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Issue 7-14, April 4, 2013

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Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2013

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 In This Issue

Jim Crawford has our feature interview with Tab Benoit. Bob Kieser has Part 1 of the review from the memorial tribute show for Magic Slim.

We have ten music reviews for you! Steve Jones reviews a new live CD from Jeff Strahan. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Low Down Hudson Blues Festival. Mark Thompson reviews a new album from the Jay Willie Blues Band. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new release from Lawrence Lebo. Marty Gunther reviews a new release from Otis Taylor  Gary weeks reviews a CD from The Motives. Rainey Wetnight reviews new albums from Little Bit A Blues and Michael Bram. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD from Sterling Koch.  Rex Bartholomew reviews a new CD & DVD from Murali Coryell. We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 From The Editor's Desk

Hey Blues Fans,

I am always amazed how rewarding it is to be editor of this publication. How much cooler can it be that to be able to witness all of the great Blues artists and music I get to see?  I truly have one of the best jobs in Blues music! So it is rewarding enough to just be able to do this. But now I have some great news for you.

It is an incredible honor to announce that Blues Blast Magazine is being inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame on April 28th at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. All the details of the event can be seen HERE and at the bottom of this issue.

The most amazing part is that we are being inducted with such an amazing group of Chicago artists and organizations past and present including Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, Eddie Clearwater, Kenny "Beady Eyes" Smith, Mud Morganfield, Big Bill Morganfield, Alligator Records, Delmark Records, Earwig Records and a bunch of other great artists and organizations.

We work hard each week to bring you great Blues content and I would like to thank our great staff of writers and photographers including James Walker, Terry Mullins, Mark Thompson, Steve Jones, John Mitchell, Ian McKenzie, Jim Crawford, Marilyn Stringer and many others for the great work that they do. This one is for all of you! We would not be here without all your great work each week.

If you can join us for the ceremonies on April 28th we would love to see you. It is going to be a great show with some great performances by some of those nominated. The show starts at 2pm. See you there!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music! 

Bob Kieser 

 Blues Blast Music Awards Submissions - Deadline Approaching

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 must be received no later than 4/15/2013.

Complete information at the link below.

 Featured Blues Interview - Tab Benoit

Every day somebody is proclaiming the demise of the Blues in America. There’s not much chance of that happening if people like Tab Benoit, Jimmy Thackery, Coco Montoya, Derek Trucks, and a slew of other young guns keep stepping up to the place and knocking it out of the park.

Tab Benoit is a Louisiana native, so he comes by his Blues roots naturally, although he didn’t know he liked the music until he was in his late teens.

Born in Baton Rouge and raised in Houma, La., Tab was brought up on the sounds of the bayou, traditional Cajun music, as well as classic country and classic rock. The Delta has its own musical identity from jazz, Blues, and traditional Cajun music, and this diverse cultural backdrop surrounded Benoit as a kid. Tab says he can't really remember how old he was when he first picked up the guitar, but he learned the first three chords from a book and then "threw away the book."

“Cajun music is not necessarily guitar driven music. It’s usually horns, piano and drums,” Tab says. “I kind of gravitated toward the Blues. I guess you could say the Blues chose me. After I first heard it I was hooked. It wasn’t that it was cool or anything, it just fit me and my style. People asked me to start playing for them at parties and get togethers and it sort of just went from there.”

It went from there indeed. Since his first solo album was released in 1992, Tab has recorded an impressive catalog of 17 subsequent albums with a “Best of” disc thrown in for good measure. He has developed into a highly acclaimed guitar whiz sought out both for his production talents as well as his masterful playing. It’s a treat to catch one of his live shows.

Another talent the usually modest Tab has is of an exceptional drummer, sometimes getting behind the kit at his shows and showing his prowess. He’s also spent some time as a standup comedian.

“Yeah, people paid me to get up there and be funny,” he says. “I kind of liked it because it kept me from having to get a day job.” You can hear his humorous banter between songs at his usually sold-out shows.

But if, in talking with Tab, you want to really hear where his passions lie, ask him about the systematic environmental destruction of his beloved Louisiana wetlands. He has taken on the preservation of these wetlands because to him the land is a special place that is being destroyed by big oil and ruthless developers.

Having grown up in the South Louisiana oil patch, Benoit got his pilot’s license at age 17 and flew pipeline patrols for oil companies while playing his music in the joints around Houma at night.

“I didn’t learn about this from reading books or listening to scientists talk,” he told Georgianne Nienaber in an interview in Roots World magazine. “I had a bird’s-eye view of what’s happening. I could see cypress swamps dying. Pipelines leaking. The beautiful swamp I grew up on is just open saltwater now. If it was killing my backyard, I was going to say something.”

Voice of the Wetlands, a nonprofit organization founded by Benoit is focused on protecting Louisiana’s disappearing coastline in an effort to make the people of Louisiana and the rest of the world as to what was happening to the beautiful Louisiana coast lands.

He recruited Dr. John, Cyril Neville, and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, to record two albums and stage concerts and donated the proceeds to conservation efforts. He has testified before Congress about the abuses witnessed and he launched the annual VOW Festival in his hometown of Houma. And as long as there are wetlands worth protecting, Benoit says he will fight for what’s left.

“We’re all reliant on this land—not just for our jobs but for our lives,” he told Dan Oko in another interview last year.

Benoit believes the problems in his wetlands begin with government indifference and bureaucratic abuses.

“FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) used to be a good organization,” Tab recalls. “That was until they were taken over by (The Department of) Homeland Security. Then under the umbrella of 9/11 they took over all aspects of federal disaster relief. Homeland Security is the most dangerous organization we have now. When it was established it was the biggest loss of individual freedom we’ve ever seen.

“Homeland Security is just not in the people business,” he says. “They are a military organization. Mother Nature is not their problem. When they came along it completely changed how disaster relief is handled. FEMA used to be a good thing. You’d file a claim after a bad storm and they’d pay you right on the spot. Not any more. There was no more flood insurance after (Hurricane) Andrew. Before you didn’t have to worry about it. Now they go out of their way to try and not pay you.”

And the abuses are not limited to Louisiana Benoit says.

“It doesn’t matter where you live,” he says. “It continues to be a problem everywhere. We see this kind of thing happening all over the country every day. This is our country and we should still be able to be heard. It is our responsibility as American citizens to pay attention to what is going on around us. This is not a lazy man’s government. Lazy people leave themselves open to dictatorships. Lots of people in other places wish they had the opportunity to voice their opinions like we have in the United States.

“All we can do is continue to bitch about how things are going and make Congress listen,” he says, clearly fired up about his subject. “More people have to get involved if things are ever going to change. Emails and signing petitions isn’t going to work. It only shows a lack of effort. We have to start at the top.

“The wetlands are a great example of what happens when a bunch of people sit back and watch the government do as the please,” Tab says. “Everybody can be a part of the solution if they would get off their asses and get involved. I’m an expert on my backyard and I’m trying to fix it. I’m going to take my knowledge and fix the problem. Those goofy idiots in Washington are robots. They’re not smart people. It’s all about the best ass kisser. It’s not going to get any better unless we all get involved.”

As an acre of Louisiana vanishes into the Gulf of Mexico every hour, lots of help is sorely needed in Benoit’s part of America, which looks, smells, and feels like a foreign land, if it is to survive. Benoit used the metaphor of Atlantis and called out the oil companies whose man-made canals to the huge drilling rigs opened saltwater pathways that killed plants and root systems, destroying the anchors of the life-giving soil, Nienaber wrote in her interview with Benoit. But Benoit also thinks the engineers also bear responsibility for the damage. The needs of shipping interests required channels and levee systems that now choke the natural flow of the Mississippi. A delta is built by flowing water that deposits silt and forms protective marshlands.

"You need the flow." Benoit told Nienaber. "If you look at the Atchafalaya River just west of here, you will see what can happen when the water flows naturally. Hurricane Andrew busted through the levees 17 years ago, and the water is flowing again. The land is green. You're gonna have to go take a look for yourselves. Google Earth is not up to date. The Atchafalaya is living, it is healthy, and it is building land. It's time to get moving; it's time to do something. Make a decision. If you see the problem, you will have to fight. If you don't, then you're gonna have to move. It's gonna take all of us fighting to stay here. That's the bottom line. I'm not making this up; this is real."

Although Benoit has been encouraged to enter the political arena, he says things will have to change dramatically before he ventures into that world.

“Sure I’ve thought about it,” he says. “But I’m not going up there until it’s fair. I couldn’t live with myself. The only way we’re going to change things is by paying attention.”

After the initial excitement from his Louisiana audience wore off, Tab says his continued efforts lost some of its traction.

(The) BP (oil spill) set us back years,” he explains. “It’s hard to get excited about the environment when you’re looking for a job. But people still need to get involved, job or no job. Quit waiting on the other guy to do something. We’ll never know if BP cleaned up all of its mess because they were given total control of the whole coast. But if we keep digging we’ll find out. This is not the way our government was designed when the country was founded. We need to fix it.”

Back to the music. Currently Benoit is working on a collaboration with Elvin Bishop and vocalist Mickey Thomas (Jefferson Starship).

“It’s easy working with these guys,” he says. “We’re mostly using first takes. We just all get up there and play it. That’s the way I like to do it. Keep it real.”

He has just finished producing an album for Southern Hospitality called “Southern Livin” on the Blind Pig label.

The Voice of the Wetlands Allstars featuring Tab Benoit, Cyril Neville, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Johnny Sansone, Waylon Thibodeaux, Corey Duplechin, and Johnny Vidacovich celebrate the 2013 Wanee Festival in Live Oak, Fla. on April 18.

Activism through music has been the band’s goal beginning in 2004 with the Voice of the Wetlands All-star’s debut CD on Ryko Disc. The band’s tours and shows have been highlighted by their annual appearance and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Tab vows to keep on keeping on making his voice heard through his music to make people aware of not only his beloved Louisiana but their own back yards as well. He says we’re all in this together.

“It’s my job,” he says.

Visit Tab's website at

Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2013

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.

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 10

Jeff Strahan - Live at Sealy Flats

Squaw Peaks Records

2 disks, 18 tracks

As if growing up in Lamesa, Texas, (population 9,422 from the 2010 census, located south of Lubbock on the Llano Estacado) is not bad enough, Jeff Strahan also studied and practiced law. But he returned to his roots as a third generation garage “bandanista” and is now a full time, axe wielding, Texas blues rocking musician. The world is better off on both accounts; we have one less lawyer to deal with and one more great guitar playing musician to listen to. But we almost did not have this- he first had to beat a terminal illness and regain his strength to perform, tour, write, record and compete in the IBCs. His musical style swings on both sides of the border, with flaming hot Texas guitar licks sometimes with a Mexican influence.

The CD is a rocking good time. It probably falls into the rock mode more often than not but it also includes so deep felt blues. They rock it out after the intro and then go into a church blues mode in the “Gospel Intro- Smoke Filled Room.” Nice opener for the show and CD. “Killer” is a bluesy rock sort of ballad. “Champagne and Reefer” takes the blues into the stratosphere with a series of huge guitar solos and lasts over 10 minutes as Jeff has a ball with this one. He quickly follows with “Your Funeral My Trial” where he stays with the blues and gives the crowd some thrills with his guitar work.

In the second CD he opens with a bluesy slow rocker “Love to Be a Hippy” and he tells us how he “loves to be a hippy but his hair won’t grow that long” and plays the pedal well as he wails on his axe. “”Cooler Than Cool” is a patriotic number and he dedicates it to our troops and he mixes blues and rock as he testifies to what he sees as our greatness as a country. “Dirty Dishes” gets turned into a big blues harp and guitar production, much to the crowd’s delight. It’s the first and only time we get treated to the harmonica and it jams as Jimmy “Slim Jim” Rose makes an appearance. “Hope and Faith” has Jeff testifying to the crowd in a big way as he sings and the guitar responds; it some damn fine slow blues he lays on us here. Blues mixes a bit as he rocks in “Love Me Right Now” but “Texas Flood”brings us back to the blues as Strahan thoughtfully picks and plucks as he wails on the song that SRV made famous. It’s a darn good cover. Some barrelhouse piano opens “She Only Hates Me” and continues as the focus as Strahan belts out that he’s glad his girl only hates him when he’s drunk. He concludes with a raw and Texas styled “Thrill Is Gone,” taking this out into the mesa and dirtying up the guitar and vocals to “Texify “ BB King’s anthem; a very cool cover.

The remaining tracks lend themselves to more of a country and straight rock flavor; they are equally good and Strahan’s show mixes genres well to keep the listeners happy and liking what they hear. Strahan’s music is southern rock, blues, country, folk and more all rolled into one. If the Marshall Tucker Band had come from Lubbock, Texas instead of South Carolina, they might have sounded a lot like this. From the blistering guitar to the laid back lyrics, the music oozes Texas and sounds mighty fine. Pure blues traditionalists may balk here as the rock predominates, but it is a fun ride so latch your seat belts tight, hold on and enjoy the ride! If you are looking for some great blues influenced rock done up hot and spicy Texas-styled, you need look no further. And if you are a fan of big guitar solos and a band that can jam with the best of them, this will make your day. Strahan delivers the goods and plays to the appreciative and loving crowd. He’s a power guitar player and singer who can deliver a great performance. The CD is a lot of fun and served as a fine introduction for me to this hot Texas artist and his band!

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 2 of 10

Various Artists - Live From The Low Down Hudson Blues Festival

Sojourn Records

11 tracks; 57 minutes

The inaugural Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival took place in late July 2011 and included James Blood Ulmer, Vernon Reid, Henry Butler, Ryan Shaw, Danny Kalb and others featured on this CD. A further volume drawn from the 2012 event and featuring Buddy Guy and Charles Bradley is scheduled for release later this year.

The selection is certainly diverse and not all of the acts here are blues. Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Orchestra featuring Henry Butler get two tracks both of which are more jazz than blues. Jelly Roll Morton’s “Buddy Bolden’s Blues” has Henry Butler’s piano to the fore of the mix in a straight jazz version; the cornet solo in the middle of the song is also a highlight. Fats Waller’s “Viper’s Drag” has some discordant horns at the start but improves once Henry’s piano takes over. The other act to get two cuts is James Blood Ulmer whose Memphis Blood Blues band features Vernon Reid (once of Living Colour) on guitar. Their two tracks are both Willie Dixon classics: “I Want To Be Loved” and “I Live The Life I Love” but the former has a muddy sound and the latter suffers from the presence of some violin playing that did nothing for me at all but these are certainly blues tunes. That is definitely not the case for Citigrass whose “Ain’t Gonna Change” is bluegrass. Amy LaVere’s “Washing Machine” plods along with more violin and was not a highlight.

On a more positive front Danny Kalb delivers a decent version of Billy Boy Arnold’s “Ain’t Got You” and Ryan Shaw produces some genuine soul shouting on “In Between”. The highlight of the whole collection for me was Mike Farris And The Roseland Rhythm Revue whose version of the traditional “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” is superb. Not a name familiar to me, I plan to find out more about this guy whose old school soul vocals on this track, supported by some gospel chorus singers, were terrific.

As with most ‘Various Artists’ compilations the value to the listener is to discover a new name to investigate further. This CD does that in a mixed selection of tunes that fall into the blues on an inconsistent basis.

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 3 of 10

Jay Willie Blues Band - New York Minute

Zoho Music

15 tracks/52:23

Looking for some blues with a harder, rocking edge? Look no further because the Jay Willie Blues Band has got you covered. A trio based in Connecticut, the band is powered by the drummer Bobby T Torello, who has backed a number of famous musicians including Johnny Winter. He is partnered with Bobby Callahan on bass to complete the rhythm section. Callahan also contributes on guitar, piano and vocals. Leader Jay Willie handles lead vocals, harmonica on two tracks, bass on one cut and plenty of guitar, primarily on slide.

The opening number, “Hollywood”, features a grungy guitar riff with guest Marlou Zandvliet from the Netherlands showing off her impressive voice. Another guest, Jason Ricci, turns in one of his patented, but brief, harp solos. Ricci also appears on the original title track, regulated to playing fills while the solo space goes to Willie and Torello. “You Hurt Me”, a song popularized by Little Willie John, was recorded with a vocal but Jay Willie decided to scrap it in order to showcase Ricci's seductive playing, reminding listeners that he is one of the best harp players around. The harp master makes his final appearance on Jimmy McCracklin's “The Wobble”, with the band injecting plenty of momentum into the tune.

Willie proudly acknowledges the impact of Johnny Winter on his slide guitar style and that influence is readily apparent on cuts like “Chain Smokin' “ as Willie executes lightning-quick runs over a Texas-style boogie riff. He tears through a fast-paced version of “I Can't Be Satisfied”, then displays more nimble fretwork on “Watch Pocket” with Torello on lead vocal. Another Torello original, “Devilbones”, spotlights the drummer's raw vocal riding a punishing beat with Willie adding another blistering solo.

The Winter influence creeps into Jay Willie's vocal approach on “Goin' Down Slow”, one of the highlights due to the leader's outstanding slide work. Another highlight is a gritty take on the Muddy Water's classic, “Champagne and Reefer” with Willie doubling on harp. The band gets down on a straight-forward rendition of “It's Your Thing” with Dave Polley handling the bass guitar. Willie expresses his deep despair over a departed lover on “Tattooed You” while the lone Callahan original, 'Hoodoo” sports a syncopated rhythm and some trippy 60's era sound effects. The band closes with one from the great songwriter, Jimmy Rogers. Willie's thin voice doesn't match the muscular musical interplay.

The end result is a very solid effort from a band that revels in the post-Chicago electric blues style when rock influences were only beginning to impact the traditional styles. While there isn't any new ground broken, they mix things up enough to hold your interest. And if you are a Johnny Winter fan, you will definitely want to give this one a listen.

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 10

Lawrence Lebo - The Best Of Don’t Call Her Larry Blues Mix

On The Air Records


From sunny Southern California here comes a blues chanteuse slash blues cabaret singer with a powerful voice that is as clear as a bell. I would call her music “club blues” for those who need a classification. The songs range from a full band-backed sound to some bare bones versions. Some instruments that aren’t too commplace in the blues idiom are employed at times, such as violin, banjo and accordion. This direction lends a freshness to the proceedings. This collection is a compilation of “Don’t Call Her Larry” volumes one, two and three. Of the nine tunes included here, two appear in a band as well as a stripped town version, which hardly seems necessary. The sound quality and production are all first class.

She gives the listener an early Christmas present with her original “(I’m Your) Christmas Present Baby!” which is given a rough-edged Chicago blues sound with a hard guitar attack and blustery sax section. Much the same approach is used on another original, “It’s Not The First Time”, this time with a short, but blistering bluesy violin solo. Koko Taylor’s “Please Don’t Dog Me” features more bluesy violin as well as mandolin, giving a country-blues vibe. A first for me also on this song is banjo playing a blues solo. A blues-gal would be remiss without a song full of sexual innuendo, so we get “On Time”. “Blue Line Blues” calls up her similarity to Maria Muldaur in voice, as well as delivery. Another first for me is blues accordion on “Walking The Back Streets”, with the only other accompaniment being upright bass. The lonely and spare sound gives the song an air of melancholy. Heck, the accordion works, who knew?

“Nothing to write home about” here, but Lawrence possesses one of the better female blues voices out there today. Anyone who likes Maria Muldaur-style tunes, will find much to like here. Some of the more unusual instruments used here give things “a breath of fresh air”. It’s nice to see a record that doesn’t rely on a heavy electric guitar attack. This CD can be a nice change of pace from more “heavy-handed blues”.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 10

Otis Taylor – My World Is Gone

Telarc Records

13 songs – 61 minutes

Prolific trance blues master Otis Taylor hits the mark with this collection of simply stated songs and word poems that deliver a strong message dealing with the plight of the American Indian in his thirteenth release since first exploding onto the scene in 1996. He’d already written three of the tunes delivered here when he met friend Mato Nanji backstage at a Jimi Hendrix tribute and the two began discussing American history. When Nanji, guitarist/lead singer of the band Indigenous and a member of the Nakota nation, told him: “My world is gone,” an album was born.

“The simplicity and honesty of those four words was so heavy, I knew what I had to write about, “ says Taylor, who spent part of his youth dealing in Indian artwork after his family had relocated from Chicago to Denver. “I’ve written songs about slavery. But here in America, that’s considered part of the past. What’s happened and what’s happening to Native Americans is still going on. A lot of people forget that. This is a reminder.”

The resulting CD is actually two short discs wrapped into one. Nanji joins in on guitar for the six tracks that deal specifically with the Indians’ plight, as Taylor plays mandolin and banjo. He mirrors Otis’ vocals on two of the tunes. That set dovetails into seven more songs consisting of sparse words but rich feelings. The entire work has a timeless feel, echoing the Old West and early Americana with a definite nod of the Stetson to African roots. Taylor’s joined by Anne Harris (fiddle), Larry Thompson (drums), Todd Edmunds (bass and tuba), Ron Miles (cornet), Brian Juan (organ) and Shawn Starski (guitar).

The melancholic title cut, “My World Is Gone,” kicks off the set, briefly describing how the Indian culture was undermined and seduced by the riches offered by recent arrivals to the New World. The second song, “Lost My Horse,” carries the theme forward. It’s a reworking of a song Taylor first released in 2001. Although it isn’t part of the Taylor-Nanji set, “Huckleberry Blues” comes next, depicting the tale of a man being stalked by his female neighbor, an ironic theme since it sets up the next bit of tragedy, Sand Creek Massacre Mourning.” In it, Taylor recounts the infamous 1864 charge of 700 U.S. Cavalrymen led by Col. John Chivington against a group of 200 peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho, mostly women and children, who were slaughtered and butchered by the troops. Three more reveries of pain and suffering follow: “The Wind Comes In,” in which the subject quits drinking in hope of getting his woman to return; “Blue Rain In Africa,” in which a modern Indian sees a sacred white buffalo on TV and mourns the loss of his culture; and “Never Been To The Reservation,” in which an ostensibly wealthy man reflects on the deplorable conditions his people are enduring on government-mandated land.

The remainder of the disc carries the basic theme of the CD forward, although most of the tunes only skirt on the Indian theme. In “Girl Friend’s House,” a husband catches his wife in bed with another woman and wants to join them. A widow’s courted in “Jae Jae Waltz.” An Indian woman serves as a rich man’s driver in “Gangster And Iztatoz Chauffeur.” He’s in love with her, but she rejects his advances despite his wealth. “Coming With Crosses” tells the gruesome story of a woman’s murder in the middle of the night told from the perspective of her son. The theme lifts on “Green Apples,” in which the singer asks for the fruit to be treated right. The song’s driven by a solid guitar solo from Starski, who recently joined Taylor’s lineup after a long stint with harmonica virtuoso Jason Ricci’s New Breed. The set concludes with “Sit Across Your Table,” a simple love song in which the singer beats the blues each day by looking across the breakfast table to see his missus…”What a wonderful world, wonderful world.”

This is an understated master work from a bluesman who possesses both sensitivity and a social conscience. Highly recommended.

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 6 of 10

The Motives - Featuring Matt Taylor

Bluesy Eclectic Recordings

Time: 59:55

Coming out of the UK, The Motives featuring the solid songwriting skills of guitarist/vocalist Matt Taylor are a band that displays a strong potential for establishing a foothold in the blues community. While they may not be a household word in the US as of yet, they probably are garnering a lot of attention on their side of the pond.

And recognition is something that may not be hard to grasp. Taylor is backed by a meaty support unit that fire up his material with substance over flash. While bassist Andy Graham and drummer Roy Martin are of course a driving force as a rhythm section, it is keyboardist Jonny Dyke who stands tall in the spotlight pumping swirling piano and organ runs that run counterpoint against Taylor’s feisty guitar work.

Being that Matt is a competent songwriter, his compositions are real attention getters. The entire band explodes while his lead work bursts into flames on opening track “Never Tell A Lie.” Keyboardist Dyke is turned up high in the mix and he lays down soulful flourishes in “Cookie Jar” which is a driving soulful rocker and Taylor has enough lung power to be reincarnated as a modern day soul man with a rock/blues scepter. He’s credited as producer and arranger and he certainly produces a piece of work that is elevated by material with very few weak spots.

Taylor could have exhibited hotdog tendencies of hogging the spotlight himself to display self-indulgent guitar playing topped off with solos and buried the other musicians low in the mix. But he makes sure this is a team effort rallying to help their quarterback run with ball.

And run with it Taylor does. He creates a determined urgency in “Find Another Love” that once again has band-mate Jonny Dyke’s organ locked tight with the rest of the rhythm section and laying a smoldering groove for Taylor’s chunky guitar tones. It’s hard to tell if Matt is paying tribute to Carlos Santana in the Latino type rocker of “The Rules Don’t Apply” featuring vocalist Ian Siegal whose career is gaining momentum even on our shores. Martin’s drumming seems to hit a colorful blend of high school march and Salsa.

Finally in the track “Looking For The Way Home” does Taylor decide to cool his engines a little bit and sport the hat of a balladeer and trying to capture a vibe of a couples resort somewhere in Jamaica. But he doesn’t stay there too long. Soon he steers towards the blues in the band composition “Gone Before” which is slower paced and another number to chill by with Dyke once again trying to give Greg Allman a run for his money with his dynamic keyboard lines and Taylor stepping on the wah-wah to solo. He keeps it short and sweet without dragging it into becoming a monotonous bag of tricks.

“Gangsters” might be Taylor’s attempt at putting some funk in the proceedings and while that’s considerable admirable, the tune hits a bump in the road because of the lack of fuel to get it off the ground. Not to worry because “If You Were Gone” is a nice little rocker with Taylor tossing up some solos to give it a healthy boost and changing it on the drop of a dime once again with the scorch ballad “After All This Borrowed Time.” Taylor stomps the wah wah pedal hard in the blood boiling “Nature’s Cruel Design” and he seems to relish his position as a character that can rock with the best of them.

Taylor’s brand of music can certainly go over well in the states if given plenty of press. It has enough energy to appeal to an audience looking to add another artist to their blues-rock canon that is always open to people adding their vocabulary to what the blues is all about.

Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 7 of 10

The Best of Little Bit A Blues - Live at B.B. King’s Bluesville

Soul Stew Records!/LittleBitABlues;

16 songs; 57:08 minutes

Styles: Acoustic Blues Covers, Traditional Blues, Piedmont Blues

Maryland’s Warner Williams and Jay Summerour have been playing music together under the name of “Little Bit A Blues” for over 30 years. Eric Selby joined them several years ago, completing the trio heard Live at B.B. King’s Bluesville. Icons in the sub-genre of Piedmont-style acoustic blues, they’ve become fan favorites nationwide.

Both individually and as a group, they’ve received numerous awards and recognitions in honor of their commitment to delivering real-deal blues. Just in 2012 alone, Eric Selby was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, Jay Summerour received a WAMMIE Lifetime Achievement Award, and 83-year-old Warner Williams was honored by the National Endowment of the Arts as a Lifetime Heritage Fellow. From the coaxing of Bill Wax of B.B. King’s Bluesville, Little Bit A Blues got together and completed a live recording at SiriusXM Studios last fall. The rest is history, as they say, and this release was brought to life via Soul Stew Records. Even though the only original song is the last one (“Little Bit A Blues Theme”), the other fifteen surely deserve a listen, especially these three:

Track 01: “Step it Up and Go”--This peppy rendition of J.B. Long’s original ditty shows what one has to do to avoid possible incarceration: “Shooting dice, money on the floor, up comes the law and knocks on the door. You’ve got to step it up and go (‘yeah, go!’ chime in Summerour and Selby on background vocals). As jaunty a guitar player as lead vocalist Warner Williams is, Summerour’s harried harmonica steals the show.

Track 12: “Ain’t Gonna Pick No More Cotton”--Even though this song is also a cover of a ballad by John Henry Barbee, its arrangement is by Williams and Summerour. It reminds listeners that before they picked guitar strings, many early bluesmen picked something else entirely as sharecroppers. No purists can accuse this song, or the musicians who sing it, of being inauthentic.

Track 16: “Little Bit A Blues Theme”--This album’s final selection shows that just when one might believe Warner, Summerour and Selby don’t have any more tricks up their sleeves, they’ve still got an ace to whip out. The sentiment here may be traditional (“the blues ain’t nothing but a poor man feeling bad”), but this theme song packs a wallop nonetheless.

On Live at B.B. King’s Bluesville, there are no musical edits or overdubs, which contributes to the raw, smoking flavor of this CD. Besides being a must-have album for avid Little Bit A Blues and Piedmont blues lovers, It’s a perfect primer to teach new fans (or re-teach old ones) what pure blues is.

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 8 of 10

Sterling Koch - Let It Slide

Full Force Music

Thirteen tracks 47:52

When I reviewed Sterling Koch’s last CD (Slide Ruler) in the June 9, 2011 edition of Blues Blast, I wrote that the music was delivered with panache, fire and considerable skill and nothing has change in that. Nevertheless there is a change (for the better, I hasten to point out). Sterling’s music has matured and his voice seems to have improved too. There is still panache and fire, but it’s mixed now with a measure of thoughtfulness in the construction of the new songs and in the delivery of his still spine-tingling solos. Sterling has often evinced some reverence for the Slide Brothers (Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell and Aubrey Ghent) and their mentor Robert Randolph…well. IMHO, Sterling Koch (pronounced Cook) is right up there with them. This CD seals his claim to be allowed to sit at the same table.

The music ranges from slow blues to out-and-out rockers and Sterling’s accomplished slide work is enhanced by a first class rhythm section on the form of Gene Babula on bass and John Gorta on drums. There is a nice mix of original songs and blues standards, the latter including a delightful version of the Elmore James song, When Things Go Wrong and a fiery version of Mercury Blues which has come a very long way since the 1949 recording by K.C. Douglas and its various interpretations by the likes of the Steve Miller Band and country stars like Dwight Yokum and Alan Jackson and even as TV commercial for Ford Cars who bought the rights and changed the lyrics. This however, is fresh look at a well-loved and well worked song. I have a feeling that Mr Douglas would have approved!

There are a number (more than on the last CD: 8 originals, five covers) of Sterling’s own songs and those include, the opener The Shape I’m In (I’m feeling pretty good for the shape I’m in) and a seriously rocky outburst called My Baby’s Hot….Phew! There is one, what might be called, traditional piece of steel guitar work, on Lonely Avenue which is not the same song as the 1950s work by Ray Charles. Check out too the closer Working Man’s Blues which comes on like an express-train and reminds me of those big power rock bands of the 1970s, like Bachman Turner Overdrive. Needless to say this song is not the Working Man’s Blues done by Dylan or even that beloved by Merle Haggard and his fans. Check it out.

In conclusion, let me say that Sterling’s work just gets better and better and I can barely wait to see him in concert or even doing his Sacred Steel thing in a Pennsylvania church. This one comes 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 ( 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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Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford/Northern Illinois

Crossroads Blues Society is planning some hot stuff for local blues fans! On Sunday April 7th: Weekly Blues Jam Kickoff at Kryptonite in Rockford. It will be every Sunday night thereafter, too, and Crossroads will be out in force as this venuie starts to bring the blues to State Street in downtown Rockford. .

Monday April 8th: Blues in the Schools (BITS) with Rob Tomaro; evening show at Just Goods Listening Room in Rockford, 7 PM. $5 admission, free to CBS members. Rob is a music professor at Beloit College, a symphony conductor and one heluva blues, jazz and rock guitar player.

Friday May 3rd: BITS with Bobby Messano; evening show at Adriatic Bar in Rockford. Start time 8 PM, $5 admission. Bobby brings his brand of big rock and blues back to the Rockford area!

Saturday May 18th: Navy Blues Band Horizon at Byron American Legion, 6 PM for our Red, White and Blues Celebration on Armed Forces Day. Hailing from the Great Lakes Navy Training Center, these guys (and one gal) give a whole new meaning to Navy Blue!

Friday May 24th: Ana Popovic at the Adriatic in Rockford. Start time 9 PM. $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Tickets printed and available for purchase for this great guitar diva's first show ever in Rockford!

Wednesday June 12th: Dave Fields at the Adriatic. Info TBD, in the works.  Saturday June 22nd: Inaugural Field of Blues Festival at Aviators Stadium. Gates open at 11 AM, music Noon to 10:30 PM. $10 advanced tickets, $15 at the gate.

Saturday August 24th: 4th Annual Byron Crossroads Blues Festival in downtown Byron IL. Gates open at Noon, music 1 PM to 10:30 PM. $7 advanced tickets, $15 at the gate. For more info see

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

River City Blues Society - Pekin. IL

The River City Blues Society presents the following shows at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St. Pekin, Illinois.
Wednesday,  April 10th, Chicago Kingsnakes Blues Band 7:00pm Admission - $6.00 general public, $4.00 Society Members.
Friday April 26th - Biscuit Miller & The Mix 7:30pm Admission - $6.00 general public, $4.00 Society Members.
Wednesday May 8th, Scott Holt Band 7:00 pm Admission - $6.00 general public, $4.00 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 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

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 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. 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, 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 Visit

 Featured Blues Review 9 of 10

Michael Bram - Suitcase in the Hall

Swingnation Records

16 songs; 43:29 minutes

Styles: Country, Blues Rock, American Roots Music

When new musicians who accompany award-winning artists go solo, their results are often mixed, from stellar to near miss. Not all who strike out on their own achieve glory on the first try. “Suitcase in the Hall’s” mixed bag is an example of this latter case. Michael Bram’s currently on tour as the drummer for Grammy winner Jason Mraz, but Michael is also a singer, guitarist, harp player, songwriter and more. Born and raised in Commack, NY, his love for music began at the age of four years old. Recently, he played drums for the off-Broadway production of "They Wrote That?" - performing with and featuring the music of Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil.

With these impressive credentials behind him, why is Michael Bram’s new CD, “Suitcase in the Hall,” a disappointment for blues fans? For starters, several of its twelve songs are either country or rock-and-roll. Moreover, seven are covers. The final key to this quandary is that although Bram has a studio-polished sound, he lacks the passion that others pour out from their souls. These three are original tunes, notable because they display Bram’s songwriting skills:

Track 01: “It Don’t Matter Where You Get Your Appetite”--The title is longer than the 3:39 song, which is a shame because it’s quite catchy. Dave Gross’ sly guitar also deserves this compliment. “But with the way the ladies shake and dance, an honest man don’t stand half a chance!” Bram exclaims ruefully. “It don’t matter where you get your appetite, as long as you eat at home.”

Track 06: “Suitcase in the Hall”--This album’s title track is its purest blues number, performed with wit and verve. “Well, I’m leaving this town. You know my suitcase is in the hall. If you don’t treat me right, baby, no, I won’t be back at all!” The musical conversation among the guitar, bass, and harmonica brings rumors and accusations between lovers to mind. Jeremy Baum’s Hammond B3 organ is the icing on the cake.

Track 07: “Chinese Hot Mustard”--Rocker number seven may be about a missing ingredient in a Chinese food order, but it’s Matt Cowan’s smoking American baritone sax and Jeremy Baum’s pounding piano that provide the heat here. “But when he got to the door, it was just too late. He forgot my hot mustard, and that’s what I hate,” Bram grumbles about his food deliveryman.

Also accompanying Bram are Chris Vitarello on lead guitar for tracks 5 and 6, Jon-Erik Kellso on trumpet, Scott Hornick on upright bass, Cindy Cashdollar on steel and lap-steel guitar, and Cary Brown on piano for track 10. Country and rock fans will like this album, but blues purists should probably leave this “Suitcase in the Hall.” !

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 Live Blues Review - Magic Slim Memorial Show Part 1

I was fortunate to be able to see a "magical" show last week when the best and the brightest Blues star got together in Chicago in a memorial tribute concert to benefit Magic Slim's family. As you likely know, we lost a real giant of a Bluesman when Morris Holt, known as Magic Slim died on February 21st at the age of 76.

Slim was an American blues singer and guitarist born at Torrance, near Grenada, Mississippi, He was the son of sharecroppers who he followed blues greats such as Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf to Chicago, developing his own place in the Chicago blues scene and around the world.

This memorial tribute concert was produced by Slim's longtime manager, Marty Salzman and others to benefit Slim's wife Ann Holt and her family. It was held at The Mayne Stage in Chicago and all the Blues greats showed up to play the music Magic Slim loved and to celebrate his life and music.

The show started out with Shawn Holt & the Teardrops, a band composed of some of Slim's sidemen and fronted by his son Shawn. 


Sliding in to sit in on drums for a bit was none other than Steve Cushing. Steve is the host of the long running radio show, Blues Before Sunrise.


It is obvious that some significant guitar and vocal genes have been passed on to Shawn. Look to see much more of this young talent in the future.

Next up was Nick Moss. Nick had his young up and coming guitar player Michael Ledbetter with him

Up next came Zac Harmon. Zac is well know as a great guitar talent since winning the International Blues Challenge several years ago.


Joining in with Zac was guitar great and Delmark recording artist Linsey Alexander and former Koko Taylor bass player, Melvin Smith

We were next treated to a couple songs by Eddie "The Chief" Clearwater. Joining him onstage were Dave Specter on guitar, Buddy Guy's keyboardist Marty Sammon and Willie "The Touch" Hayes on drums. What fun these guys were!


Vocalist Grana Louise joined then onstage too for a son along with a harmonica player who's name I did not get.

The show continued as former Magic Slim guitar player John Primer took a turn as playing some of the great songs Slim wrote and loved.


John was clearly having a great time playing this benefit. And everyone else who was lucky enough to make this event was loving it, including me!

We had all just witnessed some great performances by so many great Blues legends and we were not even half way through the night!

Check back next week for part 2 of this great show. I promise it just got better and better!

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2013 

Reviewer Bob Kieser is editor and publisher of Blues Blast Magazine. He loves his job!

 Featured Blues Review 10 of 10

Murali Coryell – Live

Shake-It-Sugar Records

Disc 1 (CD): 11 tracks / 1:12:40

Disc 2 (DVD): 10 tracks / 51:28

When I opened up Murali Coryells’ Live CD set last week, I did not know that I was in for a few surprises. For starters, I have not heard of anybody else with the Coryell surname, with the exception of the astounding fusion guitarist, Larry Coryell. Well, it turns out that Murali is his son. The second surprise was what that this two disc set includes both a CD with 72 minutes of music AND a live performance DVD from another show – what a bonus!

As I said, Murali Coryell was born into a musical family, and he grew up in the Northeast surrounded by great musicians such as Carlos Santana and Miles Davis. He started on the drums, but switched to blues guitar after being exposed to B.B. King’s Live at the Regal, which should be in any blues fan’s collection. Mostly self-taught, he has played both as a sideman and with his own bands since the late 1980s. Over the years he has released at least seven of his own albums (by my count), as well as a neat collaboration with his father and his brother, Julian.

The first disc in his Live collection is the CD, Live at Club Helsinki, which was recorded on July 30, 2012 at the fabulous club in Hudson, New York. Murali takes care of the guitars and vocals, with Dorian Randolph on drums, Vince Leggiere on bass, Bill Foster on guitar, and Stacey Waterous on the sax. Cameron Melville (the owner of Club Helsinki) sits in on a few tracks on the B-3 organ, too. This disc is mostly original songs, with a couple neat covers, including Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”

After a quick intro, the set kicks off with “In the Room with Jimi,” which is a neat way to find out what Murali is all about. He has a smoky voice that doesn’t sound the least bit like Connecticut, and his guitar skills are formidable. As he cut loose with powerful riffs over Randolph’s machine gun drums, it is apparent that he is not a carbon copy of his dad, but rather has become his own man.

Despite the Hendrix-inspired first track, Coryell is not a flashy player and there is a nice mixture of genres on this disc. The solidly-written original songs are firmly rooted in the traditions of the blues. For example, “I Can’t Give You Up” is an upbeat tune in the 70’s R&B tradition that borrows a refrain from Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright” that turns into a sing-along with the audience. From there they segue into “I Could’ve Had You,” and this Smokey Robinson-style ballad manages to put into words the feelings that any man with a lost love has felt.

The sleeping giant of CD is Freddie King’s “Love Her with a Feeling” a 10-minute slow-grinding blues jam. The band is totally in the pocket on this one with Randolph and Leggiere holding down the bottom line under an onslaught of guitars, horns, distortion and 60-cycle hum. Listening to Waterous soar on the sax and Coryell howl on the guitar, I am reminded of why I got into music in the first place.

The music is great throughout, and I like the banter that Murali throws out to introduce songs, but find the way the CD was edited to be a bit off. The fade-ins and cutoffs of some of the tracks are very abrupt, and this is quite a distraction when trying to get into the live performance vibe. Despite this small criticism, it is a very good disc, and it is certainly worth making the time to listen to it.

The second disc is the DVD, Live at Roots & Blues, which was taped on August 14, 2010 at the festival in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. This one features a more bare bones set-up, with Coryell on vocals and guitar, Randolph on drums, Henry Oden on the bass and Dave Fleschner sitting in on the keys. All of the songs in this set are originals with the exception of his finale of Sam Cooke’s “Bring it on Home to me.”

This late afternoon / early evening set is captured by at least five cameras, and everybody gets some screen time. This performance has plenty of guitar and popping bass and maybe not quite enough drums for me, but overall it is still super listenable, and it is certainly enjoyable to watch. The band is tight, and it was a good move getting Fleishner to join in as he adds a whole new element to their sound.

The set list is a bit different than the Club Helsinki show, but the level of professionalism is the same. Their festival show starts out with “Sugar Lips,” which was a good choice as it is a really strong song and provides the viewer with the opportunity to compare it to the version on the other disc, and find out that Murali Coryell’s live show is consistently good. As I have already gassed on too long here I will not give a track-by-track account, but will simply say that this was a fun show and I would love to get the chance to see Murali perform in person some day.

After playing both discs I was struck with how unique Murali Coryell’s guitar tone and voice are. I can play any track and know just by the sound that it is him, which is a great compliment. Live is over two hours of great music for the money, and both the CD and DVD are worth the money. By becoming familiar with these discs, you will gain an appreciation of his formidable live performance skills, so you should give them a try!

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

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