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Issue 7-8, February 21, 2013

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Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2013

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 In This Issue

A. J. Wachtel has our feature interview with Janiva Magness.

We have 7 music reviews for you! Ian McKenzie reviews a new album by Danny Marks. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Doug Deming And The Jewel Tones . Steve Jones reviews a new album from Stevie Silver. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new album from Eric Bibb and Habib Koité. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Corey Lueck. Mark Thompson reviews 2 new albums from John Németh. We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

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 Featured Blues Interview - Janiva Magness

Each time you hear a blues singer lament about their sorry situation and sad status in life you are listening to their own life's history.

And each time you hear an R & B artist sing about hopelessness and tragedy it’s like hearing the biography of Janiva Magness.

Janiva's life reads like a Greek tragedy complete with the main character overcoming misfortune and disaster; and through heroic circumstances becoming even greater and more complete than before.

Her life story may be of mythic proportions and sound like a Shakespearean play, the catastrophes and her determination are very real.

Born in Detroit, Magness suffered the terrible tragedy of losing both of her parents to suicide before she reached her mid teens. Forced onto the streets and then placed in a series of a dozen foster homes, she was pregnant at the age of 17 and gave her baby daughter up for adoption.

Inspired by the music in her Dad's large blues and country record collection, a discouraged, stressed out and extremely underage Magness attended an Otis Rush concert in Minneapolis, and the performance she witnessed changed her life. Looking back, she realizes her personal and creative redemption started at this show.

“Ha. I went by accident with some of my older friends. They all told me: "you have to go; you'll love it!".”

“I was 14 years old. I got very, very lucky, you know? Otis played as if his life depended on it. There was a completely desperate, absolute intensity. I knew, whatever it was, I needed more of it. That was the same year I saw B.B. King open up for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Just a great year that really changed my life.”

At the same time behind the scenes, and totally unintentional, she took in the influences of Detroit's wonderful Motown pop and soul sound which helped shape her style and approach as a musician. She was finally about to move forward.

Soon she was studying to be a sound engineer in St. Paul, Minnesota, Not long after beginning this production job in the studio, she was coerced into doing some backup vocals for the likes of Kid Ramos and R.L.Burnside. This eventually led her to Phoenix, Arizona where she formed her own band The Mojomatics.

Janiva poured her young lifetime of emotion into her phrasing and vocal delivery and the group grew to have a large and solid local fan base. After enjoying moderate success with the band, Magness moved to L.A. in the mid-eighties and her debut cassette, More Than Live appeared in the mid nineties.

Her first album, It Takes One To Know One came out in 1997. Then in 1999, she starred in the stage production of It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues' at the David Geffen Theatre in Westwood, California, and her stage presence and comfort became second nature during this time.

Three independent releases followed before Magness signed with NorthernBlues Music and put out Bury Him At The Crossroads in 2004 and in 2006. Both albums were co-produced by Magness and Colin Linden. Bury Him At The Crossroads earned them a Canadian Maple Blues Award for Producers Of The Year and Do I Move You? reached Number 8 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart.

At this time, Magness began to draw a lot of critical and fan attention especially in the blues community. Her career was in full swing and she received an armful of music awards and she hasn't slowed down since. As her skills increased her confidence grew too. In 2008, Janiva signed with Alligator Records and released What Love Will Do followed by The Devil Is An Angel Too in 2010.

In 2012 Janiva released Stronger For It which included some of her own original songs; the first album to do so since her debut. That release won the 2012 Blues Blast Music Awards for Best Contemporary Blues CD, the song “I Won't Cry” from the album won Song of the year and Janiva also won their 2012 Best Female Blues Artist of the year.

Stronger For It sounds like the title of her autobiography and also won awards from with "Dirty Water" being named the Best Blues Song of 2012 by the huge on-line site. The CD is also up for 5 Blues Music Awards in Memphis including Best Female Artist, Best Blues CD, and Song Of The Year (I Won't Cry).

For the past few years, Magness has toured widely across Canada, Europe and the United States. To date, she has nine released albums and both her fame and fortune continue to grow.

“There's a couple of reasons why I included some of my own songs. I was married for a very long time to a prolific songwriter.” (Magness was divorced last year and with the resulting loss of a few close friends that results from a matrimonial split, her life of turmoil continues).

After being married to a great writer she says, “I just didn't want to go there. What if I sucked? What if I didn't suck? I'm not sure which is heavier on the scale for me. There's a responsibility for each to me as there should be. What's so exciting for me and equally as frightening is that the songs I write I get stronger from.”

On Stronger For It there are also cover songs by Grace Potter, Shelby Lynne, Buddy and June Miller, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ike Turner and most surprisingly, even Tom Waits.

“Waits' voice is vulnerable like a chain saw.” laughs Janiva. “It'll just cut through you and they'll be all kinds of splinters all over. I'm a long time Waits fan.”

“Here's a funny story for you. I remember once I'm backstage with Duke Robillard originally from Room Full Of Blues, at a festival and he's waiting to go on and he starts talking with me about being on the road with Waits on a tour. We are both really into the discussion and enjoying the talk.. He then goes onstage and does "Make It Rain" and I freaked out. It was great!”

“With my own music, the songs I choose have to have a personal connection to me. I need that deep level of connection to perform a cover.”

But the connection has it's limits too: does an artist have to live the blues to be truly authentic? “I don't know if you have to live the blues but I know you have to experience it. Do I live it day in and day out? No. But I think you have to experience it to serve it properly.”

“Look at my life and where I am, that's the way it is in my life and I think it has to be similar in other artist's lives for them to really come across. Singing about things I've never experienced doesn't happen in my career. I don't feel comfortable doing songs like that. If I can't feel it personally, I certainly can't honestly sing it to an audience.”

At many of the gigs she plays at, her audiences are generally unaware of her tragic upbringing at the time they hear her wonderful renditions.

“I don't think that most of the people in my audiences are aware of my personal life when they first hear me sing, but after they hear me and do some research, they become fans. I don't necessarily first promote my history because it's my voice that's the big deal, but it is an important part of who I am, so I never hide it. It seems that people first hear me and after they learn about my life they like me even more.”

This talented artist hasn't forgotten her past either. Janiva does a lot of charity work for National Foster Care and has recently reconnected after a decade and a half with her daughter.

“It's a huge honor to be the spokesperson for the National Foster Care Month Campaign. I am also an Ambassador for Foster Care Alumni of America. It speaks to the idea that if I can stay on the train long enough the scenery is gonna change.”

“When you're young you think things will never change; "I'm always going to be struggling" and "no one is ever gonna want me". These kids need to hear it. There is a way out.”

“Parents and counselors on the front line also need to hear it. I never forget, in part because of my love for music and how it has lifted me up and in part because someone was brave enough to stand up for me when I was much younger and a foster child at risk.”

And other parts of her life are currently coming full circle too. “I now have a good relationship with my daughter and I am eternally grateful to her parents for helping us reconnect after 17 years. She's been bitten by becoming an artist full time too like me but I don't think that's what she wants to do for a living.”

“I think that anyone trying to do music has to be applauded. I'm the luckiest woman alive, I've learned. For the early part of my life to make any sense; the mental illness, violence, death, tragedy; if you take it all in face value; it makes no sense at all. If I back up and say I'm gonna try to get out of the way of all these experiences- if I can- then my craft and my conduct turns out to have some kind of purpose after all. Now I can help someone else understand they're not alone. They can get to the other side too. I think that's good news. There's too many people out there just going through the motions.”

Her passion is evident onstage and off. “When I first heard about the award nominations, I was sitting in front of my lap-top just crying. I was SO happy. With Amazon, they reach so many people. I was very humbled, grateful and extremely happy about my good fortune.

In 2009, Janiva was named the B.B King Blues Artist Of The Year by The Blues Foundation becoming only the second woman, after Koko Taylor to be so honored. In the same year, she was named the Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the year which she had already won in 2006 and 2007. She was nominated again last year. Since 2006, she has had 17 similar nominations. In fact, a recent USA Today has stated in print: "Magness is a blues star"; how cool is it for this artist with a long, hard life to finally be recognized? It doesn't get any better than this! (laughs)

Is there a more suitable blues artist to listen to for advice on overcoming distractions and furthering your career? I have a lot of things I can tell people in terms of life and music. I do. I really do. Resistance is the ticket. Do not give up. Do your homework. Get full command of your instrument. Eat it. Sleep it. Shit it. (laughs)

“There is a huge glut of mediocre players and beneath that are people who didn't do their homework and have no respect for their instrument. In my experience, that's not where the better artists are. Do your homework.

In concert, the music starts, Magness closes her eyes and starts to sing. The walls shake and the crowd goes wild. And in some circles, she is compared to Mavis Staples. “I am deeply honored by that comparison. She is simply the best. In the past, I have heard people compare me to both Tina Turner and Bonnie Raitt. Both of those artists I am a huge fan of so I feel very much complimented whenever I hear that. Whether it's true or not is a different story but I love to hear things like that; it justifies my career.”

Getting into useless arguments about who is more soulful Etta or Aretha misses the point: honesty and passion know no audio boundaries. One discussion that is important however is the amount of influence experience has over innocence and naivety. Can a voice with no memory reach into your soul? The sounds of this songstress are on the other side of this spectrum.

In a musical era where genres are less precise and artists have difficulty identifying themselves in a specific way, Janiva’s incredible drive and passion are quickly noticed and greatly appreciated.

Visit Janiva's website at:

Photos by Bob Kieser © 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 7

Danny Marks - A Friend In The Blues

Self produced

Twelve Tracks - 44:13

There’s no doubt about it there are some fabulous blues musicians in Canada; Johnny Max, Matt Andersen, Chris Whitley; Monkey Junk and so many more. Well, here’s Danny Marks, one more to add to the bunch. Mr. Danny Marks.

A fixture on the Toronto blues scene for many years, Danny’s roots go back to the 1960s as a founding member of the band Edward Bear. He is an accomplished singer and songwriter (with a nice storyteller touch) and a highly skilled guitar player who can move from rocky electric blues to beautifully controlled Mississippi John Hurt style finger picking, at the drop of a plectrum.

This his fourth album and it comes with an excellent mix of songs ranging from the opener Caretaker a moody almost ethereal piece with some super axe work to two tribute songs Blues For Lonnie Johnson (a man who Danny saw perform in Toronto) and Uncle John, a tribute to Mississippi John Hurt, by way of some other outstanding songs like Back To The Blues and the gospelly Lonesome Valley.

This all comes with a super mix of musicians including: Alec Fraser on bass and vocals laying down a firm root; Al Cross (Drums); Johanthan Goldsmith (keys); Sherrie Marshal (vocals) and some outstanding sax work from Wayne Mills.

Danny is a recipient of the Toronto Blues Society’s Blues With Feeling Award for lifetime achievement and on this showing it is a well-considered accolade. Mr. Marks does indeed deliver his blues with a feeling and long may he continue so to do.

Strongly recommended.

Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South ( a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian also produces and presents three web cast blues radio shows; one on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central, 10am Pacific) and two on KCOR (www.kconlinereadio) on Fridays at 12noon Central (Blues and Blues Rock) and Mondays at 4pm Central (Acoustic Blues).

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 7

Doug Deming And The Jewel Tones – What’s It Gonna Take


11 tracks; 40 minutes

Doug Deming’s third CD is the first he has recorded since his move from Detroit to the Gulf Coast of Florida and it’s a keeper. Still present and correct from the first two CDs are Doug’s economical, fluent and swinging guitar playing, his clear vocals and an ability to pen a song that you can easily mistake for a lost 1950’s classic. Here he is partnered by a new version of The Jewel Tones, Andrew Gohman on electric and upright bass and Devin Neel on drums and vocals, plus harp master Dennis Gruenling who is replaced on one track by Anthony Smith. Doug wrote seven of the songs, Dennis one and there are three covers. The CD was recorded in Sarasota FL; readers of Blues Blast may recall Mark Thomson’s report on those sessions a few months ago.

The CD opens in fine style with the title track, a catchy swinger with some great harp from Dennis and a ringing solo from Doug. “Think Hard” is a slower number in which Dennis’ harp maintains a steady presence throughout. The lyric offers some cautionary advice to Doug’s friend: “Think hard and get your answer straight. Think hard, I think it’s time to say goodbye.” “One Good Reason” is definitely one of those songs that sounds vintage but isn’t, conjuring up some recollections of “One More Shot” (JB Lenoir). The double bass really drives the song along at a fast pace.

The first cover is Willie Mabon’s “Poison Ivy” (not to be confused with the Leiber and Stoller song of the same name). Doug’s rhythm playing sets up the loping pace over which Dennis and Doug both take fine solos. “An Eye For An Eye” is another of Doug’s originals, a slow blues in John Lee Hooker style. Dennis plays some tough sounding harp on this song that carries a certain measure of menace in the feel and lyrics: “Like the good book says, you can give it a try; tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye”. Jon Hendricks’ “I Want You To Be My Baby” was originally a hit for Louis Jordan in 1953 and has been covered often but this is a great version. Doug’s playing evokes the early pioneers of electric guitar in his approach and his vocals are absolutely right for the style of the song which has some scat-style vocalising, typical of Jon Hendrick’s own style of jazz vocals.
“No Big Thrill” returns us to the blues and I particularly liked Anthony Smith’s harp support to the vocal lines. This is a rolling blues with a put-down lyric: “Just like being thirsty for whisky and got a dried up still, loving you, baby, was no big thrill.” The drums start “Stay Away” and what sounds like an organ must be Doug’s guitar as no keyboard player is credited. It’s an unusual sound and gives the song a very retro feel.

“Lucky Charm” has lovely harp from Dennis, a fine solo from Doug and excellent vocals. It’s a strong song and one of the many highlights on the album. “A Pretty Girl (A Cadillac And Some Money)” is a 1950’s song by Buddy Johnson which is wonderfully recreated here and sounds absolutely authentic, not least in Doug’s single notes and the spoken vocal at the end. The CD closes with Dennis’ instrumental piece “Bella’s Boogie” which is a fast-paced tune with Doug’s ringing guitar again giving that 1950’s feel alongside Dennis’ harp. The playing of the two lead instruments in tandem is great and mention should be made of the excellent support offered by the Jewel Tones who never miss a beat.

Having seen Doug’s band while on vacation in Florida I had been looking forward to hearing his new album and I was not disappointed! Every track on the album has something to entertain the listener and it is hard to distinguish Doug’s own songs from the covers he has chosen to record here. Strongly recommended.

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

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 7

Stevie Silver - Juke Box Baby


12 tracks

Stevie Silver is a veteran of over 20 years in the Boston and New England blues scene. This, his second CD, was produced by Duke Robillard (who also plays backup guitar on the CD and adds a second lead to “Texas Flood”). Duke has watched Stevie grow in his music and appears to be a huge supporter, and I can see why. Silver wrote four of the songs here and covers seven others. Sunny Crownover puts in an appearance on one cut. Silver is backed by Bruce Bears on keys, Brad Hallen on bass, Mark Texiera on drums, Doug James on sax, and George Gordon on guitar on the opening track.

The swinging sound in the style of Roomful of Blues is evident here, that lilting, swinging, grooving blues all their fans love. Silver became entranced by Ronnie Earl when he took the helm of RfOB; Earl mentored Silver and it seems that Stevie was a diligent and adept student. Silver, Earl and neighbor Jerry Portnoy jammed at all hours of the day and night, which solidified Silvers foundation in the swing style of blues. He’s spent two decades perfecting his craft and I think he’s done a solid and an impressive job here.

The original song jump and make you want to be on your feet. He opens with one, “The Money’s All Gone,” and it’s a hot little number. It sets a mood for the CD and shows SIlver can write and play with the best of them. “Taking That Midnight Train” features some stinging guitar solo work by Silver and a prominent and delightful organ solo. “Taking My Time” opens with Texiera and Hallen laying down a groove for the guitars and Silver’s silky vocals. The title track is another throwback with heavy boogie woogie piano, guitar and a little echo in the vocals that is all just fun. These four cuts hearken to the early days of rock and roll, when the blues and rock were almost indistinguishable from each other. Silver proves he can write songs that jump and swing and then make them come to life!

Robillard and Silver go at it in “Texas Flood” with guitars wailing and grooving. Silver’s vocals remind me a lot of the Duke; he’s solid here and throughout. The two of them showcase their fretwork and take this Larry Davis song to its’ primal and basic best. Slow, familiar blues done with nod to SRV but with a freshness, too, with the two going back and forth with solos. Freddy King’s “The Stumble” gives us a cool instrumental and features Silver in a fine homage to one of the three Kings. His fingers fly over the fret board and the tone is awesome. Another King (Albert) and Booker T’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” gets reworked from a Stax classic to more of a New England swing approach to the tune; it’s fun.

Peter Chapman’s “Lonesome” is a big jump tune, and Silver and the band showcase their talents. The sultry sax work on Jimmy Smith’s “Prayer Meeting” is divine. The organ and guitar come in for their solos and the work is just sublime. Eddie Jones’ “Suffering Mind” gets a nice, soulful Boston treatment, as does T-Bones “That’s Better for Me” and Ray Charles’ “Drown in My Own Tears.” We get the T-Bone riff that Chuck Berry popularized in the swinging cut. Sonny Crownover, the latest Boston Blues Femme Fatale, does a sultry and cool vocal lead here. The piano supports well as do the reserved backline providing the base for the song. Silver comes in for his guitar solo and maintains the sultry mood; well done by all here!

I must say I was impressed. Stevie is a great student of the Robillard/Earl/RfOB style of music and gives us a fresh and vital approach to his music. I enjoyed this a lot and anyone who appreciates swing and jump blues will, too. Nicely done!

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.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Blues Society News

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River City Blues Society - Pekin. IL

The River City Blues Society presents Alex Jenkins & The Bombers at 7pm on Wednesday March 13th at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St. Pekin, Illinois Admission: $6.00 general public $4.00 Society Members. 

Also appearing on Friday March 29th at 7:30pm at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St. Pekin, Illinois will be JP Soars & The Red Hots. Admission $6.00 general public or $4.00 for Society Members For more info visit: or call 309-648-8510

The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society - Greensboro - NC

The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society’s 27th Annual Carolina Blues Festival presented by YES! Weekly is being held in downtown Greensboro, NC, May 18, 2013. We’re excited to announce Janiva Magness and Kenny Neal will be headliners for the day-long event.

Janiva Magness has been nominated for five Blues Music Awards: B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year Award, Contemporary Blues Female Artist Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year, and Song Of The Year. The Awards Ceremony happens just 9 days before our festival.

Kenny Neal, 2011 Louisiana Music Hall of Fame Inductee, is an acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and is widely renowned as a modern swamp-blues master. His new release, Hooked On Your Love, follows the triumph of his multi-award-winning 2008 comeback album, Let Life Flow. The CD raked in the accolades: three Album Of The Year awards, two Song of The Year awards for the title track, and Kenny himself garnered two Artist of the Year honors.  More Info at

Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL

Now in their seventh season, The Friends of the Blues present 7 pm early shows: March 5 – Brandon Santini, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, 1600 Cobb Blvd., Kankakee IL 815-939-1699; March 19 – Harper, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, 2672 Chippewa Drive, Bourbonnais IL (815) 937-0870; March 28 – The Sugar Prophets, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, 1600 Cobb Blvd., Kankakee IL 815-939-1699; April 4 – Shawn Pittman, Kankakee Moose Lodge, N State Rt 50 (Kinzie Ave), Bradley IL (815) 939-3636; April 16 – Matt Hill, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, 2672 Chippewa Drive, Bourbonnais IL (815) 937-0870; May 2 – Biscuit Miller, Kankakee Moose Lodge, N State Rt 50 (Kinzie Ave), Bradley IL (815) 939-3636; May 16 – James Armstrong, Venue TBA; May 30 – Bryan Lee, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, 1600 Cobb Blvd., Kankakee IL 815-939-1699. More information: or

San Louis Obispo Blues Society - San Luis Obispo, CA

The San Luis Obispo Blues Society welcomes Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers on Saturday, March 2 at 8:00pm at the SLO Vets Hall (801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo, California). The Cinders open the show. Tickets are $17 for Blues Society members and $20 for the general public. All tickets are sold at the door. SLO Dance offers free dance lessons at 7:30pm. 21 and over, please. For more information, call 805/541-7930 or visit our website

The New Mexico Blues Society - Rio Rancho, NM

The New Mexico Blues Society will be holding it's 3rd "Cused of the Blues" festival on March 16th, 2013 @ 1521 Broadway SW, Albuquerque, NM featuring local, New Mexico talent. Hillary Smith & Friends will be headlining the show. So far the lineup, still under construction, consists of The Kenny Skywolf Band, Twisted Mojo, The Jake Jones Band, The Memphis P-Tails with Joanie Cere, The Albuquerque Blues Connection, Hillary Smith & Friends, plus an hour long All Star Jam to close the show which will run from 1:00pm until 9:00pm. Admission is $5.00 for NMBS Members and $7.00 for nonmembers. We will be holding raffles and a silent auction. All proceeds will go toward our Youth Scholarship Fund, Blues In The Schools Program (BITS), and sending a couple of kids to music camp this year. As part of our current membership drive, those joining NMBS between now and March 16th will receive a free ticket to this event. Memberships are as follows: Individual Membership = $20.00/year, Family Membership = $30.00/year, and Band/Business Membership = $40.00/year. Please check us out on Facebook and go to our web site: for the latest listings of Blues Gigs in New Mexico. Blues are happening here and growing by leaps and bounds each and every year. If you are a die hard Blues Fan/Musician and looking for a change, please consider relocating to new Mexico, "The land of Enchantment."

Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford/Northern Illinois

On Friday, March 15th Bobby Messano returns to Rockford after too long an absence. Bobby will be playing at Mary's Place on 602 North Madison Street at 8 PM. Cover charge is only $10 and if you pay in advance you get limited reserved seating. Bobby is a virtuoso guitar player who has been around and played with many of the greats. His passion is blues and that has been the focus of his career. His albums have received great levels of acclaim, including Grammy nominations for 2007's "Live in Madison" and the the latest from 2011 "That's Why I Don't Sing The Blues." This will be a great show!

The Inaugural Field of Blues Festival to be held at the Rockford Aviators Stadium on June 22nd has finalized their lineup and they have six great bands ready to be featured on stage. Crossroads Blues Society is proud to announce that Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials, Willie Buck and Tail Dragger with the Rockin' Johnny Band, Toronzo Cannon, Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames, Aaron Williams and he HooDoo, Steve Ditzell and the Flaming Mudcats will be the lineup for the event. This lineup gets into deep traditional, funky, and rocking blues; the energy and sound will please all blues fans and anyone else who attends. Gates will open at 11 AM and the fun begins at noon! Advanced tickets go on sale soon and will be only $10; admission at the gate will be $15. Parking on site will be $2: ample parking is available at the stadium. For more info see

Ventura County Blues Society- Ventura, CA

The Ventura (Calif.) County Blues Society presents the 8th Annual Ventura County Blues Festival (formerly the Simi Valley Blues Festival) on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at Moorpark College in Moorpark, Calif. starting 11 a.m. and featuring headliners the legendary Johnny Rivers; Savoy Brown featuring Kim Simmonds; and Kenny Neal; plus regional acts Dona Oxford, Preston Smith & The Crocodiles, and Michael John And The Bottom Line. Tickets $25. in advance, $30. day of show; kids 12 and under free (with adult). Proceeds benefit The American Diabetes Association and local charities. Info./Tickets: (805) 501-7122 or log onto

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club (ICBC) has announced the date for their 27th Anniversary Celebration, Saturday, March 2, 2013, featuring Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers and the 2012 Blues Challenge winners Back Pack Jones at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 2200 S. Meadowbrook, Springfield, IL from 7:30 pm to 12:00 am.

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. Feburary 25 - Lionel Young, March 4 - Brandon Santini, March 11 - Eddie Snow Birthday Tribute w/ Bill Evans, March 18 - Mojo Cats, March 25 - JP Soars, Apr 1st - Shawn Pittman, Apr8th - Blues Deacons, Apr 15th - Matt Hill, Apr 22nd - Brad Vickers & His Vestopolanias, Apr 29th - Stone Cold Blues Band. More info available at 

West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, W.V.

The West Virginia Blues Society, Inc. presents the return of its rockin’ annual event, the 6th Annual Charlie West Blues Fest (CWBF), Friday, May 17th and Saturday, May 18th at Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston, WV.

This free event, which has gained national attention throughout its five year history, will play host to some of the most talented and up-and-coming blues artists in the country and from around the world. The return of the legendary Ava Popovich as well as Davina and the Vagabonds will surely get you moving, and other highlighted artists include Kim Wilson & The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Magic Slim & The Teardrops and Mojo Theory, just to name a few.

The CWBF is an annual event dedicated to support wounded service members through the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP)—a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors. For information on sponsorships and donations contact Jack Rice, West Virginia Blues Society at (304) 389-1439or Visit

The West Michigan Blues Society - Grand Rapids, MI

The West Michigan Blues Society in cooperation with community supported radio station WYCE 88.1 present the 2013 Cabin Fever Blues Series. The Series will be held at Billy's Lounge 1437 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI. 616-459-5757. Music starts at 9:30 PM. The band participating this year are: February 23 - Sena Ehrhardt, March 2 - Peaches Staten. Cover for the shows are $10.00 per show.

The Great Northern Blues Society - Wausau, WI

The Great Northern Blues Society is having our annual fundraiser known as the “Blues Café” on 3/9/13 in Rothschild, WI (near Wausau, WI)

Doors to the Rothschild Pavilion (1104 Park Street, Rothschild, WI) open at noon, music starts at 1:00PM with 10 hours of non-interrupted Music featuring Donnie Pick & the Road Band, Kilborn Alley Band, Grady Champion, Magic Slim & The Teardrops. Corey Stevens and Robert “One-Man” Johnson will be playing Acoustic Sets between main stage acts. There will be 4 Food vendors on site, with Cold Adult Beverages.$17 in advance - $22 at the door.  For general information, and Ticket information go to –

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 7

Eric Bibb and Habib KoitéBrothers in Bamako

Stony Plain Records &

13 tracks / 52:32

We have all seen plenty of established musicians collaborate with each other to create new art, but few of them go to the lengths that Eric Bibb and Habib Koité went to for their new CD, Brothers in Bamako. You see, Eric and Habib are both singers an guitarists, but they come from opposite sides of the world, and despite their diverse circumstances they were still able to put together a very pretty project.

Eric Bibb was born in New York into a musical family; he got his first guitar at the age of seven and started playing in his father’s show at sixteen. After deciding that college was not for him, he split for Paris and ended up touring the world with his band. He has released over thirty of his own albums, and has appeared on countless others. Eric has earned the respect of his peers and has received numerous awards for his blues work, including a Grammy nomination.

Habib Koité was also born into a musical family, but this time in Senegal, and he received formal musical training from the Bamako National Institute of the Arts in Mali. He started the West African super-group Bamada in 1988, and since then they have performed throughout Europe and North America. He has performed with many fine artists, including one of my favorites, Bonnie Raitt.

Koité met Bibb when they were both asked to play songs on the 1999 Mali to Memphis album, which also includes great tracks from John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. Eric and Habib became friends and exchanged ideas, and finally got together last year in Bamako, Mali to record Brothers in Bamako. This thirteen track effort includes original songs from each of them, a few Mali traditionals, and an unexpected cover tune. Both men provided vocals, guitar, banjo and ukulele parts, and they were joined by Mamadou Kone on percussion.

There is a little bit of everything on this album, but even with the different genres that are used there is a consistently calm and soothing vibe to the material. The first few tracks provide each man’s view of the world the other lives in. Bibb wrote and sang “On My Way to Bamako” which has simple lyrics and an island feel to it, while Koité provided his impressions of the City of Angels in “L.A.” which is not in English except for his repeated expression of his love for tequila. The liner notes are in French, so I cannot help out with the meaning on this one. But in this case the lyrics are secondary to the music. Both songs are layered with different types of guitars and guitar-like stringed instruments, and that is where the joy of listening to this album comes from.

The duo also recorded a pair of songs that bring social commentary to the forefront. “We Don’t Care” is a Bibb original that pokes at class differences and social hypocrisy, while an undercurrent of guitar stylings noodles unobtrusively below. Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” was also included, and I like what Koité and Bibb did with it. The raw framework of banjo is perfect for this mournful tune, and Olli Haavisto added a tasteful pedal steel guitar to the mix. These songs are particularly poignant when one considers the turmoil that the people of Northern Mali have gone through in the past year.

Overall this is a world folk music album, but it does have blues moments, which is not surprising as Eric has a heavy blues and gospel background. “With My Maker I Am One” has a blues base with slickly-played guitars and a single shaker for percussion. It is a bare bones song that Bibb wrote to show that despite our differences we are all the same when an eternal viewpoint is taken. “Send Us Brighter Days” is a slow-paced duet in English and French that has country underpinnings with a blues overlay. And then there is “Goin’ down the Road Feelin’ Bad” which is a traditional that has been recorded by many artists; you may be familiar with the Earl Scruggs or the Grateful Dead versions. This one has Bibb on vocals with clever banjo picking and a smooth guitar solo that plays well off the lyrics. A 30-second guitar outro finishes off this final track on the CD.

Brothers in Bamako is hard to classify and is certainly not mainstream, but you can always count on Habib Koité and Eric Bibb to turn in a solid performance. Their voices and guitars work so well together, that at times it seems like they are twins that were separated at birth. If you are fans of either of these musicians, this album is a must listen!

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

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 Featured Blues Review 5 of 7

Corey Lueck and the Smoke Wagon Blues Band - It Ain’t Easy


15 songs; 63:58 minutes

Styles: Traditional Blues, Modern Electric Blues, Blues Rock

“It Ain’t Easy” to break into the blues world, but Corey Lueck (pronounced “Luke”) and his Smoke Wagon Blues Band have done it with aplomb! Formed in 1997, they became famous in Ontario, Canada’s well known Hess Village music scene, performing classic Chicago blues, New Orleans swing and original material. Three independent CD releases, international radio play, and a large local fan base led the band to release their first national album in 2006, titled “The Smoke Wagon Blues Band and Friends.” Now, six years later, “It Ain’t Easy” emerged from their creative minds and instruments, featuring fourteen original songs and one cover, Rudy Stevenson’s “Ain’t No Use.” The three best features of the Smoke Wagon Blues Band are their high level of energy, instrumental ensemble dynamics, and clever songwriting. Primarily featured are lead vocalist and harpist Corey Lueck, guitarist Mike Stubbs, Steve Sherman on drums and bass, and Jesse O’brien on piano and organ. These top three songs are well suited for radio play:

Track 04: “Hen House Hopping”--Quaint barnyard metaphors disguise the desire of a “rooster”: “Well, she’s a real fine chick, keeps her feathers all puffed, and the way she struts around with her tail sticking up….” Mike Stubbs’ sly dobro winks at listeners with its knowing notes, emphasizing the tongue-in-cheek nature of this ditty. “Mama, you’d better lock up the coop--the Big Bad Wolf is coming in!” Gavin Robertson guest-stars on drums.

Track 09: “Tongue Tied”--Gordon Aeichele’s sultry sax and bouncy bass exude confidence here, but not our narrator! Lueck can only manage to sing and stutter catchy half-syllables when approaching the woman he wants: “how-how-how, mmm-mmm-mmm, yeah, yeah, yeah!” Luckily, background vocalists Mike Stubbs (also on guitar) and Rhonda Davidson back him up. Sing along, grab a dance partner, or both as you take vicarious pleasure in Corey’s being “Tongue Tied”!

Track 11: “Fine Furred Momma”--Snagging a rich lover can be more trouble than it’s worth: “She’s a fine-furred momma, upper-class, will only drink champagne from a bottomless glass….” Lueck rips on his harmonica in riveting fits of rage, as does Jesse O’brien on organ. More than on any other song, the Smoke Wagon Blues Bland plays full-throttle, holding nothing back. This spicy traditional blues number will conquer purists’ hearts.

“We created this album,” Lueck states in the liner notes, “to speak our ‘truth’ and to share our emotional attachment to the music. Ideally, this is a record in which the song takes precedence over anything else. We believe this is the closest we‘ve ever come to that ideal.” One thing’s for sure: “It Ain’t Easy” to turn this album down or off!

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.

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 Featured Blues Review 6 of 7

John Németh - Blues Live


13 tracks/65:14

It is commonly understood that the best music, no matter what genre, happens live on stage where the artist/band can interact with the audience and feed off their energy. Many artists have career-defining moments documented by a live recording – think B.B. King Live at the Regal, Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison or James Brown Live at the Apollo. You can add John Neméth to the list. After deciding to release two live projects on his own, one focusing on blues and the other on his soulful side, Németh was rewarded with five Blues Music Award nominations, including B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, Contemporary Blues Album, Instrumentalist – Harmonica, Soul-Blues Album, and Soul-Blues Male Artist. It is quite an accomplishment and one listen to the blues disc quickly settles any doubts one might have about Németh getting so much acclaim.

Right from the start Németh's voice delivers an emotional wallop on “Every Night About This Time”, which he matches with some hard blowing on his harp. He tears in his original “Country Boy”, sounding like he is trying to blow the house down. Guitarist Kid Andersen matches his intensity with a fiery solo that brings cheers from the crowd. Németh dirties up his vocal by singing through his harp mic on “Ain't Too Old”, then glides through a stirring rendition of Magic Sam's “She Belongs to Me”.

The focus then shifts to Németh's songwriting skills with seven songs that clearly illustrates his deep understanding of blues traditions. “Blues in My Heart” finds him phrasing his vocals like Junior Wells one minute, then laying down some dazzling runs on his chromatic harp. The band slows things down on “She Did Not Show” as Németh describes a friend's poor track record with women. Things take a darker turn on “Daughter of the Devil” as Németh's harp serves as a forceful beacon to protect you from the forces of evil. “Love Gone Crazy” settles into a funkier mode that sets up more dynamic harp playing from the leader. The charming title for “You're an Angel” hides the fact that Németh wrote the song about a woman “...sent to wreck my life.” Any question about his true feelings are answered when Németh instructs guitarist A. C. Myles to send the no-good woman to the gates of Hades – and Myles obliges with a rousing guitar crescendo.

The tracks come from three California shows recorded over an eight day stretch last year. The band is with Németh every step of the way. Bob Welsh joins Andersen and Myles on guitar. The rhythm section is in the capable hands of Nick Fishman on drums and Tommy Folen on bass with John Lee Sanders making significant contributions on various keyboards.

Németh finishes the set with “Stop Breaking Down” as he again shows how much influence Wells had on his style while Andersen sounds comfortable playing the role of Buddy Guy. Then the band rocks hard on Don Robey's “Mother In Law” as the guitars play off each behind Németh's anguished promises to change if his lover would return home. Whether it's his electrifying vocals or tasty harp playing, John Németh delivers outstanding performances throughout a first-rate collection of material. After you hear it, there will be no doubt in your mind that Németh deserves any of the honors that come his way – making this one highly recommended!.

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.

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 Featured Blues Review 7 of 7

John Németh – Soul Live


12 tracks/55:26

The second of a set of live recordings that display the full scope of John Németh's talents, this one focuses on his skill as a blue-eyed soul singer and songwriter. These tracks catch his voice getting down and dirty in a lower register one minute, then soaring to a spine-tingling soul shout the next. His passionate renderings make each of his nine originals sound like tunes rescued from vintage soul albums from decades past.

The best testament to Németh's outstanding versatility is his nominations for five Blues Music Awards. Besides Contemporary Blues Album and Instrumentalist – Harmonica, Németh also received recognition for Soul Blues Album and Male Soul Blues Artist. His nomination for the coveted B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award acknowledges that Németh is among the best. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to think of any other musician, with the possible exceptions of Curtis Salgado or Bobby Rush, who could duplicate this level of success in two different styles of music.

Wasting no time, Németh and his crack band settle into a funky vamp on “Blue Broadway” that recalls a Wilson Pickett hit of a similar vein. Németh may not be able to match the gritty edge of the wicked Pickett but he can grab your heartstrings with a sweet, passionate tone that won't let go. They power through the title tracks from Németh's three releases on Blind Pig Records with 'Love Me Tonight” set up by a powerful beat from drummer Nick Fishman. “Magic Touch” sets a rocking pace that undoubtedly fills the dance floor with some supercharged interplay between guitarists A.C. Myles, Kid Andersen and Bob Welsh. Németh breaks it down at the end to add a bit of personal testimony before finishing with a crowd-pleasing scream. The hand-clapping funkified groove of “Name the Day” has a southern soul feel as Németh pledges the depth of his love. He gives the upper register of his harp a workout on “Funky Feelin'” cushioned by John Lee Sander's electronic keyboard and a wah-wah-tinged guitar line.

The reflective ballad, “Fuel For Your Fire”, provides Németh with the space to demonstrate the enormous depth of his voice. Even better is his stirring performance on “Said Too Much”, a forlorn depiction of a man at the point of desperation. Another highlight is “Do You Really Want That Woman”, perhaps Németh's finest composition. He offers a unvarnished look at the temptations of the female persuasion while out on the road, battling to stay true to the loved ones back home. Tommy Folen lays down a thick bass line in addition to joining Myles and Fishman to form a seductive backing chorus.

The set ends with three covers as Németh pays tribute to Solomon Burke on “Home in Your Heart” before his spell-binding voice floats over the toe-tapping rhythm on “My Future” as the singer shares an intimate moment to share his disdain for his mother's advice to avoid the music business. The set finishes with a full-throttle rendering of “She's Looking Good”, another tune associated with Pickett. By the time it's over, you will have fallen under the spell of this bold statement from an immensely talented artist who can hit you with romantic charm or gut-bucket intensity. Don't miss it – highly recommended!!.

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

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