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February 12, 2009           

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Hey Blues Fans,

We made it to Memphis, Tennessee last weekend for the 25th International Blues Challenge. If you weren't there, you missed some great Blues and some great times. The winner of the band division was JP Soars & The Red Hots from the South Florida Blues Society. JP also won the Albert King award for best guitarist and deservedly so. Here is the complete list of finalists for the band division:

The Aces - Sacramento Blues Society

Boogie Boys - Polish Blues Association

MonkeyJunk - Ottawa Blues Society

Ty Curtis Band - Cascade Blues Association

JP Soars & the Red Hots - South Florida Blues Society

Delta Generators - Boston Blues Society

The Roger Girke Band - Diamond State Blues Society

Pryor Baird & the Deacons - Santa Barbara Blues Society

6 Hands Down - Capital Area Blues Society

The Mikel Lander & Meredith Moore Band - Phoenix Blues Society

The solo duet division was won by Little Joe McLerran from the Blues Society Of Tulsa. The complete list of solo/duo finalsts were:

Little Joe McLerrran - Blues Society of Tulsa

Alphonso & Richard - Crossroads Blues Society of Mississippi

Jon Shain & FJ Ventre - Triangle Blues Society

Bubs McKeg - Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania

Austin "Walkin' Cane" - Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society

L.C. Ulmer & Chase Holifield - Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola

Our Blues Blast award for loudest cheering Blues Society goes to the Cascade Blues Association. Their band entry was Ty Curtis Band who took second place. You really knew these folks from the Cascade Blues Association were in the house!

The Blues Blast was proud to be a media sponsor for the Challenge and we took lots of photos over 3 days.

To see all the pictures of the fun on our website, CLICK HERE


Blues Reviews and MORE!

Blues Reviews this week - James Walker reviews a new CD from Paul Rishell & Annie Raines. Gary Weeks reviews a new CD from the Joe Pitts Band. Tom "THE ENERGIZER” Schlesinger reviews a new CD from Steve Howell. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!! presents

The Rivoli Theatre - Monmouth, IL

CLICK HERE to Purchase Tickets


 Featured Blues Review 1 of 3

Paul Rishell & Annie Raines and Friends - A Night in Woodstock

Mojo Rodeo Records

13 songs; 58:25; Splendid

Style: Country Blues; Roots music

When it comes to ancient and authentic blues, the a cappella voice was soon joined by the acoustic guitar, which was rapidly accompanied by the harmonica, forming the classic duo. Among modern practitioners of the latter pairing, Paul Rishell and Annie Raines are recognized as leaders in quality. Their near 20 years of performing together have only sharpened the inherent talent they both brought to the union.

I have wanted to see the pair from the Northeast live here in the Midwest, but my most recent plans were dashed when Paul injured his back during a tour, and the remaining dates were cancelled. So, next best thing is the duo recorded live, in 2005, on this CD with a DVD coming later.

Personally, I have great affection for Dobro guitars and National Steel bodied, resonator guitars played with a slide. Paul Rishell is a proven master on a National Reso-phonic guitar, and he demonstrates such immensely on cut three’s double picked guitar solo in Johnny Winter’s “Dallas.” The steel (slide) on steel (strings) never sounded better.

Track one is an outstanding cover of Blind Boy Fuller’s “Custard Pie” in which Paul’s vocals are so accessible as to be instantly likeable. The harmonica and guitar parts bounce from complementing each other to harmonizing passages - the way two dancers separate for individual moves and then come together as one. That same deep, Country Blues mojo carries over to track two, Tommy Johnson’s “Canned Heat Blues.” Blues purists rejoice, for here are two tracks as authentic as can be done by folks who were not, themselves, the early originators. Do be advised, though, it is a diverse CD of enjoyable Roots music, not just pure blues.

Annie Raines takes over lead on both vocals and harmonica on their original, “Got to Fly.” Think chickadee all around: tweeting harp, flighty bounce and pace of the song, and songbird alto vocals.

For pure fun, a cover of Louis Armstrong’s “Old Man Mose” engages the backing band doing a jug band number: Reed Butler – bass, Billy MacGillivray – drums, Chris Rival – electric guitar.

Special guests Bruce Katz on keyboards and jug band aficionado John Sebastian on harmonica were on hand for this gig which was filmed as part of a Todd Kwait documentary about jug band music. The full band and guests get a good workout on the WC Handy award winning track 10 “Moving to the Country” and track 12 “Blue Shadows” where Katz’s piano is a highlight.

Sebastian and Raines end this set with “Orange Dude Blues,” an instrumental on which only their two harmonicas can be heard – John in the left speaker and Annie on the right. As one takes a turn at lead, the other demonstrates the full sound that gives the instrument the name “mouth organ.”

And, for folks still into album art, even in the CD era, Maggie Zander, a folk artist from upstate New York, created the dollhouse model and miniature props for the album’s cover. The steps, porch roof, shutters, lights, chimney and smoke are fashioned from new and vintage guitar and harmonica parts contributed by National Reso-phonic Guitars and Hohner Harmonica Co.

Nominated for two 2009 Blues Music Awards, this album is definitely a class act from masters and virtuosos at work!

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
To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.


New CD

'Le Blues Hot'


CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD

To read a review of this CD, CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 3

Joe Pitts Band - One Night Only

Kijam Records 

The spirit of the power trios The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream are alive and well in The Joe Pitts' Band release One Night Only.

With bassist Jimmy Lynn and drummer Dave Bishop acting as the explosive backline, Joe Pitts is able to further his visions with scalding Les Paul runs that bring back memories of the original Govt. Mule.

These ten songs are taken from a live recording at Cornerstone Pub, in NLR Arkansas. There are very few bands that can jam and rock with the authority of The Joe Pitts Band. And if there are, they won't reach the bar that has been raised.

There are no lackluster performances on this cd. Opening track "Blue Light Rain" has a catchy riff recalling Mountain in its heyday. An interpretation of an obscure Robin Trower tune "Step Into The Dark" turns into a long heavy jam with Pitts soloing above the wall of sound created by rhythm section Bishop and Lynn.

This is a cd for guitar lovers who love their rock hard with a bluesy edge. They tackle "Tales of Brave Ulysses" with a fervor Clapton could appreciate.

Sure there are the characteristics that mark this as a jam band. But the excursions into improvisation have a definite direction then just being sonic travels of fancy. Instrumentals "Blackout" and "Zambified" take fleight as Pitts lays down guitar lines drenched in lava lamp pyschedelia and heavy thunder.

Bridging jazz, blues, funk and hard rock, it's no wonder this Arkansas outfit is getting gigs in Europe. Their style of music can be appreciated easily by fans whose tastes are Cream, Govt Mule, Free and Mountain. Pitts is taking the sounds of yesterday and moving them forward. Not too much of a bad thing, is it?

Review by Gary Weeks

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.


The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research will hold its first benefit concert Sunday, March 1, 2009 at the North Atlanta High Center for the Arts at 2875 Northside Drive, Atlanta, Georgia, 30305.

Sean was a beloved blues musician from Atlanta, who was internationally acclaimed, and in his honor, fellow musicians Lurrie Bell [2008 Living Blues Awards for Blues Artist of the Year and Most Outstanding Guitarist], The Wood Brothers, King Johnson, Felix and the Cats with Jon Liebman and the Soul Shakers will lend their time and talent to this cause.

Doors will open at 4p.m. for review of silent auction items with entertainment to follow at 4:30p.m. Tickets are $30 and will be available online and at the door. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research is a non-profit 501 C3 organization. Donations are tax deductible.

For more information call 404 310-4514 or email

For tickets and further information CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 3

Steve Howell - My Mind Gets to Ramblin'

Out Of The Past LLC

Steve Howell is an accomplished, finger picking style, acoustic guitar player with very strong vocals. Primarily doing 1920s, 30's, and 40's songs on this, his second album, he features 13 cover songs with Joe, Darren, and David Osborn, Jim Caskey, and Denise Spohn. Howell claims he plays, and has played, several styles but, he has played and studied Country Blues for around 35 years now. Influenced by many, but naming Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and John Hurt, he covers songs written by Muddy Waters , Memphis Minnie, Robert Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell and more. Howell has a combined sound of many guitar players, but over all, he reminded me on a few songs of Chet Atkins but with more of a nice folky blues tone. I was amazed by his effortless finger picking ability.

For this CD, Steve went back and dragged out some great names that I had either forgotten about or, in some cases, never heard of and did not know their history until I read his liner notes. For example, Bo Carter from The Mississippi Sheiks and half brother to Charley Patton wrote the #5 song, “Policy Blues.”

I used to love to read the big old L.P.s with all the information on them (there was a lot more room on an L.P.). Thank you Steve for cramming in what you were able to on a CD; it was great reading, informative, and interesting. Buy this CD to listen to some great front porch Country Blues, and you get a wealth of blues knowledge and a history lesson by reading the liner notes. What a deal!

Another example of interesting info is the #8 song, “Prodigal Son.” Steve says that credits on the1968 Rolling Stones album “Beggars Banquet” represented that this song was by Mick Jagger and Kieth Richards, but it was actually the work of Reverend Robert Wilkins. It was recorded in the Peabody Hotel in 1929 in Memphis as "That's No Way to Get Along." Later, after becoming an ordained minister, Wilkins recorded it as “Prodigal Son,” basing the lyrics on the parable from the Book of Luke.

Other standouts: the #13 song “Rowdy Blues,” also recorded in 1929 at the Peabody Hotel by Kid Bailey, contains a very unique story of a guy being out of love, back in love, then swearing off of love -- all in one song. “Steady Rollin’ Man” by Robert Johnson, has stupendous country slide guitar.

This is a nicely done cover album done by a very talented guitarist and his band. Steve Howell has opened for Country Joe & the Fish, Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets, Bugs Henderson, and shared the stage with Brownie Mc Gee.

This one is for the blues purist -- front porch Country Blues done the way it should be. I hope to see this guy in a small quaint club sometime soon. I will be playing this one in my current rotation quite often around the fire place this winter and this summer at the camp fire.

Steve comments that he hopes the listener hears the beauty and humor in these great old tunes and the love and the enthusiasm he and the band felt while making this recording. Steve, I sure did, and I think all the listeners will too!

Reviewer Tom "THE ENERGIZER” Schlesinger is a long time Blues fan who has been to a many Blues fests in the mid west, and Florida and is a Veteran on the Legendary Blues Cruise through the Caribbean.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

The River City Blues Society presents

Wednesday Blues featuring

Shawn Kellerman

W/ Opening Act
Steve The Harp & Joe Zacklan

February 18, 2009 - 7:00pm

The Dragon's Dome
3401 Griffin Ave, Pekin, IL.

To see Map- CLICK HERE

 Admission $3 - One free admission with new Society membership


 Blues Society News

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

Please submit a maximum of 175 words or less in a Text or Word format ONLY.

The Connecticut Blues Society - Higganum, CT

The Connecticut Blues Society will have it's annual benefit " Blues Blizzard " on Saturday, March 14, 2009 @ The West Hartford VFW. Five of the areas hottest Blues bands will donate time for the CT. Blues Society. Performing this year from 7PM - 12 are; Crystal Blue Project ( w/young "Hot" guitarist Trey Wilson ), The Kingpins, Mojomatics, Eric Ducoff Band , Gene Donaldson & The Stingrays. There will be plenty of food and drink available. $10 donation or 2 for $15. For info contact 860-292-6112 or e-mail

Alabama Blues Project - Northport, AL

The Alabama Blues Project's award-winning Blues Camp in it's11th year is now registering students ages 8-17 for 2009 Spring After-School Blues Camp. The Blues Camp gives students the opportunity to learn music instruction in their choice of guitar, harmonica, drums or vocal workshops. Intermediate level classes will also be offered for students who show exceptional skills. Instruction is provided by some of the best professional blues musicians in our area.

This Blues Camp will be held at First United Methodist Church. It will take place from 4 to 6:30 pm every Thursday, beginning February 12 through April 30. The end of the year performance will be a Blues Extravaganza celebration at the Bama Theatre on May 1. The cost for Spring Blues Camp is $165 per student. If you are on a limited budget, scholarships are available. Space is limited and on a first-come-first-serve basis. To register, please call (205) 752-6263 or email

The Dayton Blues Society - Dayton, Ohio

The Dayton Blues Society will present it's first "Winter Blues Showcase" February 28th at Gilly's in beautiful downtown Dayton, Ohio. Sonny Moorman, Snapper Mitchem, Inner City Blues Band, and Stacy Mitchhart will blaze the stage starting at 7pm. For more information see .

The Magic City Blues Society - Birmingham, AL

The Magic City Blues Society is proud to present Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials on March 3, 2009 at the fabulous Workplay Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama. Tickets available for $10 and are available at or at Workplay at 205-380-4082.

River City Blues Society- Peoria, IL

The River City Blues Society's Wednesday Blues Series in Central, Illinois are early shows each Wednesday at 7:00pm, featuring the best traveling regional and National Blues musicians. The shows feature a budget priced cover charge of $3. The shows are held at the Dragon's Dome, 3401 Griffin Ave in Pekin, IL.

Shows scheduled are:  Feb 18 - Shawn Kellerman, Feb 25 - TBA, Mar 4 - Lil Dave Thompson, Mar 11 & 17- TBA, Mar 25 - Sally Weisenburg & The Famous Sidemen, Apr 1 - Reverend Raven & The Chain Smoking Alter Boys, Apr 8 - TBA, Apr 15 - Too Slim & The Tail Draggers 

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 Feb 16 - Shawn Kellerman, Feb 23 - Deak Harp

Phoenix Blues Society - Phoenix, AZ

The Blues Blast 2009 will be held on Saturday, February 21st, 2009 at the Mesa Amphitheatre. The 20th anniversary of this Blues festival sponsored by the Phoenix Blues Society will start at 11:00 AM. Headlining the show is Janiva Magness. Other artists appearing at Blues Blast are: Omar & the Howlers, The Juke Joint Duo of Cedric Burnside & Lightnin' Malcolm, The Mikel - Meridith Band, Kathy Mabry, Kevin Casenhiser and a special Phoenix Blues Artist Showcase and Retrospective featuring many of the Valley's finest Blues Musicians. Here's a partial listing of the line-up: George Bowman, Bob Corritore, Terry "TD" Davis, Nancy Delessandro, Jim Dorholt, Brian Fahey, Jim Glass, Chuck Hall, Mario Moreno, Hans Olson, Big Pete Pearson, Jimmy Peyton, Johnny Rapp, Rochelle Raya, Paul Thomas, Scotty Spenner. For more info contact or check out the website at

Live Blues Calendar

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