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December 24, 2009           

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Hey Blues Fans,

The stockings are hung and Christmas is just one day away. We hope this holiday season finds you healthy, happy and lovin the Blues.

Remember that Christmas is a great time to help support the Blues by giving your loved ones the gift of Blues music! If you are shopping for a last minute gift, a new Blues CD will make any Blues lover happy!

Need some help selecting a good one? See the CDs reviewed below in this issue or check out the huge archive of more than 425 Blues CD and DVD reviews on our website. CLICK HERE

Blues Wanderings

We caught a set by the Kilborn Alley Blues Band last weekend. They played some of the new material from their soon to be released CD on Bluebella Records.  You are gonna love it!

The band just returned from a tour of England. Playing to packed crowds in the clubs of London just two weeks after winning the Sean Costello Rising Star Award at the Blues Blast Music awards, they were a real sensation.

We keep saying it but we can't help it. GO SEE THIS BAND! You wont regret it!

In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!

James Walker reviews a new CD from Cyrus Hayes & Lady Lee. Gary Weeks reviews a new CD from Jimmy Bowskill. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by The CSL Jr. Band.  All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 3

Cyrus Hayes & Lady Lee - Mr. President

Seadog Records

7 songs; 42:20 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Blues, Chicago Blues, Harmonica Blues

Just how bad can this Great Recession get? In a case illustrated in “Mr. President,” this CD’s title track, things have gotten beyond extreme: “The bedbug told that roach, ‘I don’t know what I’m gonna do / If we don’t make it through these hard times, I’m gonna have to start eatin’ on you!’” Meanwhile, the narrator has “heard the President speak; he said, ‘Everything gonna be all right.’” The narrator adds an aside, “You know he’s lying don’t cha?” Interestingly, this song injecting humor into the hard times and showcasing Cyrus Hayes’ lyrical talents was written during the recession of 1990-91 for President G.H.W. Bush.

The theme’s reapplication to current times was obvious. When asked in an interview with Terrance “Gatorman” Lape posted at why he wrote the song, Cyrus replied, “Well, because we were all dealing with hard times, and it seems like everybody is going through it. Now, today, people getting laid off the job.”

Harmonica genius Cyrus Hayes, along with his wife Lady Lee, have been called, “one of the better kept secrets on the Chicago music scene.” But, according to journalist Lape, reviewing their stage-burning appearance at the 2009 Chicago Blues Festival, the secret is out, “Well they are no longer a secret. The whole blues community knows about them now.”

If this CD gets the radio play and exposure it deserves, the entire Blues world will find out! Of the seven songs, four are originals penned by Hayes. Recorded live, the CD features Cyrus on lead and harmony vocals and harmonica, Lady Lee on vocals, and there’s a competent and hot back up band consisting of Steve Koerber – lead guitar, Mike Boyle – bass and backing vocals, Dan Wile – drums and backing vocals, and Greg “Wolfman” Schleitwiler – keyboards.

The fun starts with track one, “I’m Crazy About You Baby,” right with the first series of trumpet-toned tah-tah-tahs on Hayes’ harmonica. The band quickly falls into a Chicago Blues groove behind the harp. The action has full traction as this dance floor filler has piano solos, guitar solos, some of Hayes’ famous harmonica work, and ends with his trademark falsetto vocals.

Track two, “I Wanna Know Where You Been,” is a ten minute plus mid tempo excursion. During the only song running more than six minutes, the vocals are particularly emotional emanating from the narrator getting in the mood to make love and discovering he was all alone. The length of the song allows plenty of stretching by all players, and it allows Hayes to display all his harmonica techniques from single note skitters to full chord mouth organ to playing with no hands.

“Are You Ready For Love,” track four, takes the listener into Soulful R&B territory. At a slower tempo and more mellow approach, Cyrus croons in his smoothest lover voice over an incredible vocal range. While the song didn’t get me all the way into bed, I did go put my pajamas on.

Track five, “Tell Me Baby,” credited to “Rufus Luck,” is back to some of the deepest Chicago Blues in the set. Koerber’s guitar work is especially strong on this one.

“Teenie Weenie Bit,” credited to Etta James, brings Lady Lee to the microphone for powerful and deep throated lead vocals. Cyrus adds harmony along with band members. The stop-and-go syncopation is perfect on this lusty romp.

The set closes with a cover of Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle.” The band is deftly in the pocket to pitch one. Lady Lee’s vocals clearly are of a quality that would make both Dixon and Koko Taylor proud.

Casual Blues fans and Blues purists alike can rejoice at this release. All the ingredients are there to pull us out of recession or depression, in spirit, at least, if not actual financial success! My only complaint is that it is too short; when something is this good I don’t want it to end.

Bio information:
Cyrus started singing the blues as a 12-year-old kid in Little Rock, Arkansas, where his sister would sneak him into juke joints to compete in talent shows. He left Little Rock with some musician buddies in 1979, heading for Chicago because that’s where you go if you’re a Blues Musician. Shortly after his arrival, he was a mainstay of West-side Blues and R&B.

Cyrus was joined by Lady Lee in 1988, played with Albert King in ’89, and released a record in ‘90 containing “Mr. President.” ‘94 saw the release of “Right Back For More,” a love song painted in Blues. Maintaining their live work, their repertoire includes their original music as well as a diverse collection of Blues and R&B standards done “Cyrus Hayes and Lady Lee Style.”

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 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.

 Blues Want Ads

 Blues Musicians Place Your Want Ad here for FREE

"workin Blues folks" ONLY can place Want Ads here for FREE.  NO Commercial Ads! 

Buy or sell equipment , musicians wanted, gigs wanted, help wanted, information wanted etc. Limit 100 words. All ads submitted will be used if space allows. If space is limited, ads will be randomly selected to appear in the Blues Blast. Ads may be edited. Send your ad submission to

Magazine Seeks Summer Festival Reviewers

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for a few good men (Or Women)! Over the 2010 summer season we are looking for folks who attend Blues Festivals and take good photos for festival reviews. If you attend multiple Blues Festivals and shows and could volunteer to send us 500 to 1000 word reviews and a few good photos, please reply to . A short sample of your writing, a sample photo and info on your Blues background would be helpful. Please include your phone number with the reply.

Keyboard Player Wanted

We are currently seeking a keyboard player for our blues band. Delta blues, Chicago blues, Memphis blues and some in-betweens. We play 2x per month in N KY or the Cincinnati area.
Call Jerry, 513-505-8227.

Equipment Wanted

Looking for a used Victoria 4 x10 bassman amp. Send info to John lee Williamson Conjur Root

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 3

Jimmy Bowskill - Live

Self Release

Several years ago I reviewed a debut release by pre-teen Jimmy Bowskill entitled Old Soul. Dressed like a dapper bluesman, Bowskill's picture coincided with the music. Original and cover tunes reflected old timey and ragtime blues coming from an age of old Victrolas and Depression era America.

Jumping the looking glass to 2009, Bowskill doesn't look like a bluesman so much as he does a young hippie. When you see the psychedelic artwork adorning his Live CD, you have a feeling you wont hear acoustic blues but classic rock that formulated the sixties as well as seventies.

While he may have alienated some fans who preferred his playing in an acoustic format, he definitely grabs listeners who love hard Gibson Les Paul tones cranked through Marshall amplifiers set at 11.

Backed by drummer Dan Neill and bassist Wayne Deadder, Bowskill is a flashback to a time portal when serious riffage and killer solo notes ruled the day.

Jimmy might be digging into his parent's record collection. Instrumental "Karadag" has a musical signature line taken from Black Sabbath's "Wicked World." The songs are soaked in distortion fuzz tones that give cuts like "Broke Down Engine" and "Be Mine" a metallic knife edge with a Warren Haynes vision and an Andy Fraser muscle.

Although blues bubbles under the surface of Bowskill's playing, it comes under the umbrella of boogie rock. Especially when Jimmy tackles the Free classic "Ride A Pony." He pours a slow searing menace in "Three O' Clock In The Morning" with Gary Moore punctuations in fat chords and stabbing solos. The singing is Johnny Lang meeting Steve Marriott who just had a beer with Joe Bonamassa.

At least Jimmy gets turned on by the right people. Peter Green's "Rattlesnake Shake" might be a bit on the heavy side. But it goes with a bang not a whimper.

Jimmy isn't looking to get on American Idol. This live set is by a youngster who breathes life into what rock should be. There's few hints of blues. Still it's enough to satisfy a listener who wants a blast from the past riding shotgun into the future.

Review by Gary “Wingman” Weeks.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Blues Society News

 Send your Blues Society's BIG news or Press Release to:  

You can submit a maximum of 175 words or less in a Text or MS Word document format.

Wichita Blues Society - Wichita, KS

The Wichita Blues Society presents the 12th Annual Blues Ball Saturday, January 16th, 2010 at the Cotillion , 11120 West Kellogg Street in Wichita. The event features the Blues Masters of Wichita including Berry Harris, Ray Drew, Henry Walker, Rudy Love, D.D. Dunn and Mr. Lee with Big Clyde Sheely and Rib Bone (Beau Jarvis, Shawn Kail and Jeff Stidham) on the backline. The WBS Blues Challenge Winners Rachelle Coba and Jimmie Lewin & The Kingtones will open the show.

Doors open at 7pm and show starts at 8pm. Tickets $12 in advance at Select-a-seat, $15 at the door. WBS members pay $12 at the door. For more information visit   

Mid North Michigan Blues Society - Petoskey, MI

Mid North Michigan Blues Society is holding a fundraising event for Thornetta Davis to send Her to Memphis TN to compete in the 2010 International Blues Challenge. The event is at 7:00pm December 31, 2009 at UAW Local 21 Hall, 703 Rose St. at Hannah, Traverse City MI. Thornetta Davis will provide entertainment after an opening set by Juke. Tickets are $30 per person or $50 per couple. Bring your own food and drink. For more information go to or call (989) 370-8334.

The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society - Marietta, Ohio

The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society will hold its 18th Annual Blues Competition on February 19 and 20, 2010, at the historic Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, Ohio. Blues Bands and Solo/Dou blues acts will compete for cash prizes and BJFMS sponsorship to the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis.

First-place will receive $1,000. dollars in cash and BJFMS sponsorship to the IIBC in January, 2011. Second place wins $200 and third-place wins $100. NO geographic restrictions apply. Any serious blues musician is invited to apply. Winning this preliminary competition gets your ticket punched to Memphis. Gain valuable exposure to record labels, A&R representatives, blues industry professionals and festival promoters capable of providing real career advancement.

Complete information, format, application & rules are available online at Deadline for application submission is January 9, 2010. More information: contact Steve Wells at 304.295.4323 or

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.  Dec 28 - Sally Weisenburg

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 3

The CSL Jr. Band - Voice of the Heart

Lancaster Records (Self Released)

10 tracks

I was wandering through MySpace Music and stumbled upon The CSL Jr. Band. I listened to them on My Space and liked them, so we swapped amenities on line and a few days later a CD appeared in my mailbox. These guys play a hard driving brand of blues based rock that remind me a little of ZZ Top, the early Marshall Tucker Band, and others of that genre. Hailing from Sedalia in the Show-Me State, these guys have laid down ten original tracks that really impressed me. They are not a bunch of guys sitting in their garage or basement trying to sound like someone else and playing a bunch of covers. They are creating new music based on their influences and likes and they have done a pretty damn good job of it.

Greg Lefholz fronts the band as vocalist and he also contributed to the track “Coup DeVill”. His gritty and gut-wrenching vocals are super. Chuck Lancaster leads on guitar and had his pen in at least part of every track’s composition. Les Gifford play bass and Carl Michael is on drums, both providing a driving backdrop to the tunes. Jamey Shepherd is also on guitar and has credits involving four of the songs. The songs have the sound of the big, gnarly jam bands but the songs range from 2:41 to just over 5 minutes, so there is nothing overdone or overstated here. They present their songs in your face and when they are done they move on to the next track without getting lost in endless repeats without getting into so many differing takes on the chords and melody. I’m sure these guys could turn some tracks into 15 or minute jam sessions, but they have created some really nice songs and not just a means to jam. I don’t have a problem with jam bands, but some of them get lost in trying to prove something and miss the forest for the trees. These guys have created music within bounds and they deliver the goods within those bounds.

The first cut opens with a driving beat as they give us “Big as TX”. It is a big and bouncing song and they do “play it big as Texas”. “All In” and “Coup DeVill” later on are similar, bigger than life, driving, almost rockabilly songs with the dual guitars banging out a groove and alternating the solos/leads. They can wail when they want to, but they are not afraid to let it hag out acoustically. In “Hangman” they get down and dirty into the blues and give us some acoustic guitar mixed in along with a little slide; it is quite well done with gutsy vocals and beautiful guitar work. The CD is filled with little gems of good stuff; “New Loving” adds a little harp and is a full fledged deep in the blues number that is one of the CD’s real stand outs.

“Bluezin It” is a wicked guitar instrumental that features some stratospheric fret work by Lancaster. They also close out the album with another guitar-led instrumental entitled “Mason”. A simmering and slow southern blues rock with the rhythm guitar paralleling some of the stuff and filling in ever so nicely the rest of the time. As the song fades into the distance, it leaves me wanting to hear more of these guys. I hope I can catch up with them somewhere in the New Year and listen to these guys live; they have a hot CD with some great songs that really deserve that you give them a listen!

Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Live Blues Calendar

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