Issue 7-26, June 27, 2013
Scroll or Page Down! For news, photos, reviews, links & MUCH MORE in this issue!
Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2013
In This Issue
Jim Crawford has our feature interview with Bob Welsh. Bob Kieser and Marilyn Stringer have Part 2 of the photos and commentary from the 2013 Chicago Blues Fest.
We have five music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new DVD from The Randy Oxford Band. Marty Gunther reviews a CD from Popa Chubby. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Lamont Cranston Band with Bruce McCabe. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new CD from The TCM Group. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new album from The Billy T Band. 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,
In case you missed it, we announced the 2013 Blues Blast Music Award Nominees Wednesday afternoon. To see the complete list CLICK HERE.
The 2013 nominees are a great representation of music and artists. Voting will begin on July 15th on our website so be sure to get your vote in!
Also, we announced the 2013 Blues Blast Awards Ceremonies. They will be held at Buddy Guy's Legends on October 31st, 2013. And yes we know that is Halloween but no costumes allowed unless your are dressing as your favorite Blues artist!
We will have more details on the artist playing and tickets in the next couple weeks. We are looking for sponsors. Just like every year we will be selling sponsorships that include tickets, advertising and the best seats in the house for what promises to be one of the best Blues shows of the year. For sponsorship info, drop us a note to email@example.com.
Also I wanted to let you know we are not doing the Blues Overdose this last issue of June. We will return with the monthly Blues Overdose issue and more FREE Blues music at the end of July
Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!
Featured Blues Interview - Bob Welsh
It’s a long way from Louisiana to the San Francisco Bay area and a job as a featured performer working with the legendary Elvin Bishop.
Bob Welsh has covered a lot of ground to get to his current gig and it hasn’t all been as a guitar player. The multi-talented Welsh is also a whiz on the keyboards.
“My dad was a pilot in the Navy, so we moved around all the time,” Bob relates. “I was born in California, but moved to Louisiana when I was 7. At the same time my grandmother passed away, my parents divorced, and I ended up moving to her old house along with my mother when I was 16. I actually moved back to New Orleans when I was 21 for a year or so, on a mission to absorb the music there. I ended up working in a nursing home and playing on street corners to make a little money. It was really hard to earn a living there.”
“I never took any formal lessons at first, but I started playing guitar at around 14, and I was learning how to play bass, too. My mother played a little piano, but my grandmother was a world class pianist/ organist who used to play in silent movie theaters, like making the sound effects on the organ. She was a big influence. Both my parents were very encouraging.”
“I first heard John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom", and that was it for me,” Bob recalls. “I'd never heard anything like it and I flipped out. As far as everything else, I have very eclectic taste as I suppose most musicians do, but I was raised on ‘50s and ‘60s rock ‘n’ roll from my parents, and I heard a lot of boogie woogie piano playing from my grandmother, so that pretty much shaped my interests in music at an early age. “
“When I saw BB King for the first time, that was a huge influence on me too, because he got up there and played like, one note, and sort of held it, and it was just perfect. You hear the legends say ‘less is more’ and I'm still trying to learn that lesson.”
Meeting the great Rusty Zinn was also a turning point in young Bob’s career. The two met when Bob was in his mid-twenties and have been friends ever since.
“When I met Rusty Zinn in my mid-twenties, I was blown away 'cause he was playing guitar like the backing musicians on those Little Walter records, and that is what I wanted to play,” Bob explains. “He was the first person who ever gave me guitar lessons. I learned how to play piano shortly after, because I wanted to be in Rusty's band and that was the way in. We got to do a few tours backing up (the late)Pinetop Perkins and he took a liking to me and showed me a few things, as well.”
The Blues has allowed Bob to hang with some of the greats in the business and it’s far from over.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have played with a lot of legends of the Blues, and they are all so amazing,” Bob says. “It’s hard to pick favorites, but I remember when I first played behind James Cotton that was really an incredible experience. Also, any time I got to play with Snooky Pryor was great, too. These guys have this energy that is just so undeniable, it feels like you're part of this massive force because there is so much conviction behind their performance, and it sort of forces you to play as good as you can.”
As might be expected, it hasn’t been all wine and roses but Bob considers any downside to the music business as paying dues. It can’t all be gravy, right?
“Well, I've had some low points to be sure, but nothing that terrible comes to mind, “ Bob admits. “You get used to dealing with negatives on the road as a means of survival, although there have definitely been a few close calls travel wise.”
“One of my recent highlights was playing the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan last year,” Bob says. “The Japanese people are so considerate and respectful. They just really made you feel good about being there. It was amazing. There were probably a few hundred thousand people there in the course of the weekend and when I went walking through the grounds after it was all over the next day, there was no litter anywhere...just a whole different mindset than we’re used to at home. And what a lineup! Besides us, Buddy Guy, Toots & The Maytals, Jack White, Radiohead, all these great bands. I’ll never forget it.”
Speaking of great bands and lineups, Bob has played with or shared the stage with some of the best.
“Some of the cats I've had the pleasure to play with are: John Nemeth, Rusty Zinn, Roy Gaines, Jackie Payne, Mark Hummel, Kim Wilson, James Cotton, Snooky Pryor, James Harman, Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, and a whole bunch of other talented musicians,” Bob proudly relates. “There are so many players out there whom I greatly admire, pretty much everyone I’ve mentioned, but I'm going to give a shout out to my friend June Core, who is currently the drummer for Charlie Musselwhite. I mean, this guy is well respected and loved by everyone in the Bay Area. He is one of the greatest drummers for this genre of music, ever. In my humble opinion, a brilliant drummer is the most important ingredient in a good band, and if you're playing with June you just feel like a million bucks!”
Currently Bob plays guitar in Elvin Bishop’s band and says he it has been one of his best gigs ever.
“I've been playing with Elvin for about three and a half years now,” Bob says. “Elvin is one of the coolest, nicest people I've ever had the pleasure to work for. He's got a great sense of humor and is still really sharp. I love to ask him questions about the early days and he's always willing to answer. And what great stories! He definitely has a vision musically, and being in his band has definitely made me a better guitar player. He's serious about his music.”
Bob was asked about trombone whiz Ed Early, who can often be found fronting Bishop’s band blowing his horn on a given night.
“Ed's still in the band and is a total gas to play with,” Bob says. “He's such a great musician and has such a great personality.”
When he’s not performing with the Bishop band, Bob keeps himself busy with several side projects to keep his chops up. He also explores other genres as a means of not getting in a rut.
“I have this band, The Montegos, and we play mostly Meters covers and New Orleans R&B,” Bob explains. “Right now, the band is myself on guitar, Mike Phillips (Charlie Musselwhite band) on bass, Hans Bosse on drums, and sometimes we get S.E. Willis to handle the keys as well as Ed Early from Elvin's band with us, too. We all sing. If I'm fronting a band under my own name, I play mostly Chicago Blues.”
“I'm currently playing with my old friend Rusty Zinn in his rocksteady project, which is just Jamaica’s answer to American soul music of the ‘60s,” Bob says. “Often times, we have the legendary Hux Brown with us, who was the guitar player on so many ska, rocksteady, and reggae recordings. He's on all these tracks by Bob Marley, Toots & The Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, Alton Ellis, to name a few. And it’s really a lot of fun to play this kind of music. Rusty's singing and guitar playing are still as great as ever.”
Another side project of note that Bob helped create is a studio called Greaseland in the Bay Area that counts Bluesmen John Nemeth and Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, among others, as clients.
“Well, I'm no longer involved with it, but when I first met Chris “Kid” Andersen, we both had a desire to start a music studio,” Bob says. “Initially, myself, Kid, and another friend of mine, Hans Bosse were all roommates and built the studio in the house we were living in. The first guy to record there was R.J. Mischo, one of my favorite harmonica players on the planet.”
“ Soon after, word of mouth spread and everyone started to record there. John Nemeth, Mark Hummel, Kim Wilson, Rick Estrin, to name a few. Eventually, I moved out, but the real force behind that studio has always been Kid.”
“Just before my exit in Charlie Musselwhite's band, Kid had just joined so we sort of met around then,” Bob says of his early days with Kid Andersen. “ We became friends, and eventually roommates for several years. I love The Nightcats, too. Rick Estrin is such an amazing songwriter and performer, and Kid is a definitely a worthy replacement for Little Charle Baty.”
Bob has a positive outlook for the future of the Blues and credits Blues societies for keeping the music alive.
“As far as I see, Blues societies have always been very supportive of musicians and I really appreciate that,” Bob says. “Several times when I was touring, they would do things like provide last-minute gigs when there were openings on the road, or cancellations, and sort of really help us out. It’s also nice to see familiar faces out there, too.”
“I think The Blues will always be around, you know, but like the rest of the music industry, it’s totally different now,” he says. “There aren't that many legends left, but there are still some young guns who prefer to play somewhat traditionally, and I think that is refreshing. “
“I mean, it doesn't have to be a carbon copy of some old recording or anything, but the Blues world is over-saturated with guitar slingers playing revved up rock ‘n’ roll, so I think its way more important to play simply and with conviction. Many modern Blues players think that traditional Blues is boring, but I don't think they've ever heard a Howlin’ Wolf record in their life.”
Hard to argue with that.
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 5
The Randy Oxford Band - Live at North Atlantic Blues Festival
Real Media Solutions Studios
DVD: 10 songs; Running Time Approximately 60:01 Minutes
Styles: Blues Rock, Traditional Blues, Jazz-Influenced Blues
What better way to beat summer’s heat than attending a live blues extravaganza? That’s what a crowd in Rockland, Maine did in 2012 at the North Atlantic Blues Festival. One of its lineup groups was the Randy Oxford Band, featuring a leader with a big trombone and an even bigger passion for the blues. Born in 1960 in Seattle’s Ballard District, Oxford has come a long way, and not just from the West Coast to the East Coast. Accompanying him live on the NABF stage are drummer Richard Sabol, guitarists and vocalists Randy Norris and Manuel Morais, lead vocalist Jada Amy, bassist Farko Dosumov, and LA Smith on miscellaneous percussion instruments. On this DVD, their crowd-pleasing offering consists of ten tracks - four originals and six covers. Of the former, the best three are these, not only for their musical but also visual performance qualities:
Track 01: “After You’ve Gone”--Written and sung by Manuel Morais, this upbeat ballad establishes the tone for the rest of the concert and gets everyone dancing. The band does this just as much as the spectators, especially during Morais’ gritty guitar solo in the middle. It’s an eye-opening opener, perfect for setting a festive mood.
Track 02: “Full Moon Rising”--After one’s feet have achieved a warm glow from a spin on the dance floor (or asphalt, in this case), it’s time to slow things down a bit. Randy Norris’ eerie “Full Moon Rising” fits the bill for a second selection in a live festival show: not too rapid or relaxed, but just right. It has a mellow, minor-key groove that might put fans in mind of voodoo rituals.
Track 10: “Hey Baby”--By far, Jada Amy’s fiery original finale has the most heat of all the songs in this set. It’s just as much fun to watch as it is to listen to, as Jada flirts good-naturedly with a male member of the audience: “You know I like your eyes, your lips, your smile, your kiss, I want it - oops, your wife’s sitting right there!” Several band members may have turns taking the instrumental lead, but without a doubt, Miss Amy (!) steals the show.
The two things that would have improved this DVD would’ve been subtitles for the lyrics and slightly better special effects. Regardless, even if you missed the North Atlantic Blues Festival last year, Randy Oxford and posse have given you a chance to go without even leaving home. Just this week, their band has won a Washington State blues challenge and are on their way to the International Blues Challenge in 2014!
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
Popa Chubby - Universal Breakdown Blues
12 songs – 59 minutes
Popa Chubby has always pushed the outer limits with his version of the blues, self-described as “the Stooges meet Buddy Guy, Motorhead meets Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix meets Robert Johnson. The heavily tattooed and physically imposing guitarist born Ted Horowitz has always been virtually impossible to classify since emerging as guitarist for a crazed Japanese performance artist who billed himself as Screaming Mad George on the New York City punk scene in the mid-’90s. But his music has always been anchored in the blues, no matter how discordant the sound to traditionalists’ ears.
“Since I’ve grown up on Hendrix, Cream and Led Zeppelin, when I started playing in New York clubs, I understood that the blues should be dangerous, too,” he says. “It wasn’t just from playing in punk bands -- Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters were dangerous men. And Little Walter packed a gun and wouldn’t hesitate to use it. That danger is a real part of the blues, and I keep it alive in my music...People look at me and expect a certain thing, and don’t realize there’s more behind the picture. They see a big, burly guy with tattoos, and they expect to get beat over the head. And you WILL get beat over the head, but you’ll also get rocked to sleep, and there’ll be poetry in there, too.”
Chubby never strays far from the blues idiom in “Universal Breakdown Blues.” He’s written most of this intense, material himself, and remains as edgy as ever with his incendiary fretwork while staying firmly in the pocket with wry, colorful lyrics and themes straight out of the blues tradition throughout. The disc kicks off with a driving guitar line on “I Don’t Want Nobody.” Chubby stretches out instrumentally for most of the song, while relating how he’s tired of being told what to do by the woman he loves -- enough, in fact, to pack his suitcase and head down the road. “I Ain’t Givin’ Up” is a slow burner in which he shows off his powerful vocal talents. The theme: winning back a lost love. The album title song, “Universal Breakdown Blues,” follows. It’s a burner driven home with a long, tasty guitar run. It deals with memories of sorrow and fear and the desire to remember life as it once had been.
“The Peoples Blues” kicks off and ends with long, bluesy instrumentals sandwiched around a vocal riff about loneliness and failed romance. It’s a seven-minute thriller and precedes a 21st century, hard-edged interpretation of “Rock Me Baby,” originally set to wax by B.B. King in 1964. “69 Dollars” is another tale of broken romance. This time the woman’s given him the money and a shopping list for the liquor store, but she’s split by the time he returns. An amazing instrumental version of the “Wizard Of Oz” classic, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” follows. “I started doing that song a couple of years ago,” Chubby says, “and crowds just go wild for it. There is so much emotion there.” It’s sweet, reverential and powerful at the same time.
“I Need A Lil’ Mojo” is an up-tempo rocker in which he’s searching for a little fun to chase the blues away. “Danger Man,” “Goin’ Back to Amsterdam (Reefer Smokin’ Man),” “The Finger Bangin’ Boogie” and the over-the-top instrumental “Mindbender” fill out the session.
Like religion, there are many paths to the fountainhead. This disc catches Chubby at his absolute bluesiest best. His guitar runs cut like a knife as they carve out his own interpretation of the art form. Play it loud. 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 3 of 5
Lamont Cranston Band With Bruce McCabe
High Temperature Records
15 tracks; 60 minutes
The Lamont Cranston Band has been around on the Twin Cities scene since the 1970’s but has been away from the recording scene for some years. The band takes its name from ‘The Shadow’ radio series of the 1930’s in which Lamont Cranston is one of the Shadow’s alternate identities. The band is led by Pat Hayes on vocals and harp and former Jonny Lang producer Bruce McCabe (who gets a share of the billing) plays keys. Other band members are Jeff Rogers on drums, Brad Pelkey on bass, Rod Smith and Jason Medeiros on guitars, Tim Wick on organ, Tom Burnevik on sax and guests Bob Bingham and Gordon Thorne on acoustic guitars on two tracks. All the material here was composed by Pat Hayes.
Opener “Look Down” is a shuffle with harp, piano and organ to the fore. Pat has an expressive voice which delivers this style perfectly. However, he can adapt, as he does on the second track “Help Your Brother” which has more of a soul feel with some rousing guitar work and a strong harp break. “I Wanna See” takes some of the style of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” with some lovely gentle sax and acoustic guitar supporting Pat’s vocal. “500 Dollars” changes things again, Bruce’s piano introducing the uptempo tune, Pat telling us that on receiving a cheque for $500 he wanted to go shopping but his girl wanted to pay the bills! Despite the dubious spelling I liked “Shouda Wouda Couda”, a funky little tune which moves along really well on a wave of organ and percussion which made me re-check that there was only one drummer involved!
Swinging organ and a frenetic pace introduces “59 Cadillac” which appears to be Pat’s ultimate driving machine! “Prisoner” is a slow blues with plenty of harp and piano and “Weasel In The Hen House” and “My Hair Is Gone” are fun rockers, the latter with a nice touch of self-mocking humour. “Big Money” has some excellent piano playing driving the beat along as Pat looks to the next big opportunity to get his hands on some serious money. In “Big Money Man”, Bruce’s piano and Pat’s harp start off a swinging piece on which Pat explains in a spoken vocal how most blues songs are written when the author is having a hard time, whereas Pat is far from down as he has lots of money to spend on having a good time!
Rather strangely those two thematically linked songs are separated by two acoustic pieces with just the two guest guitarists supporting Pat’s vocal. “Lion And The Lamb” takes the old proverb about the end of conflict being when “the lion lies down with the lamb”. “Bullfrog Boogie Woogie” is a catchy number but I have to wonder why these two tracks are included as they don’t really fit with the rest of the CD – nothing wrong with them, just rather at odds with most of the material – maybe left over from a different session?
“Talkin’ Catfish” explains how the beast of the title explained to Pat how it wanted to be set free in the ocean as “this muddy river is too dirty for me”. Bruce’s piano again features heavily and Pat’s harp and vocal are a great match for the rather odd story. The final track is also the shortest on the album, “Bustin’ These Chains”, the organ and piano giving a final touch of soul to the album.
This is the first I have heard from Lamont Cranston and the album has plenty to recommend it: all original, some strong songs, good playing and singing. Worth checking out.
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
The TCM Group – Got Da Blues
Self Release through Citrus Records
10 tracks / 31:42
If you are a blues fan, you probably make it a point to get out to a bar or club every now and then, and often times these performances are very good. The TCM Group is one of these capable gigging bands, and they have taken advantage of the heyday of readily-available recording equipment to produce their own CD to sell to the music-loving public.
The TCM Group is straight out of the suburbs of Chicago and is the brainchild of T.C. McElroy, who does the lion’s share of the work on this album. He takes the band roles of lead vocals, drums, bass, keys and harmonica while also producing, recording, mixing and arranging this project. He is joined by George Selsky on lead guitars and Don Hartman on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. Got Da Blues is their first recording effort.
The ten tracks are all short, with none longer than four minutes, and a few of them under three minutes. The songs include a diverse range of genres, including everything from traditional blues to fusion and pop.
There are a few instrumentals that are pretty neat. “South Padre” is a fusion instrumental with tasteful lead guitar over a hearty foundation of funky bass, synths and cowbell. Both “Wide Open” and “Other Side” have a 1980’s pop / rock sound that is liberally soaked with vintage synthesizer tones. The instrumentals are where the band shines because these guys are talented musicians. McElroy does an admirable job of performing on a wide array of instruments, including rock-solid drums and bass and some nice harmonica work. Selsky plays a mean blues guitar and Hartman is a journeyman guitarist as well.
The TCM Group knocks down some traditional blues, too. “Chain of Blue” is a 12-bar blues song with the Chicago sound. Along with some nice harp work there is a hard-edged lead guitar over a more conventional piano sound. There is also a slower-burning blues song, “Give Up,” which gives Selksy the opportunity to shine on his guitar leads. McElroy gives up some more nice harmonica riffs on “Mojo Working,” which has a strong organ tone and a rocking beat. “I’ve got my mojo working, but it won’t work on you.”
Moving in a completely different direction is “Believe,” a slick track with a 1950’s pop love song sound and feel. What set it apart are contrasting synthesizer sounds that hearken back to Angelo Badalamenti’s work.
Though these songs are good I find the vocals to be distracting. There is a lot of Elvis in McElroy, which is cool, but the vocals are recorded with a lot of reverb and are sunk deep in the mix so they come out sort of spooky and David Lynch-like. Also, there are a few instances of what seems like feedback (on “Buy You” and “Mojo Working”), and the harmonica ends up shrill and overpowering on “Bright Lights.” Hopefully these issues will work themselves out on future recordings as McElroy gets more experience behind the mixing board.
Setting these quibbles aside, I certainly do appreciate the musicianship and effort that went into producing Got Da Blues. I would like the chance to see them perform live sometime, and maybe the next time I am in the Chicago area I will get the chance.
Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at www.rexbass.com.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 5 of 5
Billy T Band - Mo-Billy-T
Big H Records
I had the pleasure of reviewing the band’s previous release L.O.V.E. and with their latest the guys keep the creative streak going strong. Another heaping helping of Memphis-style southern soul, R&B and blues is served up in fine fashion. Billy’s Memphis-soaked vocals ride proudly over his seasoned stable of Norwegian band mates. Originals and cover tunes alike are all put through “the funkometer” and come out the other end with just the right touch of gritty goodness.
Sir Mack Rice’s “Baby I’m Coming Home” gets things going on “the good foot”, bolstered by Hakon Hoye’s crystal clear guitar playing and a punchy horn section. Kasper Skullerud Vaernes delivers a blazing sax solo over the wah-wah rhythm on the band original “Don’t Blow My Cover”. They uncover a Annie Laurie gem from 1953, “In The Mood For You”, and give it the sprightly “jump blues” treatment. The band takes Allen Toussaint’s “I’m Gonna Git Ya” through its’ second line funk paces with ease, with just a touch of Joe Tex goofiness thrown in for good measure. Billy’s yearning voice, an economic horn section and the ever-present “spot on” guitar playing mesh to make “I’m Gonna Cry A River” one heck of a workout. An ominous brew of menacing guitars and percussion bubble up to propel the change of pace “Let Her Go”. The futility of life passing by the window is visited on the rootsy and melancholy “Life Goes On”. “You Gotta Do It” is an uplifting, life affirming statement done up in a funky R&B mode that owes a debt to Dr. John.
Led by Billy’s vocal and bass playing skills, this band is “so funky you can smell it”. These guys sure have the skills and feel to deliver the goods. Past sounds are suggested, but the end result here is truly fresh and something unto itself. With the right attention and push I can’t see anything holding this band back from a well-deserved international following. You owe it to yourself and your friends to check the band out and spread the word.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Featured Live Blues Review - Chicago Blues Festival - Part 2
The 2013 Chicago Blues Festival is one of the largest Blues Festivals anywhere. Last week we brought you lots of photos from the first two days of this 4 day monster.
Saturday was the third day and we started off on the Front Poarch stage with Liz Mandeville and the Blue Points.
Liz really takes command of the stage and had the crowd wound up by the second song! The second act we caught at the Front Poarch stage was Khalif "Wailing" Walter.
Walter was born in Chicago and is the nephew of Chicago legend Carl Weathersby. From the sound of his set, it looks like some of his uncle's talent has rubbed off onto this generation too.
The last act we caught on the Front Poarch stage was Larry McCray and his band. Larry is one of the great Chicago Bluesmen and his performance continued to prove that.
Over on the Mississippi Juke Joint Stage on Saturday we caught the set of a young group called the Peterson Brothers Band. Hailing from Bastrop Texas the band includes brothers Glen Jr. (age 16) on guitar and vocals and Alex (age 14) on bass. The band has won multiple awards in the Austin Music Awards and that talent showed.
Over on the Crossroads Stage the day started out with a set by Bobby :"Slim" James. Bobby is one of Chicago's great soul Blues artists. It was a fun set that featured some of the band members that were also family members.
Next up we caught Peaches Staten and the Groove Shakers. Peaches’ high energy boogie blues and infectious fun on the stage was complimented by supreme guitar playing from Mike Wheeler and equally supreme bass playing from Larry Williams. Also joining the bad were Cleotis Cole on drums and Brian James on keyboard. What a great set!
Over at the Windy City Stage, Fernando Jones' Blues Kids of America were entertaining large crowds. It is always great to see the new blues talent that Fernando is supporting.
Next up was a tent full of Chicago classics: Sam Lay was joined by Dave Katzman-guitar, Jon Hiller-drums, Mark Wydra- guitar and musical director, Mike Scharf-bass, and Bob Riedy-piano. This was truly Chicago blues at it’s finest.
The final set we caught before heading over to the Petrillo Stage was Matthew Curry & The Fury. After hearing raves reviews about Matthew for years, I finally got to see this young man in action. The raves were well founded! Matthew is a young bluesmen who knows his way around his guitar and can work magic with his solid blues all the way out to rock blues. His band includes Jeff Paxton – bass, Greg Neville – Drums, and Erik Nelson – keyboard.
We headed over to the Petrillio Music Shell Stage for the day's headliner artists and first up was Ronnie Baker Brooks. Ronnie has appeared on the main stage many times with his father, Lonnie Brooks, but this was his first headliner show! And he did not disappoint! He and his band with Carl Armstrong on bass and CJ Tucker on drums easily proved they deserved a headliner spot.
Next up was Blues and Soul legend, Otis Clay! What a treat!
The final act of the day was The Memphis Soul Revue featuring the Bar-Kays, Eddie Floyd and Sir Mack Rice The set started off with the Bar-Kays band backing Sir Mack Rice. He performed some of his hit songs that were crowd favorites such as "Respect Yourself" and "Mustang Sally"
Next up was Eddie Floyd. He showed the crowd he still had it as he effortlessly performed crowd pleasing versions of some of his hit songs such as "Bring It On Home To Me" and "Knock On Wood".
Then the Bar-Kays took over the stage and showed some great choreography and singing. The band included Larry Dodson on lead vocals, James Alexander,bass player & founder of the Bar-Kays, Tony Gentry on guitar, Ezra Williams on keyboard and Carlos Sargent on drums.
It was a great way to end the night but we still had another full day of great talent to go!
On Sunday we started off again on the Front Poarch Stage with Fruteland Jackson. Fruteland likes to tell stories with his songs and this talent has gotten him quite a bit work doing Blues In The Schools presentations teaching youth about the roots of the Blues. The bands acoustic set was a great way to start the day!
Next up was Lurrie Bell's Chicago Blues Band. He had the great Willie "the touch" Hayes on drums and Matthew Skollar blowing harp. As usual Lurrie was just amazing playing as if every note comes right from his heart.
Next up we got to hear what Blues is to the Czechoslovakian ear as the Michal Prokop Trio warmed up for John Primer. What does it sound like? What we heard sounded like folk Blues with a bit of Gypsy music thrown in.
The band is friends with John Primer and he came out to play a couple tunes with them before moving on to play a set with his bass player and drummer.
The last act we heard on the Front Poarch stage Was Shawn Holt and the Teardrops. Shawn is the son of Morris Holt, aka Magic Slim! It is true that the apple does not fall far from the tree as you can tell Shawn has Blues in his veins too!
The Mississippi Juke Joint stage kicked off with the great Chicago vocalist, Nellie "Tiger" Travis. True to form she had the crowd clapping and hooting with sheer excitement. Nellie is really fun to see and hear!
Next Up was Vickie Baker. She is a new artist to us and did a good job showing the crowd her performance skills.
The last act we saw on this stage was Big Time Sarah with the Mike Wheeler Band. Sarah is a living legend and knows how to work the audience. It does not hurt to have a great band like Mike Wheeler backing you up either!
Sunday at the Crossroads/Bud Lite stage was once again packed with great bands. The day started out with Delmark recording artist, Willie Buck. He had some help from a great band that included Rockin Johnny Burgin on guitar and Barrelhouse Chuck on keyboards. It was a great set to start off the music on that end of the festival!
Next was Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames. Dave grinds out high energy blues with a full band of equally talented performers. This year his band included: Monica Myhre - Vocals, Abb Locke - Sax, Harry Yaseem - Piano, Jeff Taylor - Drums/Vocals, Dave Kaye - Bass, and special guest - Peter Leigh-From England - Harp.
Next up was another high energy Chicago based band – Grana Louise. Grana Louise was having a great time singing her blues with a whole lot of humor on the side. And her band was stellar with Tom Holland – guitar, Bill Hargrave – bass, Carlos Showera – guitar, and Ricky Nelson on drums. Another great Chicago blues experience.
The last act of the festival on this stage was Linsey Alexander Blues Band. Linsey is a Chicago blues club fixture and his set was filled with great blues, flirting with the crowd, and some great humor. Another new experience and well worth it.
We headed over to the Petrillio Music Shell Stage for the final headliner artists. First up was Delmark recording artist Shirley Johnson. Her passionate smokey-voiced vocals were a real treat paired with an excellent backing band.
Next up was the Jimmy Johnson Band. At 84, Jimmy has been treating Chicago audiences with his soul-laced vocals and jazzy tinged guitar work for more than 30 years. He also had a solid backing band, the Mike Wheeler band.
The final "act" was really a whole bunch of BIG Blues stars playing some incredible music for 90 minutes. It started off with a band consisting of all-stars including, Johnny Iguana on keyboards, Billy Flynn on guitar, Felton Crews on bass, Kenny "Beedyeyes" Smith on drums and Matthew Skollar on harp all backing vocalist Demetria Taylor.
And it just kept getting better and better from there! Next thing you know out comes Lil' Ed Williams to join in and wow the crowd with his slide playing and singing.
After Lil'Ed, out came Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater to join in and play a few songs.
Then vocalist Dietra Farr sang a couple numbers.
Next Billy Branch came out to sing and play a few tunes.
Then John Primer joined the band for a couple songs
At this point you might be thinking, it could not get ANY better. But you would be wrong because none other then the legendary James Cotton came out next!
After a few songs that brought everything to a fever pitch, the entire group of stars came out for a grand finale that was a real spectacle and a wonderful experience.
This was, after all, the 30th anniversary of the Chicago Blues Fest and it ended with a real BANG! Can't wait to see how they top this next year!
Photos by Bob Kieser and Marilyn Stringer as indicated.
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Blues Society News
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DC Blues Society - Washington D.C.
DC Blues Society presents its 9th Annual Hotter Than July Fish Fry 'n' Blues Saturday, July 13 ~ Blues bands perform 4:00 - 11:00 PM ~ Fish Fry 4:30 to 9:00 PM ~ Cash Bar American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910 (entrance on Fenton by parking lot) Bring a potluck dish & get a copy of the DC Blues Society cookbook: “Blues in My Kitchen” All Day Blues – All Day Fun. For info & tickets: www.dcblues.org
And mark your calendar for the 25th Annual DC Blues Festival, August 31, Noon – 7:30 PM
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
MVBS announces Discount Blues Festival Tickets For Active Military and Veterans! The MVBS and R.I.A. Federal Credit Union recognize the great contribution to our country’s freedoms made by active military personnel and veterans, who should be celebrated on the most American of holidays, July 4, Independence Day—the first day of the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. To honor them, we are offering discount BluesFest tickets in advance; These special tickets will not be available at the gate.
Active military personnel and veterans can get BluesFest tickets for only $10 (gate admission is $20) by showing official military ID at the R.I.A. Federal Credit Union locations listed here through June 30. Tickets are limited to two per military ID.
Arsenal Island, Building #61—Rock Island IL, 1522 46th Ave.—Moline IL, In the Hy-Vee at 750 42nd Ave. Drive—Moline IL, 110 E. 10th Ave.—Milan IL, In the Hy-Vee at 2001 5th St.—Silvis IL, 4217 Utica Ridge Rd.—Bettendorf IA and 3509 Harrison St.—Davenport IA.
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. July 1st - Anni Piper www.annipiper.com, July 8th - The 44s www.the44sbluesband.com/bio.php, July 15th - Chris O’ Leary http://thechrisolearyband.com, July 22nd - Bill Evans Birthday Jam, July 29th - Andrew Jr. Boy Jones www.reverbnation.com/andrewjrboyjones, Aug 5th - Roger Hurricane Wilson http://hurricanewilson.com/bio, Aug 12th - Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones featuring Dennis Gruenling http://dougdeming.com, Aug 19th - Rusty Wright www.rustywrightblues.com. More info available at icbluesclub.org
River City Blues Society -- Pekin. IL
The River City Blues Society presents the following shows at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St., Pekin, Illinois - 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: www.rivercityblues.com or call 309-648-8510
Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
Now in their seventh season, The Friends of the Blues present 7 pm early shows: Thur, July 18, Jerry Lee and the Juju Kings - Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club - Outdoors! www.jujukings.com/index1.htm, Thur, July 25, Albert Castiglia w/ Donna Herula, The Longbranch Restaurant in L’Erable, Outdoor show www.albertcastiglia.com www.donnaherula.com, Thur, Aug 15, Ivas John Band, Moose Lodge www.ivasjohn.com, Thur, Aug 29, Little Joe McLerran, Venue To Be Announced www.littlejoeblues.com, Thur, Sept 19, Reverend Raven and Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys, Kankakee Valley Boat Club www.reverendraven.com, Thur, Oct 3, Too Slim and The Taildraggers – “It’s Everybody’s Birthday Party” - Kankakee Valley Boat Club www.tooslim.org, Tues, Oct 22, Kilborn Alley Blues Band - Venue To Be Announced www.kilbornalley.com, Thur, Nov 7, Terry Quiett Band - Venue To Be Announced www.terryquiettband.com More information: www.facebook.com/friendsoftheblues or firstname.lastname@example.org
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