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Issue 7-28, July 11, 2013

Scroll or Page Down! For news, photos, reviews, links & MUCH MORE in this issue!

Cover photo by Arnie Goodman © 2013

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 In This Issue

A.J. Wachtel has our feature interview with Tom Hambridge. Bob Kieser has photos from the Champaign Blues Festival.

We have seven music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from The Hound Kings. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a CD from Gracie Curran & The High Falutin’ Band. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Franco Paletta And The Stingers. Rex Bartholomew reviews 2 CDs of Contemporary Blues from Scotland. Mark Thompson reviews a new album from Umberto Pocaro. Marty Gunther reviews a new release from The Russ Tippins Electric Band. Rhys Williams reviews a new album from The Mike Eldred Trio. 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,

We are a few days away from the start of voting for YOU to select the best in this years Blues music in the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards.  The voting will begin at 12:01am CST on Monday July 15th, 2013 on our website. The complete list of this years nominees is on our website, CLICK HERE. Check them out and be sure to listen to some songs by the nominees while you are there to be an informed voter.

Look for a reminder coming on Sunday.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music! 

Bob Kieser

 Blues Wanderings

We made it to the 2013 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival last weekend to see some great Blues. One of the acts we saw included Chicago legend John Primer.

We will feature complete coverage of all the fun with photos of all 27 of the bands in an upcoming issue. 

Also we omitted a band in our coverage of the Rockford Field of Blues Fest last week. We left out Aaron Williams and The Hoodoo, a great band from Madison, Wisconsin.

Aaron has always been a consistent supporter of Blues Blast Magazine, advertising all of his albums when they are released. We regret the error. Visit their website at 

We have loaded music selections from the 2013 Blues Blast Music Award Nominees onto a listening page on our website. Voting in this years awards starts on July 15th but in the meantime you can hear 2 or 3 songs from each artist and recording nominated to be an informed voter! To check it all out, CLICK HERE. When you get to the page just click on the button by each of the 10 nominee categories to hear selections from the artists nominated.

Also we are announcing that The Essex Inn is the official hotel sponsor for this years awards. The awards ceremonies will be held at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago on October 31st, 2013.

The Essex is one block from Legends and they will offer affordable rates for fans attending this years awards.

So far there have been 17 artists that have confirmed they will attend, so it should be a good show! We will announce all the artists and provide ticket information in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!


 Featured Blues Interview - Tom Hambridge

Tom Hambridge is red, hot and blue! This multi-talented producer-songwriter-performer has a passion so strong that it knows no limits and has no bounds under the many different hats he wears.

He has played with all the icons and as his life accumulates accolade after accolade he remains one of the best Ambassadors of the Blues alive today. And he is now internationally known as a 2011 Grammy Award Winner for his production work on Buddy Guy's CD Living Proof, is an ASCAP award winner as a singer/songwriter and is an accomplished session/touring drummer and solo artist who is also the recipient of another 4 Grammy Award nominations.

In his resume, he has either toured with, produced, written songs for and/or recorded with the likes of Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Susan Tedeschi, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., Delbert McClinton, Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Meat Loaf, NRBQ, George Thorogood, Keith Anderson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Boston, Shemekia Copeland, Gretchen Wilson, Rodney Atkins, Van Zant, Montgomery Gentry and Rascall Flatts.

In fact, Hambridge is so busy these days that he had to fit this interview in between studio dates with Buddy Guy and Kid Rock, one week, and touring with Delbert McClinton the next. Just incredible.

Born in Buffalo, New York, he went to Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Right after his graduation, Hambridge started a band T.H.& The Wreckage and assembled back up bands for national artists appearing in the Boston area including: Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Link Wray, Percy Sledge, Gary Puckett, Sha Na Na and Roy Buchanan. He even appeared on Roy's album Live: Amazing Grace.

“Playing with Roy was amazing. He loved the blues but he could play anything. I am very honored to be on that album. We recorded Amazing Grace live at The Lone Star in NYC. It was my second night ever playing with Roy. We came out for the second show and he started playing "Amazing Grace". We had never played it before. They say it was the only time he ever performed the song live. Fortunately they were recording that night.”

“I played with Roy as his drummer and lead singer right up until his tragic death. I miss the great Roy Buchanan terribly. All those legends you mention have all played the blues. It all comes from the blues.”

“As a drummer and a band leader I have had the pleasure of touring and/or recording with all my heroes. Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Roy Buchanan, Johnny Winter, and on every gig we played some blues.”

In 1997, Hambridge produced and played on Susan Tedeschi's Platinum-selling, Grammy Award nominated debut album Just Won't Burn. He also wrote her Top 10 Triple A hits “Rock Me Right” and “It Hurt So Bad”.

"I had played with Susan in and around Boston and was honored to be asked to produce an album for her. The album is now a classic and has sold over a million copies and I am very proud to be part of it. I think Susan is an amazing singer and an amazing guitarist."

He has also had some recent success writing songs for other artists including ZZ Top, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, B.B King, Skynyrd and Eric Burdon among many others. He recently wrote the song “Drink Drank Drunk” which is the title cut off or the Delta Groove album by the artists Andy T and Nick Nixon Band. Most recently he worked with a young guitarist protégé of Buddy Guy's named Quinn Sullivan producing, playing drums and writing songs for his new CD, Getting There.

"Artists or bands will contact me when they are getting ready to record. Some will fly to Nashville so they can write the songs with me or they may just ask me to send them songs. Sometimes it's as simple as Billy Gibbons, Meatloaf or Kenny Wayne Shepherd coming over to my house where we hang out and write songs.”

“When I am producing an album for an artist I will get extremely focused on that project and I will start writing songs for that specific album. As far as songwriting credits, shit I don't know, I've had over 350 of my songs recorded. I'm sure there is a list somewhere.”

In 2011, Hambridge won a Grammy Award at The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards for producing Buddy Guy's Living Proof and in February 2012 he appeared with Buddy at The White House Celebration for Black History Month. The ceremony included Keb Mo, Mick Jagger and B.B. King. President Obama joined the band for the chorus of “Sweet Home Chicago", too.

"Appearing at The White House was a huge honor. The White House reached out to me and asked me to put together a blue print for a Blues Show at the White House during Black History Month. It was so beautiful to see it all come together and be a part of it. I had a ball getting to play drums for Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy and even the President who I did have the pleasure of meeting”.

As for winning a Grammy for producing Buddy's Living Proof: "Buddy Guy is like fine wine he just keeps getting better with age. Winning the Grammy for Living Proof is living proof that even at 76 Buddy Guy is still at the top of his game and is making some of his best music”.

In terms of producing an album in general, Hambridge is hard-core: "When I produce an album I jump in all the way. From the songs to the arrangements to the hiring of the musicians, the engineers, the mixing all the way to the mastering. I love every part of the process so my m.o. is to assemble all the parts and then start building the house!"

Recently, T.H. has crossed paths with Eric Clapton a couple of times; first while producing Slowhand's cameo appearance on Buddy's 2009 release Skin Deep and again while backing Buddy at Clapton's "Crossroads Festival".

"It is always an honor to get to work with such great artists and I feel so blessed to make music with these legends. And thank you for mentioning my drumming. I have been playing drums since the age of 5 and it is something I don't talk about much but I do take pride in.”

“Here is a short list: "Every Time I Sing The Blues"-Eric Clapton & Buddy Guy," Rock Me Right/Little By Little"-Susan Tedeschi, "Something For Me"-James Cotton & Warren Haynes, "Hammer And A Nail"-Buddy Guy, "Lone Wolf"-Johnny Winter, "Hellfire"-Joe Louis Walker, "Mama's Little Baby"-Delbert McClinton, "Nine Pound Hammer"-Tom Hambridge, "Amazing Grace"-Roy Buchanan.”

“Those are the songs that I really dig that I played on. And working on James Cotton's latest Cotton Mouth Man, just recently, I got a chance to play some drums on that also”.
“James Cotton is a National Treasure. James is a major part of the history of the blues. He was on the ground floor with Muddy.”

“I wanted to create an album that told his story with honor and grace. He is an amazing singer as well as one of the greatest harmonica players ever but he lost his voice to cancer so I reached out to some of my friends and asked if they would lend their voices to help tell the James Cotton story and everyone I invited showed up: Gregg Allman, Keb Mo, Warren Haynes, Delbert McClinton, Ruthie Foster and Chuck Leavell.”

“James Cotton flew to Nashville and we hung out and wrote songs. I invited two other songwriter friends, Gary Nicholson and Richard Fleming over to my office and we wrote.”

“As for the story behind getting B.B. to collaborate with Buddy for the first time, it happened in sort of the same way. I was hired to produce and play on a BB King song for a Disney movie soundtrack. I flew to Las Vegas and recorded with B.B. King. He really dug the track and the production and we had a great time working together. About 6 months later Buddy Guy and B.B. King were out touring together. They played the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and invited me out to the show. Buddy called me up to sit in on a song I had written with him called "Skin Deep".”

“I was out in the audience during BB King's show and he said "he loved what he was doing and he hoped he'd get to stay around a little longer". I got together with a friend and great songwriter named Gary Nicholson and we wrote "Stay Around A Little Longer".”

“I was producing another Buddy Guy album at the time and I played the song for Buddy and told him my goal would be to have him sing it with B.B. King. Buddy loved the idea so I sent the song to B.B. and he was very moved by it.”

“We flew out to Vegas and had a ball recording and shooting a video for it. It was amazing to sit with two of the greatest of the greats and watch them go back and forth with the lyric. It was a very emotional musical moment that I will cherish forever”.

Tom Hambridge is a genius on many levels: the question is; which level do you like best?  (Editor's Note: To get an idea of the sheer breadth of Tom's songwriting and production credits visit his hits page on his website, CLICK HERE)

Visit Tom's website at

Photos by Arnie Goodman © 2013

Interviewer A. J. Wachtel is a Blues Blast contributor and a long-time entertainment journalist in New England and the East Coast. He currently writes for The Boston Blues Society and The Noise Magazine. He is well known in the Boston and N.Y.C areas for his work in the Blues for the last two decades.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.


 Featured Blues Review 1 of 7

The Hound Kings - Unleashed

9 Below Productions

CD: 10 songs; 38:44 Minutes

Styles: Traditional Acoustic Blues for the 21st Century

When one first listens to the Hound Kings, from the San Francisco Bay area, one might believe that blues from a time machine has been “Unleashed.” On this debut album, their masterful, traditional acoustic sound seems more reminiscent of the 1930s-50s than the 2010s. However, if one pays close attention to the lyrics on their eight original songs (out of ten), one will find them pertinent to today’s world. Consisting of Alabama Mike on vocals, Anthony Paule on guitar, and Scot Brenton on harmonica, this special-project trio of accomplished artists has bona-fide appeal for fans who prefer blues with an old-fashioned flavor. As these three tracks prove, however, their tongue-in-cheek relevance is timeless:

Track 01: “SSI Blues”--“Hey, this is the BLUES now, y’all,” Alabama Mike exults at the beginning of this satirical salute to his Social Security Income. What’s he going to do with all that money? “I’m going to hire me a boat and sail around the world, stop in Hong Kong and get me a China girl.” Anthony Paule’s rat-a-tat rhythm on guitar puts one in mind of a military cadence or chugging train, and Scot Brenton’s harmonica can’t top Mike as he hoots and hollers triumphantly: “I got it! WHOO! I got my SSI!”

Track 02: “Drunk Honey Bee”--The bug mentioned in the title can actually exist, if the pollen in the flowers it visits happens to ferment. Unfortunately for our narrator, his lover is acting just like this inebriated insect. “You hit the streets dripping honey,” he accuses, “and you ain’t got a dropping left for me.” It’s of small solace that this only occurs “every time you get to drinking,” because for him, once is more than enough. Purists will rejoice, because this track’s melody and lyrics are as pristine old-time blues as one could possibly listen to.

Track 07: “The Thang”--This ballad is almost eerie in its poignancy, relating the sad tale of a male pedestrian who turns to another, a streetwalker, after a fight with his wife. “She [streetwalker] gave him love; she charged him by the hour. She was a good little worker; she had that ugly power.” The cost of this endeavor was his home and family, even though at the start, he’d just been “trying to find compassion from any woman he would meet.” Don’t look for love in all the wrong places, even if “The Thang” comes calling.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Hound Kings and their music is how they combine acoustic magic from yesteryear with the sentiments of the twenty-first century. Hard times abound in all eras. That’s the message that Alabama Mike and company make certain will be “Unleashed” to reassure those who struggle.

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 BluesReview 2 of 7

Gracie Curran & The High Falutin’ Band - Proof Of Love

Vizzable Music


Occasionally a vocalist comes along with such a presence that they command everyone’s undivided attention. Such is the case with Boston’s Gracie Curran. There is nothing subtle in her booming “big mama” voice. Her band and the addition of a horn section match the soulful energy of her voice, hanging in and driving her along on their musical excursion. They captured the hearts and ears of “Beantown” by winning The Boston Blues Challenge in 2012, which propelled them to record this, their debut CD.

A stinging guitar intro courtesy of Tom Carroll leads right into the first burst of Gracie’s pipes on the R&B-meets-blues-rock meets honkin’ horn section goodness of “Even With The Rain”. “Take You With Me” is a “take charge” pledge of love. The calming effects of Jack Daniels and the evil weed are touted in the funky and muscular horn-driven “Jack & MaryJane. The interplay of the rhythm guitar against the horns are breath taking on this number.

Her strong voice grounds the forceful and soulful ballad that is “Rock & A Hard Place”. The “crying” guitar solo puts “the icing on the cake”. “Can’t Getta” is a seamless heap of musical energy. Co-producer Richard Rosenblatt’s sturdy harmonica chops and a string-bending guitar solo energize the hard-rocking blues of “Been All Over”. Faithful love is portrayed on the slow simmering “Weight Of The World”...”He has the weight of her world on his shoulders”. A timeless sentiment is explored on “With Friends Like These”, where Gracie’s gem of a voice plays off of the mournful trumpet of Doug Woolverton, all over a bed of Hammond organ.

Quite a stunning effort for their initial release. Elements of soul, blues, gospel and funk coalesce to create a moving and heartfelt experience that should no doubt lead to a successful and ever-growing career. All the pieces fit…well-crafted band-originals, razor-sharp production and skilled musicianship all giving a rock-solid foundation to the powerhouse that is Gracie Curran. Talent as seen here deserves to be heard. With the right exposure this band should have no trouble in attaining the success that they truly deserve.

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 7

Franco Paletta And The Stingers – I Like It Just Like That

Blues Buzz Productions

11 tracks; 50 minutes

I heard the previous release from this Pacific Northwest band about two years ago and enjoyed it but this time round the band has added a three man horn section of Joe McCarthy (trumpet), Scott Frankilin (tenor sax) and Jeff Homan (alto sax) who play on three tracks, making this album even stronger. Franco plays harp, sings and wrote most of the songs with some assistance from bassist Timmer Blakely, one song coming from guitarist JT Thomas. The rest of the band is Steve Kerin on keys and Jonathan Barber on drums.

“Oh Baby” is a superb opening track, the horns punching at just the right moments to help launch exciting guitar and harp solos. “Born To Please” keeps up the high standard, the horns adding to the funky feel of the song and supplying a sax solo to match the fine work of guitarist JT. Two really good cuts to start with! “When She Do That Thing She Do” lets us hear more of pianist Steve Kerin whose work is at the core of this catchy mid-paced number on which harp and guitar also feature. “She’s My Little Girl” is great fun, the chorus having a Beatles sound and the twanging guitar also adding a further 60’s feel to the track. The title track is a pleasant love song dedicated to Franco’s wife.

“Pretty Baby” returns to a more rocking style with Franco’s harp and JT’s guitar the main featured instruments. JT’s song “Living The Blues Again” is a slow blues with lovely piano behind JT’s expressive guitar which sounds to these ears like Gary Moore on this track. “Gypsy Woman” may not be the Curtis Mayfield song but shares some of that song’s style, JT playing some beautiful guitar lines that had me thinking about Carlos Santana’s cover of Curtis’ song. Mention also should be made of the keyboard work and Franco’s vocals which are particularly good on this cut which is another standout.

The horns make their third and final appearance on “Red Hot Lovers” and make quite an entrance alongside some rocking piano. The song swings like crazy and JT pulls out all the stops in his solo. “It Brings A Tear” is a ballad with Franco’s harp hitting some high notes and his vocal very much in keeping with the 50’s feel which is also aided by the piano and guitar stylings. It’s then back to rock and roll with the stomping “I Really Want To Sing The Blues” in which Franco confesses what he really wants to do! More outstanding piano work here from Steve makes this a strong closer to the album.

This is an excellent album with several outstanding tracks and is well worth seeking out. These Stingers have certainly made a buzz with this reviewer!

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. Current favorites from recent releases include Michael Burks, Barbara Carr, Johnny Rawls, Hadden Sayers, Andy Poxon, Chris Antonik and Doug Deming.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 7

Various Artists – Jock’s Juke Joint Contemporary Blues from Scotland Volume One and Volume Two

Lewis Hamilton Music

Volume One 17 tracks / 1:17:44

Volume Two 18 tracks / 1:15:25

In my ignorance, it used to be that I associated the UK blues music scene only with London and the seaports of Liverpool and Belfast. But over the past year I have reviewed CDs from some really fine Scottish blues artists, including Lewis Hamilton and the Boogie Brothers and the Bare Bones Boogie Band. Despite these positive experiences I still did not fully grasp the depth of their blues scene until I got Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Jock’s Juke Joint Contemporary Blues from Scotland. It turns out that great blues was always there and I just did not know about it.

These two compilation CDs are intended to provide an anthology of the great original blues music heritage of Scotland. In the real world there is no Jock’s Juke Joint (nor any other juke joint in Scotland), but you should think of it as the place where you could go to hear some fine tunes and have a good time. Many of us will not be familiar with these bands, so the liner notes provide a nice biography for each artist in addition to describing their roles in the local blues music scene. This is a very helpful and pleasant surprise, as many CDs I get these days are bereft of interesting information like this.

Compilation albums like these are awesome because they provide exposure for bands that may not otherwise see the light of day. I often find stuff I really like to listen to -- leading to many album purchases, which is surely what the people that put them together are hoping for. I guess their marketing works well on me!

On the two discs there are 35 tracks from different artists, and they cover the gamut of blues types from delta to boogie to Chicago-style and blues rockers. There is no way I can describe each one in detail (and have you finish reading this review, anyway), which is a shame because there is not a bad song to be found within. So here are highlights of a few tracks from each volume that stand out for me.

From Volume One “South of the City” by Albany Down got my attention early on in this disc. This well-written blues song starts out with a basic acoustic guitar riff and builds into a monstrous guitar anthem. Paul Turley gets guitar credit, and Paul Muir’s vocals are smoking! Also, Lewis Hamilton and the Boogie Brothers’ “Empty Roads” is a hard-edged countrified blues number which gives Hamilton a chance to tear loose on his guitar. This is surely one of the standout tracks from this disc.

I would be remiss if I did not mention The Bare Bones Boogie Band’s contribution of “Fallin’ for Foolin” from their Blue CD, one of the best albums I reviewed last year. Helen Turner’s vocals are incredibly emotional on this 7-minute jazzy slow burner, as are fellow Scot Iain Black’s guitar work and Trev Turley’s spot-on bass. This song is so tight that you can tell they have been together for over two decades.

Volume Two is just as good, with some fun stuff including the instrumental “Jam’al” from the 4 Als (which really is four guys named Al) led by Alan Nimmo on lead guitar. This uptempo boogie is only 3 minutes long but every second is pure gold. Jed Potts & the Hillman Hunters’ “Don’t Tell Me” has a fifties delta feel to it, and Cameron Grey does a masterful job of playing his harp off of Potts’ soulful voice and smooth guitar stylings.

Angela Moore’s vocals on the Baby Isaac original tune, “What the Hell,” capture the proper amount of indignation that you would expect from the title. Gary Arnott’s harmonica is also first-rate in this song which evokes images of the 1960’s rhythm and blues divas. Hot Tin Roof provides some no-frills blues with “Maybe Baby,” which features Andy McKay Challen on vocals and acoustic guitar and Gavin Jack on electric lead guitar. These guys prove that you don’t need a lot of personnel to make intricate and interesting music.

Jock’s Juke Joint Contemporary Blues from Scotland Volume One and Volume Two are a stone cold awesome collection of all genres of blues music. And if this is not enough for you, a third volume is in the works and will be released soon. If these discs are any indication of the blues to be found in Scotland, I have got to find a way to get over there and check it out for myself!!

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 7

Umberto Pocaro - Pleasure is My Business

Feelin’ Good Records

16 tracks/62:19

Blues music remains popular throughout the world. One glance at the finalists for this year’s International Blues Challenge will quickly show that musicians around the globe have assimilated the blues traditions, combining them with musical reference points from their own country to create an often exciting blend of blues for the modern age.

Italian guitarist Umberto Porcaro has spent more than a decade building his career including moving to California seven years ago to get master level lessons from the likes of Kim Wilson, RJ Mischo, Junior Watson and Kid Ramos. The student obviously paid attention. His original tunes take you on a tour that features stops in Chicago and Texas with a healthy dose of west coast swing thrown in for good measure.

On the first two cuts, Porcaro plays slide guitar, sticking to rhythm mode on “Bad Boy” while Max Lugli lays down some energetic harp licks. The pace quickens on”Melon Man” with Alessandra Salerno joining Porcaro to create a strong vocal chorus. Lugli is in the spotlight again on “I Want to Love You”, doing some hard blowing before the leader gives us our first brief glimpse at guitar skills. Finally, on “Mambo Jambo”, Porcaro starts burning up his fretboard with a fiery solo that makes it clear he isn’t fooling around anymore.

Over the remaining twelve songs, the guitarist rips off one hot solo after another, firing from all angles and taking no prisoners. Whether it’s sturdy shuffles like “Hard to Love” and “You’re Still Mine”, or full-throttle rockers like “Take Me Back to Texas” and “Jimmy Lee”, Porcaro commands your attention with his sizzling lead work. And when the pace slows briefly on “Rock Little Girl”, Luca “Loppo” Tonani on bass and Lele Zamperini on drums set-up a grinding rhythm that plows through the cutting, piercing metallic tone created by Porcaro’s double-tracked guitars. Throughout “Dallas”, the leader and Lugli trade solos on a dynamic instrumental work-out.

Henry Carpaneto’s piano adds a different accent on “Beautician Blues” as he trades solos with Porcaro on a rocking number that could easily be from the Junior Watson playbook. The title cut is a hard-driving plea for romance with Carpaneto’s fine keyboard work getting upstaged by another swaggering guitar solo. The closing tune, “Drivin’ Home” is a Chuck Berry-styled rock & roll cut that provides Porcaro with one last opportunity to make sure we will remember his guitar playing.

As a singer, Porcaro struggles a bit as English is not his native language. His phrasing can sometimes make it difficult to understand the lyrics. And while he scores points for using original material, the lyrics often utilize common blues imagery like crawling kingsnakes, mojo hands and little black books – or fall victim to the generic lyrical content that is all too common these days.

Despite those issues, this disc still merits your consideration for Porcaro’s consistently impressive guitar work. Yes, there are plenty of great guitar players out there. But this one just might have what it takes to bring you back for one listen after another. Definitely worth checking out!

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 6 of 7

Russ Tippins Electric Band – Combustion

Arty Music - ARTY07

11 songs – 49 minutes

Based in Newcastle-on-Tyne in the northeast corner of England, the Russ Tippins Electric Band unleashes a musical fury with this disc, a follow-up to their 2010 CD, Electrickery. A power trio with a harder-edged throw-back sound reminiscent of the late ‘60s, they fuse rock, boogie with jazz fusion and Latin rhythms to stretch the boundaries of the blues on 10 originals and one cover.

The band’s led by Tippins on guitar and vocals. He built a reputation as a solo acoustic artist before forming the trio a few years ago. He’s joined by John Dawson on bass and Ian Halford on drums. And they’re augmented by J Edwards and Jenna Hooson (lead vocals), Michael McCrystal (lead guitar), Tom Atkinson (lead guitar and keyboards) and Steve Clifford (tenor sax).

The fiery “Combustion” starts the proceedings highlighted by a rapid-fire guitar line and driving accents from the drums, with a tasty bass solo mid-song. It sings the praises of addiction to music, not drugs: “All your fast cars, cocaine and fashion clothes/You can keep it all -- I don’t need it./I put my money up my ears, not my nose/This soul is hungry for a spark trying to feed is the only fuel I need.” A bass line kicks off “Smoke House” before long staccato instrumental riff. The singer’s in search for a place to smoke marijuana, and the features a Hendrix-esque psychedelic, polyrhythmic guitar solo. The next tune swings from the jump as it deals with the differences between workers and bosses who are “Too Cool To Sweat.” A blistering guitar line gives way to a smooth drum solo.

“Big Bad Bella” offers the feel of a Jeff Beck song. It’s a driving rocker about “the toughest person in town/Her given name is Annabelle/And she’ll take any man down.” At 6-foot-3, she drinks too much, but everyone’s afraid to tell her -- and for good reason. One listen and you’ll know why. “Poncho” takes the listener to the Wild West with a Latin feel as it praises a hero who rides into town and saves the day. Dawson contributes another solid bass solo before Tippins takes over on the six-string. Edwards takes over the vocal duties for “Tear Down The Sky,” a slow-paced complaint about lost love and request for a quick death. It’s the first song on the CD that purists will say fits into the blues mold.

The squealing, heavy, paranoiac rocker “After You” precedes “Better Things Coming,” which sounds sweet, but delivers the message that the recession and other problems with the world won’t be over until the singer sees it for himself. Jenna Hooson takes over the microphone next for the only cover tune in the set, “Mama Don’t Allow.” It’s a balls-to-wall, countrified exercise that puts Tippins through an intense, but successful workout on the fretboard while providing Halford more space to shine on the drums. The loping “Mr. Done It All” verbally slams someone who’s always ready to one-up the singer. Not to be confused with the Dorothy Moore hit of a country music standard, “Misty Blue” concludes the set. This one’s a funky, clever love song: “Misty Blue my brain/Misty Blue, she’s here again./Really miss her when she’s not around.”

Tippins’ song-writing’s top-notch as is the musicianship throughout. If you’re a fan of harder-edged artists like Popa Chubby, you’ll like this one. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool lover of ‘50s Chicago blues, maybe not. But it’s definitely worth a listen.

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 Live Blues Review - Champaign Blues Brews And BBQ Festival

The 2013 Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival was held in Downtown Champaign, IL on June 28th and 29th. It was the sixth time for this great festival and the 5th year in a row for FREE admission. Considering the great lineup, the fact that promoters Fluid Events is able to keep presenting this great fest for free deserves great praise. Good job guys! The fest has two main stages which are laid out back to back pointing in opposite directions making it easy to get from one stage to the other and keeping any crossover sound from interfering. Ingenious and a model I hope other fests consider as it is easy on the journalists and great for the fans!

The music started off on the Central Bank Stage Friday with an Illinois band, The James Jones Trio. (

 This was the second time we caught a great opening set by this young band. The Trio consists of James Jones on guitar and vocals, Aaron Bouslog on the drums, and Mitchell Killough on the bass guitar. Check these guys out if you get a chance!


Next up on the Mille Beer Stage was Jr. & The Blues Rockers. ( The band is from Rantoul Illinois.

Back on the Central Bank stage Jerry Lee And The Juju Kings were up next. The band is from Dwight, Illinois and features band leader Jerry Lee Gingery on bass. These guys know about rockin' Blues!

Next up on the Miller stage was the Laurie Morvan Band. This California band features Laurie Morvan on guitar and lead vocals, Lisa Grubbs on backing vocals, Pat Morvan on bass, Lonnie Jones on drums and Tom Salyers on keyboard. Laurie is one hell of a great guitarist and if you have not had the pleasure of seeing her, put it on your must do list!

The headliner act on the Central Bank stage on Friday was Chicago Blues diva, Shirley Jones. She gave a great performance demonstrating to the crowd what traditional Blues really sounds like.

Next up on the Miller stage  was another California band, Shane Dwight. Shane is considered an up and coming star as a Blues guitar rocker.

The headliner on the Miller stage for Friday was Eric Sardinas and Big Motor. Eric is a slide guitar master and a great performer!

The FREE Blues music continued on Saturday starting with The Kelly Richey Band on the Miller stage. One impressive guitar player with a great band. She blew us away so much that we have decided to do a feature story on her in the upcoming months.

Over on the Central bank stage the real Blues started with Andrew "Junior Boy" Jones. Andrew treated the crowd to some of his great Texas style Blues.

The final act on the Central Bank stage was Hadden Sayers Band. They provided a great set of contemporary Blues and soul music.

Next up on the Miller Stage was rock and Blues guitarist Popa Chubby. He played a mostly rock influenced set that include covers of many rock styles. At one point even taking to playing snare drums on one tune.

The headline for the Miller stage was the great Blues Rock legend, Walter Trout! He played many of his greatest hits and even invited Blues rocker Anthony Gomes up the play a song.  and

If you missed this great event, be sure to put it on your 2104 calendar for the last weekend in June. Our congratulations go to Jeff and Perry of Fluid Events for another great Blues fest. Keep it up guys!

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser © 2013   Anthony Gomes photo by Kurt Foor © 2013

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 Featured Blues Review 7 of 7

The Mike Eldred Trio – Elvis Unleaded

Rip Cat Records

20 songs – 53 minutes

This is an interesting release. The Mike Eldred Trio is something of a roots “super-group”, featuring the combined talents of the Blasters’ rhythm section of Jerry Angel on drums and John Bazz on bass, together with vocalist and guitarist Mike Eldred, who was formerly with ex-Stray Cat Lee Rocker. This is their third album, and includes guest contributions from the always-awesome Gene Taylor on piano, the JOBS Quartet on backing vocals, Jerry Donato on tenor sax and Scott Yandell on trumpet.

As you would expect from a band with that kind of pedigree, they absolutely tear through all the cover songs on the album, giving them a drive and power of which the original writers would surely have approved. They pack in 20 songs in under an hour, rarely lasting more than three minutes on any piece before they have thrashed it to death. And they do it with such tremendous vigour, passion and no shortage of humour, it’s like listening to what the Clash might have done if they had been born 20 years earlier. Angel and Bazz nail a ferocious groove, while Eldred provides an object lesson to guitarists everywhere in how to produce short, punchy solos that never overstay their welcome, whilst still being imaginative, musical and punchy.

As suggested by the album title, however, all 20 songs are covers of songs made famous (or covered) by Elvis Presley, and this is where the question marks start to appear. Some of the songs are so well-known as to be almost hackneyed. Most listeners could name any number of bands who have covered “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy”, “Big Boss Man”, “Long Tall Sally” or “Jailhouse Rock”, even leaving aside the Presley interpretations. And the Elvis versions, of course, featured the Elvis voice, an instrument of such rare power and beauty (not to mention popularity) that any attempt at a cover version risks inevitably negative comparisons. So Eldred’s voice, fine though it is, will always struggle with a song like “Treat Me Nice”, especially when he sings with a hint of Elvis in the timbre of his voice.

There are one or two lesser-known Elvis pieces on the album, and certain songs may well remind listeners of other versions by different artists (“I Feel So Bad”, for example, made me want to go back and listen to the versions by Little Milton and Anson Funderburgh). But then “Heartbreak Hotel” comes on.

There is of course nothing intrinsically wrong with tribute albums, but the best ones tend to re-interpret classic songs in a novel way, or shine a light on some of the original artist’s lesser-known songs. The problem with Elvis Unleaded is that many of the songs are such a fundamental part of the contemporary musical lingua franca that it is difficult to play them and say anything new.

Overall, however, this is an enjoyable album, well played and well produced (by Eldred himself) and it is obvious that the seriously talented band had a blast in recording it. It would be a riot to hear them rip through these songs one evening at the local bar. .

Reviewer Rhys Williams is a blues enthusiast who lives in Cambridge, England.

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South Skunk Blues Society - Newton, IA

The 21st annual South Skunk Bowlful of Blues festival will be held Saturday August 31st at the beautiful, and recently refurbished, Maytag Park “Bowl” in Newton, Iowa –Newton is about 40 miles east of Des Moines on I-80. The South Skunk Blues Society is planning to throw a party like they are turning 21 (which in fact they are). The Bowlful of Blues will kick off at noon. An after fest jam with the Terry Quiett Band is planned at the local VFW hall. Here is the schedule: 12:00 - Poppa Neptune featuring Detroit Larry Davison, 2:00pm - Terry Quiett Band, 4:00pm - Walter Trout, 6:00pm - Shaun Murphy Blues Band and 8:00pm - John Primer. We are also pleased to have Denny Garcia from Dubuque providing the acoustic sets between the bands.

Bring a lawn chair…coolers are welcome too but please no glass. Food vendors will have food for sale on site. This is a family friendly event, but please leave pets to home. For more information or to purchase advance tickets go to  Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate the day of the show.

The River City Blues Society - Peoria, IL

River City Blues Society presents: Bryan Lee and The Blues Power Band: Wednesday July 24th at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St., Pekin, Illinois. The show starts at 7:00 pm/ Admission is $6.00 for the general public or $4.00 for Society Members. For more info visit or call 309-648-8510.

Fernando Jones' Blues Camp - Chicago, IL

Blues educator Frenando Jones  is holding a Blues Camp Monday to Friday, July 15 - 19, 2013 at Columbia College Chicago Music Center, 1014 S Michigan Ave. Chicago. The camp runs from 8am to

You can text Blues to 56512 and your donation will help make a Blues Kid' s dream come true at Blues Camp.  The Blues Kids Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization created to preserve, perform the Blues among America's youth and educators. For more info visit and Or call

Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL

Crossroads Blues Society presents the 4th Annual Byron Crossroads Blues Festival Sat., Aug 24th from Noon to 11 PM in downtown Byron, Illinois. $7 advanced tickets. Check it out at: The Nighthawks, Dave Specter with Sharon Lewis, Doug Deming and Dennnis Gruenling and te Jewel Tones, Bobby Messano and Tweed Funk make up the lineup. There is also a harp work shop with Dennis and a guitar workshop with Dave.

Also in September from Crossroads Blues Society: Storm Cellar, top blues and roots band from Australia is at the Byron IL American Legion for our post-fest party, 3 PM on Sunday September 22nd. Free for Fest Volunteers, $10 cover otherwise. Fall Blues In The Schools (BITS ) are in the works with Gerry Hundt and Ronnie Shellist for September 25th with a 7 PM evening show at Just Goods, $5 cover, free for Crossroads Members, Students and School Staffs.

October: We are working to have Eric Noden and Joe Filisko back for two days of BITS sometime TBD in October. More to come!

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:

And mark your calendar for the 25th Annual DC Blues Festival, August 31, Noon – 7:30 PM

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 15th - Chris O’ Leary, July 22nd - Bill Evans Birthday Jam, July 29th - Andrew Jr. Boy Jones, Aug 5th - Roger Hurricane Wilson, Aug 12th - Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones featuring Dennis Gruenling, Aug 19th - Rusty Wright More info available at 

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!, 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, Proof Lounge (former America's Bistro), 110 Meadowview Center, Kankakee, 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

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