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Issue 6-52, December 27, 2012

Scroll or Page Down! For news, photos, reviews, links & MUCH MORE in this issue!

Cover photo by Mark Thompson © 2012

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 In This Issue

This is our monthly Blues Overdose issue featuring eleven FREE music download tracks! (See details below.)

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with The Nighthawks leader, Mark Wenner.

We have 4 music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new tribute release called First Came Memphis Minnie. We welcome new reviewer Marty Gunther. Marty reviews a new release from Declan O’Donovan.  Rex Bartholomew reviews a new album from Ricky Nye & The Paris Blues Band. John Mitchell reviews a new release from a group called, The Elgins. We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 From The Editor's Desk

Hey Blues Fans,

Christmas is over but have we ever got a great FREE gift for you! It is the last issue of December and time for our Blues Overdose Issue. On the last Thursday of each month Blues Blast Magazine is featuring free Blues music downloads from some of the best new artist releases.

This issue features eleven new download tracks including music from legendary Bluesman Eddie Shaw, Chicago Bluesman Wayne Baker Brooks, Cee Cee James, Blues Blast Music Award nominees Reverend Raven & The Chain Smoking Altar Boys, Billy Thompson, Mark Robinson,  Franc Robert, Tas Cru,  Wendy DeWitt, Michael Packer Band and Altered Five

Scroll to the bottom of this issue to get these Free Blues tracks now!

Please please help us spread the word on Facebook and Twitter about this FREE music. We want as many Blues lovers as possible to take advantage of this great offer from these artists.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


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 Featured Blues Interview - Mark Wenner

Still Havin' a Damn Good Time!

The year started out great for Mark Wenner, the lone remaining original member of the Nighthawks. The group would be celebrating it's 40th anniversary and Wenner was still singing hard and blowin' some fierce harp licks. After their Live From Bluesville recording won the 21012 Blues Music Award for Acoustic Album of the Year, the band was getting significantly more attention from the blues community as well as higher profile gigs, including an invitation to be on their first Legendary Rhythm & Blues cruise. And their follow-up recording, Damn Good Time, was all set with a May release date. And then.....

“In April, I went in for a stress test before some minor knee surgery. Pretty soon they said not to worry about the knee, that I had more pressing issues.” Wenner explains. “They were just going to try to put stents in my heart. When I woke up after the surgery, the doctor told me they had to go in. So they busted open my chest and did a five-way bypass.” That quickly put a damper on the hard-earn momentum that the band was trying to capitalize on.

“We had a great tour lined up through Texas, Louisiana during Jazz Fest and up into Tennessee for the Memphis in May festival. That whole tour had to be canceled and the local gigs that we had scheduled in the D.C. Area were done by the band with Tommy Lepson taking my place on vocals and keyboards. We called it the Tommyhawks!” says Wenner with a laugh. “But it was a setback and a bit nerve-wracking.”

“One amazing thing was the second day in the hospital, they handed me a little tube that had a ball in it. It looked like a bong! First I blew into the thing and they said, no,you fill your lungs up from this and it raises the ball. Well, that's playing blues harp, which is a lot of drawing instead of blowing. So I immediately put the little ball up to the 2000 mark and they said that's pretty good. I was like, dude, that's what I do for a living!”

Wenner was released from the hospital just four days after the operation and the next day he was home playing harp along with cds. After a couple of weeks, he started in sit in on some of the Tommyhawk gigs, doing a few songs here, then a whole set but always being mindful to take it easy. By the end of May he was back to a full-scale workload. “It sure was good to be alive and playing, that's for sure. The alternatives were not very attractive.”

The current edition of the Nighthawks includes Paul Bell on guitar on backing vocals. When Pete Kanaras left the band ten years ago, Wenner knew exactly who he wanted to fill that slot. “I had worked with Paul in the studio on several soundtrack projects and had heard him play with the blue-eyed soul king Tommy Lepson. Paul was my first pick”

Wenner relates that at the same time Jan Zukowski, the original bass player, decided that after thirty years he was ready for a change as well. “I only made two calls. The other was to Johnny Castle, who was in a hard-rockin' in the 60's called Crank and he's done bluegrass, rockabilly and soul. Johnny had also subbed for Jan on numerous occasions. He had just left Bill Kirchen's band.

Drummer Pete Ragusa, another founding member, lasted about five more years until he too wanted to retire from life on the road. Wenner knew the decision was imminent and had a new drummer in mind. “Mark Stutso was at the top of the list. He had left Jimmy Thackery (original Nighthawks guitarist) about a year before. He brings strength as a vocalist as well as being a great drummer. He's easily the best singer in the band.”

Wenner is quick to express his excitement with the current edition of the band. “I'm probably enjoying this one more than any other in a lot of ways. We are all totally into it – everybody comes ready to do what we do. He is particularly intrigued by the possibilities that come from having four singers in the band.

“Now we can do four part harmonizing, something that was always in the blueprint since the band's first album, Rock N Roll. For instance, we can take Sonny Boy Williamson's “Bring It on Home” and try to put what I audaciously call gospel quartet harmonizing to a shuffle. That is a fundamental concept of the band. You can take that back to early Chambers Brothers albums, the ones on Vault before “Time Has Come Today”. You can hear that sound in what the Holmes Brothers do. I've had that concept in my head since the mid-60s. It took until a decade into the next century before I felt it was really happening close to the way I envisioned it. The Swan Silvertones, the Staple Singers – that sound mixed with a blues band, the voices blending, gets you your own identity and something very different from the typical blues band.”

“I'm not going to do 20 minute harp solos. Our solos are in and out, nothing indulgent. In some cases we split the solo between guitar and harp in one verse like a country record. People love guitar-slinging. When I was young, I thought a long guitar solo was the coolest thing in the world. But after Cream , Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, we've heard all that.” Wenner mentions that in those days the all-instrumental album Two Great Guitars featuring Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley as the neatest thing he had heard come down the pike in a long time.

When asked about the award winning Live From Bluesville project, Wenner comments that the band got a bit lazy about touring. Where they once played 300 days a year across forty-nine states plus other countries, they got comfortable doing numerous local gigs and short tours. With changing personnel and record labels, the band fell under the radar. That started to change with the release of American Landscape. “We hired a real publicist, Mark Pucci, and a real radio guy, Todd Glazer, and the band committed to doing more roadwork, which started raising our profile.”

The genesis of the band's acoustic side started at a graveside memorial service for a friend who was killed in a robbery thirty years before. The friend's mother requested that the band play a few songs. It took Wenner a moment to warm up to the idea. “I finally saw there was a future in this as there is less crap to move around and, as our audience ages, ear fatigue is a factor. We started doing acoustic shows at smaller clubs or in larger venues, we'd break down in the middle of a set to play a few tunes acoustically.”

Then Bill Wax at XM Bluesville invited the Nighthawks to do an unplugged jam session in the Bluesville studio. Wenner describes the chain of events that followed - “ We went in one day at 11 am figuring we'd do 3-4 songs and left two hours later with twelve songs in the can. A week later I was handed a mixed copy of the session and was told that I could do whatever I wanted with it, including release it. So I'm holding in my hands a free recorded album that I haven't put any money into yet – and it sounded pretty good. XM has some serious engineers and the guy did a really understanding mix.”

“So we had to spend some money on the cover art and getting it mastered. Then we put it out and had Mark Pucci on the case promoting it and Todd sending it to radio stations to get airplay. Lo and behold, we win a Blues Music award! Everything on the record is acoustic with straight-up, really classic material with no originals. That's all the things certain power-that-be have been telling us for years that you can't do. You can't do the classics even though everybody loves them. It's all derivative. Muddy Waters was doing Robert Johnson or Son House songs. The concept of original material in a traditional folk music that's handed down and reinterpreted is a bit of a misnomer.. We broke all the rules and won an award after being very invisible. Things have really been rolling ever since.”

Wenner also commented on one aspect of the music business. “A lot of it has to do with who gets the publishing rights. And who gets the publishing has to do with who gets the money. Some small record labels will say we want you to do an album but want you to sign over half or all of the publishing to us.

Who does or does not get the money is a big deal.”

As for harp playing, Wenner is very proud of his his interpretations of Jimmy Reed songs. “I play it sloppy. This is pretty subtle but if you listen to Slim Harpo playing that stuff, it's very clean and precise. Then if you go back and listen to Jimmy Reed, every note slides up to the note, hits it and slides off of it. There is a certain amount of slop that seems to be easy for me to play! I'm just not that precise a player. Since I first picked up a harp, that is all I wanted to do. It took me about five to ten years to be able to execute it properly.”

Asked if he was enjoying his first Blues Cruise, Wenner gave a big smile. “I'm not sure all this is legal but it sure is some major serious fun. I haven't had a chance to sit down and listen or sit in with so many other bands in forever! For our show on the Poll deck, we did more boogie, which of course we know how to do in order to rock everybody's socks off. In the big theater, we did a more dynamic set. It didn't have to be a shuffle hammer guitar fest. We did more slow to mid-tempo material and it's harder to read an audience when their all sitting down. It's not like a dance situation where, if the bodies are moving, you know you are doing your job.”

He was looking forward to hearing one of his favorite bands, the North Mississippi Allstars with Luther and Cody Dickinson. “I considered their dad to be a friend. The nighthawks once had an opportunity to have Jim Dickinson produce a session. Unfortunately it didn't go anywhere due to band politics at the time. Wenner describes the legendary producer as very laidback and a total trip.”Jim was like, yeah that's cool but try it again! His style was non-imposing and he would somehow make things move in directions with the lightest, most delicate touch.”

“Jim once gave us a couple of songs out of his wacky pile of cassettes, an Eddie Hinton tune called “The Well of Love”.It's a guitar-oriented number like John Lee Hooker on LSD with some really pyscho words. I don't know if we could ever really pull it off but I still fantasize about doing it.

One incredible night at B.B. King's in Memphis, Jim showed up and sat in with us all night long on a Hammond B-3 organ, refusing to take any solos. We were both such big Jimmy Reed fans. He told his boys that I was one of the cool harp players.”
- interview done by Mark Thompson

Photos by Mark Thompson © 2012

Interview conducted by Mark Thompson on Friday, November 2, 2012 on the 19th Legendary Rhythm & Blues cruise.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Reviews 1 of 4

Various Artists - First Came Memphis Minnie

Stony Plain Records

13 songs; 46:31 minutes

Styles: Blues Covers/Tribute Album

“Taking me under her wing,” reveals Maria Muldaur on the back cover of her latest CD, First Came Memphis Minnie, “[Victoria Spivey] endeavored to mentor me and ‘teach me the ropes.’ Of all the amazing tunes she played for me, the one that made the deepest impression on me was an old, scratchy 78 of a haunting, soulful tune called ‘Tricks Ain’t Walkin’ by Memphis Minnie. I was deeply moved by the song and immediately added it to my repertoire.” Born Lizzie Douglas in Algiers, Louisiana in 1897, Memphis Minnie’s most famous songs include “Bumble Bee,” “Hoodoo Lady” and “I Want Something for You.” Muldaur’s rendition of David Nichtern’s “Midnight at the Oasis” is her biggest claim to fame, peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. But, on her newest album, Maria leaves pop and pays heartfelt tribute to Memphis Minnie’s deep blues as she performs thirteen of her compositions. She and several of her sister blues musicians co-star, including Koko Taylor, Rory Block and Ruthie Foster all backed by many special guests including Roy Rogers, Steve Freund, and Alvin Youngblood Hart.

Track 02: “Ain’t Nothin’ in Ramblin’”--Nine out of ten blues songs about “ramblin’” praise the nomadic life, but “Ain’t Nothin…’” is the magnificent tenth. Bonnie Raitt lends her crystal-clear pipes to this autobiographical number, a chronicle of Memphis Minnie’s life and travels: “I first left home, I stopped in Tennessee. The people out there come stay with me, ‘cause there ain’t nothin’ in ramblin’, even running around…” She and guitarist Steve Freund form a dynamite duo on acoustic guitars.

Track 11: “Tricks Ain’t Walkin’”--Certain people believe in “channeling,” a preternatural phenomenon where a spirit speaks through mortal men. It may or may not be real, but that’s certainly what Maria Muldaur does here with respect to Memphis Minnie! Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, the blues wasn’t Minnie’s only trade. “Oh, my money’s walking tricks, that’s what it’s all about. I’m gonna get the men in my house, and ain’t gonna let ‘em out.” There’s nothing funny about the matters discussed here, even in a tongue-in-cheek way. Want proof? Simply listen to the gravelly despair in Muldaur’s voice: “Sometimes you’ve got to just get down on your knees and moan about it sometimes.” Del Rey adds guitar with Dave Earl on mandolin.

Track 13: “Black Rat Swing”--Koko Taylor belts out her beef with an errant rodent--er, lover--on the explosive final track: “You is one black rat! One day I’ll find your trail. I’ll hide my shoes somewhere near your shirttail….” Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin guest-stars on slide guitar, making this the catchiest up-tempo tune on Muldaur’s tribute; it’s a full-band, electric Chicago blues number with Criss Johnson, Brother John Kattke, Jimmy Sutton, and Willie Hayes.

Beyond this great collection, to further enjoy Memphis Minnie and Maria Muldaur’s music, check out “The Best of Memphis Minnie, Vol. 1” for the former and “The Even Dozen Jug Band” from 1963 for the latter. Both are brilliant blues beauties!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 33 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 4

Declan O’Donovan - self-titled CD

CD: nine tracks; 36 minutes

Declan O’Donovan hails from Whitehorse, Northwest Territories, Canada, and cut his teeth with the popular alt rock/blues party band Scotch. He now splits his time between his hometown and Montreal. A recent winner of the Westcoast Songwriters International Songwriting Competition in the blues category, O’Donovan wrote all of the material on this debut CD, an amalgamation of blues, jazz and roots, which was produced with the assistance of the Yukon Electronic Development Film and Sound Commission.

If Tom Waits and Randy Newman had a child, he’d probably sound something like O’Donovan, whose work on the keyboards drives this work consistently from beginning to end. He’s accompanied by a crew of top-flight, Yukon based sidemen – Bruce Bergman on guitars, dobro and backing vocals, Robert Bergman on upright bass and Lonnie Powell on drums. But their work is buried perfectly in the background. Co-produced with Jordy Walker and recorded at Bob Hamilton’s Old Crow Studio in Whitehorse, the resulting effort creates a CD that, while hard to categorize, makes for good listening if you’re in a mellow mood.

O’Donovan has a gritty, slightly nasal voice not unlike Waits -- minus several barrels of whisky and scrapes along a gravel road. And his piano stylings are simple, clean and effective. He uses repetitive figures to propel each of his songs forward. Most of the tunes are slightly dark and introspective, possibly from the viewpoint of a man looking back at his life and seeking forgiveness for the mistakes made along the way.

The highlight of this disc is “Cheap Souvenir,” for which he earned the recent songwriting honor. In it, the road-weary singer reflects on life on the road. All of the bright lights and success “just like a camera -- cheap souvenir -- it all means nothing ‘cause you’re not here.” He promises to take her along the next time he goes. He carries the theme forward in “A Bitter Rain,” a more uptempo theme in which “when you’ve lost all hope, don’t know what to do, I’ll work the piano cryin’, thinking about you.”

“Death of a Salesman” is an allegorical story of a grifter at St. Peter’s gate. “It’s the first party I’ve been to I couldn’t sneak in the back door,” he says. He insists on having a word with the Man Upstairs, sure he can talk his way in, even though “it’s far too late.”

The CD concludes with “Where You Are,” a wistful, sweet song of longing and loss, and “Outro,” an instrumental that gives the band a chance to stretch out and the listener a chance to reflect on what he’s just heard.

The disc is short, but sweet nonetheless and highly recommended. O’Donovan, who’s already earned a sponsorship from Sirius XM, deserves a spot in your listening library. Here’s hoping he finds some happiness to write and sing about along the way.! 

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Blues Society News

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Orange County Blues Society – Anaheim, CA

The holiday season is a great time for giving, and that's precisely what the Orange County Blues Society has in mind with their Holiday Food Dive taking place at House of Blues/Anaheim, Voodoo Lounge, Thursday, December 27. Doors 8 p.m. Showtime 10 p.m. HOB is located at 1530 S. Disneyland Ave. Info: Blues harpist/vocalist Papa J and Delta Blues guitarist K.K. Martin are among the scheduled performers that evening.

Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford/Northern Illinois

On Sunday, January 27th Crossroads is holding a fund raiser for Hurricane Sandy and the Blues Hall of Fame. It will be at 3 PM in the American Legion Hall, 116 N Union St, Byron, IL. This will be a fun day of music, auctions, raffles and fun. Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys along with Westside Andy Linderman will be performing. $10 suggested donation to get in. Come support the hurricane relief and HOF.

Then on Monday January 28th, Reverend Raven and Westside Andy will be performing for two area schools as part of Crossroads Blues In The Schools program. They will spend and hour at each of two schools in the AM and PM. For more info see

DC Blues Society - Washington, DC

Upcoming DC Blues Society events include a spectacular New Year’s Eve Party with Linwood Taylor and band on Monday, December 31 from 8:30 PM – 12:30 AM at American Legion Post No. 268, 11225 Fern St. Wheaton, MD 20902. Great music, dancing, food, champagne, cash prizes & more. Advance purchase guarantees a seat. $30 member (advance)/$35 (door) ~ $35 non-member (advance)/$40 (door).

Keep your dancing shoes handy because ObamaRama II: The Final 4 takes place on Saturday, January 19 at 8 PM at American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910 (entrance on Fenton by public parking garage). Our red, white & Blues pre-inaugural blow-out features Fast Eddie & the Slowpokes (DCBS' 2013 IBC entrant), the DC Blues Society Band and special guests. Tickets: $10 members (advance)/$12 (door) ~ $12 non-member (advance)/$15 (door). Proceeds help defray travel expenses to IBC for Fast Eddie & The Slowpokes. Info & tickets: or call 301-322-4808.

The River City Blues Society - Pekin, IL

On Wednesday January 9th The River City Blues Society presents James Armstrong from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St. Pekin, Illinois. Admission: $5.00 general public or $3.00 Society Members. For more info visit: or call 309-648-8510

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club presents "Blue Monday" 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 8:00pm $3 cover. December 30 - Blue Sunday With Mojo Cats And Tombstone Bullet Open Jam, January 7 - Magic Matthew, January 14 - Kilborn Alley, January 21 - Groove Daddies, January 28 - Alex Jenkins, Feburary 4 - Robert Sampson & Blues Gumbo, Feburary 11 - Victor Wainwright, Feburary 18 - Hurricane Ruth, Feburary 28 - Lionel Young, March 4 - Brandon Santini, March 11 - Eddie Snow Birthday Tribute w/ Bill Evans, March 18 - TBA, March 25 - JP Soars. More info available at

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 4

Ricky Nye & The Paris Blues Band – Jump Steady

1-2-3 Records

12 tracks / 37:47

When Ricky Nye and the Paris Blues Band’s latest CD arrived, I noticed that it was recorded in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I was reminded of all of the great bands that have come out of that city. In fact, one of my favorite bands from the 1980s, The Raisins, is from there, and it turns out that Ricky Nye is actually Rick Neiheisel, their keyboardist. What a small world!

Whatever name he goes by, Ricky is a fabulous keyboard player and singer, having done quite a bit of work over the years with various artists and leading his own bands, including Ricky Nye and the Red Hots, and Ricky Nye Inc. Ricky Nye & the Paris Blues Band is his latest group, and Jump Steady is their third studio release. Collaborating with Mr. Nye on this album are three Frenchmen: Anthony Stelmaszack on guitars, Thibaut Chopin on upright bass and harmonica, and Simon "Shuffle" Boyer on drums; they have been working with Ricky for over five years. Special guest Brian "Boss" Hogg from Kentucky also joins in on the saxophone.

Nye self-produced Jump Steady, which was recorded in just two sessions; Bill Gwynne engineered the album and it was mixed by Ashley Shepherd. It has twelve short tracks (all of them under four minutes each), and they can be lumped into a two different categories: classic boogie woogie and more straight-up piano driven blues. This should not be a shock to anyone, as the group’s name does say that this is a blues band…

Ricky chose some heavy-hitting cover tunes and also wrote four of the songs on this album, including the opener, “Rockin’ Roller Coaster.” This song sets the tone for the rest of the CD, letting the listener know that they are in for a good time. Ricky hammers out a piano line that is lively but technically better than anything you will hear in a bar room. Hogg’s saxophone is a nice counterpoint to the whole Jerry Lee Lewis vibe, and at a mere 2 ½ minutes in length this one made me sorry it ended so soon.

Big Boy Crudup’s “Mean Ol’ Frisco” is next up, and you are probably familiar with the cover version that was done by Eric Clapton. Nye and the guys sped this tune up quite a bit and did an admirable job, despite the big shoes they had to fill. Then the tempo throttles back for the straight-up blues of “But I Forgive You,” which is a true song of love and forgiveness, considering all the terrible things the subject of this song is accused of doing.

“New Orleans Murder” does indeed have a Crescent City feel, with a funereal pace and a spooky sounding tape delay guitar sound. Stelmaszack does a very smooth and tasteful job on the guitars, and this original tune is a real winner. Another Ricky Nye original, “I Ain’t Crazy” follows this one up, and we are treated to some lovely syncopated piano work with a little harmonica flavor on top. This two-minute instrumental is really neat, and I will surely be using it to set the mood for one of my upcoming parties.

Nye and the boys then proceed to lay down some rocking boogie woogie for the next four tracks. Bassist Thibaut Chopin brings some neat harmonica parts to the Delmore Brothers’ “Pan American Boogie” and Nye gets a workout for both hands in Pinetop Smith’s instrumental “Jump Steady Blues.”

“Buggy Ride” is the last Ricky Nye original (and another instrumental), and it truly sounds like it is from another age. As with the rest of the album, Shuffle Boyer does a rock steady job on the drums for this track. We also get a great version of Big Joe Turner’s “Boogie Woogie Country Girl,” and I am glad that Nye did not feel compelled to copy the original version of this song (or any of the covers), but rather played it in his own style.

To finish up the CD, the band serves up three classic blues songs: Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Eyesight to the Blind,” the classic (and very dirty) “Honey Dripper Blues,” and Mississippi Sheiks’ “Sittin’ On Top of the World.” And these wisely chosen covers cement the fate of Jump Steady – this is a fabulous album! Ricky Nye put together a collection of twelve unique songs, and each one is short enough to leave the listener wanting more. I highly recommend that you check it out when you get a chance!

Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician. His blog can be found at

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 4

The Elgins – Volume 2

Devil’s Tale Music

17 tracks; 55.42 minutes

I was a little surprised to receive this CD as The Elgins I remembered produced “Heaven Must Have Sent You”, a classic piece of Motown soul. However, soul fans will need to be aware that these Elgins are a group of Norwegian players who are dedicated to recreating the classic sounds of Chicago blues before Muddy Waters plugged in and changed everything.

This is a follow-up to a 2011 CD and again saw the band travelling to the USA (San Pedro CA in this case) to record a selection of tracks from the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson 1, Leroy Carr, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers and Big Maceo. The instrumentation is piano, harp and guitars (indicated as ‘high’ and ‘low’) and all four players sing. There are no drums or bass and the overall sound is definitely ‘lo-fi’ which I assume is the intention; listening to this CD you could be forgiven for thinking that you are listening to a 40’s recording.

One of the problems with the disc is that the very intention of recording an authentic feel makes it something of a tough listen. For example, “Sweet Lovin’ Woman” (R. McCollum) is a turgid performance with a vocal that cannot disguise a foreign accent. Leroy Carr’s “Blues Before Sunrise” is a great song and has been recorded many times, both acoustic and electric, but this version brings little new to the party, merely sounding pedestrian. SBW’s “My Little Machine” was recently revived on “Chicago Blues – A Living History” and sounded impressive; The Elgins’ version sounds strained and the guitars almost disappear in a murky mix.

On a more positive note I liked the two Little Walter covers, both instrumentals. “Sad Hours” reflects its title, the mournful harp sitting above some very gentle guitar accompaniment; “Don’t Have To Hunt” has a jaunty shuffle feel and is definitely as upbeat as it gets here.

This disc might appeal to those who enjoy pre-war blues played with an authentic feel. 

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

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Blues Overdose 12/27/12 - These free tracks are available for 30 days. More info below.

Download Instructions

1.) Click the link below where it says "Click HERE to download" just after any of the artist descriptions below.

2.) When you get to the download page, right click any individual track you want download.  Then choose "save as" to download the track to your computer.

3.) All of this months tracks are in the zip file Right click it and save it to your computer. Unzip it for all eleven of this months tracks.

Eddie Shaw

“Sack Full of Blues” - From the CD Still Riding High

This limited edition CD pays tribute to the Master Blaster himself, Eddie Shaw. Take a ride and listen to Eddie's lyrical wit and rock solid sassy horn playing. As one of the last reigning kings of Chicago Blues Eddie, with a little help from his friends in the 757, once again proves that the blues ain't nothing but good news. With the except of "I Want A Pretty Woman" written by Fernando Jones, these original songs were used as a backdrop to chronicle Eddie's vast career as a writer, producer, arranger and performer throughout his 60 years in the blues business.

Eddie has penned over 150 songs during his career and has played and recorded with such greats as Howlin Wolf, Magic Sam, Otis Rush and the list goes on and on. This CD highlights his penmanship with such songs as What Comes First, Got To Go Now, Black-Eyed Peas & Fatback, Blues Dues, Rock This House & more. After having promised Howlin' Wolf to keep the blues tradition going, Eddie shares the blues up close and personal. Put on your seat belts and take a ride with Eddie and his 757 friends as they take a trip and show you why Eddie is "Still Riding High". You can pick up a CD and check to see when Eddie will be blowing thru your town at

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Wayne Baker Brooks

“I Can Read Your Mind” from the EP Tricks Up My Sleeves

Wayne Baker Brooks has been steeped in blues all his life. Although his famous father raised him, he is self-taught and has been blazing his own musical trail. In 1998, Wayne co-authored the book, Blues For Dummies with his father Lonnie Brooks, rocker Cub Koda, and Dan Aykroyd. In 2003 Brooks started his own label, Blues Island Records. His first release was the four-star debut album Mystery in 2004.

“I Can Read Your Mind” has a classic Blues vibe with a screaming harmonica that is played by none other than Blues legend, Sugar Blue. “While Blue was recording his part, I was mesmerized at the notes that he was hitting.” said Brooks, “That’s Sugar Blue. There’s no one like him. He’s a unique, creative force and that fits well with what I do.” The song has the prowess and allure of the manipulative seductress the song is about, making it something you want to hear over and again.

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Cee Cee James

“Blood Red Blues” from the album Blood Red Blues

The title track from Cee Cee's newest release, reveals a Woman who no longer wants to play games. She is no longer under any ignorant illusion of what her 'selfish soul,' as she calls it, can get for her cause Blood Red Blues 'done drowned my selfish soul.' The Good Red Road looms ahead and she is on it to stay. The rest of the songs on Blood Red Blues, with the help of husband Rob 'Slideboy' Andrews solid rhythm and slide chord progressions, unfold into a rambunctious journey of various 'life' topics where rather than focusing on the negativity and victimhood of Love, Cee Cee focuses on 'the comfort' and joy of Love and what it can bring, specifically in the songs "Comfort of a Good Heart", "Feel My Love Come Down", "Cover Me With Love", "Thick Like Blood", and the title catchy "100 Ways to Make Love.' These Love songs interweave playfully with the heavier topics as she launches seductively into 'let's Get Loose;' the heart cringing story in 'I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues' where Producer Jim Gaines does not allow Cee Cee to let up on the vocal intensity for even a second; "Worn Out Sins"; the painfully blatant truth of "Walk On"; and the incredibly aching and tender "Wounds". Cee Cee wraps up the CD with "I'm Takin’ Mine" where she expounds on staying focused on the goal ready to jump: "right into your arms I'm gonna fall," with the last lines of the song echoing in my head... "I'm standing in a Heart of Gold, it's time to give the diamonds in my Soul."

If Blood Red Blues and her previous all original release, Low Down Where The Snakes Crawl, are any indication of the diamonds that this Woman has in her Soul, her fans will be satisfied for many more CD's and performances to come. Highly recommended. The CD is available at Amazon and iTunes. Visit

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Reverend Raven & The Chain Smoking Altar Boys

“Walking To Chicago” from the CD Shake Your Boogie

Born and raised on south side of Chicago, the Reverend has been playing the blues since 1971 when he first saw Freddy King play at the Kinetic Theatre in Chicago. After 15 year hitch in the Navy he moved to Milwaukee where he began a long friendship and collaboration with Madison Slim, long time harmonica player for Jimmy Rogers. He has performed with Buddy Guy, Billy Flynn, R.J. Mischo Perry Weber, Piano Willie, Stokes, Jon Paris, Clyde Stubblefied, Bryan Lee and the Lamont Cranston band. The Reverend was given the Wisconsin Music Industry (WAMI) award for best blues band in 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2010. They also received the People's Choice Award in 2006, 2008 and again in 2010. Nominated for by Blues Blast Magazine Award for Best Blues Band and Best Song of 2011. Nominated for a Grammy in 2007 for best blues compilation CD

Bringing crowds to their feet at the hardest to please and sophisticated night clubs in the Midwest, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys play traditional blues, straight up with a big dose of passion. With smoking grooves, served up with hot harmonica and smooth stinging guitar they play original songs peppered with nods to Slim Harpo, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells and the three Kings. The band includes Reverend Raven - Guitar/Vocals, P.T. Pedersen SC - Bass, Bobby Lee Sellers Jr - Drums/Vocals, Danny Moore - Piano/Organ and Big Al Groth - Saxophone.

The CD is available on iTunes Amazon and CD Baby. Visit

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The Billy Thompson Band

“A Better Man” from the CD A Better Man

Billy Thompson was nominated for Best Contemporary Blues CD in the 2012 Blues Blast Music Awards for his 2011 release, A Better Man.

Produced by Grammy Award winner Tony Braunagel (Robert Cray/Taj Mahal/Bonnie Raitt/Phantom Blues Band) who also drums on the album. Other players include Mike Finnigan (Jimi Hendrix/Joe Cocker/Etta James/Phantom Blues Band) on keyboards... Kenny Gradney (Little Feat/ Delaney and Bonnie) & Hutch Hutchison (Bonnie Raitt/Neville Brothers) both sharing duties on bass... Johnny Lee Schell (Bonnie Raitt, Ron Wood/John Fogerty/Phantom Blues Band) on guitar and vocals... Joe Sublett on sax & Darrell Leonard on trumpet aka The Texicali Horns (Little Feat/Phantom Blues Band)... and Lenny Castro (Eric Clapton/Michael McDonald) on percussion. The album was mixed by music industry heavyweight, Ed Cherney (Eric Clapton/Little Feat/Bob Dylan/Bruce Springsteen/Tom Petty).

A Better Man is available at and CD Baby. Check out The Billy Thompson Band at: 

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Mark Robinson

“Drive Real Fast” - from the album Have Ax - Will Groove

Have Ax - Will Groove is guitar-slinger Mark Robinson’s follow-up to his acclaimed 2010 debut CD, Quit Your Job – Play Guitar. Fans, reviewers, and DJs quickly embraced that disc (“Top quality blues guitar” -_Maverick; “Excellent” - Blues Revue; “Almost a brilliant album” -_Blues Matters!) - Blues, Blues Underground Network and Blues Van branded it one of that year’s best.

Robinson’s new release on Blind Chihuahua Records, Have Ax - Will Groove, provides an even more colorful and explosive display of the Nashville-based guitarist and songwriter’s estimable skills. While the title of Quit Your Job – Play Guitar was autobiographical, the songs on his new album are even more personal and dirtier and funkier and grittier. And when it comes to Robinson’s sterling guitar work, they’re also more colorful. This cut is the lead track. Mark describes it as “John Lee Hooker meets Exile On Main Street.” In addition to Robinson on guitar and vocals, it features Paul Griffith on drums, Daniel Seymour onbass, and TJ Klay on harmonica.

The CD launches in February is available now at CDBaby, Amazon and iTunes. For more, check out

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Franc Robert

“Beale Street Memories” from the CD Mulligan Stew

A Native Montrealer, Franc started playing in various bands throughout the 80's, hosting the popular jam at the famous Rising Sun Nightclub in Montreal, where he learned at the feet of many blues greats, including Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, and Robert Cray. Moving to Florida in 1990, he played Crawdaddy Blues, Nuthin But Trouble, Back Alley Blues Band and Delta Aces. Franc is currently fronting his own band, the Boxcar Tourists, who support him on the new album Mulligan Stew, which has reached #22 on the Roots Music Report Blues Charts.

The CD is available at Amazon and CD Baby. For more info visit

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Tas Cru

Tired O Bluesman Cryin'” from the CD of the same name.

With Biscuit (2006), gravi-Tas (2008), grizzle n’ bone (2009) and Jus’ Desserts (2010) Tas Cru served up more blues buffet than Sunday brunch at the Shoney’s. Time to clear tables, clean that kitchen and stack up dishes!

Tired of Bluesmen Cryin’ continues to solidify his reputation as one of the most unique bluesmen plying his trade today. The album and title track are inspired by a young blues fan at one of Cru’s BITS programs who observed, “I’m tired of bluesmen crying about stuff - stuff that they maybe brought on themselves!” So . . . the eleven songs for the most part here celebrate that got to feel good side of blues.

Cru’s love affair with both traditional and modern styles is evident, and as expected, the record appeals to fans of both acoustic and electric blues. Cru is equally at home on acoustic, resonator, and electric guitars and his trademark rawcuss Tejano cigarbox. Rich vocals and relaxed, downhome harmonica delivery bring a front porch jukin’ feel to this album. Cru’s ability to craft a lyrical hook is magical and it is not for nothing he’s called "the master of the triple entendre.”  The CD is available at CD Baby and Amazon.

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Wendy DeWitt

“Gone” from the CD Industrial Strength

Known as the Queen of Boogie Woogie,  Wendy spreads the gospel of Chicago based blues piano and boogie woogie from Seattle to Paris. She’s well steeped in the stylings of Otis Spann, Memphis Slim, Sunnyland Slim and Albert Ammons - the greats of boogie and blues, and honed her skills working with contemporary artists Steve Freund, Otis Rush and the late Hank Ballard who’s love of the blues showed in all of his rock classics.

Wendy has appeared with Charlie Musselwhite, Otis Rush, and Etta James and has been featured at Berkeley’s historic venue, Freight and Salvage. She performed at the Cincinnati Blues Fest at the internationally acclaimed Arches Piano stage, headed to Boston with Hank Ballard and the Midnighters for a performance at the Boston Symphony Hall and played before a sold out audience at the San Diego Museum of Art with Hadda Brooks in what proved to be one of Hadda’s last shows. Wendy has performed at many major festivals including Peer in Belgium, San Francisco Blues Fest, and Monterey Blues, and Jazz Fests. The CD is available at CD Baby and Amazon. Visit her website at

Click HERE to download these Free tracks


Michael Packer BluesBand

“ Mr. Packer” from The CD Live At The Turning Point

What can you say about Michael Packer? Honeyboy sideman, Blues Hall of Fame inductee, a New Yorker with a Chicago blues feel and the work ethic of a wandering Delta guitar slinger. Clean and sober after a long stint on the streets, playing low down dirty blues wherever they'll have him. No set list, each night different from the last, special guests invited to sit in and bring all they got, because that's what Packer does every time he's on the stage - he's bringing all he's got. This special night at the Turning Point is no different.

We did the gig, someone taped the show and it sounded good enough to put out this CD. We had the great Rob Paparozzi with us, no practice, just the way the blues should be - set up, count off and make the crowd glad they came. Eddie Jackson banging those bongos and doing his best Sam Cooke inspired vocals when Packer gives him the mic, Guy Powell and King Bear laying down a nice pocket and Rob and Packer blowing on top. A magical night. This night, every night. Enjoy!

The CD is available at CD Baby. Visit the the website at

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Altered Five

“Keep The Best” from the album, Gotta Earn It

Proclaimed “a staple of the Midwest’s band scene” and “a festival favorite” by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Altered Five’s delectable brew of blues and soul has a wide audience taking notice. The group’s sophomore album, Gotta Earn It, is a 10-song set featuring seven originals. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, frontman Jeff Taylor’s voice is “gloriously gritty.” The Shepherd Express simply states he sounds like “a voice from Stax/Volt 45s.”

Altered Five formed in 2002 and quickly gained a reputation for its inventive arrangements and distinctive sound. Isthmus magazine called the band “a rising blues unit” and declared, “The group delivers the element of surprise.” On the quintet’s new release, “JT” Taylor’s powerful voice anchors the sound and drives home the message in songs like the brooding ballad “Three Wishes,” the wistful, burning blues of “Older, Wiser, Richer,” and the yearning “Mona Lisa.” The rhythm section of drummer Scott Schroedl and bassist Mark Solveson grooves hard and enjoys telepathic interaction with keyboardist Ray Tevich and guitarist Jeff Schroedl. Guitar World raves that Schroedl has “hi-tech chops” and contributes “superlative solo work.” The group also puts its stamp on three covers: a driving, bluesified take on the early Marvin Gaye hit “Ain’t That Peculiar”; a revved-up reading of Buddy Guy’s 1961 Chess recording “Watch Yourself”; and the cool, sassy groove of another Motown original, “You’ve Got to Earn It.” It’s been said that “the blues is a feeling,” so when the Minneapolis Star Tribune states that the band is a “righteous blast,” you know they play it right. The CD is available at CD Baby.

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The last issue of each month will be Blues Blast Magazine's Blues Overdose issue. The next Blues Overdose issue will be on January 31st, 2013. Artists interested in promoting their music by offering a free track in the Blues Overdose Issue should send an email to *This is a free service!