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Issue 7-33, August 15, 2013

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Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2013

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 In This Issue

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Tim "Too Slim" Langford. Marilyn Stringer has part 1 of the photos from The Portland Waterfront Blues Fest. Our new video of the week series features The Nick Moss Band.

We have 10 music reviews for you! Rex Bartholomew reviews new releases by Tommy Malone, Marshall Lawrence and Austin Young and NO Difference. Mark Thompson reviews a new release from the Lauren Mitchell Band and also reviews a new book about Lightnin' Hopkins. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Delta Wires and also reviews a new release from Jimmy Vivino and The Black Italians . Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Andrew Jr. Boy Jones. Rhys Williams reviews a new double album from Buddy Guy. Greg "Bluesdog" Szalony reviews a new release from Dayna Kurtz. 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,

Tickets for the Thursday October 31st Blues Blast Music Awards show at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago are now on sale on our website. This going to be one of the best Blues shows of the fall season! Don't miss this great party. Tickets are only $35 so get yours now, click HERE.

Artists who have indicated they are coming include Albert Castiglia, Eddie Shaw & The 757 Allstars, John Nemeth, Doug MacLeod, Andy Poxon, Mannish Boys, Andy T & Nick Nixon Band, Bob Corritore, Brandon Santini, Cee Cee James, Shaun Murphy Band, Doug Deming, James 'Buddy' Rogers, Teeny Tucker Band, Sena Ehrhardt, Little Joe McLerran, Mike Wheeler Band, Mud Morganfield, Paula Harris and Kevin Selfe.

The voting in the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards continues until August 31st. We have more than 5,400 votes, so far! Let your favorite artists know you support them by voting now, CLICK HERE!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music! 

Bob Kieser

Tickets for the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards are on sale now! 

The 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards will be held at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago on October 31st. Artists attending include Albert Castiglia, Eddie Shaw & The 757 Allstars, John Nemeth, Doug MacLeod, Andy Poxon, Mannish Boys, Andy T & Nick Nixon Band, Bob Corritore, Brandon Santini, Cee Cee James, Shaun Murphy Band, Doug Deming, James 'Buddy' Rogers, Teeny Tucker Band, Sena Ehrhardt, Little Joe McLerran, Mike Wheeler Band, Mud Morganfield, Paula Harris and Kevin Selfe. Tickets are $35. To get your tickets now, CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Interview - Tim Langford  

This isn’t Tim Langford’s first rodeo.

Fact is, he’s been around the fairgrounds plenty of times since the mid-80s, so you can bet he’s become intimately familiar with the routine after an album’s release. You give it a couple of weeks to be worked back-and-forth across the palette of your fan base and then you take a quick peek at the Billboard charts to see just how your newest offspring is being received.

Given that Tim ‘Too Slim’ Langford has completed this process numerous times over the past three decades – he’s hit the album charts 20 times during that span, including having his last four studio releases with the Taildraggers crack the Top 10 - you’d think that nothing would take him by surprise at this point, right?

Well …while the process was certainly the same this time around, Langford was caught a bit off guard by the results.

“It was quite a surprise … when I looked at the chart the first time, I actually overlooked it (his new album’s position) … you know, I didn’t look high enough,” he laughed. “I just completely looked over it and then I went back and looked again and saw it and went, ‘Whoa!’ It’s really pretty exciting. I’ve been on the charts 20-some times, but never that high.”

Too Slim & the Taildraggers’ latest opus, Blue Heart (Underworld Records), peaked at number three on the Billboard Blues Chart for the week of August 10, trailing only the still red-hot Gary Clark Jr. and Boz Scaggs in popularity. So to say that Langford, the guitarist, vocalist and chief song-writer for the Taildraggers, has hit one out of the park, might be a bit understated.

Having sold in excess of 100,000 albums over his career, Langford generally has a feel for how the recording sessions will ultimately turn out before the first note is ever struck, and naturally, he’s fairly confident and self-assured when the studio door closes behind him.

However, heading into the Blue Heart sessions, the feeling was a tad bit unusual for the Spokane, Washington-born slide guitarist supreme.

“Well, I was actually terrified when I went in (to the studio). I didn’t know any of the musicians that were going to be there – I didn’t meet any of them until the day we started recording,” he said. “I really just had no idea what to expect. I mean, I knew that they were going to be good musicians and stuff, but I had never played with any of them before. So it was a bit nerve-racking. But as soon as we started playing, I was immediately relived and I knew it was going to be good. The guys that were playing were just top-notch. So after the first run-through of the first song, I was pretty excited.”

Tommy Macdonald played bass during those sessions, while Rob McNelley added guitar and the mighty Reese Wynans spiced things up with his touch on the Hammond B3. Then, lest we forget, there was the drummer and producer – probably the hottest name in the blues business in the last couple of years –Grammy Award-winning Tom Hambridge.

“Tom’s approach was to just try and catch the moment. We’d talk about the song for a minute and then – bang! – we’d count it out and just go for it. And pretty much, that’s how it went. We didn’t overdub very much at all. I did re-do my vocals, because I really didn’t have the words memorized, but other than that, everything is pretty much first or second take,” Langford said. “Tom is just incredibly organized and just has such a calm vibe about everything. Everybody was just so relaxed and chilled about recording, that it made me feel really comfortable right off the bat. And on top of that, Tom’s such a great drummer.”

Turns out, Hambridge also has some pretty high-profile names on his speed dial list, too.

“Tom had asked me prior to going into the studio if there was anybody I’d like to have guest on the album. I had just seen Jimmy Hall playing with Jack Pearson in Nashville and I was always a huge Wet Willie fan … I saw them open for Grand Funk Railroad when I was about 14,” said Langford. “So I mentioned to Tom it would be cool to get Jimmy Hall and he goes, ‘OK, I think we can do that.’ Then a couple of days later, he says, ‘Yeah, Jimmy said he’d be here, no problem.’ And I thought it would be cool if Jimmy sang on “Good to See You Smile Again.” And Jimmy liked the song and agreed to sing it. It was just the perfect fit and he pretty much nailed it the first time through. The bonus was at the end when he threw that ‘keep on smilin’’ in there. It was just so cool.”

In addition to not having played with any of the musicians he was about to create his latest album with, turns out that Langford really didn’t have a whole bunch of songs just sitting on the shelf awaiting the opportunity to be brought to life, either.

“We had tentatively scheduled the recording sessions for the end of January, and I didn’t have any songs … any songs. My wife, who is an oil painter, had planned a trip to Mexico to go study with a painter named Toller Cranston for a couple of months, so I was at home in Nashville by myself and I knew that I had to write a bunch of songs. I really didn’t have a particular direction (for the songs) in mind, so I about drove myself crazy,” he laughed. “So all the songs I ended up putting on the album were a direct result of my being locked up at home, with my dogs sitting there staring at me as I trying to write those songs. Looking back on it, it’s kind of funny, but a lot of times, that’s the best way for me to work – when I’m under pressure. That way, I know I have to do something instead of just dilly-dally around.”

The group’s previous studio album, Shiver, was nominated for Rock/Blues Album of the Year at the 33rd annual Blues Music Awards.

The last several releases by Too Slim & the Taildraggers have been true pieces of art, offering up as much of a treat for the eyes as they have for the ears, thanks to their striking cover designs – oil paintings by Nancy Langford, who is also the band’s manager and Tim’s wife.

“She’s designed my last five or six album covers and the last three or four have been her original oil paintings. She also does the graphics and everything, too,” Langford said. “She’s an extremely talented artist.”

Finding himself perilously close to the top album spot on the Billboard Blues chart is not the only thing Langford has had to acclimate himself to recently. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Langford and his wife relocated from Washington State to Nashville, Tennessee last October.

“Well, we’ve always lived in the northwest and felt like we were ready for a change. For the last 10 years, I’ve lived in Seattle and it’s really difficult to tour, being based out of Seattle. You’re just up there in a corner and it’s really not economically feasible to tour the country from there,” Langford said. “In order to tour the east or southeast from there, you’d pretty much have to stay out for a couple of months at a time. So we checked out quite a few spots to live and finally decided on Nashville. It was a bit of a crapshoot, I mean we didn’t know anybody when we moved there, and it has been a bit of an adjustment, but I think we made the right choice.”

In an ironic twist of fate, Too Slim & the Taildraggers (bassist E. Scott Esbeck and drummer Jeff ‘Shakey’ Fowlkes) have been playing a bunch of shows back in the northwest the past few months. “Yeah, kind of back where we started,” laughed Langford.

Coming of age as a young guitarist in Spokane, Langford tried hard to absorb as many different styles as he could and ended up balancing jazz gigs with country gigs, while also playing rock-n-roll and the blues.

But in the late 1970s, after an encounter with the ‘Strong Persuader,’ Langford found that his switch was about to be predominately flipped to the blues.

“When I was playing in my college jazz band in 1979, I saw the Robert Cray Band playing in a bar called Washboard Willie’s in Spokane … I wasn’t old enough to get into a bar at the time, but I did have a fake ID, and so I got in and saw them and they just blew my socks off,” he said. “Curtis Salgado was in the band at that time and Richard Cousins was playing bass and Dave Olson was on drums and I think they had Dave Stewart on piano, and of course, Robert singing and playing guitar. They played there quite often and I went there to see them every time I could. I just knew they were destined for fame. They were just so tight. Seeing them really made me want to play the blues.”

But before he moved into the blues realm full-time, Langford fronted a rockabilly outfit called The Studebakers in the early 80s for about five years.

“It started out as rockabilly and kind of morphed into punk-rockabilly, but that’s when we really started writing songs and trying to do our own material,” he said. “We went down to L.A. and recorded an album and did a video and supposedly had a record deal, but the album never got released. But my first love has always been the blues. I mean, I would just sit in my room and jam to B.B. King and Otis Rush records. Finally, I got tired of doing the rockabilly thing. So when I started Too Slim & the Taildraggers, it was with the intention to do nothing but play the blues. There was no doubt this was going to be an original blues band.”

For the biggest part of the time since 1986, Too Slim & the Taildraggers has been a power trio. That’s no shock when you hear Langford rattle off some of the bands that inspire him.

“When I think back about it, most of my favorite bands have been trios, like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, ZZ Top … Cream …and I like the fact that it’s a challenge to pull it off, like figuring out ways to make things sound big and full,” he said. “A few times over the years, I have thought what it would be like to have a rhythm guitarist or keyboard player in the band. But, it seems to be working out as a trio, and the logistics of a trio, travel wise, really seems to make sense these days.”

Though most of his output has came under the umbrella of Too Slim & the Taildraggers, Langford has managed to find enough time to craft a couple of bluesy solo, singer/songwriter kind of CDs, Pint Store Blues from 2000 and Broken Halo, released in 2012.

“The first one I did (Pint Store), I had been playing a lot of acoustic shows around my hometown on my off nights and I was getting into that whole Lightnin’ Hopkins thing. That album is all covers and is my tribute to Lightnin’ and Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters and Leo Kottke. I just went in and cut it in a day and liked the way it turned out,” he said. “And then on the last one, Nancy basically told me I was going to go into the studio and do one. And I didn’t have any songs ready, so just like for the latest Taildraggers thing, I just knuckled down and came up with some songs. Growing up, one of my favorite Neil Young albums was Harvest, so I thought to myself I would go into the studio and make my Harvest record. But of course once I got going on it, it pretty much became a blues album. But it does have some twists on it and is kind of a folk album.”

The term ‘taildragger’ has long been a part of the blues lexicon, but if the name ‘Too Slim’ opens up thoughts about the Wild West instead of the Windy City, it’s because it well should.

“It started with my old band (the Studebakers). I was kind of a skinny little shit and I used to wear this cowboy hat when I played. Well, the singer in the band started calling me Too Slim. He said, ‘You kind of remind me of that guy from Riders in the Sky (country/western band and comedy act), Too Slim.’ And at the time, I didn’t know who he was talking about,” said Langford. “But it stuck and everybody started calling me Too Slim and then it was just too late to turn back.”

Then the next thing you know …

“I just wanted to call this band the Taildraggers, not Too Slim & the Taildraggers. But a friend of mine who suggested the name Taildraggers, said, ‘Man, you’ve got to call it Too Slim & the Taildraggers.’ So I gave in and once again, it stuck. So when I put on the cowboy hat, I’m Too Slim. I call it (the cowboy hat) my Too Slim costume.”

While it seems like the life expectancy of the average band in this day and time strikes midnight after five or six years together, Langford has somehow found a way to keep Too Slim & the Taildraggers relevant and successful for a lot longer than that, with the band edging ever closer to its 30th anniversary.

“I think a lot of it has to do with me trying to break out of the box a little bit. I mean, I love all kinds of music and on each album I try to just let my influences fly out,” he said. “I try not to think that I have to write a blues album. And I think that has served us well over the years. I just try to open up and let the music flow out.”

Visit Too Slim And The Taildraggers' website at‎

Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2013

Interviewer Terry Mullins is a journalist and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staples Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He's also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Miss., eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 10

Tommy Malone – Natural Born Days

M.C. Records

12 tracks / 49:25

I have always heard that good things come to those who wait, and more often than not this adage is correct. Fortunately is also true for the folks that have been waiting a dozen years for Tommy Malone to release a follow-up to his debut solo album. His fans (and his soon to be new fans) will not be disappointed that it took so long.

Tommy Malone is one of the unsung heroes of the music industry, and he has been writing, playing and singing roots and blues music for more than three decades. You may know him from his association with various Louisiana-based bands, most famously the Subdudes. You may not know that his songwriting is highly regarded, and his tunes have been recorded by artists such as the Radiators (his brother’s band) and Joe Cocker. He grew up in Louisiana, and recently returned to New Orleans after spending five years in Nashville.

This latest effort was recorded in New Orleans and is a wonderful product of a lot of great people. It has a dozen tracks, all of them originals, and Malone collaborated with his old buddy, Jim Scheurich, on half of them. His Subdudes bandmates, Johnny Allen and Tim Cook helped out on the writing chores as well. It was produced and mixed by John Porter, a 10-time Grammy award winner who has worked B.B. King, Buddy Guy, the Smiths, Bryan Ferry, Carlos Santana, and many others. He also contributed some of the guitar, bass, mandolin and percussion parts. The rest of the musicians are from New Orleans, including Susan Cowsill with the background vocals, Jon Cleary on keys, Doug Belote on drums, bassman David Hyde, Joe Gelini on percussion and Shane Theriot on guitar and omnichord.

“Home” is the first track up, and it is a short swamp blues rocker that tells the wonderful story of Tommy’s return to his hometown five years after Hurricane Katrina drove him away. His voice is well-weathered but his joy shines through as he details the vibe of the Crescent City. There is a lot going on in this song, from pretty vocal harmonies to Hyde’s fat bass line and Cleary’s hammering honky-tonk piano. It all fits together very well, which is not a fluke as the rest of the album is equally well put together.
The theme to “God Knows” could be a real downer, as it deals with the mysteries of why things work out so badly sometimes, but Tommy balances it out by looking at the unexplained goodness in our world too. I can only think that this is a result of his personal experiences with the aftermath of Katrina. This slow-paced rhythm and blues number features Nigel Hall on the Hammond and the Wurlitzer electric piano, and he does a masterful job of not going over the top, which would surely be a temptation on a song like this.

Malone included a little something for his diehard fans too, recording “Didn’t Want to Hear It,” a ballad he has been playing at his live shows for years. He does some fine acoustic guitar work here, and it is surprising that he does not show this off more on Natural Born Days, as he is a fabulous musician. As it is, his maturity and restraint are to be commended, as he lets the songs be more about the lyrics instead of what he can do with his fingers.

The title track is a touching tribute to Malone’s mother; it brought a tear to my eye the first time I listened closely to the lyrics as he paints such a realistic and loving picture with his words. It is in a country/funk style, with subdued slide guitar and a hint of Hammond B3, both of which have a symbiotic result when used together.

The final cut is “Word on the Street,” a soulful ballad with an arrangement that is a bit more sparse than the rest of the tracks. The listener is able to focus on the lyrics because of this, and wonder what became of this unfinished love story. This is a great final chapter, and left me more than a little curious about what Malone will come up with next.

I listen to a lot of new music and Natural Born Days is perhaps the best new album I have heard in the past year. It is obvious that Tommy Malone put his heart and soul out there for the world to see, and he should be commended for his talent and honesty. I hope you take the time to give it a listen; it will be worth it.

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 Video Of The Week

This week we continue a new series of weekly videos of advertisers. This week we feature a video of The Nick Moss Band performing Down In Virginia. Nick is playing on Saturday August 31st at the Marquette Area Blues Fest in Marquette Michigan. See their ad below in this issue. To see the video, click on the image below.

For information on this great performer visit


 Featured Blues Review 2 of 10

The Lauren Mitchell Band - Please Come Home


8 tracks/38:10

In August of last year, singer Lauren Mitchell made a pilgrimage of sorts to Clarksdale, MS, right before the recording sessions for this project. In the liner notes, she writes about emotional impact of traveling through the land where blues music originated. Her visit to the Dockery plantation was particularly moving, sitting in buildings where giants like Charley Patton and Howlin’ Wolf once stood.

You can hear her the impact of that experience on cuts like “Quittin’ You”, where Mitchell’s strong, sassy voice cries out a tale of heartbreak over lush chords from Michael “The Professor” Hensley’s Hammond organ. She scores again on Allen Toussaint’s “It’s Raining”, giving listeners a glimpse at the tremendous depth and range of her voice. Bob Dielman helps establish the proper mood with a soulful guitar solo.

The rhythm section of Kevin Voigt on bass and Charles “Step” Steptoe on drums lay down a funky stop-time groove on “Get off My Side of the Bed”. Hensley gets a chance to stretch out on the organ while Mitchell takes her man to task for his mistreatin’ ways. On “Do You Know”, Mitchell steadily builds the intensity on this gospel hymn with Dielman’s slide guitar echoing her voice until the band and singer erupt for a final burst of fervent celebration.

The covers of three well-known tunes offers mixed results. Mitchell goes charging through a fast-paced “Little by Little” with a robust performance that is not enough to make this version required listening. The band percolates along nicely on the organ-drenched arrangement of “Come to Mama” but Mitchell seems to holding back a bit, restraining the full force of her sassy persona. Hensley switches to piano to start a dark, somber take on “House of the Rising Sun” before switching back to organ for a memorable solo. Mitchell’s anguished reading exhibits the control she has over her broad vocal range.

The title track is a moving plea from Mitchell as she seeks forgiveness from past transgressions in hopes of getting a chance to wrap her arms around her lover one more time. More songs like this would really help Mitchell establish her own identity. As debut recordings go, this one makes it clear Lauren Mitchell is a formidable vocal talent. It’s a good bet that her next project will go even farther in revealing just how good she really can be.

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

Delta Wires - Anthology

Mud Slide Records

18 tracks; 78 minutes

San Francisco Bay area band Delta Wires have been going for almost 40 years and this anthology brings together recordings from their five CDs and some early radio broadcasts. As two of those five CDs are also live recordings you get a real insight into the band’s live performance style. Delta Wires is a big band with an ever changing cast of players which always includes a strong horn section but the central character is the band’s ever present founder, Ernie Pinata who plays harp and sings. Ernie began his love affair with the blues at college where he studied the migration of Mississippi blues players to Chicago as part of his Sociology degree.

The band began in the early 70’s and the earliest recording here is a live radio broadcast from January 1974 “Live From The Record Plant”, Sausalito. There are two tracks taken from that session, a lengthy medley of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Take Your Hands Outta My Pocket/Pontiac Blues” on which Ernie blows up a storm at the beginning with the horns adding their support to the slow blues of the former tune before a harp interlude ramps up the pace for the second tune. The second cut from the Sausalito session is instrumental “In The Middle” (Ellis/Hobgood) which originally appeared on Grant Green’s “Shades Of Green” album and was an early acid jazz favourite, a really funky work out for all the musicians. From 1975 we get a second radio broadcast, this time from Columbia’s SF studios. “Three For Dizzy” was clearly the opening tune of the broadcast, a Roland Kirk piece that is also one of the shortest tracks here at under three minutes. Don’t be thinking that this is a jazz piece, it’s definitely a blues and leads into an excellent version of Charles Calhoun’s classic “Smack Dab In The Middle” that recalls Roomful Of Blues at their best.

A live album entitled “Take Off Your Pyjamas: live in SF” provides four tracks. The title cut is just great blues with a fun, slightly suggestive lyric and some strong harp from Ernie on his own composition. “Weary Man” is also Ernie’s tune on which the horns are great, driving the tune and allowing Ernie to launch into another solo. Don Robey’s “Don’t Want No Woman” is a swinging shuffle with features for harp, guitar and trumpet. Jimmy Rogers’ “Goin’ Away” brings more of a Chicago/Muddy Waters feel. The horns provide a strong element throughout and the sleeve notes indicate that this was a nine piece band, recorded at The Saloon in North Beach. That was, of course, the bar where Tommy Castro paid his dues and the main surprise (for those who have been to The Saloon) is that they managed to fit the band into the small bar! Yet another live album of more recent 2008 vintage was recorded at the Northern California Blues Festival in Fair Oaks CA and provides versions of a second Don Robey tune in “Got Me Where You Want Me”, Willie Dixon’s “Monkey Man” on which all the horns get solo spots and “Big Legged Woman” (Leon Russell/ Charles Blackwell) which is dedicated to Freddie King.

Three studio albums are also represented. The band’s first self-titled album provides Ernie’s solo composition “Tippin’ Into The Blues” which has some strong horn and harp parts and “Why Did You Leave?”, a collaboration between Ernie and two other band members, which is a little different, a smooth ballad with cushioning horns and some melodic guitar that has echoes of fellow SF guitarist Carlos Santana. The album “Them That’s Got” drew its title from the Ray Charles song which is the final cut on this anthology and also provides the instrumental “Saturday Night In North Beach” which is a slow blues feature for Ernie’s harp. “Tears Like Rain” provides just one track in “Honey Bee”, a catchy little number with a Louisiana rhythm written by Ernie and guitarist Bobby Delgado. There is also space for a short interview with Ernie about how he got into all this, entitled appropriately “Crazy ‘Bout The Blues”!

Delta Wires is clearly a band that is at its best live and this selection offers a snapshot of what they must deliver on stage night after night. This was my first encounter with Delta Wires and I found lots to enjoy across this well-researched anthology.

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

Marshall Lawrence – House Call

Self Release

13 tracks / 43:37

Singer and guitarist Marshall Lawrence was given the nickname “Doctor of the Blues” by one of his fans, and it stuck. The funny thing is that he actually has a doctoral degree in psychology, which should be a requirement for anybody that is trying to keep a band together. He hails from the prairie city of Edmonton, Alberta, and has been practicing his art in the studio as well as at festivals and clubs throughout the territories of the chilly north. When performing his acoustic live show he will usually appear solo, or sometimes in a duo or trio. I have heard that it is a real treat to see him play, and hope to catch a show the next time I am in Canada.

House Call is Lawrence’s fourth solo release in the past ten years, and it builds on the solid work that he did on his previous award-winning albums. There are eleven original tracks (all written by Lawrence) and two covers, none of which run over four minutes. He takes care of the vocals, guitar, mandolin and hand percussion, and is joined by a pair of top-shelf players: Russell Jackson on upright bass and David “Hurricane” Hoerl on harmonica. These guys are awesome musicians; you may know Jackson from B.B. King’s band, and Hoerl from The Twisters.

Marshall’s music is described as “Neo-Delta Acid Blues & Roots” but this acoustic set is not the least bit corrosive to the ears, and he has taken the rough edge of the Delta music and used it to cut some killer tracks. “Mean Momma Blues” is up first and he displays smooth fingerpicking skills and the ability to lay down a strong groove with his acoustic guitar. You would never think he grew up 2000 miles away from the Mississippi, as his songwriting and performance capture its essence completely. He is helped along the way by Hoerl and his uncanny feel for the harp, and a neat rhythm on the bass from Jackson.

The CD packaging announces “With Special Guests, The Holmes Brothers,” and indeed their vocal harmonies can be found in the gospel tune “Factory Closing Blues.” Their voices are so pretty that I would be afraid to join in with them, but Marshall plunges right in with his pleasantly worn tenor and takes the lead. He proves his ability to tell a story through song, this time the all-too common refrain of the victims of economic woes. Everything clicks perfectly in this track, and it is my favorite of the bunch, which is a bold statement as there are a lot of very good songs on this disc.

He is able to navigate though different Southern genres with alacrity. “Please Help Me Find My Way Home” is a lovely Southern blues (again with a touch of gospel) piece which features David Aide on the organ. His B3 sets the mood, and it is truly a welcome addition. The lyrics are particularly poignant: the tale of a soul seeking a more eternal existence after following a wicked path in the temporal world.

“The Ballad of Molly Brown” starts off with a harmonica intro, and then takes off running with a thumping bass line and layers of acoustic and slide National guitar. This folk blues song is roots music at its best, and when it ended after a bit over three minutes it left me wanting more. Fortunately the next tune in the queue was “Biscuit Rolling Daddy”, which contains a surplus of bawdy double entendres plus oodles of super-slick fingerpicking. This song has a unique sound with its pseudo-classical guitar part, and is just the sort of thing that could draw new fans into the blues genre.

The same thing can be said as Lawrence gives the other guys a break and takes on Tommy Johnson’s “Canned Heat Blues” with just his voice and guitar. He brings this fast-paced Delta blues song into the present age with some truly innovative picking and rhythms.

The album comes to a close with the traditional lament, “Death’s Black Train.” Lawrence called in a few more guest artists for this one, drummer Dwayne Hrinkiw and vocalist Barry Allen for some background parts. Hrinkiw lays down a heavy rhythm with his kick drum and snare that drives this song on relentlessly, and Allen’s voice is a good match for Lawrence’s as they harmonize through the chorus. This is yet another solid track and was a great choice to end things up.

After listening to this album it is obvious that Marshall Lawrence understands the blues and has the ability to translate it for today’s audience though his clever songwriting, deft fingers and soulful voice. This is one of the best new albums I have heard this year, and if you are a fan of Delta music or just like the blues, House Call is sure to please. Check it out if you get the chance!

Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at

For other reviews and interviews on our website CCLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 10

Andrew Jr. Boy Jones - I Know What It’s Like

43rd Big Idea Records

13 tracks

Some guys never come to individual prominence despite being musicians at the top of their game. Andrew Jr. Boy Jones may be one of those guys. In 1995 he won a W.C. Handy award with Charlie Musselwhite for band of the year, and in 1997 his Watch What You Say (Rounder Handy Blues Music Award for 'Best New Blues Artist' and yet his personal recogni-tion really has never gotten him star level recognition for his talents; he joking claims he’s never sucked up hard enough to any-one to become famous.

Well, this album really ought to get some notice. I loved it; real blues, original cuts with a cool and new sound, a style that hearkens back to the early Chicago electric blues but keeps it new sounding and interesting. He is an exceptional guitar player and vocalist, he’s got great songs and he’s playing with a tight backing band.

His guitar tone is beautiful; the note ring as he slips up and down the fret board yet give the notes enough air to not over do it.. I was enthralled with his sound– really nicely done
Kerrie Lepai helped with the vocals and she’s a real tiger. Her voice really steals the show on the two songs she wrote for the CD, “Whiskey Drinkin’ Blues” and “Ready to Play.” The former gets reprised in a longer version to close out the album and it s super and sultry slow blues cut

The latter is a rollickingly fun song with some cool call and response with the band members.

Whether he is moaning and deep in the blues on cuts like “Movin’ From the Dark Side” or grooving hot and heavy like on “Ive Got You On My Speed Dial” or in incendiary instrumentals like “Mixed Beans,” Jones offers up marvelous songs and stellar performances. He is a true blues man who can deliver the goods as well as anyone. I loved this CD and any-one who wants to heard contemporary traditional blues done right needs to pick up a copy and enjoy the hell out of it like I did!

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

Austin Young & NO Difference – Blue As Can Be

Vizztone Label Group

13 tracks / 57:02

It does not happen often, but every few years a new teenage blues rock talent knocks me back on my heels, Tyler Bryant did it a few years ago, and Austin Young has done it again. Austin Young & NO Difference’s second album, Blue as Can Be, is an enjoyable listen and it gives me renewed hope for the future of blues and the music industry as a whole.

17-year old Austin is based out of Colorado Springs, and it is hard to believe that he is self-taught and that he has only been playing for five years. Apparently he has not been wasting his teenage years by playing video games and watching television. Besides taking care of the guitars and vocals he also produced this album and did a lot of the writing. He is joined by fellow teen Noah Mast on bass and vocals, and Tim Young (his dad) on drums and vocals.

You would expect a blues rock guitar prodigy like Austin Young to throw a Stevie Ray Vaughan or Jimi Hendrix cover tune into the mix, but he resisted temptation and filled up this release with thirteen original tracks. Austin Young and NO Difference wrote all of these songs, and they show some depth by experimenting with a few different genres outside of their baseline of blues rock.

“Thunderhead” kicks things off with an uptempo drum riff, and quickly adds a searing guitar line with a few layers of rhythm guitar underneath. Austin immediately establishes himself as a top-shelf guitarist, but is voice is very good too. As he belts out the classic blues pattern of lyrics I am struck that he sounds quite a bit older than the teenager that he is. This power blues rock tune gets things off to a strong start!

The title track come up next, and he indicates in the liner notes that “Blue As Can Be” is his tribute to Muddy Waters. This slower-tempo song is heavier and dirtier, with a thumping bass line and an organ they brought in from somewhere. This is a really tight song, and the backline of Noah and Tim do a bang-up job of keeping things moving.

“Magdalena” is a lovely folk tune that has some nice steel guitar work within. His buddy Jim Adam provided the lyrics for this one, and the background vocals too. Unfortunately his lyrics are good enough that it makes the songs written by the rest of the band seem a little cliché-heavy. But this is only their second album, and they are a young band so they have plenty of time to work on this aspect of their music.

NO Difference can dish out a fast-paced roadhouse tune with some honky-tonk piano too. That piano and a little call and response give “Who’s Coming Out?” a Jerry lee Lewis good times vibe, and Austin does an admirable job of cranking out some 1950s style guitar work. This is followed up by “Borrowed Time,” a pop tune that features some nice vocal harmonies in the chorus.

Though I consider my myself a blues fan, my favorite track on the album is the jazzy rockabilly song, “That’s It.” I think it has a great beat, a strong chorus, and I am a sucker for the scat he threw out in the middle. This is 2½ minutes of fun, folks.

Don’t think I have gone too soft, though, “Give Me One Good Reason” come in a very close second. This is a seven minute slow grinding blues jam, and shows that the band has amazing blues chops and feel. Austin’s Dad does an especially good job of hammering out the drum lines, and reminds me a bit of Reg Isadore from Robin Trower’s band.

The sweet finale, “Miss You Moore,” is an instrumental dedicated to the memory of the late bluesman Gary Moore, who left this world far too soon. His smooth guitar work is a fine tribute to this legendary British guitarist that we all miss so dearly.

By the way, I would be remiss if I did not point out that this CD stands out from most of the ones I get these days as it has exceptionally good liner notes. I like to read up on what I am listening to, and they put together notes for each track, a short bio for each artist and even a timeline of his short (but distinguished) career. They stopped short of adding the lyrics, but I can understand what they are singing, so that is not a loss.

This is a very strong sophomore effort, and I hope that Austin Young can stick to his guns and continue to grow in his songwriting, while continuing to be his own man and follow his dream. Like prodigies that came before him, his exceptional guitar and vocal skills would make him a valuable draft choice for an established rock or blues band that needs a second guitar. It would be a shame if this happened and we did not get to see him not standing out front of the band, where he belongs.

Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at

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 Featured Live Blues Review - Portland Waterfront Blues Festival

Although I could write a review of the festival, the website says it best ( “The Waterfront Blues Festival attracted more than 100,000 people from as far away as New Zealand, the Netherlands, Brazil and Japan. Blues fans thrilled to four days of more than 120 stellar acts, including Robert Plant presents the Sensational Space Shifters, , Mavis Staples, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, John Hiatt & the Combo, North Mississippi Allstars, Eric Burdon & the Animals, Joe Louis Walker, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Hot 8 Brass Band, Allen Stone, Tad Robinson, Soul Vaccination with special guest Chester Thompson, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, Nikki Hill and more. More than 2,000 volunteers and generous festival sponsors help make the festival possible.”

The festival is a family friendly event, the fireworks display on the river on the 4th of July is one of the best in the country, and the entire four days are the best large festival in the country. With the number of stages and acts, this reporter can only cover so much over the four days. So, with that in mind, the first half of this article will cover July 5th & July 6th of band photos. I will forego commenting on every band and just share the fun with a general statement “They were all great!” and apologize to all the bands I missed!!

On Thursday, there were 32 different performances. Here are the 18 for that day.

The Usual Suspects: “eclectic blend of blues, country rock, and classic rock and roll songs with original compositions about daily life, love, and finding bail money.”

Hank Shreve: ”Harmonica Ace, Singer, Keyboardist, Drummer, and Songwriter, Hank Shreve” and a stellar band from the Northwest.

Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band: competing for the IBC’s, Lisa Mann is a Pacific Northwest favorite bass playing blues singing performer who can be seen in many of the local bands.

Robbie Laws: One of the most honored and awarded blues guitarists in the PNW, Robbie is a favorite!

Huckle: Northern California based singer songwriter “Huckle rocks in that beautiful wide-armed way the genre once did back in the day, embracing country, blues, folk, and anything else he fancies.” Very unique sound-mesmerizing!

Tad Robinson: Chicago based soul and blues with Alex Schultz on guitar.

After a festive Mysti Krewe parade across the festival, they joined the band on stage for a lively set from DK Stewart Sextet, joined by Peter Dammann on guitar and Portland’s Louis Pain on B3.

The FedEx Stage has great workshops and lessons – two of which were given by Alex Schultz and Joe Louis Walker. This year this stage also featured United By Music performers and supporters. “United By Music provides talented people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to perform for a large audience.” Supporters of UBM – Lisa Mann, Lady “A”, Duffy Bishop, Dave Fleischner, and Rae Gordon - performed with them – a truly inspiring and emotional experience!

Joe Louis Walker: 2013 Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Joe and his band are pure blues. With him were Lenny Bradford, bass, and Eric Finland, KB.

Soul Vaccination with guest Chester Thompson (former Tower of Power): funky soul and blues with a big sound playing the greatest soul standards and favorite across the PNW and one of the best horn sections I have heard!

Dusty 45’s: Three years running “Best of Seattle”, they Dusty 45’s rev up the crowd with their high energy, fun style delivery of mixed up jump – surf – country – twang – rock blues with a side of Dixieland and Jazz.

Karen Lovely Band: Oregon’s sweetheart, Karen gets deep down with a style that ranges from Bessie Smith to Janis Joplin and is backed by a stellar band, including Leonard Griffie and Peter Dammann-guitar, Tyler Smith and Lisa Mann(bass), guests Patrick Lamb & Devin Philips (sax), Dave Fleischner (B3), and Joe Powers (harmonica).

Finishing out the first day and getting everyone in the spirit for the 4th of July fireworks was the March Fourth Marching Band. They are hard to explain but once you see them, you are a fan for life. The music spans every genre, the uniforms are “vintage” something, and the acrobatics are breath-taking. And this year they finally took over the largest stage (they need it) and put on a show that is worthy of their title “Party of The Year” dubbed by Jambase.


Day 2 was equally jam packed with performances so in the interest of time and my publisher’s good nature, I am highlighting some of the bands from that day. Out of the 28 bands, not including the cruises and nightly jam at the Marriott, I managed to see 14. Here are the highlights of some of those, who , to reiterate on my earlier statement, were all really great:

Boogie Bone with Steven Dee Williams (guitar), Steve Snyder (harp/flute/sax), Jason Pope (vocals), Randy Herbert (Drums), and Carl Fells (bass).

Lloyd Allen.

Rae Gordon Band.

My Own Holiday with Joey Chrisman (guitar), Nick Bartolo (drums), Dean Mueller (Bass), and Randy Chortkoff (harmonica)-a new young funky blues band from Southern California – the crowd loved them!

Kevin Selfe Big Band with Jimi Bott (drums), Steve Kerin (Kb), Allen Markel (bass), and the horn section.

Boyd Small with Lydia Warren & Josh Fulero – great combo!

Karen Lovely’s Prohibition Orchestra with guest Pat Pepin singing the blues from the 1920’s & 30’s with Dave Fleischner (Kb), and Tyler Smith (bass),and horns and drums backing some Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith blues like only Karen can sing.

The Mighty Mojo Profits – always a crowd favorite.

The Hot 8 Brass Band

Allen Stone (very popular new performer – and quite entertaining on many levels)

Eric Burdon with Tony Braunagel on drums – needs no description – a classic icon. 

And closing out Day 2 of the festival with a party: Chubby Carrier with Earl Sally & Randy Ellis.

Next week – two more days of incredible music.

Photos and Commentary by Marilyn Stringer  

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 Featured Blues Review - 7 of 10

Mojo Hand - The Life and Music of Lightnin’ Hopkins

Timothy J. O’Brien & David Ensminger

University of Texas Press

241 pages plus photos & notes

One of the truly iconic figures in the history of blues music, Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins made his mark as a guitarist, singer and songwriter. His music never strayed far from his roots in the rural Texas countryside where he grew up or the welcoming comfort of the tight-knit Third Ward community in Houston where he lived for much of his adult life.

The book grew out of author Timothy O’Brien’s fascination for Hopkins, an attraction so strong that the author wrote his dissertation on the bluesman. He spent years researching; digging deep to find hidden-away details that had gone unnoticed with the passage of time. Co-author David Ensminger became involved in the project when O’Brien discovered that he had cancer in 2009. In the book’s Foreword, Ensminger writes “O’Brien was compelled, seemingly deep in his DNA, to capture Hopkins often raw-boned, sizzling, and incantatory oeuvre.” A social activist who worked in support of worker’s rights and against the death penalty in Texas, as well as being a huge fan of music from many genres, O’Brien writes from a viewpoint that understands the social issues of the times and their impact on Hopkins as a human being as reflected in his music.
The books traces Hopkins’s life from the early days in Centerville, located in between Dallas and Houston. While his birth date of March 15 has never been in question, the year of his birth has never been pinned down. O’Brien’s research left him convinced that 1912 was correct, citing Hopkins using that year on his Social Security account.

His father, Abe, was a sharecropper and the family faced a hard-scrabble lifestyle that was common in the rural south. Abe was murdered when Lightnin’ was just three years old. His mother, Frances, struggled to care for her five children. Before his oldest brother left home, Hopkins would “borrow” his guitar and began to develop his trade-mark style. Other local musicians helped keep the musical flames burning in the young man’s heart. The lynching of a local African-American male served warning to the young man to keep his place, a point Hopkins never forgot in dealings outside of family and friends.

There isn’t much accurate information about Lightnin’s existence from the early 1920’s until he made his move to Houston in twenty years later. There is no doubt that Hopkins picked cotton in addition to sharpening his skills on guitar by playing local dances and jook joints. He also told of spending time on a chain gang but O’Brien could not find any collaborating evidence in official records. Houston had tremendous club scene that meant any musician worth his salt could find plenty of work.

To be able to be heard in the noisy night spots, Hopkins switched to electric guitar. He had some regional hits before recording twenty-eight tunes for Herald Records. Re-leased in 1954, Hopkins, backed by a three piece combo, was on fire. These tracks had a huge influence at the time and continued to reverberate through the years. The smoking instrumental track “Hopkins Sky Hop” would later provide the framework for the well-known Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar workout, “Rude Mood”.

O’Brien covers the impact of the folk and blues revival in the 60’s on Hopkins career as well as discussing at length the musician’s distrust of contracts, preferring to be paid for recording up front by the song or the session. While he signed contracts with record labels during his career, Hopkins was always ready to cut another record if someone was ready with the cash. While the revival opened up opportunities to play all over the world, Hopkins was none too comfortable traveling for very long. His first trip to Europe in 1964 left him shaken and bed-ridden with a mysterious ailment for a week after a thirteen hour plane ride. He preferred to hang out with his friends in the Third Ward, where he was treated as a star until his death in 1982.

The biography maintains a focus centered on Lightnin’ and his music. Personal details like his long-standing relationship with Antoinette Charles, married to another man, are mentioned but not delved on in depth. O’Brien uses quotes from musicians like Dave Alvin, Peter Case, Billy Gibbons, and Dion DiMucci to illustrate the impact of Hopkins music over time. He has crafted a fascinating, well-researched look at a true blues legend, and helps us understand the social environment that created such powerful music.

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!

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 Featured Blues Review 8 of 10

Buddy Guy – Rhythm & Blues

RCA Records

21 songs – 78 minutes

These are bumper days for Buddy Guy fans. Fast on the heels of his excellent autobiography When I Left Home and his richly-deserved Kennedy Centre Honors in 2012, this year has already seen the release of Live At Legends. Now comes this double-disc release, featuring guest appearances by the likes of Kid Rock, Keith Urban, Gary Clark Jr, Beth Hart and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford. And it’s a belter.

With sumptuous, crystalline production by Tom Hambridge, Rhythm & Blues shows that the 76-year-old Guy has no intention of resting on any laurels just yet. There is a fire and passion on this record that could easily have come from someone 50 years younger. Driven by the rock-solid rhythm section of Hambridge on drums and either Michael Rhodes or Tommy MacDonald on bass; Reese Wynans or Kevin McKendree on B3 and piano; and David Grissom or Rob McNeely on rhythm guitar, Guy sings like a man possessed, whilst laying down some typically scorching lead guitar.

The record is divided into a Rhythm disc and a Blues disc, although in reality both are pure Buddy Guy Blues. Indeed, to emphasize the link between the two parts, the closing track on Rhythm is the 35-seconds-long “Rhythm Inner Groove”, which features the central lick of “Meet Me In Chicago”, the first song on Blues.

Rhythm’s opener, “Best In Town”, starts with some lovely funky guitar from David Grissom before Guy’s wah-wah guitar kicks in. Singing a typically self-deprecatingly autobiographical lyric, Guy tells us that “You don’t have to be the best in town, just be the best until the best comes around.” The Muscle Shoals Horns add dramatic emphasis. “Best In Town” is one of five songs that Guy co-wrote with Hambridge who, in addition to his production and drumming duties, co-wrote 18 of the songs on the album. The other three are covers of classics by Guitar Slim (“Well I Done Got Over It”) and Mel London (“Messin’ With The Kid” and “Poison Ivy”).

“Messin’ With The Kid” will of course be familiar to all Guy fans, although here (featuring Kid Rock in a surprisingly good cameo) it is given a rollicking re-working, slightly faster and more “rock” than the original Junior Wells classic, but none the worse for that, given the energy with which the band dispatch it.

Anyone who enjoyed Aerosmith’s blues album, Honkin’ On Bobo, will enjoy “Evil Twin”, where Tyler and Guy swap verses about a cheating woman who denies the evidence of the narrator’s own eyes: “I hear you sayin’ that you ain’t never been with him. Well, if it wasn’t you, baby, it must have been your evil twin.”

All the guest musicians add distinctive moments to the record, but because this is a double album, their contributions never overshadow those of Guy. Rather, they add interesting new flavours to an already heady broth. Country star Keith Urban adds vocals and guitar to “One Day Away”, a gentle blues-rock song about the importance of living in the present and not always thinking of the future. Beth Hart’s coruscating vocals on “What You Gonna Do About Me” are one of the highlights of the album. Gary Clark Jr’s appearance on “Blues Don’t Care” features the nice twist of Clark and Guy singing alternative lines in each verse, rather than taking alternative verses.

A listener hoping for a return to the delicate restraint of Guy’s early masterpiece A Man And The Blues won’t find it in this album. It is however a superb reflection of classic “almost out of control” Guy, with his guitar playing both in front of and behind the beat, and string bends that are often on the verge of taking him out of key. But therein lies part of his appeal. He always gives full rein to his emotions and that is why his playing touches so many people.

The difficulty with Guy has often been in capturing his wild live sound on a studio recording. That is not a criticism that can be directed at this album. It’s a tremendous record from one of the true living legends of Chicago blues. Unmissable..

Reviewer Rhys Williams is a blues guitarist who lives in Cambridge, England, which may be 4,000 miles from Chicago, but is only an inch or two away on some small-scale maps.

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 Featured Blues Review 9 of 10

Dayna Kurtz - Secret Canon Vol. 2

Kismet Records under license to MC Records


This is a collection of uncovered blues and R&B gems from the 1940's-1960's that Dayna researched for months. Also included are two of her own compositions that neatly fit into this retro set of music. Half of the recording was done in New Jersey and the other half in Bogalusa, Louisiana, near her recently adopted home of New Orleans. Her vocal sound harkens back to the heyday of Etta James and R&B and blues belters of that era. Her voice is a beautifully powerful instrument that makes its' presence felt. In keeping with the retro style she utilized two-inch tape to record all the music giving it a distinct warmth and clarity.

The first of two self-penned songs "I Look Good In Bad", is aided by her slow, brooding, sassy and booming vocal delivery. The New Orleans style horn section replaces the guitar that is absent from this CD entirely, which is a refreshing departure. Eddie Bo's "So Glad" is given an upbeat reading with the sweet sound New Orleans intertwining horn interplay. The song is a tribute to her new home and a vibrant tribute it is. Johnny Adams' R&B hit "Reconsider Me" is a stirring ballad that tugs at the heartstrings. The spare production enhances the atmospherics, raising this song to a new level. "Same Time, Same Place", a minor R&B hit for Mable John on the Stax label is given a similar treatment.

A haunting and stark trumpet enhances the feeling of melancholy. Dayna's other contribution "If You Won't Dance" is a spirited romper with band backing vocals.

Helen Humes' "All I Ask Is Your Love" is a sweltering slow-burner. "Go Ahead On" professes the same sentiment as Ray Charles' "Hit The Road Jack". It includes some of the tasty Hammond B3 organ as on the previous tune. Her pipes really shine on another torchy ballad, "I'll Be A Liar". The mellow "I've Had My Moments" fits nicely into a Peggy Lee style, showcasing Dayna's versatility.

This project is retro music done the right way. The production and delivery is crisp and crystal clear. The jazzy R&B vibe throughout is relaxing. This is the kind of music suited to candlelight, wine and thou. She readily handles the tough stuff just as skillfully as the tender side. Do yourself a favor and avail yourself of some divinely moving music.

Reviewer Greg "Bluesdog" Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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 Blues Society News

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River City Blues Society - Peoria, IL

River City Blues Society is once again sponsoring Bikes Blues BBQ September 14th 2013 from 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm At VFW Post 1232, 15665 VFW Road Pekin, Illinois.Bikes Blues & BBQ sponsored by Freebird Abate, River City Blues Society, and Pekin VFW Post 1232. Live Blues Music featuring: Chris Duarte Group from Texas, Jimmy Warren Band from Chicago, and Matthew Curry & The Fury from Bloomington. Admission is $10.00

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society - Champaign, IL

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society presents Carolyn Johnson, Celebration of Life, Sunday Aug. 18th, 2013, 2pm-6pm at Memphis on Main, 55 E. Main St., Champaign. Kilborn Alley, The Painkillers, Josh Spence, A.J. Williams, Bruce "Bruiser" Rummenie, Isaiah Johnson and others will be performing.

Monday, September 23, PCBS presents Jiggy & the Source at Louie's Dixie Kitchen & BBQ, 1104 N. Cunningham Drive, Urbana, IL. For more info visit

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. 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, 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

Jimmy Vivino & The Black Italians – 13 Live

Blind Pig Records

13 tracks; 59 minutes

Jimmy Vivino has been a mainstay of Conan O’Brien’s late night TV shows, leading the house band since the show’s inception. However, his involvement in the show resulted in the premature demise of the band he had started as a NYC jam and called “The Black Italians” – a revolving cast of mixed race players who all wanted to play Ray Charles and James Brown. The Black Italians have continued to play occasionally and Jimmy revived the band for a live recording at Levon Helm’s Barn in Woodstock NY on 1 December 2012. For this session Jimmy reunited his original Black Italian rhythm section, Mike Merritt on bass and James Wormworth on drums. Additional percussion comes from Mike Jacobson on congas and Fred Walcott on timbales and Danny Louis plays keyboards as well as occasional trombone. Felix Cabrera plays harp and shares lead vocals with Jimmy and Catherine Russell. Jimmy plays all guitar parts and piano on one track. The material mixes Jimmy’s own songs with an interesting selection of covers.

Opening track “Fat Man” sets the tone for the music with the loose-limbed percussion giving a Little Feat vibe, a feeling accentuated by Jimmy’s slide playing. Catherine Russell’s vocals are highlights of the album, starting with a scorching version of “Soulful Dress”. It’s a well-known song for female vocalists to cover but this is possibly the best version I have heard, with Felix’s harp and Danny’s piano to the fore. Catherine turns up the funk on James Brown’s “What Do I Have To Do (To Prove My Love To You) (on which Danny Louis leaves his keyboards to play some trombone in best Fred Wesley mode) and shares vocal duties on the band’s rollicking version of Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm”. However, the jewel in Catherine’s considerable crown here is Jimmy’s original ballad “Fool’s Gold”. The song explores the wrong turns taken in life when you seek illusory goals, Catherine being ably supported by Jimmy’s anguished guitar and Danny’s keyboards. This would be a strong song in any circumstances but Catherine’s breath-taking vocal vocals take it to another level.

Jimmy’s other originals also impress. “Heaven In A Pontiac” is a classic piece of rock and roll which had me checking that it was not a lost Chuck Berry piece! Felix Cabrera shines on harp and Danny Louis’ piano adds to the 50’s feel. Miss Mona returns to that Little Feat vibe of the opening track but I also detected a touch of Dylan in some of the lyrics. “Song For Levon” finds Jimmy at the piano, a heartfelt tribute summed up by the chorus: “It ain’t what you take with you, it’s what you leave behind”. Also from within the band comes Felix Cabrera’s “Animalism” which features the percussion section and consequently has a Santana feel to it, enhanced by the swirling organ and Jimmy’s convincing Carlos-like solo.

The covers also include a second Dylan song in “From A Buick 6” which is played in suitably aggressive mode. Johnny Winter’s “Fast Life Rider” has lots of percussion and some Johnny sounding guitar and I was pleased to find Jim Capaldi’s “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone” included. We don’t often hear Traffic tunes these days and this one is played pretty straight, the percussionists and Danny Louis enjoying themselves and Jimmy again showing his versatility on guitar with the familiar theme of the song. After Jimmy’s “Song For Levon” the Black Italians close the show with a spirited take on The Band’s “Shape I’m In”, an appropriate way to close the show in Levon Helm’s studio.

With 13 strong songs and some genuinely excellent performances, I can recommend this CD without hesitation. I am sure it will remain on rotation in my collection for some time to come.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. Current favourites from recent releases include Michael Burks, Chris Antonik, Sugar Ray and The Bluetones, Albert Castiglia, Doug Deming and now Jimmy Vivino!

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Festivals - Blues Blast Magazine &'s website are great ways to promote ANY Blues event or product. In fact we believe we just might have THE best Blues advertising vehicle anywhere to promote YOUR Blues event! Blues

CD's - For less than the cost of one small ad in a newspaper, you can advertise your shows, new CD or any Blues product. A great way to get the Blues word out! Blues fans WANT to know about your Blues event of product. Call Bob at (309) 267-4425 or send an email to for a confidential quote today!

Blues Blast Magazine covers Blues all over!

We also offer effective advertising for Festivals and Club Owners, Recording Companies and Performers. Put your Blues advertisement on our homepage at: either as a sponsored event or as a featured event, product, recording or merchandise.  We get 45,000 visitors and 2,000,000 hits A MONTH on our website! More than 22,000 Blues Fans, Musicians, Recording Companies, Club Owners, Blues Societies and Festival Promoters in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries read the Blues Blast magazine each week. You can feature your event or product in the largest FREE internet Blues magazine delivered right to your inbox each week.

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