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Issue 7-31, August 1, 2013

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

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine

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 In This Issue

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with harp legend James Cotton. Bob Kieser has Part 2 of the photos from the Mississippi Valley Blues festival. Our new video of the week series features Janet Ryan.

We have 10 music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Tail Dragger. Mark Thompson reviews a new album from Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters. John Mitchell reviews a new release from David Vest. The Rex Bartholomew reviews a CD by Billy Jones Bluez. Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Barrelhouse Chuck and Kim Wilson's Blues All Stars. Marty Gunther reviews a CD from Bernie Mora & Tangent. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new release from Randall Bramblett. Rhys Williams reviews a new album from Ron Dziubla. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD from Khalif Wailin’ Walter and also a CD by Barrelhouse Kevin Burke. 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,

The voting in the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards continues until August 31st. More than 4,200 of you have voted so far in the first 2 weeks of voting. Keep it up! Let your favorite artists know you support them by voting now, CLICK HERE!

Also, there is one big awards celebration brewing for the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends on Thursday October 31st in Chicago. 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, Anson Funderburg, 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 will go on sale in the next week on our website. This is a show you don't want to miss so stay tuned!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music! 

Bob Kieser


T- Model Ford James Lewis Carter Ford (early 1920s – July 16, 2013)

THREE OF A KIND: T-Model Ford (middle) with two of the greatest delta blues drummers to ever sit behind a kit,
the late Same Carr (left) and the late Spam (right) at Clarksdale’s Ground Zero Blues Club. Photo/Robert Lynn

The self-proclaimed ‘Boss of the Blues,’ James Lewis Carter ‘T-Model’ Ford, passed away from respiratory failure July 16 in his Greenville, Mississippi home. Depending on which account you believe, T-Model was somewhere between 89-93 years old (editor’s note: He told Blues Blast in an interview from Feb. 14 of this year that he was 92 years old).

T-Model was the very embodiment of the blues and spent a couple of years on a chain gang for murder as a young man. He also claimed to have been married six times and fathered over 20 children. With his unique style of guitar playing – chopping off chords that were very reminiscent of a bell chiming – T-Model paired with R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough to help bring the Fat Possum Records label to national attention with four classic albums for the Oxford, Mississippi-based label. T-Model is survived by his wife Estella and grandson (and drummer) Stud.

Blast Blast Magazine writer Terry Mullins interviewed T-Model this past February. To read that interview now, CLICK HERE

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 - James Cotton  

If you were going to share the stage with heavyweights like Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, Santana and Chicago back in their hey-day, you had better be ready to deliver, or you were going to be destroyed.

While it may not seem like a level playing field, taking on an army of Les Pauls and a mountain of Marshalls with just a solitary harmonica, as he’s proven time after time during the course of his 77 years on Mother Earth, James ‘Superharp’ Cotton is more than capable of delivering, regardless of the circumstances, or the odds, surrounding him.

Not only did the remarkable Cotton go toe-to-toe with a who’s-who of Rock-N-Roll Hall of Famers at the fabled Fillmore West (and East) back in the late 1960s, long before that, the legendary harmonica player was also band-mates with Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters – all before he was even 20 years old! That right there is more than enough to cement a bluesman’s legacy. Throw in the fact that Paul Butterfield was Cotton’s apprentice for a couple of years and that’s just icing on the cake.

Cotton was personally responsible for showing a whole legion of college-aged music lovers in the San Francisco Bay Area where groups like Zeppelin, The Yardbirds and Cream got their inspiration from, thanks to the Bill Graham-produced shows at the old Fillmore West. You may have been going to dig on the Grateful Dead, Moby Grape, Big Brother and the Holding Company or the Steve Miller Band, but sandwiched in the middle of those bands, you were likely to find the James Cotton Blues Band.

“I had a good time playing with guys like Steve Miller, who had Boz Scaggs in his band at the time, and all those groups like that back at the Fillmore,” Cotton said. “Oh man, it was something else; standing ovations and just a lot of love for the blues. It (the blues) was something that a lot of the younger people had never really heard before – not the way that guys like Muddy and The Wolf played ‘em. But they thought it was good music. They really enjoyed it and I enjoyed playing for them. I just like seeing people have a good time. That makes me want to really play hard for them.”

That initial exposure of the blues that Cotton helped to provide back then helped turn a lot of the ‘hippie age’ into blues lovers for the rest of their lives.

“I didn’t think about that back then … I just played what I knew how to play,” he said. “But I’m happy that maybe they started liking the blues because of something that I played for them. That makes me really happy.”

Though a bout with throat cancer and the ensuing loss of a vocal cord back in the mid-90s has left Cotton unable to do much singing, the Grammy Award winner and Blues Hall of Famer has steadfastly refused to allow that malady stop him from blowing the harp with as much power and gusto as he ever has.

“I was a harmonica player before I was a singer. I didn’t really become a singer until I started fronting a band,” he said. “So, that (his health) has kind of made me be able to concentrate on playing the harmonica again. It kind of put me back on track.”

Cotton’s health issues have also not put the brakes on his recording career, either. He just requires a little more help in the studio these days. And when you’ve got friends like Gregg Allman, Keb Mo, Warren Haynes, Delbert McClinton, Darrell Nulisch, Joe Bonamassa and Ruthie Foster to call on, well, you’ve got it made.

That all-star cast shows up on Cotton’s newest CD, the appropriately-titled Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator Records).

"Oh, man – I was really thrilled to be involved on this project!”  - Gregg Allman


“Oh, man … they made me really happy. It was so beautiful that they helped me do my new album. It made me feel really good … I really don’t have words for how it made me feel,” Cotton said. “I just want to thank them all for helping me out, every one of them; they’re all great people and wonderful musicians. I can’t thank them enough.”

"I was introduced to Mr. Cotton by Clifford Antone about 10 years ago on my first night in Austin at the foot of the legendary Antone’s stage. Cotton shook my hand and said ' Good to meet you young lady, I hear you can sing a bit and I look forward to hearing you.' To get a call from him to actually sing with him on his record is one of my all time treats that I will grin and talk it about for many years to come!” - Ruthie Foster


Sometimes, too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil a good thing, but Cotton says in this case, the more, the merrier.

“It was no problem at all, you know what I mean? I’m as much of a fan of the music that they play as they are of me… it’s just so beautiful,” he said.

Recently, Superharp had the opportunity to help pay tribute to a couple of his former employers on the Blues at the Crossroads II Tour: Muddy & The Wolf. Along with the Fabulous T-Birds, Bob Margolin, Jody Williams and Tinsley Ellis, Cotton helped honor the fathers of electric Chicago blues. Cotton’s inclusion on the tour made perfect sense, especially considering he originally helped breathe life into some of the songs that were being feted on the tour. Even though back in the day, he had no reason to think that those songs would be more popular today than they were back in the 50s and 60s when he was playing them for the first time.

“No … I had no idea or feeling of that. I just worked with those guys (Muddy and The Wolf) and had a good time doing it,” he said. “I really didn’t have any thought about that (the enduring staying power of the music). I was just trying to help those guys and the songs we were playing. I was trying to do a good job.”

‘Doing a good job’ is what Cotton has been all about since picking up the harmonica as a wee little lad in Tunica, Mississippi.

It quickly became apparent that he and the harmonica was a match made in heaven.

“My mother could play harmonica and she could make it sound like a train. So when I first started playing, that’s what I tried to play. I would sit on the side of the bed with my harp and try to sound like that train,” Cotton said.

Another thing that caught the attention of young Cotton was the legendary King Biscuit Time radio program that was (and still is) broadcast on KFFA, out of Helena, Arkansas. The featured performer on those 15-minute shows was, of course, Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller). Showing that he most certainly was a naturally- gifted musician from the get-go, it took Cotton precious little time before he could blow Sonny Boy’s theme song on the harp, note for note.

After both his parents tragically passed away, Cotton went to live with one of his mother’s brothers. It was during this time that he began to realize the advantages of being able to blow the harp.

“Well, I was living with my uncle, making about $3 a day, working in the fields and cutting stumps and things like that. One evening, I sat on the steps of the commissary – the place where we got paid – and played harmonica and made about $45 in an hour,” he said. “My uncle had made $36 for two week’s worth of work. So my uncle said, ‘You don’t belong here.’”

In short order, Cotton’s uncle took him to live with Sonny Boy when he was but a mere nine years old.

“I didn’t really know nothing about the blues then, but I did know Sonny Boy because he played on that radio show. And then my uncle took me to (live with) him and I stayed with him for six years,” said Cotton. “When we first met, I just walked up and started playing for him and he started paying attention. Whatever he played today, I could play tomorrow.”

The thought of a pre-teenager living and juking all over the south with the notoriously irascible Sonny Boy Williamson might be cause for a bit of concern, but according to Cotton, that was not the case at all.

“He was really a sweet guy and he had a sweet wife … a really nice woman,” he said. “But they got on bad terms and she finally left him and went to Milwaukee.”

The teen-aged Cotton and Sonny Boy gigged all over Arkansas and Mississippi, with Cotton opening the show by playing outside the juke joints because he was too young to officially go inside the club.

“One day Sonny Boy went up to Milwaukee (after his wife) – just like that. He left and he left me his band. I was 15 years old then,” Cotton said. “But they (the band) was so much older than me … I was just a kid … I did everything that I could do to help, but that didn’t last too long and I couldn’t hold things together … maybe three or four months.”

Even though he was still just a teenager – and had no real home at the time – Cotton managed to survive in Memphis by playing on Beale Street. But it wasn’t long before his musical education hit chapter two, this time as part of Howlin’ Wolf’s band, The Houserockers.

Just as he had with Sonny Boy, even though he was a bit on the under-aged side of things, Cotton played juke joint after juke joint with The Wolf.

“I met him in West Memphis, Arkansas. He knew that I could play and that I was needing a job, so he asked me to come play with him,” Cotton said. “And I was with him for about two years. I played on his first recordings, ‘Moanin’ at Midnight’ and ‘How Many More Years.’ I thought he was a nice guy. If you left him alone and didn’t cause no trouble, you wouldn’t get none back.”

The story about how Sam Phillips first heard The Wolf sing and immediately fell in love with his voice is well-documented. But Phillips was also responsible for bringing Cotton into the studio to cut his first recordings, just as he had done for Howlin’ Wolf.

“I had this radio show on KWEM in West Memphis (when he was 17 years old) – and Sam Phillips called me up one day and said, ‘How’d you like to make a record?’ And I said, ‘I’d love it.’ So he told me to meet him the next Wednesday,” Cotton said. “Then we went in and he asked me to play some songs and I had a couple of blues songs – one called ‘Oh, Baby’ and one called ‘Straighten Up Baby’ – and I played them and he recorded them and they played those records a lot around Memphis.”

Cotton ultimately ended up cutting four sides for Sun Records.

Most blues musicians would consider their careers more than complete after spending time in the company of Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin’ Wolf, and after also cutting your first 78 for the Sun Records label. But for Cotton, he was just getting started. And at that point - as incredulous as it might sound - you could say the best was yet to come; because on a cold, winter day in 1954, Cotton crossed paths with Muddy Waters, who at the time was on a road trip through the south.

“I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me … I mean I had heard Muddy Waters’ voice on records before, but I had never seen him or met him. But he had heard about me and came looking for me,” Cotton said. “Well, Junior Wells had been in Muddy’s band, but he just up and left on that trip. Muddy had a show in Memphis and he wanted me to play with him, so I did.”

And as they say, the rest is history.

Cotton wound up joining Muddy’s band and ended up living in Chicago, trading his gig on Beale Street for gigs all around the planet. But although he was a member of Muddy’s band, that didn’t mean that Cotton found a role in the studio with the group right off the bat. That spot still belonged to Little Walter Jacobs.

“Well, Muddy and Little Walter had been together for a long time and Muddy didn’t think nobody could play his (Little Walter’s) stuff. But in 1960, we went to the Newport Jazz Festival and I played (Got my)‘Mojo’ (Working) with him and he found out I could play on a record, too,” said Cotton.

In the mid-60s, not only where the times a-changing, so too was the musical climate. It was just before the Summer of Love - when after 12 years with Muddy - Cotton figured it was time to move on.

“I had did everything there that I could do for him (Muddy) and you know, rock-n-roll was starting to come in and I had a different outlook on it,” he said. “I wanted to try things and do stuff that wasn’t so deep in the blues, you know? I mean, I really respected his music, but I went and found him another harp player (George ‘Harmonica’ Smith) and told him I was leaving. But Muddy was a real nice fellow and I really respected him.”

Thus, the James Cotton Blues Band was born, with Cotton on harp and vocals; Sam Lay on drums; Luther Tucker on guitar; and Bobby Allison laying down the bass. And in no time at all, those cats became one badass band, working their way across the country and holding their own with anyone. The late, great Mike Bloomfield played on, and even produced, Cotton’s first solo album, 1967’s The James Cotton Blues Band (Verve).

As great as his early solo records were, there was really nothing that compared to the way that Cotton owned the bandstand in concert. Not only would he blow the harp so hard that it would literally fall to pieces in his hands, he would also back-flip and somersault all over the stage, making for one must-see show.

Even though he was now a veteran band leader with albums to his credit and his own name on the marquee, Cotton didn’t close the door on a reunion with the Hoochie Coochie man in the late 1970s. Along with a little help from Johnny Winter, Cotton hooked back up with Muddy and recorded the seminal Hard Again (Blue Sky) album. Then, just like in the good old days, they hit the road for a lengthy tour to promote the platter.

“That was a lot of fun, it really was,” said Cotton. “We had such a good time recording that album and then playing those shows. A lot of fun.”

In a career that’s so jam-packed with highlights it’s ready to burst at the seams, another shining moment for Cotton occurred in 1990 when he teamed up with Carey Bell, Junior Wells and Billy Branch for the amazing Harp Attack! (Alligator Records). “We just had a really good time in the studio making that,” he said.

Maybe the most amazing thing about James Cotton is that despite playing the blues for almost 70 years, he has no intention to stop, nor does he have any desire to retire.

“Retire? No. What else am I going to do?” he said. “I’m going to keep playing the blues. I don’t have any thoughts of retiring.”

It would be hard to imagine the blues without James Cotton’s contributions to the art form, even if he had no real designs to do anything other than just blow the harmonica when he first got into music.

“I didn’t think about what I was doing … I just loved to play and I was just lucky. I never knew it would lead to something like this. It was something that I knew I could do and something that I was good at,” he said. “But I don’t know that I ever really thought about doing it forever.”

Visit James' website at

Photos by Bob Kieser © 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

Tail Dragger - Stop Lyin’

Delmark Records

CD: 10 songs; 54:12 Minutes

Styles: 1980’s Electric Chicago Blues

Let’s travel back in time to 1982, when James Yancy Jones, known as “Tail Dragger,” put together one of his best (and previously unreleased) albums. On September 29th of that year, he recorded nine original tracks with guitarist Johnny B. Moore and Jesse Lee Williams, Eddie “Jewtown” Burks on harmonica, bassist Willie Kent, and drummer Larry Taylor. Unfortunately, the producer of this album, Iron Jaw Harris, didn’t live long enough to see it issued. Jimmy Dawkins, operating his Leric label, made an arrangement with Tail Dragger to release the 45, “My Head is Bald,” backed with “So Ezee.” Featuring overdubbed piano by Lafayette Leake and harp by Little Mac Simmons, this song’s a stunner. The remainder of “Stop Lyin’” sat in Tail Dragger’s home for thirty years - until now. Genre gurus will wonder why, especially purists who love Chicago blues. Why did Tail Dragger, a lived-the-hard-life Chicago veteran and the man who shot Boston Blackie, ‘sit on his tail’ with such magnificent songs underneath it? Of the heretofore hidden gems on “Stop Lyin’,” these three sparkle the brightest:

Track 02: “Where Did You Go”--One of Tail Dragger’s biggest influences was Howlin’ Wolf, from whom he got his stage moniker and several pointers for more than 20 years. “Where Did You Go” pays the clearest homage to this late, great legend. It showcases Tail Dragger on raspy, mumbling vocals and his mentor’s trademark wail. “Baby, where did you go-o-o?” Those new to the blues, if they didn’t know better, might swear this was Wolf’s voice.

Track 05: “My Head is Bald”--Before Rogaine ever came on the market, Tail Dragger expressed a clear lack of need for it: “My head is bald, and you know I don’t even have no hair. Take me home with you, but don’t you go buy me some hair, ‘cause I ain’t going to use it.” It’s no wonder that Jimmy Dawkins selected this number as one of two on a 45 vinyl record. As on “So Ezee,” Lafayette Leake’s piano and Little Mac Simmons’ harmonica are heavenly.

Track 09: “Stop Lyin’” Clearly, Tail Dragger’s producer, ___, has saved the best for next-to-last: “Stop lyin’, please stop lyin’ to me. I didn’t take your woman; you gave your woman to me.” This pointed accusation is the most clearly spoken out of all his refrains on this album, and with good reason. Just as potent are the guitar solos, slyly ‘telling it like it is’. “If you treated her right, she wouldn’t be in my bed tonight!”

Following this tune is “Tail’s Tale,” a nearly seventeen-minute saga of the time and place in which “Stop Lyin’” was recorded. Pervasive drugs, crime and murder are present, but never triumphant, as this Tail Dragger relic is.

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 continue a new series of weekly videos of advertisers. This week we feature a video of Janet Ryan & Straight Up on Don Odells Legends performing Take Your Shoes Off. The song is from Janet Ryan's New CD, Momma Soul on CPS Records. Don Odell’s Legends studio in Palmer, MA may be one of New England’s best-kept secrets. To see the video, click on the image below.


For information on this great performer visit or click on her advertisement below in this issue!


 Featured Blues Review 2 of 10

Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters - Just for Today

Stony Plain Records

13 tracks/79:58

On his seventh recording for the Stony Plain label, guitarist Ronnie Earl doesn’t offer anything new – same band, same all- instrumental format save one guest vocal. Don’t wait for anyone to complain! When you are making music at the level of Earl and the Broadcasters, all one needs to do is sit back and revel in their testimonials to the strength of the human spirit and the healing effects of music.

Taken from live recordings done at three different Massachusetts venues, the disc opens with Earl’s guitar trading licks with Dave Limina’s Hammond organ before the band settles into a sturdy shuffle on “The Big Train”, with the organist giving his instrument a real workout. The pace immediate slows on a nine and a half minute excursion entitled “Blues for Celie” as Earl serves up a performance of enormous depth over a thick bass line from Jim Mouradian.

Earl pays homage to several of his mentors on other tracks. “Rush Hour” features plenty of Hammond organ behind Earl’s biting fretwork that captures the spirit of Otis Rush with special guest Nicholas Tabarias on guitar. “Robert Nighthawk Stomp” has Earl spinning out a series of hard-hitting improvisations. Even better is “Blues for Hubert Sumlin” as Earl expertly varies the dynamics of the piece, building to a high point only to cut back and start the spell-binding mediation over, bringing it to a close with one final burst of string bending.

John Coltrane’s “Equinox” finds the group in a late night frame of mind with drummer Lorne Entress providing a taut groove for the leader’s colorful fretboard explorations. Limina starts out on piano on a lengthy run-through of “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” before switching to the organ and providing the backdrop for another cathartic Earl solo. “Miracle” is a soulful tune with a harder edge while “Heart of Glass” has Earl using his immaculate phrasing to create a few moments of intimate contemplation.

Limina and his piano take the spotlight on “Vernice’s Boogie”, rocking the 88’s around a brief, fiery display of guitar skill from his boss. Everybody seems to be covering Etta James tunes these days. Diane Blues joins the band for a respectful rendition of “I’d Rather Go Blind”. Earl’s fills and accents expertly fill in the space around her measured vocal, receiving a hearty round of applause from the audience.

Earl utilizes a soft and inviting tone on “Pastorale”, ending the disc with a graceful offering celebrating the sustaining power of hope. It is a fitting close to a tremendous recording that clearly illustrates that Earl & the Broadcasters have mastered the instrumental format, continuing to make majestic blues music that challenges your ears while lifting your spirit. It may be the best of their Stony Plain recordings – and comes highly recommended!

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

David Vest – East Meets Vest


12 tracks; 58 minutes

I reviewed David Vest’s last CD in 2011 and enjoyed it. David is a native of Alabama and has been playing since the late 1950’s. For many years he was a fixture in the Pacific North West but has now moved up to Canada. For his latest CD he has joined forces with members of well-established Canadian bands Downchild and Fathead. Both those ensembles are based on the East coast of Canada whilst David’s new home is British Columbia, on the West side, hence, I assume, the name of the CD! The band here is David on piano and vocals, Teddy Leonard on guitar (Fathead) and the Downchild rhythm section of Gary Kendall on bass and Mike Fitzpatrick on drums; David and Gary co-produced the album. The material includes three of David’s own tunes and a selection of covers from the likes of WC Handy, Big Joe Turner and Memphis Slim.

Opener “Low Down Dog” is typical Big Joe Turner jump blues. David’s piano takes the lead but Teddy’s guitar sings out in the middle section before David plays a solo chorus and another with the band back in tow. It’s an impressive start and is followed by “Cry Hard Luck”, more of a rolling shuffle, a tune written by Jimmy T99 Nelson, with whom David played for several years. David has a good voice and sings this sort of blues well.

There is then a run of three Vest originals starting with “Come Clean With Me” an extended slow blues which reminded me at times of “St James Infirmary”. The delicate piano playing at the beginning is exquisite and shows another side of David’s playing. The song is also a strong one with the singer asking for total honesty in the relationship. After the seriousness of the slow blues David lightens the mood considerably with “Shake What You Got”, clearly a relation of Slim Harpo’s “Hipshake” which features some rocking guitar and powerful drums. “Black Dress” completes the trio, a nice piece of rock and roll/boogie on which Teddy shows us how good he is at this sort of rocking guitar playing and David what a fine boogie piano player he is.

Another Big Joe Turner song “Piney Brown Blues” makes a good contrast with the opening song because here we are in that late night jazzy blues piano vein as David takes the lead on a long instrumental opening segment before his world weary voice sings a classic blues lyric. WC Handy has to be an influence on most blues and jazz players and certainly is on David who tackles a series of his tunes in the second part of this disc. “St Louis Blues” is played at a jaunty pace and is followed by a piece punningly entitled “Mighty Handy”. Although only 4.22 in length, David manages to incorporate “Hesitation Blues”, “Yellow Dog Blues” and “Beale St. Blues” into this solo piano medley. Perhaps to give the listener a break from Handy the band tackles Memphis Slim’s “Wish Me Well” next, a tune to which it is almost impossible to keep still! In many ways the track sums up the album – effective vocals, great piano, fine retro guitar and ensemble playing. Then we return to Handy for an instrumental “Memphis Blues” with David’s rolling piano and Teddy’s guitar both getting solo space.

“Boogie Woogie Baby” is by Paul James who guests on guitar on his own song. As the title suggests, there is more boogie woogie here and an entertaining lyric which extols the virtues of the girl in question: “She’s my boogie woogie baby, she’s my barrelhouse barbecue”. No, I don’t know what that means either, but the tune is great fun and swings like crazy! The final track is a relaxed take on the classic jazz piece “After Hours”. It makes a good sign-off piece which again offers us the opportunity to admire the fine interplay between the players. I imagine the tune was chosen because its author Avery Parrish was also from Alabama.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this fine CD with superb ensemble playing and can easily recommend it.

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

Billy Jones Bluez – I’m a Bluesman

Self release through American Blues Recording Company

7 tracks / 34:12

Blues music does not have to come out of Chicago, Memphis or the delta, and I am reminded of this as I listen to Billy Jones Bluez’s latest CD, I’m a Bluesman. Billy Jones hails from North Little Rock, Arkansas, which I had never even considered as being a hotbed of blues music.

Billy Jones has long been a bluesman, having been exposed to the blues as a boy at his grandfather’s café and at a nearby juke joint. He was inspired to be like Elmore James and B.B. King, and by the time he was in his early teens he was quite a guitar player. He went on the road at the age of 14 and has not stopped since, playing all over the US and Europe.

His newest CD is a short one, coming in at a little over a half hour. There are seven tracks, including one cover and six original songs. Billy takes care of the guitars and vocals, and he is joined by Corey Bray on keyboards, Derrick Kendricks and Palmalee Byrd on bass and Rickey Martin and Reginald Hammeth on the skins.

I’m a Bluesman kicks off with its only cover tune, “The Iceman,” which is a modern interpretation of Big Joe Turner’s “Ice Man Blues.” This is a fun song with an easygoing vibe, and Billy’s voice and guitar playing are smooth and restrained. Bray has good keyboard skills, and his playing helps fill in the spaces in this well done piece.

After this, you will see that Billy is comfortable enough with his writing and playing that he does not need to be shoehorned into any one genre. “I’m Yo’ Freak” has a funky hip-hop beat that is dominated with 1970s synthesizers and heavily distorted guitars. He keeps this funky vibe for “Nothing But The Blues” but the music is harder-edged with more modern keyboard samples and rocking guitar parts. This song has classic blues lyrics and structures, but he has evolved it into something totally different.

“I’m a Bluesman” is a more traditional blues rocker with a dance beat, neat doubled guitar parts and Hammond B3 samples. This title track is the longest song on the album and there is a cool jam in the middle where it sounds like there are five layers of guitars stacked up.

Billy Jones gets back to more traditional blues for “Do Right Baby” which has some fantastic guitar tone over an assortment of different synthesizer sounds. There is a slow rolling 12-bar blues base to this one, and the lyrics include one of the coolest lines ever: “You gonna have to run off and join the circus, baby, if you’re looking for a clown.” This song fades out while he is still singing, which is an interesting choice as blues songs usually have a distinct conclusion.

There are synthesized strings and heavy organ work on “Love Nobody Else,” which ends up with a Latin nightclub flair as Billy channels his inner Carlos Santana. His voice works well with this genre too, and his guitar work is smoking hot. This mood carries over to the final song on the album, “You and Me.” His guitar playing on this one crosses over from Santana to Prince, and Corey Bray does a great imitation of Jan Hammer on the keyboards.

Billy Jones’ latest CD is an interesting piece of work, and shows that he has solid writing, performance and production skills. If you choose to seek it out you will find it is not in a traditional blues form, but it is still fun music to listen to. He performs regularly throughout the Midwest, and I think it would be a kick to check out one of his shows.

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 - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival - Part 2  

Day 2 of the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival started off on the main stage with Jimmy Nick & Don't Tell Momma. The band is from Peoria, IL and features Jimmy Nick on guitar, Ben Thompson on sax, Lowell Todd on bass and Joel Baer on drums. They competed in the International Blues Challenge representing the River City Blues Society of Peoria, IL last year.

Next up was Ruf recording artist Samantha Fish. Samantha put on quite a show of great guitar skill! Samantha is originally from Kansas City where another trio of great musicians is from, Trampled Under Foot! Rumor is that Samantha and Trampled Under Foot drummer Kris Schnebelen are an item!

Next up was Blues rocker Anthony Gomes. Anthony put on a fine set of hard rocking Blues.

The final act of the night on the main stage was the Mighty Sam McClain. Sam brought a full band and put on an intense set of soul Blues. Sam is nominated in the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards in the soul Blues Recording category and is also nominated for Song Of the Year for the tune "Too Much Jesus" (Not Enough Wiskey)

On the tent stage Saturdays artists started off with The Scottie Miller Band. It was my first time seeing this group from Minnesota and they were very impressive. The band features Scottie on piano and vocals, Mark O'Day on drums, Joe Cruz on guitar and Kevin Rowe on bass.

Next up was Dee Alexander. Dee was the only jazz Blues artists of the festival and she did a great job representing that style of Blues to all the fans.

The final act of the evening on the tent stage was Chicago legend, John Primer. He had a band of real deal Chicago pro's including Melvin Taylor on bass.

The final day of the festival kicked off with Reverend Raven and The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys. He brought Al Groth with him on sax. Man that is one great sax player!

Next up was the Mississippi Valley Blues Society Blues Challenge winners, The Rock Island Rollers. The band will be heading to Memphis next January to compete in the International Blues Challenge.

Next up was a real Americana Blues Rock band, the 44's. With Johnny Main on guitar and Tex Nakamura on harmonica they played and impressive set  that included Tex playing a song on harmonica using "split tongue" technique.  This the impressive technique you often hear Kim Wilson do on his tune, "Kim's Boogie". This was the first time I have heard anyone other than Kim Wilson play this impressive technique on harp that holds a loud low note and at the same time plays a second melody on the higher register of the harp. VERY impressive!

Next up was a Texas artist W.C. Clark. This guy was my personal favorite act of the festival. My first time to hear him. He is often called the Godfather of Austin Blues and played with Stevie Ray Vaughan in the early 70's. Check this guy out!


The final day of the festival started off on the tent stage with Detroit Larry Davison and Chris Avey. Larry is one fine harp player and with Chris Avey accompanying on guitar and singing, it made for an enjoyable way to kick off the music on that end of the fest.

We then were treated to one of the best country Blues finger pickers I have ever heard on guitar, Toby Walker!. If you get the chance to hear this picking wizard, go!


The last act we caught on the tent stage was Ironing Board Sam. Sam is from Atlanta Georgia and is one heck of a Blues boogie woogie piano player. We will have in in-depth interview with Ironing Board Sam in an upcoming issue.

So that ended another great festival put on by the crew at the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. This one was number 29! Another excellent job! We wish them 29 more!

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser  © 2013

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 Featured Blues Review 5 of 10

Barrelhouse Chuck & Kim Wilson’s Blues All Stars - Driftin’ From Town to Town

The Sirens Records

13 tracks

Following up from his great 2006 Blues All Stars releases I Got My Eyes On You, Barrelhouse Chuck has delivered a superb new set of tunes for blues fans to appreciate. Featuring two songs by Chuck (one co-authored by Kim Wilson) and a selection of 11 great covers, this album is Chicago blues done right. As with most of his albums. Chuck also provides us a great smorgasbord of snapshots from his personal collection of classic shots of him and his musical family (and real family) and friends.

Chuck and Kim have appeared countless times together with the Blues All Stars. This version includes their long-time stalwarts and friends Billy Flynn and Jeremy Johnson on guitars, Larry Taylor on bass, Richard Innes on drums, and here with Sax Gordon on tenor and baritone sax on five cuts. These guys are together and in synch– there is no confusion about who is doing what; they are consummate professionals.

The CD opens to the swinging and hopping Cal Green tune “The Big Push.” This was a great opener; covering this superb instrumental from the author of “The Twist” was just the thing to set the tone and get the juices flowing for more great blues. Sax Gordon makes his first appearance here an shows us what he can do. Next up is the title track, Chuck’s tune. He delivers a poignant piano solo and they completely sell it with his authentic vocals and a nice harp solo by Kim. Wilson fronts the band with Howlin’ Wolf’s “I’m Leaving You;” he gives us some nice and dirty vocals as Chuck aptly tickles the keys. The guitar solos are smooth and slick here, too, and Gordon steps in for a little sweet horn work. “Stockyard Blues” is a little number by Johnny Young and Floyd Jones that is always one of my favorites from Chuck; I love how he handles his vocals on this song. Wilson grunts and snorts out some cool harp on this one; it could almost be a stockyards sound. The guitar solos later in the cut are also sweet.

Jody Williams’ “Lucky Lou” instrumental is next and the guitar work here is impeccable. The guitar sings lead to us here. One can see how Otis rush would fall in love with William’s stuff– classic Chicago sounds and these guys really sea the deal. They follow that with Chuck Berry’s “Thirty Day’s” which I have heard Wilson, Flynn and Chuck do before; they are spot on here and do a fantastic job. They even throw in a little call and response. The piano and guitar as cool here and Wilson’s vocals leave no room for complaint. “Flat Foot Sam” is a swinging rockabilly with some colorful lyrics and these guys blow it away and have a fun time doing so. The two leaders gang up for “K&C Boogie,” a delightful harp and piano boogie that Mssrs Wilson and Goering penned. A very nice instrumental that the two go back and forth on and the band supports the effort well. Floyd Jones’ “You Can’t Live That Long” is another vehicle for Chuck to show off his great vocals with and Kim supports him with some nicely distorted harp. He tells his baby to drink on and if she stays intoxicated she can’t live long. It’s a different take on the blues as Jones is telling his woman to go off and let drink kill her instead of trying to get her to quit, and Chuck delivers that message well.

Chuck then shouts out “She’s Got A Thing Going On,” a song Sunnyland Slim immortalized and that Chuck coves so well. Willie Dixon’s “Three Hundred Pounds” gets an instrumental cover and it’s well done; a great blend by the boys with Kim’s harp leading the charge. “Anna Lee” is another one of my favorites by Chuck; this Robert Nighthawk song is one he always delivers on and he does here, too. They conclude with Booker T and the MG’s “Time is Tight;” a sweet organ leading the way, the driving beat and some nice filler solos make this a great conclusion to an extremely fun ride.

I can’t recommend this enough. This is Chicago blues and some related materials done right– don’t delay in adding this to your collection. You will be sorry if you don’t!. Most highly recommended!!! .

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

Bernie Mora & Tangent – Dandelion

Rhombus Records

8 songs – 46 minutes

Guitarist Bernie Mora is no stranger to the music world, but he’s spent most of the past 20 years working with his brothers at the legendary Chico’s Tacos chain his father founded in El Paso, Texas. He plays a combination of jazz, funk, fusion and Latin rhythms, and been working locally since his dad’s death. He returns with both guns blazing on this all-instrumental CD, backed by a crew of all-star musicians from Texas and the West Coast.

Mora started playing in the early ‘70s, developing a style that infused rock and Tex-Mex with the stylings of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Weather Report. He founded Tangent in 1976, and they have two other discs to their credit, the most recent in 1996. All of the material here was written by Mora and his longtime partners, drummer Doc Anthony and bassist Robert Vance, as a tribute to Anthony’s son Marc, who lost his life after a courageous battle with cancer last year. “We did one new song a week,” the guitarist says. They are joined in the studio by keyboardist Corey Allen; sax and woodwind player Doug Webb, who’s worked with Rod Stewart and Horace Silver; trumpeter Lee Thornberg, who’s played with Tower Of Power and Supertramp; percussionists Munyungo Jackson, who’s toured with Stevie Wonder, and Howard Steele and Charles Godfrey.

The end product is a disc that sizzles from the onset and has been receiving airplay across Europe and Australia. Latin flavoring spices the opener, “Twilight Tango,” a five-minute-plus romp that will have you heading to the dance floor. A traditional guitar line drives the song forward and gives way to an electric blues solo mid-tune before the band returns to the root.

A rapid-fire drum line over guitar and horns kicks off “JB 111” before the tune evolves into full-force interplay among all the musicians. Then Mora launches into a driving, soaring, staccato guitar attack. Keyboards come to the fore and the guitarist takes a back seat for “Grand Central,” which also features a strong Latin rhythm. “Slippery When Wet” is pure funk, slightly reminiscent of the Average White Band’s soulful “Pick Up The Pieces” in the beginning. But it evolves into much, much more, as the horns dominate throughout.

A quiet guitar line opens the seven-minute “Dandelion.” It becomes a showcase for Mora’s rock guitar chops and more staccato horn lines for most of the mid-section before quieting again for the ending. “Canyon Walls” follows, as a light, sweet guitar line plays over keyboard grace notes before the horns and woodwinds take flight. This is the most mainstream jazz number included.

It precedes “Full Moon Funk,” a true horn-fest that traces directly to the sounds of the ‘70s, complete with stop-time rhythms and bass on the top of the mix, before evolving into a more modern sound. The disc concludes with the jazzy “Into The Sunset.”

This CD definitely isn’t your old-fashioned one-four-five blues by any stretch of the imagination. But if you have a taste for jazz and enjoy the extended jams of Carlos ¬Santana, the Lowriders (the rebranded legends formerly known as War), the Tonight Show band or the Phantom Blues Band, this album will serve as a treat for your ears.

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

Randall Bramblett - The Bright Spots

New West Records


Multi-instrumentalist, journeyman sideman, singer-songwriter Randall Bramblett brings the influences from playing with a laundry list of influential musicians to flavor his original vision on his latest release. His musical interactions with the likes of Steve Winwood, Gregg Allman, Chuck Leavell, Levon Helm, Widespread Panic and countless others have given him a strong foundation to build up from. He brings grainy vocals, keyboards, sax and acoustic guitar to his mélange of moody, textured and introspective songs. With production partner Gerry Hansen much attention is given to musical nuance without sounding “busy”.

The gritty guitar of Davis Causey lends a Little Feat quality to “Roll” and Randall’s coarse and fitting vocal compliments the sound. The standout track for my money is “Every Saint”, with lines like: “Every saint is an accident, a wild shot in the dark”; “Love is a bare branch knockin’ and it’ll find ya home someday”. The contemplative lyrics set against electric piano and organ “washes”, create an atmospheric magic that can give you chills.

“My Darling One” attains a feel much like The Rolling Stones’ “Moonlight Mile”, with its “time-shift” quality. Randall conjures up what Mose Allison would sound like with a more deliberate delivery on the gospel-jazzy “Whatever That Is”. Electric sitar and a honkin’ baritone sax sounds like weird business on paper, but the band makes it work just fine here. It makes “John The Baptist” into one bubbling and percolating time.

Steve Winwood’s funk period shines a light on “Trying To Steal A Minute”. Stark electric piano is held up by hypnotic percussion and beautiful lyrical imagery in the moody masterpiece that is “Detox Bracelet”. Mr. Winwood’s touch appears once again in Randall’s meandering acoustic piano playing on the “spacey” “All Is Well”. Percussion accents the yearning intensity of “Rumbling Bridge”, as it does on much of this CD.

The end result here is an effort that reveals many nuances with each consecutive listening session. Clean production and attention to detail are quite evident and appreciated here. Many pensive and thought provoking moments are in store for anyone that gives this record a chance. Various genres of music converge to enhance the listening experience, be it jazz, gospel, funk, etc. A unique musical treat like this a thing to treasure.

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

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 Featured Blues Review 8 of 10

Ron Dziubla – Nasty Habit

Rip Cat Records

11 songs – 33 minutes

Ron Dziubla is a tenor and baritone saxophonist (who also plays keyboards and guitar) perhaps best known for his recent stint with Duane Eddy, although his CV covers everyone from Ricky Martin, Christine Aguilera and John Fogerty through to Robert Cray, Kid Ramos and The Mannish Boys. Nasty Habit is the Indiana native’s third solo album, recorded at the Pow Wow Fun Room in Culver City and produced by Dziubla and Pete Curry.

The paragraph above, while factually accurate, does absolutely nothing to capture the exhilarating verve, energy, melody and power on Nasty Habit. It is without doubt one of the most enjoyable albums released so far this year.

Backed by a stellar band of Curry himself on drums, Sam Bolle on bass and James Ronquillo on guitar, with glistening production, Dziubla blazes through 11 instrumentals, all of which have distinctive and memorable melodies, and feature some of the best sax playing you could wish to hear.

The opening song, “Fine Time”, lays down a nice funky groove, with guest guitarist James Intveld contributing one of his typically dirty guitar solos (he also adds guitar on “Slapped” and “Spy Step”) before the album erupts into life with “Loose”, which sounds like Dick Dale playing with Jerry Lee Lewis after a furious argument between the two of them. Like the great Nick Curran’s best recordings, Dziubla manages the difficult task capturing the essence and energy of early rock and roll, updating it without diluting it. Curry’s drums nail the rhythm while providing propulsion of rocket-fuelled energy.

“Moan” is pure aural sex, driven by Bolle’s superb bouncing bass line and featuring a beautifully melodic guitar solo from Ronquillo, but as with all the songs on this album, it is Dziubla’s sax that steals the show.

The only voice on Dirty Habit is Mia Muse’s sultry spoken drinks order on “Lemon Drop Martini”. As a result, the album relies heavily on Dziubla’s ability to retain the listener’s interest through memorable melodies and powerhouse solos, both of which he delivers in spades. While many other artists use the saxophone to provide accent points within a song, in pieces like “Spy Step” that role is undertaken by the guitar, leaving the sax to take centre stage.

But this album is not an excuse for a great musician to show off his technique (although he has chops to burn, with his trills, staccato, flutter-tonguing and overtone fingerings). Rather, it is a musical tour-de-force. Dziubla’s facility on the saxophone is never permitted to get in the way of the song. This is beautifully demonstrated on “Harlem Nocturne” (one of two covers on the album, together with Jimmy Forrest’s “Night Train”), where Dziubla successfully resists the temptation to dilute the beauty of the melody with too many notes.

“Night Train” has hints of Dziubla’s old employer’s “Peter Gunn” but this is true of a number of songs on the album: there are echoes of well-known classics, but every piece has a life and identity of its own.

The great instrumental blues albums, from Freddie King’s early 1960s classics through to modern beauties such as Ronnie Earl’s Just For Today offer the discerning listener more with each listen and there are always additional treasures to find, the deeper one digs. This is also true of Nasty Habit.

The 11 songs on the CD clock in at only 33 minutes, but it is hard to envisage a better way to spend half an hour. And you can be sure that it’s something you will want to do time and again. It has the flat-out rock and roll drive of Little Richard, the sex of Elvis, and the instrumental prowess of Johnny Griffin. Highly recommended.

Reviewer Rhys Williams is a blues guitarist based in Cambridge, England, which is Britain’s attempt to copy Austin, Texas – a liberal, University town with a surprising number of blues musicians.

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 Featured Blues Review 9 of 10

Khalif Wailin’ Walter - She Put The Voodoo On Me

11 Tracks - 48:59


Khalif “Wailin’" Walter who now seems to be based in Europe, is, nevertheless, a born and bred Chicagoan and is a guitarist, singer, bandleader, and songwriter. Following completion of his studies in Jazz performance at Chicago’s Roosevelt University, he was a member of the Lonnie Brooks Blues Band and studied under the tutelage of his uncle and mentor Carl Weathersby.

This CD, recorded in Germany, is my introduction to Mr Walter’s music and I must say that I love it. He comes on strong on all of the songs on the CD, all of which were written by him. He also did the arranging and the production of the CD.

The song range from the Chicago boogie based Big Booty Woman, which needs no description to My Guitar And These Blues, which is as good an example of a controlled slow blues as you can wish. Reminds me of something Freddie King might have done with panache.

The music comes with some top class (German?) musicians: Mo "Mr. Mo" Fuhrhop (Hammond B3 Organ), Alex "Showtime" Lex (Drummer), Erkan Ozdemir (Bass), Boney Fields (Trumpet), and Tommy Schneller (Saxophone). Although Walter’s guitar work is impressive, a gold star goes to the excellent Hammond work of of Mo Fuhurop. The opener on the CD “L+et Em In” comes with a fabulous bit of B3 work and a stunningly good horn arrangement (Shame it fades though). The following track Ghost Train, is a stunner too with a storming underlying riff and some super drumming from Alex Lex. Check out too, Supercalifunkin’ Groovy. If N’orlins funk is your thing this is it. The Meters meet the Southside! The closer "Du Heisst Cowlahn... (Prayer for Michael Jackson)”, an instrumental, has both Walter's and Fuhrhop having a bit of a cutting contest, while the back line of Lex & Ozdemir keep the rock steady beat. Fabulous!

I am impressed with this outing by Mr. Walter and I look forward to hearing more from him before too long.

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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 Blues Society News

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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.

Orange County Blues Society - Santa Ana, CA

The Orange County Blues Society, in conjunction with BDMcGees, presents the Blues & Booze Tour 2013, bringing some of the O.C.'s best local blues bands to select coastal venues for nine consecutive weeks, beginning Saturday, August 3 at The Surfin Cowboy in Capistrano Beach. Portions of the proceeds from each show - as well as 10% of each venue's food and beverage sales during each night's event - benefit the Orange County Blues Society,

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 5th - Roger Hurricane Wilson, Aug 12th - Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones featuring Dennis Gruenling, Aug 19th - Rusty Wright More info available at 

Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL

Now in their seventh season, The Friends of the Blues present 7 pm early shows: Thur, 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

Barrelhouse - Feels Like Home

Independent/ Self produced

11 Tracks - 44:12

Barrelhouse is singer/songwriter Kevin Burke, originally from Sayville, NY; From where acoustic ace Toby Walker hails. A long time veteran of the Long Island music scene, he caught the finger-style acoustic blues bug and decided to concentrate on composing and performing in that genre

This one takes a couple of plays to get into it. Do not expect intricate traditional finger picked (piedmont or ragtime, or even delta) acoustic work like that of Mr Toby Walker noted above. This is a dense, sometimes multi-take presentation, particularly in the double tracked vocals and although it is possible to see it as an amalgam of blues country and bluegrass it is, IMHO, a kind of alt-blues music like that of Scotland’s Dave Arcar, the key to which is flat-pick strumming with added finger work (hybrid-picking) not unlike the way that Bukka White played Bukka’s Jitterbug Swing.

The arrangements are general therefore, a heavily strummed backing with a vocal laid over the to. The songs are all original, written by Kevin and the opener and title track reflect the story of Keith’s trip through Mississippi. An exception to the high density stuff is Nowhere In Sight, which has a fine poetic lyric (The morning fog had just settled in / As I pushed my boat from the shore / Looking back I knew my bearings would be lost/ Could be missing several hours or more) and comes with a kind of JJ Cale single chord theme with an (over dubbed) treble part.

Maine In October, an instrumental, is similarly dense in its arrangement with a heavily picked bass melody underlying the top line. It is I think the best track on the CD. Business As Usual is also a poem set to music whilst the track that follow it, The Only One, is another alt-blues track with a double tracked vocal.

The closer, Slappy, is another melodic poem with some added slide work. Nice.

The whole CD is very nicely recorded and there is no doubt that Mr Burke offers a guitar style that is interesting, producing a sound that is very individual and easily identifiable as him. I’d like to hear more.

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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