Issue 7-23, June 6, 2013
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Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2013
In This Issue
Jim Crawford has our feature interview with Albert Castiglia. Bob Kieser has part 1 of the photos and commentary from the 2013 Simi Valley Blues Fest.
We have six music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Lloyd Jones. Marty Gunther reviews a CD from Matt Baxter and Jake Sampson. John Mitchell reviews a new release from The Andy T and Nick Nixon Band. Jim Kanavy reviews a new CD from Jay Jesse Johnson. Steve Jones reviews a new album from Long Tall Deb. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new release from Professor Porkchop and the Dishes. 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,
There is a great fest this weekend in Greely, Colorado. The Greely Blues Jam is a great event that features a range of music in Downtown Greeley 9th St. Plaza & Surrounding Area restaurants and clubs on Friday June 7th and a line up that includes Lionel Young Band, Harper and the Midwest Kind, Carolyn Wonderland, Dan Treanor’s Afrosippi Band w/ Erica Brown, Bonerama, JJ Grey & Mofro, John Mayall and several other bands on Saturday at the festival stages in Greely. For more information visit www.greeleybluesjam.com or see their ad below in this issue.
Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!
Featured Blues Interview - Albert Castiglia
Ask Bluesman Albert Castiglia (ka-steel-ya) what it takes to become a good Blues player, he’ll likely say you have to go to the college of the Blues….Chicago.
The young, by Blues standards, guitar slinger spent several years in the Windy City honing his craft before returning to his South Florida stomping grounds where today he is an in-demand player who enjoys a large fan base.
“Playing in Chicago is just like going to college,” Albert says. “It’s the equivalent of going to Harvard to study law. For me it was the greatest educational experience I could have. I went and played and saw what the Blues is really all about and was exposed to many different styles.”
But first we need to go back to the beginning and see the where, when, why, and how young Albert got started on his life’s journey.
Albert was born in New York in 1969 (on the same weekend as the historical Woodstock Music Festival) to a Cuban mother and an Italian father. When he was five his parents packed up and moved to Miami where the Castiglia clan still resides. He began taking guitar lessons when he was 12 and decided as a teenager that the Blues were the best way to express what he had to say.
Needless to say, it hasn’t all been champagne and roses.
“I’m 43 and I’ve had my share of kicks in the ass,” he says with a laugh.
In order to keep peace in the family, Albert completed his college education and earned a bachelor’s degree in social work before taking a job in the welfare department for the State of Florida.
“I worked for the state for four years,” Albert recalls. “I started as a case worker and at first I was very idealistic. I thought I could save the world. I found out real quickly that it is a thankless job. It’s very easy to burn out. Social work of any kind is a thankless job. I was involved with food stamps and it was bad enough. Think of the people who had to work in the child welfare department. It was total a bureaucracy. I really thought I was helping people only to find out I wsn’t doing anybody any good.”
Throughout it all, Albert kept plugging away at his music, performing at nights and on weekends in the clubs in and around the Miami area. In 1990 Albert made his professional debut as a member of the Miami Blues Authority. New Times Magazine named him ‘Best Blues Guitarist' in Miami in 1997. He was picking up steam.
Then, overnight, things changed and the path was cleared.
Gloria Pierce, a music promoter and friend landed Albert an audition with the legendary Chicago harmonica master, Junior Wells, who was so impressed with Albert’s playing and vocal style, that he was asked to work in the band as a fill-in lead guitarist for a three-city mini-tour in clubs in Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit. The gigs went so well that he was asked to become a permanent member of the Junior Wells Band. Under Junior’s tutelage, Albert performed in all the major Chicago Blues clubs as well as clubs and Blues festivals all over the US, Canada and Europe including France, Switzerland and Italy. Audiences were thrilled with his playing everywhere they went. Unfortunately, Junior became ill and passed away in 1998.
“It all happened so fast,” Albert says of his time with Wells. “I’m in my office one minute and the next I’m with Junior Wells in the South of France. It took me a long time to get there and then it all happened over night. It was a real mind blower. One minute I’m pedaling food stamps and then I’m playing guitar with one of the most famous Bluesmen in the world.
“Junior Wells was a great guy,” Albert relates. “He was just as ornery as everybody said. It was like having my dad around all the time. I never, ever took it personally when he had to put his foot in my ass. It was all part of my education. A bad day with Junior Wells was still better than a good day at the office.
“One time Junior told me that I played pretty good but I dressed pretty bad,” he says with a laugh. “Junior was always impeccably dressed when he was on stage, or just about anywhere you saw him, for that matter. He took me to a men’s shop and bought me two suits with no lapels. I’d never worn anything like that in my life. He had a really good heart. He was known for his crazy streak when he was younger but he’d slowed down quite a bit toward the end. I still miss him very much.”
When Junior passed Albert was living in Chicago and stayed with Junior’s band for a while as the lead singer and guitar player. The band had changed its name to the Hoodoo Man’s Band and later started touring with Atlanta- based Sandra Hall, nationally known as the "Empress of the Blues." Albert opened the shows for Sandra and the touring continued for the next several years.
“Chicago was an amazing experience,” Albert says. “The stories I heard. The people I met and played with. It was all part of the education. I’m proud of the fact that I stuck with it as long as I did. Some people dream about reaching something they never get without being willing to pay their dues and put in the work. I made up my mind to not change paths for anything. I always had hope. I was never going to give up playing. I’ll always play guitar but it was a killer with a day job. I got to find out what was out there. I got to meet all kinds of famous people and I stole their licks. The whole (Chicago) experience really humbled me. I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned from Junior.”
The Chicago stint gave Albert a new found maturity he says he didn’t have before.
“Before, I just kind of wrote stuff without really living it,” he says. “I found out you have to write about things that are going on in the world or people are not going to believe you. Junior used to say ‘You can’t live it if you don’t give it.’ Now I know what that means.
“I write about things that affect my life,” he says. “I write about the experiences of others, too. That’s how I’ve improved. I come from a long line of cynics in my family. It’s in my genes. I used to watch the news and my songs would be so angry. Even my love songs were angry. Now I think using a little humor in the lyrics is very important. Humor is cathartic for me.”
Albert says after four years paying his dues he made the gut-wrenching decision to return to Florida and try his hand at making a name for himself on his own merits.
“It was great playing with all of the people I met,” he says. “But there are a lot of good players in Chicago and it was hard to pay the bills. I felt really bad because I couldn’t make it up there. I felt like I’d failed. There were times I wasn’t able to make the rent and had to ask my parents for a couple of hundred to cover it that month. They always came through and I appreciate them very much. They weren’t exactly supportive of my career choice but they never abandoned me. They thought it was just a phase that I would grow out of. Turns out, moving back to Florida was the best move I ever made.
“My folks are very traditional and old-school in their values and believe you need a steady job with a regular check on Friday to be successful,” Albert says. “The’ve always believed in me but there were times when their faith was tested. Since I’ve been back in Florida and have established a nice fan base they’ve been to my shows. It took them a while but now my mom has become a Blues fan.
“My mom wanted me to introduce her to two people. One is Marcia Ball, who I really don’t know and don’t have contact with,” Albert says. “The other is Watermelon Slim, who I do know and introduced her to and they chatted for about 10 minutes. He was very nice to her and she was thrilled.”
By 2002, Albert thought the time was right to go it alone and released his debut album, “Burn” followed by the 2006 offering “A Stone’s Throw” on the Blues Leaf Records label. Both albums met with critical acclaim and most recently Albert released his latest disc, “Living The Dream.”
“We’re going back into the studio at the end of August to finish our new album,” Albert says. “It’s about half done and I’ve got a lot of cramming to do before then. I’m excited about the new stuff.”
Aside from Sandra Hall and Junior Wells, Albert has shared the stage and jammed with Chicago luminaries Aron Burton, the late Pinetop Perkins, Melvin Taylor, Sugar Blue, the late Phil Guy, Ronnie Earl, Billy Boy Arnold, Ronnie Baker Brooks, John Primer, Lurrie Bell, Jerry Portnoy, Larry McCray, Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater and Otis Clay. So his time in Chicago did provide him with valued connections and plenty of classroom time.
“I feel incredibly blessed,” Albert says about his time in Chicago. “My playing has improved. I still feel like my guitar is my strongest instrument. My voice is OK, but I ain’t no Odis Redding. It serves its purpose. I don’t sing out of key. That says a lot. (Laughs)”
Along the way, Albert can name the usual suspects as his influences. He cites Eric Clapton for having the most profound effect on his music.
“Eric Clapton led me to Mike Bloomfield and to Stevie Ray (Vaughan),” he says. “Without Clapton I would have never discovered people like Muddy, Bobby Bland, Junior (Wells) or Otis Rush. These guys all made a definite impact on my playing.
“I love Freddie King’s voice and guitar work,” Albert says. “I tried, but it’s real hard to emulate him. Buddy Guy is my favorite guitar player today. He knows when to bring it and he knows when to lay back. There’s also a trend for Blues purists to want to dump on the English Blues guys for not being original but you can’t discount their influences either. Everybody contributes to the cause.
“The music is not going to go anywhere,” Albert declares. “Who’s going to fill the legends’ shoes? There’s a bunch of us who are going to, that’s who. There’s a bunch of us working and working steady. I loved working with Junior. If you can handle touring with a hard core guy like that, you can handle anything.”
Visit Albert's website at http://albertcastiglia.net/ We found a few videos of Albert for you. HERE and HERE and on on acoustic guitar HERE. A list of all the YouTube videos we found searching for Albert Castiglia is HERE
Photos by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine
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 6
Lloyd Jones - Doin’ What it Takes
Struggletime Music, BMI
10 songs; 38:03 Minutes
Styles: Modern Electric Blues Rock, Americana, Roots Music
“When I heard Lloyd Jones live for the first time in January 1999, it was like exhaling after holding my breath for fifteen years!” So exults Delbert McClinton on the former’s website. In this new millennium, Portland, OR roots artist Jones is “Doin’ What it Takes” to keep the blues alive and his fans loyal. Jones, whose vocals are not dissimilar to McClinton’s, already recorded six critically-acclaimed albums, including 2003’s “Triple Trouble,” 1999’s “Love Gotcha” and 1995’s “Trouble Monkey.” On this latest release, ten high-energy blues rock and roots songs bolster his already formidable reputation. Purists may frown at Jones’ mixing of genres, but those searching for powerhouse, feel-good ensemble numbers are in for a treat. Of the eight original compositions and two covers (Leiber and Stoller’s “I’ll Be Right on Down” and Maceo Merriweather’s “Worried Life Blues”), the following three are most suitable for a party, long road trip, or frustrating work day:
Track 01: “Bend In the River”--Terry Evans’ and La Ronda Steele’s soulful background vocals on this opener give it an especially addictive quality. Pairing a philosophical message with a boogie beat--“There’ll be mountains in your pathway someday”--it invites one to reflect on life while dancing one’s blues away. Not only that, but one might be inspired to play ‘air organ’ along with Glenn Holstrom’s irresistible solo in the middle.
Track 05: “I Can’t Stop”--Teresa James performs a vivid vocal duet with Lloyd Jones on the fifth number of this album: a rock-and-roll firecracker. “Just like a habit, I’ve got to have it,” they both exclaim about each other’s affection. Percussionist Reinhardt Melz lays down a wild backbeat, and sultry saxophones by Warren Rand and Rudy Draco add an extra spark.
Track 08: “My Wife Can’t Cook”--If an entrée of “cold cuts and gravy in one big bowl” sounds like a feast from ‘Nightmare on Main Street,’ this song may hit too close to home. Rife with tongue-in-cheek jokes, it’s likely to make one lose one’s appetite, if not one’s sense of humor. “Spit it out, spit it on out,” the wife in question tells our narrator, but he’s resigned to his fate: “Guess I’m gonna eat that slop any old way.” Don’t listen to track eight around mealtime. Margaret Linn and La Ronda Steele lend their chops to the catchy chorus.
Other participants in the “Lloyd Jones Struggle” include bassist and vocalist Ben Jones, Dave Mills on trumpet, and Renato Caranto on the tenor sax solo in “I’ll Be Right on Down.”
Says Jones in the liner notes of this CD, “This ain’t JUST American Music…this is American music past, present and future! ‘Doin’ What it Takes’ means bringing it ALL to the table!” Step right up for a large and delightful helping.
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 6
Matt Baxter and Jake Sampson -- Haunted
Auburn Sky Records
10 songs – 39 minutes
This all-original acoustic and electric CD features a pair of seasoned musicians from San Francisco. Producer/slide and dobro guitarist Matt Baxter’s career has included work with an odd juxtaposition of artists, ranging from blues guitar dynamo Debbie Daviesto former Procol Harum rocker Gary Brooker and pop legend Donnie Osmond. His partner, Jake Sampson, is a former R&B bass player from Detroit. He’s played the blues in the Bay Area since the ’80s and has several well-received records to his credit. Sampson handles the singing duties and contributes added rhythm with the stomp box. Together they present a pleasant, straight-ahead package of originals, all penned by Baxter. Sampson’s vocals have a smoky quality, and both he and Baxter deliver their message with a consistent, unhurried pace that propels the music steadily forward. They are assisted by Tony Coleman (drums) and Dave Pellicciaro (Hammond B-3 organ) on one track and Simon Russell (piano) on another.
The project kicks off with “Someday,” a modern take on the Delta blues tradition. A few simple chords set the mood before Sampson delivers a mournful tale of a man who’s just been released from prison, where he’s spent all of his time thinking about the woman he left behind. He calls her from a phone booth only to find the line unanswered at the other end. Baxter assists in delivering the message with tasty, sensitive picking, a talent he displays throughout the work, as his partner puts down a solid, yet understated bass line. Sampson reverts to his Detroit roots on “Dusty Mule,” dealing with a farmer plowing his field. Whether intentional or not, the tune invokes the spirit of John Lee Hooker, a Motor City giant, and would fit comfortably in any of his songbooks. “Haunted” speaks of a traveler in seek of aid: “Won’t you help me/Feel my pain.” It would be hard not to. Baxter and Sampson both shine on the next tune, a love song entitled “Jaime Lynn.” Sliding guitar grace notes color this one, and the warm, upbeat, sorrow-free message is a refreshing change after the tunes that have come before. “Same Old Pain” hints at the modern standard, “Same Old Blues,” delivered once again with a Hooker feel. Baxter’s guitar line is simple, but forceful, Sampson’s vocal weary, but not nearly as road-worn as the master.
The duo pick up speed with “Soul,” an uptempo pleaser in which the singer’s trying to find his way back after taking the wrong path in the road of life. They change the pace dramatically with the addition of electric guitar, drums, B-3, a latin rhythm and modern Chicago feel for “Don’t It Make You Feel Good,” another love song. But it’s back to the Delta for “Little Girl Gone,” in which “Evil at your door/Sun don’t shine on your house no more.” Piano riffs brighten “Take Me Back Home,” in which the singer’s been away from home too long and misses the love of his family. The disc concludes with the earthy “Highway 54.”
Baxter and Sampson deliver their message clean, crisp and unadorned. Their music would work equally well whether played in a club or on the porch of a one-room country shack. The album’s available through Amazon, CDbaby and iTunes.
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 6
Andy T – Nick Nixon Band - Drink Drank Drunk
12 tracks; 48 minutes
How good it is to see West Coast label Delta Groove picking up this CD of predominantly Texas musicians having such fun in the studio. Producer Anson Funderburgh put together an impressive cast of Texas players including Kevin McKendree, John Street and Christian Dozzler on keys, Wes Starr and Danny Cochran on drums, John Garza, Johnny Bradley and Steve Mackey on bass and Ron Jones on sax, to name just those who appear on several tracks. Anson adds guitar to four tracks but his influence pervades the album as Andy T has the same style of playing – swinging and always to the point.
Vocalist Nick Nixon comes from Nashville and has a career that has flirted with the big time on several occasions but never quite made it; Andy Talamantez played with Smokey Wilson and Guitar Shorty and it was with the latter that he crossed paths with Anson. Talk of doing a solo album never quite bore fruit until Andy joined up with Nick whose excellent voice is a definite feature of this CD. The material is a mix of original material and some well-loved classics of the blues repertoire; Andy wrote two tracks on his own and one with Nick; Nick wrote one himself and a further track with Winfield Moore III.
Looking first at the originals, Andy’s “Dos Danos” is one of those instrumentals that used to grace the Rockets’ albums, a taut dialogue between Andy and Anson’s guitars, driven along by swirling organ, funky drums and with a wailing sax solo. Andy’s “Have You Seen My Monkey” may well be a little derivative of other similarly themed songs but it’s still great fun with Christian Dozzler switching to accordion and Nick delivering a superb vocal. Andy and Nick’s joint effort is “On My Way To Texas”, a rocking piece that namechecks several well-known stars of Texas blues. Nick’s solo composition is “You Look So Good”, a slow shuffle and the only track to feature harp (“Hash Brown” Calway); his joint effort is “No End To The Blues” on which his soulful vocals are supported by backing vocalist Markey. It’s another strong ensemble piece, all elements contributing – sax, piano, guitar are all spot-on.
The covers are varied and Clarence Brown’s “Midnight Hour” makes an excellent starter to the album, closely followed by Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s “Don’t Touch Me”. “No Use Knockin’” (Gayten/Guidry) brings a touch of Louisiana across to Texas and provides a superb solo feature for Ron Jones’ sax. The title track comes from the pens of Tom Hambridge and Gary Nicholson and is one of the standout cuts here with its rousing sax and strong chorus; Nick’s vocal is again outstanding. More familiar choices are Ray Charles’ “I’ve Got A Woman” and Tommy Tucker’s “Hi Hell Sneakers” but both are well handled by this team of players. The only song I was not familiar with was “Life Is Too Short” by Edward Hale, on which Nick gets to show us his absolute mastery of this sort of slow blues.
This CD has been on my player a lot since I received it and I think it is likely to remain there for a while yet! I can thoroughly recommend this CD to all those who enjoy Texas blues, strong vocals and tasteful guitar playing.
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 6
Jay Jesse Johnson - Run With The Wolf
Blues Bureau International
13 tracks; 72 minutes
Jay Jesse Johnson is a Strat Cat. He burns up the frets with liquid-fire licks and eruptions of electric riffery at every stop. His deep, smoky voice is smooth like Gentleman Jack. He loads up his talents on a steam train rolling west through the heartland in which he was born and chugs along delivering the goods from coast to coast. Johnson is Indiana born but spent much of his early career on the East coast playing in early 80’s AOR band Arc Angel and with the rockers Cryer. He later hooked up with Charlie Huhn, who sang with Ted Nugent, in Deadringer. Johnson is rocker. Like many rockers he loves the blues and bluesy styles of Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, and Frank Marino. Johnson, or Triple J as he’s been called, has parlayed that love into steady work and critical acclaim for his blues-rock records. Run With The Wolf on Blues Bureau International is his fourth and latest platter.
Johnson puts us all on the “Hell Train” rolling out of Chicago on the Wabash line. He carries us along with soaring string bends and a muscular riff that’s tough and solid like the City of Big Shoulders itself. Johnson adds some tasty slide to the mix and pours everything his to singing on “Hell Train.” As an album opener it is a statement of purpose. He’s taking us for a ride and he’s going to give us his all to keep us interested, entertained and delighted during the trip. He keeps the vibe moving with a rousing cover of “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” which is a song that has perhaps been covered too many times. Johnson uses it as a vehicle for his stunning guitar playing and his unison runs with the harmonica catch the ear. He plays the tune with the urgency it deserves and overall it’s a fun romp, but the effect could have been achieved with an original tune or perhaps an obscure cover instead.
Traveling is a theme that runs through the first half of the disc. From the aforementioned “Hell Train” & Rollin’ And Tumblin’” to “Run With The Wolf,” “Black Eldorado,” and “Down This Road.” The road seems to call to Johnson; whispering his name and drawing him in. It’s his fate to be a traveling man but he embraces his inner nomad. In “Run With The Wolf” he channels another journeyman - Robin Trower. Johnson puts his own stamp on the style with spooky arpeggios under his lead lines, which sound like howling winds and wolves breaking the silence of midnight. Later, Johnson takes us to “Dreamland” in a Hendrixy fugue of psychedelic blues. Johnson’s playing is earnest and honest. He is no copy cat. He may have bought the materials at the same lumber yard but he has built a roadhouse all his own.
“Fate Of Tomorrow” is another tour de force of the psychedelic blues-rock idiom. Johnson uses effects, controlled feedback and his bare hands to wring every bit of emotion from his guitar as he ponders the future we are leaving to our descendents. He says we’re “trying to get to Heaven on the road to Hell” and plays like a man possessed by the fires of the Apocalypse. He gets into a groove and lets it rip. He puts everything he has into this nearly 8 minute track.
The overall sound of the album is dense. Many albums done for Blues Bureau International seem to have a similar density. It appears to be a hallmark of producer Mike Varney. Some tracks would benefit from dialing it back a little and adding some crisp, clear tones especially on rhythm guitars. Tonal variety gives songs character and allows the music to breathe instead of behind stifled by a wall of over-amplification. Nuance is missing. Blues is about nuance as much as it’s about emoting. Yes, they’re playing to a rock audience but they should keep in mind it’s the same audience that loves Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix; two rock acts who had innate understanding of nuance and sonic textures. Balls to the wall might make for an exciting 60 minutes on stage but on a disc you’ll want to listen to over and over again it will get tedious.
Still, this is an exuberant record, full of blistering guitar work, solid songwriting and robust singing. Jay Jesse Johnson, the Triple J, is a triple threat in the Blues rock arena. With a few more albums like this and a few tweaks to the production he will get the recognition he deserves.
Reviewer Jim Kanavy is the greatest guitar player in his house. He has been reviewing albums in his head for 30 years and in print since 2008, and is deeply committed to keeping the blues alive and thriving. For more information visit http://jimkanavy.com.
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Featured Blues Review 5 of 6
Long Tall Deb - Raise Your Hands
I fell in love with Deb Landolt several years ago. It’s not anything she or my wife need to worry about; I am not a stalker nor some sort of closet weirdo. It’s just that when I reviewed her CD Diamonds on the Desert Floor after it was released a couple of years ago I fell in love with her and her band. I supported her Kickstarter campaign to help produce this new CD and I was pleased that my very meager contribution aided the cause in a small way; the effort resulted in another super album!
Deb is an awesome vocalist. Her vocals are a huge part of the band’s success. She can growl, she can purr, she can wail, and, well, she can sell any mood or emotion. She also writes and her name adorns 10 of the 12 cuts here. Guitar duties are split between John Popovich and Sean Carney. When Popovich is not on guitar he is usually backing Landolt on the organ. Dave Clo does most of the backing guitar work, Melvin Powe is on bass for the most part as in Jan Roll on Drums. A host of visiting talent add touches here and there throughout.
The title track features Deb testifying as to she fought and beat out the adversity of a sullied past. Somewhat dark, but it’s a very emotional and interesting song. Her two covers also are interesting. She covers Tom Waits “New Coat of Paint,” which is stripped down and solemn. Popovich on piano pretty much does all the support and he and Deb pull it off sweetly and compassionately. Ian Moore’s “Muddy Jesus” is the other cover; Deb first rocks and then gets a little funky with this one. Deb takes us to church and goes full gospel on us- well done! It has a great ensemble providing support. Victor Wainwright is on piano and Damon Fowler and JP Soars add guitar, bringing the Southern Hospitality sound. Chuck Riley is on bass and Chris Peet is on drums, adding the backline from Southern Hospitality.
The opener has Deb asking, “What Could a Good Woman Do”?, when she tells us about the man she had to put up with. The song is strident and forceful as she makes her case. She and the guy get into a tense conversation near the track ends that is hilarious. She then transitions to “Hush Your Mouth” where she tells us, “There is no sound sweeter than when that fool finally shuts his mouth.” Apparently this is a recurrent theme. “Finally Forgot Your Name” is a more somber approach to the topic where Deb gives us a ballad where a old lover tried to return to her life just after she’s washed him away from her consciousness.
“To Find His Home” is another cut where Deb takes us to church. Featuring the Handclappers Union, Colin John on guitar, and several other guests helping on vocals, Deb really goes all out here. I loved this track. She schools the listener about loving everyone and not discriminating based on faith or whatever one’s differences are. “Train to Tucson” is a bouncy and hopping song with some nice slide guitar (it appears to also be Colin John). “Married to the Blues” is Deb telling her Mama she’s married to the blues. The blues don’t care what she does, when she come home or what she says. Jimmy Thackery and Matt O’Ree are on guitar and Big Llou does a guest spot as the preacher “marrying” Deb to the blues. The guitar solos are really varied and especially well done in this cut!
Deb’s “Let’s Get Lost” takes us down tempo and tells us a story where she wants she and her man to just get lost and get away from everything to be together and get it on. “Goa Breeze” is sad little number about getting swallowed by the night and disappearing back into her old life. In “The Last Time” Deb has the blues over her disappointing employment situation. She’s given up work and commuting so she can check into the world around her.
Topical. Timely. Interesting. Soulful. This is an interesting set of songs delivered by a great set of musicians brought together to celebrate Deb Landolt’s sophomore release. It was a great project and I would have to deem it highly successful; great new songs, a great sound and the great Deb Landolt gives us her all and delivers a winner!!
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 works 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 6 of 6
Professor Porkchop and the Dishes – U R My Everything
11 tracks / 40:38
There are countless reasons to go to Louisiana: the cuisine, its culture, a strong variety of college and professional sports, plenty of hunting and fishing opportunities, and (of course) the music. The state’s history of blues, zydeco and swamp music is priceless, and its native sons are heroes that its populace can be proud of. Professor Porkchop and the Dishes’ new album, U R My Everything is a prime example of this and its slick performances and clever lyrics should not be missed.
Professor Porkchop is Chris McCaa’s pseudonym, and he is the leader, singer and pianist/organist for this Shreveport, Louisiana-based group. The rest of the crew for this album includes Jason Coffield on guitar and saxophone, Danyelle Bryant and Brady Blade on the skins, Rick Wallis and Shawn Stroope on bass and George Hancock on flute, baritone saxophone and percussion. There is a lot of role-swapping going on here, and there is no way I will be able to keep it straight.
The CD was produced by McCaa and Stroope, and includes eight original tracks and three cover tunes. It is hard to assign this album to any one genre, because even though it has a solid blues bass, it is flavored with funk, soul, jazz, ragtime and a healthy dose of bayou spices. McCaa’s voice has been compared to Randy Newman and John Hiatt, and rightly so, but it is still more his own than anybody else’s. Throughout the changing moods of this album he is able to deftly adapt to different styles but never lose his unique sound, thus giving the band’s sophomore release a sense of continuity.
McCaa has a great voice, but he also has keen keyboard and writing skills. His comfort in his abilities is evident as he chose to start the CD off with four original songs. The title track begins with a mellow vibe flavored with electric piano, but solidifies quickly as the chorus adds in organ and heavier guitar chords. But this is not a one man show, as the backline is solid and the guitars are spot on. When “Blame it on the Moon” gets going, you can see where the Randy Newman comparisons come in. Chris’ voice is similar, and indeed he has a deft touch on the piano. When you add in the sadly clever lyrics and creative rhymes, we get to see that he really has the whole package.
The band did not forget their Sportsman’s Paradise heritage, as they crafted a fabulous homage to the Crescent City in “Move to New Orleans.” Any locals that have moved away will be made jealous during this tour of all the great spots in town. Then they move on to Shreveport for the next track, “Sprague Street Rag” which is a short instrumental with full-blown ragtime piano accompanied by only a pair of spoons. Chris McCaa certainly has fine chops!
George Hancock brings plenty to the table too, as his jazz flute work in “Puerto Rican Hotel” is both tasteful and skilled. Throughout this selection he is in perfect sync with McCaa’s electric piano and the rhythm section. I was surprised to find a second instrumental tune on the album, but this Afro-Cuban fusion piece really works well into the mix of other styles.
Professor Porkchop and the Dishes included a sprinkling of cool cover tunes too. Their take on “Knock Me a Kiss” is the best version I have heard since B.B. King’s, mostly due to McCaa’s fine vocal phrasing. They also took a crack at Ray Charles’ “Roll With My Baby,” and the rolling bass line and sweet saxophone make for more of a modern feel (in a good way). And “Early in the Morning,” a Louis Jordan hit from 1947, has its upbeat tempo held in place by a nifty snare riff with a slick overlay of the tinkling ivories.
The album comes to a close with the hardest tune of the bunch, “I’m Gone.” This Southern blues rocker has growly vocals and a neat stereo effect of the rhythm and lead guitars; it is almost like this is a five-minute guitar solo with a song happening underneath it. The guitar tone is gloriously distorted, and the bass is fat and totally in the pocket with the drums. And, in keeping with the rest of their original songs, the lyrics are top-notch and worth paying attention to.
U R My Everything provides a most laid-back vibe, and it is great music for just sitting back with a tumbler of your favorite beverage and listening with a fine sound system or a good set of headphones. Professor Porkchop and the Dishes have outdone themselves and delivered a solid piece of work throughout. Check it out if you get the chance!
Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at www.rexbass.blogspot.com.
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Featured Live Blues Review - Simi Valley Blues Festival - Part I
Blues Blast Magazine made it out to California over Memorial Day weekend to catch the Simi Valley Blues Fest. It was a great show with a constantly changing cavalcade of Blues stars playing and jamming together for 2 days of musical fun in the sun.
This event is a Blues and Cajun music fest held in Simi Valley just north of Los Angeles. We spent the whole time at the Blues stage which was ran and produced by Delta Groove Productions boss Randy Chortkoff. Randy put together a great lineup that kicked off with the annual Delta Groove Harp Blast.
This years Harp Blast featured Al Blake and Mitch Kashmar, blowing like hell on the harp with a great group of backing musicians that included Frank Goldwasser and Nathan James on guitar, Fred Kaplan on keyboards, Jimi Bott on drums and Willie J. Campbell on bass.
Now that's a great way to start a fest!
Next up was a new Eclecto Groove artist named Kara Grainger with special guest Mike Finnigan on keyboards. She will have a new album released in the coming months and treated the crowd to some of the tunes form the coming release. Judging from what we heard, you may want to find this one when it comes out!
Next up was another harmonica great, James Harman. He put on a great set with Nathan James on guitar, Tony Sandow on bass, Marty Dodson on drums and Bonedady Tempo playing percussion.
They were followed by the Andy T - Nick Nixon Band with special guest Anson Funderburgh.
Their backup band included Dana Robbins on Sax, Markay Blues on vocals, Sam Persons on Bass and Larry van Loon on keys. These guys really showed why they are getting all the critical acclaim from the media.
Just when you thought it could not get any better, Kim Wilson hit the stage to add some great harmonica to the mix!
This fest had more great harmonica players than the average show and next we were treated to a set by Sugar Ray Norcia and the Blue Tones. The band featured Sugar Ray on harp and vocals, Monster Mike Welch on guitar, Anthony Geraci on keys, Michael "Mud Cat" Ward on bass and Neil Gouvin on Drums. Another GREAT set of music!
The last "act" of the day was a tribute to Finis Tansby. Finis suffered a debilitating stroke recently and is not currently able to perform so to honor him a great set featuring some of his favorite songs was put on by Rick Estrin, Kid Anderson and Andy Santanna. Their band included Lorenzo Farrell on bass and J Hansen on drums.
If that wasn't enough musical excitement to honor Finis, they were then joined on stage by Kim Wilson and Elvin Bishop for a grand finale!
So ended the first day of the 2013 Simi Valley Blues Fest. This was a great start so stay tuned for next week when we will feature all the fun from the second day of this great festival.
Photos by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine.
Reviewer Bob Kieser is publisher of Blues Blast Magazine. He loves his job!
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Blues Society News
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Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
MVBS is sponsoring guitar virtuoso Dave Fields, with his “Pot Luck Supper” band, appearing at The Muddy Waters (1708 State St. Bettendorf IA) on Thursday, June 13th, in a show presented by the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. Showtime will be 7:00; admission is $7.00, $5.00 for MVBS members.
ALSO Get on the Party Bus! Brews & Blues Cruise Thursday June 20! With the BluesFest only a few weeks away, it’s time to start the pre-fest activities!! The Mississippi Valley Blues Society is sponsoring a Brews and Blues Cruise on June 20, 2013. We will start at Martini’s On The Rock in Rock Island beginning at 4:30 p.m., where they will be offering a Blues Burger for only $4.00 At 6:00 p.m. we will leave Martini’s on the party bus and head to the first microbrewery, Bent River in Rock Island, then to Great River and Front Street in Davenport. At each stop, two free samples and $1.00 off pints will be available.
You will receive a commemorative glass. Door prizes will be drawn between each of the microbreweries including, but not limited to, fest tickets and MVBS merchandise. We will return to Martini’s On The Rock for blues music with Chris Avey and Detroit Larry till 11:00pm. All this for only $25.00!! Tickets are available at the Blues Society office (Harrison and River Drive in Davenport) Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 11:30-5:30 to pay for the event. (Call first: 563-32-BLUES.) The bus only holds 34 people, so don’t delay in getting your seat reserved!! For more information, contact Andrea Vallejo at 309-737-6863.
And finally, MVBS also 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.
Orange Blossom Blues Society - Orlando, Florida
Exciting news from the Orange Blossom Blues Society in Orlando. OBBS has connected with Greg Rike Productions in Orlando who produces the stream show called "Living Legends". He believes in what we stand for: to Promote, Preserve and Present Blues. The new show, "Front Row Seat" will be streamed throughout the U.S. and Canada. GRP Studios decided to be a Blues Benefactor and give this to everyone for FREE!!!
The first show will be held on Saturday, June 15th with The Ladies of the Blues featuring Suze Lanier-Bramlett and on August 2nd featuring the IBC Winner, Selwyn Birchwood. This new venture will showcase other Blues and National Blues acts. It is opportunity for all Blues Societies that would enjoy an opportunity of seeing an IBC Winner (plus gorgeous girls:).
Enclosed link below. A Blues Society website that wants it can embed the player. It's Free!! Click on the envelope link to email to Greg to get code/instructions. Members can connect to it and view the shows at this link - http://grpstudios.com/LOB/splash.html
For more information visit http://www.obbs.org/
The event "Ladies Of The Blues," a special evening featuring ten talented lady blues singers, headlined by Suze Lanier-Bramlett, streamed live from GRP Studios in Orlando, Florida throughout the U.S. and Canada, Saturday, June 15 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time is a benefit for the Gary Ingber Musicians Relief Fund. Info/tickets: (407) 862-6882 or www.GRPStudios.com
The Columbus Blues Alliance - Columbus, Ohio
The Columbus Blues Alliance will hold its first Blues, Brews and BBQ All A Cart on Sunday July 14, 2013. The venue, All A Cart, makes food carts. It’s located at 2001 Courtright Road.in Columbus, Oho.
The opening acts feature Pett Crow, Micah Kesselring, and Mojo Theory. All have represented the CBA at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and have gone into advanced rounds. The headliner is Eddie Shaw and the Wolfgang.
Eddie Shaw is one of the reigning “kings” of Chicago Blues most known for his time spent with Howlin’ Wolf. After Wolf’s death in 1976, Eddie formed Eddie Shaw And The Wolfgang. He is part of a generation of musicians that defined and shaped the “Chicago Sound.” His hard honking, blues busting saxophone can be found on some of the best blues recordings to date. At 77, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. Eddie was the 2013 Blues Music Award winner for Instrumentalist/Horn.
Find more info at www.ColumbusBlues.com. Funds will benefit the CBA and our Blues In The Schools program.
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. June 10th - Peter Karp & Sue Foley http://artistecard.com/jarekussingleton, June 17th - Laurie Morvan Band http://www.lauriemorvan.com/, June 24th - Reverend Raven & Chain Smoking Altar Boys Http://www.reverendraven.com. More info available at icbluesclub.org
Madison Blues Society - Madison, Wisconsin
The Madison Blues Society will host their 11th Annual Blues Picnic on Saturday, June 22, 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
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 http://fieldofblues.blogspot.com 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! 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 www.crossroadsbluessociety.com.
River City Blues Society - Pekin. IL
The River City Blues Society presents the following shows at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St., Pekin, Illinois - 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: 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, June 6, Ori Naftaly Band from Israel, Kankakee Valley Boat Club www.orinaftaly.com, Tues, June 25, Laurie Morvan Band, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club www.lauriemorvan.com, 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 http://www.terryquiettband.com More information: www.facebook.com/friendsoftheblues or email@example.com
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