Issue 7-11, March 14, 2013
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Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine
In This Issue
Jim Crawford has our feature interview with Curtis Salgado. Bob Kieser reviews the 9th Annual Atlanta Blues Fest.
We have 6 music reviews for you! John Mitchell reviews a new release from The Rev. Jimmie Bratcher. Steve Jones reviews a new album from Theodis Ealey. Ian McKenzie reviews a CD from Paula Harris. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new album from Ann Rabson and Bob Margolin. Gary Weeks reviews a new CD from Jason Vivone and The Billy Bats. Jim Kanavy reviews a new release from The Stoney Curtis Band. 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 - Curtis Salgado
You don’t have to be from Mississippi to play and sing the Blues. Curtis Salgado has been doing all right spreading the word from the Left Coast for more than 40 years.
The Portland, Oregon based Bluesman started his journey in a musical family in Eugene, Oregon. His home was always filled with the latest jazz and Blues sounds from guys like Fats Waller or Louis Armstrong. He listened to Muddy, Little Walter, Wilson Pickett, all artists who would influence his musical destiny.
A Count Basie show when he was 13 stirred his urge to become a musician and Little Walter was so cool with the harmonica that young Curtis made it his instrument of choice. From there the stage was set for a long and fruitful career that is still going strong today.
It wasn’t long after picking up the harp before Curtis was making money playing the club circuit in the Pacific Northwest along with his band, The Nighthawks. In the early ‘70s, Curtis helped organize a Blues festival that allowed him and his mates to rub elbows with some of the Blues legends they’d grown up listening to and idolizing. Among the luminaries who played the Eugene gig were Floyd Dixon (“Hey Bartender”), Albert Collins, Big Walter, Sonny & Brownie and Otis Rush among others.
“Eugene is a college town,” Curtis recalls. “There are lots of Blues lovers there. It was in Eugene where I met Robert Cray and his bass player, Richard Cousins. I started playing with him in 1976 after my band broke up when we were both 20 years old.
“You have to realize Robert was a fully established guitar player and singer at 20, “Salgado says with a hint of awe in his voice. “His voice hasn’t changed one bit since the day I met him. We weren’t writing songs back then but boy could he play. Now nobody writes songs like Robert Cray. And his guitar has only gotten better.
“I stayed with him from ’76 to ’82,” Curtis recalls. “It finally got to the point where we didn’t need two front men in one band. What did he need with a harmonica player? The harmonica and guitar are both lead instruments and he would be just as well off with a three-piece group. Besides, I needed to get out on my own as well. I was with him for seven years and Robert and I are still great friends.”
After parting company with Cray, Curtis spent a couple of years in Roomful of Blues and played on the band’s disc “Live at Lupo’s.” After that Curtis formed Curtis Salgado & The Stilettos which played the club scene in the Northwest until the early ‘90s.
And if Robert Cray isn’t enough for a musician’s resume, Salgado runs into wild man John Belushi one night at a gig in Eugene during the Animal House days.
“The truth is, I was John Belushi’s muse,” Curtis explains. “Ya see the Blues Brothers idea was Dan Aykroyd's. John wasn't really falling into step with it because he wasn't really into the Blues. More of a Blue Oyster Cult, and the AC/DC rock guy. That is until he saw me play at a concert In Eugene when he was filming “Animal House.” It was then that John had someone he could relate to, which is what actors do. Then he got on board with Dan.
“Aykroyd was already a Blues freak,” Curtis said. “He championed a band called The Down Child Blues Band out of Toronto, Canada. There were two brothers in that band, which inspired the idea of the Blues Brothers. The whole thing was Dan Aykroyd’s brainchild.”
It’s common knowledge that the Blues Brothers were a huge hit everywhere they went. What might be that well known is Curtis was the inspiration for Jake, Belushi’s Blues Brothers alter ego.
“It's a very long story but the results are that they dedicated the record (Briefcase Full of Blues) to me,” Curtis recalls. “Look on the LP album. You will see my name at the bottom right corner and Cab Calloway played me in the movie. His name is Curtis. I turned him (Belushi) on to songs and history of the Blues during the time in which he stayed in Eugene filming Animal House. For instance, songs like“Hey Bartender” and a bunch more.
Click Here to see the video of the first appearance of the Blues Brothers on SNL that mentions Curtis Salgado.
“Belushi said thank you to me the first time the Blues Brothers appeared on Saturday Night Live,” Curtis recalls. “You can see that on YouTube. He gave me credit where credit is due. I played a strong part in what was to become an iconic movie and a record that rejuvenated the music and career of a lot of Blues and soul artists. It got people who never had been Interested before into Blues and soul. And I am proud of that. John and his wife, Judy Belushi Pisano, and I were friends and she and I still keep in touch to this day. I wish he was still alive.”
Rumor has it that Belushi asked renowned Blues guitarist Steve Cropper to learn all the Blues songs he could before being cast as a band member in the Blues Brothers movie.
“The rumor of Steve Cropper being told by John Belushi to learn all the blues songs he could sounds like bullshit to me,” Curtis says incredulously. “I mean really? For chrissakes, he (Cropper) plays on one of the greatest Blues records ever made, Albert King’s “I’ll Play the Blues for You.” I can just see it now. ‘Hey Steve! I know you produced and recorded some of the greatest black Blues and soul records in the history of American music, but could you please learn the Blues?’ John was no idiot.”
Later, another major player enters Salgado’s life.
“Steve Miller was in the audience one night and he came up and started talking and we hit it off right away.” Curtis recalls. “At the time he was about to start a shed tour with Peter Frampton. Steve later made up his mind he didn’t want to go out with Frampton and called me and asked me and my band to open for him on the ’92 tour.
“Steve Miller is a great guy,” Curtis says. “I don’t think he gets near enough credit for his work. He has all kinds of songs that are still being played today. He really knows his stuff.
“During that time I got hooked up with the wrong record company. The owner was a great guy with a lot of money who decided he wanted to run a record label. But, he was an amateur. The label didn’t support us after we’d been on the road with Steve Miller. It’s all about creating images. If they see you’re a good act they need to send you back out on the road. This guy didn’t do that. You’ve got to get back out there and build your fan base. All he wanted was a hit record. Something he could sell. It just doesn’t work that way.”
Depending upon which publication you pick up Curtis Salgado has been called a Bluesman, a soul singer or a Rhythm & Blues act. To him they’re all the same.
“Basically, they’re all in the same category,” he says. “Different people call it different things in order to advertise you,” he says. “Rhythm & Blues is what I’m doing. There’s Blues in everything, county & western, soul, rock ‘n’ roll. Gospel is the mothership of all American music. It all started with gospel. What I do is an entire smorgasbord of American music. It’s all the same to me.
“They call it different things in order to categorize it,” Curtis explains. “You know who named it Rhythm & Blues don’t you? Jerry Wexler. He was writing for “Billboard” when he came up with the term. Before, it had always been called race music. To me it’s like Duke Ellington said, ‘There’s only two kinds of music, good and bad.’ Makes sense to me.”
Even with the economy in a state of near constant decline, Curtis still sees a bright future for the Blues and music in general.
“I am from the generation who has been lucky enough to see all of the (Blues) greats,” he says. “I mean, I took a harmonica lesson from Big Walter (Horton). The new generation never saw those people. It’s just not the same socially or economically. It doesn’t matter what color you are, we just live in different times. Things are never going to be the same as when I was a young guy coming up.
“The future of the Blues is still strong in my opinion,” Curtis says. “There are still young artists out there who will keep the light burning. Gary Clark Jr. is very big right now and his album is not necessarily straight-ahead Blues. It’s a mixture of what he likes. It’s obvious he’s like me in the fact that we like all types of music. But, he’s reaching a younger audience, which is important. People are opening up more to the music.
“Soon all those Blues masters will be gone,” Curtis says. “The black community has always been out front with new musical ideas. They’ve always been cutting edge, whether it be hip hop, R&B, rap or Blues. They are leaders in American music. But, the door is wide open. It’s all going to change. In the ‘30s and ‘40s it was swing and big band. The ‘50s gave way to rock ‘n’ roll. Everything had a name. Now, all those lines are blurred. Those categories are disappearing and in the end it’s just music.”
With the changing nature of the music business, artists have to work harder than ever before to make a decent living.
“Actual record sales are down all across the board now,” Curtis says. “All genres, not just Blues. Pick up a “Rolling Stone” and look at the chart in the back. A top-selling artist might be No. 1 with a half million copies in sales over a six month period. Eric Clapton used to sell 11 million copies. Two million in a week.
“The money is in live concerts and merchandise,” he says. “Those records don’t get done for free. There are a lot of people pushing them. Until all of the marketing and production costs are recouped you don’t make a dime. There are a lot of people involved. The bread and butter comes from being out on the road. It’s about touring and being seen.
“When I’m out there I look forward to being at home,” Curtis says. “I get home and get comfortable and then it’s time to go again. You get used to it. It’s just the way it is. It’s all about the economy. Things usually don’t brighten up until springtime. The festival season starts. We’re like migrant workers.”
In 2006, Curtis underwent treatment for liver cancer including a liver transplant. Then, two years later, lung cancer was found. He was declared cancer-free in time to release the album “Clean Getaway” in 2008.
Alligator Records signed Curtis in 2011 and his first album, “Soul Shot,” was released in early 2012.
“Since I signed with Alligator I’m up for four Blues Music Awards for “Soul Shot”,” he says. “The label is 40 years old and they are very careful who they sign. I’m honored to be with them.”
Currently Curtis is laying down tracks for a new record and anticipating getting back out on the road in March.
“I haven’t really been doing much since the crops aren’t in,” he says. ”I’m booked to open some shows for BB (King),” he says. “I love and respect BB tremendously. I’ll bet if Martians landed here on Earth tomorrow, they’d know who BB King is. If you discovered a lost tribe in the Amazon they’d probably have BB King posters in their huts.”
Curtis Salgado likens his musical journey to a kid running away and joining the circus.
“That’s exactly what I did,” he says. “There are very few lucky ones and I’m one of them. I’m not a Blues freak, I’m an American music freak. Music is the most positive thing we do on this planet. It’s the one thing we do that everyone can take part. I’m really glad to be still making music.”
Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2013 www.mjstringerphoto.com
Interviewer Jim Crawford is a transplanted Texan and the current president of the Phoenix Blues Society. He’s a fan of lots of different types of music but keeps his head mostly planted in the Blues today. He received his first 45 rpm record, Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man,” at about age 8 and it stuck. He hosted the “Blues Cruise” on KACV-FM 90 in Amarillo for many years and can be found on many nights catching a good show at the Rhythm Room, Phoenix’s Blues Mecca.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
2013 Blues Blast Music Awards Submissions Now Open
It is that time again to let publicists, artists, labels and Blues industry contacts know that submissions for consideration in the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards are now open.
We are again offering to put your eligible Blues music releases directly into the hands of our 30 nominators for consideration in this years awards. Submissions are free and can be sent until 4/15/2013.
Complete information at the link below.
Live Blues Review - 9th Annual Atlanta Blues Festival
I was fortunate to attend the Atlanta Blues Fest in early March to see a some of the best Soul Blues artists on the planet. The show was held at the Atlanta Civic Center in Atlanta Georgia. It was my first time visiting Atlanta but if this show is an example of the kind of talent you see there, I need to move closer!
The show started off with an opening group called the Klass Band. They did a good job of warming up the crowd.
The were followed by Floyd Taylor and his band. Floyd Taylor has been exposed to music all his life as the son of legendary artist Johnnie Taylor. Floyd has a long history that started in Chicago when he sometimes sang with his father. He has a great following in his own right and for this show he brought a an incredible band of musicians including Chicago guitar ace, Max Valldeneu.
Next up was the "Stand Up In It" man himself, Theodis Ealey. Theodis had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he performed his past hits and showcased some of the songs from his new album, The crowd went wild for his show with much excitement among the ladies at the show! This was really a fun set to watch.
Next up was Bobby Blue Bland. Bobby is a true legend. He was was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. He is getting up there at 83 years but was still able to show his stuff to a very appreciative audience.
Next up was Charles Wilson. He performed quite an entertaining show mixing R&B, Soul and Funk tunes.
The next performer was R&B legend Mel Waiters. Mel Waiters was born in San Antonio, TX. In 1974 he began his career performing at local teen clubs and soon became a radio deejay. He entertained at military bases across the southwest for a few years before releasing Suki-Suki Man in 1997. He later released a hit single "Hit It and Quit It from the album I'm Serious.
It is easy to see why Waiters is a popular soul act. He can work a crowd really well. His set was one of the most impressive of the night to me.
The final act of the night was Bobby Womack. Definitely last but not lease as they say.
Womack's set was a great way to finish off a stunning night of music. Womack was born March 4, 1944. He has been an active recording artist since the early 1960s, Womack started his career as the lead singer of his family musical group The Valentinos and was Sam Cooke's backing guitarist. His career has spanned more than 50 years.
Womack wrote and originally recorded The Rolling Stones' first UK No. 1 hit, "It's All Over Now" He has written songs or played on many records including releases by Joe Tex, The Box Tops, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett in the 1960's and early 70's. Womack also worked with rock musicians Sly and the Family Stone and Janis Joplin, contributing vocals and guitar work on The Family Stone's album, There's a Riot Goin' On, and penning the ballad "Trust Me", for Joplin on her album, Pearl. Womack was one of the last people to speak to Joplin before her death in October 1970. In 2009, Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Sadly Womack himself told the BBC in an interview late last year that he is suffering from Alzheimer's. I am glad I got to see him perform this show.
The musicians making up this fest are continuing to tour and you can catch some or all of them in shows coming your way. This Saturday, March 16th, you can catch them at the 9th Annual Chi-Town Blues Festival at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago. The show features Mel Waiters, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Floyd Taylor, Charles Wilson, Bobby Rush and Theodis Ealey. If you have never attended a show that features these great Soul Blue artists, I highly recommend it
Photos and comments by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Featured Blues Review 1 of 6
The Rev. Jimmie Bratcher – Secretly Famous
12 tracks; 42 minutes
This was the first time I have come across The Rev. Jimmie Bratcher who is, as his title suggests, a preacher. However, Jimmie also has a second job - as a blues and rock guitarist - and from this CD it seems that Jimmie keeps the two roles entirely separate, the music here dealing firmly with the secular, everything from love and depression to fast food and microphones! The music is mainly original with just two covers. Jimmie plays guitar and sings, accompanied by Craig Kew on bass and Lester Estelle on drums. Keys are added by Rick Steff and backing vocals come from Craig, Lester and other friends of the band. The CD was produced by Jim Gaines at his own Bessie Blue Studios in Tennessee.
The opener “Jupiter & Mars” is a co-write with Jimmie’s son Jason. Based round an insistent guitar riff, this is a love story for the modern times. “57” is Jimmie’s ode to his favourite microphone, the Shure SM57, a song based on a funky riff: “One day I’m gonna take her home, make a record with her all alone.” Jimmie himself says of “Feels Like Friday” that it makes him think of ‘Louis Prima, that 40’s bebop thing’ but lyrically it reminded me of ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid”. A ballad follows and it was one of my personal favourites, a song for Jimmie’s wife entitled “It Just Feels Right”. The female backing vocalists have a significant effect on the chorus and the gentle acoustic guitar and piano accompaniment work very well. “Check Your Blues At The Door” is another strong track, probably the straightest blues track here as it’s a shuffle with a good set of lyrics about not bringing negative stuff home with you.
“Nowhere To Go But Down” targets depression from the point of view of someone who has got through the experience. It’s a serious song about a serious subject but also has some excellent guitar playing on it. “When I Fall Apart” is a melodic rocker which sounds like it would fit into an 80’s rock radio show. Another riff-based song is “I Can’t Shake That Thing”, this time with a touch of funk. Apparently the Gibson SG used here was the first guitar Jimmie owned, the start of it all for him on the musical front. The closing track “Starting All Over Again” is not the Mel and Tim song but a real rocker with a great riff at its heart, a rousing chorus and a strong solo from Jimmie.
Jimmie’s sense of humour shines through “Bologna Sandwich Man”, his attempt to protest at the stress on healthy eating (from a man who doesn’t even like Bologna!) with a sort of rough country song: “Come on, feed me some baloney, I like that meat that rhymes with Tony; I ain’t too high class to eat that mess, I want a Bologna sandwich, man.”
The covers include John D. Loudermilk’s “Tobacco Road” which never quite makes its mind up whether to go up tempo or back porch, both styles having their moments. The Association’s 1960’s hit “Never My Love” is given a sincere MOR treatment.
This album leans toward the rock side but it has quite a lot going for it. It is well worth a listen.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. Current favorites from recent releases include Michael Burks, Little Feat, Sugar Ray and The Bluetones, Albert Castiglia, Johnny Rawls and Doug Deming.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 2 of 6
Theodis Ealey - You And I Together
Southern Soul Blues veteran Theodis Ealey has released his first album in seven years since his acclaimed 2006 release “I’m The Man You Need.” A long time has passed, but “You And I Together” presents us with eleven cuts of beautiful sounding southern soul, delivered up nice and hot.
Originally from the Mississippi Delta, Ealey did time in the Air Force to see the world and spent a half dozen years in Hawaii. After his time was up, he moved to Oakland before making Atlanta his permanent home. He played with such stars as Little Milton, Johnny Clyde Copeland, Richard "Dimples" Fields, the Blues Brothers and the Charles Brown. He began recording for Atlanta’s Ichiban Records in 1991 and released a number of successful albums with them before the label folded. His spirit never faltered and he began I Feel Good About Myself (IFGAM) Records. This is his eighth CD release and his first full CD in seven years, although he did release a couple of singles in 2009. His 2004 “Stand Up In It” song and CD are probably what he is most noted for; this award winning song has been described as “The Women’s National Anthem.”
Ealey never rests on his laurels. Each of his records shows us his charms, his humor, and his soul. Whether he be groovin’ and grindin’ with cuts like “Slow Grindin’,” talking his lover about leaving (“Think It Over” where her shares the vocals with Lacee) or just playing with words and having a good time with “Theodis, What’s Up (Shut The Puck Up),” his mix of blues and soul is delightfully sinful, originally playful and overall just a great listen.
“Baby’s Got Them Blue Jeans On” and “Curvaceous Love” approach appreciation for the womanly figure in two different ways. The former as he sees his baby strutting in her jeans and the latter where he woos his woman and she answers his calls. Just great stuff to listen to with your buddies or your baby. He can be mellow and thoughtful, too; “The Last Time” asks his girl when was the last time she made love to him in a slow and thoughtful ballad. “634-5789” is soulfully covered and Ealey holds his own with Tower of Power and Wilson Pickett.
Soul and R&B flame Lacee (Lacy Yvonne Reed) joins him for a couple of cuts. The title track gives a spectacular duet with Ealey and Lacee laying it all out. The two croon to each other convincingly; despite the age difference in these artists they really sell the emotion and feeling here. “Think It Over” (as noted before) is another moving cut. Just wonderful stuff, and Lacee just makes it even better. He is surrounded by a number of musicians and backing vocalists, including his wife Linda. The assembled musicians deliver fine performances along with Ealey’s vocals and guitar work.
Mr. Ealey is a consummate pro- he delivers some fine new songs along with well done covers in this fine album of soul and blues. It is on par with his other great stuff, so if you’ve missed him this will fill in the gaps, and if Theodis is new to you it will serve as a great introduction. It’s a great combination of traditional soul with a clean and fresh sound. I recommend this CD- it is well worth a listen for all soul and blues fans looking for some great new stuff.
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
Featured Blues Review 3 of 6
Paula Harris - Turning On The Naughty
14 Tracks - 58 mins
As I often do, when I first put this CD on I listened to it without the sleeve notes/booklet and in the absence of any of the publicity material that accompanies most promotions these days. Before too long I realised that much of what I was listening to came with a jazz-type inflection that reminded me a great deal of the likes of Billy Holliday and/or Sarah Vaughan. There is a lightness and a contrasting depth and breadth to Ms Harris’ singing that gives her an outstanding edge over many of her contemporaries who have only two modes, quiet and what Taj Mahal accurately described as “Shouting In Key”.
When I looked at the blurb material there it was; Paula worked for two years at The Top Mark, a well-known and respected jazz venue in San Francisco. Paula hails from South Carolina and has as they say “paid her dues” in residences, specials and a regular gigging schedule. One reads about her that on stage she has, shakin'-all-over dance moves, a flirty personality and a contagious smile, well of course, one can’t tell any of that from a CD. But, aside from the fact that a smile must be infectious and not contagious, there is still something in Ms Harris recorded performance that makes her stand out. A finalist in this year’s International Blues Challenge, (she came in Third in 2012) Ms Harris deserves much success.
The album comes with a slew of fine musicians in her band the the Beasts of The Blues , a commanding horn driven (the Big Ass Brass) combo featuring Mic Gillette on trombone and trumpet and Tom Politzer on sax, Derrick “D’Mar” Martin on traps, Terry Hiatt on guitars, Joey Fabian on bass and Simon Russell on keys. The band supports Ms Harris to the nth degree.
The song are delightful ranging from the outright funny like the Dick Feller song, “I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore Blues” (Feller also wrote the Jerry Reed classic “Lord Mr Ford”. Don’t know it? You have missed something special.) to the funky Touch Of The Blues, Paula’s own song. She turns her hand to Dust My Broom (which comes on like a New Orlins bit of Rhumba funk), and to Etta James classic, Damn Your Eyes And much much more.
I really like this CD and it will get some airplay on my shows. Recommended.
Reviewer Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South (www.bluesinthesouth.com) 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
Blues Society News
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Heartland Sound Staged - Peoria, IL
A group of area music lovers are planning and organizing a fundraiser-type music event, The Jam Sessions @ Expo to Support Local Live Music. It will be Saturday, March 30, 2013 beginning at Noon at the Opera House at the Expositions Gardens, 1601 W. Northmoor Road, Peoria IL.
Year after year our area musicians donate their time, equipment and talent to help members of our community in their time of need. They share their music & talent, for no other reason, than to help! This event is to thank them for sharing their gift of music with all of us, and all their much appreciated community service!
Net proceeds will be divided by the performing artists and HEARTLAND SOUND STAGED, a musical television pilot filmed and produced in Central Illinois in part by musicians Robin & Tony Crowe. Our area is rich with musical talent and these 8 bands are just a few of the areas musicians that deserve a pat on the back and a Thank You!
The show features Boomstick, Robin Crowe Band, Bill Porter, Dave Chastain, Magnanimous, Sofa Shark and Brain Child. Admission is a $10 donation. For more information contact: Ron Mc Fall (309) 678-8476 or visit www.heartlandsoundstaged.org
Grafton Blues Association – Grafton, WI
The Grafton Blues Association will be sponsoring a Blues Bash on March 15th, 2013 at Shank Hall 1434 N. Farwell Ave Milwaukee, WI. The Blues Bash will feature two member bands: Tweed Funk and Live at Nine. Doors open at 7 pm and the show starts at 8 pm. Tickets are $5 in advance or $8 at the door. Tweed Funk is the 2012 WAMI RnB/Soul Artist of the Year. Tweed Funk’s latest CD, Love Is, has spent 4 months on the Roots Music Report Top 50 Blues Albums Chart including 2 months in the Top 20 and 4 months at #1 on the RMR State of Wisconsin Chart. Live at Nine features horn-driven RnB sounds and the band has played at casinos, festivals, and clubs through SE Wisconsin.
The 6th annual Grafton Blues Challenge will be held March 23rd, 2013 at Circle B Recreation Center, 6261 State Road 60 Cedarburg, WI. Admission is $10. 11 Blues Acts are competing. Doors at 4 pm. Tickets available online www.graftonblues.org
The Santa Barbara Blues Society - Santa Barbara, CA
The Santa Barbara Blues Society, the oldest existing U.S. blues society, founded in March 1977, celebrates its 36th. birthday on Saturday, March 23, 2013, at the Carrillo Recreation Center, 100 E. Carrillo Street in downtown S.B. The performer, flying to S.B. from his home in the blues mecca of Chicago, is John Primer, making his debut for the SBBS. Have you noticed that great musicians attract other great musicians to play with them? Think Miles Davis, B.B. King, John Mayall…and arguably the greatest bluesman of them all, Muddy Waters. Well, Primer was guitarist in Muddy's last band before his death in 1983. Subsequently he was prominent for over a dozen years as guitarist with the stellar Chicago blues band, Magic Slim and the Teardrops.
For the last 20 years, Primer has fronted his own band and garnered multiple awards and kudos while keeping alive the sound of classic Chicago blues. He is a current nominee for a Blues Music Award, given annually by the Blues Foundation, for Traditional Male Blues Artist of the Year. Doors will open at 7:00 PM; music starts at 8:00 PM. There is a large spring-loaded dance floor; there will be free BBQ snacks and birthday cake. For further information, go to www.SBBlues.org, or leave a message at (805) 722-8155.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, Iowa
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society is seeking bands to participate in the inaugural Mississippi Valley Blues Challenge. The first Mississippi Valley Blues Challenge will be held July 5, at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. The first of three bands will start at 3 PM and each will perform 20‑minute sets with 5 judges making a decision on which band is the best.
Bands within a 175 miles radius of the Quad Cities will be eligible to compete, but before a band can progress to the final round at the festival, they must first surmount a preliminary round on April 28, at The Muddy Waters, Bettendorf, IA, to decide on the top three bands for the final competition at the festival.
The winner earns the right to compete in the International Blues Challenge held in Memphis, January 21-January 25, 2014. The prize package also includes cash, travel expenses, and the opportunity to perform July 6, 2013 at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, Iowa.
The deadline for applications is April 20. All interested bands can find applications at www.mvbs.org
River City Blues Society - Pekin. IL
The River City Blues Society presents JP Soars & The Red Hots on Friday March 29th at 7:30pm at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St. Pekin, Illinois will be . Admission $6.00 general public or $4.00 for Society Members For more info visit: www.rivercityblues.com 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 http://fest.piedmontblues.org
Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
Now in their seventh season, The Friends of the Blues present 7 pm early shows: Saturday, March 16 - Ana Popovic - The Watseka Theatre, 218 E. Walnut St., Watseka IL (815) 993-6585 www.watsekatheatre.com - 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: www.facebook.com/friendsoftheblues or firstname.lastname@example.org
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: nmbluessociety.com 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." http://nmbluessociety.com/
Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford/Northern Illinois
Crossroads Blues Society has two upcoming shows in one week plus we
have to Blues In The Schools (BITS) Programs set to go in two area
On Thursday the 14th they will be conducting a morning BITS session at Harlem Middle School in Loves Park, IL and then in the afternoon they will be in Rockford at Haskell Elementary School. These will be the 111th and 112th programs done in area schools and they will have served to bring the blues to close to 34,000 students in the last 10 years.
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! For more info see www.crossroadsbluessociety.com.
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 www.venturacountyblues.com
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. 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 icbluesclub.org
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, Tinsley Ellis, Mud Morganfield, Kristine Jackson, Grand Marquis Band, Southern Hospitality, Bryan Lee & The Power Blues Band 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 email@example.com. Visit www.wvbluessociety.org.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 6
Ann Rabson with Bob Margolin - Not Alone
12 songs; 41:35 minutes
Styles: Piano led Blues Covers, Traditional Blues
Ann Rabson, a modern female blues icon, passed away on January 30 this year. Fans and fellow musicians are “Not Alone” in mourning her loss. Reviewing her fourth (and final) solo release is almost eerie. Her sassy spirit echoes throughout all twelve songs on the album, whether she or her “dear friend” Bob Margolin take the lead on vocals.
For 25 years, she was in the legendary and loved Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women. Ann and “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin have been friends since 1987, when they met at an early Saffire show in North Carolina. Bob has recorded and toured worldwide since he left Muddy Waters’ band in 1980. Together, they tackle eleven of the most popular blues covers, such as Leroy Carr’s “How Long Blues” and Louis Jordan and Billy Austin’s “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby.” Two of the three tracks below might be considered Ann’s most poignant parting shots. The third is a Margolin orginal:
Track 01: “I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing About in my Song”--First penned and performed by Reverend Thomas A. Dorsey, this is a personal salute to one man’s battle against hypocrisy. Ann’s robust alto vocals are just as powerful as her piano, and they make a heavenly combination. In the background, Margolin’s gentle guitar notes provide the perfect amount of emphasis - neither too hard nor too soft. Actions speak louder than words, but for a complete reversal of the sentiments expressed here, check out the next song: Hudson “Tampa Red” Whitaker‘s [sic] “Let’s Get Drunk and Truck”!
Track 06: “Caledonia”--What’s quirkiest and most interesting about Rabson’s cover of the Fleecie Moore hit is that Rabson portrays the title character as a man: “Well, I’m crazy about my baby--Caledonia is his name.” Listeners might wonder: does she call him Cal? If they’re in a less-speculative mood, they’ll certainly enjoy Ann’s boogie-woogie piano and “Steady Rollin’s” suave intro.
Track 08: “Let It Go”--Bob Margolin showcases his pipes here on his “wonderful call for peace and reconciliation,” according to Rabson. One might not expect “Let It Go” to be funny, but with lyrics like these, only the most cynical will be unfazed: “Your wife moans in her sleep, calls out the name of a movie star. You can’t make that better, but you sure can make it worse, so: Just kiss her soft and sweet. Take a breath and let it go….”
It’s no wonder that this album, dedicated to Pinetop Perkins, was nominated for BMA Acoustic Album of the Year. Farewell, Ann Rabson. Your friends of the blues, all over the world, know you’re “Not Alone” on the other side.
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 5 of 6
Jason Vivone and The Billy Bats – Lather Rinse Repeat
The Kansas City Blues Society is probably very happy to have Jason Vivone and The Blues Bats representing them. After all, these guys do stick to the dusty blueprints set down decades ago by the musical forebears they love and admire. So they come out with their own independent release that sees them paying homage to the visionaries instrumental in their artistic vision of how the blues should be approached. Of course that’s a good thing but can be overlooked when there are blemishes in the mix.
And it couldn’t get off to a better start with the John Lee Hooker tinged “I Hear A Heartbeat” that sees Vivone displaying some blistering slide chops on his cigar box guitar that screams Hill Country and that could make the North Mississippi All-Stars sit up and take notice. And while the second tune “Baby Fat” knocks the adrenaline level down a peg or two, the pilot lights get quickly lit up in the following track “The Nina, The Pinta, The Santa Maria” that waves the Elmore James flag loud and proud.
Only nine tracks make up this CD and it clocks in a little more than half an hour. Still it is enough of a hypodermic shot of the blues and there are some musical passages that could be considered re-writes of blues gems from the past. “Black Lone Ranger” seems lifted from Muddy Waters’ “Hootchie Cootchie Man.” It is up to the number “One Hot Mother” to steer towards more original waters and Ben Hoppes banjo is a welcome addition in the ensemble as opposed to a guitar cranked to the max.
The melancholy of “Photograph” is not too bad of tune. At least the band doesn’t stay in this groove for too long as they bust loose with “Do The Nod” that rests on a Bo Diddley bedrock of rhythm. It leads into “Liquid Diet” where band seems intent on taking on the role of blues.
The plus side of this independent release is these guys try their best in creating roots music without any regards for mainstream success and more power to them. Some numbers like the opening tracks would no doubt go down for a Saturday night crowd looking for a good time.
Jason Vivone makes sure to stay far away from the blues rock clichés. Maybe he will hit his stride as a songwriter and come up with material that will shine from beginning to end. He’s capable of doing it.
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.
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Featured Blues Review 6 of 6
Stoney Curtis Band -LIVE
11 Tracks; 74 minutes
The self-described psychedelic blues act Stoney Curtis Band has been working the clubs between Los Angeles and Las Vegas for several years and have made a few tours of the wider USA and Europe, even getting a slot on the prestigious Rockpalast stage in Germany. Stoney Curtis, whose stage name is derived from the Flintstones character, is a Chicago transplant to the west coast. He started playing guitar at age 12 and in 1998 formed the first incarnation of the Stoney Curtis Band. They recorded independently before Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records heard the band and brought them to their new home at Shrapnel’s Blues Bureau International. This is Stoney’s fourth release for the label following Cosmic Conn3ction, Raw And Real, and Acid Blues Experience. It captures the full-on power of this trio, forged in the fire of powerhouse blues rock acts like Cream, Mountain, Jimi Hendrix Experience, ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble.
LIVE was recorded in Santa Rosa, CA in May 2011 and the first 3000 copies come with a bonus DVD of the performance. The album get’s things moving with the one-two punch of “Last Train To Chicago” and “Evil Woman.” The two fan favorites more than translate to the stage; they own it. These songs buy the stage and burn it down delivering the acid blues shock and awe Stoney is known for. The chugging opening of “Last Train To Chicago” let’s you know you’re going on a wild ride, one that will last for 74 minutes and probably give you whiplash.
“American Lady” finds Stoney showing his colors like a peacock in heat. The riffs and groove evoke the strutting blues mentioned in the lyrics and it’s abundantly clear what Stoney wants from the American lady. “When The Sweet Turns To Sour” is a slow burning blues that would benefit from a change in guitar tone. He does turn the volume knob down a little bit for the verses but the overall tone remains the same. His heroes like Stevie Ray, Buddy Guy, and Jimi Hendrix all knew the value of using a wide range of tones. As it is, is sounds like Billy Gibbons and Stevie Ray Vaughan wrote a Jimi Hendrix song which is a pretty good combination. This is a live setting after all and Stoney is playing for an audience keen to hear and feel the power of his blasting guitars and hyper-speed fret board feats.
“Behind the Sun” is a Robin Trower-style mid-tempo excursion into the great unknown. Controlled feedback, whammy bar accents, and sound effects all contribute. The DVD reveals the source of the sound effects to be Stoney pulling the cord from his guitar and tapping the connector with his finger while tapping notes on the fret board with his other hand with his body as a conduit. It’s a pretty wild trick I’ve never seen before and I’ll probably end up trying it.
“That’s Right” has a shuffling beat with Texas flair. It’s big, bad and boisterous with Stoney unleashing the double-stops, string hops, and dazzling chops. He slows it down again with “Blues Without You” and let’s his Albert King flag fly, bending notes into space, pushing them to the event horizon of harmonic feedback. Again though, he doesn’t just channel any one influence at a time. The track makes me wonder if this is what Stevie Ray Vaughan would sound like playing Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” The good news is that if you like any of those players, you’ll like Stoney Curtis.
All the guitar heroics might make the uninitiated think he’s nothing more than a machine, churning out guitar licks like a robotic Hendrix reproduction engine, but Stoney Curtis has distilled his influences. He keeps the parts that make him groove and eschews the rest. There are moments that may seem derivative, but you hear that Hendrix lick inside a ZZ Top riff and realize Stoney just loves the music and has found a way to craft it into memorable songs that seem familiar yet new carrying on a blues tradition over 100 years old.
The bonus DVD is a great companion to the live disc. It gives you the chance to see Stoney at work, creating the incredible sounds that emanate from his guitar. He puts a lot of energy into his performance but makes the playing seem effortless. I would like to hear a bigger mix of tones from him and his trio seems to have had more members than Spinal Tap. The rhythm section on the disc is Aaron Haggerty on drums and Steve Evans on bass. Together they do an admirable job following Stoney around the Acid Blues Cosmos. They whip up a frenzy and leave the audience wanting more. If you’re in the mood for four-on-the-floor, choke-wide-open, drive-like-Hell rockin’ blues, this is the one.
Reviewer Jim Kanavy is the greatest guitar player in his house. He has been reviewing albums in his head for 30 years and in print since 2008, and is deeply committed to keeping the blues alive and thriving. For more information visit http://jimkanavy.com.
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