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July 30, 2009           

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Hey Blues Fans,

There is a great Blues fest this weekend held on an island in the middle of the Mighty Mississippi river. The Prairie Dog Blues Festival is this Friday and Saturday in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin on St. Feriole Island. The lineup includes Queenie & The Blue Cats,  Curtis Salgado The Groove HogsAna Popovic and The Swamp Kings on Friday and Perry Weber & The DevillesDave Weld & The Imperial Flames Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers, Johnny RawlsLil' Brian & The Zydeco TravelersDavy Knowles & Back Door Slam and The Jon Justice Band on Saturday. Visit their website for info and tickets at: or see their ad below.

Blues Wanderings

We had a really good Blues week! We made it out to hear Joanna Connor playing an acoustic set for the River City Blues Society! WOW!! This lady ain't no sissy guitar player! Joanna played acoustic guitar and sang some of the songs from her CD "Unplugged at Carterco". And providing an opening set of delta Blues was the lovely Chicago Blues woman, Donna Herula!

It got better as the week went on! Last Friday we made it to the Chicago area to hear two time Grammy Award winner Keb Mo performing at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. (The Morton name in the Morton Arboretum is the same folks who stated the Morton Salt company and also one of the founders of Arbor Day.)

This show was the kickoff of their summer music series and it was quite a fitting beginning.

In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!

James Walker reviews a new CD from Andrea Marr.  Eric Steiner reviews a new CD by Gina Fox. Bruce Williams reviews a new CD by the Dennis Mitchell Band. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Davey Knowles & Back Door Slam. Brian Holland reviews a CD by Joanne Shaw Taylor. Belinda Foster reviews a CD by Sunny & Her Joy Boys.

Bob Kieser reviews day three of the IH Mississippi Valley Blues Festival and reviews the 8th annual Nothin' But The Blues Festival.

Our Blues Video of the Week is a recent performance by Chicago Blues legend, John Primer.

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

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 Featured Blues Review 1 of 6

Andrea Marr - Little Sister Got Soul

Amphead Music

10 songs; Time 41:21 minutes; Suggested

Style: Soul

Blues music was born in the United States, yet there are Blues artists in Australia. What a wonderful testimonial to the power, richness, and impact of the roots of all Roots music, Blues!

Australia has a thriving Blues and Soul scene, and they can rightly brag about the crossover-the-ocean artists that have made a name in the U.S. like Sugarcane Collins, Dave Hole, Harper, Jimi Hocking, Fiona Boyes, and now, Andrea Marr.

Andrea is truly a first class singer with a dynamic, gospel fueled voice, and I’m not the first to notice. She already has an impressive resume:
* 2009 Female Vocalist of the Year (Chain Award, the Australian Blues Music Awards)
* 2007 Female Vocalist of the Year (Newcastle Blues Awards)
* 2005 Blues Performer of the Year
* 2002 Female Blues Artist of the Year (Vic/Tas)

This is simply a wonderful album. If you are a Baby Boomer very familiar with Aretha Franklin, Dinah Washington, Etta James and Memphis Soul sounds, you may not hear anything new, but you’ll hear an artist and her band who have mastered the idiom, breathing new life into it. If you are younger, or not familiar with the classic Soul music of America’s best, you’ll feel like you have discovered a gold mine!

This is Andrea’s fourth album, and her performance, backup band, production, and engineering and mixing create a world class effort. There are seven originals plus covers of Etta James (“I Prefer You”), Dinah Washington (“Soulville”), and Glenn Kaiser (“If I Leave This World Tomorrow”).

Her core band is Greg Dodd, guitar, Dean Matters, drums, Clint Healy, bass, Cam Scott, keyboards, and Sean Vagg, sax. Two of the originals are written by the band, and another is written with Dodd. The skilled instrumental contributions from each plus full band studio additional musicians make the CD more than just a vocal showcase.

Standout moments beyond Marr’s singing are Dodd’s guitar work on “If I Leave This World Tomorrow” and his intro to “What’s Wrong With You,” the groups sagacious advice found in “Don’t Touch What You Can’t Afford,” the full horn section in “Real Good Man,” and Cam Scott’s piano work in “Baby Got Me Crazy.”

This is no “regional” or “niche” album; this is great Soul music. Meet this “Little Sister” now and then watch for her to tour the U.S. – hopefully SOON!

Andrea Marr has been singing the blues since 1999, gaining critical acclaim in the Australian Blues Scene and earning her fans around the world for her brand of sassy, soulful blues. The Andrea Marr Band has been delivering high energy, feel good shows to audiences around Australia and is one of the most sought after blues bands in the thriving Melbourne blues scene. Andrea's album "Sassified" won her the 2002 Female Blues Artist of the Year award. She then won the coveted "Blues Performer of the Year 2005" Award which allowed her to represent Australia in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN in 2006. Her 2005 album "Watch Me Work It" earned her international airplay, great reviews and the title track was chosen to be included on the US Compilation CD "National Women In Blues 2007" (available on Jomarr records) launching the newest wave of US Blues Women. Andrea was the only non-American on the album

Little Sister Got Soul (2008)
Watch Me Work It (2006)
Sassified (2001)
Inheritance (1997).

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.



John Primer


Nominated for 2009 Blues Blast Music Award

Best Traditional Blues Recording

To Purchase the new CD CLICK HERE

To Read the CD review CLICK HERE

Vote for John Primer in the 2009 Blues Blast Music Awards

John is also Nominated for

Best Male Blues Artist

To vote now 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.

Magic City Blues Society - Birmingham. AL

Magic City Blues Society presents Junk Yard Juke, August 15, 2009, 3:00 p.m. at 430 41st Street South
Birmingham, AL (behind Tres' Taylor's Art Studio) featuring Spoonful, Jonny Grave and Elliott & The Untouchables. Bring your chairs and coolers. Admission: $10. For more Information, contact Lee Mitchell 205-822-1705

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:  August 5th - The Dave Chastain Band

The Natchel’ Blues Network - Norfolk, VA

The Natchel’ Blues Network and Beach Events Presents the 16th Annual Blues at the Beach Festival, September 11-13, 2009, Beachstreet Pavilion - 17th St. Stage, Virginia Beach VA. Free and open to everyone.  The lineup includes Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Sherman Robertson, The Deanna Bogart Band , Li’l Ronnie’s Blues Harmonica Revue, The JW-Jones Blues Band w/ Little Charlie Baty, Nick Curran, Matt Wigler, The Buddy Parker Band, Planet Full of Blues and The Blues Cats.

Blues workshops will be presented on-site over the course of the weekend, featuring national and local artists TBA. The workshops are part of the festival, and are free and open to the public.

For further information concerning the Blues Festival weekend, please contact: Mark Johnson, 757-344-6637 (C)  or visit the Natchel Blues Network at

The Arkansas River Blues Society - Little Rock, Arkansas

The Arkansas River Blues Society presents a monthly Blues jam at Juanita’s, 1300 Main Street, Little Rock, Arkansas the first Tuesday of every month. The next jam will be September 1, 2009, at 8 pm. The jam will feature a different house band each month. G - Funk The Tree Trunk will be our house band. You can check this band out on our myspace site. Admission is $5 for the public and $3 for members of ARBS. Participating musicians are FREE and this is an open jam. For more information contact Babs at 501-920-7783 or check out

Friends Of The Blues Shows - Kankakee IL

The Friends of the Blues 2009 Blues concert Series shows for August.

Saturday, August 1, Dave Riley & His Blues Band, 8 p.m., River Bend Bar & Grill, 6070 E. Route 17, Kankakee IL 60901. Phone: (815) 933-0610.

Tuesday, Aug 11 – Laurie Morvan Band, 7 p.m. Early Show, Kankakee Elks Country Club, 2283 Bittersweet Drive , St. Anne IL 60964 (815) 937-1228. Cover charge: only $5.00!

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

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL

BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 coverAugust 3rd Brian Lee,  August 10th Laurie Morvan Band, August 17th Levee town Blues Band, August 24th Todd Wolf Blues band August 31 Kilborn Alley


 Featured Blues Review 2 of 6

Gina Fox - Her Name is Gina

Back Bender Records

Gina Fox’ latest CD begins with Gina’s velvety vocals wrapped up with 10 piece band with a full, 1940’s big band sound on “Night Time,” and Gina got my attention right after the sax solos of Doug Sasfai (Gina Sicilia, Dave Gross), and Dennis Gruenling’s expert harmonica solo in between a horn section blowing old-school jazz. Her Name is Gina is Gina’s third studio CD, following her work with Dennis Gruenling (I Just Keep Loving Him, a Tribute to Little Walter, and Dennis Gruenling and Jump Time, That’s Right). She hails from New Jersey, and plays venues like the Salt Creek Grille in Princeton, and the Bayou Café in Freehold, but I hope that Her Name is Gina will get her noticed far beyond the boundaries of The Garden State.

This CD is unique in that some of the songs can land on radio programs featuring traditional jazz like Jimmy Sherman-Leonard “You Don’t Know Me,” or George Gershwin’s “How Long Has This Been Going On.” Neither of these would land on any blues radio playlist, but I hope readers will discover a vocalist equally adept not only with jazz standards but her own “One More Time,” built around Dennis’ harmonica and her duet with Paul Rishell, “You Don’t Know Me,” written by Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold.

When you log on to Gina’s web site, “Now That I Belong To You,” the seventh cut from the CD, welcomes you to her online world. It’s an arresting, assertive, and welcoming introduction that highlights Doug Sasfai’s strong sax solo and Jeff Levine’s soulful B-3 beds (Jeff’s musical resume includes work with Willy Deville and New Jersey’s Southside Johnny). As sax solos go, it reminded me of you how powerfully a sax can inform a love song. Like Wayne Shorter’s star turn on Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues” or Phil Woods’ sax solo on the Dan’s classic “Doctor Wu.”

Gina’s got a supple and versatile voice that can do justice to jazz and belt the blues, and I hope that Her Name is Gina will catch the ear of promoters, blues societies, and clubs to share in this exceptional vocalist’s talent.

Reviewer Eric Steiner is the President of the Washington Blues Society, the proud recipient of a 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation. For more information, you can email Eric at and visit

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Tab Benoit  Kenny Neal Band  Ronnie Baker Brooks  Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam  Kelley Hunt 
Reba Russell Band  The Underground Blues Division  The Cate Brothers  Josh Garrett & the Bottomline 
Steve Smith and the Sneakers  Stewart Mann and the Statesboro Revue  Shae

For tickets and complete information:

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 6

Dennis Mitchell Band - Highway Kind Of Life

Panhead Records

On my blues radio show, I try and play a very wide variety of music that loosely falls under the ‘blues’ umbrella. There is so much music out there that has that bluesy feel, or music that uses blues chord changes or turnarounds, so there’s lots to choose from. And let’s face it, most popular music is somehow based on the blues. “Highway Kind Of Life” , the energetic release by The Dennis Mitchell Band, wouldn’t be considered a ‘blues’ album by a blues purist, but is an example of music that crosses the boundaries of the genre. Producers Scott Kindt and Dennis Mitchell have succeeded in creating an impressive and high quality recording of the band with excellent horn and vocal arrangements.

The opening track, “Don’t Forget Me” reminds me of Bad Company! The groove and the style of the song are steeped in that 70’s guitar rock sound, and Mitchell’s high pitched voice only adds to that vibe. “Sometime”, the album’s second track, has an Allman Brothers feel and showcases some of the truly great sax work on this release. On “Opposites Attract”, the distorted lead guitar track hints at the band’s harder rock influences, while “Keep On Killing Me” has the main guitar doubling the bass line which is very effective in forming a funky pocket. The organ track heard on “Sister Susie” helps add spice to the Metal flavor of this foot stomping rocker. “You” a funky pop-soul rocker, reminds me of Huey Lewis in his prime, only with a harder edge, and is very well executed. “What To Do” is one of the bluesier songs on the album, and features an old school R&B chord progression, gospel tinged background vocals and a very cool bridge which elevates the song beyond just another visit to the great music of the 50’s. On “I Love Cars” the band showcases their Rock & Roll chops and energy! This song could be included in a “Road Songs” compilation as it has all the necessary elements, including catchy lyrics by Mitchell, who in fact wrote all the songs on this album. “Payback Blues” is a cool blues number with some great harp licks by Satellite Malone, more tight horn section work, a hot sax solo and really a great song arrangement all around. With “Running Away”, the listener knows rock is alive and well, and this riff based song effectively tickles the dance-bone. I like where the producers placed the second–to-last cut on the album, “What’s It Going To Take?”, probably my favorite cut on the album and maybe the best example of how good this group is. The strong lead vocal part, the stellar back-up vocals, the kick-butt drum track, the precision bass thumping, the tasty piano licks, and once again a strong arrangement all combine to make this a must listen

(I immediately added it to one of my favorite playlists!). “Highway Kind Of Life”, the title track, epitomizes the strengths of The Dennis Mitchell Band. The song starts out with a very cool single note guitar pattern brought to life on top of a classical sounding organ riff, that really becomes the hook. Later in the song, two guitars are intricately laced together in a perfect complement to the one another, and other instruments are carefully revealed and woven together masterfully. This must have been a fun mix-down as it must have become apparent that in this effort they were achieving engineering perfection, and actually this entire album sounds outstanding from that perspective.
I think this record will appeal to a broad range of listeners, from blues-lovers, to rockers, and certainly anyone who dug Bad Company, or the vocal vibe of Journey or Boston. The use of well orchestrated horns over a backdrop of semi-heavy rock instruments and a high pitched lead vocalist reminds the listener of Styx, but this music is more rooted in blues, rock & roll and old R&B, and there are no anthem-like ballads on this album. All the songs on “Highway Kind Of Life” grab you in some way, and some of the songs will remind you of some musical memory of the past.

Somehow, the producers captured an almost live energy in the studio, which is easier said than done, and one gets the impression that this band has improved the songs on the road over time, until they reached their full maturity. I know I’m going to be playing “What’s It Going To Take” on my next radio show, even though it’s not really a “blues” song, but like I said….The blues umbrella is large and this is Dennis Mitchell blues! And this album rocks! Check it out! .

Reviewer Bruce Williams is seasoned Blues musician (Junior Wells, Lefty Dizz and The Chicago Fire, Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins, Mark Hannon Blues Band). He  learned the blues from some of Chicago’s masters and has shared the stage with legends such as Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers, Sammy Lawhorn, Hound Dog Taylor and Jimmy Johnson. His band appears at clubs and festivals throughout the Midwest. He hosts a weekly radio program on WRLR FM Public Radio and produces music out of his home based Highland Lake Records.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Blues Video of the Week

John Primer
Hondarribia Blues Festival 2009

This week we feature Blues Blast Music Award nominee John Primer performing at the Hondarribia Blues Festival 2009 in Barcelona, Spain a couple weeks ago. He has Matthew Skollar playing harmonica with him. 

John has been a staple of Chicago Blues and this video shows why! Primer has played with Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor and many others.

Check out this video to see why John is one of the great nominees for Best Male Blues Artist in the 2009 Blues Blast Music Awards. His latest CD, "All Original" is also nominated as Best Traditional Blues CD.

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


For other videos on our website CLICK HERE.

2009 Blues Blast Music Awards Voting Is Open

The Blues Blast Music Awards recognize the best Blues performers and their music. Our nominators included Radio stations, Blues DJ's, Blues Bloggers, Blues Critics, Journalists, Festival Promoters, Managers, Musicians and Blues Societies. They have nominated the BEST in Blues Music today.  To vote now CLICK HERE.

BE AN INFORMED VOTER - If you are not familiar with all of the 2009 nominees,  GLT Blues Radio 24/7 has a created a "listening page" where you can sample the music of the nominees BEFORE you vote. To check out the website and begin listening to these great artists now, CLICK HERE    Voting continues until August 31st. Details of the Awards show on October 29th, 2009 at Buddy Guy's Legends coming soon.

Best Contemporary Blues Recording

" At Least I’m Not With You” The Insomniacs

"Love Me Tonight" John Nemeth

“Live at Chan’s Vol 2” Nick Moss

"Clean Getaway" Curtis Salgado

"What Love Will Do" Janiva Magness

"Never going Back" Shemekia Copeland

Best Blues Band

Nick Moss and The Flip Tops

Lil Ed And The Blues Imperials

Kilborn Alley Blues Band

Mannish Boys

The Insomniacs

Watermelon Slim and The Workers

Best Traditional Blues Recording

"Chicago Blues: A Living History" Various Artists

"Sweeheart Like You" Guy Davis

"All Original" John Primer

"Lowdown Feelin" Mannish Boys

"Blues Attack" Shirley Johnson

"One Kind Favor" BB King

Best Male Blues Artist

John Primer

Bobby Jones

Nick Moss

Lurrie Bell

John Nemeth

Elvin Bishop

Best Blues Song

“Bad Year Blues” Albert Castiglia

"At Least I'm Not With You" - The Insomniacs

"Mr. Coffee" Chris James & Patrick Rynn

"20 Years of B.B. King" Curtis Salgado

"Let Life Flow" Kenny Neal

"See That My Grave is Kept Clean" BB King

Best Female Blues Artist

Shirley Johnson

Robin Rogers

Diunna Greenleaf

Shemekia Copeland

Eden Brent

Janiva Magness

Best New Artist Debut

"Stop And Think About It" Chris James & Patrick Rynn

"White Sugar" Joanne Shaw Taylor

"Austin To Chicago" Dave Herrero

"2 Man Wrecking Crew" Cedric Burnside & Lightnin' Malcolm

"Livin It" Guy King

"Mississippi Number One" Eden Brent

Sean Costello Rising Star Award

Eden Brent

Kilborn Alley Blues Band

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Albert Castiglia

Dave Gross

Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm

 Live Blues Music Review 1 of 2

IH Mississippi Valley Blues Festival - Day Three -  July 4th,2009

Day three of the 25th Mississippi Valley Blues Festival featured a varied line up of great Blues. The weather was very uncooperative with rain preventing the Band Shell stage from opening. The festival organizers decided to run both the band shell artists and the tent stage performers under the tent which remained dry despite the rain. There was hope for the weather to clear up. If not it might be a late show estimated to finish around 2:30 am the next morning if everyone performed on the tent stage. 

Kicking off the show was Marquise Knox. We have seen Marquise twice before at the Arkansas Blues & Heritage Fest and both times he was buskin on the street as a solo performer. For this show he was with a band and has updated his look. We like the changes and seeing him perform with a great band was really cool.

Next up was the Steady Rollin' Band. This Davenport, Iowa based band featuring our good friend Tom Norman on bass was scheduled to kick of the main band shell stage but got moved to the tent stage because of the rain.  This was our first time hearing the band and it was a great show! With Jim Van Hyfte on drums, along with lead vocalist Jimmie Lee Adams on vocals, Chris Avey on guitar and Perry Hultgern on keyboard, the band provided a great set of solid Blues.

Next up were 2009 Blues Blast Music Award nominees Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm. They played their special brand of Delta hill country Blues showing why they are one of the hottest acts on the Blues festival circuit this summer. The crowd loved it! If you get the chance to see these guys, don't pass it up.

Still waiting for the rain to stop, the tent stage continued with a set by Robin Rogers.  This was our first time to hear Robin and we were really impressed. It is obvious why she is nominated for a 2009 Blues Blast Music Award. Robin and her husband Tony on guitar played songs from her recent album showing the crowd why she is getting so much attention in the Blues world.

Next up on the tent stage was Mississippi born slide guitarist Kenny Brown and his band. Kenny played a smokin' set that left the crowd clapping for more!

The rain stopped and the stages went back to normal after Kenny's set. We headed to the band shell stage to hear Craig Horton. Craig and the band are based in the San Francisco, California area and the crowd loved the great Blues set they played.

We headed back to the tent stage to hear one of our favorite artists, Diunna Greenleaf. We first saw Diunna when she won the 2005 International Blues Challenge. This reviewer has been a fan ever since. And this day she put on another set that proved why she is again nominated for a 2009 Blues Blast Music Award. She and her great guitarist John Richardson played a smokin' set that left the crowd screaming for more!

We headed to the band shell stage to hear Blues legend Larry McCray. Larry has a real knack for playing innovative Blues often adding in superheated rock licks (à la Jimi Hendrix and the Allman Brothers) that makes his performances very exciting and unique.

We were almost to the point of pure Blues Bliss by this time but we still had the headliner acts on both of the stages. First we watched Blues legend Magic Slim & his band The Teardrops play in the tent stage. This was a cool show as it was not on a big stage but very intimate and close up on the tent stage.

When you see Magic Slim you realize this is what a Chicago blues band should sound like. Slim was born Morris Holt on August 7, 1937 in  Mississippi He started out playing piano but was forced to give up playing the piano when he lost his little finger in a cotton gin mishap.  That mishap is the world's blessing because this guy can really play a guitar. He put on a great set up Blues to an appreciative crowd.

The headliner for the band shell stage was Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers. We like watching Rod as his is a great harmonica player. And he has one of the great piano players with him on stage, wife and music partner, Honey Piazza.


For this show Rod brought guitarist extraordinaire Kirk Fletcher to kick it up a notch. And that they really did! Rod and the band played a great set of West Coast Blues to cap off a great night of Blues and a great festival.

The 25th Annual Mississippi Valley Blues Festival was a fitting tribute to a great organization which year after year puts on one of the best Blues festivals on the plant.  GREAT JOB on a quarter century of Blues by the Mississippi Valley Blues Society! You guys ROCK!

Review and photos by Blues Blast editor Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 6

Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam - Coming Up for Air

Blix Street Records

11 tracks/49:05

Britain seems to have a number of young blues rockers “attacking” the shores of the US, and if Davy Knowles is any indication of how good they can be we may need to stand by for a major league defense of our shores! His voice is strong and sure; I did a double take when I heard him because Knowles is just a 22 year old. The vocals are exceptional and intriguingly compelling. Additionally, Davy is quite the guitar whiz. His approach is not overstated; he plays his licks cleanly and with perhaps even some restraint. I really liked his sound. This is his second release, produced by Peter Frampton, and features nine great original tracks and two interesting and powerful covers. The tunes are rocking blues and Knowles demonstrates that he is going to become a force to be reckoned with!

The strings of his guitar sear as he blasts away on tracks like “Tear Down the Walls.” As it turns out, this is also the featured single from the album and it is a scorcher! In actuality, I try to “listen first and read later” when I do reviews (especially for artists who are new); this was by far the most energized and driving of the tunes on the CD. The title track opens the CD and it gets your interest going. Even when he slows up the tempo the guitar burns up the joint as we see a very soulful side of this artist. Tracks like “Mistakes” and (especially) the superb cover of George Harrison’s “Hear Me Lord” are powerful and grab you by the back of the neck and just make you want listen to this talented young musician.

There really are no bad tunes on this CD. Knowles plays guitar and sings like a consummate pro. From the opening title track’s first few bars you know that this is someone whose karma understands blues and rock and their greater ties to music as a whole. His voice reminds me a little of the early Noah Hunt stuff from Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s band. I was really impressed with this CD from the first time through it and repeat visits only reemphasized the power of this artist’s music. I am very, very impressed with this young guy; he is the real deal, mixing great, compelling vocals and strong guitar playing with some very nice tunes. I think this kid has a great shot for fame, not only in the blues world but also in mainstream rock- he is that good!

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

New CD From

South Side Cindy & The Slip Tones

This Time

To listen & purchase this CD now - CLICK HERE


 Featured Blues Review 5 of 6

Joanne Shaw Taylor - White Sugar

Ruf Records

Whatever the actual meaning is behind the title of Joanne Shaw Taylor's debut CD, "White Sugar" is certainly a deliciously charming collection of songs by a compelling white blues woman. Be prepared when you enter the disc into the player, though, or when clicking on the mp3 files for the first time, as her sound may not be what one would expect out of an eye-catching, 23-year-old from Birmingham, England. You'll immediately hear music that's gritty and seasoned, followed by a voice to go with it, one that's soulful and intense. Discovered by Dave Stewart of the Eurhythmics, he was amazed by her talent to play the blues in such a deep and passionate manner.

The aforementioned opening song, "Going Home", is a perfect yet startling display of this young lady's talent as a vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. When it comes to the sound of her voice, picture Joss Stone with a style that's more bluesy and rock injected. Her guitar licks and chops are dazzling, and her tone is amazingly full and chunky (all conjured through Fender Telecaster Customs and Thinlines fit with Humbucking pickups in the neck position for extra punch).

Following the opener is "Just Another Word", a song with a pleasant vocal melody backed by addictive dual rhythmic chops separated stereophonically. The driving rhythm section of drummer Steve Potts and bassist Dave Smith move this one along, as well as the rest of the album's ten tracks, in a fine manner. Each instrument is prominent, as the abovementioned two are the only other players heard behind Taylor's voice, along with her infective guitar chops of course. And the sound is amazingly clean and full. Not to take anything away from Taylor, but the fact that renowned producer Jim Gaines was involved in the album's creation, in bringing all three musicians together in the studio as well, most likely has much to do with the proficient sound of each recording.

Taylor utilizes the CD's title song, "White Sugar", to its fullest potential within its four and a half minute time frame. The album's lone instrumental is a solid display of her astounding chops in both a funky and bluesy manner. Later on, "Heavy Heart" enters a funky and bluesy atmosphere again, yet in more a seductive and smooth flowing manner, vocally as well as instrumentally.

"White Sugar" is an impressive debut release from Joanne Shaw Taylor, a performer with more than adequate vocal, guitar playing, and songwriting skills. And although she's definitely bluesy, as a blues vibe encompasses most of "White Sugar", it's easily noticeable that her music crosses the line into rock locale quite a bit. That said, the album's closer, "Blackest Day", will certainly arouse the perception of staunch blues fans. It's a killer slow blues track deserving of attention. Her soulful, sensual, and bluesy voice and amazing guitar licks are incredible throughout.

Reviewer Brian Holland is a music journalist who resides in Massachusetts.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 6 of 6

Sunny & Her Joy Boys - Introducing Sunny & her Joy Boys
Stony Plain Records 

14 tracks of Jazz Standards

Style: (Early Blues Influenced) Classic American Pop, Swing and Jazz

Rating: Library Quality

Love it Love it Love it….that’s the first response that comes to mind when asked “..what do you think about the new release Introducing….Sunny and her Joy Boys?”

I’ve had this CD for a few months; I’m ashamed to admit. So yes, I’m quite late in getting out a review. Then again, the Universe always and perfectly times things in my life. Seems I have somehow most recently become absorbed and obsessed with early modern American music from the 20s to the 50s of blues, jazz, pop, swing, big band, and early rock and roll, but most especially that 30’s sweet spot of jazz. I’ve spent countless hours recently watching Modern American Masters historical documentaries of prolific early American contributions to music. If I only could have been living during the 30’s….

So to finally plug in Introducing and upon first hearing the sweet, clear and silky voice of Sunny, I was stopped dead in my tracks. Blues Blast had no idea I was ‘in to’ this genre. And some of you wouldn’t necessarily classify this as a blues CD--I can understand why. But those who know and understand the jazz-swing-pop tree that branched from early blues would beg to differ. And Sunny and her players give a nostalgic, beautiful and effortless rendition of these 14 jazz standards from the Great American Songbook.

Produced by blues music award winning musician and guitarist as well as co-founder of Roomful of Blues, Duke Robillard has assembled an A-list of talented musicians to help him lay down the essence of the early great orchestral bands but with just four key players: Billy Novick on clarinet and alto saxophone, Duke himself and Paul Kalesnikow on arch top guitars and Jesse Williams on acoustic bass. Every player is strong!

When I try to put into words what I hear when listening to Sunny’s vocal jazz chops, I think of purity of tone with integrated harmonious phrasing and intonation; the words ‘sultry’ and ‘velvety smooth’ come to mind. The feeling I get is romantic nostalgia and sentiment. I played this CD as background music recently for a weekend gathering I hosted for friends ranging in age from 36 to 49 and they all loved it. None of them had ever taken a prior interest in or owned any jazz standard tunes or CDs. Without me baiting them by asking ‘how do you like this music”, they proactively asked me the question ‘whose music is this you’re playing, it’s great’. Now, THAT’S a good sign of a good release, no matter what the genre but especially a genre that most would think only older mature audiences would appreciate. Not so here. And I’m sure my 20-30 year old friends would also love this CD. I’ll be trying it out on them, soon.

Here’s a list of all 14 songs (and timelines) that you’ll enjoy when you buy this CD (which I highly recommend you do): “Strictly from Dixie” (originally popularized by Ella Fitzgerald), “You’re Driving Me Crazy” (a 1930 Walter Donaldson tune recorded and popularized by Guy Lombardo), “That’s My Desire”, “Stop You’re Breakin’ My Heart” 1937, “You’re My Thrill” 1933 Billie Holiday, “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” 1932, “I Don’t Mind”, Billy Holiday’s “Travelin’ All Alone” 1930, “Today I Sing the Blues”, “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams” 1931, the Ellington ballad “I Got It Bad (and that Ain’t Good)” 1941, the Webb/Fitzgerald tune “Undecided” 1939, “I’m Satisfied” 1939 , and “A Hundred Years From Today” 1933.

Just conjure up the feelings and visions you get from words like scattin’, ‘cats’, Harlem to Hollywood, Cotton Club, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and big band, to name a few. These words are the canvas that provides the backdrop for an indefinable magic of harmonic and melodic voicing, chords and melodies so masterfully gifted by Duke and his ensemble. I’m also moved and impressed with how each instrumentalist has showcased his talents as both soloist and as part of an interpretive ensemble who understands the concept that less can be more when complementing each other, as well as the unforgettable voice of Sunny Crownover. The chemistry is undeniable.

Whether you’re a guy or gal wanting to impress your woman or your man, you’ll want to light the candles and play Introducing Sunny and Her Joy Boys nonstop, over and over. You’ll set the mood and score points for having this delightful interpretation of jazz standards in your collection. And if you’re solo, lift your heart and give yourself the gift of this beautiful music of the wonderful 30’s. It’s definitely a ‘must own’. It’s not coming out of my player for quite a while. I’m addicted to it..

Belinda Foster is a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and was former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She currently books blues-rock-jam musicians and is a devoted promoter and supporter of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to “The Crossroads” and Clarksdale Mississippi, birthplace of the blues. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report” can be found on line at

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 Live Blues Music Review 2 of 2

8th Annual Nothin' But The Blues Festival - July 17th & 18th,2009 - Bloomington, IL

The weather for the Nothin' But the Blues Festival was really nice. Low 70's and partly sunny. And the Blues? Well the festival featured some great Blues.

It started off on Friday afternoon with a Bloomington area band called JJ and Company. They played a nice warm up set as the crowd streamed into the festival site at a private country club called Tri-Lakes.

Next up was a Midwest favorite, Sally Weisenberg and the Famous Side Men. Sally plays a mean keyboard and her soulful voice and great songwriting we on full display.  They played a great set of Jump Blues and some R&B favorites.

The next act was Australian Blues man Harper. Harper is famous for his use of the didgeridoo in his music. Beyond the novelty of this aboriginal instrument, Harper is a great harmonica player, singer and performer. His band is great and they were well received by the crowd.

The headliner for Friday night was Big James and The Chicago Playboys. James has a new album on Blind Pig Records called "Right Here, Right Now" and he and his crack band of Chicago session players played many of the tunes from the new CD.

On Saturday afternoon the second day of the fest kicked off with another local band called Chicken Shack.

Next up was Matt Curry and his new band The Curfew. We featured a great video of Matt playing with Tommy Castro, Deanna Bogart, Magic Dick and Ronnie Baker Brooks last year. That video ends with Ronnie and Matt going toe to toe on lead guitar and is a chilling performance by a 12 year old guitar player (CLICK HERE to see it now). Now at the age of 14 Matt has his own band of seasoned players and is singing lead as well as still playing great Blues guitar. Keep your eye on this kid!

BJ Allen & Blue Voodoo were up next and gave the crowd a stunning performance of some of the songs from their latest CD , Heartless.

Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne was next and he showed that he is one of the best Blues piano players in the business. It didn't hurt that his band included some real Chicago pros like Melvin Smith on bass (Koko Taylor, Lurrie Bell) and the legendary Willie "The Touch" Hayes on drums.

Next up was another Chicago Blues guitar player, Pistol Pete. Pistol Pete is like hearing a machine gun of Blues guitar notes. This guy can really play!

Our personal favorite of the entire festival was Sharrie Williams. This is one talented Blues singer and performer. She is not as well known as she should be based on her huge talent. If you get the chance to hear her, don't pass it up!

Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas finished off the evening with some Creole swamp music leaving the crowd in a dancing fever.

Over the past eight years Eric Talpey and Chances Entertainment have grown their Nothin' But The Blues Fest to become one of the great festivals in the Midwest. It is usually the third weekend in July so mark your calendars now for next year!

Review and photos by Blues Blast editor Bob Kieser

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