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June 11, 2008
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Hey Blues Fans,
WOW, what a weekend! The 25th Annual Chicago Blues Festival had 7 stages of entertainment and over 100 Blues performers over four days. It was the largest Blues Fest in the US.
There were many other activities such as the after fest parties at Blues Heaven Foundation, The Koko Taylor After Fest Pub Crawl and a weekend extending Monday night show at Buddy Guy's legends by Isle of Man sensations, Back Door Slam (See James Walker's review below).
It is FAR TOO MUCH to cover in one issue so we are going to spread it out over the next couple weeks! Here are a few pics of the headliners below to show what is to come.
We covered nearly every act so we will have much more including performance reviews and tons more pictures in the coming weeks issues. Stay Tuned!
Blues Reviews This Week
James Walker reviews Back Door Slam's performance at Buddy Guy's legends. Rob Paullin reviews a CD by Eric Bibb. Ben Cox reviews a new CD by Janiva Magness. Jeremiah "Little Junior" James reviews a CD by Bonnie Bramlett. Chicago Editor Lordy reviews a performance by Marty Sammon and Rick King at Harlem Avenue Lounge. All this and much More! SCROLL DOWN!
Call (903) 756-7774 for more information or visit tbonewalkerbluesfestival.com
Live Blues Review
Back Door Slam - Live at Buddy Guy’s Legends Chicago IL
Monday, June 09, 2008
By James “Skyy Dobro” Walker
When is the last time an artist played a “Sold Out” show at Legends, other than Buddy Guy himself? Located in Chicago IL, Legends nightclub is now famous world wide for live blues music seven nights per week featuring the biggest names in the genre. That is the setting for a live show by Back Door Slam, a band of three barely-in-their-twenties British youths from the Isle of Man.
Their first two numbers gave a good taste of what the boys are all about, but the third song demonstrated why they are truly special. From their debut CD, “Roll Away,” track 3 “Gotta Leave” had a slow start that built in intensity across the number. Perhaps the best attribute of the band is the singing of Davy Knowles. Showing off some pretty good song-writing, too, Knowles sang, “Ooh, you must have got me CON-fused with some other man... / Tell me: how can I trust you when you can’t trust your self?” with clear, distinct enunciation that is rare. As the intensity welled up, so did the power of his vocals. That power was thoroughly exceeded by his mid-song guitar solo that featured a fantastic pyrotechnic sonic assault reflecting the mood of the protagonist’s anguish. Any lingering doubts I had about “too much hype” were gone, and I was just putty in their hands after that.
A previous sold-out show at Martyr’s in Chicago had gotten the word spreading: there is something special going on here; this is a do-not-miss group. Definitely on the Rock side of Blues-Rock, Back Door Slam also caught attention by appearing on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live late night program.
The club was filled with multiple generations, from twenty-somethings to baby-boomers. Each age group seems to have its own aspirations for the lads. The younger crowd loves the Rock edge they bring, and the older blues fans are hoping the blues-based music will bring new converts to the Blues similar to the way Stevie Ray Vaughan did.
Sponsored by WXRT radio, the early show started at 8:10 PM kicking off what might as well have been Day 5 of the Chicago Blues Festival, which had concluded the previous night with BB King. Getting right to the lightening quick guitar licks on original, “Too Late,” leader Davy Knowles played a blue Stratocaster through a Fender amp. Rounding out the trio were Adam Jones on bass and Ross Doyle on drums.
Between songs, Knowles commented, “It is a complete honor to be playing in such a prestigious place as the home of the blues [Legends] in the Home of the Blues [Chicago]. It seems pretty surreal right now!” Bass player Adam Jones was either in awe, or he just normally plays with a mainly emotionless face. Drummer Doyle’s youth was evident on his clean-shaven face revealing chubby cheeks that women were probably dying to pinch.
Later Davy said, “We visited the Chicago Blues Festival and finally got to see BB King last night. Anything we do here tonight will be inconsequential to that.” The crowd did NOT agree. In King’s honor, they introduced and then launched into “Riding With The King” by John Hiatt but recorded by BB King and Eric Clapton.
Other numbers performed were a ripping rendition of Muddy Waters’ “Hootchie Cootchie Man,” a surprising Crosby, Stills, and Nash cover, “Almost Cut My Hair,” a number played on a Gibson acoustic guitar about being on the road, a killer version of the album’s track 1 “Come Home,” and, following an explanation of how the band was named for a Robert Cray song, they played “Back Door Slam” from Cray’s “Time Will Tell” CD.
The set’s 10th song featured intense string burning on “Tear Down The Walls,” and to introduce number 11, Knowles said, “Here is some blues for ya. It is by Jimi Hendrix. We’re going to attempt ‘Red House.’” Needless to say, it was a great “attempt” full of soulful power like what can be seen on www.Youtube.com videos.
For their final song, the boys brought up a friend from “age 13” – Chicago bluesman Steve Arvey. As the story goes, Arvey had performed some eight yeas ago at an Isle of Man blues festival and also put on guitar workshops attended by the 13 year olds who were also performing there. A fast friendship formed and contact maintained through e-mails ever since. The affable Arvey kept referring to the band as “my boys.” They led each other through a wonderful version of Willie Dixon’s “What in the World” full of lick-trading and call and response.
Fans would not let them off without an encore in which they did two numbers. The first saw Davy on an un-amplified mandolin. Was he letting us down easy? Hell no! The second and final number was back to a Stratocaster electric, ear bleed intensity, balls out blast that also gave the bassist a solo, and the drummer did a unique rhythm, thunder-drum solo. WHEW!
Catch these rising stars soon – either on an internet video or at Naperville IL, Saturday, July 26. Check www.napervillesummernights.com
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
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Born In Arkansas
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Blues Link of the Week
BB King Official Website
BB King is a Grammy Award winner, Rock & Roll hall of Fame winner and reigning king of the blues so it was fitting that he headlined the 25th anniversary of the Chicago Blues Fest.
He has been a recording artist for over five decades with countless entries in the rhythm and blues charts. His performance made us want to tell you to see him NOW! He still has it and his band is the BEST around.
Check out his website to see his current performance schedule and just get there! Tell them The Blues Blast sent ya!
For more Blues links, CLICK HERE to visit the IllinoisBlues.com Links Page
28 Bands - 3 days of Sun & Blues Fun
Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Kal David, The Kinsey Report, Elvin Bishop, Ben Prestage, Steve James and Del Rey, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Otis Taylor and the Black Banjo Project, Little Bobby and the Storm, Phil Guy, Teresa James, Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, Koko Taylor, Kent Burnside & New Generation, Paul Geremiah, Big Pete Pearson & Rhythm Room Allstars, Great Black Music Ensemble, Billy Boy Arnold with Jody Williams, Iowa Blues Challenge Winner, Alexis P Suter, John Nemeth with Junior Watson, Denise LaSalle, Tinsley Ellis, Boo Hanks, Doug MacLeod, Marie Knight, Big George Brock, The Holmes Brothers
To see the complete schedule CLICK HERE
The Code Blue Band
Tight at Midnight
Intensely energetic R&B, funk, and rockin' Blues
CLICK HERE to buy the CD
Featured Blues Review (1 0f 3) SCROLL DOWN For More
Bonnie Bramlett - Beautiful
Bonnie Bramlett is a famous person who pretends not be famous. I remember her when she was singing as a young girl around St. Louis in all the blues bars. That was when she was called Bonnie Lynn O’Farrell when she was living in Alton Illinois. She moved off to the big city some years later and we all in Alton forgot about her. Then about 1969 or around that time I heard her on the radio with Eric Clapton and saw her on a Grammy show and I guess the rest was history. She’s been in and out of the spotlight since then, I’ve been told, but I really hadn’t heard much from her until I was in a record store about a week back and saw her on the cover of this album. I picked it up and gave it a listen.
She really got me going with the first tune. It sounded like those old Malaco Records I used to listen to, with what they call southern fried soul now. The song called “Sure Got A Way With My Heart” made me remember those old Denise LaSalle records, man. It also made me remember how good Bonnie was singing soul music. “Witness For Love” kind of had that same punch. I wasn’t quite convinced at first with the slow piano but then the horns kicked in and really got my foot tapping. The third song turns on some swampy rock. Sounds like some old song Ike & Tina Turner used to do. You know Bonnie was an Ikette back in the day right? A couple more tracks in she redoes the old song “For What It’s Worth” with some funky guitar and soul sounding vocals. Then, she hits you again with some more swamp rock on “Shake Something Loose.”
The only thing I don’t like about this album is that some of the songs sound preachy or it sounds a little too country and western for my taste. “Beautiful” and “Some of My Best Friends” are a little too straight forward for my taste. I guess she’s trying to pass on a message but it gets lost on me. She did some gospel work in the 80s I am a bit familiar with so I guess she feels its her duty to pass on the good word. Some folks might not like that too much. I really don’t think it’s a reason not to buy the album though. It’s got some good funk and soul in it that will make anyone happy.
By Jeremiah "Little Junior" James
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
A Bolt From The Blue
"A wealth of vocal & guitar melodies, performed by front woman Laura "Torch" England and guitarist Kenny Cobb." - Blues Blast Magazine
To Purchase this CD CLICK HERE
To read the Blues Blast CD review CLICK HERE
Nora Jean Bruso, Big George Brock, Johnny Rawls, Lonnie Shields, Clarence Spady, Bobby Kyle, Colin John & Michael Hill, Kelly Richey Sarah Ayers Band, Donovan Roberts, Mickey Jr. Acoustic Blues Revue Mark Armstrong, Bret Alexander
Blues Society News
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The West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV
The West Virginia Blues Society presents the Charlie West Blues Fest, June 28, 2008 at Coonskin Park, Charleston, WV. $12 Advance/$15 gate. The LINEUP includes Blues Crossing, Chad Freeman & Blue Revolution, Biscuit Rollers, The Carpenter Ants, Jill West & Blues Attack, Izzy & Chris, Patrick Sweany Band and Johnnie Rawls Blues Review. For more information please visit www.wvbluessociety.org
Madison Blues Society - Madison WI
Madison Blues Society’s 6th Annual Blues Picnic is Saturday, June 21, 2008 from Noon to 9:30 PM at Warner Park in Madison, WI. Fantastic line-up of local and regional blues bands including Shari Davis & the Hootchy-Kootchy Band, Joe Nosek's Blues Kids, Cash Box Kings, Danny Miller Band, Mud Angels, Paul Filipowicz and Otis & the Alligators. The show is FREE and open to the public.
Illinois Central Blues Club Springfield, IL - Blue Mondays
Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover - June 16 Deak Harp Blues Band from Illinois, June 23 HARPER from Australia, June 30 Levee Town from Kansas City
The Blues Blowtorch Society - Bloomington, IL
Blues Blowtorch Society presents the 2008 Central Illinois Blues Challenge on September 21, 2008 at the Tri-Lakes in Bloomington, IL. The winner will be sent to Memphis in early 2009 to compete as our representative in the International Blues Challenge. This year we are limiting the number of bands to five. To be considered bands must apply by July 18, 2008. The solo/duo acts competition is to be determined based on interest. For further information and submission guidelines, please contact Deborah Mehlberg, Entertainment Director at: Deborah464@aol.com
Friday, July 25, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2007
Festival Website www.prairiedogblues.com
The only Blues festival held on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River!
Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin on St. Feriole Island
Featured Blues Review (2 0f 3) SCROLL DOWN For More
Eric Bibb – Get On Board
Every now and then, a true musical gem lands on your turntable. Get On Board, the 16th and latest CD by New York City native and current London resident Eric Bibb, is simply the best fusion of new and traditional blues, folk and soul that I’ve heard in some years. Bibb combines great writing—he wrote or co-wrote all but one song on the disk; great singing—reminiscent of George Benson; and great instrumentation—his own guitar work plus some standout Nashville cats; with some outstanding production, to bring forth his best disk yet. And, the man knows how to wear a Panama hat!
The twelve songs of Get On Board were recorded starting last year in Nashville, and finished with producer and back-up musician Glen Scott in Stockholm, Sweden, where the 57-year old Bibb lived for several years between New York and London.
Get On Board kicks off with “Spirit I Am,” a great soul-blues-gospel song about seeking out the good things in a troubled world. It begins with a catchy guitar hook that draws the listener in, to both the song and the rest of the disk. Next is, “The Promised Land,” a song that would have the listener believing Bibb knew all too well the cotton fields of the old south. It features Glen Scott on organ and Staffan Findin on slide guitar.
The third cut is titled, “New Beale Street Blues,” a traditional-sounding track paying homage to the musical and ethnic importance of Memphis and Beale Street. “Get On Board,” the title track, is a happy sounding tribute to all the love train songs that have rolled through musical history.
Bibb reminds the listener of George Benson with, “If Our Hearts Ain’t In It,” a southern soul admonition to put your heart and soul into something if you really believe in it. And just when you think this thought-provoking song couldn’t get any better, in comes a slide guitar solo from Bonnie Raitt. “Pockets” is a nice, cleverly-worded, folksy-sounding transition to an up-tempo ode to….pockets! And what we find—our should find—in them.
Then we get introspective again with “River Blues,” a tune that suggests watching the flowing river and blowing leaves if we need a distraction from our troubles. “Deep In My Soul,” an all-acoustic melody featuring the steel pedal guitar of Chuck Campbell for a bit of country gospel, keeps us looking inward in search of what’s positive.
“Conversation” is an old-fashioned big-band ballroom duet with Ruthie Foster, about making the most of not very much. It’s followed by “God’s Kingdom,” a straight-up old time religion gospel cut with a hint of anti war sentiment.
Bibb dedicates “Step By Step” to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as he encourages the listener to not give up the fight for freedom and equality.
Last but not least is “Stayed On Freedom,” a simplistically but stylishly arranged and performed traditional civil rights song that you can almost imagine drifting up from the hot and humid plains of Mississippi not too many generations ago.
This one will be in my ride’s CD player for many miles to come. Two Mariestads up for Eric Bibb and Get On Board.
Reviewed By Rob Paullin
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
July 25 - 27, 2008
Big Boulder Ski Area
Root Doctor, Teeny Tucker, Lil' Dave Thompson, Joey Gilmore, The Kinsey Report, Sharrie Williams, Michael Burks, Nappy Brown, Kenny Neal, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Jimmy McCracklin, Michael Roach, Johnny Mars, Byther Smith, The Holmes Brothers, Lurrie Bell, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Bobby Rush, Eric Bibb, Geno Delafose
Festival Website Click Here
Chicago Blues Update
Live Blues reviews by Chicago Blues editor Lordy
Blues Beat: Chicago (Photos by August Lord)
Marty Sammon and Rick King at Harlem Avenue Lounge
Marty Sammon’s piano is situated so he faces his band from across the stage. Obviously, he wants it right and tight. His drummer, Rick King already seems to know where Marty is going. The Sammon/King connection appears in other configurations around town and they bring some serious chops to whatever stage they grace. Don’t bother with Google. I already checked and yes, King Salmon is indeed the Alaska state fish. I’ve heard Marty Sammon and Rick King without any other players, and it’s a damn good show. Tonight add Mike Sterling on bass, and the saxophone of Jay Moynihan, and you know you’re going to stay for all three sets.
Tonight’s guitar player is Guy King. As usual then, Sammon presents an all-star band. Guy King is a headliner in his own right, and brings vocal chords with his six string.
From the opening instrumental, where everybody on stage gets some, you are reminded once again that Chicago is home to some of the world’s best players. Like a DJ with two turntables, Marty barely closes one song and he’s into the next. Some pictures captured Guy, Mike and Jay staring back across the stage for Marty’s queue.
I was impressed with Guy King’s style of playing. He often uses clean single note phrases that are melodic, interesting and he punctuates the phrases with a beautiful vibrato. Playing sans plectrum, it was a delight to hear more than a bag of riffs. “If the washin’ don’t get you, the rinsin’ sho nuff will” was a good example of Guy King’s singing ability. The other King that did that song would have approved.
Mike was his usual solid and Jay was once again a sax hero, deserving of his own video game counterpart. My favorite segments are when Sammon goes NOLA on us. He has the touch of the piano greats from the Crescent City down pat. He threw in “Good Night Irene” and some ragtime just to keep the other side of the stage on hyper-alert. A song Marty penned for his recording with Tom Holland has become a crowd favorite, and has my vote for breakout single (yes I remember Top 40 radio). The song is titled “The Church Where I Belong”, and is far more secular than sacred, but nonetheless should be getting airplay.
To see a Chicago Area list of upcoming events CLICK HERE
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Featured Blues Review (3 0f 3) SCROLL UP For More
Janiva Magness - What Love Will Do
Run Time: 48:00
I don’t really have to explain who Janiva Magness is and was or where she’s going. In her own words, the blues chose her. She was born to do it. On her first “major” label release with Alligator Records, Janiva does not stray from the path. With firey, impassioned vocals you aren’t going to find anyone in the blues world more real and honest these days. Almost a complete soul album, Janiva gives us looks at Candi Staton, Little Milton, Tina Turner, Al Green, Bill Withers, Dorothy Moore, and Marvin Gaye. With acclaimed producer Dave Darling at the controls, this album will surely get a lot of attention next February in Memphis and probably Los Angeles with the Grammy folks.
Janiva hammers into Little Milton’s “That What Love Will Make You Do” come straight at you with the pulse of her rich voice and the blare of the Memphis-like horns. It’s hellfire that Janiva spews forth on one of the tracks penned by husband Jeff Turmes called “You Sound Pretty Good” that chronicles the ins and outs and ups and downs of the music business that delivers the extreme knockout blow on the album. Probably autobiographical, Janiva’s guile and sass comes to a head in this great kiss off to all those A&R men and record execs who never give people a chance who don’t have some kind of flash-in-the-pan gimmick to sell. The slow ballads will make you swoon and the deep soul delivered from the heart will candy coat your world the brief 48 minutes this album spins to its entirety.
Another great note to point to on the album is the crispness of all the musicians on the album and the length of the tracks. Never victim of overplaying and never allowing the tracks to drag on longer than they should, this album’s hallmark is its great homage to the soul genre which it represents. Did you ever notice a lot of your old favorite soul and classic R&B and blues songs never ran over 3 minutes? Janiva and company keep it to that simple formula here.
This may not be one of Janiva’s more “bluesy” releases but the influence is here. You don’t hear about many good soul records anymore. Janiva’s going to be around for a long long time. This album will only further cement the fact that she could sing you the phone book and it’ll get recognition somewhere. Visit Janiva on Myspace at: http://www.myspace.com/janivamagness
Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
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