Issue 5-13 March 31, 2011
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From The Editors Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
We got an advance peek at the lineup for the 2011 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. The festival is in it's 27th year and is always held over the Fourth Of July weekend in Davenport, Iowa. This 3 day fest is famous for their great selection of acts and this year is another great one.
Highlights on Friday July 1st include Linsey Alexander, Jimmy Burns, Eric Gales, Paul Rishell and Annie Raines, RJ Mischo and Smokin’ Joe Kubek with Bnois King. On Saturday the lineup includes Chocolate Thunder, Kevin Burt, Lionel Young Band, Johnny Nicholas, Peaches Staten, Mississippi Heat, Joe Louis Walker and a Koko Taylor Tribute featuring Nellie “Tiger” Travis, Chick Rogers, Jackie Scott and Delores Scott. On Sunday July 3rd highlights include Studebaker John and the Hawks, Harper, Chris Beard, Rich DelGrosso and John Richardson, Sherman Robertson and Otis Clay.
All this for $20 a day or $50 for a weekend pass. This fest is one of THE best! Make it if you can. We ALWAYS do!
Good Blues To You!
We made it out to hear British guitar sensation Joanne Shaw Taylor at a a Blues club in Moline Illinois called Rascals last weekend. Joanne is touring the US until May then is off to Europe for a month before returning to the US for festivals this summer.
Joanne is an impressive performer. If you have not had the chance to hear this young Blues Rock player see if you can catch her somewhere this summer. We promise you will be glad you did!
While there in the Quad Cities we took a short trip across the Mighty Mississippi river to another club called Muddy Waters in Davenport, IA to catch a set by The Avey Brothers. They were one of the bands that made the finals of the International Blues Challenge in 2010.
Then to finish off the night we headed back to Rascals to catch a late sent by the Mercury Brothers who also made the finals of the International Blues Challenge a few years ago.
In This Issue
Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith. James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD by The Sugar Prophets. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by The Deacons. John Mitchell reviews a new CD by AC Myles. George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish reviews a new CD by Lara Price. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Featured Blues Story - Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith
In the Smith family, the “Eyes” really do have it.
And in the Smith family, like father, like son.
Not only does this father and son duo form the first family of old-school Chicago drumming, they also sport a pair of instantly-recognizable handles; Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith.
Legend has it that Willie’s long-time employer Muddy Waters’ band tagged him “Big Eyes,” after Muddy had first suggested that “Puffy Eyes” was an adequate nickname for Smith.
The reason that the younger Smith is known as “Beedy Eyes,” while not as colorful as his dad’s story, is nevertheless every bit as entertaining.
“All I remember is that it (Beedy Eyes) was written in a magazine, as kind of a joke, I think,” Kenny said. “I think someone was just trying to compare me to my father when I was first starting out and that’s what they wrote. And from that point, it stuck. That’s what everybody started calling me. I was branded with “Beedy Eyes.”
Sporting ocular-related nicknames are not the only common bond that Willie and Kenny Smith share.
Both are acknowledged as being among the elite drummers in the world of blues and roots-related music.
The elder Smith boasts 12 Blues Music Awards in the category of Best Instrumentalist – while the younger Smith finds his name in the ranks of those nominated for the award this year for the second year in a row.
“It’s great. Absolutely great,” Kenny said about being up for a BMA. “I mean, I just like to play. Awards are great, if I get them or not, but I love it (awards) more for the blues fans than for myself. I play for the blues fans, so it’s for them.”
When one of the greatest Chicago blues drummers of all time is your dad, it should come as no surprise as to whom Kenny Smith calls his biggest influence behind a drum kit. But the list doesn’t stop there. Nor is it limited to just blues drummers.
“Oh, man -I always liked Art Blakey a lot. I would just stare at some of his videos and my mouth would drop open at some of the things he would do,” Kenny said. “He was one of my favorites, you know, along with the rest of the blues heroes – I have a lot of respect for the guys that drummed in the 1950s and 60s. Guys like Earl Phillips, Francis Clay … the list could definitely go on and on.”
Before he even had an inkling that he would one day follow in the footsteps of his dad, Kenny Smith was exposed to a who’s-who of blues royalty. Although it should be noted, that at that time, Kenny Smith thought of the likes of Lightnin’ Hopkins and Gatemouth Brown as more family than he did as iconic musicians.
“Back then, I just took it in like any kid would. I enjoyed the music and the socializing,” he said. “Before I even realized who a lot of those guys were that hung around at my parent’s house, I was really close with them and would even consider them to be family, because I saw them so much.”
And of course that includes Muddy Waters and his cast of prolific sidemen.
“Pinetop Perkins and Calvin Jones, Bob Margolin … they were just like family,” Kenny said. “And I really enjoyed their music - just hearing them play.”
In a cool twist, Kenny would go on to perform with a large majority of his dad’s contemporaries, especially after they realized that he was more than just “young Kenny ”- that he could lay down a mean blues shuffle with the best of ‘em.
Kenny’s evolution from a next generation bluesman to a first-call drummer didn’t take long and soon he was involved in sessions with the likes of Big Bill Morganfield, Honeyboy Edwards, Jody Williams, Kim Wilson and Junior Wells, just to scratch the surface.
Matter of fact, he’s so in demand when an authentic Chicago rhythm section is in order, that it’s a stone-cold wonder that Kenny can keep all his ducks in a row.
“I have a pretty tight system. I’m always in the books, making sure everything’s intact and I’m where I’m supposed to be and playing with who I’m supposed to play with,” he laughed. “I just have so many friends in the blues and I enjoy playing with all of them. So it took a few years of experience to get my system tight, but I have a good one now and can take care of things when I’m supposed to.”
It seems like lately, that whatever Kenny plays on, it quickly catches the attention of not only blues-loving fans all over the globe, but is also lauded as some of the best work to hit store shelves and burn up the airwaves, too.
Mississippi Heat, the Chicago-based outfit led by harpist Pierre Lacocque, won a 2010 Blues Blast Music Award for Best Traditional Blues Recording, and according to Kenny, the group has been logging plenty of road miles, all over the place.
“They’re doing pretty good, as far as performing,” he said. “In the States and also over in Europe, too. Pierre is doing an amazing job with the band and those guys are like family to me, too. I’ve been playing with them for over 14 or 15 years now.”
Another group Kenny is intimately involved with, the Cash Box Kings, won Blues Blasts’ 2010 Sean Costello Rising Star Award, based largely on their I-94 Blues CD.
“They’re part of my blues family, too,” he said. “The I-94 Blues CD was excellent and there’s another one in the works that should come out shortly. I know that for a fact.”
Relatively speaking, Mississippi Heat and the Cash Box Kings are fairly-young bands. But Kenny’s time-keeping on the Grammy-nominated Chicago Blues – A Living History, saw him working with a completely different band dynamic.
The two-CD set featured a core band of Larry and Matt Skoller, along with Johnny Iguana, Billy Flynn and Kenny Smith, backing an “A-list” of Chicago blues forefathers like Billy Branch, John Primer and Billy Arnold Boy, through an outstanding reading of traditional blues classics.
“I had worked with Matt (Skoller) before and we hit it off pretty good on the bandstand and his brother Larry saw me performing and that’s how we met,” Kenny said. “And Larry was the one that put that project together. He called me up and said he had a project that was going to be a good one and once he told me about it, I thought ‘This is great.’”
Great in the studio and great on the road.
“We did several tours and they were definitely high on my list as far as some of the tours I’ve done,” he said. “Everybody got along – no egos flying. Everybody wanted to do it for the music and we all took it in together as one. There were many musicians but we all came together as one.”
Fans of the first album can expect a follow-up offering to be available sometime this summer. “I think you guys are going to love this one, too,” Kenny said. “It’s got some great stuff on it.”
As if he wasn’t busy enough, Kenny just wrapped work on Catfish Fishing, an album by Muddy’s eldest son Mud Morganfield, slated for release sometime later this year.
Currently in post-production, in addition to Kenny, the album is buoyed by performances by Bob Corritore (who also produced the disc), Barrelhouse Chuck, Rick Kreher, Billy Flynn, E.G. McDaniel and Harmonica Hines.
”We just finished that about a month ago,” said Kenny. “There’s a lot of pretty cool original stuff on there. We just went in, cut it and I think there’s going to be some good music on there when it comes out.”
If it would seem like playing the blues for a living – playing with a lot of the same musicians on a variety of projects – could become boring or repetitive, Kenny says that hang-up never enters the picture.
“No, no, no … it’s never, ever the same thing over and over,” he said.
“I can play with the same artist 100 times and 100 times it will be
different. And I love what I do. Making some great music and trying to
be a part of that wheel. So, no, it’s not the same-old, same-old.”
But did son Beedy Eyes ever feel any pressure to live up to the expectations of dad Big Eyes?
“Absolutely not. It’s more of an honor than anything,” he said. “There’s never been any pressure of any kind. It’s just like any other son who idolizes their father and wants to follow in their footsteps.”
The blues may have even been running through Kenny Smith’s veins before he knew his dad had backed Muddy Waters on countless gigs for adoring fans all over the world. Kenny’s grandmother (Willie’s mother) also played a large part in introducing her young grandson to the blues.
“She was a huge blues fan. She would always put on blues songs and we would dance together,” he said. “So that kind of inspired me. And I remember the moment I said, ‘I want to do that (play the blues)’ At that point; I took it to heart and haven’t stopped since.”
Blessed with truckloads of natural talent and the desire to match, Kenny Smith would no doubt be a certified success in any style of music he chose to play. But luckily for blues fans, he chose to play the blues, helping to preserve a form of music his dad helped to craft.
“The blues will not die. That’s a fact. It has too much of an influence on people,” he said. “It will never be as commercial or popular as some music, but for the people who love and cherish it, they love and cherish it for life. It takes both musicians and fans coming together to preserve the blues. The blues is the blues and I don’t see it ever being any other way. And if you don’t understand where the roots come from, nothing will grow. If you can understand that, that’s half the battle. From the heritage point, it’s like a plant. You can’t grow the plant without the roots, no matter how you twist and turn it. And from there you grow – the sky’s the limit.”
Interviewer Terry Mullins is a journalist and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staples Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He's also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Miss., eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Willing To Crawl
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Featured Blues Review 1 of 4
The Sugar Prophets - The Sugar Prophets
Just One Teaspoon Records
12 songs; 51:56 minutes; Library Quality
Styles: Electric Blues, Rocking Blues, Soul Blues, Jam Band
Spring reminds us of the joy that comes with new birth. Likewise, there can be joy when a new band is formed. Fresh blood full of new ideas, unique sounds, and a fire in the belly can make for a most entertaining musical experience. That is the case with new band The Sugar Prophets and their eponymous debut release.
The multi-talents that each member brought to the band have proved formidable indeed. Their pooled treasures have gelled into a musical dynamo that mightily impressed judges and the standing-ovation-audiences at the International Blues Challenge during February 2-5, 2011. The Sugar Prophets found themselves finalists among the top eight amateur Blues bands from the 110 bands in the Memphis "Battle of the Bands" competition.
The Sugar Prophets come from the same rich musical heritage of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois that produced REO Speedwagon. Proud to be adding to that heritage of such a fertile music scene, powerful singer and harp ace Josh Spence has combined with veteran guitar slingers A.J “Apple Jack” Williams and Joe Asselin (formerly of the Kilborn Alley Blues Band) along with a grooving rhythm section of Al Chapman on bass and Aaron "A-Train" Wilson on drums.
“Hurry, Hurry” is a perfect antidote to winter’s cabin fever. "Hurry, Hurry" is an intricate guitar picking, jumped-up blues ditty with a jolt of Beach Boys' lyrical whimsy: “Put the top down, I love the wind in my face. I love riding down the highway, but going no place!” It's always a good sign when the second song on any CD is its first earworm. The creative guitar solo runs and harmonica work are gems!
“Livin' in Sin” -- Aficionados and lovers of slow blues will find this the best song on the album. Spence pours his heart right through the harp reeds while rueful echoes of early Blues bands add to this track’s seven-minute-plus drama: “Well, we fuss and we fight, but nobody's ever right.... I just want to know--are we living in sin?” This is an interesting deviation from the usual meaning of that phrase, and listeners will welcome it.
“Bad Ass” -- One may chuckle at the title (which invites imaginative or knowing laughter), but the reality of this first-person Rockabilly styled and guitar driven ballad is a bit less funny. A veteran of barroom brawls initially brags about his exploits: “I had this way about me, I had that icy stare. I could look right through a man, as if he just weren't there.” In the end, though, after helping many “see stars beside the moon having never left the room” and after many a red-hot guitar riff, he admits he'd rather change his ways. Classic!
“Big Love” -- Despite this song's name, it's not intended to be romantic. “Love” is a euphemism for -- well, one guess: “Well, I ain't got a whole lot of schooling. I don't read or write too well. But I get done what needs doing when my big love starts to swell!” Once listeners' ears are opened, it's hard (perhaps impossible) not to snicker. The mid song swinging beat is borrowed from the early Allman Brothers Band. The catchy chorus will bounce around in one's head for quite a while -- hopefully not during church services!
“Lots of Trouble” is a teasing tantalizer of a track. "Lots of Trouble" merrily emphasizes what none of us need (more trouble)! Its hip-swaying intro and guitar-and-harmonica infused middle make this one of the Sugar Prophets' most danceable numbers. The narrator is apparently financially broke in epic proportions. He tells his lady, “I need some dough, I need some bread... Don't need trouble--got lots of that. What I really want is your cash.”
“Brighter Day” is a mid-tempo romantic-sounding, Soul ballad. The song, however, is actually about the deep heartbreak of being separated from a daughter. The only redemption is to keep searching for a brighter day. The catchy refrain and vocal harmonies of “Brighter Day” are so good that it made me go reach for the box to learn the song’s title.
“Bigger than Life Size” finds the band experimenting with unique sounds in the mix of this up-tempo Rock and Roller. The punch at the end perfectly fits the title.
“Hey Bernice” is a charming tale of a female admirer who goes from annoying to endearing as she makes near-incessant calls to the narrator's phone. Worth several listens, it was the set opener for each performance at the IBC. The popularity of “Hey Bernice” is understandable with spoken parts so nicely meshing with the rest of the song. It’s addicting, if not as patently-addicting as earlier songs on the album.
“Katie” has a hopping beat with shared vocal harmonies imploring Katie to “stop spreading your lies and tell the truth!” Bassist Al Chapman and drummer Aaron "A-Train" Wilson get their biggest challenge maintaining the unique rhythm in support of scorching harp and guitar runs.
“Heart's Desire – Parts 1 and 2” Initial listening favorites were these last two Reggae-Jam songs. Go figure, huh? Skyy Dobro is supposed to be the “Blues” guy. I think the songs appealed back to my Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, and Bob Marley days.!
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL. Amy Walker contributed to this review.
To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Get Your Blues Music Considered for Nomination!
We have a simple process for Blues artists and record labels to get their recordings considered for nomination in our annual Blues Blast Music Awards.
We have 30 nominators and you can send in copies of your CD to be considered. Eligibility dates for recordings are releases between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.
The 2011 nomination process started March 1st when we began accepting submissions from labels and artists. Artist do not necessarily have to submit their releases to be considered but any that do will have their recordings screened by the nominators. Read all the details at the link below for complete information to have your CD release considered now.
Our nominators include, music journalists, radio DJs, festival promoters, club owners and others who are very active in the Blues scene. This year as every year, the nominees are artists and music that the nominators got the opportunity to hear. (They can't nominate something they haven't heard!)
Our diverse group of nominators hear many CDs and see many performing artists but if an artist or label really wants a release to be considered by all the nominators, they can send in copies of their CDs beginning March 1. CDs will be sent to the nominators. You must send 30 copies so that all nominators get to listen to them. There is no charge for this in 2011. You send us the CDs and we will cover the cost of getting the CDs into the nominators hands. Act NOW to get your music considered! For complete information on sending in your release CLICK HERE
Nominators will start submitting their nominations May 1st and final nominations will be announced after May 31st, 2010. Voting Begins in July. The winners in the 2011 Blues Blast Music Awards will be announced on Thursday October 27th, 2011.
Blues Society News
You can submit a maximum of 125 words or less in a Text or MS Word document format.
The Blues Kid Foundation – Chicago, IL
Columbia College Chicago, Artistic Director Fernando Jones, and the Blues Kid Foundation proudly present the 2nd Annual Blues Camp July 12 to 16 at Columbia College Chicago Music Center • 1014 S. Michigan Avenue • Chicago. This fun-filled experience will give national and international student musicians ages 12 - 18 an opportunity to learn and play America’s root music in the Blues Capital of the World, Chicago. Students will receive professional instruction in the hands-on, user-friendly environment of Columbia College Chicago’s South Loop campus. Placement in ensembles is competitive, and student musicians (intermediate-to-advanced skill levels) must audition for positions. Openings for beginner-level students may also be available.
Chicago-area student musicians are expected to audition in person Auditions will take place Saturday April 23 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM at Columbia College Chicago Music Center 1014 S. Michigan Avenue • Chicago. Out-of-town and international student musicians may audition by submitting online video links to BluesNewz@aol.com by Friday, May 6, 2011.
The Blues Blowtorch Society - Bloomington, IL
The Blues Blowtorch Society 1st Friday Blues series presents 2011 International Blues Challenge Finalist, The Sugar Prophets on Friday, April 1, 2011 at The Castletle Theatre Box Office and Venue, 209 E. Washington Street, Unit One in Bloomington, Illinois 309-820-0352 Show Price: $5.00 ($3.00 at the door for BBS Members) Show Time: 7:00 PM (Doors open at 6:00 PM) 21+ Show
Also Blues Blowtorch Society presents the 2011 Central Illinois Blues Challenge on July 15 & 16, 2011 at Tri-Lakes in Bloomington, IL during the Ain't Nothin But The Blues Festival. The winner will be sent to Memphis in early 2012 to compete as our representative in the International Blues Challenge. To be considered bands must apply by June 18, 2011. The solo/duo acts competition is to be determined based on interest.
West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV
The West Virginia Blues Society presents the 4 th. Annual Charlie West Blues Fest May 20 & 21, 2011 at Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston, WV . Showtime is 4 pm to 11 pm on Friday and Saturday 1 pm to 11 pm, with after jam to follow both nights at The Boulevard Tavern. Admission is FREE ! That’s right, FREE to everyone !Over the two day period we will be having over 18 acts performing on both stages. There will be plenty of food vendors to suite your fancy along with beer and wine sales this year.
The lineup includes Sit Down Baby, Izzy & Chris, Kinds of Crazy, Lil Brian & The Zydeco Travelers, Davina & the Vagabonds and Joe Louis Walker on Friday and Lionel Young Band, Slim Fatz, Mojo Theory, Sean Carney, Kristine Jackson, Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King and Ana Popovich on Saturday. For more info contact: 304-389-1439 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.charliewestbluesfest.com or www.wvbluessociety.org
The Golden Gate Blues Society - Redwood City, CA
The Golden Gate Blues Society Membership Meeting and Concert - Sunday April 3 at Angelica's Bell Theater and Bilstro, 863 Main Street, Redwood City, CA. Meet from 3 - 4 then dance from 4 - 8 with Twice as Good, the award winning father/son lead band out of Northern Sonoma County. Twice as Good play from coast to coast and have opened for many of the top blues artists. Awards include recognition for their recent CD.
The Golden Gate Blues Society presents concerts, educational events, outreach, networking, and Blues in the Schools. http://www.tggbs.org/home for more information.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IL
MVBS presents the Iowa Blues Challenge Final Round in the Quad Cities Sunday April 3, 2011. For the first time, the Iowa Blues Challenge Final Round will be held in the Quad-cities instead of Des Moines. The band that wins this round will be representing the entire state of Iowa at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in February, 2012.
The final round of the Iowa Blues Challenge will be held on Sunday April 3 starting at 5:00 p.m. at The Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf. Competing for the prize package will be three bands from the Quad Cities: Blunt Trauma Blues Band, the Candymakers, and the High Cotton Blues Band. The fourth band, Trouble No More, hails from the Ames area.
The winner earns the right to compete in the International Blues Challenge held in Memphis next February. The prize package, considered one of the best for such a competition, includes cash, travel expenses, recording time and the opportunity to perform at the 2011 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport and the 2012 BBQ’Loo and Blues, Too! in Waterloo.
Also MVBS presents Hawkeye Herman Returns for Blues in the Schools. During the week of April 11-15, blues musician Michael “Hawkeye” Herman will go into science, math, English, social studies, ESL, and alternative high school classrooms of four area schools. This is a new approach for Blues in the Schools in the Quad-Cities, but not for Hawkeye, who has been conducting cross-curricular blues workshops all over the world. Because teaching at the classroom level is more intense in both preparation and execution than the usual performing for school assemblies, Hawkeye will be presenting only one open-to-the-public event on Wednesday April 13 at Mojo’s in the River Music Experience (2nd and Main Streets in Davenport) beginning at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free.
Rosedale Crossroads Blues Society - Rosedale, MS
Rosedale Crossroads Blues Society presents The Crossroads Blues and Heritage Festival Saturday, May 7, 2011 at the River Resort. Highway 1 S. in historic Rosedale, MS. Gates open at 12:00 noon - music starts at 1:00. Admission $5 - adults, $1 - children under 12. Bring your own ice chest - $10 No beer sold - No glass - No pets, please! Parking $5 Lineup ( in order of appearance - subject to change): Vinnie C., Eddie Cusic, Mickey Rogers, T-Model Ford, Daddy Mack, Big T, Guitar Mikey and the Real Thing, and Eden Brent.
Fest Feast on Friday evening, May 6 at the River Resort with a 5-course Creole dinner, $50 per person - Cash bar. Limited seating. Call 662-759-6443 or 662-897-0555 for reservations and information. If you have questions about the above information, call 662-402-6251. Thank you. Mary Anna Davis Crossroads Blues Society www.rosedaleblues.com
Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL
Also Lucky Peterson will be making a special appearance at Big Cities Lounge at 905 E State Street in Rockford, IL at 9:30 PM on Saturday, April 2nd, 2011. Big Cities is still open and they are proud to have Lucky coming out for this special show. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Crossroads Blues Society Members can get advanced tickets for $10 and a portion of all ticket sales will go to Crossroads' "Blues in the Schools" Program. Come out and hear this great musician and his band and help support keeping the blues alive! Tickets are available at Big Cities (call 815-965-6026) or through Crossroads Blues Society. Contact Steve Jones at email@example.com for more info. This will be a great event; we hope that you can come out and help our BITS program and have a good time, too! www.crossroadsbluessociety.com
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
2011 Friends of the Blues shows - April 05 - Albert Castiglia, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, April 26 - The Rockin’ Johnny
Band, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, May 03 - Too Slim and the
Taildraggers, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, May 19 - The Sugar Prophets
(2011 IBC Finalists), 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, June 23 -
Sean Chambers, 7 pm, River Bend Bar & Grill,
West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV
The West Virginia Blues Society presents the Charlie West Blues Fest May 20 & 21, 2011 in Haddad Riverfront Park, Charleston, WV Here is the lineup: Friday May 20 - Sit Down Baby, Izzy & Chris, Mojo Theory, Lil Bryan & The Travelers, Davina & the Vagabonds and Joe Louis Walker. Sat. May 21- IBC Band Winner, Slim Fatz, Trampled Under Foot, Sean Carney, Kristine Jackson, Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King and Ana Popovich. The Charlie West Blues Fest is produced by the West Virginia Blues Society, Inc. www.wvbluessociety.org and www.charliewestbluesfest.com
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
Every Monday night for the last 25 years - BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $3 cover. Apr 4 - Andrew “Jr Boy” Jones, April 11 - Grady Champion, April 18 - Chris Cain, April 25 - Big Jeff Chapman. icbluesclub.org
Featured Blues Review 2 of 4
The Deacons - Jump Tonight
Swing and jump blues are an easy sell to me when done well and this Washington D.C. area band does do it right. The CD is filled with an assortment of mostly jump blues and a little other stuff. I prefer the swinging stuff, but it’s all kind of interesting.
The Deacons are led by Universalist minister and target shooting bassist and vocalist “Reverend Jake” John O’Connnor. Guitar player Cliff Schaumberg has been entertaining DC area blues fans since 1962. “Georgia Slim” Jim Wilson plays keyboard, guitar, slide guitar, and offers up some lead and backing vocals. Last but not least is Dennis Hash on drums.
11 of the 13 tracks were penned by the band. They open with a Big Joe Turner classic, “Jump Tonight!” and that swinging track grabs you and makes you want to put your dancing shoes on! The Rev’s vocals and Wilson’s keys are classically done and Shaumberg shows he is no weakling on guitar, either. The other cover is Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads”. Shaumberg fronts the band for this track, the only one he sings on. He offers up a very gritty alternative to O’Connor. He also plays some stinging guitar here.
“Mona” is sort of a weird track. It reminds me of a Cars tune with O’Connor’s vocals reminiscent of Rik Ocasek; the beat and overall sound is like a New Wave rock song. The synthesizer by Wilson also seem out of place on a predominantly jump blues CD, but what the heck; they are giving it their all. He also fill sin some synthesizer to close out “Trouble”, the funky track on the CD. I prefer it when he jumps and swings, but it’s not bad and he plays pretty darn well.
“I Beat Mike Tyson” begins as slow blues done well and with some great piano work; then the tempo shifts right in the middle of the song and turns into a jumping track with some great guitar by Shaumberg. Quite interesting. They close with a churchy sounding organ and piano and overall soulful playing in “Sunday Morning”, the only instrumental here. Wilson shows off his guitar on "The Habit of You" and another change of pace on vocals; he also sings well on “Trouble” and “Always a Woman”; the latter track gives us a nice a very slow boogie piano by him.
The big songs that are originals and showcase their driving blues and rock style are “What is a Man?”, “Mexican Boogie” and “Driving Duck Blues”. Rough and tumble, jumping and swinging; this is where the band is at its’ best in my opinion. When they lay it all out they seem to be at their hottest.
If you are in the DC area you should go check these guys out- they are an interesting band and have produced a really good CD. I really enjoyed listening to it!.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 3 of 4
AC Myles – Live Again
Self Release 2010
9 tracks; 33.11 minutes + bonus disc 4 tracks; 16.01 minutes
AC Myles is a young guitarist/singer who is based in California. He plays mostly on the West coast but has also appeared on festival bills in Florida and in Europe. This CD is a sequel to “Live And Loose” (2008) which was also a collection of live tracks recorded over an unspecified period. The new CD also came to me with a four track bonus CD entitled “In The Studio”.
The main live CD is predominantly an uptempo affair. AC plays guitar and sings with just drum and bass accompaniment. The sound is at times a bit ‘muddy’, a reflection no doubt of the diverse facilities available to the band for these live recordings Unfortunately there are no credits on the CD so I do not know who the other musicians are. Equally the writing credits of the songs are missing, so apart from the songs that I am familiar with, I assume the remainder to be AC originals.
Opener “Lonely Nights” lopes along well, with a catchy chorus and a jokey ending with a quote of Otis Redding’s “Tramp”. “Slip N’ Slide” is an instrumental feature for AC’s slide playing. There are snatches of “Shake Your Moneymaker” in there, but the playing ranges widely in this slide showcase, rather as Bernard Allison has done on some of his albums.
Track 3 is a medley of two songs best known from BB King’s versions - “Stop Leading Me On” and “So Excited”. The performances are good, especially on “So Excited” where the chorus is sung enthusiastically by the whole band. Next up is “Cuttin’ In”, a song once done by Johnny Guitar Watson and the title song of Sean Costello’s second album. It’s an old-fashioned ballad, almost a Doo Wop feel to this one.
Starting with the old wisecrack “This darn thing was tuned when I bought it”, “Evil On My Mind” restores the upbeat feel, lots of slide guitar here. “You Got What It Takes” is an old song, once sung by Brook Benton and is well done here, allowing AC to demonstrate another facet of his vocal range, as well as a solid guitar solo. “Laundromat” turned out not to be the old Albert King song of similar title but a cover of Rory Gallagher’s song. AC manages to retain the RG feel as the song is taken at a pace even faster than Rory’s live version on “Irish Tour”.
“Surf Jam II” is the longest track here, a medley of lots of tunes that immediately has you asking “What is that tune?” The guitar sound here is very much in line with The Ventures (or even, for we Brits, The Shadows) as AC works through a series of guitar riffs, all of which very much fit the title (even the James Bond theme!). It is the last track listed on the CD sleeve, but there is a hidden track “Call ‘Em All Baby” which is a real raucous rocker, clearly recorded at a different session as the sound levels here are higher than elsewhere. A classic rock riff underpins a song which suggests that if you follow the title with the girls they will all fall into your arms – perhaps that works in sunny California…
The bonus studio CD opens with “Livin’ A Lie”, based on a solid rock guitar riff with some nice slide guitar and a fast paced soaring solo over pounding drums. Second song “What Is Love?” has an easy paced country feel and AC’s voice adapts well to the change of pace. Acoustic guitar replaces electric on this song, including for the short solo. “Evil On My Mind” marks a return to slide guitar on a reprise of a song that also appears on the live album. The version here is a little shorter and lyrically the song has some relationship to Howling Wolf’s “Evil Going On”. The slide playing is excellent. “They say your enemies can’t hurt you if you keep track of your friends. Better watch out for your woman, she’s the one who will do you in” is a nice line from this song’s lyrics. “Too Late” adds keyboards to the sound in the gentlest of the songs on the studio disc, a song of regret with an attractive guitar figure. The solo here is excellent, restrained but also emotional. “Time presses on, as if we were standing still” struck me as an interesting phrase in this song which I enjoyed a lot. Not really blues, but intelligent and well played music.
From what these CDs contain I imagine AC Myles to be a fun, varied and dynamic performer live and I assume that the CDs are intended as an advert for his live shows. I am unsure how one could obtain these CDs, however, as they are not listed on his website or on CD Baby (though the earlier live CD and a studio one are on both sites).
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 was recently on the January 2011 Legendary Blues Cruise.
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Featured Blues Review 4 of 4
Lara Price - Everything
11 tracks - Total time: 45:41
Lara Price has been an active presence in the San Francisco blues and pop music scene since 1997, and her fifth CD, Everything, is—well, everything. On the ten tracks of music present, Lara Price ranges across jazz to country-rock ballads to blues and soul, backed by three different ensembles of musicians. She does all of them well, although her vocal approach owes more to rock and soul than anything else, even on jazz numbers; and, given the melancholy nature of most of the songs here, her vocals quite appropriately partake of an achy, heart-throbbing, at times almost breathless, pathos. She can indeed fit the vocal style to the music, although she definitely has a style of her own.
Five of the tracks on the CD are originals, and Lara Price had a hand in co-writing three of them. The three different musical ensembles utilized here, all of them comprised of excellent players, delineate three different musical styles, and so nicely divide the CD into three separate categories.
One such is given by Yesterday’s Band—Ken Harrill, acoustic and electric guitars; Tibor Tarczy, electric bass; and Bryant Mills, drums, on three Bossa Nova-inflected jazz numbers. Not only is this treatment given to the jazz standard, “Fever,” track 5, with the addition of Bobby Bad Fingers, finger snaps; it’s also used, with Harrill playing electric jazz guitar, on Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me Till End Of Love,” track 9, and even on the Beatles’ “Yesterday,” track 11, in an arrangement that’s a significant departure from the standard versions. Lara Price effectively adds soul and rock elements to her jazz vocals here; that, with the unorthodox arrangements, renders these tracks as a strikingly original and unique approach to jazz.
This lineup, with Harrill on electric guitar, and the addition of Richard Palmer, organ, also does Koko Taylor’s “Voodoo Woman,” track 6, the only pure blues song on Everything. Price’s vocals and the band’s contemporary arrangement bring out the rock side of this song with the Louisiana swamp-blues lyrics Taylor recorded on the I Got What It Takes album.
Which moves us nicely into the second ensemble lineup, that of Mighty Mike Schermer, electric guitar; Tony Stead, Hammond B-3; Paul Olguin, bass; and Paul Revelli, drums; with the horn section of Mike Rinta, trombone, Joel Berhman, trumpet, and Doug Rowan, tenor and baritone saxes, who perform up-tempo soul-blues numbers on track 2’s “Everything,” and track 10’s “I Didn’t Miss A Beat.” Track 3, “One More Day,” is Al Green-style soul with backup vocals from Pam Hawkins, Lisa Taylor and Price herself—and is a song Green would’ve been proud to record and perform. This same lineup, sans horn section, but with the addition of Gary Smith, blues harp, does another soul ballad, track 8’s “You Won’t Miss Me.” Like most contemporary soul and soul-blues, these numbers borrow from contemporary rock, especially on “Everything.”
The final ensemble lineup, that of Terry Hiatt, electric and acoustic guitars, and Tim Allen, upright bass, congas and percussion, does rock/country-rock ballads—track 4’s “Heartbreak Years, “ with backup vocals from Jesse Mejia and Price; and with the addition of Karen Lindblom, violin, and Johnny Fabulous, piano and organ, and with Hiatt playing acoustic slide guitar as well as regular acoustic and electric, performs John Prine’s well-established country classic, “Angel From Montgomery,” on track 7, this time with backup vocals from Mejia and Dennis Dove.
Lara Price herself contributed to the writing of the two up-tempo soul-blues numbers ‘Everything” and “I didn’t Miss A Beat,” as well as to the rock ballad, “Heartbreak Years.”
The sole non-music track, the five-second opening track, “Lara’s Radio,” opens the CD with the sound of switching stations on an old-fashioned turn-the-dial radio that flits from station to station, a little bridge repeated throughout Everything every time the type of music performed changes. It’s a neat little gimmick that’s an interesting original touch.
While, from the lineup given above, only five of the ten songs here promise to directly engage blues lovers, Lara Price’s vocal approach is bluesy throughout, steeped in the tradition of modern blues and soul regardless of genre; moreover, she demonstrates herself to be thoroughly and consistently convincing and never forced in whatever genre she tackles, equally at home in blues, soul, ballads, or jazz. Lara Price is just soulful through and through. And genres are just labels anyway, categorizing methods that snobs can utilize to tune out that which isn’t “pure,” but of little use beyond that. At bottom, if it’s good, expressive, well done and moving, “It’s all soul!” be it Stravinsky, the Sex Pistols, or Sunnyland Slim. And that’s just what Lara Price’s Everything is.
Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He has written a regular music column for several years. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has been a blues and pop music contributor for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy.
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