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Issue 7-20, May 16, 2013

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Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2013

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 In This Issue

Jim Crawford has our feature interview with Muddy Waters' and Howlin' Wolf's legendary sax player, Eddie Shaw.

We have five music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Big Bill Morganfield. Marty Gunther reviews a CD from Alan Wilson. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Vince di Mura. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new release from Scott Ramminger. Steve Jones reviews a new album from Pam Taylor Band. We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 Featured Blues Interview - Eddie Shaw

If you’re from Mississippi and you’ve played the Blues all your life it stands to reason that you play guitar. Right?

Legendary Bluesman Eddie Shaw took a different route into Blues immortality by playing the saxophone starting from scratch in the school band where he grew up.

Eddie was born in 1937, in Benoit, Mississippi, and grew up in nearby Greenville.

“We lived next door to the school and we had band practice every day at 3:30,” Eddie explains. “There were no guitars, just reed and brass instruments and the drums. I played the trombone and clarinet for two or three years and then somebody gave me a sax and I’ve been at it ever since. It’s been pretty good to me.”

Coming up Eddie hung out with the likes of Little Milton Campbell, Johnny “Big Moose” Walker, L.V. Banks and others, who would make their mark during the heyday of the Chicago Blues scene.

Lots of jazz and Blues players came out of Eddie’s high school and he and his good buddy Oliver Sain spent their time playing in the many jump Blues bands in and around Greenville during that time. These bands used sophisticated arrangements and multiple horn sections where Eddie and Sain were part of the whole ensemble.

Then things started happening in 1957 when Eddie sat in on a gig with Muddy Waters in Itta Bena, Miss. and so impressed Muddy that he hired Eddie right then and there. Next thing he knew the 20-year-old Eddie was in Chicago playing with the hottest Blues band in the country. Word got out about Eddie’s prowess on the sax and he was soon hired in Howlin’ Wolf’s band. Muddy and Wolf had a legendary rivalry going on at the time and Eddie found himself right in the middle of it. He’d play a few months with one and then a few months with another.

“Those were some of the best times on my life,” Eddie fondly recalls. “I ended up staying with Wolf for 14 years. I always got along with him just fine. He had a reputation as a hard man to get along with but he treated me and the rest of the band just fine. As long as you was doing your job you wouldn’t have any problems. He was one of the first musicians I know of who had insurance on his band members and took a little bit of tax out of their paychecks so if they were laid off they could collect their unemployment. That was unheard of at the time in a Blues band.”

Eddie’s resume is impressive. He didn’t limit his time to Muddy And Wolf. During down time Eddie did stints with nearly all of the legendary Chicago Bluesmen.

“I’ve played with them all, in and out of bands, up and down the highway,” Eddie says. “Freddie King, Jimmy Reed, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Johnny Taylor, you name them and I’ve probably played with them at one time or another. In those days it was all about who would pay the most.

“Still is,” he says with a laugh. “During the week I might work with Jimmy Dawkins and them for two or three nights, then it might be Magic Sam for two nights and then Freddie King for a night or two. I was the horn player for all of those guys. I didn’t worry about knowing their music. I’d been at it long enough that I knew everybody’s style. “

Eddie says he liked working with all of the legends but his loyalty remains with Howlin’ Wolf.

“I loved the Wolf because he gave me the most rope,” Eddie explains. “I paid the bills, collected the money. He would tell me how much to give the guys and I would handle the payroll, take care of the day-to-day business.

“All the time I was with him he always drove Pontiac Catalina station wagons,” Eddie recalls. “Every couple of years he’d get a new one. He sent me to the dealer and told me to get what I wanted and he’d give me a check, sign it and I could fill in the numbers. One time I called him and said ‘They’ve got three down here to choose from.’ He said ‘Eddie, I told you to get what you wanted. Right now I’m busy rehearsing my guitar part. Now get what you want and don’t be calling me again.’ He didn’t care about the color, number of cylinders, none of that stuff. All of that just showed me he respected me.

“I loved Muddy too, but his was a different kind of operation,” Eddie says. “Muddy always wanted to be the king of the hill. He was his own boss and did things his way. He was a good man, too.”

In the early days tour buses were a luxury not yet enjoyed even by the most popular Blues bands.

“There would be all five of us in that Pontiac station wagon,” Eddie recalls with a laugh. “And the equipment too. You sure get to know one another pretty fast. You also get to know how each guy smells before it’s over. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything.”

In addition to working with the elite Bluesmen of the day, Eddie fronted his own band at various times using guitar players such as Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson, Magic Sam, and Jesse Robinson. He played on recording sessions with all of the big artists of the day and occasionally took his band into the studio to record dubs for promotional use and on local radio and TV programs. An instrumental called “Blues For The West Side,” became a minor Chicago hit when it was issued as a single by Colt Records.

He’s also a prolific songwriter having written for the likes of Willie Dixon, Andrew “Blueblood” McMahon, Magic Sam, and Howlin' Wolf, and contributed horn arrangements to sessions by Muddy, Wolf, and others. Eddie also famously had a big hand in arranging tracks for The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions, which featured a Who’s Who if British musicians such as Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Ringo Starr, Steve Winwood along with Wolf’s lead guitarist, the legendary Hubert Sumlin.

“As far as I know, I’m the only one who ever wrote something Willie Dixon ever recorded that he didn’t write himself,” Eddie says. “I always wrote songs for everybody else and not for myself.”

As if he didn’t have enough to keep himself busy Eddie was usually involved in some sort of side business , such as an air conditioning and refrigeration service, a laundromat, a barbecue joint, and a bar, which was famous for its all-star Monday night jam sessions.

For several years Eddie ran the The 1815 Club which was the biggest Blues club on Chicago’s West Side, On any given night audiences might see and hear such top-notch blues acts as Luther Allison, James Cotton, Jimmy Reed, Otis Rush, Little Johnny Taylor, Howlin' Wolf, and Mighty Joe Young.

“Wolf told me if I was gonna own a Blues club, he was gonna play in it,” Eddie recalls. “He played there many times. He’d pack ‘em in, too.”

Eddie says things started to slow down in the Chicago Blues scene in the early ‘70s. The fun had run its course.

“Clubs started closing,” he said. “At one time I’ll bet there was at least 25 Blues clubs playing live music every night all over town. Now you’re lucky if you can find five good ones. We were playing seven nights a week if we wanted to. Things were hoppin’ all the time. That’s all gone.

“It’s a sad day in a city with over three million people living in it and you have to hunt to find five good Blues clubs when Chicago is the Blues capital of the world,” Eddie laments. “I remember when there would be 10-15 clubs open on the West Side, 10 on the North Side, some on the East Side, some on the South Side. During the year we have at least as many tourists visit Chicago as the number of people that live here. And you have to hunt for a good Blues club. Something’s wrong with that.”

Buddy Guy’s Legends Club is mentioned as one of the leading Blues venues in the country and Eddie agrees.

“Besides being a great player, Buddy is a good businessman and I love him for that,” Eddie says. “There are just not enough Buddy Guys to go around. One of the big problems is the cost of running a nice place. The overhead is killing the owners. It may look like they’re raking it in but it costs a lot to keep a place open with the taxes, rent, utilities and all of that stuff.”

The Blues is at one of its periodic stand stills, Eddie says.

“There’s not too many young guys out there playing Blues,” Eddie says. “The door’s wide open and not too many guys are trying to capitalize. The ball’s in their court and they need to get busy. There are a few good ones playing but there needs to be more. I don’t have any competition anymore because everybody’s died.”

One thing has remained constant throughout Eddie’s long and colorful career-¬- his loyalty to Howlin’ Wolf. Before he passed Wolf made Eddie promise to carry on and never abandon his love for the Blues. After Wolf died Eddie has continued with his band Eddie Shaw & The Wolfgang. The band has been playing steadily for the almost 40 years since Wolf’s passing.

Eddie recently released an album entitled Eddie Shaw & The 757 Allstars “Sill Riding High,” which has received positive reviews.

“All of the musicians are from southeast Virginia in the 757 area code,” Eddie explains. “All of the musicians are outstanding and I had a great time recording with them.”

Eddie owes his continued longevity to a clean lifestyle and a steadfast dedication to the music.

“I’ve always tried to have a good relationship with the people I work with,” Eddie says. “I don’t drink or smoke and I’m not a drug guy. I just always try to stay in the right frame of mind.

“I’m working way too much for a man of 75 years,” Eddie laughs. “But, the bill collector don’t care how old you are. You can be 15 or 99, he wants his money. But that’s the Blues, right? It wouldn’t be the Blues if everything was perfect. They’d call it something else.””

Visit Eddie's website at To see some of his great music CLICK HERE and to see what Eddie can do with a Mississippi Saxophone click HERE.

Photos by Bob Kieser © 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 5

Big Bill Morganfield - Blues with a Mood

Black Shuck Records

11 songs; 47:56 Minutes

Styles: Traditional Electric Blues

If Big Bill Morganfield’s last name doesn’t ring a bell, especially to novice blues fans, imagine if he’d changed it to “Waters.” That’s right: he’s “Muddy’s” son, or more accurately, McKinley’s. He was born in June 1956 to Muddy and a 20-year-old Florida woman named Mary Brown. This “Son of the Blues” has become a genre maverick in his own right, especially as he presents “Blues with a Mood.” Featuring eleven brilliant songs (three covers and seven originals), the album is a must-have in any connoisseur’s collection; it is Bill’s sixth CD since 1999. There are no blues rock, jazzy blues, country blues, or other mixed-breed tracks. Big Bill remains faithful to the roots of the music he loves, and to his illustrious father. The three selections below showcase not only Bill’s gritty flair with vocals and guitar, but his considerable lyrical skills as well:

Track 01: “Look What You Done”--Very few artists in any genre can hatch such a pervasive earworm as this song. It’s extremely hard to tell who wins its musical standoff: Big Bill with his chillingly smooth bass voice, Clark Stern on wry piano, Bob Margolin and Brian Bisesi on gently-understated guitar, or Steve Guyger on howling harmonica. Call it a draw, because it’s all top-notch. “Your love is my life, as well as the sun, and now it’s gone, but see what it done?” The one drawback to such a powerful opener is that it will be more difficult to make the following tunes match its quality, but Bill does.

Track 07: “Devil at my Door”--With tongue firmly in cheek, Big Bill explains all you need to know about everyone’s favorite horned nemesis: “Devil got many disguises, many faces he can choose. He can be your trash man or your reverend who wants to preach to you!” He sings this ballad as if he’s already conquered the adversary several times and lived to tell the tale. As down-and-dirty as a mud wrestling match, the seventh track is lucky for blues lovers.

Track 11: “Son of the Blues”--An autobiographical gem, the final song on this CD reveals Big Bill’s soul as well as his past. “There’s one thing that you can never take from me, and that’s the love I have to sing and play the blues.” What more is there to say, and what more can be said, about Muddy’s scion? The rhythm here consists of a soft stomp and a long, slow growl on both guitar and piano.

Other featured musicians include Jim Horn on sax, Tom “Mookie” Brill on bass, Chuck Cotton on drums, Eddie Taylor, Jr. and Colin Linden on guitar, Augie Meyers on piano, and Richard “Doc” Malone on harp. No matter what kind of mood one’s in, “Blues with a Mood” will surely improve it!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 33 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 5

Alan Wilson – The Blind Owl

Severn Records

20 songs – 77 minutes on two discs

Mention the name Alan Wilson today, and folks with good memories will recall that he was a founding member of Canned Heat, the country blues/boogie band that provided the unofficial soundtrack for the Woodstock nation. And more might remember that he was one of the first inductees into the tragic “27 Club” of musicians who died way before their time. Virtually overlooked, however, is the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction, larger-than-life link he played between the first generation of blues superstars and the music we enjoy today. Wilson died of a barbiturate overdose in 1970, and his contributions have been buried by the sands of time. This two-disc retrospective will help remind all of us how important and talented he truly was.

A shy, introspective harmonica player and guitarist who suffered from an eventual fatal case of clinical depression, Wilson was nicknamed the “Blind Owl” by contemporary picker John Fahey. He was so visually impaired, bandmate Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra says, that without glasses, he couldn’t recognize the people he was playing with from two feet away. But Wilson was a true scholar in the Delta blues tradition, fully emersed in 78 r.p.m. recordings and stylings as a student at Boston University. In 1964, Nick Perls, Phil Spiro and Dick Waterman “rediscovered” Son House in Rochester, N.Y. A blues guitar legend in his youth with several seminal recordings to his credit, House hadn’t performed -- or played -- in decades. It was the height of the folk revival in America, and the trio urged him out of retirement. But there was one big problem: he literally had to relearn the instrument. It was Waterman who enlisted Wilson, then 22, to teach Son House “how to play like Son House.” When House appeared at the Newport Folk Festival, which Waterman booked and photographed extensively, later that year, Wilson accompanied him. And when House went into the studio to record his first LP, “The Legendary Son House, Father Of Folk Blues,” Wilson was at his side.

Wilson and Fahey both moved to Los Angeles in 1965, when Fahey was pursuing a master’s degree on mythology and folklore at UCLA. Wilson helped with the research, and founded his band shortly thereafter, naming it in honor of the 1928 Tommy Johnson classic, “Canned Heat Blues.”

This collection was lovingly compiled and annotated by Skip Taylor, who produced the original Canned Heat sessions. And de la Parra serves joins his as co-executive producer. Sixteen of the 20 songs contained on this set were gleaned from LPs released during Wilson’s lifetime, most from the Liberty label. One single is from a live concert, and the remaining two songs appeared on a 1994 retrospective. All of the material is digitally fresh and clean, sounding as if it were laid down in a studio today. Wilson stands out with his distinctive, high-pitched vocals, rhythm and bottleneck guitar stylings and harmonica techniques that earned him acclaim from Downbeat magazine as the best harp player of the 20th Century. That honor probably was a little premature and other reed-benders have eclipsed him, but the recordings here show him to be a pre-eminent talent. He’s accompanied by the first version of Canned Heat: Henry Vastine and Harvey Mandel on lead guitars, Larry “The Mole” Taylor and Tony de la Barrada on bass, and de la Parra and Frank Cook on percussion. Dr. John makes an appearance on four numbers. Absent from the mix, however, is Bob “The Bear” Hite, Canned Heat’s original frontman.

The discs kick off with “On The Road Again,” adapted from a Floyd Jones song and the band’s first Top 10 hit, punctuated by Wilson’s simple swinging harp and lilting vocal lines. Wilson blows a straight-ahead interpretation of Sonny Boy Williamson classic, “Help Me,” before the upbeat “An Owl Song,” which features an unidentified horn section, Dr. John on keyboard and a harp line inspired by Junior Wells. A familiar flute strain kicks off the next tune, “Going Up The Country,” the unofficial theme song of Woodstock. Wilson wrote new words with an anti-war sentiment, adapting a melody first recorded by Henry Thomas on “Bulldoze Blues.”

Wilson’s guitar skills come to the fore as does his growing battle with depression in “My Mistake,” a saga about his inability to maintain a relationship with a woman. The theme carries forward in “Change My Ways,” a percussion-driven song about being “sorry about sleeping by myself.” Wilson’s attention turns to his father in the rebelliously autobiographical five-minute boogie “Get Off My Back.” The next tune, “Time Was,” appears on the surface to be about a failed romance. One of Canned Heat’s most popular numbers, however, it actually deals with a power struggle between Vestine and and Taylor about the musical direction of the band. “Do Not Enter” returns to the theme of rejection, this time by a woman who refused to sleep with him. “Shake It And Break It” is a reinterpretation of a Charley Patton song and features Mandel in his first Canned Heat recording. The disc concludes with an abbreviated version of the psychedelic “Parthenogenesis.” Three of its nine sections -- “Nebulosity,” “Rollin’ & Tumblin’” and “Five Owls” -- are contained here.

The second disc covers much of the same territory. A rousing guitar solo, “Alan’s Intro,” taken from a Woodstock compilation, precedes “My Time Ain’t Long.” The uptempo “Skat,” derived from a Canned Heat jam, leads into “London Blues,” which recounts Wilson’s vulnerability after an unfortunate encounter with a groupie while on tour. His militant efforts to save the environment – a personal obsession -- are on display in “Poor Moon,” as are his growing frustrations with everyday life in “Pulling Hair Blues.” Recorded in 1967, but not released until 1994, 24 years after his death, a version of Little Walter’s “Mean Old World,” follows and leads in to Wilson’s last studio recording, “Human Condition,” which speaks of his mental illness. The work concludes with “Childhood’s End,” another portion of “Parthenogensis,” and displays his skill on chromatic harmonica.

This collection is a powerful, familiar, welcome acid flashback to the ’60s. And it’s a stellar reminder for a new generation about someone who truly deserves more recognition than what he achieved in his a short, tortured lifespan. It’s a direct offshoot from the roots of the blues.

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 3 of 5

Vince di Mura – Love Was

Self Release

9 tracks; 53 minutes

Vince di Mura is a pianist/composer and jazz musician who teaches at Princeton University. He has recorded jazz CDs in the past but here he states his intention to visit the roots of all the music he loves – the blues. The CD consists of three covers of well-known blues tunes and six originals written by Vince alone or in collaboration with Yusef Komunyakoo. The musicians are LA-based sessionmen Ernie Nunez on bass and either Don Littleton or Jimmy Ford on drums, with Vince’s son Dre playing guitar. Vocals are shared between David Whitfield who handles the three covers, Vince who sings on two cuts and Laura Dickinson who sings on one track. Melanna Gray delivers a spoken word narration on two tracks.

The first thing to say is that Vince’s piano playing throughout is excellent. I enjoyed his introduction to “Cold Wind” with its Middle Eastern flavours and his driving playing on the opening version of Memphis Slim’s “Everyday I Have The Blues”. However, I found some of the album a tough listen: Dre’s guitar playing seemed to go off at a tangent from the tune. The spoken word element of “Cold Wind” left me cold, I’m afraid, as did the later track “Anodyne”. Vocalist David Whitfield was a new name to me (though there was a 50’s crooner in the UK by the same name!) and his gruff vocals deliver the familiar refrains in an authentic manner but did not add much to the many versions of “Stormy Monday” and “The Thrill Is Gone”. “Stormy Monday” starts promisingly with some lovely gentle piano but the combination of David’s histrionic vocal and Dre’s oblique playing spoilt the song for me. “Thrill” also starts with some very quiet and pleasing piano over a sympathetic rhythm section but suffers a similar fate to “Monday”.

The originals were less bluesy and more jazz-orientated. Vince does not have a good singing voice which limits the two tracks he leads on. “Laura’s Blues” is the feature for Laura Dickinson and starts promisingly with Laura’s high voice, Vince’s minor key support and a generally more restrained role from Dre. The final track “Little Red (For Anne)” is perhaps the most extreme challenge for the listener as Vince’s almost jaunty piano is challenged by Dre’s aggressive guitar which here definitely sounds as if it belongs in another production, the end result sounding like two tunes playing at the same time.

I could only enjoy the piano playing on most cuts.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. Current favorites from recent releases include Chris Antonik, Shaun Murphy, Barbara Carr, Johnny Rawls, Andy T/Nick Nixon, Otis Grand and Doug Deming.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 5

Scott Ramminger – Advice from a Father to a Son

Arbor Lane Music

10 tracks / 48:12

The culture and vibe of Washington D.C. and New Orleans are worlds apart, but Scott Ramminger thrives in both environments as a vocalist and master of the saxophone. This point is proven by his new album which was recorded in both cities with a little help from Nashville.

Scott spent his youth in Hunstville, Alabama but has since transplanted to the nation’s capital. No matter where he lives, he seems to carry New Orleans in his soul, and his jazz / blues sound has a decidedly Louisiana bent to it. Crawstickers, his first album (and a fantastic title) is very well regarded so I had high expectations for this follow-up effort. I did not come away disappointed.

This release is an ambitious work, with ten original tracks written by Ramminger and not a Muddy Waters cover in sight. Though it was recorded in two cities with different personnel, the set list is organized so it is easy to follow (even for me). The first seven tracks were recorded in NOLA with a core band of Shane Theriot on guitar, George Porter Jr. on bass, Johnny Vidacovich on drums and the marvelous David Torkanowsky on keys. The last three tracks were cut in D.C. with Barry Hart on drums, Jay Turner on bass, Dave Chappell (no, not that one) on guitar and Tommy Lepson on the organ. Pitching in with lovely vocals on many of the tracks are Nashville’s McCrary sisters, Regina, Ann and Alfreda. These talented women tie the two parts of the album together and serve to give it more of a sense of continuity.

His New Orleans band is the most that anyone could hope to play with. Torkanowsky is possibly the best piano man in the Crescent City, and the other three men are just as talented. They slide effortlessly through multiple genres, including blues, rock and roll, funk, and even a little Latin flair. They start with “I Really Love Your Smile,” an ode to Ramminger’s wife, Claire. The piano intro sets the listener up for a good time right out of the gate. Vidacovich has mastered the art of playing the drums without overplaying, and he and Turner are right in the pocket the whole time. The home-spun lyrics are playful and the rhymes are clever, making the whole song come together.

From this rousing bar room romp they change directions with Theriot’s funky and syncopated guitar action in “Funkier Than Him.” This is also the first chance to hear the McCrary sisters, who are a treasure of American music. They sang with Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, you know…

On “This Town’s Seen the Last of Me,” Nashville’s Etta Britt sings a fun rock duet with Scott, and he plays a pretty mean sax too. This is a fabulous party tune, for sure. Britt also sings with him on the title track, and “Advice From a Father to a Son” turns about to be more playful than the title implies. It certainly is full of helpful hints, which any of us would do well to heed. “Don’t be that grumpy guy in your workplace, who always seems to wear a frown.” Indeed.

The standout tracks from Ramminger’s New Orleans sessions are “The Other Man’s Shoes” with a heavy dose of Regina McCrary’s dead sexy voice, and “I’ve Got a Funny Feeling.” The lyrics are the stars here: whether showing empathy for one’s fellow man or that sinking feeling that your partner is stepping out on you, they really hit close to the heart. His growly New Orleans voice fits well with these musically simpler ballads, too.

The Washington D.C. sessions end up with a different sound, which is not a surprise as it has a different backing band. It is a tough act to follow the New Orleans dream team, but these guys do a good job. These three tracks each have a unique sound, starting with “More Than One Flavor,” which has a more urban sound and features Vince McCool on the trumpet. His horn mixes nicely with Ramminger’s sax, and Lepson does a fine job on the organ.

His keys also lend “Must be True” a cool gospel feel, though the lyrics are certainly more temporal than eternal. And the album ends with “Sometime You Race the Devil,” a bit of reggae-infused blues. McCool comes back for this one, joined by Jim McFalls on the trombone and this song ends up being a really fun way to finish things up.

Advice From a Father to a Son is very good, and it is evident that Scott Ramminger has been putting in a lot of quality time at the studio. I respect that he did not feel the need to dominate his songs with saxophone, but instead added bits of it here and there as needed. I am curious to see where he goes next, and if we are going to get more of a Washington D.C.-influenced album, or if he will stick closer to his Louisiana roots. Either way, it will surely be something good!

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

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 5

Pam Taylor Band - Hot Mess

Self Released

10 tracks

This debut CD from the Pam Taylor Band introduces us to this great vocalist, songwriter and guitar player from a small town in South Carolina. She and her band are a fine set of musicians with a really impressive blues sound.

Pam fronts the band and wrote all the tracks except for the classic Etta James cover. Dad Mike Taylor is on sax and he blows that horn like Gabriel announcing the Judgement Day. Kyle Phillips is the young man who burns on lead guitar. The mix of gritty vocals, guitar and sax is a hallmark for this great young band. Rusty Gilreath on bass and L.A. Freeman on drums round out the sound and provide a solid backbeat.

The title cut swings and grooves. Pam growls out the vocals, singing about a gal who wears her dresses way too tight, gets used by her men and is just a hot mess. The sax and guitar solos here are wickedly hot and the song just rocks. “Smile Again” opens the CD with a driving guitar lick. Taylor enters the fray and sings about perhaps smiling again after her trials and tribulations if she tries real hard. The guitar solo here is dirty and well done and then Mike comes in for a heaping dose of sax on top of it. The song sets the stage well for a great set of tunes.

When Taylor takes it down a few notches like in “Next Time You Think of Cheatin’” we get to hear some gutsy and sublime slow blues. The vocals, sax and guitar are all working to give you that deep and dirty blues feeling; well done! “The “I’d Rather Go Blind” cover also stays on the down tempo side of things. Mike's sax mournfully opens for Pam who then gets into the fray vocally. Her voice is far different than Etta’s. What she lacks in the raw power of Ms. James she make up for in emotion and grit. She sells the cut well with her performance and Mike Taylor and she blend well with his great sax work. The CD closes with “All I Got Left” which hearkens to the Big Bill Broonzy song “When Things Go Wrong (It Hurts Me Too).” Soulful and reflective, the Taylors and Phillips once again showcase themselves as a great trio of vocalist, guitar and sax musicians who can make you really feel their music.

This is a really well done CD of blues and rocking songs that will introduce music fans to Taylor’s work. The songs are solid, the performances are tight and the musicianship mixes technique and feeling quite well. I was impressed with the CD and look forward to hearing more from this super young artist and her 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

 Blues Society News

 Send your Blues Society's BIG news or Press Release about your not-for-profit event with the subject line "Blues Society News" to:

Maximum of 175 words in a Text or MS Word document format.

Orange County Blues Society - Orange, CA

OCBS is throwing a One-Year Anniversary Party and Blues Jam this Sunday, May 19 at Main Street Restaurant, 4902 Main St., Yorba Linda. 2-6 p.m. Free to the public. Info: (714) 328-9375 or

The OCBS has grown steadily since its debut last year, with growing recognition from some of the finest blues musicians in Southern California - including an interview with harp great Rod Piazza in the most recent OCBS newsletter.

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. May 20 - Peter Karp & Sue Foley, May 27th - Gina Sicilia, June 3rd - Hard Rock Blues Band, June 10th - Jarekus Singleton, June 17th - Laurie Morvan Band, June 24th - Reverend Raven & Chain Smoking Altar Boys Http:// More info available at 

Madison Blues Society - Madison, Wisconsin

The Madison Blues Society will host their 11th Annual Blues Picnic on Saturday, June 23, 2013 at Warner Park in Madison, Wisconsin, with headliner Matthew Skoller. This free public festival will feature the Boys and Girls Club's “Blues Kids” and a fantastic line-up of popular local and regional blues bands.

Dave Potter & the Alley Kings - 12:00PM
Joe's Blues Kids - 1:15PM
Cash Box Kings - 1:45PM
Johnny Chimes & the Natch'l Blues Band - 3:35PM
Joel Paterson Trio - 4:50PM
Valerie B. and the Boyz - 6:05PM
Matthew Skoller - 7:30PM
In addition to great music, the Blues Picnic will offer a smorgasbord of traditional and ethnic food from local vendors, craft beers from Capital Brewery, a raffle with prizes donated by local businesses, and a 50/50 raffle offering a chance to take home a bundle of cash.  Madison Blues Society is dedicated to increasing awareness, understanding and appreciation of Blues music in America’s musical heritage. Details at

Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford/Northern Illinois

The Inaugural Rockford Field of Blues Festival will be held on Saturday, June 22nd at Rockford Aviators Stadium, 4503 Interstate Drive, Loves Park, IL. The event features Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials as headliners and also has Willie Buck and Taildragger with Rockin’ Johnny Burgin to celebrate Delmark Records 60th Anniversary. Delmark’s Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames and Toronzo Cannon are also featured on the bill as are Madison’s Aaron Williams and the HooDoo and the Flaming Mudcats from Auckland, New Zealand!

Advanced tickets are only $10; gate admission is $15. Attendees can bring a lawn chair and sit on the field or relax in the stands; there is a large, covered pavilion on the stadium promenade for shade. This event is conducted by Crossroads Blues Society and all proceeds support their Blues in the Schools Program. They have done 116 programs for over 35,000 students in Northern Illinois since May 2002.

Crossroads is excited to bring a blues festival back to the Rockford area. There has never been an annual blues event in the Forest City, but Crossroads aims to fix that. They hope to keep this going and even expand to two days next year if this is successful. Local response has been superb and there is a great buzz for this deep blues event that they have planned.

Tickets are available on line at and information on mail order sales is also available there. Local Rockford area venues selling tickets include Aviators Stadium, Guzzardo’s Music on Charles Street, the Adriatic Bar on West Jefferson Street, Kryptonite Bar on West State Street, CD Source on East State Street, Toad Hall Records on Charles Street, Just Goods Fair Trade Store on 7th Street and the Cumulus Broadcasting Office on Brendenwood Road. Call 779-537-4006 for more information.

Also Crossroads Blues Society is planning other hot stuff for local blues fans! 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. And 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

River City Blues Society - Pekin. IL

The River City Blues Society presents the following shows at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St., Pekin, Illinois - Dave Chastain DC3: Friday May 24th 7:30 pm, Laurie Morvan Band: Wednesday June 19th 7:00 pm, Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin Altar Boys: Friday June 28th 7:30 pm. Admission for all these shows is $6.00 general public or $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: May 16 – James Armstrong, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club 2672 Chippewa Drive Bourbonnais IL 815) 937-0870. Cover $7.00; May 30 – Bryan Lee, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, 1600 Cobb Blvd., Kankakee IL 815-939-1699. Thur, June 6, Ori Naftaly Band from Israel, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Tues, June 25, Laurie Morvan Band, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, Thur, July 18, Jerry Lee and the Juju Kings - Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club - Outdoors!, Thur, July 25, Albert Castiglia w/ Donna Herula, The Longbranch Restaurant in L’Erable, Outdoor show, Thur, Aug 15, Ivas John Band, Moose Lodge, Thur, Aug 29, Little Joe McLerran, Venue To Be Announced, Thur, Sept 19, Reverend Raven and Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Thur, Oct 3, Too Slim and The Taildraggers – “It’s Everybody’s Birthday Party” - Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Tues, Oct 22, Kilborn Alley Blues Band - Venue To Be Announced, Thur, Nov 7, Terry Quiett Band - Venue To Be Announced  More information: or

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

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