The FREE Internet Magazine - All news BLUES in the US!

Past Issues

May 7, 2009           

© 2007 - 2009

Latest news, photos, reviews, links & MUCH MORE in this issue! - Scroll or Page Down! quick website links: Reviews    Links   Photos    Videos     Blues Radio     Blues Shows near YOU!    Advertise for FREE!     The Blues Blast Archives

Hey Blues Fans,

This weekend is the start of the Blues Festival season in the Midwest and it starts off with a BANG at The Simply The Blues Festival in Fort Madison, Iowa Friday and Saturday. A great festival in its sixth year starts off on Friday with Bobby Rush, Sugar Blue, porterdavis, Patrick Hazell and the The Smokin Mojo Kings. On Saturday be sure to catch Johnny Drummer, Liz Mandeville, Chris James and Patrick Rynn, Bob Corritore, Harper, The Soul Of John Black, Shannon Curfman, JP Soars And The Red Hots, Little Joe McLerran, Rich Berry,  The Avey Brothers and Brad McCloud and the Case of the Blues. For more information and tickets check out and see their ad below in this issue.

Also on Saturday don't miss Fort Madison native and award-winning author, Tina Jens, and blues diva, Liz Mandeville (Blues artist performing at "Simply The Blues" and the Blues Train), in a one-hour FREE to the public performance of a spoken word story with a soundtrack and musical interludes called "Hoodoo Man Blues", a musical bed-time story.

Hoodoo Man Blues is about the battle between Ratman, a retired bluesman and powerful voodoo practitioner, and the King of the Memphis Blues. Full of voodoo magic and ghosts, the story is based on the events and characters in Jens’ award-winning novel, The Blues Ain’t Nothin’. The story, in slightly different form, is taken from her sequel in progress. In the show, the story is told by Jens, with Mandeville providing a soundtrack to the story, full musical interludes of rockin’ blues tunes, as well as multiple guest voices. This production will be at the Old Fort Players Theatre. Show Time is 11:00 am, Saturday, May 9, 2009.

If you are in the Southern part of the US this weekend check out the Lead Belly Blues Festival in Shreveport, Louisiana on Saturday May 9th. The show features performances by Buddy Flett , Ruthie Foster, Bobby Rush, Kenny Neal and The Neal Family Reunion, Eddie Shaw and the Wolfgang. Johnny Rawls, Destini Rawls, James Robinson and the Bluebirds.  See their ad below for information and tickets.

Blues Wanderings

We got to see "Bluz Guitar Gurl" Shannon Curfman this week for the kickoff of the River City Blues Society "Bluz Guitar Gurlz" series.


More than 200 Blues fans from all over central Illinois packed the place in a standing room only show that left the crowd howling for more. If you want a good reason to make the trip to Fort Madison for the Simply The Blues Festival , Shannon is all the reason you need. What a smoking guitar player, singer, songwriter and performer this gal is!

In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!

We have nine new CD reviews in this issue! James Walker reviews a CD from the Ty Curtis Band (2009 IBC 2nd place band). Mark Thompson sends us 2 reviews.  A new CD by Alphonso Sanders ( 2009 IBC 2nd place solo/duo) and a review of a new CD by Dave Plaehn.

Eric Steiner reviews a new CD by Omar Kent Dykes and a CD from the Ninth Annual Blues & Boogie Piano Summit. Michael Packer reviews a new CD by Commander Cody. John Harrelson reviews a new CD by Tas Cru and a new CD by Web Wilder. Ben Cox reviews a new CD by Mia Vermillion.

Our Blues video of the week is a clip of Shannon Curfman.  All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

The Simply The Blues Festival  For tickets go to

 Blues Want Ads

 Blues Musicians Place Your Want Ad here for FREE

"workin Blues performers" ONLY can place Want Ads here for FREE.  NO Commercial Ads! 
Buy or sell equipment , musicians wanted, gigs wanted etc. Limit 100 words.

Information Wanted on Chicago's Club 708

Looking for information about an old south side Chicago blues club called the 708 Club that was at 708 E. 47th Street, Chicago and was run by Ben Gold and his brother. Interested in information from about 1954 to 1959 because the 708 Club was called, “The southside’s leading blues house,” by the Chicago Defender in 1957. Also, according to several sources the club played host to Muddy Waters, the 4 Aces, Howling Wolf, Memphis Slim, Jimmy Rogers, Willie Mabon, Otis Rush, Billy Boy Arnold, Little Walter, Snooky Pryor, Magic Sam, James Cotton, Buddy Guy and David “Honeyboy” Edwards; among many others. Records indicate that the club closed in early 1959. Want to find out why. Contact

Blues Interviewers wanted

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for volunteers to interview Blues musicians for the magazine. If you have a background and experience with Blues music and like to write we can provide leads to conduct interviews with the artists. Person must be willing to write a minimum of one interview every other week.  This is a great way to beef up your resume. If interested please send a sample of your writing and a short bio of your background to

521 Club Information Wanted

Looking for any photos or info about the 60's-70's club in Brooklyn called the 521 club. Regulars there were artists like Millie Jackson, Little Johhny Taylor, The Invitations, The Persuasions, EB Davis, Sterling Harrison, etc etc.  Thanks for any help.

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

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 9

Ty Curtis Band - Down on My Luck

Self release

13 songs; Time 59:08; Suggested

Style: Modern Electric Blues; Blues-rock and roll

There used to be 200 bands and 5000 clubs. Now, there are 5000 bands and 200 clubs. The supply of available music is huge – way more than even all the independent record companies can maintain. So, how could one possibly hear or gain exposure to quality, award winning regional acts deserving to break nationally?

One answer is the annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis hosted by The Blues Foundation. To my mind, if the Ty Curtis Band had not competed and finished in second place in the 2009 finals, I would have never heard of them, and that would have been a shame.

Hailing from Salem, Oregon (half a continent from me), The Ty Curtis Band is young, fresh, and full or new sounds clearly based on Blues and Blues-Rock-Funk traditions, not guitar shredding Rock. Blues fans will delight at “Down on My Luck,” their wonderful second CD featuring thirteen original songs. TCB is a multi-talented line-up starting with passionate vocals, solid songwriting, and imaginative guitar from Ty Curtis. At age 18, Hank Shreve on harmonica and keyboards is a multi-award winning musician who adds competent vocals. Winning three part harmonies abound with the added voice of bass player Jim Smith. Coupled with Davis “Super D” Brown on drums, Smith’s powerful bass lines lock in the rhythm that makes the dance floor booties shake.

At the IBC, bands get thirty minutes to impress judges. If a statement is going to be made, it can not wait for the eighth song or the second set. Their set at the IBC finals was similar to the beginning of this CD: they aimed to blow socks off immediately. But, with the CD, by the time one gets 45 minutes in, for example, by the tenth song, you’ll realize what a variety of masterful musicianship and singing it contains.

Track one creates an “Oh, Yes, this new CD is good!” feel within 45 seconds, and it just gets better from there. It opens with sounds of a drum solo which is soon joined by a popping bass guitar. At 25 seconds, honking harmonica joins the rumble. At 57 seconds, Ty’s guitar and vocals bring the last deadbeat from his seat to his dancing feet. Instrumentally, “Cherry City Boogie” has it all: guitar solo, harmonica solo, guitar-harmonica harmony, guitar and harmonica call and response, all underpinned by rock solid boogie rhythm.

About the time one questions, “One hit wonder?” track two maintains the upbeat momentum from the first track, but it is a freshly new sound that tells listeners these guys are special. Great three part harmonies fill the chorus of “Been Down That Road.”

The smoke coming out of the speakers is quickly chased away, by roaring flames, when track three explodes. More guitar-harmonica harmony just above the snapping rhythm makes way for lead vocals and vocal harmonies explaining the protagonist is “Bluer Than Blue.”

Don’t sit down; don’t even go for a fresh drink shouts the beat of the fourth cut, “Give It Up.”

Again, we hear fresh sounds different from the first three tracks. No wonder the judges were impressed!

Only with the fifth and title track do we get a chance to almost catch our breath with a mid-tempo Blues. Opening with single string guitar notes just over rich organ swells, the vocals ooze Blues. Again, by mid-song, the three part harmonies really impress.

Through the remaining seven songs, they play heart winning music, and there is not a cover song in the bunch.

If I owned a record company, I would have already made the Ty Curtis Band an offer. I do not expect any more self-releases from this band, not with this level of talent. Sure there are a gazillion different bands, but these cats have earned attention and a listen.

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,

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

May 9, 2009 - Downtown Shreveport, Louisiana

For complete performer info and tickets visit

For tickets and info CLICK HERE

 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.

Central Mississippi Blues Society – Jackson, MS

The CMBS presents Blue Monday at Hal & Mal’s (200 Commerce St., Jackson, MS) every Monday night. Doors open @ 8:00 and music begins @ 8:30. Cover is $5.

The Blue Monday Band is comprised of the “best of the best “ musicians in the Central MS area. Featured artists are King Edward, lead guitar/vocalist and Pat Brown, Abdul Rasheed and Dennis Fountain as vocalists. Other regular band members are Dwight Ross and Rick Lewis (drums), Keith Collins (bass), Johnny Sharpe (keys) and Malcolm Shepherd (CMBS President) on Congas. Most of these musicians appeared in The Last of the Mississippi Jukes.

The Blue Monday Band plays the first set and then the event turns into a jam. For more info see:  or call Peggy Brown @ 601-613-7377

Blues Blowtorch Society – Bloomington, IL

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. May 15th – Dave Lindsey Band

Friends Of The Blues Shows - Kankakee IL

The Friends of the Blues has started their 2009 Blues concert Series. Here are their currently scheduled shows. May 11 – Shannon Curfman, Kankakee Elks Country Club Kankakee Elks Country Club, 2283 Bittersweet Drive, St. Anne IL. 815-937-1228,  May 26 – The Insomniacs, Kankakee Elks Country Club Kankakee Elks Country Club, 2283 Bittersweet Drive, St. Anne IL. 815-937-1228,  May 30 – 2nd Annual Blues & BBQ Festival, Watseka Theatre, downtown Watseka, IL   June 16 – Joanne Shaw Taylor, River Bend Bar & Grill, 6070 E. Route 17, Kankakee IL. 815-933-0610  Aug 11 – Laurie Morvan, Kankakee Elks Country Club 2283 Bittersweet Drive, St. Anne IL. 815-937-1228

Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society and the Dam View Inn present Joe and Vicki Price at the Dam View Inn, 410 E. 2nd Street in downtown Davenport, on Friday May 22. The show, a fundraiser for the Blues Society, starts at 9 p.m., and admission is $5. For more info contact call the MVBS office at 563-32-BLUES.

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL


Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover -  May 11 - Scott Ellison, May 18 - Tombstone Bullet, May 24 - Bruce Katz

River City Blues Society- Peoria, IL

The River City Blues Society's Wednesday Blues Series features the best traveling regional and National Blues musicians each Wednesday at 7:00pm. The shows are held at the Dragon's Dome, 3401 Griffin Ave in Pekin, IL. Admission is $4. Shows scheduled are:  May 13 - Black Magic Johnson, May 20 - Deak Harp, May 27 - The Insomniacs, June 3 – Rob Williams' Soggy Bottom Blues Band, June 10 – The Plateros, June 17 – Joanne Shaw Taylor, June 24 - Gina Sicilia

For complete info visit:

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 9

Alphonso Sanders - Mississippi Influences

Talking Wind Music

11 tracks/45:14

This is an ambitious project that features the original compositions of Dr. Alphonso Sanders, the Chair of the Fine Arts Department and Director of the B.B. King Recording Studio at Mississippi Valley State University. Sanders’ handles the lead vocals and contributes saxophone parts to a number of tracks. He gets help from a large cast of musicians and backing vocalists. Producer Jimmie Lee Jr. also did all of the musical arrangements and played a variety of instruments.

Sanders’ has a broad vision that stretches the boundaries of what one might call Blues music. “I Don’t Mind Dreamin’ “is densely produced track that fits the adult contemporary category while “On the Inside” works as a Christian praise song. Both songs give Sanders a chance to show his skill on the saxophone. The pace picks up when Sanders pays tribute to another musical style on “Non-Stop Country Music”.

For blues fans, there are several tracks of interest. “Gotta Get Back to Prayin’ “sports a funky New Orleans-style beat and a strong vocal from Sanders. Sanders uses the bamboo flute on the brief “The Influence (Blues Interlude)”. That leads to the strongest tracks on the disc. “Delta Sun” finds Sanders backed by a piano trio. He delivers a passionate vocal and an equally engaging sax solo. Morris Hubbard shines on the piano. On the following track, Jimmie Lee Jr. turns in another dazzling turn on the piano on “Wanna Cook For Ya”, as Sanders’ voice glides over the keyboard improvisations and the finger-snapping percussion section.

“Boo-Ga-Loo” is a generic good-time party tune with heavily synthesized backing that fails to generate much interest. Sanders voice fails him as he struggles to navigate the arrangement on “Say Thanks”. The disc closes with “Happy”, a breezy tune that lacks any emotional weight. A strong sax solo at the end from Sanders fails to rescue the cut as it fades away too quickly.

Dr. Sanders is working with a broad musical palette. The performances and production are quite good, but the Blues content is limited.

EDITORS NOTE: Alphonso Sanders placed second in the 2009 International Blues Challenge solo/duet competition as part of the duet Alphonso & Richard.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE. presents

Matthew Skollar Band

The Rivoli Theatre - Monmouth, IL

CLICK HERE to Purchase Tickets

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 9

Omar Kent Dykes - Big Town Playboy

Ruf Records

Omar Dykes and Jimmie Vaughan’s On the Jimmy Reed Highway was nominated for Blues Music Awards last year in the Album of the Year and Traditional Blues Album categories, and the title cut was up for Song of the Year. While Blues Foundation voters didn’t put the CD or the song at the top of each of those lists, Omar’s latest Ruf Records CD, Big Town Playboy, continues the blues journey with a dozen songs that feature Jimmie Vaughan on guitar and vocals and some very special guests.

Lazy Lester blows a mean harp on “Hello Mary Lee” and “Dream Girl,” and James Cotton lends several touches of class to the title cut, “Can’t Judge Nobody,” “No More Doggin,” and “Close Together.”

Gary Clark, Jr’s in the house, too: his performance in John Sayles’ Honeydripper was my top blues experience in the movie theatre last year, and this young bluesman pitches in on harmonica and guitar on driving, but understated, versions of “Man Down There,” and “King Bee.”

Ronnie James and Wes Starr return to lay a solid foundation on bass and drums behind Omar, and I wish we could have heard more from that angel from Texas named Lou Ann Barton. Her vocals with Omar on “Think” and “Close Together” are two of the most memorable songs on this CD.

If you liked On the Jimmy Reed Highway, you’ll enjoy Big Town Playboy. It’s not as rambunctious or as wild as Omar’s outings with his Howlers on Boogie Man or Bamboozled, but Big Town Playboy is a solid CD of Texas-tinged blues.

Reviewer Eric Steiner is President of the Washington Blues Society in Seattle, Washington. The Society was the recipient of the 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in the blues organization category.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

4th Annual T-Bone Walker Blues Fest
June 19-20, 2009
Music City Texas Theatre  -
Linden, Texas

Jimmie Vaughan

Gary Nicholson

Bugs Henderson

Guitar Shorty

Danny Johnson

The Wolf Tribe

The Bluebirds

Joe Jonas Band

Bobbie Oliver & Jam City Revue

Pleasant Hill Quilting Group

David “Honeyboy” Edwards

Wes Jeans

TuTu Jones

19th Street Red

Bernie Pearl

Betty Lewis & the Executives

Marquise Knox

Kayla Reeves

Colton O’Neill Band

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 9

Dave Plaehn -Crazy Man

Plaehn Tune Records

12 tracks/52:47

A former Iowa native, Dave Plaehn now lives in Oregon where he continues his music career that is in it’s fourth decade. Possessing an easy-on-the-ears tenor voice, Plaehn is also an accomplished harmonica player. For his latest recording , Plaehn penned twelve original songs that show a variety of influences. He is supported by a large cast of musical friends who obviously are in tune with Plaehn’s vision. He has a wistful singing style that is appealing.

The title cut is an atmospheric ballad that opens the disc. The piano-driven arrangement of “My Conviction” supports a strong vocal from Plaehn, who easily slides into the upper end of his vocal range. “What is this Love Thing” comes across as a classy country hoe-down tune with excellent harmony vocals from Leigh Ann Starcevich and some fine harp playing by Plaehn . The multi-track vocals over percussion on “Shugum Boom” resembles a more adventurous Beach Boys track.

Plaehn waits until the second half of the disc to get into his blues related material. “Hug Me When I Come Home, Kiss Me When I Leave” has some quality national steel guitar licks from Jeff Hino. Plaehn blows some hot country blues-style harp licks on “We’re Gonna Make the Best of It”. The hardest rocking cut is “She’s Got Kisses (Any Love I’ve Known)” with more lap steel magic from Hino. “For Love Blues” features a stellar guitar part from (unaccredited) Creighton Lindsay .

Listeners should check this one out but don't expect straight blues material. Plaehn mixes up a musical stew that features a stingy sprinkling of blues influences. This may limit appeal to hard-core blues fans. Nonetheless, there is still plenty of quality performances on Crazy Man that would be of interest for listeners with a wider range of tastes.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

New CD from Alex Dixon Band

Rising From The Bushes

Hit #4 on the Roots Blues Charts prior to its release!

Now Available to download at Amazon, iTunes, Rhapsody and other digital sites.  You can also purchase the CD at

For Tickets and more info visit:

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 9

Commander Cody - Dopers, Drunks and Everyday Losers

Blind Pig Records

If you u read my by-line at the end of this review I've been playing music a long time. The critics started calling my music blues I assumed they did that because I was old. Well Commander Cody, his real name George Frayne, is old but the Commander can still rock with the best of them. The traditionalists wont call this CD the Blues but I will because the blues is a feeling and Commander Cody with no doubt has the blues. He is an historic musical icon.

The party begins with some boogie piano by the Commander and nice slide guitar by Mark Emerick on "Roll Yer Own'"..'Tennessee Plates" reminds me of the band Dire Straits especially the vocal by Commander Cody. "Wine do yer Stuff' written by William Farlow and Cody is truly a country classic. 'Lone Ranger', Semi-Truck are country tunes complete with pedal steel played by Chris 'Tiny' Olsen. 'Down and Out' is a traditional song about losing it all. One of the funniest songs on the records is 'Seven Eleven' with Miss Marie Spinosa of the Crowmatix singing 'stealing at the Seven Eleven', in the background. I understand why Blues aficionados won't consider this a Blues recording especially when they hear the country gem 'Seeds and Stems' sung by Circe Link. It belongs in Nashville not Memphis. Commander Cody can sure boogie though as on 'It's Going to be one of those nights" and " OK Hotel'.

I had the privilege of opening for Commander Cody with my band at a club in New Jersey and seeing first hand Cody perform "They Kicked Me Out of the Band". He started the song with a shot of booze and a toast to the audience. Very fitting. He puts on a great show and his admirers love him. On "Losers Avenue", Cody takes the cruise down losers avenue with some very good piano playing. This CD is like hanging out in your neighborhood bar complete with ".Last call for Alcohol". The final cut is the "No No Song" by Hoyt Axton.

This album was recorded in Woodstock NY and produced by Aaron "Prof. Louie' Hurwitz who got his nickname from the late Rick Danko of the Band. Prof. Louie put his exceptional skills as musician and producer to create an outstanding testimony to Commander Cody's music. A fine record, great musicianship, entertaining and most of all true to Commander Cody. This is what he does.

I remember sending some of my music to  Blind Pig records and they said, "That's not blues". Well hey this ain't Blues either but it is great music and I am happy you took a chance with Dopers, Drunks and Everyday Losers.

I think you will be glad you did. Commander Cody is no loser.

Reviewer Michael Packer  is a singer-guitarist from NYC who fronts his own band "The Michael Packer Blues Band". He has been performing for over 40 years and has recorded on major labels Atlantic and RCA.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 6 of 9

Various Artists - Ninth Annual Blues & Boogie Piano Summit

1-2-3 Records

One of the most exiting things about writing for Blues Blast Magazine is the opportunity to discover new events and new artists. The folks behind the Ninth Annual Blues & Boogie Piano Summit have been behind the keyboards for a long time, and this annual event at the historic Southgate House in Newport, Kentucky is an exceptional opportunity to experience some of America’s most talented piano men and piano women. Prior to pressing play on the Ninth Annual Blues & Boogie Piano Summit, I had only heard of Ann Rabson, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn about an annual showcasing blues piano players.

Producer Ricky Nye features 15 songs done by four performers: Christopher Rois, Ann Rabson, Martin Schok and Greta Holtrop, and Nye himself sits in with vocalist Bekah Williams on four cuts. While this CD is first and foremost a showcase for blues piano, there are several opportunities when sidemen get an opportunity to strut their stuff in a traditional, take-your-turn revue style.

On “Haste Makes Waste,” one of my favorite Uppity Blueswomen (for her work with Saffire), Ann Rabson, invites George Bedard to stretch out a bit on guitar, followed by solos from John Schmidt on upright bass and Brian Aylor on drums.

Other standout cuts for me include a mighty soulful interpretation of “Baby What You Want Me to Do” from Ricky Nye and Bekah Williams, along with that duo’s fast-moving boogie-woogie on “As Long As I’m Moving.” Nye’s received multiple awards from his native Cincinnati, including nods for a Cincinnati Entertainment Award from CityBeat magazine and a CAMMY Award from the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper, and this CD is evidence of a rare blues piano talent.

If you appreciate traditional blues piano from Professor Longhair, Dr. John, or Ellis Marsalis;, bought Pinetop Perkins and Friends on Telarc, or enjoyed Gregory Sabatino’s exceptional documentary on blues piano recorded in the Delta called Falsifyin ’ you’ll celebrate the magic made possible by 88 keys captured live at the Ninth Annual Blues & Boogie Piano Summit in 2007.

Discover a diverse range of blues piano styles online at this annual event in North Kentucky at

Reviewer Eric Steiner is President of the Washington Blues Society in Seattle, Washington. The Society was the recipient of the 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in the blues organization category.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Blues Video of the Week

Shannon Curfman

This week we feature a video by 23 year old Blues Rocker Shannon Curfman. Shannon had her first major record deal at the age of 14. Nine years later it is easy to see what Arista Records saw in this smoking young guitar player.

After you see this video, you will have to re-think the phrase, "plays like a girl".

Not only can this girl play as good as any man, she sings better than most.

To see this cool video on our website, click the play button below.


For other videos on our website CLICK HERE.

Lincoln Square - Urbana, Illinois


Friday June 26th

Delta Kings

The Kinsey Report

Sonny Landreth

Saturday June 27th

The Impalas 

Gina Sicilia

Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin

Eddy The Chief Clearwater

Pinetop Perkins
w/Willie "Big Eyes" Smith Band

Buckwheat Zydeco

For more info visit:

 Featured Blues Review 7 of 9

Mia Vermillion - Alone Together with the Blues


Run Time: 33:55

I've had the fortune of making friends all over with the blues. One of the perks of having friends from all around, I get introduced to artists that I otherwise probably wouldn't get to hear. Witness the upper Northwest. For the past decade and a half, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho have brought the world some uncanny blues talent in a land far removed from the Delta of Mississippi or the soul of Memphis. Tim "Too Slim" Langford and John Nemeth are the first two names that immediately pop into mind. Oregon is the host of the nation's largest roots music distributor, Burnside Distribution. Now, we have one more addition to this line up of phenomenal finds from the lands of the forests and rainy weather of the Northwest: Mia Vermillion. Mia has been touring and working non-stop in the region for a while now, distributing her mixture of earthy jazz, blues, with a little dose of 50s & 60s country & western roots (think countrypolitan Patsy Cline or Jim Reeves styled vibes). Vermillion's silky alto is something so seductive and smooth that you can almost feel yourself being seduced through the speakers - and you'll give in, let me tell you!

This is Vermillion's debut release. She enlists some pretty good talent to play host to her genre-mixing release. Edwardsville, Illinois (hey, that's not too far from this Juke Joint Soul's birthplace) native and roots dobro & slide player Orville Johnson takes the helm as the tasty echo to Vermillions sensuous vocals. Johnson is a sought-after player in the Northwest, and has been for awhile. His touches on the lonesome-sounding dobro add to the vibe of the country & western meets blues meets jazz sounds. Grammy-nominated bassist Garey Shelton joins for one track and acclaimed gold record writer/producer Tom Kellock produces on two tracks.

Vermillion writes two of the nine tracks. The rest of the music are superbly selected cover songs from the likes of LeRoy Carr, Big Bill Broonzy, Lil Green, and a song classically recorded by Aretha Franklin. This song is a great rainy day weather album. It's lonesome, earthy, sensual, and makes you wanna snuggle up next to a loved one and just completely chill out. Vermillion completely takes me away on the original "Love's Lost and Found." This one is just as smooth as a fine wine and gave me the smiling goose-pimples. Don't be fooled though, Vermillion can turn up the sass, too. The two Big Bill Broonzy covers "When I've Been Drinkin'" and "I'm Gonna Copyright Your Kisses" are swingin' little numbers that best highlight Vermillion's flare for jazzy-blues arrangements. Johnson keeps it earthy like Big Bill would've with his nasally licks on the dobro to fill in the spaces.

Vermillion turns the classic "I Wonder" into a contemporary pop-jazz performance that is not overdone nor understated. The arrangement and Vermillion's smooth croon is very reminiscent of the late songbird Eva Cassidy. It's a beautiful, delicate treatment of a song that has been terribly overdone in the past. "Two Cigarettes In the Dark" is a little not my style, but the clarinet laced piece (played by Hans Treuber) adds to the already rainy day mood jazz that Vermillion seemingly has a penchant for. Vermillion can reach upper registers effortlessly in this almost 20's jazz piece and Johnson demonstrates a mastery on guitar with some smooth licks of his own.

This album is a well-thought, well-planned, economical, and astronomical first release for this artist. She will definitely catch attention, if sent to the right places, on many AAA radio formats and can easily fit on both blues, jazz, and quiet storm programs. She's got a magnificent voice that is on par with any ladies I've heard today. Don't put this lady as an opening act, she deserves top billing and if her stage presence is any bit like her recordings, she bound to shoot straight into crossover territory. Her many-faceted approach will win you over and this is one album that's definitely worth repeating - especially after a long day at work or a rainy day with a lover or if you just want to be alone together with the blues.

Reviewed by Ben "the Harpman" Cox. Visit his website Juke Joint Soul

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

The Smokie Blues International Festival - August  14 - 16, 2009

The Golf Hotel, Carnoustie, Scotland

For tickets an info  or

 Featured Blues Review 8 of 9

Tas Cru - Grizzle N’ Bone

Crustee Tees Records

This is a good set. If you spend your ear-time with gritty Rock’n’roll as well as Stax and Hi artists like Syl Johnson, O.V.Wright, Sam & Dave, chances are this is down your alley. The overall effect it had on me was Delbert McClinton meets the Allman Brothers with Ry Cooder doing the mediating. But, immediately following that impression I noticed that there was a distinctly clinical texture to the recording. Was this recorded using only ProTools?. This might account for the “space without air” quality. If you’ve never owned an LP or seen twenty or more live acts, you won’t know the difference anyway.

As a vocalist, Tas Cru is a reasonably believable Soul singer. There’s a little Bob Seger, a trace of Greg Allman, but no genuine looseness like Otis Redding championed. That said, Tas is definitely a cut above 90% of the White boys in the R&B/Blues realm.

The opening track, “Gristle N’ Bone,” is the ‘food’ metaphor. It’s a rollicking shuffle that Blues lovers love to love. I like it, though it’s hardly a great composition. Thanks are due to this Canadian, he didn’t write about red beans and rice or about bar-be-que or worst, collard greens—That ain’t Canadian faire. Also, nice piano playing on this cut.

One Eyed Jack” is, I think, connected to something personal for Tas. It is, though, deployed here as a metaphor of independent strength and I think Cru needs to listen to the lyrics he wrote. If the Devil always stacks the deck yet you keep on winning, what’s the point of the song?

his next song, much related to Taj Mahal’s “She Caught the Katy,” is very revealing. “Woman Won’t You Love Me” is too careful, especially noticeable in the reined-in phrasing of the pianist. The lyrics are revealing too. “Woman won’t you love me, I know one gal who says she will.” Why, with petty blackmail like that, would a woman give it up for you? In the hands of Louis Jordan a wry song might be smithed out of the question. Here, it is kind of embarrassing.

About “Come to Testify” I’ll say it’s a daring thing, an a cappella piece. “Mercedes Benz” by Joplin and “Orange Clawhammer” by Captain Beefheart are the most often cited. Other artists have done “Linin’ Track” and there’s always the novelty of Cream’s “Mother’s Lament.” This is a sincere attempt at a tradition documented by Folkways records, whether Rich Amerson or the Creole folk retentions. Bold idea, well done.

The barely Blues-y “Let’s Just Pretend” is a fantastic addition. A true song of the heart delivered as a frank little prayer, this demonstrates musical sensibility. It’s gem as acoustic songs go. Andy M.Stewart [of the Scottish group Silly Wizard] should cover this. Steve Gillette has written similar songs that are more succinct, but this is a sweet moment on the CD.

The press material describes “Brand New Shoes” as a sequel to a song on a previous CD. It’s described as “More red-dirt roots rock.” I must take issue with that. The song is derived from the “Fever” vein, even opening with a similar bass line. The image/metaphor of ‘shoes’ does not hold throughout the lyric, therefore disappointing the interested listener. A significant error was to have the drummer use sticks instead of brushes, which would have been far more suitable for this track.

“Make My Woman Cry” reminds me of a Skip James tune. Except, like “Woman Won’t You Love Me,” it’s much too careful. The repeating riff is as staid as if it is actually a sampled loop. I don’t understand that. This reminds me of those college boys who slavishly try to be ‘authentic’ Blues guitarists while they sing like an adolescent rhesus monkey. Way too uptight, Tas.

When an artist covers a song and makes it his/her own it’s a grand moment. Think of Devo’s “Satisfaction,” Joe Cocker’s “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” B.B.King’s “Thrill Is Gone.” So when Tas says, “It’s my favorite song of all time—EVER!” Cru discloses that his fantastic choice of “Higher and Higher” is important to him. However I cannot forgive him for his butchery. I think he doesn’t know that Rita Coolidge did a ‘mellow’ interpretation in the early 70s, a decent twist on the celebratory nature of the song. But the primary musical element that lends the tune its tension is the pedal point, the unyielding bass figure that drives the progression into one’s heart, a musical affirmation of continuity. Here, that figure is unplayed. Who thought that was a good idea?

I’ll say here that the sound of the slide/lead guitar (a Stratocaster through a boutique distortion pedal?) gets really tedious. If the guitarist used some vintage beauty it was not to the listener’s benefit. It is admirable that the man who plays this instrument (presumably Taj Cru, if not then Jeremy Walz) did not simply rely on the Muddy/Nighthawk/Elmore-axis for most of his work. However, more time spent with Jeff Beck and Ry Cooder would enhance the intentions. The resonator work is good, if dispassionate.

Give bass player a raise, most of his lines are solid and reliable. Congratulate the keyboard player(s). Leave the female vocalists at home.

I recommend this disc, though with some reservations.

Reviewer John Harrelson has been playing Blues since 1965 and worked in virtually every genre of music; Folk, Country, Jazz, R&B and Rock. He holds a PhD in Historical Musicology from the Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 9 of 9

Webb Wilder - More Like Me

Blind Pig Records

I’ve heard of Webb Wilder, though I can’t remember how. Now I know something about him and this is it. What one is allowed to hear is “a persona.” This troubles me. Prince foists a persona on his audience. David Lee Roth does this, too. Dozens of college-educated Blues lovers born after 1975 who seek ‘authenticity’ do this with regularity. For my money, this ain’t a good sign.

The first slice is “Juju Man” The mysteriously mis-titled “Fallin’ in Love Again” is a Chuck Berry chugger that Dave Edmunds could happily interpret. I think the intention was to marry “C’est La Vie” with “Fortune Teller” but that ain’t what happened. The use of the pedal steel is apparently only to have the credit, it contributes nothing essential.

Track #2 is “Too Cool for Love.” If Elvis Costello in 1982 had written a song to evoke 1964 this might be what he came up with. It’s okay. I am confused/amused that the Hammond organ sound used here brings to mind Korla Pandit not Jimmy Smith or Al Kooper.

“Don’t Slander Me” immediately calls up the Tailgators. It is a raw, trailer trash demand. I have no idea what Roky Erickson did with this originally but Wilder does a good job, even if the gravy never drips off the plate. Why is there a second guitar during the solo segment warbling useless crap? Is that supposed to be psychedelic?

“Honky Tonkin’ (In Mississippi)” is highly objectionable. It’s a clever lyric that insists that “a miss and a sip” is the key to honky tonkin’ down there. Why, oh why, did the writer [J.Swan] lift Hank Williams’ melody from “Honky Tonk Blues” as the essence of the tune? Did he actually think that no one would notice? The modestly clever lyric would have benefited from a melody of its own.

Track #6 is “Pretty Is As Pretty Does.” This is a convincing 1964 Brit Invasion tip-o-the-hat. The arrangement is very much 1972. This causes discontent. The production is obviously after 1990. Get Nick Lowe to cover it and he might make it work.

Bobby Russell was a craftsman songwriter. Webb’s choice of “Sudden Stop” is marvelous. Originally done by Percy Sledge this a great Soul tune. Wilder does the tune well and, except for the very annoying Hammond draw-bar choice, it is a worthy interpretation.

A welcome, too long overlooked cover is Larry Williams’ 1958 “She Said Yeah.” The Animals covered this song in a very generic way and the Rolling Stones did a very nice (and sloppy) version. Webb does this remake in a convincing manner and, despite the very 1968 guitar tone, provides a nice snapshot of a dandy little Rock’n’roll song.

“Come Around” sounds like a Searchers song from 1964. I have Searchers albums.

Eddie Hinton was a studio guitarist associated with Fame Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Recording. His reputation was broad. His solo career was disappointing. Songs like “Still Water Runs Deep” are the reason he failed as a solo artist.

The title song is another Wilder original. “More Like Me.” If Webb had called Billy Joe Shaver and asked him to write a song for Wilder’s next CD that described a man embracing himself, flaws and all, Shaver could have composed a superior version of this plain little romp. Once again, the organ tone is simply wrong.

Not much here for Blues freaks, but it is Americana.

Reviewer John Harrelson has been playing Blues since 1965 and worked in virtually every genre of music; Folk, Country, Jazz, R&B and Rock. He holds a PhD in Historical Musicology from the Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

New CD by

BJ Allen


Blue Voodoo


"From fun to funky to soulful ballads and back again" - Blues Blast Magazine

To read the complete review CLICK HERE

Available now at:

The River City Blues Society presents

Wednesday Blues 7:00pm Early Shows


May 13 - Black Magic Johnson

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

To see Map- CLICK HERE

 Admission $4

Live Blues Calendar

 YOU can submit your Blues performances for FREE at:


Performance dates were submitted by Musicians, Club Owners, Blues Societies and Blues festivals. is not responsible for errors or omissions.

CLICK HERE - for the Latest Complete Blues Calendar on our website at:

or click a state to see Blues shows by State

Alabama  Alaska  Arizona  Arkansas  California  Colorado  Connecticut  Delaware  D.C.  Florida  Georgia 
Hawaii  Idaho  Illinois  Indiana  Iowa  Kansas  Kentucky  Louisiana  Maine  Maryland  Massachusetts  Michigan  Minnesota  Mississippi  Missouri  Montana  Nebraska  Nevada  New Hampshire  New Jersey
New Mexico  New York  North Carolina  North Dakota  Ohio  Oklahoma  Oregon  Pennsylvania  Rhode Island  South Carolina  South Dakota   Tennessee  Texas  Utah  Vermont  Virginia  Washington  West Virginia  Wisconsin  Wyoming   Other

Performance dates submitted by Musicians, Clubs, Blues Societies and Blues festivals.

The is not responsible for errors or omissions.

 Advertise with Blues Blast Magazine

Get the Blues word OUT!

Festivals...  Blues Blast Magazine &'s website are great ways to promote ANY Blues event or product. In fact we believe we just might have THE best Blues advertising vehicle anywhere to promote YOUR Blues event!

Blues CD's... For less than the cost of one small ad in a newspaper, you can advertise your shows, new CD or any Blues product. A great way to get the Blues word out!

Blues fans WANT to know about your Blues event of product. Call Bob at (309) 267-4425 or send an email to for a confidential quote today!

Blues Blast Magazine covers Blues all over the US - NOT just in Illinois!

We also offer effective advertising for Festivals and Club Owners, Recording Companies and Performers. Put your Blues advertisement on our homepage at: either as a sponsored event or as a featured event, product, recording or merchandise.  We get 10,000 visitors and 800,000 hits A MONTH on our website!

More than 12,000 Blues Fans, Musicians, Recording Companies, Club Owners, Blues Societies and Festival Promoters in all 50 states and in 40 countries read the Blues Blast magazine each week. You can feature your event or product in the largest FREE internet Blues magazine delivered right to your inbox each week.

Contact us Today at

Visit our website at:

P.O. Box 721 Pekin, Illinois 61555     © 2007 - 2009

 To be REMOVED from Blues Blast Magazine

 Send an email with Remove Me in the subject line to:

Clicking the email address above and then hitting send will remove you.