the whole time as he seemingly played from his very soul! The joy of playing this music he loves was AMAZING to experience! Hubert really had it going on too, check out the Jimi Hendrix shirt!

Next week we will have more Chicago 2010 coverage including pics of the Harp & Soul Fest on Thursday and day one of the Chicago Blues Fest.

In This Issue

SEVEN new CD reviews this week! James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD by Charles “Big Daddy” Stallings. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by David Coppa & Scrapple.  Sheralyn Graise reviews a new CD by Guitar Shorty. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD by Popa Chubby. Chuck Gomez reviews a new CD by Steve Strongman. Steve Jones reviews two new CDs from Earwig Music by Les Copeland and Andy Cohen. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

5th Annual T-Bone Walker Blues Fest
June 18-19, 2010
Music City Texas Theatre  -
Linden, Texas

Johnny Winter

Zac Harmon

Malford Milligan

Robin & the Bluebirds

Dorothy “Miss Blues” Ellis

Buddy Flett

Emily Elbert

Guitar Shorty

Honeyboy Edwards

Henry Gray & the Cats

19th Street Red

Sumter Bruton

Diddley Squat

Kayla Reeves

Pleasant Hill Quilting Group

Guitar Hero Competition – Friday & Saturday

Call (903) 756-7774 for more information or visit

 Chicago Blues Fest Coverage Part 1

Grammy Association kicks off Chicago Blues Fest

The Recording Academy, Chicago Chapter held their 8th annual Chicago Blues Festival Kick Off Jam on Wednesday, June 9, at Buddy Guy’s famous club Legends, that recently opened at its new location several blocks north of the old site. Featuring an expanded stage, more tables and clean sightlines, the new Legends is a state-of-the-art facility with an outstanding sound system that certainly was put to the test on this night of celebration.

Opening the festivities was Billy Branch and the Son of Blues, who laid down a boogie beat with Branch using his harp to create a variety of train sounds. After a strong rendition of “Scratch My Back”, Branch brought eleven children to the stage. They were members of a harmonica class Branch had been teaching at a local Chicago neighborhood boys program. The kids showed plenty of spirit and enthusiasm in their playing of their harps as well as their singing on “Stormy Monday” and “Shake, Rattle & Roll”, even adding a bit of hip-hop flavor at one point.

Next up was Vino Louden, the lead guitar player for many years for the late KoKo Taylor. Louden made a point of thanking the Music Cares program, an affiliate of the Recording Academy, which helped arrange transportation home for Vino after a near-fatal auto accident two years ago. He showed his appreciation on an emotionally charged version of “I’ll Take Care of You”, one of the evening’s highlights.


Otis Clay quickly raised the energy level in the room, showcasing his tender side on “I can Take You to Heaven Tonight” with his full band in support. On “A Nickel and A Nail”, Clay sang in the intense, gritty style that epitomized his legendary career.

The Chicago Stone Lightning Band showed their appreciation for the original Fleetwood Mac by starting their set with a cover of “Stop Messin’ Around”, led by led by lead singer and guitarist Ben Pirani. They closed with an original tune, “Do Yourself a Favor” they will be featured on an upcoming release.

The talented Dave Herrero was another highlight with his animated performance. Herrero is a soulful vocalist and a fine guitar player who laid down a rocking slice of Texas-style blues on “Halo” and “Nacogdoches”.

The evening took a detour to the dark corner of the world that Otis Taylor inhabits. Backed by members Of Umphrey’s McGee plus Billy Branch on harp and Chicagoan Anne Harris on violin, Taylor strapped on a guitar and took the audience on an intense ride through the gamut of human experience. His searing version of “Hey Joe” mixed sexual overtones with a surging musical accompaniment for another high point of the evening.

Blessed with a powerful voice, Nellie “Tiger” Travis entertained the crowd with her original material including a touching tribute to KoKo Taylor, “Queen of the Blues”.

Harmonica ace Matthew Skoller brought the party back to the traditional Chicago blues style with the help of Carlos Johnson on guitar, Marty Sammons on keyboards and Marty Binder on drums. Skoller’s set served up proof that he is one of the top harp players on the Chicago scene.

Then it was star time as Miller brought the legendary club owner to the stage. Buddy Guy graciously acknowledged the compliments and appreciation from friends and fans alike for the new club, thanking everyone for their continued support with a special mention for the city of Chicago. Then Buddy gave a big shout-out to the champion BlackHawks. Guy then did a short set without his guitar, reminding the audience that he is still a superb singer as he weaved together a medley of classic blues tunes.

It is never easy to follow a legend but the next group found Carlos Johnson leading the band that backed the dynamic pairing of Billy Branch and Sugar Blue. The two harmonica wizards showcased their contrasting styles – Branch bending and contorting his body, his hands caressing his harp as he tried to blow the house down while Sugar Blue stood almost motionless, his hands barely moving while he blew intricate lines, improvising like a master jazz musician.

The big finale started with Ronnie Baker Brooks and his brother, Wayne Baker Brooks, on guitar and vocals with his band in support. They traded guitar licks through a rousing “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” and then slowed the pace on ‘Long Distance Call”.

Then the patriarch of the family, Lonnie Brooks, arrived on stage to the cheers of the appreciative audience. Brooks, a recent inductee to the Blues Hall of Fame, tore into “Watch Dog” as the three guitarists took turns showcasing their individual styles. Next, Lonnie started a train rhythm on his guitar on his guitar, steadily building the pace until the band joined in as Lonnie continued to squeeze notes out of his guitar, giving the audience quite a show. Finishing with a brief chorus of “Sweet Home Chicago”, Lonnie picked his guitar with his tongue before leaving the stage.

But the evening wasn’t quite over as Wayne called Carlos Johnson and Billy Branch back to the stage for a final jam that ended the evening six hours after it started.

Congratulations to the Recording Academy for another outstanding party and a truly fitting opening for another Chicago Blues Fest weekend. And a tip of the hat to the Legends staff for the great job they did of taking care of their guests all night long. The new Legends is truly a marvelous venue that will provide a true showcase for celebrating blues music for years to come.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

Photos by Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 7

Charles “Big Daddy” Stallings - Blues Party

Tai Jeria Record Company

19 tracks; 79:57 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Traditional Blues, Contemporary Blues, Soul-blues, Funk, Swing, Latin

If you want a shot of Whiskey, you gotta go to the still.
If you want a drink of water, you go to the well.
If you want to hear it from the horse’s mouth, you gotta go to the horse.
If you want a “Blues Party,” you gotta go to the source!
.....And, the source is Charles “Big Daddy” Stallings.

I have been reviewing CDs for twelve years, and trust me, nobody writes lyrics, generates more fun, and creates songs like Charles “Big Daddy” Stallings! His witty and devilish sense of humor is a big part of the party. For example, sample these lines from his first two albums:

* “She’s 4 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and she weighs 400 pounds!” “She keep your refrigerator full of food/ in case she get in a snacking mood.” from “4x4 Woman” 2004
* “Her skirt was so short I could see all the way upstairs to what was on her mind” from “I Got the Blu-Hoos” 2004
* “[sung rap style]Wake up in the morning - with the fog; feed the chickens and slop the hogs. I got corn to plant and fields to plow, but right now, I gotta milk this cow...” from “Funky Farm” 2004
* “... I think your wife is cheating on us!” from “Strange Things” 2007
* “Sorry, but a lot of you little girls need to be spanked,” from “Booty Slappin’” 2007
* “Tuesday I couldn’t go to work [because] lightning struck my outhouse, and I got stuff all over my shirt.” from “Hard Times/Good Times” 2007

Now, Stallings continues the good times by releasing his third album, “Blues Party” with salacious sounding titles like, “Horny Bee” and “Knocked Up.” I won’t spoil the lyrical surprises that await.

Although this is a studio production, Big Daddy presents it as though it is live. Before the full band tears into the pumping title track, “Blues Party,” the first words heard are, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am Charles “Big Daddy” Stallings, and I approve these Blues. ...enough music [79:57] for two CDs. Join me now as we...get ready for a Blues Party. C’mon!”

The CD is loaded with Stalling’s patented rhythm and sounds utilizing a mix of horns, bass-drums-percussion, guitar, piano and harp. There is plenty of the variety that has made Big Daddy famous:

For Traditional Blues: try “Down on the Farm” with Stallings on lead guitar and his rich, baritone vocals plus co-lead harp (Mark Wenner) backed by only bass (Gail Parrish) and drums (Russell Hayward II). Hell, who even writes AAB rhyme scheme in a 12 bar Blues anymore? It demonstrates that, among his various styles, Stallings’ rural upbringing in North Carolina deeply embedded his Blues.
Swing: Juxtaposed 180 degrees is the next track, “Swing 2010,” opening with several trumpet blasts followed by full horns arranged by side-man sax player Joe “E Flat” Thomas.

Jacky Harriston takes a tasty organ solo midway through this dance inducer. Another great instrumental is “The Lucky Number.”

Slow Blues: “She’s Gone” is a slow Blues that caused one WKCC listener to call for a re-play. Another is the humorous “Old Folks” about the sex drive living on into old age.

Chicago Blues: “Doggone Shame” is a jumping number about curbing cursing. “Don’t start cursing and all that jive – count to five!” For some Soul: “In Love By Yourself” finds Stallings channeling his finest Barry White.

Funk: “James” is a terrific nod to the late James Brown while “Old Dog” is a lament to younger days of chasing tail. “Blues in your Funk” gives bassist Ronald Bland the chance to shine as he funks it up.

All musicians are equally unique. It is just that Charles “Big Daddy” Stallings is more unique that most. That is a good thing! Pop this album in the player, and it’s 80 minutes of Blues Party! C’mon.

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 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.

Gary Allegretto Provides Blues Harmonica Therapy To Earthquake Survivors And Child Slavery Victims In Haiti

"This morning your presence in the school with all the children makes me feel that Haiti will not perish, Haiti has not died, and Haiti will live again... After Jan 12th I was very sad, but this morning you make me feel that there is hope for Haiti and these children - hope that their lives can become better."  ~ Mr. Runner, Director of the Humaniste School

"Laughter and music are integral parts of the Haitian society, that we haven't been able to see since the earthquake... Just to see how excited they were to be able to learn something, to know that they can carry the music in their pockets, and that what they now have ...earthquakes can't take that away." ~Tamika Allen, Foreign Service Officer, USAID

In the second week of May, professional Blues musician Gary Allegretto took his non-profit organization Harmonikids ( on a music therapy mission to aid children in Port Au Prince, Haiti who survived the earthquake, as well as children trapped in restavek servitude. “Restavek” is a Creole word used for those who are victims of child slavery.

World-recognized as a powerful and effective mode of communication, restoration, and healing music therapy is an established healthcare profession that uses music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. Since 1985 founding director Gary Allegretto has been actively providing the therapeutic healing power of music to kids with incredible physical and emotional challenges through Harmonikids (a tax–deductible non-profit organization). His widespread and diverse missions have included those traumatized by such natural disasters as the tsunami in Indonesia and Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.

Gary Allegretto has received recognition both as a Blues musician and humanitarian. He was gifted his first harmonica from his ailing grandfather as a small child, and has been giving the same gift of music and joy to special needs children through Harmonikids for 25 years and ongoing. He is also an active educator in the Blues Foundation’s Blues in the Schools program. As a performer, his musical talents have become his passport to concert and festival stages worldwide and more; his music has received awards and critical acclaim, reached the top of the Blues radio charts, been featured in soundtracks for motion pictures, and received multiple Grammy nomination considerations including Best Contemporary Blues Album last year.

In Allegretto’s words: “The heart-breaking devastation and suffering these children are enduring in Port Au Prince is unfathomable. I conducted seven sessions in the rubble of makeshift schools to as many as to 200 children at a time. In every case, they had never seen a harmonica nor heard the Blues before. After first performing for them and thoroughly captivating their attention with the “magic” of the Blues harmonica, they were ready to learn. They were given shiny new harmonicas and gentle, entertaining music lessons. They were so excited they literally shook with joy. In the most devastating time of their life, and in spite of their incomprehensible hardships, these children were irresistibly drawn to the harmonica with it’s child-friendly simplicity, pocket-sized portability, and warm voice-like tone. They learned to play in minutes. Making music, and particularly the Blues, provided a positive means of creative self-expression, an emotional outlet, and stress relieving benefits crucial to their development. The sessions visibly elevated their self-esteem and confidence. And perhaps most importantly, Harmonikids gave these Haitian children an opportunity to recover some of the childhood hope and joy that had been so cruelly stolen from their young lives.”

Harmonikids' Haitian mission was made possible with the support of friends and organizations. We partnered with the Restevek Foundation ( ) who provided essential coordination, logistical, and on-the-ground support, connecting us with the children they serve. Gary's professional endorsers Hohner Harmonicas Inc. ( generously donated and shipped 1000 harmonicas for the cause. Filmmaker Marc Lempert (whose harmonica documentary film “Pocket Full Of Soul” won a 2010 Keeping the Blues Alive Award) provided documentation and assistance. Benefit concerts across the country helped raise money.

For more information please visit and .

Photos by Marc Lempert. 

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 7

David Coppa & Scrapple - Make a Change

Self Released

13 tracks

Here we have some rocking blues from a band that calls the Delaware Valley home. This band, who recorded their CD in suburban Philadephia, is the power trio of David Coppa on guitar and vocals, Patrick Coppa on bass and Tray Williams on drums. David Coppa has written 12 of the 13 tracks with the one cover being Little Milton’s “That’s What Love Makes You Do”. This is their second self released CD.

The style of music that these guys lay is basically blues influenced rock; they themselves call it “postmodern blues”. Perhaps the “postmodern” moniker is a little overused in the music industry to label something as new or alternative. While the material recorded here is predominantly original, in my mind it not so very far “out there”, which doesn;t make it bad at all The influences of 50’s, 60’s and 70’s blues and rock are all bundled up here, so don’t expect to hear any avant-garde blues; it’s straight up, hot rocking stuff. Coppa seems at home with his axe, and the vocals are sound and tight as are the back line.

The songs, riffs and vocals are all pretty solid. These guys are a jamming and fun band who would you would like to sit and listen to on a warm summer day at your favorite festival. The material in the songs are predominantly spiritual, Christian based lyrics and love songs; they range in style from slow blues to hard rocking tunes. They seem comfy with the fast driving stuff, like the searing “Oh My Darlin” and the down tempo cuts like “Slow”, a really cool instrumental. The title track is another really good one: it’s a little funked-up and gritty call for spiritual help.

David Coppa and his band offer up some nice tunes with a spiritual conviction. This is not church music, it’s real rocking blues delivered up mixed with their Christian faith. I enjoyed the album and hope to catch up with them some day!.

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

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.

Alabama Blues Project - Northport, AL

Alabama Blues Project 2010 Summertime Blues Camp will be held July 19-23 at Covenant Presbyterian Church on Hargrove Road in Tuscaloosa, AL. For more information please contact Cara Smith at (205) 752-6263 or You may also find out much more about our Summertime Blues Camp by clicking here to visit our 2009 review.

Los Angeles Blues Society - Los Angeles, CA

The Los Angeles Blues Society is pleased to announce their Tenth Open Jam to be held on Sunday June 20th, 2010 from 2pm to 6 pm at Main Street Restaurant, 4902 Main St. Yorba Linda, CA. The host band will be Blues Straight Up. All jammers and friends welcome. Come down to jam, listen and have a great time. For more info visit

Madison Blues Society - Madison, WI

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

Washington Blues Society - Seattle, WA

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: or email

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:

Columbia College - Chicago, IL

The 2010 Youth Blues Camp will be held at Columbia College Chicago Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago July 4 – 9, 2010 by Artistic Director, Fernando Jones.  For complete information visit

The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL

2010 Friends of the Blues shows - 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: 

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. 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 presents 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 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.

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 7

Guitar Shorty - Bare Knuckles

Alligator Records

12 Tracks

This is Guitar Shorty’s third release on Alligator Records and I have all three. I have seen him a number of times and I have enjoyed every outing. Guitar Shorty was born Davie Kearney in Houston Texas in 1939 but was raised in Kissimmee Florida. For over 50 years he has been known by musicians in the know. As a teen in Florida, he played in a local 18 piece band where a club owner dubbed him Guitar Shorty. Early on, he was a featured member of Ray Charles’ road band and later, Sam Cooks’ road band. He settled in Los Angeles until recently. With his own bands he has opened for Guitar Slim, Little Milton, Johnny Copeland, and T-Bone Walker. He has always been busy but in the last decade Guitar Shorty is flying above the radar to become known to the general populace and getting his due.

“I’ve Been Working” was my favorite Guitar Shorty song until now. With Bare Knuckles, I have multiple favorites. The CD opens with a tongue in cheek commentary on stimulus monies in “Please Mr. President.” “Slow Burn,” however, ain’t no tongue in cheek editorial. Back in the day, a “rap” was spoken word, an aside or soliloquy, to the listener, not some tuneless rhyme over samples of other peoples’ music. Old School is cool. Guitar Shorty uses this device to get his message across in “Slow Burn.” “Opportunities are zero even for a combat hero…When a vet comes back missing an arm or a leg, did he lose all that for the right to beg?” Then the refrain is sung, “And you start to give in to the rage within.” Ironically, slow burn also describes the groove of the music on this track. The rest of the songs on the CD are on familiar blues themes: love found, love lost, and in the case of “Temporary Man,” love found for the short term. “Texas Women” is a tribute to the women of Texas. I’m from Ohio and I like to think that the song describes me perfectly. In “Too Late” his thrill is gone. With Guitar Shorty being born in Texas, raised in Florida, and residing in Los Angeles, a little Latin flava is bound to show itself from time to time. “Neverland” is one of those times. “True Love” and “Temporary Man” rock. “Betrayed” is the blusiest of the set. “Too Hard to Love You” and “Bad Memory are the funkiest.

Sting and grit are the words that best describe Bare Knuckles: stinging guitar, gritty vocals and lyrics. Again, old school is cool; old fashioned is not. Guitar Shorty proves that the blues does not have to be old fashioned to be true.

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.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

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Band Leader Looking For A Label & Gigs

Koko Taylor's band leader Vino Louden is alive and well ...back from a terrible vehicle accident and near death experience playing and singing the blues. Looking for a label and gigs. Contact at 773-318-2492

Guitarist Seeking Work

Older/experienced guitarist who played with Texas Bluesman, Johnny Clyde Copeland before his passing away looking for gig with touring band. Also available for recording session work in and around Northern Il., So. Wisconsin area. I can be reached at… or 815-235-6020 from 7:00Am to 3:30Pm Mon.-Fri. or @ 608-214-7868 after 3:30pm or weekends. Have gear,will play….

Blues Music Reviewers Wanted

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.

13th Annual Prairie Dog Blues Fest

Friday, July 30, 2010

Jonathan Tyler & Northern Lights Big James & the Chicago Playboys  Guitar Shorty  Jon Justice   Eddie Turner

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Eric Sardinas  Shaun Murphy Band  Big John Dickerson Show  Debbie Davies & Robin Rogers Band  Vernon Ray Harrington  Sena Ehrhardt Band  Hounds Tooth


Festival Website

The only Blues festival held on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River!

 Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin on St. Feriole Island

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 7

Popa Chubby - The Fight Is On

Blind Pig Records

Twelve tracks: 60mins 30secs

Somewhat to my surprise, it is two years since PC’s last CD. That one “Deliveries After Dark” was a stunner. This is just as good.

Chubby takes no prisoners. His definition of blues is as broad as his body. I have seen him do Robert Johnson classics and heard him pay homage to Led Zep and ZZ Top, with more than a nod to Freddy King (who he acknowledges changed his life when he fist heard him play), to say nothing of Buddy Guy. This one even features a live recording of his take on Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.”

Chubby is as always in-your-face and his axework is impressive and skilled. Many of the songs are Chubby’s own work (although I do which he could resist the occasional ‘fuck’ in the lyrics (as in the title track here), an aberration which makes it impossible to play the cut on radio (in the UK)).

The theme (if there is one) is summed up in one off the tracks here titled “Rock and Roll Is My Religion” and the church of Chubby, is I think gathering more and more converts. For those not fully convinced by evangelical proselytising try “Switchblade Combs And Candy Cigarettes” with a lyric that could have come from Dennis Locorrier (Dr Hook) and a terrific, restrained slide guitar solo. At the other end of the scale (also with Chubby doing some slide work) check out, “Noisemaking Love Machine”. Wonderful!

In short if you are into any kind of blues based rock, and want a bit of fire and fury with your music, this is a MUST! As Chubby says here (track 2) “We Got Some Rockin’ To Do”.

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.

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 7

Steve Strongman - Blues In Colour

Self Release

13 tunes

This cat can play! If you like rocking electric boogie/swing blues then you have arrived!

Steve pulls more notes out of his hollow body Gibson than just about any other guitar gun-slinger out there. “Mean To Me” starts the CD with a guitar full of TNT to say the least. A real explosion to start things off. I like it like that.

Joined by Alex Frazer on bass and co-writer, producer, drummer Dave King. There was no mention of the players on the CD itself and we are at a loss to say who the tasty harp player is. Power driving guitar blues and every now and then the slip of old school riffs, a good balance of old and new, but mostly new.

Steves vocals ---- not the kind of voice that knocks you down and drags you away but the thin soft spoken voice of a true story teller. And if a blues man can't tell a story then he better give up the blues. Steve tells his stories like he's been telling 'em all his life.

“Cant Back Down” even has a flavoring of that ol dobro style and sound, but just a smidgen. This tune leads well into the next song “Take My Arms” a mix of old and new once again. Nice guitar work, tubes ringing in the amp, bending guitar strings, streaks of lighting followed by smooth long tones, SRV long tones. Nice blend of styles, my favorite guitar playing of the entire CD is on this tune.

The mix could be better. I know there's a bass player in there some where. Dave King, the drummer was the producer, which may explain the drum heavy mix.

So all in all, I like Blues In Colour. If you like strong modern guitar playing then Steve's your guy!

Reviewer Chuck Gomez worked out of Chicago’s Mayor’s Office of Special Events for over a decade back at the start of the Chicago Blues Fest, plays sax and tours with many leading Blues musicians/Chicago style. He is Columbia College’s special events producer and owns/produces/promotes the Watseka Theatre, Iroquois Performing Arts Center. His Watseka Theatre Blues, BBQ & Arts Festival is the last Saturday of each May.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 6 & 7 of 7

Les Copeland - Don’t Let the Devil In

Earwig Music Company, Inc.

15 tracks

Andy Cohen - Built Right on the Ground

Earwig Music Company, Inc.

15 tracks

Within the recent set of Earwig releases are two CDs with some similarity- they are not blues albums. What they really are are two very interesting and enjoyable predominantly folk albums that touch on the blues. Les Copeland performs with Honeyboy Edwards on 2 tracks and Michael Frank on harp on another three. Cohen is accompanied by Larkin Bryant (vocals on one track, mandolin on two others) ad Kurt Anderson (lead vocals on one track and guitar on another). These CDs are predominantly solo performances that highlight the skills of these two talented guys, one from British Columbia (Copeland) and the other from Memphis via Boston.

Copeland and Honeyboy intertwine their guitars on “Anna Lee” and “How’s That Drummer”, certainly some of the bluesiest of Copelands’ songs here. “Ry Cooder” is a thoughtful instrumental in a bluesy and spiritual way. “What’s the Name” is a duet with Frank that introspectfully asks who he really is. name is . An album like this would not be complete without a train song, and Copeland offers up two; “Distant Train”, a nice little song, and “Riding the Sky Train,” a nice little instrumental romp. Frank’s harmonica is a nice addition to “Silently” and “Don’t Let the Devil In”, tracks that have a somewhat western feel with the harp. The other tracks are mostly folk, traditional and even sometimes a little vaudevillian. What sells Copeland to the listener is the precise and artful work he does on his guitar. His vocals are strong, too, often almost Celtic in tonality. His original songs are well structured but his outstanding guitar is truly his strong point.

Where Copeland mixes a little folk in with his blues, Cohen pretty much goes the straight folk route (with some blues thrown in for good measure). He’s probably one of the top acoustic guitar players you never heard of but should of. This CD gives the listener a good mix of his stuff and it is a great introduction to an interesting and talented artist. If you want blues, Big Bill Broonzy’s “Mopper’s Blues” is about as far into the blues as Cohen goes. He gives us a little Jelly Roll Morton and Meade Lux Lewis boogie woogie in “Grandpa’s Spells” and “Honky Tonk Train”; on train he switches to the 88 keys and shows us what he can do on the piano. “Shake-a-you-Boogie” is his other piano track; he is quite the good piano man in addition to being a great guitar player. The one original song on the CD is “Jim Dickenson Stomp”, an instrumental tribute to the albums producer. He overlays in a dolceola on top of his guitar, adding a very nice effect. Copeland aptly pays homage to Woody Guthrie, Memphis Minnie and other legends with his 14 covers. This is a soulful and thoughtful CD that acoustic music lovers will eat up.

Kudos to Earwig for giving us two different, interesting and well done CD’s from two very musical men most of us have never heard of. These are two great guitar players and artists whom I am quite happy to have been introduced to by these CDs!.

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

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