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Issue 7-50, December 19, 2013

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

Cover photo by Rick Andrews © 2013

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 In This Issue  

A. J. Wachtel has our feature interview with James Montgomery.

We have six Blues music reviews for you. Mark Thompson reviews an album from Sunday Wilde. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release by Aaron Burton. John Mitchell reviews a new album from The Frank Bey & Anthony Paule Band. Marty Gunther reviews a new CD from Blues Delight. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new release from JC Crossfire. Steve Jones reviews a new CD from The Sojourners. 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,

As we head into winter some things in the Blues world slow down a bit. But not us!. We are hard at work to make your Blues Blast experience bigger and better in 2014.

Look for our new website to be launched in the first week of January. It will have a new look, be socially networking aware and formatted for correct viewing on computers, laptops, tablets and cell phones. There will be the ability for you to comment on stories, a Blues Forum to discus Blues related topics and a new live Blues calendar that allows fans, artists and venue owners to automatically share their Blues shows on Facebook!

So join us on Thursday January 2nd, for a look at the future of Blues Blast Magazine!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

Blues Blast Magazine is offering a fall advertising special. This special pricing will be our lowest pricing of the 2013-2014 season.

This 6-week combo rate of only $350 affordably adds significant impact to your Blues advertising and promotion campaign. It is a great way to kick up the visibility of your new album release, Blues event or music product around the globe!

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 26,000 Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries. We get more than 2,000,000 (That's TWO MILLION) hits and more than 45,000 visitors a month on our website. 

Normal 2013 - 2014 ad rates are $90 per issue for Blues Blast magazine ads and $100 per month for website ads. BUT, for a limited time, you can advertise in six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and on our website for a month and a half for only $350. This is a $690 value! To get this special rate simply reserve and pay for your ad space by December 21, 2013. Ads can be booked to run anytime between now and September 30, 2014 for your 2014 Blues festival, album release or other music related product.

With this special rate, your ad can viewed more than 220,000 times by our readers who want to know about your Blues events and music! Reserve your space today! Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis.

Ads must be reserved and paid for by December 21, 2013. To get more information email or call 309 267-4425 today! Other ad packages, single ads, short run ads or long term bulk rates available too. Call today for an ad plan that fits your needs.

 Blues Want Ads  

Blues Blast Magazine Seeks Staff Writers

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for experienced writers to complete interviews and other writing assignments for the magazine. These are paid positions. Must have experience writing with a background or degree in journalism or publicity. Must also be familiar with Blues music. Successful applicant must be willing to complete one interview or writing assignment every week.

If interested please send a resume, a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to . Please include your phone number in the reply.

 Featured Blues Interview - James Montgomery  

James Montgomery has a long history in the music business. Born on a small farm in Michigan and raised in Detroit, he went to college in New England, and has become a fixture in the blues scene.

As a teenager growing up in Detroit, Montgomery learned first-hand from the masters; James Cotton, John Lee Hooker and Jr. Wells by hanging out at the legendary Chessmate nightclub during their gigs.

“I had a blues band in high school called The Montgomery Miller Blues Band that was very successful. We even opened up for Iggy Pop (and The Stooges).and also the MC5. Their guitarist, Wayne Kramer, became my guitarist later on when I moved to Boston.”

“I left Detroit because I got accepted at Boston University and because I was very familiar with the music environment in Boston, I decided to leave my hometown for a more active blues scene. I wanted to be a writer so I took writing classes and graduated with a degree in English Language and Literature.”

During this time, the blues/r&b scene in college-town Boston was huge and it didn't take much for Montgomery to find himself in the midst of an exciting explosion of white American ears hearing the blues for the first time.

“My first year in college, 1970, I had a band with my dorm-mate Skunk Baxter (Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers). It was like a jam band and we played all the time at B.U.; in all the dorms. I then stopped for a year or two to pursue my study of Hinduism and after a summer in Detroit I returned to Boston and got hired by The Colwell-Winfield Band and started my own band not long after.”

“I asked my boss Billy Colwell to play in a band with me and my Detroit buddy, Bill Mather. He said 'O.K. But we have to name it after you in case it sucks” (laughs) Hence the James Montgomery Band. The blues scene was very vibrant then. Peter Wolf was largely responsible for “getting the word out” with his radio show and his magnificent performances with The J.Geils Band.”

“Meanwhile the folk movement had also turned a lot of people on to blues nationwide and that interest was furthered by the famous “British Invasion”. Blues greats ranging from Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells to John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, and Savoy Brown were gigging regularly. You had to figure out which artists you were gonna see on any given night because sometimes there would be a major blues act in 3 or 4 clubs the same evening.”

By this time, the press was also reporting on the quickly expanding blues scene as the camaraderie between bands tightened. Day by day the New England music universe was becoming larger and larger and was being watched by fans all over the world.

“Jon Landau who is now Springsteen's manager, wrote in one of the local Boston papers something like; “there are a lot of bands in Boston, but The J.Geils Band, Aerosmith and The James Montgomery Band rule the roost!” There was never a competition between us, at least to my knowledge.”

“I met Steven (Tyler) at Wurlitzer Music one day and he asked me if they could open a show for us. So we put Aerosmith on a show at Boston University. It was funny because the “opener” had all this gear, huge Marshall stacks and effects and a huge banner and when they cleared the stage there were our little Fenders. (laughs)”

The James Montgomery Band, a blues/r&b group from New England with a frontman from Detroit, was the first Northern act to sign with Southern Rock label Capricorn Records where he met Greg Allman.

His friendship remains strong with Allman to this day and in fact during a recent ABB trip to Boston, James was invited up to play “Statesboro Blues” with the legendary band in front of a few thousand screaming people.

Greg Allman on James Montgomery: “He is so great after all these years.”

“We got signed to a multi-record deal with Capricorn and I first met them when I went to a Rashaan Rolland Kirk concert and they walked in to say hi. I didn't know who they were cause I only really listened to “black” music back then. (laughs) The Allman Brothers tours were a great hang. Of all the bands we toured with: Springsteen, Foghat, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynrd, to Steve Miller, Zappa, and all the blues greats, they were the easiest to work with.”

“They called everybody backstage “partner” and “buddy” and allowed us to use anything and everything they had. They even let us eat with them. I met Greg when he came to our dressing room to say hello. I was the only one there at the time so we had a great talk. We remain friends to this day and I still sit in with them on occasion. They are great to play with because the actually “play” and don't just go through the motions. There is ALWAYS a lot of energy up there with them and it is all good.”

Meanwhile back in Boston, James went to Martha's Vineyard and recruited the senior member of Massachusetts' First Family of Music, Alex (A.T.) Taylor and formed James Montgomery Alex Taylor and The Eastcoast Funkbusters; a band that focused more on r&b than traditional blues.

“Alex was the one who influenced his brothers James, Livingston and Huey and sister Kate to get into the blues and to get into singing, as far as I know. He was a fantastic guy and one of the best singers ever on this planet. He was also a bit of a wild guy. (laughs) Dan Ackroyd and Paul Shafer eventually joined this band for a short while which led to me becoming a “Blues Brother” from time to time with Dan (Ackroyd) and Jim (Belushi) especially if they are playing East of the Mississippi. When John Belushi passed Dan said something to me like: “He was a good man and a bad boy”. Same with Alex. My favorite A.T. song is “I'm Smokin' At The Gas Pump and my Butt's About To Fall” (laughs).

Jim Belushi on James Montgomery: “I love calling him up onstage. He always hits a homer. He's simply the best.”

As his reputation spread throughout the music industry James met with icons and did his best to stay out of trouble: which as any blues artist knows; isn't always easy. Sometimes it's hard to separate the dream from the reality.

“I've met just about everybody in this business. I tell people; “hang out long enough and you'll meet 'em all”. Mick Jagger I met when I came into my dressing room on New Year's Eve at Trax in NYC and he was all alone in there. He had come to see the band because the owner had told him about us. Wayne Kramer from MC5 was my guitarist and Bobby Chouinard (Duke and The Drivers, Billy Squire) was my drummer. I had spent a couple of days with George Harrison but there was something about being with Mick Jagger all alone.....That was the only time I've ever felt a bit awkward at first. We ended up playing harmonica together and singing some Muddy Waters songs and had a ball.”

“I remember one night staying up late with Charlie Daniels at a hotel in Utica, NY and I think every room there was occupied by someone in either his entourage or mine. It was a wild night. Charlie and I heard a lot of stuff going on outside his room but we opted to just talk and not participate in the loud activities in the hall we tried not to listen to. In the morning, I got up and looked out the window to see what kind of day it would be and I saw a television, a few chairs and a few telephones in the pool. I called up the road managers and Charlie and told them to look out their windows and I said: “I don't know about you but I think we're checking out.” I've never seen two bands get out of a hotel so quickly in my life. (laughs). Skynrd used to have to leave thousands of dollars in deposit at hotels once word got out on how they left their rooms.”

From his earliest days in music the friendship and influences of the first generation blues artists has remained paramount to his focus onstage and off.

“I've had the opportunity to jam with all of my favorite blues artists”, James recalls. “I played in a band with John Lee Hooker when I was around 19 and we became life-long friends. In fact, the last conversation I had with him was about a month before his death. He told me he “finally got the respect he deserved.” It was heartwarming to hear this as so few blues musicians ever do. He had me over for dinner once and he answered the door in a sharkskin outfit wearing a frilly, housewife apron and holding a wooden spoon and a glass of Jim Beam. He had a deep, rich stutter and he said: “MMMMontgomery. I I I I can cook and burn.” “

“When Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells came to town sometimes they would stay at my band's house to save money. One night, me and Jr. nailed a bologna sandwich to the wall that looked the same years later when we moved out. Must have been a lot of preservatives in that sandwich! (laughs) Years later Buddy would use our band on some road trips so he didn't have to bring in guys from Chicago.”

“I knew Muddy Waters but only played with him once at Paul's Mall. I was still in my college band and I was a wreck thinking about going up there with him but it worked out well. Otis Spann was the guy who calmed me down and he taught me a few things about what to do when you play with Muddy like setting up the next solo and playing behind the beat.”

“B.B. and I played together the night they caught Son of Sam on Long Island. The announcement of his capture got more applause than either me or B.B. He also called me onstage the night they closed down Paul's Mall and after my first song he said to me: “James, they're all yours” and took Lucille and left me to front the band. (laughs)

“My closest friend of all the great blues musicians I have worked with is James Cotton and I've known him since I was 16 or 17.”

“We met at “The Chessmate” in Detroit. We have done a ton of shows together over the years and in the old days he would call me up and leave the stage after a couple of songs and leave me to front the band. Jr. Wells used to do that with me as well. Sometimes I would have to end Jr's set and tell everyone he would be right back.”

“Cotton is doing really well and we are making a documentary about him through Judy Lasker, Charlie Burke and The Reel Blues Fest. It should be great considering Cotton's amazing life. There is very little he hasn't enjoyed or gone through and the fact that he played in Sonny Boy's band and Muddy's band is the ultimate for a blues guy. We talk frequently. He calls me “Son” and I call him “Dad”.

James Montgomery also has playing with Johnny Winter and his band on his resume and the greatest blues slide guitarist alive also plays on Montgomery's latest CD release: “From Detroit to the Delta”.

Johnny Winter on James Montgomery: I LOVE James Montgomery!”

“I spent about 4 years on the road with The Johnny Winter Band and he is not only one of the best bluesmen, maybe THE best slide guitarist and knowledgeable guys out there but he is also a great guy who calls it as he sees it.”

“For instance, when we were in Europe and the band met Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull and bassist Scott Spray says: “pretty cool meeting Ian Anderson, huh?” Johnny, who was sitting maybe 3 feet from Ian, replied: “I hate Jethro Tull. I don't think flute belongs in rock and roll. I think it sucks!”

“Johnny and I bonded because I was the one who would stay up all night with him talking and listening to blues songs. We always had a contest to see who could identify the songs first as they came up on satellite radio. He won 90% of the time!”

“One of my favorite nights was when Pinetop Perkins came to visit us at The House of Blues in Chicago. Pinetop and Muddy thought of Johnny as their “son”. Another memorable night was when Robert Plant got on his knees and thanking Johnny for being his biggest influence. Or when the guys from Van Halen scrambled to get cocktail napkins for Johnny to sign at The Viper Club in L.A.”

More recently, James has released a new CD “From Detroit to the Delta” and has recorded the title song for “Delta Rising” a T.V. documentary starring Morgan Freeman. His star continues to shine brightly and his reputation never ceases to grow rapidly. From Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine, James Montgomery's career in music just seems to be getting better and better.

“My new CD is called “From Detroit to the Delta” and it traces my 40 year journey from when I started my band until I finally made it to Clarksdale, Mississippi. Morgan hosted me and producers Laura Bernieri and Christy Scott-Cashman on our trip to the Delta and we put a picture of his place on the back cover. It's my best album EVER. We try to show all the permutations of blues music from the plantation days until now.”

“It features Johnny Winter, James Cotton, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer from Aerosmith, The Uptown Horns, and rapper DMC from RunDMC. There is a lot of playing on it. George McCann plays some of the best guitar you will ever hear. My bassist David Hull did a masterful production job and Seth Pappas nails the drums.”

“Our original connection to Morgan Freeman was because I was the “blues consultant” for a movie called “Delta Storm” that was trying to be put into production. It tells the story of Delta blues.”

“Morgan, who loves that part of the country and both blues and classical (!!!) music, became involved after meeting the producers during their many trips down South for pre-production. I'm featured in it along with Morgan, Willie Nelson, Charlie Musselwhite, Mose Alison, Ruby Wilson, Super Chikan, the young horn player Grace Kelly and a host of others including Clarksdale's Mayor Bill Luckett and the owner of Boston's long lost Paul's Mall and current club Sculler's, Fred Taylor.” For info on it visit:

Visit James Montgomery’s website at

Photos by Kevin Keating and Rick Andrews as marked © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine.

Interviewer A. J. Wachtel is a long-time entertainment journalist in New England and the East Coast who currently writes for The Boston Blues Society and The Noise Magazine. He is well known in the Boston and N.Y.C areas for his work in the Blues for the last two decades.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues review - 1 of 6  

Sunday Wilde - He Gave Me a Blue Nightgown


13 tracks/49:21

This release, the fourth by Canadian singer/songwriter Sunday Wilde, literally takes you out to the country. Recorded at a remote hunting lodge in the wilderness of Northern Ontario, Wilde combines the qualities of several styles of roots music in a stripped-down presentation that is centered on her unique vocal style. She handles all of the vocals and plays piano.

Her support comes from David West on guitar and Rory Slater on upright bass plus Virgil Denmark on violin and Janice Matichuk on accordion. Wilde’s son, Dawson Paulson, joins in using brushes on a metal mailbox. Reno Jack – Rennie Frattura – plays acoustic guitar and helped with the production. The spare arrangements hark back to the early days of recorded music when the focus was on the song and the singer. There are few instrumental solos and when they occur, they are brief statements that quickly shift your attention back Wilde’s delivery of her original material.

She lays down a solid rhythm on the piano for “He Thrills Me Up”, her tribute to a good loving man. The mood is a bit more somber when West adds some eerie guitar fills on “Down the Road Alone”. On the contemplative ballad “No Matter How Far”, Wilde expresses the depth of her feelings and yearnings for her man when he is not around. The sassy side of Wilde’s nature comes through loud and clear on “Sunday’s Loverman” as she makes it clear that she tired of doing all of the giving and getting nothing in return. “There was a Time” finds the singer reminiscing on an old love affair. The backwoods sound is sparked by Denmark’s old-timey violin.

Wilde shares her wrenching heartbreak on “I Guess I Didn’t Hear You Right” as the realization hits that a relationship is over. Her transformation of “Amazing Grace” is so complete that you may not recognize the gospel classic. “Shaken Down” has a driving tempo, bringing out Wilde’s rowdier side on track that would sound right at home in a hill country juke joint.

The disc may have benefited from a greater variety of tempo as the songs never exceed a mid-tempo pace. With the instrumental accompaniment staying in the background, it falls to Wilde as the singer to make every track work.

While blessed with a strong voice, Wilde’s style might be an acquired taste for some listeners. She loves to add little embellishments to almost every lyrical line, using a unique tone full of nasal resonance. Wilde’s vocal style might conjure up an image of Rickie Lee Jones with a deeper voice. And her version of the “blues” offers variations that venture away from the traditional twelve-bar format.

Still, there are enough strong performances to make this one worth checking out.

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying life without snow. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and the past president of the Crossroads Blues Society of Northern Illinois. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years - just ask his wife!

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues review - 2 of 6  

Aaron Burton - The Return of Peetie Whitestraw


CD: 14 songs; 46:13 Minutes

Styles: Traditional Acoustic Blues, Country Blues

Peetie Whitestraw, not to be confused with 1930s bluesman Peetie Wheatstraw, is actually a fantastic acoustic DFW Texas bluesman named Aaron Burton. He’s returned for his fifth musical foray - hence this new album’s title. It’s a follow-up to his 2005 debut release, “AKA Peetie Whitestraw,” and fans of traditional country blues will welcome his return. This is due to his acoustic and Dobro guitar mastery and gritty vocals, which definitely sound African-American although he’s Caucasian. As stated in an interview with Michalis Limnios for Blues @ Greece (, “Like many of the great country blues men and women before him, Aaron is completely self-taught on his instruments which leads to a unique and interesting approach.” This is best proven on these three tracks (out of fourteen total originals):

Track 03: “Lafayette” - Songs about traveling, people and places have been a timeless staple of the blues. Featuring “Stompin” Bill Johnston on harmonica, it’s a jaunty, joyful ode to this Louisiana city. “Winter’s over; no more sleet and snow. Springtime is coming, and I’ve got to go - down to Lafayette, baby. Gonna get there just as fast as I can, get some red beans and rice….” This spicy treat of a track will have one playing both air guitar and air harp!

Track 09: “Leave My Girl Alone” - Another blues trope is a song about drinking. Here, our narrator takes umbrage when a bar patron bothers his fiancée: “Leave my girl alone. Did you hear what I just said? ‘Cause the last one to harass her got some lumps upon his head. Now, there’s a drunk girl at the end of the bar. Go bother her instead! You’d better leave my girl alone.”

Track 13: “If That’s Religion” - Religious faith, or lack thereof, completes Whitestraw’s trifecta of classic blues themes. “The world was created in only seven days? Mary was a virgin, and Jesus rose from the grave? Abraham’s willing to sacrifice his son? Now, if that’s religion, I swear I don’t want none.” He scoffs at 9/11/01 as a supposed sign of the end times, and ends with this scathing sentence: “Down a dangerous path from reality we run. If that’s religion, I swear I don’t want none.” Bold words from a Bible Belt native.

It’s hard for this reviewer to fathom why more people haven’t heard of Aaron Burton. The local scene may be to blame: “It’s hard to make a living playing blues around here. I here [sic] from the older guys that it used to be better,” he tells Mr. Limnios. Hopefully that will change in the near future, because “The Return of Peetie Whitestraw” is most welcome!

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 - 3 of 6  

Frank Bey & Anthony Paule Band – Soul For Your Blues

Blue Dot Records

13 tracks; 58 minutes

Early in 2013 a live recording of this band at San Francisco’s Biscuits And Blues impressed sufficiently for the disc to be nominated as best debut recording in this year’s Blues Blast Awards. Those who enjoyed the live album will be delighted by this studio effort which manages to improve on the first CD. The main ingredient here is old-fashioned soul, courtesy of Frank’s excellent voice and tight, horn-driven arrangements from the same seven piece ensemble as on the live album. Anthony Paule leads the band on guitar with Paul Revelli on drums, Paul Olguin on bass, Tony Lufano on keys, Nancy Wright on sax, Mike Rinta on trombone and Steffen Kuehn on trumpet. The album was recorded at Kid Anderson’s Greaseland studio and Kid adds guitar to a few tracks and his fellow Nightcat Rick Estrin adds harp to two cuts. There are six covers alongside originals from Anthony and his wife (and band publicist) Christine Vitale.

Frank once opened for Otis Redding and Christine’s soul-drenched ballad “I Just Can’t Go On” definitely evokes Otis’ spirit, Frank’s voice being quite close to how one might imagine Otis to sound if he had survived until now – quite superb. Another beautiful ballad is “You’re Somebody Else’s Baby Too”, a co-write between Christine, Anthony and Karen Falkner who also contributes to two other tracks. Here the horns caress Frank’s vocal and provide understated support to Anthony’s gentle guitar solo, the whole piece being subtle and soulful. Full horn arrangements abound and “Don’t Mess With The Monkey” is a good example, Rick Estrin’s harp adding some accents to the horns while the rhythm section pumps along. Anthony’s “I’m Leavin’ You” recounts a tale of a broken relationship as the woman walks out on her man, despite his always trying to do things right – a cautionary tale in which the horns play second string to the guitar and a funky backbeat.

“I Want To Change Your Mind” sounds like a lost soul classic but is Christine and Karen again, this time telling the story of a divorce which Frank does not want to accept: “I wanted money and fame, I know I’m to blame”. However, leaving the best to last “It’s Good To Have Your Company” is a song so strong that it deserves to be covered by many an aspiring soul singer. The horns introduce the song, then piano and organ and backing vocals support Frank’s outstanding lead vocal. The chorus has that happy knack of a change of pace as Frank sings the title and a superb sax solo graces the middle section. Memphis soul at its very best, albeit recorded in California!

The covers include an excellent version of “I Don’t Know Why” (here credited to Willie Mitchell though I thought it was a Stevie Wonder song) which makes a soulful opener to the CD. Wynonie Harris’ “Buzzard Luck” swings like crazy as Frank commands our attention, his vocal soaring over the excellent horn arrangement, Anthony adding a nice ‘twangy’ guitar solo in the middle of the song. Percy Mayfield is often covered but “Nothing Stays The Same Forever” is less familiar. Opening with a military drum beat and trombone, Frank adapts his voice to a deeper timbre to suit the arrangement of quite a dark song – but we should remember that Percy gave us “Mother Earth” which is far from a happy listen! John Prine’s “Hello In There” is a poignant tale of people getting old, their kids far away and out of touch; however, the arrangement is simply beautiful, Anthony’s guitar and piano underpinning the vocal, the horns playing a minor support role here. The horns sit out Jeff Monjack’s “Bed For Your Soul”, a downhome piece with acoustic guitar and Rick Estrin’s harp to the fore.

Two instrumentals are also included: Anthony’s “Smokehouse” has an Albert Collins feel in the guitar and the horns are heavily featured too. As the closing track the classic “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” might be best known in Tony Bennett’s version but here Anthony’s guitar swings the melody with horns there at every turn in support – not blues, but very catchy.

Overall this is an extremely impressive soul album which more than fulfils the promise of the live album. Highly recommended and an early contender for the Soul/Blues Album of the Year.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He had a blast at this year’s Blues Blast Awards and is already planning his next trip stateside.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues review - 4 of 6  

Blues Delight - Working On It

Blues Del Records

12 songs – 48 minutes

Blues Delight is five-piece ensemble of veteran musicians under the direction of producer Vincent Beaulne from Montreal, Canada. They deliver this package of all-original, modern blues with gusto and sensibility, throwing in a taste of jazz good measure.

Formed about five years ago with two previous CDs to their credit, the band consists of Beaulne, the artistic director of Montreal’s International Jazz Festival Blues Camp, on lead guitar and vocals with Laurent Trudel switching off among guitar, harmonica, violin and vocals, longtime Montreal jazz mainstay Dave Turner on alto and baritone sax, Gilles Schetagne on drums and Marco Desgagne on bass. Carmelle Brodeur-Gauvin and Laurence Lafond-Beaulne add backing vocals. Their presentation finds a nice, comfortable pocket from the jump and swings steadily throughout.

The disc kicks off with the title cut, “Working On It,” an uptempo tune any musician or person in love with one can relate to. In this instance, the singer’s lady doesn’t necessarily like his friends or his blues. He heads straight home to keep the peace and assures her that “music from the soul will never die.” “Let’s Go Downtown” is a funky plea to break free from the burdens and responsibilities of life by having a night out with a bottle of wine. The song features a strong horn run from Turner, as does “Bad Girl” a minor-key rocker that describes a “mean and lean freedom machine” who practices cold moves while the band lays down warm tones. Beaulne works out on the six-string for a sweet break mid-tune.

The pace slows for the understated, but guitar-driven “B Is For Blues” in which the singer recalls walking in the rain, feeling sadness and shame while thinking about a woman he loves too much. Compared to the tunes that precede it, this song is simple in complexity, but strong in feeling and delivery. A definite keeper. “Dirty Riff” gives the band a chance to stretch their legs instrumentally to a funky groove.

“Ride The Sky” takes the listener straight to the Mississippi Delta, driven forward by a steady harmonica line from Trudel. The ride takes place on a raven’s wings at dawn, when the “only light is you.” Turner’s horn riff takes the song to another level. Beaulne trades guitar for dobro on “Bad Wind,” in which the change in weather foretells a change in fortune. The mellow “Look At What You Done” features Beaulne as he sings about a woman who rejects his true love because she’s built a wall around her heart and can’t see the truth. Sadly, he’s moving on because he can’t wait any more.

Trudel’s violin work gives “Outlaw” a slight Arcadian feel as Beaulne goes acoustic to sing about his prowess as “the most dangerous man you’ll ever know” and the knowledge that his career won’t end well. The tone changes dramatically with “Boom,” a jazz-flavored, uptempo, stop-time tune with a great musical hook about the effects of very potent alcohol. The slow blues “Never Mind” follows before the instrumental “I Will Miss You” finishes the disc with a florish.

Blues Delight don’t serve up a plate of Memphis-style ribs, collard greens and cornbread. Their platter consists more of Montreal-style smoked meat,a heaping helping of fries smothered in poutine with a Montreal bagel on the side. But it’s an extremely tasty dish nonetheless. A rock-solid offering from beginning to end.

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

 Featured Blues review - 5 of 6  

JC Crossfire – When It Comes To The Blues

Bluzpik Media Group

9 tracks / 36:22

Every guitarist remembers their first instrument and how they got it and Joseph Cannizzo is no exception: in 1971 his dad (a New York City sanitation worker) brought home a guitar that somebody had tossed out with the trash! Joseph was only ten, but he took to it and by the time he was sixteen he was playing clubs around the tri-state area. By the mid-1980s he was living the dream and traveling around the world with his music.

In 1994 JC put together Crossfire, originally a Stevie Ray Vaughn tribute band, which was a cool project that evolved into him creating his own music. Now based out of the North Miami area, his band’s latest release is When It Comes to the Blues, a righteous set of nine original songs, mostly penned by Cannizzo. He also handles the guitars and vocals and is joined by Tony Calabria on bass and vocals, Bernie Rose on keyboards and vocals, Niles Blaize on harmonica and Guido Marciano behind the drum kit.

The title track comes up first, and it gives the listener an idea of what JC is all about, most importantly who some of his guitar influences are, and I am glad to see that Matt “Guitar” Murphy made the list! This is straight-up blues with a catchy acoustic intro that leads into a slow electric grind featuring fine harp work from Blaize. “Deliza” (with four syllables) is up next with a stomping bass line, JCs whiskey voice and classic organ sounds. JC shows mature musicianship here; though he has great guitar chops he does not feel the need to show off and instead lets the lyrics make the song.

There are a few party-friendly blues tunes on the CD: “Grand Ole Girl,” “One More Time” and “Blues Blues Blues.” The latter has an awesome bassline and one of the catchiest choruses around that features some really fun vocal harmonies. If you need some blues to dance to this is the song you have been looking for!

“Tell Me Why” is the standout track from When It Comes To The Blues. This slow blues rocker is full of reverb-soaked guitar and plaintive harmonica wails and it has a slick format change midway through. JC lets it all hang out on the guitar, and it is easy to tell that he has put in more than his share of practice time in the 40 years since he got that castaway axe. But more importantly, his strong voice is also in the spotlight and this song ends up sounding like something Led Zeppelin would do have done, but without their vocal histrionics.

A close second for my favorite song is “Chosen One” which is a hard southern-tinged blues rocker with some of the heaviest guitar you will find on this album. His six-string is thrust to the forefront by the super-tight backline of Marciano and Calabria, and they leave enough room for JC to do his work properly.

The lyrics are not all good times and love gone bad, though. “American Way” pines for the way things used to be as we all struggle these days to make ends meet. It starts out with a trick kick drum beat and has a heavy dose of funk thanks to the 1970s-issue bass and organ sounds. The background harmonies of special guest Lisa Maviglia is a welcome addition and provides a little more depth. This track provides a cool break near the end of the album and lets the listener know that JC has more than a few things on his mind.

Unfortunately, after only 36 minutes the album comes to an end (much too soon), but I like that he used “I Wonder” as the closing track. This smoky slow blues ballad has the perfect vibe to accompany the tale of a stormy relationship, and Bernie Rose is given a free hand to perform his piano magic. His interplay with JC’s tastefully reserved guitar improv is a sweet way to end things up.

When It Comes To The Blues is a solid album and is likable on many levels. The songs have an accessible contemporary blues sound that is tempered with a pop influence, and the lyrics are easy for us normal folks to relate to. Their songwriting is very good, and I hope JC Crossfire keeps working on new material that they can share with the blues community. I wonder if Joseph still has that old guitar…!

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

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 Featured Blues review - 6 of 6  

The Sojourners - Sing and Never Get Tired

Little Pig Records

12 tracks

This is the Sojourners third album and it fully maintains the high standards these gentlemen have set in producing their music. Filled with Gospel and blues songs depicting the social injustice of our society and times, this album travels where few traditional Gospel albums tread. Mixing new songs with great works from the Staple Singers, the Dixie Hummingbirds, Sista Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone and Stephen Stills, it hearkens back to the 1960’s yet it is also is modern and timely.

The Sojourners are Marcus Mosely, Will Sanders and new member Khari McClelland. The sound is definitely more bluesy and raw, with both angry emotions and hope depicted in their songs. With every listen I became more and more enthralled with this great CD.

They open with Pops Staples “Don’t Knock” and Paul Pigat’s lead and rhythm guitar intro tell us from the start that this album might be a bit edgier. The beautiful harmonies come right into the mix and the trio grabs the listener and make them listen to their forthright testifying. Steve Marriner blows some mean harp to set the tone for “Christian’s Automobile,” a Dixie Hummingbirds classic from 1957. This interpretation is bluesier and more urbane than the original and they do the song justice. Still’s “For What It’s Worth” follows and by this point we feel are firmly entrenched into the 1960’s movements. Marriners’ harp again plays a big role along with the vocals– well done! The Gospel traditional “Ezekial” follows and the harmonies are again exceptional. Michael Van Eyes piano introduces “Milky White Way” as the boys slow the pace down and praise the Lord sweetly. “Dressed for Heaven” is a fellow Canadian Brandon Isaak song; Brandon is a member of the Twisters who, like the Sojourners, are Vancouver-based. It’s a sweet up tempo Gospel cut.

The Staples’ “Why Am I Treated So Bad” is a minor key and down tempo song that brings things down from the frenetic pace for a few moments. More well –done harmonies here. “Hiding Place” is an original by Marcus; the tempo remains down and mood is darker here. Marcus tells us in the lyrics that he does find respite in the Lord’s arms. The traditional “This Train” brings things back up with some rousing vocals and guitar and the same is true of the next traditional cut, “Welcome Table.” These guys can hold their own with any Gospel group!

Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” gets covered next. Pigat again adds two throwback guitar lines that round things out nicely with the spectacular vocals. They close acapella with “I Ain’t Got No Home” using hand claps as percussion. Woody Guthrie’s folk classic is a great addition to the set and is a nice way to close out a fantastic album.

Also appearing are Rob Becker on bass and Geoff Hicks on drums. Produced by Paul Pigat of the band Cousin Harley, the Sojourners demonstrate their craft with even more emotion and edge. I think the album is a huge success and great follow on to their super 2010 release. If you like Gospel with a bluesy and updated flair this will really be a treat for you. These guys are a wonderful trio of harmonizing vocalists who deliver power and emotion with each line. Highly recommended!.

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

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Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA

MVBS Presents the Scottie Miller Band Sunday, December 22nd, 6 p.m. at The Muddy Waters (1708 State Street, Bettendorf) on Sunday December 22. Showtime is 6:00 p.m., and admission is $7 for MVBS members and $10 for non-members. for more info visit

Southeast Iowa Blues Society - Fairfield, IA

The Southeast Iowa Blues Society will be "Rockin' in the Blue Year" on January 4th, 2014 featuring "Trampled Under Foot"
with Chad & Bonita opening at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Fairfield, IA. Doors will open at 6:30pm and music begins at
7:00pm. There will be Squeal Good BBQ and beverages for all to enjoy. Don't miss one of the hottest Blues bands out there....TUF !
For more information visit

The DC Blues Society - Washington, DC

The DC Blues Society rings in the New Year on December 31, 2013 from 7pm-12:30am with the region’s Soul-Blues legends, The Hardway Connection (at American Legion, 11225 Fern Street, Wheaton MD 20902.) Tickets are $35 in advance (at or $40 at the door. The party includes dinner, champagne toast and exceptionally reasonable cash bar. The Hardway Connection evokes “old school” R&B – sometimes smooth, sometimes funky but always danceable! The powerhouse band has been together more than 15 years, gigging throughout the Southeast, and gathering a large following along the way. Known for their excellent vocals and tight rhythms, The Hardway Connection play the “oldies but goodies” with dynamism, power and fun. They have opened for major acts, including Johnny Taylor and Chuck Brown. The band placed first in the 11th Annual National Blues Talent Competition sponsored by The Blues Foundation. Said Eric Brace of the Washington Post, The Hardway Connection is a “superb soul/blues/R&B band. They sing and play and deliver the goods like few bands I've ever seen.” More info at

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club presents "Blue Monday" every Monday night for the last 27 years - BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:00pm $3 cover. Dec. 23 –Brooke Thomas & the Blues Suns, Dec. 30 – James Armstrong More info available at

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