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Hey Blues Fans,
The Blues festival season is winding down in the Central US but there will still be lots of Blues to see in the coming weeks. Check out our Blues Society News section to see what Blues Societies are doing near you to keep the Blues coming in the fall and winter months.
If your Blues Society is having Blues shows be sure to send us a press release or news item to help promote for you and don't forget to list all your Blues shows on our Blues shows page at: http://www.TheBluesBlast.com/bluesshows.htm
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In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!
James Walker reviews a new CD from Victor Wainwright. Eric Steiner reviews a new CD from Mark Hummel. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Zac Harmon. Brian Holland send us another review of Woodbrain. Our streaming Blues Radio link of the week is a great Canadian source for Blues music.
Our Blues video of the week is a clip of Shemekia Copeland. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Featured Blues Review 1 of 4
Victor Wainwright & The WildRoots - Beale Street to the Bayou
14 songs; 56:31 minutes; Suggested
Genre: Roots Music
Styles: Blues, Rock and Roll, Jazz, R & B, Gospel, Bluegrass, Funky Soul
Some Blues fans contend that there are certain songs so classic as to be sacred and, therefore, should never be covered by a contemporary artist! You, yourself, have probably heard a pointless cover version of a reference quality song that leaves one wondering, “Why not just play the original”? An example is Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say.”
Victor Wainwright and producer Stephen Dees had to know they were walking on eggshells when they tackled Ray’s rave up number. Regardless of one’s opinion about sanctity, the fact is they pulled it off in grand style, as only a rare few could. While still honoring the song but without note for note copying, they made it their own behind Wainwright’s powerful vocals and crafty keyboards. “What’d I Say” was the first cut Shuffle Shoes and I played on WKCC’s Friends of the Blues Radio Show.
The stirring “Long Way To Go” will be the second cut I play. Guest Josh Roberts from the Reba Russell Band deftly fills and solos on sweet slide guitar. Opening with Brian Kelly on some ruckus drumming, Victor’s “piana” then sets the rhythm while he sings emotionally about reaching the promised-land, but, we still have a “Long way to go.” Even more serious is “Sold Down River” with only Roberts on Dobro guitar and Victor on harmonica and vocals about slavery.
My first Ear Worm (a song that sticks in your head) is the first track, the muscular "Mighty Man." Opening with innovative piano chords, the players all give examples of what’s to come in the CD. This includes Victor’s deep, powerhouse vocals as he explains his formidable attributes as a lover reminiscent of “Hootchie Cootchie Man’s” theme.
Both the band and piano driven, all-original-save-one-cover CD are a project of two main musical forces: Wainwright, a 28 year old Memphis Boogie Blues pianist and singer, and Florida’s Stephen Dees, an MTV-savvy pop-rocker. Wainwright left his native Savannah, GA for Florida to pursue a double major in college, instead earning what he calls a "double major in Boogie - a Ph.D. in Swing and a Master's in Rhythm." The "Piana’ from Savannah" then graduated to a house gig at Wet Willie's on Beale Street in Memphis.
Florida-bred musician Stephen Dees was seduced away from his family’s Country roots by Rock and Roll. By the 1980s he was touring and/or recording as bassist and vocalist for Hall and Oates, Todd Rundgren, Foghat, and Pat Travers. Dees also co-founded Novo Combo with former Santana drummer Michael Shrieve. Since the late 1990s, Dees has continued his pursuit of eclectic pop-rock with his band the Bandees, based in Edgewater, FL.
The two met six years ago at a benefit concert. Impressed after hearing each other perform, they found a common love for early Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll music. They discussed collaborating on an original recording project, paying homage to their Rock and Rhythm roots. Dees agreed to produce, perform on bass and second guitars, add vocals, and co-write.
For the project, Victor brought in guitarist Greg Gumpel, a friend and band mate since they had met in 2002, who additionally impressed Dees with mandolin and banjo. Stephen brought in drummer Brian Kelly whom he had met playing in a progressive rock band. Victor was likewise impressed with Kelly's versatility. The band clicked, and after some outstanding live performances, they knew they had something special: Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots. For the CD, they extended the line up in select songs to include a couple of saxophones and extra percussion, and special guests fill individual tracks with background vocals, trombone, trumpet, and cello.
As the title implies, they've successfully achieved their goal of using various inspirations for these songs and obviously had a hell of a good time along the way. Anything but disjointed, the set eases gracefully from one style to another. One may not like every song, but “Beale Street to the Bayou” has something for every taste. Worthwhile project? Check!
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Thursdays from 7 - 8 pm and Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL
To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
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Blues Video of the Week
Shemekia Copeland was born in Harlem on April 10, 1979. The daughter of Texas blues guitarist and singer Johnny Copeland, she began to tour as his opening act on the blues circuit in the late 1990s. She landed a record deal with Alligator Records who signed her for her debut album Turn the Heat Up!
Today she is very popular of the blues festival circuit in America and Europe. Her latest CD is on Telarc called Never Going Back.
You can visit her website at www.shemekiacopeland.com.
To see this cool video on our website, click the play button below or click the photo above.
For other videos on our website CLICK HERE.
1245 Chicago Ave
Friday, December 4th, 2009
Hubert Sumlin and The Nighthawks
Blues Society News
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The Capital Area Blues Society - Lansing, MI
The Capital Area Blues Society presents the Holiday Blues Cruise on the Michigan Princess With Capital Area Blues Society Blues Brawl Winners Stan Budzynski & 3rd Degree, and Mike Skory are joined by Capital City Blues Queen Twyla Fleming and national blues artist James Armstrong, 8pm Friday November 27. The riverboat has three levels with gorgeous views of the stage. Appetizers, snacks and a cash bar are available on board. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online, or at the dock for CABS Members (with a membership card) for a discounted $10. Call 517 627-2154, purchase tickets or get more information at www.michiganprincess.com. Directions to the Michigan Princess: Take I-496 west to Exit 4 (Lansing Road). Continue under the RR trestle. Go 500 feet and turn left into Grand River Park.
Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society - Santa Clarita, CA
Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society's "2009 Winter Fundraiser" will be held on Saturday, December 5th at Cozy's Blues Club, 14058 Ventura Boulevard (at Hazeltine), Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. The Fundraiser will feature our 1st and 2nd place Band and Solo/Duo winners from our September "Battle of the Blues Bands" competition - Barry Cullison, Thelonius James & Greger Walnum, The Laurie Morvan Band and Artwork Jamal & The Acid Blues.
Doors open at 7:30pm, Music from 8:30pm till 1:30am. $12.00 General Admission and $10.00 for ALL Blues Society Members (no matter which one) showing a valid up to date Society Membership Card. Call ahead for table and dinner reservations - (818) 986-6000. Plenty of free parking on the street next to Cozy's and also in the Ralph's lot across the street.
SCV Blues Society Memberships, Tshirts, Artists CDs and Raffle Tickets for A Gibson Guitar signed by the 2005 Blues Music Awards Nominees and many other prizes will be available at the Society Sales Table. Funds made at the Event will help us send our Winning Band and Duo Act to Memphis to compete in the 2010 International Blues Challenge. For more information, contact: Info@SCVBlues.org
Blues Blowtorch Society – Bloomington, IL
The Blues Blowtorch Blues Society presents 3rd Friday Blues - The Treehouse Lounge, 2060 Ireland Grove Rd, Bloomington, IL (309) 662-5231 A blues show the 3rd Friday of every month at 7:00 PM. November 20th – Chicken Shack
Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL
The Crossroads Blues Society - and the Charlotte's Web organization present Blues Mandolin Madness Sunday, December 6, 2009, at 7 PM at Big Cities Lounge, 905 E. State St, Rockford, IL. Rich DelGrosso and Gerry Hundt bring on the Mandolin Madness- A unique musical experience showcasing the often-neglected mandolin, which has a small but important part in the legacy of blues music.
Rich DelGrosso hails from Houston, TX and is one of the premier blues mandolin players in the world. He was nominated for two Blues Music awards in 2009. Rich has a deep, booming voice and a deft touch on the mandolin. Get more info at : http://www.mandolinblues.com/
Gerry Hundt is a multi-instrumentalist who has been a key member of Nick Moss & the Flip Tops for the last five years. A skilled player on bass, harmonica and guitar, Gerry features his mandolin playing on his 2007 release, Since Way Back. Info on Gerry at : http://www.myspace.com/gerryhundt Joining the duo for the evening is Nick Moss on bass guitar and the great Bob Carter on drums. Nick promises a killer version of "The Godfather Theme" on mandolin. Tickets $10 in Advance, $15 at door Call Mark Thompson at 414-416-1884 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets and information - or get tickets at Big Cities Lounge.!
The Madison Blues Society - Madison. WI
The Madison Blues Society will hold its 8th Annual Blues Picnic on Saturday, June 19, 2010 from noon to 9:00PM at Madison's Warner Park. We are now accepting submissions for bands to perform through our website The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2009. For Complete submission info CLICK HERE
Information at www.madisonbluessociety.com or email email@example.com or call Shari Davis at 333-8665.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents James Armstrong and his band for a Holiday Party on Saturday December 5 at Rascal’s, 1414 15th Street, Moline, IL. MVBS members are admitted free; for non-members, admission is $10. The fun starts with food at 7 p.m. for members, and the music starts at 9 p.m.
Also, The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents Ontario’s best-known guitar slinger Shawn Kellerman at Rascal’s, 1414 15th Street, Moline, IL on Thursday December 10. The show begins at 6 p.m. Admission is $7, $5 for Mississippi Valley Blues Society members. Following Kellerman’s show will be the regular Thursday night blues jam with the Steady Rollin’ Blues Band featuring Jimmie Lee Adams. For more info call the MVBS office at 563-32-BLUES.
The Diamond State Blues Society - Middletown, DE
Kennyfest ’09 - The Diamond State Blues Society and Full Moon Blues.com are hosting Kennyfest ’09, a benefit for musician Kenny Jones on November 22, 2009 from noon to 8PM at the Moose Lodge in New Castle, DE. The band line-up includes Johnny Neel, Nothin’ But Trouble, Garry Cogdell & The Complainers, Randy Lippincott, Kombu Combo, Blue Cat Blues, The Witch Doctors, Scott Wells, Barrelhouse Blues, Brian Kendig and other local artists.
One of the highlights of this event will be the raffle of a Fender Squier Stratocaster guitar, autographed by Sonny Landreth, Delbert McClinton, Magic Slim, Walter Trout, Tinsley Ellis, The Nighthawks and many other blues artists. For tickets and more info, go to www.FullMoonBlues.com or www.DiamondStateBlues.com .
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover. Nov 23 - Frank Herrin & Blues Power, Nov 30 - Steve the Harp Blues Band, Dec 7 - Eric "Guitar" Davis, Dec 14 - Reverend Raven & the Chain Smoking Alter Boys, Dec 21 - The Suns of Circumstance, Dec 28 - Sally Weisenburg
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Featured Blues Review 2 of 4
Mark Hummel - Odds and Ends
Odds and Ends is a remarkable look back at Mark Hummel’s considerable back catalogue from 1982, with some cool stuff from as late as 2006. Most of the 19 cuts on this CD are from a number of releases from the 1980’s, including Up & Jumpin, Sunny Day Blues, High-Steppin, and Feel Like Rockin, and to a disc, they are sadly all out of print. Fortunately for fans of harmonica-led blues, Mark’s hand-picked some gems from early Mark Hummel and the Blues Survivors’ line-ups that featured Frank Goldwasser (“Paris Slim”) on guitar, Carl Severeid on bass, Kenny Dale Johnson on drums, and Jimmy Pugh on piano.
Carl and Jimmy were in Robert Cray’s band, and the constellation of performers on this CD gave me many “a-ha” moments. Like Mike Judge playing bass behind Charles Brown on an inspired “Summertime.” Yes, you read that right: Mike Judge, as in Beavis and Butt-head, and the offbeat, cult film classics, Office Space and Idiocracy. Of all the 19 cuts on this CD, I keep coming back to the high-energy rockabilly-tinged “Keep A-Knockin’” powered by Jimi Bott on drums and Tim Wager on bass, with Kevin Zuffi’s piano and Pat Chase’s guitar all turning in a first-class romp worthy of comparisons to some of the best sub-three minute rockers ever to grace a long-playing, vinyl record or compact disc. Odds & Ends is definitely worth a spot on blues harmonica fans’ CD shelves, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Mark Hummel for the way Mark’s sampled some exceptional line-ups of the Blues Survivors over the years.
Odds and Ends is more than a collection of blues harmonica history: it complements Mark Hummel’s other recent recordings, most notably his newest Blues Harmonica Blowout compilation on Electro-Fi, Still Here and Gone, and his series of Blues Harp Meltdown CDs on Mountain Top.
Hey Mark: When can we expect the second volume of Odds & Ends?
Reviewer Eric Steiner is the President of the Washington Blues Society, a proud recipient of a Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation. Please contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wablues.org for more information on the Washington Blues Society
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Streaming Blues Link of the Week
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Featured Blues Review 3 of 4
Zac Harmon - From the Root
Zac Harmon’s discography is quite impressive. As an LA studio musician for many years, he recorded with many fine bands and musicians. He was finally "discovered" in 2004 when he was sponsored by the Southern California Blues Society and won the International Blues Challenge as "Best Unsigned Band." Two years later he won the Blues Music Award for "Best New Artist." He originally hails from Jackson, Mississippi, and his bio claims he is disciple of Jackson’s Farish Street blues sound. His musical roots are strong and his talent is exceptional!
"From the Root" is his fourth CD (his first with Northern Blues after a French release and two others available on CD Baby) and showcases Harmon’s songwriting and performing abilities. It is a beautiful blend of blues, soul, and a little reggae. It captured my interest immediately; I was tapping my foot and groovin’ to the beat on the CD’s first track.
About half of the songs are straight up blues. "Hattie Mae," "Keep the Blues Alive" and "Scratch" are great examples of how this artist excels in the Delta tradition. His blues are awesome and the backing sounds from the other band members are equally good. Jimmy Z’s harp work is exceptional throughout.
The other half of the album focused predominantly on Zac’s funky and soulful side. The opening track "Don’t Give Me Another Reason" smartly mixes soul with some blues. Sueann Carwell’s vocals with Harmon on "The Price of Lovin’ You" are sultry and seductive. "Back Bitin’ Back Stabbers" and then Smile on Your Face" and "Want Ads" are at ends of the soul spectrum, from a funked up dance tune to two that are in the style of older Al Green stuff.
It’s a great CD and Harmon shows his talents and versatility. He’s a great musician and performer, and his new CD is worth checking out! !
Review courtesy of Crossroads Blues Society.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 4
Woodbrain - Swimming In Turpentine
"Swimming In Turpentine", the debut release from Portland, Oregon's Woodbrain, is earthy and bluesy yet defiantly intense and diverse. It's coerced along by distorted guitars, a driving rhythm section, and a harmonica presence with a persona of its own. From Chicago electricity to acoustic blues and bluegrass, the originality of the music can be equated to a rollercoaster that slowly makes its way to the summit and boldly plunges forward into sundry territory, twisting and whipping around bends, out of control yet never losing track. It's easy to imagine these guys at many of the various summer music festivals because of their uniqueness, daring musicianship, and ability to blend in just about anywhere.
Woodbrain is made up of Joe McMurrian on guitar, banjo, and lead vocals; David Lipkind on harmonica and background vocals; Jason Honl on bass; and Jimi Bott on drums (originally of The Fabulous Thunderbirds). Songwriter Joe McMurrian says, "Our base is the pre-1940 rural music of the Mississippi Delta and the Appalachian Mountains. It's a sound influenced by Robert Pete Williams, Skip James, Robert Johnson, Buddy Guy, and R. L. Burnside, as well as Dock Boggs and Roscoe Holcomb. But we're not ignorant of what happened since, like Cream, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, and modern jazz. We roll all of that into our chemistry as a band."
The album's opener, "Port Chicago Highway," begins with an interesting upward slide to the desired note before a warmly distorted guitar takes it into a potent blues region. Possessing a Canned Heat resonance, maybe even some Blues Traveler, the song is typical of the potency heard throughout. "Northbound" follows with more of the same. Both McMurrian originals display basically what they are: a band that approaches the blues from both a new and old perspective in a powerfully original way. Sitting alongside the originals is an interesting cover of Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down" and an incredible rendition of Bert Jansch's "Black Water Side", where the British folk song is transformed into an acoustic blues number.
People often say that you can't do much more with the blues that hasn't already been done. Woodbrain proves otherwise with Swimming In Turpentine. Not all of it is traditional, but there's tradition in all of it. The band injects tasteful influences and styles throughout their music and comes out with a sound that's diverse and different.
Reviewer Brian Holland is a music journalist who resides in Massachusetts. www.briandholland.com
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
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Performance dates submitted by Musicians, Clubs, Blues Societies and Blues festivals.
The BluesBlast.com is not responsible for errors or omissions.
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