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Issue 7-35, August 29, 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 Blues drummer, Willie "The Touch" Hayes. Marilyn Stringer has photos from The Winthrop Blues Fest.  Our new video of the week series features Janiva Magness.

We have 5 music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release by Kara Grainger. Mark Thompson reviews a new book of Blues poetry by Sterling D. Plumpp. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Paul Filipowicz. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new CD by Jumpin’ Jack Strobel. Rhys Williams reviews a album from Sabrina Weeks & Swing Cat Bounce. 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,

You only have 2 more days to vote in the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards. As I write this we have almost 6800 votes. It looks like we will easily break 7,000 votes for a new voting record!

Does this total include YOUR vote yet? If not, be sure to let your favorite artists know you support them by voting now, CLICK HERE!

This weekend is the 10th annual Marquette Area Blues Fest in Marquette, Michigan, The fest begins on Friday night and runs through Sunday. It features The Gas House Gorillas, Eddie Shaw & The Wolfgang, The Nick Moss Band, Big James & The Chicago Playboys, John Nemeth, Janiva Magness and others. For more info visit  their website at or click on their ad below.

The weather in the upper Michigan Peninsula is forecast to be in the mid to upper 70's this weekend so come on out for some great music. Blues Blast Magazine will be there so be sure to say hello to the folks in the Blues Blast T-Shirts

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music! 

Bob Kieser

 Blues Wanderings

We made it to the Byron Blues Festival in Byron, IL last weekend.  One of the stand out performers of the day was Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones. The group features Doug Deming on guitar and lead vocals. Devin Neel on Drums, Andrew Gohman on bass and Dennis Gruenling on harmonica.

They had the crowd up rocking on the first song, dancing to their all original music. It is easy to see why Doug is nominated for the Sean Costello Rising Star Award in the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards!

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 appearing 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 - Willie "The Touch" Hayes  

Sixteen-year-old kids have always been faced with a plethora of tough decisions to make. Like, when should I take my driver’s license test? And, should I ask Mary … or maybe Sally, to hang out Saturday night?

Sixteen-year-old Willie Hayes was no different.

But in addition to those tough decisions that other kids his age had to find an answer for, Hayes also had to navigate one that was uniquely his own; should I go out on the road as Magic Sam’s drummer?

Seems like an easy choice, right? As it turns out, Hayes’ initial answer to that question might just surprise you.

“Well, at first I wasn’t going … him and my daddy was real tight; I used to call him my Uncle Sam and he was always hanging around our house. Well, one day he comes down to the basement in his socks and says, ‘I’m taking you out on the road. Your dad said it was alright’,” said Hayes.

But at the time, Hayes was in a budding group called the Mandells – a group that was loaded with potential - and was more interested in their prospects for future success than he was with drumming for Magic Sam.

“I looked at Sam and said, ‘Nah, man, I ain’t goin’ out on the road with you.’ But the other cats in my band talked me into it … they said it would be good for me and that they would make it without me. My dad convinced me, too. So I gave in and went. Shit, man … I had the best time in my life when I went out with Sam. He was just the coolest cat, man. He’s really missed.”

Nearly 50 years later, Hayes has the Grammy Awards and Gold records to vindicate his choice to hit the road with Magic Sam was indeed the correct one. And the good times are still continuing for the now-legendary Chicago blues drummer. Since he first picked up the sticks at age four, Hayes has just been on one path, with just one thing one his mind; to be the very best drummer that he could possibly be. And judging by a few of the names that’s asked him to hold down the backbeat over the years, it’s clear that he’s accomplished that goal.

In addition to Magic Sam, Hayes has drummed for Mighty Joe Young, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Phil Guy, Jody Williams, Big Twist and Luther Allison, to name just a few.
It was while he was on the road with Allison that Hayes became known as ‘The Touch.’

“Luther was just a great guy and a hell of a showman, too. I used to play some shit when he’d bring it down (the sound of the band) and I’d be playing with the same intensity as I would when he’d have it up – but just at a lower volume, where it was almost a whisper,” Hayes said. “And he loved those dynamics that I used and he said, ‘Man, you got the touch … I’m calling you ‘The Touch.’ And then he had a bass drum made for me that said Willie ‘The Touch’ Hayes.”

These days, while he still finds time to share the stage with everyone from Devon Allman to Johnny Winter to Big Bill Morganfield when they’re in the Chicago area, Hayes is also embarking on a different kind of trip. He’s putting his own name up on the marquee for a change, by forming the Willie Hayes Band. While it may seem like a small matter – going from being a sideman to being the featured attraction - according to Hayes, the pressure is altogether different.

“To me … yeah, there’s a big difference, because my name is out there in front of it,” he said. “It’s a hell of a difference to do things the way you want instead of the way someone else wants.”

But so far, so good, for the band that includes Khalfani Makalani on vocals; Peter Foss on guitar; James DiGirolamo on bass; and Tom Albanese on harp.

“It’s going pretty good so far. We’ve been trying to mold it into something tight, real tight … I like tight stuff when I hit the stage. I like a show that doesn’t have any flaws – that’s just the way I am. We’ve been rehearsing a lot, trying to make sure we get things right.”

The band has also been prepping material for a trip into the recording studio, tentatively scheduled for sometime in 2014.

Hayes can be heard on Lurrie Bell’s recently-released CD – Blues in my Soul (Delmark Records) – and he has also been around the world a time or two with the late, great Carey Bell’s son.

“Yeah, I’ve been on the road with Lurrie – been to Spain with him and we’re getting ready to go to Sweden in November for about three weeks,” Hayes said. “I do most of his tours over there unless they (European promoters) do some bullshit like call Lurrie over without a band and then they put a band together for him once he gets over there.”

At one time in the not-too-distant past, you could pretty much count on seeing the same bunch of musicians that stepped into the studio and cut an album together playing together on the concert stage in support of that album. But in this day and time, that seems to be the exception instead of the rule, especially overseas, and especially with the blues.

“Yeah, it has been a lot like that lately. Especially with the way the economy is and everything,” Hayes said. “They don’t want to pay for the whole band to come over and pay for the hotel rooms for the musicians and all that shit, you know? And in the end, the audience gets short-changed. It’s just not the same seeing people that you don’t know playing those songs that you do know. I don’t care what they say; it’s just not the same thing. But they’re trying to cut back, unless it’s someone that’s putting on a hell of a festival. In that case, they might try and bring the whole band over.”

Regardless of who he was playing with, European stages have always been a major part of Hayes’ yearly itinerary.

“My first time over in Europe was in ’75 with Mighty Joe Young and I used to go over there every year from that time until about ’90 with Junior (Wells) and Buddy (Guy) and people like that,” he said. “So the people over there have been knowin’ me since I was about 25 years old and I’ll be 63 in August.”

Some musicians struggle when they have to incorporate their own personality into the styles of the other people they’re playing with. This can lead to some generic performances on the bandstand and even make for a paint-by-numbers kind of gig. But Hayes has never been one to shy away from adding his own ideas and flourishes to the mix, and the results speak for themselves.

“With me, it’s not hard to work my own style into what they (the bandleader) want, because whatever it calls for, I’ve done it before. I’ve studied under a bunch of drummers – the older cats – and I can play the blues, R&B, funk … whatever. I’m qualified to do all that,” he said. “There are little tricks of the trade that you can do to get the lead figure to turn around and smile at you and say, ‘Damn, that did work.’ If you know something’s going to work, you can’t be afraid to stick it in there.”

Mighty Joe Young was one of the many front men that turned around during to a gig to acknowledge that he was more than pleased with the little nuances that Hayes sprinkled on the music.

“He’d sing a song and one of the lines would say, ‘I hear my phone ringing’ so I’d hit the ride cymbal and make it sound like a phone was ringing without losing the beat,” Hayes said. “And he looked around like, ‘Damn.’ But you want to give them something they’re not expecting … and you can do that when you listen to the words of the songs and emphasize stuff like that. The bandleaders like that and it makes it more fun for the audience, too, instead of some straight-forward bullshit with no action. I love entertaining and if the people have paid their money, they expect to be entertained.”

Hayes has also found another way to entertain the masses over the years; he’s been on the silver screen in five Hollywood blockbusters since the early 1980s. He’s been in 1981’s The Thief (with James Caan). In 2001 he had parts in Ali (with Wil Smith) and Hardball (with Keanu Reeves). In 2002, you could see Hayes in Road to Perdition (with Tom Hanks) and in 2008, in The Express (with Dennis Quaid).

“It’s all about being on stage. But as an actor, instead of playing music, you’re coming from the heart with something else. But I’m a drummer that acts, not an actor that drums. Drumming comes first,” Hayes said. “I’d like to do some more (acting) in the future, but most of the time when they have these casting calls I’m out of town and on the road playing music.”

As a young man, Hayes discovered the kind of drummer that he wanted to be, reinforced with a bit of excellent advice from a dude that really knew what he was talking about.

“Jo Jones - the great drummer that used to play with Count Basie a long time ago – I had a chat with him years ago when I was in my 20s,” said Hayes. “And he told me, ‘There’s two things you can do to drums, young man …you can beat ‘em or you can play ‘em; and I like playing ‘em.’ I said, ‘You’re right, you’re right.’ And that’s what I want to do; play the drums, not beat them.”

It takes an equal amount of feel and technique to lock into that ‘play the drums, not beat them’ approach.

“I play the traditional grip way, but a lot of drummers play the matchstick. Back in the Civil War days, they had the flute and the flag and the snare drum. Well, if you’ll remember, the snare drum hung down on an angle, so the left hand has to have the stick where you can come down on that angle. And the right hand would always have like a matchstick grip, because it’s always going down. And that’s where that comes from. Well, when you get a drum set, you set the snare the same way and that’s why you use the traditional grip. But then over the years, cats got so lazy and that didn’t want to play from the wrists, so they started playing from the elbow and that’s where the matchstick comes in … and then they be beatin’ the drums instead of playin’ ‘em. I used to watch a lot of them drummers and just wonder why they were playin’ like that. Well, they’re lazy.”

Then, according to Hayes, once you have your approach down, you’ve pretty much just got to let the music flow through you in a natural and unforced way, letting the spirit take you where it wants to.

“You can tell when someone’s playing from the heart or whether they’re reading from a chart. You can tell when the music is really flowing, or when it sounds mechanical,” he said. “When you’re chart-reading, it’s mechanical. I used to go in the studio and they’d throw the music at me and I’d look at it and say, ‘I hear something different.’ They’d go, ‘What do you hear?’ Shit … I play the music that comes to me … and they’d go, ‘Close the book and play with your ear.’ Music is all about feeling; that’s what it’s about. There’s nothing wrong with reading if you’re on a gig and someone calls you up and says, ‘Play this.’ But in the studio, it’s different. You’ve got to put that feeling in there. And then when people hear it, they know it’s coming from the heart and they go, ‘Damn! They’re playin’ that shit, man.’”

Of all the wonderful and talented musicians that Willie Hayes has had the good fortune to share the road and the bandstand with over the past five decades, there’s probably none that come close to being the character that Junior Wells was. A larger-than-life figure without a doubt, Hayes relates one episode from his time as a member of Wells’ band.

“Junior was the type of cat who really loved his Tanqueray – and he drank plenty of it. One time we was out of town and his cousin, Michael Blakemore, was like our road manager. He told Junior, ‘You’re not going to get drunk at this show.’ So what he (Blakemore) did was went and bought some of those miniature bottles like you’d get on an airplane and gave Junior two of them and told Junior that was all he was going to get; one for before the gig and one for at the gig. And so Junior called my (hotel) room and said, “Man, does this fool think I’m a kid or somethin’? … that son-of-a-bitch. I know he’s family, but damn!’ And then Junior said, ‘Let me speak with Little Joe (the trombone player in the group that was rooming with Hayes).’ So Junior talked Little Joe into going and getting him a fifth of Tanqueray. I said, ‘Where you goin’ Little Joe?’ And he says, ‘Oh, I got to make a move for Junior.’ So I’m peering out the window later and I see Little Joe knocking on Junior’s door. A minute or so later, Little Joe comes back to our room lookin’ like a thief in the night or somethin’. He came back with a bottle of his own, ‘cause Junior bought him one for going to the store for him. So showtime comes and we’re getting ready to get in the van and Mike asks where Junior was. Then Mike goes to Junior’s room, opens the door and there Junior is … just TORE UP, man! Mike goes, ‘Damn! How in the hell did you get drunk off two little bottles? You must be some kinda Houdini or somethin’ ‘cause I know you didn’t get that way off those two little bottles.’ Junior looks at him and says, ‘Go fuck yourself.’ And I didn’t say anything, I just looked at Little Joe and grinned. Oh, man, that Junior was somethin’ else, now – the nicest guy in the world – but he was really somethin’ else.”

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine

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 5

Kara Grainger - Shiver & Sigh

Eclecto Groove Records

CD: 11 songs; 43:23 Minutes

Styles: Modern Acoustic and Electric Blues, Americana

Blues artists are often known for their distinctive voices as well as their songs. Who can forget Howlin’ Wolf’s growling or Etta James’ earthiness once they’re heard? Australia native Kara Grainger’s voice can be described in many terms: “understated,” “smooth” and “lilting” among them. It’s bound to make listeners “Shiver and Sigh,” as her third solo album demonstrates. In its eleven songs (five originals and six covers), she also plays excellent lead and slide guitar. With her are Kirk Fletcher and Josh Sklair on guitar, Mike Finnigan on keys, Hutch Hutchinson on bass, Jimi Bott and James Gadson on drums, Lenny Castro on percussion, Mitch Grainger on harmonica, Pauli Cerra on saxophone, Paul Litteral on trumpet and George Stanford on trombone. That’s quite an ensemble, but Kara makes sure to complement rather than outshine her fellow musicians. Her multiple talents are most clearly displayed in these three original compositions:

Track 01: “Little Pack of Lies”--Wicked acoustic riffs and powerhouse lyrics characterize this dynamite track. In it, our narrator is fed up with her partner’s falsehoods: “Get ready for the storm. Too late now, there’s nowhere to run. Wasting time building up this wall. Your little pack of lies is about to fall!” Kara channels Bonnie Raitt on both her vocal timbre and her wicked slide guitar skills. Turn up the volume!

Track 04: “Shut Down”--Just like a computer on its last legs, Kara has been deactivated and cast aside by a former lover: “Today I got shut down. I’ve lost all I thought I found. How could I make you want to turn around?” This song is a delightful mix of ‘80’s synthesized funk and blues, punctuated by a magnificent electric guitar solo in the middle. ‘Boot it up’ on radio playlists!

Track 05: “I’m Not Ready”--Eerie and mellow, this ballad details a farmer’s fight to keep her homestead despite foreclosure: “Five long generations my family worked these lands - the dust, the heat, the pouring rain, with our own two hands. It’s the only life I know….” These lyrics are especially prescient in this day and age, with some housing markets still lacking recovery. The most chilling thing about “I’m Not Ready” is that the subject of this song is willing to fight until death for the land that she treasures most.

“It’s very healing when the right words come for a song,” Kara reveals, “so much so that when I sing them, it’s like something is finally resolved.” Her musical tales of hardship and heartbreak may cause blues fans to “Shiver and Sigh,” but in the case of this down-to-earth diva from “down under,” that’s a wonderful thing!

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 Janiva Magness singing her award winning song, "I Won't Cry". Janiva is headlining on Sunday, September1st at the Marquette Area Blues Fest in Marquette Michigan. See their ad above in this issue. To see the video, click on the image below.

For information on this great performer visit

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 5

Sterling D. Plumpp - Home/Bass

Third World Press

115 pages

A Professor Emeritus Departments in the African American Studies and English Departments at the University of Chicago, Sterling D. Plumpp is a noted author and essayist with fourteen books to his credit. He is also an esteemed poet who has used language to blend the sounds of blues and jazz with the deep emotions that are part of the African American diaspora.

His latest book celebrates his friendship with the late Chicago bass player Willie Kent. Plumpp wrote the lyrics to several songs that Kent recorded.

Now he attempts to use Kent’s “voice” to narrate the familiar history of the northward migration of a people looking to escape the bondage of cotton fields in the cities full of gleaming skyscrapers.

Plumpp expertly shifts from Kent’s perspective to his own and then to a view that encompasses the trials and tribulations of a minority struggling to gain equal footing and a sense of place.

The classic blues songs have lyrics that paint vivid pictures in the eye of our imagination. The words are a form of poetic expression that range from bawdy to eloquent declarations of elemental human passions.

The challenge for Plumpp is to create a similar experience using language but without the benefit of the musical accompaniment.

His method is to strip his thoughts down to their bare essence and then break the handful of words down even further, splitting some of them between lines in order to create new words that carry a wealth of meaning. He also mixes in references to other Chicago blues musicians in addition to familiar blues images in order to keep reader grounded.

The book is divided into three sections. The first is titled “Maxwell Street”, a tribute to the famous area of Chicago that served as an open air market where people from various cultures shopped and mingled in an atmosphere of respect that was none too common at the time.

The voice of Kent relishes the excitement and music of the market but can’t escape remembering the past –

Drags/over my

(#4 – I Paraphrase)

“West/Side Story” is the middle section. Plumpp probes the dreams of a migrating population as they collide with the cold, gleaming steel realities of the big city. The sense of moving on without ever getting anywhere is targeted in this vivid passage-

Day/I was
Born/I had
a hundred miles
to go. And I had
a merry go-round/for
a guide.

(#12 – Tracks)

The final section is “Ramblings/Down Inside”. Here Plumpp/Kent cry out over the hurt and broken dreams that surround them, giving rise to the powerful blues music that gives voice to that anguish as well as the joy of people who refuse to give up or be broken. The blues musicians are their spiritual advisors –

Slim/Is funny.
Uses fangs
for picks. Fits/the spinal
columns/on his guitar.
As strings. I/saw him
mad/with a rattler/a
round/his little finger. As/a
slide. That’s/why he called
The Hiss Doctor.

(#33 – Rituals)

With each reading, different parts of Plumpp’s articulate vocalizations hit home. This is a book to be savored for its ability to stir your soul or give you pause for reflection. This volume is definitely recommended for blues fans or anyone who enjoys a fresh approach to the written word.

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 5

Paul Filipowicz – Saints And Sinners

Big Jake Records

12 tracks; 49 minutes

Paul Filipowicz is a Wisconsin guitarist and singer who has been on the scene for some thirty years. Here he gives us nine originals plus three bonus tracks from a 1982 session. Paul handles all guitar parts and vocals with Brian “Tito” Howard on drums and Dave Remitz on bass. Keyboards are added to several tracks by Jimmy Voegeli and Harris Lemberg.

In what is basically a blues rock trio format the front man needs to have one of the following attributes: a good voice, exciting guitar playing or strong songs. Unfortunately Paul does not really have any of those factors in his favor here.

Great voices are very rare, but Paul struggles on some of the songs here while his guitar playing is OK but did not have the tone or style to excite this listener. There are two instrumentals which might have been the opportunity for Paul to show us his chops to advantage: opener “Hound Dog Shuffle” starts promisingly with a solid riff but the distortion on the guitar wears thin quite rapidly; “Fat Richard’s Blues” is a slower blues with piano and organ adding nicely to the background but again the tone of the guitar is not pleasant.

In terms of the songs “Bluesman” and “Where The Blues Comes From” are very routine examinations of the roots of the music, the latter seeming to suggest that the blues is all about catching big catfish! I preferred the fast shuffle of “Good Rockin’” which had some traces of SRV in the guitar or “Hey Bossman” with its John Lee Hooker style riff.
The tracks from 1982 feature a larger band includes a second guitarist, sax player and Rob Strupka (now part of the Severn Records house band) on drums. The sound quality is different on these tracks but the overall sound is fine.

There are covers of Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa” and Howling Wolf’s “How Many More Years” plus a one minute fragment entitled “Original Texas Strut” which is a frenetic piece featuring sax and Paul’s rapid fire guitar. The Wolf cover is the pick of these tracks for me with the main riff being accentuated by the sax and piano and guitar getting space to play.

I wish Paul Filipowicz all the best in his career but, for me, this CD did not really work..

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He is currently planning a trip to Chicago to attend this year’s Blues Blast Awards.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 5

Jumpin’ Jack Strobel – Things Have Changed

Blues Leaf Records

11 tracks / 46:12

Jumpin’ Jack Strobel is a veteran showman, and his vocals and piano performance skills were earned the old fashioned way – through plenty of gigging and hard work. He hails from the Empire State and in his travels he has played with gifted locals as well as big-name bluesmen, including Kid Ramos, Lynwood Slim and Gatemouth Brown.

Things have Changed is the follow-up to Jack’s 2003 debut album, and he has gone in a different direction this time by compiling a collection of eleven cover tunes. They range from blues standards and big hits to stuff that I have never heard before. The one thing that these songs have in common is that they are all performed regularly in his live shows.

For this project, Strobel takes on the lead vocals as well as the piano and Hammond B3 organ responsibilities. He is joined by his usual backline of Mike Lampe on upright bass and Steve Brown on drums. Jack’s longtime friend Andy Riedel plays the guitar, and assumes the producer‘s role. Special guests Layonne Holmes, Ricky Laurie Collins and Big Joe Fitzpatrick also appear on backing vocals for a few of the tracks.

When I first listened to this CD, I was taken by the sense of confidence that Strobel and his band exude while performing. His strong voice is touched with humor and honesty, and his keyboard work is rock solid. The rest of the musicians are no slouches either, and with the fine job they did of recording and mixing this material, it is a pleasure to listen to.

The first track, “Mother Earth,” is a neat take on Memphis Slim’s 1951 original (and Slim’s most successful song, by the way). The original 12-bar format and lyrics are retained, but there are no horns or harp to be found here, and the backing vocals have more of a New Orleans tone to them. Jack’s voice is rich and deep, and his honky tonk piano is well-miked and sounds as clear as glass. One thing that has not changed about this song is the classic message that no matter what happens, we are all going to pass on from this world some day.

Strobel included a few Bob Dylan songs on this disc, but they are not the choices that one would normally expect. In particular, “Things Have Changed” is quite obscure, having been written for the 2000 film, Wonder Boys. Jack’s version is brasher, with the mood effectively set by the organ and heavy guitar. The other Dylan track is a re-do of “Don’t Think Twice” from 1963, and it has been transformed from a folk song into a slow-paced gospel-tinged ballad. Strobel did a nice job with both of these, and it is certainly nice to hear these songs being performed by someone that can sing well.

There are a few big-time blues hits sprinkled in, too: Ray Charles’ 1957 hit “Get on the Right Track Baby” and “Bad Bad Whiskey,” a 1950 top-charter from Amos Milburn. Both of these tunes maintain the 50s rock and blues feel, which is helped along by the tasteful backing vocals of Lampe, Brown and Riedel.

My favorite track on this album is Strobel’s take on Duke Robillard’s “You Mean Everything to Me.” This song has been re-imaged into a jazz-tinged blues number, and everything comes together here perfectly. The bass has a lovely woody tone, Jack has the perfect feel for the keys, and Riedel’s guitar completes the smoky vibe.

There is not space to cover every track here, but the remaining covers come from every corner of the country: John Hiatt, Charles Brown, Lynwood Slim, Little Walter Jacobs and the lovely Gillian Welch. These songs are all equally well-done, and as a whole they fit in with the rest of the material to make a work that can stand on its own.

Things Have Changed is a collection of very good American music, and Jumpin’ Jack Strobel has proven to be a respectful caretaker of this original material as he applies his own mold to it. He has gone through a period of growth over the past few years, and I look forward to seeing if this results in the creation of more original material and new projects. I am sure he will have plenty to say!

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 5

Sabrina Weeks & Swing Cat Bounce – Got My Eye On You

Self release

10 songs - 34 minutes

Sabrina Weeks & Swing Cat Bounce are an uptown swing/R’n’B band, originally hailing from Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. This is their second album, following 2010’s Tales From Lenny’s Diner. Having won a Maple Blues Award for best new act in 2011, they are obviously keen to continue to build their fan base, and Got My Eye On You should certainly help them do that.

Swing Cat Bounce comprises Sabrina Weeks on vocals, Mike Hilliard on lead guitar, Bill White on rhythm guitar, Ed Hilliard on drums, and Terry Strudwick on bass. A number of guest musicians also feature throughout the disc, including John Lee Sanders on piano and organ, Linda Kidder on background vocals, Jerry Cook on saxophone, Vince Mai on trumpet, Dave Webb on keyboards (on “Mr. Regret”) and Jack Lavin on percussion. Lavin also produced the album, capturing excellent performances in great clarity, without sacrificing the warmth of the music.

The album opens with the title track. Weeks has a fine, strong voice, reminiscent in this song of the great Dani Klein of Vaya Con Dios. There is also a playfulness and lightness in her voice, however, particularly suited to songs such as “I’ll Never Let You Go”, which has hints of Fats Waller in its swing and the emphasis on the ensemble as much as the singer.

The horns of Cook and Mai feature on and enhance several songs. On “Burn That Boogie”, for instance, they add pointed emphasis to the swinging verses through repeated motifs, but also underpin the solos of Sanders and Hilliard with stabbing single notes.

All the musicians are given plenty of opportunities to shine, with multiple solos on various songs, which help to give the album the feeling of a live performance. None of the soloists ever outstays his welcome, however, with short and punchy contributions to the fore.

Whilst swing and R’n’B is at the heart of Swing Cat Bounce’s music, they also feature other musical styles, with some success. “Moving Forward” has strong hints of Motown, especially in the melodic horn pattern, while “Sunday” is an up-beat rock and roll song extolling the virtues of Weeks’ favourite day of the week. It opens with a drum rhythm reminiscent of Gary U.S. Bonds’ “New Orleans”. Hilliard adds a typically biting yet melodic solo, and John Lee Sanders’ superb honk-tonk piano add an extra layer of fun to proceedings.

“Forgive Me”, by contrast, sounds almost like a 1980s power ballad. It opens with Hilliard’s warm, over-driven guitar playing a melodic solo over a delicate appegio’ed backing, which wouldn’t sound out of place on an album by Heart or Cher. Which is not necessarily bad thing. It’s a lovely song, and it is no doubt a crowd-stopper live.

All the songs were written by Weeks and Mike Hilliard, except for “Swing Cat Bounce”, which they co-wrote with Lavin, and “Moving Forward”, which was written by Bill White and Eric Lentz. Weeks writes witty, inventive lyrics and she has an ear for a good line. On Mr. Regret, for example, she sings “I’ve been praying for my Mr. Right, one who folds laundry and does the dishes each night. I want a man with a house, a car and a pension, a man who don’t need no forced intervention.” Unfortunately, however, “instead of Mr. Wonderful, I keep finding Mr. Regret - Mr. Have-No-Job; Mr. Shows-Up-Late; Mr Leaves-Me-With-All-His-Debts…”

Got My Eye On You is a relatively short album, with the 10 songs clocking in at just over half an hour. It is however a half hour of foot-tapping, up-beat music, with swing in its soul and wit at its core. I look forward to hearing more from this band in the future.

Reviewer Rhys Williams plays blues guitar in Cambridge, England. He is teaching his son to play drums in a desperate attempt to cure the problem of finding a drummer who can play a blues shuffle properly.

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 Featured Live Blues Review - Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival – Winthrop, WA

The drive may be long but the views on the way are some of the most beautiful scenery in the county. Nestled in the Cascade Mountains, Winthrop, WA is a gem of a festival. And the town of Winthrop is a fun place to visit - a taste of the old west with boardwalks and pillared wooden buildings and a river to cool off in or do some swimming and rafting. Campers come from all over Canada and the Pacific Northwest to attend the weekend of blues and fun. A beer tent stage runs on Friday night and each night hosts the jam. Across the seating area is the main stage which hosts some of the top talent in the country. This was the 26th year for the Winthrop Music Association’s festival and they have it down. As a first time attendee, I found this to be as fun as a festival can be – not too big and very friendly.

Friday night opened with Matt Hill, Lady “A” White, and Too Slim & The Taildraggers. All three also played again over the weekend so nobody missed all the great blues these three bands provided for the early comers.

Saturday and Sunday performances were all top notch. Due to a medical issue, Tim “Too Slim” Langford did an acoustic set to cover for Chris O’Leary, who was determined to play and, after having surgery, showed up in time for the evening jam. And due to a scheduling issue, Seattle’s Randy Oxford Band came over and covered for Marquis Knox. Both sets were welcomed with open arms.

Each morning opened with songwriter, story teller, and Delta inspired bluesman Doug MacLeod. If you have never had the opportunity to listen to Doug talk and play, then you should find him and listen. Aside from being quite funny, he is also inspiring with his down-home philosophies imbedded in his songs. The fact that we got to hear him twice was a huge bonus as he never does the same show twice.

Daytime bands included:

Bonerama: New Orleans funk. Non-stop trombone & trumpet energy backed with guitar and drums. Great fun with the NOLA style.

Dumpstafunk: More NOLA funky fun with Ian Neville, Ian Neville, Tony Hall, Nick Daniels III, and Nikki Glaspie on drums.

Janiva Magness: Janiva and the boys are at the top of their game with solid blues performing their award winning CD led by 2013 Contemporary Blues Female artist, Janiva Magness. The band includes: Jim Alfredson (kb), Gary Davenport (bass), Matt Tecu (drums) and Zach Zunis (guitar).

Lady “A” White: Known as Seattle’s First Lady of Blues & Funk, Lady “A” puts on a great, high energy show. She performed on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The crowd loves her and she loves the crowd and travels amongst them happily.

Matt Hill: Matt and the band played Friday night and tore it up. On Saturday, Matt and the band became the Nikki Hill band and the combination is magic. Nikki brings a vintage sound to a new stage and she is a total joy to listen to and watch. She and husband Matt have teamed to be one the most promising new powerhouse roots-rock, rhythm and blues bands available. See them once, you are a fan for life!! The band included Joe Meyer (drums) and Troy Sandow (bass).

Rosie Ledet & The Zydeco Playboys: Sweetheart of the Zydeco circuit, Rosie is a multi-talented singer, songwriter , and accordion player with strong ties to her Creole heritage. Rosie is always a fun show.

Randy Oxford Band: Stepping in for Marquis Knox, no one was disappointed by the substitution. Randy’s band is a non-stop party with Randy blowing that trombone with the best of them. Every member of his band exudes the same high-energy, infectious enthusiasm, which is why they are always begged for more when the set ends. The band includes: Richard Sabol (drums), Richard Norris and Manuel Morais (guitars), Jada Amy (vocals), and newest member Polly O’Keary (bass).


Peter Karp & Sue Foley: A great duo, both on the stage and in life, write and perform original material.

Otis Taylor Band: “Trance blues” is what Otis calls his style. The whole set is mesmerizing with Otis and Shawn Starsky playing guitars, Larry Thompson on drums, Todd Edmunds on bass, and the hypnotic gyrations and beautiful sounds emanating from Anne Harris’ violin. It’s all good all the time.

Johnny Winter Band: Headlining Saturday night, Johnny Winter walked slowly onto the stage, sat down in his chair and performed his searing blues that had the crowd roaring. Johnny has never left us – he is still an exceptional blues rock performer. And his band is solid: Paul Nelson (guitar), Scott Spray (Bass), and newest member Tommy Curiale (drums).

Too Slim and the Taildraggers aka Tim Langford: Closing Friday night’s opener, subbing for ailing Chris O’Leary with an acoustic set, and closing out the festival on Sunday, Too Slim Tim and his band are truly the festival favorites as he has been at almost every one of the 26 festivals (I heard him say). Slide guitar, Tex-Mex, rock & roll, roots and blues are all the styles he moves through easily. And his new band members have a history that give them the depth to make the trio dynamic and fun: Scott Esbeck (Bass) and Shakey Fowlkes (drums). Great band!! Great ending!

Thanks to Erica Olsen & Peter Dammann, the volunteers, staff, and all the other participants who put on a great festival! See you next year!.

Photos and Commentary by Marilyn Stringer  

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 Blues Society News

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Blues Society of Central PA – Harrisburg, PA

The Blues Society of Central PA proudly presents a night of ”Women of the Blues” on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at Champions Sports Bar 300 N. Second St, Highspire, PA. from 7 PM – midnight featuring The Ann Kerstetter Band, Miss T & The Mosquitoes and our headliner act , The Deanna Bogart Band. Admission is $15.00 Watch for info at 

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport. IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society will be having a Bikes and Blues Fun Run, Sunday September 15th ending at Martini's on the Rock 4619 34th St Rock Island, IL featuring a show by the Chris Duarte Group at 6pm. Registration is from 10:30 to 12 at The Muddy Waters 1708 State St Bettendorf, IA. Entry fee is $10 per rider and includes admission to the show. The poker run route is approx. 110 miles. Last bike out from Muddy Waters 12 noon, and last bike back in to Martini's by 5 pm.For those not going on the poker run admission is $10 for MVBS members and #12 for non-members.


Wabash Arts Corridor Crawl Presents the First Annual Blues Day Festival Wednesday, September, 18th 2013 fro 5 to 98pm and Buddy Guy's Legends, 700 Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL. The show features Fernando Jones and the Columbia College Ensemble All-Stars. Admission is free. For more info visit or email

DC Blues Society - Washington, D.C.

The DC Blues Societyy presents the 25th Annual DC Blues Festival ~ Saturday, August 31, 2013, Noon – 7:30 the Carter Barron Amphitheatre, 16th & Colorado Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20008. Lineup: Albert Castiglia, Big G, Austin Walkin' Cane, Fast Eddie & the Slowpokes, DC Blues Society Band & The Unxpected. There are vocal& guitar workshops, an instrument petting zoo & performances by the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Ensemble. And there is more Blues on Sunday, September 1 from 4 – 8 PM at the Festival After-Party & Jam at American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910 (entrance on Fenton by parking lot).

DCBS sponsors two Blues jams every month: 1st Sunday Jam, 4- 8 PM at the American Legion in Silver Spring, MD and 4th Sunday Acoustic Jam, 11 AM – 2 PM at The Mansion on O St., 2020 O St. NW, Washington, DC 20036. INFO:

The West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, W.V

The West Virginia Blues Society will hold its 7th Annual Blues Competition on October 19, 2013 at Pullman Plaza Hotel, Grande Ballroom, Huntington, WV. Bands, solo/duo and a youth division blues acts will compete for cash prizes and WVBS sponsorship to the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge held in Memphis, Tennessee January 2014.

The West Virginia Blues Society will have 18 competition slots filled by regional blues acts from all over West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and other states. If your band has the Mojo this could be your ticket to Memphis for the Big Show.
The first-place winner of Blues Competition will receive $750 dollars in cash and WVBS sponsorship to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January 2014. The second place winner will receive $250 in cash. The Youth act will receive $100.
Complete information, application & rules are available online at Deadline for application submission is October 1, 2013. For more information contact Competition Director, Jack Rice at 304-389-1438 or e-mail:

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

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 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!

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

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