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June 4, 2009           

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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

“Queen Of The Blues” Koko Taylor

We lost a true Blues legend this week. Koko Taylor changed the way we view female Blues performers. (See the Chicago Tribune article/obituary about Koko's passing HERE

I had the pleasure of seeing Koko perform many times over the last 30 years. Most recently I had the pleasure to cover an after fest pub crawl with Koko and her daughter after the Chicago Blues Fest last year.

We went to five Chicago Blues clubs on a bus tour after Koko's triumphant performance on the main stage that night. Koko was gracious and kind to everyone on the bus and we had a GREAT time partying till 3:00AM.

I got to see her perform one more time at The Mississippi Valley Blues Fest over the Independence holiday weekend last summer.

I wanted to share with you my favorite memory, my first memory of Koko Taylor.

In the  1970's one of the acts performing at an entertainment convention for the college market was a lady named Koko Taylor. There was every style of music, dance companies, comedians, storytellers, you name it at this convention, all trying to get performances at colleges.

Koko came out to perform for this crowd of 18 to 21 year olds. She was incredibly dynamic and animated. Much like Carl Weathersby or other intense Blues performers, she looked these kids in the eye and sang right into their souls. I was one of those kids. I had never heard of her.  After that day I would remember her forever.

Transfixed I could not look away for a moment. As Koko sang she moved from one side of the stage to the other, full of energy. The most incredible performance I had ever witnessed.  The crowd went wild!

I will never get that performance out of my mind, or any of the others I have seen since then.  We will miss you Koko!

Bob Kieser - Blues Blast Editor

Blues Wanderings

We got to hear a great band from Peoria, IL this week. Rob Williams' Soggy Bottom Blues Band played a show for the River City Blues Society. These guys are really good. They played many Blues standards but it wasn't like listening to a bunch of cover tunes at all. These guys made the tunes come alive.

It was a especially touching when they launched into their version of Wang Dang Doodle. They did a great job on it and several Blues fans could be seen wiping tears from their eyes. (Including this one!) Between sets it was announced to the crowd about the news of Koko Taylor's passing and there was a somber pause as the stunned crowd of Blues fans observed a moment of silence in her honor.

In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!

James Walker reviews a new CD from Big James. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD by Steve Rowe. Michael Packer reviews a new CD by Lluis Coloma. John Harrelson reviews a new CD by Otis Taylor and a CD by Earl Gaines. Eric Steiner Reviews a new CD by Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers. James and Susan Walker send us a live show review and photos from the Watseka Blues Festival.

Our Blues videos of the week are eight clips of Koko Taylor this week including performances throughout her long music career. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 Summer Advertising SALE!!

Blues Blast Magazine is running an advertising sale for Blues festivals and new CD releases during July through October. Are you a promoter or a Blues Society having a festival anytime during July through October? Is your band's CD being released in the coming months?

If so we are offering a great deal to get the Blues word out for you. Your ad can be seen each week by 12,000 Blues fans in all 50 states and in 60 countries for a very low price of $30 a week. (Four Week minimum!)

So for the low price of $120 your ad will be seen nearly 50,000 times by real Blues fans. How is that for a deal? You want more you say? OK then we recommend our combo rate where for an additional $20, your ad will also run at the same time on our website at Our website gets 10,000 visitors and more than 800,000 hits each month.

The sale prices are good for ad space reserved through July 31st, 2009. Available advertising space is limited and is offered on a first come, first served basis so contact us today at to start getting the Blues word out about your Blues event or CD!

 Blues Videos of the Week

Remembering Koko Taylor - Queen of the Blues

We have eighth clips of Koko over the years. They speak for themselves. Enjoy!

To see these videos on our website, click the play buttons next to the photos.

Wang Dang Doodle (2008)   

I Cried Like a Baby (1987)  

Wang Dang Doodle with Little Walter & Hound Dog Taylor (1967)   

Can't Let Go w/ Lonnie Brooks & Junior Wells(1993)   

Let The Good Times Roll + I'm A Woman (1978)   

Don't Put Your Hands On Me (1995)  

Ernestine (Date unknown)  


Blues medley with Irma Thomas, Ruth Brown and B.B. King (1993) presents

Matthew Skollar Band

The Rivoli Theatre - Monmouth, IL

CLICK HERE to Purchase Tickets

 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.

Sax Man Searching

Sax player w/vocals, seeks professional band, full or part time. Based in Pittsburgh, PA. , can travel. Have done short tours and performances with bands based in Charlotte, NC., Atlanta, GA. and Morgantown, WV. Recently returned from Carson City and Reno, NV. performing at The Casino Fandango and The Alantis Casino with Musicole, featuring Michael Coleman. Currently contracted with The Holidays, a Pittsburgh based R&B show/dance band. Recently performed from New York to New Orleans, from Atlantic City to Las Vegas with the Marcels, the Clovers, the Skyliners, Frankie Ford, The Dubs and The Vogues. Contact Jerry Mellix -    

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Friday, June 19

The Rev. Jimmy Bratcher

Angela Hagenbach


Saturday, June 20

Parkville Community Band

The Skip Hawkins Band

Tommy Andrews Band

The Sons of Brazil

Roger "Hurricane" Wilson w/ Levee Town

Stacy Mitchart


Buddy Guy’s Legends Celebrates with Party June 16

Buddy Guy had just finished his set in Grant Park during the1989 Chicago Blues Festival when he invited the crowd to his “new home of the blues”, Buddy Guy’s Legends. Just a few blocks away at 754 S. Wabash Ave., the club shared its building with a flower shop, an adult book store and a place of worship. An empty lot sat across the street. Walking into the club, the walls were pale blue and bare; everything was new and shiny. A lot has changed since then and as the club turns 20 years old this June, Buddy Guy’s Legends will be celebrating the whole month of June with drink specials, giveaways and a few surprises.

The official 20th anniversary party will be held on Tuesday, June 16, featuring music by the Brother John Band and Harmonica Hinds.

There will be a $10 cover charge at the door; no tickets will be sold ahead of time. Doors open at 11:00AM and festivities will begin at 6:00PM

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 6

Big James & The Chicago Playboys - Right Here Right Now

Blind Pig Records

11 songs; Time 47:08; Suggested

Styles: Blues, R&B, Soul, Funk

Name one contemporary Blues band led and fronted by a trombone player. Right, Big James and the Chicago Playboys – that’s one. Can you think of any others? I can’t either. While I have stated previously that I am not a big fan of horns in Blues bands, Chicago’s premier R&B ensemble has found a way into my heart.

“Right Here Right Now” is their fifth album, and its major label release on Blind Pig is a well deserved step up reflecting their critical acclaim. Introducing newcomers to the Playboys' unique horn-driven sound, the CD features seven James Montgomery original compositions as well as covers of Bobby Bland, Tyrone Davis, and the O'Jays.

Lead vocalist "Big James" Montgomery is a young man with a solid pedigree in the world of Rhythm & Blues. He played with Little Milton, Albert King, and Buddy Guy before fronting the Chicago Playboys. Drawing comparisons to James Brown's former rhythm-intensive backing band, they have also backed Eric Clapton and Otis Rush. Having seen them live four times, I can testify that when big James and the Chicago Playboys take the stage, they are tighter than a gnat’s ass stretched over a rain barrel.

Guitar fans should fret not; Mike Wheeler plays plenty of burning leads and rhythm interspersed in the mix with his background vocals. The Chicago Playboys are further comprised of original member Charlie Kimble on saxophone, Joe Blocker - keyboards, Larry Williams - bass, Cleo Cole - drums, and Theresa Davis - backup vocals. Kenny Anderson’s highly sought after trumpet and co-arrangements are studio added. Montgomery’s nephew, Derrick “D-Mose” Moseberry adds a rap segment to “On the Grind.”

Having gained the attention aficionados, Big James and Chicago Playboys have won the Living Blues magazine annual Critics' Poll for Most Outstanding Horns in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, and received award nominations in 2002, 2006 and 2008 for the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards. In addition they won the 2008 Prix Blues from the Académie du Jazz for their last Jamot release, "Thank God I Got the Blues."

Opening the set with the title track, The Playboys’ dynamic sound supplements Montgomery’s heart felt lyrics making a plea for humanity to do better, right here right now. The song displays the full band’s capabilities executing Montgomery’s and Anderson’s original horn arrangements supported by the rock solid drums and bass of Cleo Cole and Larry Williams, thoughtfully placed guitar work from Mike Wheeler, and rich keyboards from Joe Blocker. Big James’ vocals become nicely choral when Davis and Wheeler join in the background.
Other standout favorites include an ode to Mom Yvonne Montgomery “A Mama Like Mine,” a Chicago Blues testimonial “Worry,” the slow, emotional “Expect the Best” (but prepare yourself for the worst), and Wheeler’s scorching guitar runs in “I Love’em” in which Montgomery laments the untimely passing of Marvell Collins Woods and Vernon “Chico” Banks.

Horn lovers are obviously going to be in heaven with this release while Blues fans of all types will find something to like within. Find out what the critics have known since 2002, and then follow up this CD with Big James’ previous killer self release, “Thank God I Got the Blues” from 2007.

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.

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

Gregg Wright

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

For complete info visit:

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 6

Steve Rowe - Five

Blue Skunk Music

15 tracks/64 minutes

The latest release from Canadian guitar hero Steve Rowe features a batch of original tunes co-authored with bassist Alan McElcheran, who shares vocal duty with the leader. The band is rounded out with Sam Harrison on drums. Peter Mika adds keyboards to several tracks and “Uncle” Bob Harrison adds his brushwork on the drums to several of the jazzier tracks.

Rowe repeatedly proves that he has plenty of skill as a string bender. He rips off one solo after another that crackles with energy and speed. At times Rowe’s playing reminds the listener of other guitarists. On “The Original Son-of-a-Gun”, he adopts a tone similar to B.B. King while “Little Too Young” channels Stevie Ray Vaughan. The closing track, “La Vie en Blues”, is an instrumental that offers proof that Rowe knows how to build and maintain intensity in a solo without resorting to worn-out guitar tricks.

There are a number of strong tracks on the disc. “The Black Hole” describes a club where not even the strong survive. When McElcheran exhorts Rowe to get lost, he answers with a biting solo that moves quickly, yet never feels rushed. Uncle Bob shows off his light percussive touch on “Like A Motor”. Rowe’s playing slows down a bit and he has a softer, fuller guitar tone that fits the light jazz feel of the song. “More Grits “ is another instrumental with a strong contribution from Mika on organ. Rowe unleashes a passionate solo that ends too quickly. The opening track, “I Believe I’m Gonna Go Back Home” finds Mika’s organ driving the arrangement and Rowe burning through several solo spots.

Most of the tracks on the disc are solid, ranging from the easy swing beat of “Gone Fishin’” to the uptown funk of “Swing, Bop, Shuffle”. The one cut that really deviates from the rest of the program is “Interlude (Into the Light)”, which slows the pace dramatically on a country-tinged instrumental piece. The guitars must have been tightly miked during this recording as you can hear fingers moving up and down the fret board of the acoustic guitar throughout the track. Rowe turns in a delicately nuanced solo. “Merry-Go-Round Blues” is a slow blues showcase for Rowe’s blistering guitar work.

Rowe and McElcheran are adequate singers – up to the demands of the songs without adding any personal expression that elevates any of the tracks into the essential category. That leaves it up to Rowe to distinguish this disc from the flood of releases on the market. His guitar work definitely merits a listen and the variety of styles plus generous playtime; this release should make for an enjoyable experience for most listeners.

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

For more info visit:

For Tickets and more info visit:

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 6

Earl Gaines - Nothin’ But The Blues

Ecko Records

The history of music is littered with the damaged and neglected. Dreamers who received little or no payoff for years of commitment as they followed whatever muse to whatever level of hell they descended. James Carr, Little Joe Blue, Howard Tate, Little Sonny, Willie Brown, Walter Brown, they all show up on the radar, they bring something potent to the table and then they drop off that radar. Sometimes one is re-located by someone who gives a damn and, less frequently, they get a second chance. I knew Rock-a-billy singer Glen Glenn four years before I figured out who he “had been.”

This new CD by Earl Gaines marks such a second chance, actually a third. Having been a modestly significant artist in the Black community from 1955 until about 1975, Gaines faded from recognition while performers like O.V.Wright, Syl Johnson, Latimore, and the obscure Little Beaver nibbled on the leftovers as one more Soul Man fell away.

Now, by re-re-recording Ted Jarrett’s “24 Hours a Day,” Gaines surfaces for a third bite of the apple. Jarrett composed “You Can Make It If You Try” covered by the Rolling Stones in 1964. Buddy Guy did an excellent cover of this tune. I backed a young vocalist, Rob Donofrio, on a version in 1995. Producer John Ward was very canny to have recruited Harrison Calloway to arrange the horn parts. Calloway is one of the architects who helped create the genre of Soul Music.

Opening with the aforementioned “24 Hours” Gaines sets the tone of this outing with a nice, straight-ahead Memphis-style shuffle. The arrangement is from the Fame/Stax vocabulary. One can imagine that Gaines was a contributor to SRV’s vocal approach. I cannot figure why the horns are over-compressed here and on a couple of other cuts.

“Let’s Call a Truce” takes the mellow ballad approach, somewhere between Hi Records and the Muscle Shoals Sound Recorders of 1970. The synth strings are voiced authentically. The lyric is about tension in a relationship. You can feel the impending doom. This is termed ‘Deep Soul.’

Track #3, “Meat and Potatoes Man” is that not-too-subtle Tampa Red kind of song. You need some attention? I got some attention for you.” Z.Z.Hill’s “Down Home Blues” is the obvious model for the arrangement and rhythm pocket. The guitar work is predictable but good.

“Let the Past Be the Past” sounds like the kind of song that Isaac Hayes and David Prater used to write for Sam & Dave. It could even be something from William Bell. This is a great example of Memphis R&B. The strings and horns crossing textures is something that Memphis arrangers were brilliant at doing. I’m happy to hear this kind of song done in this way.

The fifth cut is If I Could Do it All Over Again.” More Deep Soul to express regret. You really don’t miss your water until the well runs dry.

In the #6 slot is a tune whose metaphor sounds risky and risque. Yes, this is automatically provocative. “You Better Know Your Hole From Mine” is a warning to other fishermen to stay away from a particularly enjoyable spot where the catfish bite. Oh, and should you trespass, the singer will be on you “like white on rice.” Not nearly as clever as the composer’s assumed, nor as ironic as the producer intended, much better “property access” songs are already written.

“Everything Sweet Reminds Me of You.” If you miss the Chi-Lites, this will serve as a Methodone substitute. In the hands of an amateur this would be saccharine crap. Delivered by a skilled Soul singer, it is totally believable. Kudus to producer Ward for writing it and giving it to one of the few people in the world who could serve the song.

#8 is “Good Old Country Boy.” Dating back to “Po’ Boy” and continuing still, the cycle of songs dealing with the character of the guileless and simple soul with his simple needs is an American tradition. Yeah, the simple, ‘overhall-wearing’ [sic] backwoods Alabama boy who can love a woman’s brains out. The determination of the producer to capture the Howlin’ Wolf monotonic riff is admirable, but Wolf never recorded those tunes as more than three-minute declarations.

The penultimate song is a distinct prequel to Z.Z.Hill’s “Down Home Blues.” This is what she said to him before she went to the party. It isn’t a blues despite its title, “Nothing But Party Blues.” I can hear the Hill song coming around the bend, but this composition is very near something Mel & Tim might have done “back in the day.” Yeah, it’s a nice addition to the story of the frailty of the flesh.

The promise of a title like “Cheat on Schedule,” is broad. The song is another solid shuffle and is a sequel of sorts. Remember Albert King’s suspicions about his woman going down to the Laundromat? Well, this is the guy she was cheating with. Yeah, sister, let’s get on with it. A good closing number.

Bassist Al Wilder gets extra points from me. Conscientious and constant, his attention to the essence of Duck Dunn, James Jamerson, Fred Thomas and Ray Brundidge’s work is laudable.

Calloway’s delicious horn-parts are not treated as well as they should have been in the mix of some of the tunes, but that’s a minor quibble in the context of this very satisfying CD.

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 Ph.D in Historical Musicology from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

For info and tickets visit

12th Annual Prairie Dog Blues Fest

Friday, July 31, 2009

Queenie & The Blue Cats   Curtis Salgado  The Groove Hogs  Ana Popovic  The Swamp Kings

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Perry Weber & The DevillesDave Weld & The Imperial Flames   Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers Johnny Rawls  Lil' Brian & The Zydeco Travelers  Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam  Jon Justice


Festival Website

The only Blues festival held on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River!

 Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin on St. Feriole Island

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 6

Otis Taylor - Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs

Telarc Blues Records

I am going to outright suggest that this CD is worthy of purchase. However, if you don’t have love for the harmonic ambiguity of “Bitches Brew,” Dr.John’s “Walk on Gilded Splinters” without the gris gris, and cannot imagine Richie Havens doing Van Morrison’s “TB Sheets,” you won’t enjoy this effort.

Overall this recording brought to mind a morose Danny O’Keefe, a non-tradition-bound Charles Bevel, and John Lee Hooker of 1954.

The first track, “Looking for Some Heat,” is a very fine composition. It has an incredible coloration from pianist Jason Moran. The rhythmic suspension and the choice of notes is very Paul Bley—that’s a huge compliment. The cornet enters too early but this song is fantastic so that’s forgiven. I was immediately struck with the atmosphere of John Cale’s “Paris 1919,” the hunger of Lowell George, and honest declaration like Warren Zevon. Welcome to the greater marketplace, Otis Taylor.

“Sunday Morning” demonstrates that bass player/daughter Cassie Taylor is a good vocalist. She also sings the tune “Mama’s Best Friend.”

The next nine songs are not true compositions at all. They are verbal riffing over a groove. Some of the grooves are complex, some very simple.

Track #3 is called “Silver Dollar On My Head” It seems to refer to a ritual of which I am unfamiliar. Maybe it’s a family tradition. In any case, it’s all groove and ambiance.

The next track, “Lost My Guitar,” has a note attached below the credits about the inspiration for the song. If the note is accurate, then the song is not effective to its purpose. Again, groove and ambiance a-plenty.

On “I’m Not Mysterious.” the complications of race and culture combined with childhood innocence is a powerful subject.

Then a bold suggestion of masculinity without braggadocio. Okay. “Country Boy, Girl” features a haunting riff from the banjo while the piano matches it with frenetic pseudo-unison. Atmosphere, don’t try to make sense of the lyric. Once again, all groove and ambiance, “Talking About It Blues” lyrics don’t deliver what the marginalia note promises.

In “Walk on Water” Otis recalls some sermon from his youth. When the piano enters it blurs the tonal nature of the song with an ostinato note not of the chord. I like the tension this causes, but some folks would doubtless say “Why is that guy doing that monotonous thing?”

“Mama’s Best Friend” is supposed to startle the listener. The old lesbian Blues tune “Women Loving Women” and Ben Harper’s “Mama’s Got a Girlfriend” address the subject nicely. It’s in a syncopated 8/8 rhythm.

The enticing song “Dagger By My Side” is impressionist. Taylor and his acoustic guitar present a 1972 rock demo that no one would do in 1972. I like the song, the riff, even the vagueness of the lyric. But where’s the band when they are needed?

The final slice is titled “If You Hope.” It’s a song that, though minimal in content, sounds like Jaques Brel delivered by Barry White. Pretty far from Mississippi or Chicago. The CD would have benefited greatly from a little attention to detail, especially some introductions rather than “come in when you feel the groove” casual starts. 

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 Ph.D in Historical Musicology from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation invites you to take a RARE night time tour of the historic
Chess Studios
, located at 2120 S. Michigan Ave. in downtown Chicago!

WHEN:  Saturday, June 13th from 9pm - 1am
WHERE:  2120 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL  60616
ADMISSION:  Donations Suggested

 Come tour the studio, hear live music, watch video footage of blues legends, and enjoy food & refreshments...all where rock and blues legends were made!
Also, if you're attending the Chicago Blues Festival, come stop by the Blues Heaven Foundation booth! 

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

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 6

Lluis Coloma - Boogie Portraits

Swing Alley Records

Lluis Coloma is one of the few pianists in Spain able to recreate the primitive styles of the Blues. He is highly acclaimed in Europe having received numerous awards in excellence. Lluis was born in Barcelona and today is one of the most active and renowned pianists on the scene within the field of Blues and boogie woogie.

On Boogie Portraits Coloma has featured himself with 11 other Blues pianists from all over the world in live settings recorded at various venues.

The first track named after himself 'Colomas Boogie', he plays solo and it is a masterpiece of sound. It just amazes me how good he is and he is from Spain. Just goes to show you how universal the Blues is.

On 'Just a Little Walk with Thee', he is coupled with another European pianist August Tharrats. It's a rag time feel and I am sure their gods were swinging in heaven right along with them.

He is paired with the American Blues pianist Mitch Wood on the Muddy Waters tune 'Red Beans'. Nice vocal too from Mitch Wood.
' CC Rider' with Carl Sonny Leyland the British Blues pianist is also an excellent track. Lluis has a fun mambo coming at you with Julien Breunstaud which is simply great!

An upbeat boogie of Stephen Foster's 'Swanee River' with Detroit's Bob Seeley is just a gas to listen to. David Giorcelli who has been featured with Sugar Ray and the Bluetones plays on '44 Blues'.

'La Pirgua' is more of a jazz piece done in a minor key. Louis finds himself sitting across from the German pianist Mark 'Mr.B' Braun. Frank Mischalle who has worked with Rusty Zinn is featured on the raucous 'Honkey Tonk Blues Bar Boogie'.

Barrell House Chuck joins Lluis on the Chicago Blues piano style 'School Days on My Mind'.

French pianist Phillipe Le Jeune is featured on the jazz cut 'Stick with It'.The set closes with another Spanish great Bernat Font on 'El Noi de la Mare'.

Lluis Coloma has assembled some of the finest pianists in the world on this extraordinary collection. If you are a lover of Blues and boogie woogie piano this CD is for you. If you want a CD performed by the piano masters go out and buy this CD. EXCEPTIONAL!!!

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.

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

The Golf Hotel, Carnoustie, Scotland

For tickets an info  or

 Featured Blues Review 6 of 6

Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers Blues Quartet - Soul Monster

Delta Groove

From the passionate, fat-toned honks of the opening instrumental, to the remaining dozen cuts, this four-piece ensemble of Mighty Flyers have produced a solid, harp-fueled CD. Soul Monster is Rod Piazza’s 24th recording in a career that has spanned four and a half decades, and it features a nice mixture of covers and originals. Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway” is slowed down just a touch, and “Sunbird” takes me right back to the classic harp lines of Rod’s mentor, George “Harmonica” Smith. “You Better Watch Yourself” honors the work of Little Walter just fine, too, and “Queen Bee” sets up Rod for some tasty solos. Standout cuts on Soul Monster for me are the originals: “Cheap Wine” (co-written with Honey Piazza, the title cut, and “Expression Session.”

Rod’s got Miss Honey on piano and bass guitar, Henry Caraval on guitar and vocals, and Dave Kida behind the drum kit. Henry’s vocals on “Talk to Me” and “Ko Ko Mo” are spot-on, and from beginning to end, Soul Monster is a CD worth celebrating. “Talk to Me” reminds me of classic AM radio hits of the 1960’s – a departure of sorts from more traditional blues, but it shows the versatility of the band. While it’s more Bill Haley than Big Big Broonzy, it’s a nice change of pace.

This summer, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers Blues Quartet will play Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago Independence Day weekend, followed by a show at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival prior to crossing the pond for a couple of European festivals, including the aptly-named Piazza Blues Festival in Switzerland. Keep up with Rod, Honey, Henry and Dave online at, and sample their music. Better yet, pick up their latest Delta Groove CD – it’s a great blues party record!

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 visit  for more information on the Washington Blues Society

For other reviews and interviews on our website 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. June 19th – Watermelon Slim & The Workers

The Long Island Blues Society  - Long Island, NY

The LIBS Presents Carolyn Wonderland, June 14th 2009 @ BOBBiQUE, 70 West Main Street, Patchogue NY (631) 447-7744. Joe Rock & The Allstars open the show! Tickets are only $18 ($15 for Blues Society members). Tickets are available at  and at BOBBiQUE. Doors open 2:30 PM. For more info visit  This is going to be one exciting performance – not to be missed. See y’all at BOBBiQUE!!

The South Skunk Blues Society  - Newton, Iowa

The South Skunk Blues Society is proud to announce the17th Bowlful of Blues, June 13, 2009 at the Maytag Bowl in Newton, Iowa. Featuring Too Slim and the Taildraggers, Michelle Malone, 2009 Iowa Blues Challenge winners The Avey Brothers, and Iowa bands Brad “bebad” McCloud & His Case of the Blues and Mojo Machine. Dewey Cantrell will play solo between sets. Tickets are $15 in advance $20 day of show. For more info:

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. 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 presents British sensation Joanne Shaw Taylor on Thursday June 18 at Creekside Bar and Grill, 3303 Brady Street in Davenport. Admission is $8.00, $6.00 for MVBS members. The show starts at 7:00 p.m. For more info 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 -  June 8 - Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys, June 15- Andrew Junior Boy Jones, June 22 - Harper, June 29 - Deak Harp

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:  June 3 – Rob Williams' Soggy Bottom Blues Band, June 10 – The Plateros, June 17 – Joanne Shaw Taylor, June 24 - Gina Sicilia

 Live Blues Review

Watseka Theatre 2nd annual Blues, BBQ & Arts Festival May 30, 2009

Watseka’s Restored 1931 Art Deco Theatre – Watseka, IL

The Watseka Theatres’ 2nd annual Blues, BBQ & Arts Fest was a great success! Exciting Blues performances were the rule of the day as each and every band played and performed at the top of their game.

From Jeff McCord's Watseka Wonder Blues Band, playing out front of the Theatre on Walnut Street, starting the day off right by welcoming all the guests with classic songs, to the last head-liner of the night, Doug “Arkansas Razorback” McDonald, the music was as good as found anywhere in the country. It was said over and over again what a nice surprise it was to have this level of talent in our fair town of Watseka.

The second band thoroughly enjoyed by all was Burt Kaper's local band, Sgt. Kaper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Blues Band. They were joined by local favorite Jim Marshino, the Cherry Picker, on a vintage red Gibson ES 355 guitar.

The next band, Hounds Tooth from Milwaukee, turned out to be the sleeper band of the entire event. Performing classics like “Little by Little,” lead singer Jamie Brace belted out the power while newest member, Jared James Nichols lit it up on a Flying V style guitar.

From northwest Indiana, Little Johnny Moore made a return from the inaugural Fest. Proving he was back by popular demand, Little Johnny opened eyes and turned heads with his energy on guitar, vocals, and harmonica.

Two more area bands, Curtis and the Mayfields and the strongly followed After Midnight Blues had everyone in the theatre clapping and stomping with encore after encore.

Moving into the night hours, the national talents began with sexy diva Queenie and the Blue Cats from Madison Wisconsin, which turned out to be a crowd favorite. Queenie (Susan McCarter-Wade) worked the stage and the audience until she had everyone eating out of the palm of her hand. With Gospel roots from her native Chicago, Queenie delivered a powerful take on her style of Blues.

The top billed performer was the Arkansas Razorback himself, Mr. Doug McDonald whose surprise guests were guitarists and vocalists Master James, The Godfather of Kankakee Blues, and Chicago’s John Hill. McDonald, who has been headlining and performing throughout the US and Canada for many years, brought the Fest’s strongest set of deep Blues. The Arkansas Razorback is a musicians' musician, and together with his band, The Blue Mirrors, he delivered a Blues lovers delight. They finished the night with a three way power guitar display on the Chuck Berry classic, “Johnny B. Goode!”

Walnut Street was transformed into a quaint artists’ walk with arts and crafts vendors, picnic tables, festival tee shirt sales, and some of the best BBQ found anywhere. One vendor came as far as Louisville, Kentucky for the Fest and said it was a great thing to see so many people coming from out of town to this kind of family Festival. Each and every vendor said what a great day they had. At one point during the show, a musician on stage asked the audience how many had come from out of town. Nearly three quarters of the house raised their hands.

The Theatres third annual Blues Fest is already in the works, planned again for the last Saturday in May 2010!

By James “Skyy Dobro” Walker - Watseka resident

Photos by Susan Walker

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

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