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Issue 7-36, September 5, 2013

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

Cover photo by Arnie Goodman © 2013

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 In This Issue

Ten Years After was a band that was part of the British Invasion of the late sixties that introduced white audiences in America to Blues music. A.J. Wachtel has our feature interview with Ten Years After. Bob Kieser has photos from the Byron Blues Fest.

We have 5 music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release by CD Woodbury Band. Mark Thompson reviews a CD from The Mighty Mojo Prophets. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Robert Randolph And The family Band. Marty Gunther reviews the new CD from James Cotton. Greg "Bluesdog" Szalony reviews a album from Omar Dykes. We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 From The Editor's Desk

Hey Blues Fans,

This weekend is the Paramount Blues Festival in Grafton, Wisconsin. Our friends from the Grafton Blues Society are putting on quite a party with performances by Jonny Tbird & the Mps, Blind Dog Hopkins, Donnie Pick & the Road Band and The Charles Walker Band on Friday and The Co-Dependents, The Blues Disciples, Kevin Purcell & the Nightburners, Leroy Airmaster, Reverend Raven & the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys, Jim Liban Combo, Janiva Magness and John Nemeth on Saturday.

For tickets and further info visit or click on their ad below.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music! 

Bob Kieser

Blues Blast Magazine is offering a fall advertising special. This special pricing will be our lowest pricing of the 2013 year. It offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out!

This 6-week combo rate of only $350 allows you to affordably add significant impact to your Blues advertising and promotion campaign. It is a great way to kick up the visibility of your new album release, Blues event or music product around the globe!

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 25,000 Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries. We get more than 2,000,000 (That's TWO MILLION) hits and more than 45,000 visitors a month on our website. 

Normal 2012 Advertising rates are $90 per issue for Blues Blast magazine ads and $100 per month for website ads. BUT, for a limited time, you can advertise in six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and on our website for a month and a half for only $350. This is a $690 value! To get this special rate simply reserve and pay for your ad space by October 15, 2013. Ads can be booked to run anytime between now and September 30, 2014 for your 2014 Blues festival, album release or other music related product.

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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.  Tickets are $35. To get your tickets now, CLICK HERE

Artists appearing include 

 Featured Blues Interview - Ten Years After  

Although not technically a Blues band, Ten Years After is known for being in the original generation of British invasion bands who re-interpreted the blues and introduced this music to white audiences in America for the first time.

To this day, the band's passion and spirit continues to entertain audiences across the globe and keeps driving the members to even greater musical heights.

In the beginning, the band's core formed in Nottinghamshire, England as Ivan Jay & The Jaycats. Soon after, Alvin and Leo formed Ten Years After with Ivan Jay singing lead vocals. Ric joined in August 1965, replacing drummer Dave Quickmire who had earlier replaced original drummer Pete Evans.

In 1966, the group moved to London and were joined by Chick Churchell. After a short time using the name Blues Trip, Blues Yard, the band became Ten Years After for good in November.

Leo remembers: “The origin of the band's name has been a point of interest for many years and we have given many reasons for it. The truth is, when the band was looking for a name I saw an advert for a book called “Suez Ten Years After”. It was about the closure and invasion of the Suez Canal. I thought 'Ten Years After is a thought-provoking name'. I suggested it to the band and we all agreed. A point of interest is that the number 10 is a magical number in the Tarot and mystical in many other ways.”

“That's right. Leo found the name by going through the Radio Times which is the UK equivalent of your TV Guide. It was a t TV documentary about 'Ten Years After The Suez Canal Crisis in 1956' ”, adds Ric.

In 1967, they released their self-titled album “Ten Years After”, and their second album came in 1968, the live “Undead” featuring their legendary “I'm Going Home”. Then in 1969 came the studio produced “Stonehenge” a British hit that included another well-known track “Here Me Calling” which was later covered by glam-rock band Slade.

In July, 1969 the group appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival, the first event rock bands were invited to. And in August they appeared at Woodstock and their rendition of “I'm Going Home” with Alvin singing lead was featured in the coming movie and soundtrack album and catapulted them to fame and fortune. They still appear regularly at huge festivals but there are differences between now and then.

“No matter where I am or how big or small the crowd I always look forward to playing” Leo notes. “That's where I find I have the most energy. It's what I've done for over 50 years and I can't imagine stopping.”

Ric remembers: “In 1968 we were still playing venues like the Fillmore East and West, The Electric Factory in Philadelphia and similar venues. Today, in Europe, a lot of the places are similar. But we also play large festivals too. Anything from 3000-5000 if we're headlining on our own, to much bigger ones if we are on an international bill. And every crowd has its own personal nuances but as long as we're playing well most crowds treat us very well”.

“How have things changed since 1968?” Leo continues. “First of all, I'm a lot older. I think if I was 18 years old again I would not mind traveling in great discomfort”, he laughs, “and sleeping on other people's floors. Nowadays, I rarely look forward to the traveling involved. It's been said many times that “musicians are paid for travel but play for nothing”; and that statement gets more poignant as the years go by with the increased expenses, deregulated airlines and security queues. Many people say I'm always smiling onstage. That's because I love playing music but maybe a small part is the relief that, once again, I've actually made it to the gig”.

There are also differences between the way the band is treated while in Europe and the U.S., and in who comes to their gigs today.

'We get a fair share of baby-boomers at our gigs but certainly in Europe we get a good percentage of younger people too. We're finding that a lot of the older folks are bringing their sons and daughters along to our shows and these kids are loving what we do.”

In 1970, TYA released “Love Like A Man” and it was the first record ever issued with a different playing speed on each side; a 3 minute edit at 45 rpm and a nearly 8 minute live version at 33 rpm.

Leo laughs: “I think in retrospect it was a “Spinal Tap” moment. The studio version in its edited form, was a hit in several countries. We all felt the extended live version was better so we put it on the B-side. Of course, when the single hit the jukeboxes, the B-side sounded like The Chipmunks. I remember Ric and I were in a bar in France and someone played the B side on the jukebox. At the end of the song, the people in the bar applauded. I was embarrassed. I don't think the idea has been used again.”

“It was done so that our true fans could have the full length version of the track. We didn't want them to feel ripped off by the drastically edited A side” , Ric relates.

In August,1970 TYA played The Strawberry Fields Festival near Toronto, the Isle Of Wight Festival and The Budokan, in Tokyo. The band was constantly touring; playing important music events and huge venues.

“The Tokyo gig was at The Budokan and held 10,000 people. The supporting act was Procol Harum. John and Yoko were not at the Toronto Strawberry Fields show but I met them briefly at the filming of The Rock and Roll Circus, and me and my first wife Ruthann ended up looking after a very young Julian for part of the time while John was filming” Ric recalls.

In 1971, the band switched labels to Columbia Records and released the hit album “A Space In Time” which marked a move toward more commercial material and featured the group's biggest hit “I'd Love To Change The World”. With lyrics : “Tax the rich feed the poor till there are no rich no more” and “I'd love to change the world but I don't know what to do so I'll leave it up to you” this song is as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.

“I think”, Leo says, “that “I'd Love To Change The World” is the best song Alvin wrote. Most people can relate to the song's sentiment and I'm not surprised it is still popular today. Alvin always refused to play that song live, but I'm pleased to say, with Joe in the band, we've been playing it for the past 10 years. Some of the lyrics are perhaps a little ambiguous but I really enjoy playing the song”.

“For some strange reason, although he wrote it, Alvin would never play it live,” Ric contributes, “and I agree, a lot of the lyrics have remained relevant, and I'm very happy to be playing it nowadays. I'm not surprised by the legs this song has had as I think that most people relate to the sentiment expressed. Also, it's helped that the song has been in several movies over the last few years.”

1972 brought the release of “Rock and Roll Music To The World”, and in 1973 came the double album “Ten Years After Live”. The band subsequently broke up after their final 1974 Columbia album, “Positive Vibrations”.

Alvin went solo in 1975 and the group ceased touring and recording. Demand for TYA over the next 25 years never waned, and there were 3 short-lived attempts at reformation, and one new studio album “About Time” Each time Alvin quit to return to his solo career.

According to Leo: “the reformations were always for the same reason. When Alvin needed TYA we did a few gigs. When he didn't; he quit. All bands have their problems and TYA were no exception. I don't think Alvin became increasingly more difficult to deal with, he just didn't want the pressure of being in the band. And I think, I , for one, pushed him further than he felt comfortable with.”

“We worked together since he was 15 and I was 16. We wanted to take on the world. In the early, pre-TYA days, we'd have a disagreement, stop the van, have a punch-up, get back into the van and continue on to the gig. We always resolved our differences. We could not have played together for so long if we didn't have a mutual respect for each other. Alvin was like a brother to me and I was very upset by his death.”

Even after EMI and DECCA, in conjunction with Ric, digitally remastered the band's complete catalog, complete with bonus tracks, in 2001, Alvin would not get back together again and tour to promote the new releases.

“When I spoke to him about it”, Ric says, “he told me “it's not what I want to do” and “I'm more or less retired. It wasn't frustrating because we were able to put our energies into the current line-up with the fabulous Mr. Gooch.”

In 2003, the other band members replaced Alvin with Joe Gooch and recorded the album “Now”. Material from the following tour was used for the 2005 double album “Roadworks”. Now with Gooch, they are still recreating the music, energy and excitement they've been known for over the past 5 decades. He is fully conversant with all of Alvin's licks and he has a distinct personality of his own that breathes new life into the band's performance.

“Joe is my son Tom's childhood friend”, Leo speaks. “I have known him since he was a baby although I never kept up with his musical progress. When TYA was looking for another guitar player, Tom suggested Joe. I thought we needed someone with more experience but Tom shamed me by saying “if no one gives Joe a chance he'll never get any experience.” I was living in Nashville at the time and I asked Joe to send an audition tape to Ric. Ric played the tape to me over the phone. I thought Joe sounded great and Ric went to hear him play. When I got back to the UK we arranged an audition and Joe got the job. I think we were very lucky to find him. I would never have thought it possible to find a replacement for Alvin”

Ric continues: “Joe sent me a tape with “I'm Going Home” on it. At first, I thought someone was “taking the piss” as the guitar intro sounded exactly like Alvin playing. However, when Joe began singing the difference in the voices was quite apparent. What knocked me out most of all though, was Joe's version of the classic Hendrix track “Red House”. That really blew me away. I played the cd to Leo over the phone and then arranged to check out Joe live. Again, I was very impressed. We then tried out two different guitarists who didn't work out for us. I called Joe and asked him to come to a rehearsal with us, and all three of us, Leo, Chick and myself, were hugely impressed with the young man and asked him to join us.”

Alvin Lee mostly played and recorded under his own name following his split from the band. He died from complications during a routine medical procedure in March, 2013

Leo: “I feel very sad. He was the closest thing I had to a brother. We had our differences but we shared so many great experiences together......Our main difference was musical ambition. I was creatively frustrated. As I mentioned earlier, when we started out we wanted to take on the world. When we reached the point when the world was at our feet, and we could do anything we wanted, Alvin decided he didn't want to go any further. I wanted to do more. I learned to accept that we all have a right to make our own choices in life and I will carry on pursuing our dreams as long as I have the energy to do so”.

Can we expect new music from TYA? “We have nothing planned right at the moment, but I would imagine that we will do something new in the very near future,” teases Ric. The intensity of the band is legendary and it is a testament to their passion and spirit that Ten Years After is now teaching a new generation the music lessons they learned from listening to the masters.”

Photos by Arnie Goodman © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 5

CD Woodbury Band - Monday Night!

Wide Willie Productions

CD: 10 songs; 48:36 Minutes

Styles: Blues Rock, Ensemble Blues, Americana

The second day of the week may not be most people’s favorite, but when “Monday Night!” rolls around, the CD Woodbury Band knows how to party. A full ensemble from the state of Washington, it includes lead vocalist and guitarist CD Woodbury, drummer and vocalist Don Montana, saxophonist/percussionist/vocalist Mike Marinig, keyboard player and vocalist Chris Kliemann, and Mike Fish on bass guitar. Woodbury founded his posse in 2009 and released “Sunbanks Live!” in 2010, while earning a reputation as “the Northwest’s best-kept secret.” With their big-band sound and swinging energy, they definitely have the talent to become well-known blues rock mavens. To prove it, they’ve provided ten rollicking originals on their latest album, with these three worming their way into fans’ ears:

Track 02: “Mean Jenny”--In the CD liner notes, the band gives thanks to the feisty female mentioned in the title, “for her childhood stories and not hunting us down like the dogs we were after the release of this album.” In the song, “Mean Jenny” is depicted as the harshest harridan “down on the bayou”: “Mean old Jenny, she was raised in a bar - got a spoon from a whiskey jar. Make no sense for her to give a damn. Being mean is how she made a plan!” The vocal refrain is shamelessly catchy, as are the guitar rhythms and solos.

Track 05: “Pawn Shop Blues”--The most traditional blues number on “Monday Night!” showcases the ‘supplemental banking system’ on which many down-and-out folks rely: “Well, I got twenty dollars in the bank; the rent is due and my gas tank’s low. I’m going to pick up my old Gibson guitar, and it’s down to the pawn shop I go.” The worst part is that even when he hocks his prized possession, our narrator is only getting “pennies to the dollar.” Chris Kliemman’s piano keyboard is especially fiery as it explains the pathos of the pawn shop.

Track 06: “Pleasure’s All Mine”--A change of pace from either of the two previously-mentioned tracks, “Pleasure’s All Mine” is a mid-tempo thank-you note to this band’s fans: “When it’s all said and done, we’ve had a whole lot of fun. We’ll do it again, time after time - don’t mention it. The pleasure’s all mine.” Everyone’s in top form here, whether they’re vocalist Mike Marinig or the instrumentalists, who take turns taking the lead.

CD Woodbury has performed for two U.S. Presidents, foreign dignitaries, and Jimi’s music for the Hendrix family. That’s an impressive resume, and hopefully more radio stations and individual listeners will notice it. When the workday blahs strike, let this CD help you blow off steam on “Monday Night!”

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 Review 2 of 5

The Mighty Mojo Prophets - Flyin’ Home from Memphis

Delta Groove Music

13 tracks/54:50

Based in Long Beach, CA, the Mighty Mojo Prophets are five piece ensemble steeped in the west coast blues traditions. They have been making music since 2007, garnering a lot of attention when their initial release on Rip Cat Records was nominated for a 2012 Blues Music Award in the Best New Artist Debut category. The band is back and flexing their muscles on an all-original program that takes you on journey of a world populated by gamblers, hustlers, pistols, and unfaithful women.

Two original members – Tom “Big Son” Eliff on vocals and Mitch “Da Switch” Dow on guitar – wrote all of the songs. The rhythm section consists of Alex Schwartz on drums and Dave Deforest on bass. Mike Malone handles the keyboards and adds the backing vocals on two tracks. Three cuts feature a horn section comprised of Mark Sample on tenor sax and Johnny V. on trumpet.

The Prophets hit it hard right from the start, opening with “Sweetness”, a sturdy shuffle with guest Alex “Lil A” Woodson giving his harp a workout. They set-up a lighter, swinging pace on “The Gambler” as Eliff spells out a childhood spent with a dice-shooting father and a sanctified mother. “The .45” showcases Dow’s taut Elmore James-style slide guitar while Eliff promises justice if he finds his cheating woman and her willing accomplice. Malone’s piano embellishments make a memorable impression on “Remember Me”, a slow, worrying blues with more dynamic blowing from Woodson.

After kicking up some dust on a rocking “One for Me”, the group breaks out the Bo Diddley beat on “Strong Medicine” to keep the party going. The exuberant “Lucky Man” has San Pedro Slim’s lone contribution on harp and he maintains the standard set by Woodson. The polished horn section adds some punch to the instrumental “Jo’s Jive”, contrasting nicely with the staccato guitar licks from Dow. Eliff’s gripping performance on “I Can’t Believe” is a highlight, his voice riding the combined weight of the horns and the rich chords from Malone on organ.

The band closes with two acoustic tunes sandwiched around the soulful strut of “Street Corner Preacher” as Eliff testifies with unerring honesty. “She’s Gone” sports a tambourine beat, sweet acoustic slide and rollicking piano lines from Malone. The closing tune, “Whatchulookinfor”, sports a sprightly arrangement with similar instrumentation as Eliff does his best to get close to the object of his affections.

When it is all said and done, the Mighty Mojo Prophets avoid the “sophomore slump”, building on the success of their last release with a strong effort delivered with plenty of enthusiasm and energy. They serve up originals in a variety of familiar traditional blues styles but manage to keep things sounding fresh. There is plenty to enjoy, making this one well-worth a listen.

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

Robert Randolph & The Family Band – Lickety Split

Blue Note

12 tracks; 51 minutes

Robert Randolph really pushed sacred steel guitars into the mainstream, appearing with Eric Clapton at The Crossroads Festival and breaking into the Jam Band scene but he has been absent from the recording scene for a while, during which time other bands with a similar sound such as The Lee Boys have rather taken over his spot. Robert was executive producer for an album of various traditional steel players last year, paying tribute to some of those who inspired him to take up the instrument in the first place. Now, however, with a new studio album and a new label, Robert and his family members who make up most of the band are back with a bang. The new album “Lickety Split” has boundless energy, “really upbeat, uptempo, with great guitar riffs” as Robert puts it himself. Listen to the mainly instrumental “Get Ready” as a classic example of that philosophy and see if you can keep your feet still! When vocals are required Robert has a classic soul voice but does share the vocals with other members of the band.

The Family Band contains three of Robert’s family members plus a second guitarist. The material is all original apart from two covers which are both reasonably faithful to the originals. The Young Rascals’ “Good Lovin’” closes the album with its familiar rhythm, Robert’s pedal steel at the centre of the song but not dominating. The other cover is the Ohio Players’ “Love Rollercoaster” in which the pedal steel is certainly more marked, giving the song a definitely heavier twist. Two guest stars appear too: Trombone Shorty adds his distinctive trombone to “Take The Party”, duelling with Robert’s steel on a determinedly upbeat tune, albeit not one with much lyrical content! A similar comment can be applied to funky workout “Brand New Wayo”, the first of two tunes on which Carlos Santana guests. The track could have fitted into recent Santana albums, Carlos being egged on by Robert to dig deep on his guitar before Robert matches him on steel. The second track with Carlos is “Blacky Joe”, one of the slower pieces on the album with a lyric about a lost friend. The excellent vocals, both lead and chorus, help create a great listening experience topped off by a duel between the guitars on the outro that is definitely worth a listen for all guitar freaks out there.

“Welcome Home” is a heartfelt ballad about returning war veterans and the human costs of all conflicts. Robert’s pedal steel literally weeps for the lost comrades here, another highlight of the album. Title track “Lickety Split” is fast and furious, both musically and lyrically, with Robert’s sister singing the hook and Robert singing of his indignation at some recent events though the key message is that life goes on despite setbacks, so this is essentially an upbeat song, especially when Robert’s solo takes us out on a high. Equally positive is “Born Again”, probably the most spiritual song on the album though Robert’s source of resurrection is the love of a woman. Whatever the direction of the lyrics it’s a strong song with a rousing chorus and superb performances throughout.

That leaves three other tracks to mention. “All American” is a heavy rock track that is atypical of most of the album but still quite enjoyable. One might expect “New Orleans” to be a party piece but in fact it is a gentle love song to the Crescent City, Robert’s guitar sounding almost like the wind and the female lead vocal suitably gentle. Opener “Amped Up” sets out the band’s intentions with a frenetic rhythm behind Robert’s piercing lead on the steel.

This is a definite return to form for Robert Randolph & The Family Band with several standout tracks included..

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 5

James Cotton – Cotton Mouth Man

Alligator Records

13 songs – 49 minutes

Cancer has ravaged James Cotton’s voice, but it hasn’t stopped him roaring like a hurricane, as this CD quickly demonstrates. The greatest living American harp player, he studied at the feet of Sonny Boy Williamson II, began playing professionally at age nine, recorded first for legendary Sun Records and has endured a career that includes 70 years on the road. He’s gathered all-star casts of vocalists to deliver the words on his most recent releases, and this one’s no exception. Joe Bonamassa, Gregg Allman, Keb Mo, Warren Haynes, Ruthie Foster and Delbert McClinton pitch in to help on this one. To his credit, though, Cotton remains the star, and Mr. Superharp also sings one himself.
The all-star cast on this one isn’t limited to vocalists, however. Joining in the festivities are Cotton’s regular band – Darrell Nulisch (vocals), Tom Holland (guitar and vocals), Noel Neal (bass) and Jerry Porter (drums) ¬-- are Bonamassa, Colin Linden and Rob McNelley on guitar, Tommy McDonald and Glenn Worf on bass, Chuck Leavell on keyboards, and Tom Hambridge, the Grammy-winning producer who put together these sessions, on drums and percussion.

A high-compression riff kicks off the title cut, “Cotton Mouth Man,” sung with gusto by Bonamassa over a driving drum and bass line. Cotton blisters the blues as he releases a long series of stinging runs throughout. It’s his throaty voice that announces the next tune, “Midnight Train,” sung by Allman. The locomotive’s destination is no mystery. It’s headed straight for Mississippi, as Cotton proclaims. Since the invention of country harmonica, train riffs have been a common trick. But no one plays it with more power than displayed here. It roars at the open and provides a stunning call-and-response with the vocals. The ensemble slows down dramatically, but stays in the Delta for “Mississippi Mud,” with the dynamic Keb Mo taking the microphone and former Allman Brothers and Sea Level great Leavell sweetly and lightly attacking the keys. Cotton takes a back seat, providing rhythm before a high-register solo mid-tune. It’s a tribute to James’ former bandleader and friend, Muddy Waters.

The harp player’s regular band takes the stage for “He Was There,” which is a biographical tribute to the harp master himself. Cotton fires off a traditional blues line as Nulisch recounts his history, beginning with his arrival in Chicago in 1954 and highlighting some of the biggest venues he’s played in his long career. Govt Mule frontman Haynes takes command for “Something For Me” over a full-throttle Cotton shuffle. It’s a song of seduction: “You’re a pretty flower/I’m a buzzin’ bee/You’ve got somethin’, somethin’ for me.” Then it’s a slow blues, featuring Foster. The petite powerhouse from Texas, where Cotton’s now based, delivers a plaintive plea for a lost love in “Wrapped Around My Heart.” The harp remains quiet for the opening verses but provides a dynamic, somber fill for the second half of the number.

“Saint On Sunday,” sung by Nulisch with all-star backing, is an uptempo pleaser with Cotton trading licks with McNelley as Hambridge drives the tempo from the bottom. It sings the praises of a woman who’s two women rolled in one. McClinton delivers “Hard Sometimes,” another song of separation. It’s a fun number filled with well-intended sexual innuendo fired by another overwhelming harmonica run. The “Saint On Sunday” crew returns for the Latin-tinged “Young Bold Women,” with Cotton providing counterpoint to a tune honoring the type of ladies that “make everything right.” It leads into “Bird Nest On The Ground,” another love song with an extended harp solo. A bass line kicks off “Wasn’t My Time To Go,” but quickly gets out of the way for Keb Mo, who delivers the verses in his rock-steady style. It recounts Cotton’s brush with a madman with a gun on the street in 1961, a succession of jobs and lost friends: “As long as I can blow/It wasn’t my time to go.”

Delivered by Nulisch, “Blues Is Good For You” relates orders Cotton received from his doctor: “Keep on blowin’ til you’re 102.” The disc concludes “Bonnie Blue,” on which Cotton takes to the mike himself, accompanied only by Linden on resonator, for a tune that takes you straight to the bottom. Cancer has reduced his efforts to a hoarse roar, but his sense of time and feel come shining through as he recounts more of his life through song.

Here’s hoping he’ll be doing it for as long as his doctor ordered. When it comes to blowing the back off a harmonica, he has no peer. This one’s a winner from beginning to end.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 5

Omar Dykes - Runnin' With The Wolf



Omar Dykes has concocted a tribute to the late great Howlin' Wolf that celebrates his music without staying completely faithful to the originals. On many of the songs the classic signature riffs have been completely ignored or reconfigured. The choice of instruments as well tend to differ from the original recordings. His goal was to retain the feel of the songs without doing a note-for-note rehash of the songs. Although Omar's voice sounds like he gargled with razor blades, it doesn't approach the power of the Wolf's. Its' harsh quality suits most of the interpretations just fine. The musicians he has chosen for this endeavor are the pick of the crop. Among these are Derek O'Brien, who brings his encyclopedic knowledge of blues guitar to the project.

The title track is the lone non-Wolf song contained here. Omar strings together various Wolf titles to create the lyrics as a means of an introduction. It gets things going nicely with it's heavy-handed groove and some tough harmonica playing from Ted Roddy. "Killin' Floor" is just Omar on guitar with his drummer and bass player. The riff changed up a bit, but the song stands on its' own. Omar is certainly no slouch on guitar as he commits himself here and elsewhere. The riff is omitted completely on "The Red Rooster", but once again Omar's tough guitar playing renders it unnecessary. "Howlin' For Darlin'", here called "Howlin' For My Baby", receives a forceful reading and some tasty guitar courtesy of Eve Monsees. "Spoonful" gets a recitation that stays close to the original as Omar and Derek O'Brien do some guitar sparring.

The power-trio treatment is given to "Riding In The Moonlight" and the energetic vocal helps the song stand on its' own as an Omar song. "Who's Been Talkin'" stands on its' own as well regardless of the Wolf connection. Nick Connally turns in a nice organ solo on this one. A rockabilly-meets-the blues-meets country treatment is given to "Back Door Man". Derek O'Brien supplies the signature riff to "Smokestack Lightning", but the vocal doesn't quite hit the mark. One of the more less known songs presented here, "Do The Do" is a virtual rhythm-fest, again featuring Eve Monsees' fine guitar technique. Ronnie James' upfront and strong bass work supports Omar's heavy guitar playing on "Tell Me What I've Done". "Wang Dang Doodle" minimizes the riff, which is 50% of the song, but the song works in-and-of itself.

Omar and his crew manage to deliver a fine release that works as a tribute and a sturdy dose of blues on its' own merits. He had the good sense to include some of Wolf's more obscure songs along with the classics to give a wider view of Wolf's catalog. Many Willie Dixon-penned songs appear here as well as those written by the Wolf himself. A gift has been given here from one original to another.

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Live Blues Review - Byron Blues Festival

We made it to the 2013 Byron Blues Festival in Byron, IL recently. Byron is a small town of 3,800 on the banks of the Rock River just southwest or Rockford, IL

The festival is in it's 4th year but this was my first time attending the event.

The show started off with a set by Tweed Funk, a band from Wisconsin. The band includes Joseph "Smokey" Holman on vocals, JD Optekar on guitar, Eric Madunic on bass, Nick Lang on Drums, Jon Lovas on sax and Kevin Klemme on trumpet.

Tweed Funk played a good set of soul infused Blues to kick off the fest.

Next up was Bobby Messano. Bobby and his band are out of Maryland. The band included Bobby Messanno on guitar and vocals, Steve Geller on bass and Michael Peck on drums.

Bobby played a nice set that featured some great guitar pyrotechnics and included tunes from his new CD, Welcome to Deltaville.

The next act was Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones. The band featured Doug Deming on guitar and lead vocals. Devin Neel on drums and Andrew Gohman on bass. They had harmonica ace and Dennis Gruenling with them for this show.

Doug had the crowd up dancing on the first song and turned in an amazing set. Doug is nominated for Blues Blast Magazine's Sean Costello Rising Star Award and it was easy to see why the nominators chose him. His playing reminds me of Sean's originality and passion. Doug is performing at the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies on October 31st at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. For information about all the great artists appearing at the awards and to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE.

The next performances was by Chicago Blues guitarist, bandleader and producer, Dave Specter.

He had Blues Diva Sharon Lewis with him for a powerful set of real Blues.

The headliner for the fest was The Nighthawks.

This long running band features Mark Wenner on Vocals and harmonica, Johnny Castleon Vocals and bass, Paul Bell on guitar and Mark Stutsoon drums. They got down on some real Blues to close out a great day of music.

My thanks go to Steve Jones, Mark Thompson and all the staff at the Crossroads Blues Society for a great job putting on this festival. See you next year!.

Photos and Commentary by Bob Kieser.

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Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL

Crossroads Blues Society just successfully finished up their 4th Annual Byron Crossroads Blues Festival and now it's time for Blues in the Schools and other events!

Gerry Hundt and Ronnie Shellist will visit two Rockford area schools and then perform at the Just Goods Listening Room in Rockford on Wednesday September 25th at 7 PM. Then on October 2nd, Bryan Lee and the Blues Power Band wil be in two schools in Byron, IL and then will perform at 7 PM at Carlyle Brewing Company in Rockford. On October 28th they have Hawkeye Herman visiting two Rockford area schools and then he will also be at the Just Goods Listening Room at 7 PM on that date.

Bobby Messano returns to Rockford on Wednesday, September 11th at Marys Place on Madison Street in Rockford. Cover charge is $7 and the band starts at 7 PM. Bobby had a great set in Byron and his new CD debuted at #21 on the Living Blues charts!

And then it's time for the post-festival volunteer recognition party on Sunday, September 22nd. Weird. Eclectic. Blues. Rock. Country. Cowboy. From down under to Byron just for you! Australia's #1 blues and roots band and it's free for volunteers and only $5 for everyone else. So come on back to Byron on Sunday, September 22nd at 3 PM at the American Legion on Union St. for this great show and a thank you to our volunteers. 50-50 raffle, door prizes, and more! The Packers are on at noon and all should be done except the crying by then and the Bears won't make anyone suffer until 7:30 PM so there is lot of time for great music and fun!

Lastly, Crossroads is hosting their own blues challenge on Sunday, October 13th at the Adriatic Live Music Bar on 323 W Jefferson St in Rockford. Time is TBD as the number of bands is still not certain. To find out about the event, go to

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

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

Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL

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