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Issue 7-1, January 3, 2013

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

Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2013

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 In This Issue

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with Deanna Bogart.

We have 4 music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release from Alicia Maxwell. Marty Gunther reviews a new release from Josh Smith. Mark Thompson reviews a new album from Tas Cru. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Samuel James. 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,


2012 was a great year. Blues Blast Magazine brought you a boatload of Blues in 2012 including fifty two in depth artist interviews covering both Blues legends and up and coming artists, more than three hundred album reviews, more than forty live music reviews including coverage of some of the biggest Blues events of the year and thousands of great photographs.

In addition we started our monthly Blues Overdose Sampler issues in October to bring you some great Blues music tracks for free each month.

All of our Back Issues are available on line HERE. Our album reviews are available HERE. And of course the December Blues Overdose Sampler with 11 FREE Blues tracks is still available HERE.

In 2013 we will continue to bring you the best in today's Blues music for FREE!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


Blues Blast Magazine's Early Bird Special is our lowest pricing of the 2013 year. It offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out!

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Normal 2013 Advertising rates are $90 per issue for Blues Blast magazine ads and $100 per month for website ads. BUT, for a limited time, this special gives you six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and a month and a half on our homepage for only $350. (A $690 value!)

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote anything. More than 22,000 Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries. We get more than 2,000,000 (That's TWO MILLION) hits and more than 45,000 visitors a month on our website. 

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 Featured Blues Interview - Deanna Bogart

Life as a Journey – an interview with Deanna Bogart

At the end of the title track for her new Pianoland recording on Blind Pig Records, Deanna Bogart offers a self-assessment, stating in a hushed voice “ ..just another journeyman – and that's all right with me.” Long time fans may vehemently disagree with that description, as Webster's Dictionary lists the following for “journeyman” - i.e. any sound or experienced, but not brilliant, craftsman or performer. Bogart is quick to explain that she had a different definition in mind as she cut the track. “I was thinking of my journey through my musical career, the flow of my life and how that journey continues as I am still learning my craft.”

For Deanna, the journey started at a very young age. “The family story is that I climbed up on the piano bench at age two with a pacifier in my mouth and tried to play with two hands. There was always a piano in the house and I gravitated to it. I needed to pluck out music. I called the pacifier my “va va ooh”. Someday I am going to use that in a song!”

Deanna's family moved around frequently, so she was always the “not hot new girl”. At age eleven, a band teacher came around looking for new converts. “He asked who wants to play an instrument? I immediately raised my hand. When asked what instrument did I want to play, I replied saxophone. The band teacher responded that girls don't play the saxophone. That didn't seem right to me but I didn't have anything in my arsenal that I could say verbally other than you're wrong. I ended up with a clarinet, which I didn't play. I stayed mad at the clarinet for twenty years – sorry clarinet! - but we have made up since and now I have one.”

Bogart ended up in Los Angeles at the age of seventeen. She started playing guitar and singing in public and playing piano at home. Three years later she got an offer to join a band out of Maryland. “Cowboy Jazz was three women and three guys doing music that was sort of like the Andrews Sisters meet Bob Wills meets the Grateful Dead. One day on the road, it occurred to me that I could play the sax if I wanted to, so I went out and bought an old Martin tenor sax. I took it home and played “St. Louis Blues” for about 72 hours straight.”

“I thought twenty-six was too old to pick up the horn. That would have been so sad today if I hadn't done it. The horn became really important because of all the years of wanting to use my musicality in a direction like that. I probably worked harder to make up for lost time, out of joy and belief. Now when people come up and say I'm 20, 30, 50 , 90 – am I too old – I tell them do it! You never know. A year or two from now you might be out gigging. Who knows where it might lead?”

Deanna credits her mother's extensive 8-track collection with giving her an appreciation for a wide range of music. “She had everything from Muddy Waters to Ella Fitzgerald to Bobby Darin. I also knew the Top 40 things as well. Mom would play Bill Haley and the Comets records, which is where I learned about having a strong left-hand on piano, something I intuitively figured out.” Later she discovered Stevie Wonder, the Meters and the Grateful Dead to further expand her musical universe.

The next life-changing moment happened after a show when a fan presented her with a mix tape he made her. “ So I put the cassette in my Walkman and the first side had B.B. King and all kinds of cool stuff. But when I turned it over, I heard something … it was one of those moments that you have along the way that alters you or opens a door that you couldn't get in previously. Turns out it was Jay McShann (a legendary jazz piano player and band leader). He became the sun of my musical world, along with the moon and the stars. And because of him, Kansas City became a mecca for me.”

McShann's music made such a strong impression on Bogart that it lead to an adventure. “My daughter's father and I drove three hundred miles to a Colorado jazz fest. Once we got there, we pretended to be friends of his so that we could get in and hear him play live. As we were sneaking up, the festival organizer came over and said that he had told Hootie (McShann's nickname) that some friends of his were here, so we should wait right there as he was coming out to see us. We knew we were sooo busted! But he came out, looked at us with a huge twinkle in his eye and you could see he figured out what was going on.”

“He walked behind us, this huge bear of a man, put his arms around saying-There you two are, come with me! And off we went to his dressing room where we got to drink Jack Daniels and hear all kinds of stories while great musicians like saxophonist Flip Phillips were walking in and out of the room. The movie The Last of the Blue Devils, about McShann and the Kansas City scene, was really, really important to me.”

A couple more years would pass before Bogart finally made it to Kansas City. First on her to-do list was a trip to 12th Street and Vine. “As you know, it is not a street intersection but simply a sign stuck in a field surrounded by apartment buildings and housing developments. I was so moved by being there that I didn't know what to do. So I just sat down and started to meditate on the experience. There was a dad and is son playing football nearby. They begin to look at me real quizzically. Finally they came over and said they wanted to ask a question. I said go ahead. The dad stated that every now and then, every four, five years, some person will show up and spend time sitting at this sign. What is up?” Bogart chuckles at her recollection of the conversation. “I told them, if you want to know, have a seat and I'd be delighted to share this with you.”

The next part of her quest involved going to the area of Kansas City where all the clubs had been, which was being renovated at the time. She wandered in and out of buildings, taking in the sights and searching for the oldest person she could find. “I found a gentleman in his late 80's, actually the grandfather on the Board for the restoration project. He told me all kinds of stories about the old days. I went back home and wrote a song called “Boogie Woogie Baby” … Born the moment she touched the sign, the Earth stood still on 12th & Vine.”

“I have a real soft spot for Kansas City historically – the Pendergast years, jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, the legendary jam sessions – how and why they got started plus what they really were. Some jams would go on for six, eight hours! They'd be waking musicians up – hey, Walter Page is falling off the bass, better go get somebody! I have every book that I have ever been able to find on that era. To me, in history, the point where Blues and Jazz became intrinsically and for evermore wedded was in Kansas City in the 30s and 40s.KC blues went one way and KC jazz became bebop. If I could pick a time, that's where I'd be.”

Her latest release brings Bogart's musical odyssey back to the beginning, focusing on her piano playing and vocals. Jerry Del Giudice of Blind Pig had suggested the idea some years before that Deanna do a recording that was not buffered by her horn or other stuff, a recording that focused on her keyboard skills. But the artist admits to being scared by the concept. “I was just too nervous to do it. It's easy to forget when you are a multi-instrumentalist, always shifting things around. But it's not enough for me unless my piano and saxophone playing can stand on their own. But in the last year something just pushed me to realize that committing to doing a piano album is one of those fears that I just have to get past.” Bogart was very happy with how pleased the Blind Pig staff was with the recording.

To prepare herself for the project, Bogart listened to another Blind Pig title, Heaven by Pinetop Perkins. Primarily a solo piano record, Bogart hoped that by osmosis she could get into some other musical worlds that would help her tap deeper into her own. She wrote most of the material for Pianoland in the studio in addition to featuring her superb playing on instrumentals like Errol Garner's “Boogie Woogie Boogie” and the forceful rendition of Pete Johnson's “Death Ray Boogie”. Of all of the Kansas City musicians, Johnson may be her favorite.

There is a story regarding another track on the disc. “ The song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was never discussed, considered or thought about for the disc in any way, shape, or form. The only reason that it is on the disc is that I cry once a record. Recording is a very wonderful and difficult process for me. I always get to this place where I need to balance myself emotionally. On the last day of recording, the guys went outside to get some fresh air. I told them to turn the lights off. I sat down at the concert grand piano and just started playing.”

“And that's what came out of my fingers. I let my fingers go and started singing. It was just me – the band was gone. I played for about twenty minutes, singing and riffing on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It made me feel so much better. When I saw the guys come in, I stopped and said I was ready to cut another song. But they said no and the engineer played it back. At the end, they all said it was going on the record. I said you can't put that song on a record, not after Judy Garland and Eva Cassidy! Nobody should do it and I know better, I really know not to do that. But my guys – Dan Leonhard on guitar, Mike Aubin on drums, and Scott Ambush on bass – who are willing to fly with me in the studio and add amazing contributions, made it clear that while I call the shots most of the time, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was going on the disc.”

Now the whole world is able to hear Deanna's moving rendition of the classic song. When asked if it's Blues, she offers this explanation. “I call what I do “blusion”. It all comes out of the Blues, it just doesn't end there...” ”

Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2013

Interview conducted by Mark Thompson on the 19th Legendary Rhythm & Blues cruise.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Reviews 1 of 4

Alicia Maxwell - Get Your Priorities Straight


10 songs; 45:33 minutes

Styles: Blues Rock, Modern Electric Blues

As the New Year dawns upon the blues world, Wilmington, Delaware’s Alicia Maxwell warmly invites fans to “Get Your Priorities Straight.” According to her website, nerves got the better of her when she was fifteen and experienced her first blues jam. Back then she wouldn’t climb onstage, but she has since found her courage and clear, ringing voice. She met many talented, fellow musicians that mentored her, including B.J. Muntz, Paul Weik of Lower Case Blues, and Kenny Jones, who co-produced this album and wrote seven of the ten numbers on it. Two of them are just workmanlike covers of some of the most well-known songs in rock history: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” and the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.” But, Alicia and Kenny’s original compositions are notable in and of themselves, as these three demonstrate:

Track 02: “Get Your Priorities Straight”--Sometimes on blues albums, it’s quite apropos not to have the title track be the opener. “Get Your Priorities Straight” is a down-and-dirty follow-up to the lightly sweet sentiments of opener “That’s How I Feel About You.” Here’s what happens when a significant other doesn’t reciprocate them, and our narrator’s certainly hasn’t: “Think it over. Don’t make me wait,” Alicia sings matter-of-factly. “If you want me to love you, get your priorities straight!” Just in case her lover misses the point, Kenny Jones’ roaring guitar and Steve Sauer’s pointed piano reinforce it.
Track 03: “Hands Off”--Surprisingly enough, Maxwell issues this warning to her partner not because she doesn’t like him, but because he’s unprepared for her. “Hands off if you can’t deliver. Hands off--I need to feel my body quiver!” This blues-rock thrasher will make blues fans do the same, especially if Jimmy Charleston’s bass is channeled through a subwoofer. The harmony on the chorus will have even non-singers attempt it, because it’s a surefire earworm. Note to purists: “Hands Off” this one, and everyone else: Party on!

Track 10: “High and Dry”--Carl Cornwell’s mournful yet sultry tenor sax propels this slow ballad over the line from “good” to “great.” Our narrator’s once-faithful lover has abandoned her, and Alicia’s despair is palpable. “Still the same old story, a game played by fools. No reason, no mercy, just a visit with these blues….” Afterward comes eerie silence: for Maxwell because her paramour is gone, and for listeners because the entire album is over.
Other musicians featured on the CD and supporting Maxwell are John Thomakos on all tracks except the tenth, and Garrick Alden on bass for all songs except the sixth. Happy New Year, readers, and as 2012 draws to a close, “Get Your Priorities Straight” and give Alicia’s latest album a try!

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

Josh Smith - Don’t Give Up On Me

CrossCut Records

11 songs - 59 minutes

Guitarist/songwriter/producer Josh Smith follows up on 2011’s highly received “I’m Going To Be Ready” CD with this powerhouse of a modern blues album. Recorded in California for Germany-based CrossCut Records, it features Smith on vocals and guitar, backed by Calvin Turner (bass), Charles Jones (Hammond B3, piano and clavinet), Dennis Hamm (Rhodes, Wurlitzer and clavinet) and B.J. Kemp and Monet Owens (background vocals). Harmonica wizard Kim Wilson makes a guest appearance on track four, “I’ve Always Been,” and large horn and string sections contribute to a warm, lush sound from beginning to end.

You might not be aware of Smith, but he’s a former child protege who deserves much wider attention than he’s received. This writer first became aware of him in the early 1990s. At 12, he began appearing with his father at pro jams near his home in Pembroke Pines, Florida, and then at the legendary Musicians Exchange in Fort Lauderdale, where he sat in with many of the best musicians in the world, including Matt “Guitar Murphy, Kenny Neal, Tinsley Ellis and Johnny Clyde Copeland. He was polite and somewhat shy, with long hair tucked under a Stevie Ray Vaughan-style flat-brimmed hat, but the moment he hit the strings, people began sitting up and paying attention. At the time, Jimmy Thackery described him as “being just three heartbeats away from being a true blues genius.”

By age 13, Smith was playing professionally as a member of the Rhino Cats, one of the most in-demand bands in South Florida. At 14, with he released his first CD, “Born Under a Blue Sign.” A second album, “Woodsheddin,” followed a year later. Many local awards followed, including an endorsement from Washburn Guitars when he was still in high school, where he was an honor student. Following graduation in 1997, he formed a new power trio, Josh Smith and the Frost, embarked on four national tours. His experience as a band leader forced him to work on his vocal skills. Powerful, but relaxed, they quickly became a match with his prowess on guitar. Within months, B.B. King invited him to serve as his opening act on a national tour.

Fifteen years and three CDs later, he’s a heavily tattooed, closely cropped married father of two who’s living in L.A. And if his latest effort wasn’t hitting the U.S. market so late in the year, it would definitely be drawing attention as one of the ten best modern blues albums of the year.

Smith wrote all eleven songs here – 10 vocals and one instrumental. The set opens with a slow blues and seering guitar, “Bad Side,” a wish never to cross the woman he loves because “there’s...something I don’t understand/How a woman so sweet and small/she can crush glass in the palm of her hand.” The next number, “Made For Me,” is a horn-driven, uptempo love song for the ages.

He follows with the title cut from the CD, “Don’t Give Up On Me,” a musician’s pledge of faithfulness to the good woman he’s left behind to go on the road: “Hanging over my head, I can’t leave it alone/The last thing I’d ever do, is break up my happy home.” Like many of the other tunes here, the overall sound swings in the manner of 1960s Bobby Blue Bland, but with a definite modern feel.“I’ve Always Been,” follows, delivering a parallel message of love and support, layered atop Wilson’s distinctive harp lines.

The disc takes a 180-degree turn on the next number, “That Ain’t Me,” the story of a man who takes in a down-and-out woman with nowhere to go. He shows her kindness, but she quickly turns on him. “You thought you’d found your fool/That you could bend to your needs/But oh baby, that ain’t me.” A hard-driving horn line opens “Letting You Go,” which works as a partner to the tune that precedes it, delivering the same message from another point of view. The horn section and keyboards are featured during the middle break.

“No One But Me” returns Smith to the positive side of romance in another uptempo number featuring brief, clean guitar lines. He credits his woman and thanks her for being the driving force in his life in “Carry Me Through.” The opening horn lines create a comfort zone as they mimick the feel of a ‘70s TV show opening theme. The only instrumental in the set – “Sneaky Jo Turner” – leads into “The Middle,” which is a love song of sorts to being a family man. “Here in the middle, it’s all the same/There ain’t no big ending/just the playing of the game.” The set concludes with “That Ain’t Love,” an uptempo, guitar-driven complaint about a woman who turns and runs without giving the singer a chance to ask her stay.

Unlike many teenage guitar wizards, who appear like supernovas then quickly disappear into the black hole of a mundane, working-world life, Smith continued mastering his craft. This rich, R&B flavored CD will serve him well as he takes his place in the upper levels of the blues stratosphere.

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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The Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society - Santa Clarita, CA

Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society Presents our Winter Fundraiser & 2013 IBC Kickoff Party. It's also a big Birthday Celebration for our 1st Place Winner - Laurie Morvan! Sunday, January 6th from 3pm - 7pm at The Mayflower Club, 11110 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood, CA.

Featuring our 2012 Battle of the Bands 1st & 2nd Place Winners - The Ladies Night Guys, Toni Dodd & Southbound Blues, Two Guys Named Moe and The Laurie Morvan Band. With Free Parking, Yummy Food Truck, Great Seating, Huge Bar, Silent Auction, Raffles, Tshirts, CDs & More. Blues Society Memberships will be available.

Doors Open at 2:30pm. Tickets - All Ages Welcome: $12 at the Door, $10 for SCVBS Members, $5 for Kids 12 & Under. Advance Ticket Purchase online is only $10 and you get 2 Free Raffle Tickets when you enter.

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

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. January 7 - Matthew Curry & The Fury, 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

Tas Cru - Tired of Bluesmen Cryin'

Crustee Tees Records

11 tracks/52:44

The cover for this one shows Tas Cru sitting in an otherwise empty bar, about to pour a drink for his companion, a beagle decked out in shades and a derby hat. The photo encapsulates Cru's offbeat sense of humor and his unique twist on his version of blues music. The all-original program is filled with insightful, witty lyrics and enthusiastic performances that hold up over repeated listens.

Based out of New York state, Cru plays a variety of guitars including a cigarbox model as well as handling the lead vocals while adding harmonica to a number of tunes. His voice has a darker tone with a bit of a gritty edge to it. His able accompaniment includes Larry DeVivo and Joe “The Claw” Goehle on bass, Andy Hearn on drums & percussion while Chip Lamson and Tony Perrino handle the keyboards.

Cru is a firm believer in teaching younger generations about the emotional power of blues music. He got the idea for the title track during an interview he did with a sixteen year old singer during filming that would later be part of a fundraiser for a not-for-profit music school. Kiara made it clear that she didn't like hearing blues singers whining about all that they had lost. That was not the way she lived life. So Cru turned her remarks into a sizzling opener, expressing his tongue-in-cheek contempt for singers complaining losing their woman while he has nine or ten more ready lined up to his woman's place.

On “Changin' My Ways”, Cru adopts a different attitude that finds him ready, willing and able to whatever will make his lover happy. Goehle and Hearn lay down a solid rhythm while the leader's delicate picking on a resonator guitar. Cru also doubles on harp, his bright tone and use of the upper register providing a nice accent for the piece. The band uses a standard blues riff on “Road to My Obsession” with Lamson on organ filling out the arrangement while Cru convincingly describes his life as a bluesman.

Over a toe-tapping beat, Cru details everybody's desire for “That Lovin' Thang” with Perrino laying down chords on the organ in addition to some rolling piano lines. His wistful vocal over the lazy, country-tinged “Sure Do (Want to Fool Around)” is one of the disc's highlights. It forms a mini-trilogy with the two songs that follow with “Story Time” dealing with the consequences of unfaithfulness. Jeremy Walz's slide guitar rides the organ-drenched arrangement as Cru outlines the telltale signs of cheating going on. The final part of the trilogy, “Heal My Misery”, finds Cru pleading for the return of his woman while Walz's raw slide licks echo the singer's anguish. The cut has a familiar “Ghost Riders in the Sky” feel to it.

The pace slows to a soulful groove as Lamson's piano opens “One More Time”, establishing a late night, down-in-the dumps mood that Cru captures perfectly n his downcast vocal that slowly morphs into a powerful expression of love, but not before he wrings a graceful solo out of his guitar. Lamson's organ rides Goehle's funky bass line on “Try, Oh I Try”, a tune that documents Cru's struggles to avoid temptations of the female persuasions.

The closing track is an intense slow blues that serves as a tribute to the US Army's 10th Mountain Division, whose units have endured more than twenty deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cru sings with startling realism about the doubts of soldiers as they contemplate a return home, knowing that war has changed them forever. It honors their valiant efforts while providing a dramatic marker for the extent of Cru's artistic reach. You can be sure that once you here this fine project, you will want to check out Cru's previous four releases. It's always great to hear musicians sharing their joy and enthusiasm for music, which is exactly what Tas Cru and his cohorts do on this fine recording.

Reviewer Mark Thompson retired after twelve years as president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. and moved to Florida. He has been listening to music of all kinds for over fifty years. Favorite musicians include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Charles Mingus and Count Basie.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 4

Samuel James – And For The Dark Road Ahead

Northern Blues

13 tracks; 44.07 minutes

Samuel James established himself as a fine solo act with his first two albums, combining the classic sounds and look of the old-time blues musicians with lyrics that are definitely modern. After a three year gap he has produced a third album which continues the pattern. There are no other musicians involved, just Samuel on vocals, dobro, acoustic guitar and stompboard – interestingly credited as a Webster’s dictionary and possibly used for more literary processes during Samuel’s creative periods. All the material is original apart from a cover of Elton John/Bernie Taupin’s “Rocket Man”.

The feel of the album is well demonstrated by opening track “Tan Sedan”. Samuel’s vocals are as much spoken word as sung and he accompanies himself on guitar and stomp. “Turkish Curse” moves well away from the blues with some excellent guitar playing in more of a folk style but “Nineteen” is back in the blues with a growled spoken vocal and some exciting picking on the dobro. One of the strongest songs is the gentle love song “Holding Down The Sun” in which Samuel does not want the night to end because he is with his love: “She said she had to be home by the end of the night. But if this night were to end then so would my world. Well I can’t let it end ‘cos I’ve got plans for that girl. I will do what it takes to keep night on this land, even if I have to hold down the sun with my own hands.” The final track “Ghost” has some electric guitar which came as something of a shock after the rest of the CD!

The cover of “Rocket Man” is certainly different, with Samuel’s guitar playing on the song definitely blues but his spoken approach changing the feel of the song completely. At the heart of the CD is “The Execution Of Big Black Ben” which is divided into two parts (presumably because this is a spoken word piece without music), an amusing tale about the frustrations of a prison warden who fails at the last moment to exact revenge on Big Black Ben; a tale worth hearing for its amusing content but also for the excellence of Samuel’s recitation. Indeed one of the issues with some of the tracks here is that Samuel’s voice is mixed just a little low and it is therefore not always easy to catch the lyrics: “Another Backyard Burial” is one song that suffers from this aspect.

In summary I think that this CD will consolidate Samuel James’ reputation as one of the leading acoustic blues artists of his generation.

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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CD's - For less than the cost of one small ad in a newspaper, you can advertise your shows, new CD or any Blues product. A great way to get the Blues word out! Blues fans WANT to know about your Blues event of product. Call Bob at (309) 267-4425 or send an email to for a confidential quote today!

Blues Blast Magazine covers Blues all over!

We also offer effective advertising for Festivals and Club Owners, Recording Companies and Performers. Put your Blues advertisement on our homepage at: either as a sponsored event or as a featured event, product, recording or merchandise.  We get 45,000 visitors and 2,000,000 hits A MONTH on our website! More than 22,000 Blues Fans, Musicians, Recording Companies, Club Owners, Blues Societies and Festival Promoters in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries read the Blues Blast magazine each week. You can feature your event or product in the largest FREE internet Blues magazine delivered right to your inbox each week.

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