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Issue 7-30, July 25, 2013

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

Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2013

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 In This Issue

Jim Crawford has our feature interview Marquise Knox. Bob Kieser has Part 1 of the photos from the Mississippi Valley Blues festival. Our new video of the week series features John Németh.

We have 10 music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Rory Block. Mark Thompson reviews a new album from The Duke Robillard Band. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Dave Herrero and the Hero Brothers Band. The Rex Bartholomew reviews a CD by Clay Swafford. Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Sax Gordon. Marty Gunther reviews a CD from Frank Bang & The Secret Stash. Jim Kanavy reviews a new release from Moreland and Arbuckle. Rhys Williams reviews a new album from Lisa Bailes. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD from James Montgomery Band and also a CD by Leadfoot Rivet. 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,

This Friday and Saturday there is a great Blues festival in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin called the Prairie Dog Blues Fest. The fest includes performances by Tab Benoit, Toronzo Cannon, Lamont Cranston with Bruce McCabe, The Steepwater Band, Left Wing Bourbon, Bryan Lee, Watermelon Slim and The Workers, Kelly Hunt, Hadden Sayers, Annie Mack, The Cash Box Kings and Altered Five.

It offers a great unique setting as it is the ONLY Blues festival held on an island in the middle of the mighty Mississippi river. It is a popular event among campers too. For complete information visit or click on their ad below in this issue.

CORRECTIONS!! - OK things have been just a bit busy lately and this overload resulted in a couple of serious errors in last weeks issue which we promised to correct.

First of all, if you read the interview of Kim Wilson by Terry Mullins last week, it may have seemed like it began in the middle of the interview. In fact due to an editing error, it did in fact begin in the middle (my BAD!).

We left out many important things in the beginning of a great interview. We have corrected the error and you can now read the complete interview in our back issues section on the website, CLICK HERE

Another error occurred in the review of Delmark Records new release by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup. We thought this was a reissue of a previously released 1969 recording session but in fact Delmark informed us know that the entire 1969 session has never been released before. To see the corrected review CLICK HERE.

My apologies for the errors.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music! 

Bob Kieser

Be An Informed Voter

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 continues until August 31st. Make sure you are familiar with all the artists music to be an informed voter.

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.

 Featured Blues Interview - Marquise Knox  

Every once in a while you run into someone who is born into their life’s work. Their future is a given on the first day they draw a breath.

Young Marquise Knox, a 22-year-old Bluesman from St. Louis says he never had a chance to seriously explore anything but the Blues and he has no complaints, either.

“It was just the structure of my house growing up,” he explains. “My first memory of hearing the Blues is when I was 2 years old. I think I knew right then the Blues was going to stay with me the rest of my life. I never got into hip hop or rap, but my grandmamma used to dance to Snoop Dogg.

Marquise says his grandmother Lillie, whose family was sharecroppers and whose great, great grandparents were slaves, taught him to play the guitar. His uncle Clifford, who Marquise revered, was a major influence in his musical upbringing.

The first Blues song Marquise can remember singing was Jimmy Reed's "You Don't Have To Go,” he told Terry Perkins in a St. Louis Beacon interview in 2011. And the first time he can recall playing the Blues live was in front of his 5th grade class.

"It was one of those days when everyone was supposed to get up and show off whatever talent they might have,” Marquise recalls. "So I brought my guitar and got up and sang 'Rock Me Baby.' I remember all the girls in the class came up to the front to listen. That's when I thought that maybe singing and playing music might be a good thing.

"When I got a little older, I used to hang out with Big George Brock, because he was a relation of mine," Marquise told Perkins. "And I had an aunt who used to go out with Boo Boo Davis, so I got to know him, too. Big George would ask me to come up and sit in, but I was really shy back then."

Eventually, Marquise began performing as a guest musician with guitarist Billy Barnett. He then began working with vocalist Erika Johnson, who helped him establish more connections in the blues community.

"Erika put me in touch with Jeremy Segel-Moss of the Bottoms Up Blues Gang, and he invited me to be on a CD called Mississippi Delta Boys. And I met John May at BB's," Marquis told Perkins. "After he heard me play, John told me I was welcome to come by any time. That was a great thing."

BB's was also the scene of Knox's first big splash as a performer on the area blues scene. He was asked to perform at the annual Baby Blues showcase at the club in 2005 at the age of 14. Veteran blues musicians and fans were impressed by Knox's ability to sing and play in an authentic blues style with an emotional depth and feeling rarely heard in anyone so young.

The young Blues prodigy has been called and old soul in a young man’s body and maybe the Blues giants he rubbed elbows with as a teenager had something to do with his profound respect for the music.

The legendary Blues drummer and Marquise crossed paths on a visit to Clarksdale, Mississippi and Sam immediately took a liking to the youngster and took it upon himself to help give Marquise's career a boost by insisting that audiophile impresario Chad Kassem invite Marquise to participate in the celebrated two-day Blues festival "Bluesmasters at the Crossroads" at Blues at Blue Heaven Studios in Salina, Kansas. The event features a virtual who’s-who of the Blues and Marquise was an immediate crowd favorite. In turn he was adopted by all of the elders of the Blues in attendance that year. His obvious talent along with his vast knowledge of the Blues and deep respect for his elders made it clear Marquise had something special.

“My first influence was Lightnin’ Hopkins,” Marquise says. “I liked everything about the way he played. Then I met Mr. Sam Lay at the Paul Butterfield Foundation in Clarksdale and he also was a big influence. He introduced me to a lot of famous Blues players I had only read about or heard their music on record. Of course, I love Muddy Waters’ music. Right now I’m stuck on Albert King.

“If it wasn’t for Sam Lay nobody would know who Marquise Knox is,” he says. “Nobody would’ve ever heard of me if it wasn’t for him. He gave me the confidence like you wouldn’t believe to get on that stage and give it everything I have every time I play.”

Marquise has shared the stage with the ageless BB King, the late Pinetop Perkins and Honey Boy Edwards.

“Imagine,” Marqquise says with awe, “ when I was 12 I wanted to go see BB King so bad. I wrote letters to his management and to the promoters begging for a ticket to go see BB King. Please let me go see BB King. Then two years later I was on stage with him. Unbelievable.

"It was a great experience for me to know Henry (Townsend), and then people like Pinetop and Hubert (Sumlin). They told me a lot of personal stuff that was beyond music that's really helped me along. I remember Hubert told me one time after hearing me play, 'You've got tone, Marquise. Something that's your own. Don't ever lose that.' So that's something I always concentrate on and make sure I don't lose.

“I recorded my first CD when I was 14 but my first national recording was called “Manchild,” Marquise explains.

The disc was nominated for a Blues Music Award for Best New Artist Debut. The album was recorded when in two nights at Blue Heaven Studios, a converted church, during an ice storm with the late, great Michael Burks and his band providing support. There is even a song called “Ice Storm” on the album. The release received worldwide acclaim, including Living Blues' Best Debut Artist Award and a Blues Music Award nomination for Best Debut Artist.

All of the accolades are fine for the young Bluesman, but some of them have gotten in the way of his progress and exposure on a national level.

“OK, I wanted to compete at the IBC (International Blues Challenge) in Memphis ,” he explains. “That same week my son was born and my uncle died. That killed the IBC for me. Then the next year I was nominated for the Blues Music Award which made me ineligible to compete. That’s a huge exposure opportunity missed. I just need the exposure. People know I can do this and do it well. I can make it sound like the old Sun and Chess records. I feel like I don’t connect. People say I sound like a young Muddy Waters. I think the act of being sustained by a guitar player is falling way off. They don’t play Blues guitar on hip hop records. That’s why I’m different.

“I’ve got two strikes against me, I’m young and I’m black,” Marquise says. “People say ‘He should know that music isn’t for young people.’ There’s not a measure, chart, beat or chord that hasn’t been played. It’s all right to sing about all that booty and how many peaches fallin’ off my tree but I want people to know Marquise is singing about things that are happening today. It’s all about the lyrics now. I want my music to sound like a poem. I want people to know I care about what’s going on in the world. And I can let them know through my music, if they’ll just take a minute to listen.

“Seems like I’m steady staying at the bottom of the barrel,” he says. “Ain’t no crap in my barrel. There ain’t nobody like me. I’m constantly asking myself ‘What is it they don’t like about me? What do they (other musicians) do that I don’t?’ I think part of it is I don’t have a CD that truly represents my sound. I’m trying to find the right management and I’ll record the right record.

“I hate it when I hear people say there’s no money in the Blues,” he says. “I realize it’s not hip-hop or rap money, but when they pay you $2,500, fly you to the show, put you up in a nice room and feed you, that ain’t too shabby. I’m able to put my son in a nice day care in St. Louis and pay for it. I’ve got no complaints about the money. There’s people working at Wal-Mart who wish they could play these gigs or get paid like this. My problem is I’m at a standstill.”

Marquise says he is a big fan of Texas Blues.

“I’ve played all over Texas,” he says. “they’re always real nice to you no matter where you go. Whether it’s Lubbock or Austin, they treat you right. You know why I like Texas Blues? It reminds me of Lyndon Johnson. It’s big and tall and will bend over and get right in your face. We did a lot of work with Blues In The Schools in all over Texas. I love teaching those kids about the Blues. Now I’m teaching the kids of the kids I taught.

Marquise has also played major music festivals in Texas, Mississippi, New York, Arkansas and Missouri - as well as appearing at events across Europe.

“I love the festivals,” he says. “You get the right festival and you can make folks feel like they’re in a club. You get the right club and you can make folks feel like they’re at a festival because it’s all so live. I like to play both. Hell, I just like to play.

“In Europe they treat you like a king. Anybody who will pay 20 Euros for an American CD, I got no problem with that.”

There’s not too much chance this perceived lull in Marquise Knox’s career will last too long.

There just ain’t no crap in his barrel.

Visit Marquise's website at To see some video of this amazing young Bluesman Click HERE, HERE and HERE

Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2012

Interviewer Jim Crawford is a transplanted Texan and the current president of the Phoenix Blues Society. He’s a fan of lots of different types of music but keeps his head mostly planted in the Blues today. He received his first 45 rpm record, Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man,” at about age 8 and it stuck. He hosted the “Blues Cruise” on KACV-FM 90 in Amarillo for many years and can be found on many nights catching a good show at the Rhythm Room, Phoenix’s Blues Mecca.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 10

Rory Block - Avalon

Stony Plain Records

CD: 11 songs; 51:07 Minutes

Styles: Modern Acoustic Blues Covers, Tribute Album

Who knew such astounding acoustic blues could emerge from Princeton, New Jersey? Not only is it famous for its Ivy League university, but an artist, Aurora “Rory” Block, who should have a Ph.D. in her favorite medium. Already a five-time blues music award winner, she has wowed such notable names as Bonnie Raitt and two of Robert Johnson’s grandsons, Greg and Steven. One of her latest passions is paying homage to blues icons in her “Mentor Series” of CD’s. “Avalon,” the brand-new fourth entry, focuses upon Mississippi John Hurt. Composer of such hits as “Candy Man,” “Spike Driver Blues,” and the title track, he also “covered many Appalachian country songs,” according to Rory’s liner notes. Of “Avalon’s” eleven offerings, ten are covers of Hurt’s most celebrated works. The opener, “Everybody Loves John,” is an eye-popping, name-dropping ode to several of them:

Track 04: “Frankie and Albert”--A similar saga to “Frankie and Johnny,” it contains a happy ending for the heroine: “Frankie and the judge walked out of the stand, walked out side by side, and the judge said to Frankie, ‘Now, you’re going to be justified. Killing a man, but I know he done you wrong.” Rory’s gently rolling guitar refrain might remind one of Leadbelly’s Midnight Special prison train, which Frankie avoids. This cover is the one she was absolutely born to play, with her smooth voice like hot honey barbecue sauce. /p>

Track 09: “Stagolee”--Also spelled a variety of ways, like “Stack O’Lee,” the title’s villain is twice as wicked as the errant (and dead) Albert. For one thing, he’s a murderer: “Stagolee, Stagolee, please don’t take my life. I got two little children and a darling lovin’ wife!” Nevertheless, the “bad man” meets his just fate on the gallows. “The last time I saw that boy, I was glad to see him die.” For more of Stagolee’s misdeeds (this time in perdition), check out Cephas and Wiggins’ “Stack and the Devil”.

Track 11: “Pay Day”--Rory performs some amazing, gospel-tinged harmonies with herself in the intro of this final number. Our narrator is fed up, both with a lover and a furry critter who have both escaped her grasp. “Well, the rabbit in a log; I ain’t got no rabbit dog. Lord, I hate to see that rabbit get away….” Listeners might smile or sigh at the bitter irony of the title, but Block’s chorus will lift their spirits.

States Rory in the liner notes, “In this effort I remember John Hurt, celebrate his music and times, and rejoice at having had the chance to meet him. Nothing will ever be the same as a result, and my life has been made far richer by the experience.”

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 Video Of The Week

This week we are starting a new series of weekly videos of artists playing at some of the events of our advertisers. This week we feature a video of John Németh performing at Callahan's Music Hall in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  John Németh is one of the performers at the 10th Annual Marquette Area Blues Festival over Labor Day weekend.  To see the video, click on the image below


For information on this great festival visit  or click on their advertisement below in this issue


 Featured Blues Review 2 of 10

The Duke Robillard Band - Independently Blue

Stony Plain Records

12 tracks/52:40

This release is number thirty for guitarist Duke Robillard, who recently went on tour as a member of Bob Dylan’s band. While that association was short-lived, Robillard has always maintained a high standard throughout his recording career. His latest is no exception as it takes you on a guided tour of his wide-reaching musical universe utilizing a crack band adept at handling every color in the leader’s musical palette.

Robillard handles all of the vocals and shares the guitar parts with special guest Monster Mike Welch, currently a member of Sugar Ray Norcia’s band, the Bluetones. Hearing these two expertly play off each other is one of the many delights that make this recording a standout. The other members of the band include Bruce Bears on piano and Hammond organ, Brad Hallen on acoustic and electric bass, and Mark Teixeira on drums and percussion.

Three of the tracks were written by another former member of Roomful of Blues, trumpeter Al Basile. The opener, “I Wouldn’t Have Done That”, has Bears’ rolling piano lines filling the space behind taut solos from both of the guitar players. “I’m Still Laughing” has Robillard trying to maintain his composure in the midst of a world of trouble while “Below Zero” was a joint effort between Basile and Robillard with a strong guitar riff creating a solid launch pad for the two guitarists to trade licks.

Welch contributed two instrumentals to the program. “Stapled to the Chicken’ Back” has an organ-drenched arrangement and a firm bass line from Hallen that gives Robillard and Welch plenty of room to strut their stuff. They serve up a more pensive performance on the lightly swinging “This Man, This Monster” with Robillard displaying his jazz sensibilities, offering a contrast to Welch’s biting, darker toned solo. A third instrumental, Duke’s “ Strollin’ with Lowell and BB”, gives the leader a chance to pay tribute to two of his influences with Bears adding a another stellar solo on piano.

Another high point finds the band detouring to New Orleans for “Patrol Wagon Blues”, expertly recreating the old-time jazz sound that defined the city with Robillard on tenor banjo and Welch on acoustic guitar. Doug Woolverton on trumpet and Billy Novick on clarinet join the proceedings for a section of intricate group improvisation. Robillard’s unhurried vocal still manages to convey the song’s warning about the local authorities. His warm tone works equally well on “Groovin’ Slow”, his meditation on aging that also serves up a reminder that he can still keep his woman happy, albeit at a more moderate pace. Once again, the guitar interplay makes the track something special.

“Laurene” is hardy rock-n- roll tune written for Robillard’s wife with the two guitars engaged in a fierce competition for your attention. The following track, “Moongate” is a moody, reflective piece that was inspired by a visit to a mansion estate in the Berkshire Mountains. Woolverton’s trumpet returns on “You Won’t Ever”, its lonesome wail providing a spark on a jazz-lite track that is the weakest number on the disc. Robillard belts out the lyrics on the closing track, “If This is Love”, matching his tone with an aggressive guitar foray.

As mentioned at the top, there are plenty of outstanding releases in the Duke Robillard catalog. This one will certainly find its way to the top of the stack. While Duke may not be a good fit for Mr. Dylan, one listen to this fine recording will let you know that Robillard and his outstanding group have few peers when it comes to purveying the deep well of blues music styles. The addition of Monster Mike Welch to the mix ensures that the leader can’t afford to relax. The electrifying guitar work and strong material pushes this one into the highly recommended category!

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 3 of 10

Dave Herrero & The Hero Brothers Band – Corazon

Hero Music Group

11 tracks; 48 minutes

I have kept an eye on Dave Herrero since seeing him live at the time of his 2008 CD “Austin To Chicago”. Now based in Chicago his new CD has some similar qualities to ‘A To C’, blending straight blues with rock and Texas influences. Dave handles guitar and vocals, co-producer Felix Reyes also plays guitar, bass is Ed Strohsahl, organ Chris Foreman. Drums are by Henrik Maarud who is replaced on three tracks by Cedric Burnside. Writing credits are shared round the band and a few collaborators with just two covers.

The album opens with “Old Sun”, a moody delta blues beefed up with plenty of slide before a rocking version of Dylan’s “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry”. Always a great song, the last cover of the song that I recall was Little Feat’s, where the band stripped the tune down and played it as a very slow blues. Dave takes the opposite approach, increasing the pace and adding some Texan twang to the guitars and it works really well. “Angeline” is Felix Reyes’ soulful ballad with acoustic guitars giving way to some delicate chords on electric as the song develops, a nice contrast to the first two tunes. “Lover Man II” is more straightforward rock with some good flourishes on slide and a strong hook in the chorus. “After The Rain” is a writing collaboration between four contributors, almost classic rock with echoes of bands like U2 in the arrangement but with some very heavy rock guitar in the middle section.

“Cheatin’ Blues” is a traditional slow blues written by M Powell who also collaborated on “Lover Man II” with some fine interplay between the two guitarists. “So I Can Die Easy” has a Bo Diddley style beat and plenty of slide; although the song is credited to Dave, lyrically it takes a lot from “In My Time Of Dying”. “Mean Wicked World” is Dave’s song with Steve Batterson who is listed as ‘Creative Consultant’ and contributed to five songs on the album. This one is an acoustic piece, just guitars and Dave’s anguished vocal: “You can rip out my heart, throw it on the ground. All I ask in this mean old wicked world is that you never leave me alone”.

One of Dave’s recent credits was as producer of Jimmy Burns’ last album and “Won’t Be Too Long” is reprised from that CD. It’s a collaboration between Dave, Felix and Jimmy, an uptempo song with an infectious riff at its core. Felix Reyes is the sole writer on “Old Lovin’ Feeling”, a beautiful ballad with some superb interplay between the two guitars and the organ providing the lush accompaniment that such a song needs, the whole building to a very satisfying finale with a vocal choir (sadly not credited) in support. The final track is a cover of “Rollin’ N’ Tumblin’” attributed quite properly to Hambone Willie Newbern, Dave and Steve Batterson taking credit for some additional lyrics. Not sure that Willie would have recognised his old tune as the rhythm section and the guitars set up a rock feel, even a sustained feedback note at the end!

I thoroughly enjoyed this interesting and varied album. Mental note: Next time in Chicago must check out Dave’s current live show.

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 10

Clay Swafford – Rooster

Lost Cause Records

14 tracks / 48:56

I am a huge boogie-woogie fan, but also understand that this kind of blues music might not be everybody’s cup of tea. However, if you are a fan of the blues you are shortchanging yourself if you write off the genre completely, especially with artists like Clay Swafford out there. This young man is the real deal and the maturity, talent and emotion he displays with his performance on his debut album, Rooster, will make a believer out of you.

Clay Swafford was born in 1983, but this pianist is not new to the blues and boogie-woogie scene. Raised in rural Alabama, he discovered the blues at 15 (Otis Spann with Muddy Waters, no less), and by the time he was 16 he was on stage at the Pinetop Perkins Homecoming Celebration. At the age of 20 he was featured in the boogie-woogie piano documentary, Falsifyin, alongside established legends such as Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Both of these men recognized Swafford’s talent and were quite vocal about their respect for his talent. Since then he has played at festivals and clubs all over the south, both by himself and with established artists, such as the late Willie “Big Eyes” Smith.

For Rooster, Swafford did things his own way, dragging an old upright piano into the studio and miking it well. There is no digital wizardry or overdubs, so everything you hear is exactly the way it sounded when he laid it down, with every rattle, overtone and pop caught on tape for posterity. And it is glorious! The first eleven tracks include five originals, and he is joined by the lovely Texan Diunna Greenleaf on five of the covers. No drums, bass or guitar, just a piano master and one of the best blues singers out there.

“Rooster’s Boogie” is a short warm-up track that gives a preview of what Clay is capable of, which includes wielding a left hand that is like the hammer of Thor and a right hand that moves so fast that it sounds like there are two guys sitting on the piano bench. Pinetop Perkins said of Swafford, “I have ten fingers; it looks like he has twenty! He’s tearing the keys down on that piano, man!”

From there he alternates original instrumentals with cover tunes that feature Greenleaf, the first of which is Big Joe Turner’s “29 Ways.” After Turner’s original, this is by far my favorite version of this classic. If you are not familiar with Diunna, it is time you made your acquaintance with this living legend. Her voice is amazingly powerful, and the raw recording style of this disc conveys her inflections and emotions beautifully.

The standout original track on Rooster is “Olympic Strut,” because Swafford is able to slow things down from the usual breakneck boogie-woogie tempo and the listener gets a chance to focus on the feel of his astounding right hand work. He also keeps the speed down for Willie Mae Thornton’s “Sometimes I Have a Heartache,” which Diunna just tears to pieces. The heart that she puts into her singing is a high mark that any up and coming blues singer should aspire to measure up to.

Rooster finishes up with three neat bonus tracks. Clay recorded the first two in Clarksdale, Mississippi with his buddy, singer/guitarist Bob Margolin. They laid down their own versions of Muddy Waters’ “Mean Disposition” and Elmore James’ “Fine Little Mama” that feature Margolin’s gorgeous slide guitar work and his well-weathered voice. The final track is a live cut of “Tin Pan Alley” with Swafford joining Bob Corritone and the All Stars from the Rhythm Room in Phoenix, Arizona. These tracks show how well Clay plays with others, and that he is not a one-trick pony.

Whether you are a boogie-woogie fan or not, if you enjoy the blues and/or slick piano playing there is something for you to like in Clay Swafford’s Rooster. By the way, if you do like what you hear and decide to buy the album, be sure to read the liner notes, as there are neat tidbits about all of the tracks. This is a fabulous first effort, and surely there will be great things to come for this prodigy!

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 CCLICK HERE

 Featured Live Blues Review - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival - Part 1  

The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival celebrating its 29th year is one of the longest running Blues festival continuously put together by a Blues society in the entire US.

The festival is held over the 4th of July holiday each year and this year the festival started on Thursday July 4th. The festival typically has 2 stages, a main festival stage and a tent stage. Normally the festival is held in Le Claire Park in Davenport, Iowa right next to the Mississippi river. This year the festival had to be moved to downtown Davenport due to the wet spring and flooding in the park.

The festival kicked off with a set by Selwyn Birchwood Band. This band won  the 2013 International Blues Challenge and those winning talents were clearly on display.

First up on the "tent" stage was Iowa's own Kevin "BF" Burt. Kevin has a long history  in Blues education and treated the crowd to his singing, guitar playing and harmonica

Next up back at the main stage was an act from the northern Illinois area called Howard and The White Boys. Led by Howard McCullum on vocals and bass guitar the band includes Jim Christopulos on drums and Rocco Calipari and Pete Galanis sharing lead and rhythym guitar duties. This band has been performiong since 1988 when they met in college.

 Back on the tent stage an Iowa favorite act, Joe and Vicki Price, put on a great show. These two are really great pickers!


Next up on the tent stage was Davina and the Vagabonds from Minnesota. I first saw them at the International Blues Challenge a few years ago and leader Davina Sowers is quite a sassy entertainer! Check them out if you get the chance!


The final act of the day on the tent stage was a new Blues "supergroup", Southern Hospitality. The band is fronted by three stars in their own right, Victor Wainwright on keyboards and vocals, Damon Fowler on vocals, lead and lap steel guitar and J.P Soars on vocals, lead and slide cigar box guitar.

They got a standing ovation from the crowd. Super group indeed!

Back on the main stage was one of my favorite guitar players Eddie "Devil Boy" Turner. Eddie is one hell of a guitar player in the style of a bluesy version of Jimi Hendrix!

Eddie is an intense performer and one you should put on your "must see" list!

Next up on the main stage was The Chris O'Leary Band. fronted by Chris O'Leary on vocal and harmonica the band includes Chris Vitarello on guitar, Chris DiFrancisco and Andy Stahl on sax, Frank Ingrao on bass and Jason Devlin on drums. They won a Blues Music Award for Best New Artists Debut in 2011. This is one tight band you want to see!

The final act of the night was a fitting headliner, Walter Trout! Walter has been around for quite some time and is known for his great Blues rock chops. Of late though he has released two fine Blues recordings with Blues For The Modern Daze and the recently released Luther's Blues, a tribute to his mentor, Luther Allison.

So ended day one of a great Blues Festival. Check back next week for part 2 of this great event.

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser  © 2013

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE


 Featured Blues Review 5 of 10

Sax Gordon - Showtime!

Continental Record Services

10 tracks

Holy smoke! This is a smoking hot CD! The title of the CD is almost an understatement. Sax Gordon is a showman of the highest caliber-this CD is him showing off, both musically and just in general to have a good time in his craft. Gordon Beadle, AKA Sax Gordon, is a throwback to the old style of honking good time sax playing. He blows me away with his style and exuberance. We have a cool mix of jazzy, swinging jump blues here, and if that is in your wheelhouse then you’ll want this CD to be yours, too.

The artists here are basically broken down three ways. Jr. Watson on guitar with Matt Stubbs on bass is one iteration and then Matt Stubbs on guitar with Jesse Williams on bass are the second of two setups. Chris Rivelli is on drums for those sets. The other variation is Matt “Guitar” Murphy on the ax with Stubbs on bass and Chris Peet on drums. The horn section of Scott Aruda (trumpet), Jeff Galindo (trombone) and Tino Barker (baritone sax) back up the front man who is on tenor sax and vocals.

The CD opens with the title cut. It swings like a huge pendulum- a jumping beat and big guitar open the session and then Barker and Gordon blow some mean horn. Gordon trades solos with Watson and it’s a wild instrumental ride! I felt like the guy in the arm chair of the old Memorex ads getting blown away listening to this.

“Big and Hot” is the same set of players minus trombone with Gordon telling us, “When I give her a kiss in just the right spot, I know my baby is so big and hot.” He delivers this is a singing sort of statement in a medium to slow tempo and then Jr. gives us a tasteful solo before Gordon blasts away. The same troop then shifts into high gear for “I Got It,” swinging and bopping at 100 miles an hour. Gordon does a stratospheric solo and the band is right there with him. Watson burns the strings on his guitar as he responds to Gordon’s sax solo with his own. “Don’t Mess With Me” is the final cut and the trombone returns for a ripping intro and then the sax and guitar get into it. Gordon continues his story telling lyrical style and sells this tune well.

Matt “Guitar” Murphy’s cuts are “The Way It Is” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” The prior is an instrumental with Gordon’s dirty sax just laying it on thick. Murphy comes in for a very cool slow blues solo. The band finishes that cut with the horns blaring as Gordon struts his way through sweetly. The latter song closes the CD and is just a trio of Gordon, Murphy and Peet doing this traditional number. They scale things down nicely and deliver a striking and thoughtful performance. The drums are almost tribal here- just a cool treatment over all.

The mix with Stubbs on guitar starts with “The Coldest Cat in Town.” Gordon tells of his woes and digging out, closing out with buying a new XKE and then he’s going to pass everyone by. They follow that up with a lesson from Gordon in “Get Into It.” This is a big number where Gordon instructs us and the band to get into it as they begin a joyful and exciting ride. After he shows us what they have, he tells us he likes to do what feels good again and again and they close with a big finish after all of Gordon’s fun diatribe.

He gets all ballad-like on us with “Be Careful What You Wish For.” He opens telling a story of how he wanted to join the circus when he was young. The old timer tells him what the title says and then schools Gordon on making choices; leaving home and family to get what you want can cause you to lose what you had. He goes and makes the choice and, as expected, regrets it as he tells us in the rest of the song. “That Girl” is the last for this mix of artists; it has a really driving beat. This instrumental is raw and gives us an overall edgier sound. Gordon’s sax is predominant and Stubbs puts in a nice solo to boot. Well done!

I‘ve got no complaints here- I really enjoyed the ride through these ten old school sax numbers. Gordon is a monster on tenor sax. His horn section provides a huge and wonderful backdrop to his sound and his sidemen are into it. Jr. Watson probably shined brightest for me on guitar, but Murphy and Stubbs were not slouches either and delivered superlative performances, too. I recommend this album for anyone who likes old school swing, R&B and jump blues with a fantastic sax sound- Sax Gordon is your man! If you are not tapping your feet and feeling good after listening to this set then a dirt nap might be in order for you because you might be dead. In fact, this is so hot and jumping it might even get the dead going again!.

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.

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 Featured Blues Review 6 of 10

Frank Bang & The Secret Stash – Double Dare

Blue Hoss Records 1001

11 songs – 50 minutes

Frank Bang’s a Chicago native, but learned the blues the hard way. The son of a Chicago cop dad and a mother who worked in a live-music joint, he grew up in the Austin neighborhood a few miles from of dozens of bars that made the West Side blues sound famous. When he picked up guitar at age 16, against his father’s wishes, his interests ranged from AC/DC to Z.Z. Top. Blues started to flavor his life when he was a college student majoring in mechanical engineering, visited venues in the city and picked up a copy of Alligator Records’ Showdown! which featured blazing guitar interplay among Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland and Robert Cray. But rock still played a major roll in his life.

He soon quit school and took a job at the Windy City’s Hard Rock Cafe, using it as a springboard to transfer to Hard Rock franchises around the country. In San Diego, he met Stevie Ray Vaughan. “When he found out I was from Chicago, he immediately started telling me I needed to check out Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and all the other Chicago cats,” Bang says. After a stint in Houston, he heeded Vaughan’s advice. Soon, he was working the door at Guy’s Legends showroom and traveling with his crew for big gigs. He worked on his blues chops in the early morning hours after Legends closed, taking the stage and trading licks with Wayne Baker Brooks, son of guitar giant Lonnie Brooks, as the sun started to emerge over Lake Michigan. And he also served as guitarist Larry McCray’s road manager for a time. He was on the verge of recording a blues-rock album for Capricorn Records when Guy offered him a job he couldn’t refuse: A spot as guitarist in his touring band. Five world tours and four solo albums between 2004 and 2007 followed before divorce and raising a family forced him to reassess his life before jumping back into music full-force. “People tell me my music lifted them when they were down, and helped them through hard times,” he says. “I want to live up to that. I felt that I had to write songs that had a deeper meaning.”

This album is a collection of 11 strong, in-your-face originals that Bang describes as “driving music – something to get you from point A to point B.” Produced and engineered by Manny Sanchez, who also works with Rod Stewart, it features his incendiary three-piece band -- Ryan Fitzgerald on bass and Bobby Spelbring on drums -- with guest appearances by Russ Green (harmonica), Phil Miller and Drew Pentkowski (guitar), Daryl Coutts (organ) and Greg Ward (saxophone).

Bang lays rubber with a rapid-fire guitar run and strips gears as the disc kicks off with “Double Dare” as he sings about the challenges of life: “No one promised me anything/Life’s just a double dare.” The pace slows for the funky “Burnin’ Up In The Wind,” which continues the theme over a smoky harp track laid down by Green, a former student of Sugar Blue and rising star in his own right. Bang’s off and running, exhibiting lyrical gymnastics, for “Lose Control,” a love song about a woman who “loves me right, but I don’t know why.” Ward contributes a solid closing horn solo. “God Fearin’ Man” is an autobiographical complaint about not being able to understand the complexities of life swirling around him. The pace changes dramatically with the love song, “Wonder Woman,” which begins with an acoustic feel, but progresses into an electric blues.

“This Is What It’s All About” serves as a tribute to good times, good people and the simple life with a definite country music feel. It’s a welcome vacation from the rough-hewn tunes that surrounds it – like the rocker “All’s Well,” which follows and deals with living in a “town called Prosperity that beats a good man to the ground.” Bang fantasizes meeting Hank Williams in a bar in the interesting “My Own Country Way.” Hank’s complaint: There isn’t enough blues in the Nashville sound today. “18 Wheels Of Hell” continues the country feel, telling the tale of a friend who’s being chased by the Devil in a big-truck: “If you see him in your mirror/You know your life’s about to end.” The disc concludes with “All I Need,” another tale of love and the road, and “Mattie’s Girl,” about a girl you can’t ignore.

Hard-edged guitar blues fueled by steroids and served with a quadruple shot of espresso. A fast, furious, intense trip -- exhausting, but fun, modern with a comfortable retro feel and some interesting twists and turns along the way.

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.

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 Featured Blues Review - 7 of 10

Moreland & Arbuckle - 7 Cities

Telarc International

13 tracks; 44:24

Moreland & Arbuckle sprung from the prairies of Kansas and have been on a musical quest for about ten years together. Dustin Arbuckle sings, recently took up bass guitar and plays the hell out the harmonica. Aaron Moreland plays a variety of guitars including a custom made cigar box instrument with one bass string and two guitar strings, which lends to the band’s signature sound. Kendal Newby plays drums and sings harmony vocals. Together they have created a loose concept album based on themes found in the mythology of the 7 Cities Of Gold.

According to legend, conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado heard the stories of the Cities of Gold in the north and traveled to Cíbola in 1540 only to discover the stories were false. While among the pueblos in Cibola, Coronado heard about a city with plenty of gold called Quivira located on the other side of the Great Plains. He traveled in search of Quivira ending up somewhere in Kansas, again with no gold. It is a tale of avarice, adventure, the desire for glory, self-determination, and even self-destruction.

Naturally, “Quivira” is the lead track and sets the tone for the record with a sinuous riff and tribal chants that sets you on a journey to find the lost cities of gold. It’s difficult to conceive of a song sounding majestic with just a guitar, drum and harmonica trio but they pull it off and pull you in. “Quivira” is a powerful opening statement and sets the bar for the rest of the disc.

“Kowtow” was written by Ryan Taylor, a friend of the band, from Kansas City. He has a few writing credits onthis album. The band recorded his tune “The Brown Bomber” for Just A Dream and had the confidence to make it the first track. Not having heard the originals, I cannot draw a comparison but the songs Moreland & Arbuckle have chosen perfectly fit their sound. Here, “Kowtow” also fits in with the 7 Cities of Gold theme. The spirit of independence is explored and there a palpable sense of not just following your own path, but making your own path; consequences be damned. It’s a convincing take and the addition of female back up vocalists shows the band is following that spirit by expanding their sonic palate.

If you can sit still during “Tall Boogie” you may be dead. Check your pulse. When they unleash the fury with a drum fill that rolls like thunder and a harmonica howling like the prairie wind, the whole band feels like it’s about to become unhinged by a heartland tornado of rock & roll fury. When Dustin urges “Now boys let’s get tall” you just cannot resist the call of the outlaw.

“The Devil And Me” is a Curt Mitchell tune that sounds like Tom Petty if he was from Kansas. Moreland lets his fingers do the talking more than usual in this tune taking some energetic and succinct solos. Moreland plays some tasty solos on several tracks. His solo spots on “Bite Your Tongue” are incandescent. His playing is not ornate or flashy, but he channels the vibe of the song and solos come and go at the perfect moments. He knows what not to play and that’s a realization that never comes to many “great” guitar players.

“Red Bricks” reminds you of the bands roots in acoustic pre-war blues. Though it is seemingly upbeat, there is a melancholic overtone that conjures images of conquistadors on the Kansas plain realizing the Cities of Gold are a myth. There may be a dash of hope left, but reality is setting in. It’s a sentiment that flowed through time to the sharecroppers of the Delta who led a bleak existence but found a bit of hope in the music played on guitars and harmonicas that came to be known as blues.

The blues is the thread that holds this release together from the wistful R&B of “Time Ain’t Long” to the raging “Road Blind.” It’s run through the band’s music since they were The Kingsnakes and continues to manifest itself as Moreland & Arbuckle deconstruct the traditions and forge a new sound. And no matter who wrote the song, Moreland & Arbuckle make it their own. Their collective sound is like a fourth member of the band that even puts its stamp on “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” which may just win the “Most Unusual Cover On A Blues Album” Award; but damn it’s good – a point I hate to concede.

7 Cities is drummer Kendall Newby’s first record with the band. He joined right around the release of 2011’s Just A Dream. Dustin Arbuckle has credited Newby with helping shape the sound on 7 Cities with his harmony vocals and arrangement ideas. His range as a drummer doesn’t hurt either. He can do the John Bonham bombast or the John lee Hooker foot tappin’ boogie. Newby has logged thousands of miles and countless shows with the band in the last two years and seems like a natural fit.

In the last ten years or so Moreland & Arbuckle have transformed from a rustic electrified country blues group to a full-fledged modern roots rock band. The transformation has been gradual and they have maintained a signature sound along the way even as the amps got turned up, the guitars got a little grittier, and the drum chair erupted leaving not a globule but the Kansas Condor – Kendall Newby - on his perch. They have successfully combined familiar elements from Muddy Waters to Soundgarden into a unique, fresh sound.

7 Cities makes subtle changes to the style but it really picks up where Just A Dream left off. It’s not often that I agree when an artist says the new album their best work yet, but this time around Moreland & Arbuckle just might be right. There is not a weak spot on this record. One song ends and no matter how good it was, you’re looking forward to the next one.

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

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 Featured Blues Review 8 of 10

Lisa Biales – Singing In My Soul

Big Song Music

10 songs – 60 minutes

On her new album, Oxford, Ohio-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Lisa Biales (pronounced Be-Alice) has selected nine classic songs by the likes of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mississippi John Hurt and W.C. Handy to complement her own “Magic Garden” and has produced an album of upbeat acoustic blues, jazz and folk that would bring a smile to the most ill-tempered misanthrope. Previous releases have demonstrated that Biales can write a good tune. Singing In My Soul proves that she can successfully impose her personality and voice on a wide range of different musical styles and, despite the fact that many of the songs on this release are older than Biales herself, they often sound as if they have been written especially for her.

Blessed with a compelling voice of range and beauty, Biales pours emotion into every song. She is more than capable of capturing pain and vulnerability, but the over-riding theme of this album is warmth and happiness. Kicking off with “A Little Bird Told Me”, originally a hit in 1947 for Evelyn Knight, Biales sings that a “A little bird told me that you love me, and I believe that you do. This little bird told me that I was falling, falling for no-one but you.” Powered by Ricky Nye’s choppy piano, the song is a jazz-influenced foot-tapper, with humorous backing vocals from The Paris Blues Band, who also provide the subtle and swinging instrumental backing on the album (featuring Thibaut Chopin on upright bass, Anthony Stelmaszack on guitars and Simon Boyer on drums, they do indeed come from France).

The versatility of Nye and The Paris Blues Band is one key to the success of the album. Capable of switching from laid-back jazz on “Waiting For The Train To Come” to country blues on Patsy Cline’s “Write Me In The Care Of The Blues” and W.C. Handy’s “Careless Love” to gospel (Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Strange Things Happening Every Day” and the title track), they provide exuberant support, with Nye and Stelmaszack both taking short but memorably melodic solos.

But the real star of of this album is Biales’ voice, which swoops and soars with a clarity and majesty that recalls some of the great singers of yesteryear. Pleasingly, however, Biales has no time for the sort of vocal histrionics in which too many torch singers of today feel they must indulge. Nearly every song has an unexpected moment of pleasure, from the sudden entry of Doug Hamilton’s violin in Mississippi John Hurt’s “Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me”, to the original though process that turned the doo-wop classic, “I Only Have Eyes for You” into a beautiful slow ballad, to the glorious final note Biales sings on “Strange Things Happening Every Day”.

Hamilton is actually one of a number of guest musicians, including Bill Littleford on guitar, Chris Douglas on upright bass and Brad Meinerding on mandolin, but they fit seamlessly into the groove and swing of the album, which is excellently produced by Nye.

This is a really enjoyable release, and if you have not heard Lisa Biales before, I would thoroughly encourage you to check her out. There is rare warmth in these songs. Highly recommended..

Reviewer Rhys “Lightning” Williams  is a blues guitarist who lives in Cambridge, England, but he does not play in The Cambridge Blues Band although he may now form it.

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 Featured Blues Review 9 of 10

James Montgomery Band - From Detroit To The Delta

Open Entertainment

12 Tracks - 51:26 minutes

Well what a delight this one is. First thing to say is that James Montgomery is a fine harp player and has a great voice too. The CD comes on strong from the very start with the opener Intoxicated, a dense horn driven rocker. The horn section, present on other tracks too, are on fire here. Fabulous.

One of the greatest strengths of this album is the judicious use of guests. A case in point is the inclusion of Johnny Winter on Little Johnny, a song written by Montgomery here urging his former band boss to great things on the latter’s signature Firebird guitar. This track also features Brad Whitford of the rock band Aerosmith with some really nice fills.
Slower songs are exemplified by Albert Smith’s, Motor City Is Burning, with a terrific loping bass part and some outstanding B3 work from Tom West plus, that super horn section again.

Usually it takes me about three seconds to turn of rapping but the inclusion of DMC on Bo Didley’s Who Do You Love, is very nicely placed and it works remarkably well. Inspired!

Ray Charles’ Hit The Road Jack is taken at a stately 75 beats per minute (BPM) rather than the more usual 99 BPM and features Charise Rice on vocals doing the Raylets part. Taken slower gives it some space and again it is a brilliant arrangement.

Finally the last track is a show stopper. Sam Hopkins’ Black Cadillac given an outstanding vocal treatment by Mr Montgomery comes with added James Cotton. What more can one say?

To summaries, this one is super stuff and will be getting air play from me for a VERY long time. Congratulations Mr Montgomery! Great job all round.

Reviewer Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South ( a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian also produces and presents three web cast blues radio shows; one on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central, 10am Pacific) and two on KCOR (www.kconlinereadio) on Fridays at 12noon Central (Blues and Blues Rock) and Mondays at 4pm Central (Acoustic Blues). He is a founder member of the International Blues Broadcasters Association.

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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.

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!

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 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: 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

 Featured Blues review 10 of 10

Leadfoot Rivet - Welcome To My Mongrel Music World

Dixiefrog Records

17 Tracks - 1:12:03

Leadfoot Rivet (I suspect pronounced RI-VAY), is French blues man Alain (Al) Rivet, and he comes with some impeccable credentials, having played with a slew of blues men and women visiting la belle France. He is a modest but earthy harmonica player who can deliver a guitar lick when needed but he does have a super voice and can write lyrics that will stand up to competition from the very best.

The seventeen track on the CD range from How I Love Them God Old Blues (the closer) an outstanding song which deserves to be covered by someone BIG, to Fried Okra, a paean to that staple of the southern diet. On the way we get personal stories like “Friend, Lover, Wife” and the delightful “Apples Dipped In Candy.”.

The Worst Guitar Player In Town is, as are so many of Mr Rivet’s songs done with a touch of Country and a dash of humour. This song in particular, would have been great for Johnny Cash, with a nice ironic theme of every one is better than me.

The musicians in the band do a great job too, but aside from a list of names on the jacket you cannot tell who does what, including, annoyingly a reference to New Orleans slide guitar ace John Mooney in the credits, but its difficult to tell which bits (bit?) Mooney laid down.

Al sings in perfect English without a trace of a French accent, but with a southern twang. I wish the same production values could have been applied to the liner notes, which could have benefited from editing by a person with English as a first language (the author is Brazilian).

All in all, an effort to be applauded.

Reviewer Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South ( a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian also produces and presents three web cast blues radio shows; one on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central, 10am Pacific) and two on KCOR (www.kconlinereadio) on Fridays at 12noon Central (Blues and Blues Rock) and Mondays at 4pm Central (Acoustic Blues). He is a founder member of the International Blues Broadcasters Association.

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