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December 2, 2010

© 2010 Blues Blast Magazine

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Hey Blues Fans,

The 2010 Grammy Nominations for Blues were announced this week. Here are the nominees:

Best Traditional Blues Album
James Cotton - Giant
Cyndi Lauper - Memphis Blues
Charlie Musselwhite - The Well
Pinetop Perkins & Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith - Joined At The Hip
Jimmie Vaughan - Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites

Best Contemporary Blues Album
Solomon Burke - Nothing's Impossible
Dr. John And The Lower 911 - Tribal
Buddy Guy - Living Proof
Bettye LaVette - Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band - Live! In Chicago
Featuring Hubert Sumlin, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bryan Lee, And Buddy Flett

For a complete list of Grammy nominees in all music styles, CLICK HERE

Blues Wanderings

We made it out to hear Aussie Bluesman Harper recently.  He brought his didge of course, much to the delight of the crowd. He performed several songs from his recent release Stand Together. Good stuff Mate!

In This Issue

We have five Blues music reviews this week! Sheralyn Graise reviews a new CD from Cicero Blake. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Studebaker John’s Maxwell Street Kings. Brian Holland reviews a new CD by Track44. George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish reviews a new CD by Pete Cornelius. John Mitchell reviews a new CD by Mikey Jr and Matt Daniels.  All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

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 Featured Blues Review 1 of 5

Cicero Blake - I’m Satisfied

11 Tracks

CDS Records

Cicero Blake was born in Jackson, Mississippi but raised in Chicago. He performed in various singing groups before going solo in 1962. He has recorded for a variety of labels throughout his career. Blake was one of the mentioned artists in the September, 2008 Living Blues Chicago Issue. He is one of many Chicago “soul blues” legends but just not as well known outside of Chicago as Tyrone Davis, Curtis Mayfield, and Jerry Butler.

Blake was away from the music scene after a series of tragedies, including a battle with cancer. He returned with a CD in 2008 but it suffered from poor production. This new CD features a few of Blake’s standards through the years that have been retooled and updated, such as “Into Something,” “Here Comes The Heartaches,” and “Dip My Dipper.” There are also a few new songs mostly written by Carl Marshall who is the producer of the CD. Marshall also provides the guitar, bass, organ, and background vocals! The first thought that came to mind in seeing the title of this CD, I’m Satisfied, was Muddy Waters’ Can’t Be Satisfied.

“I Can’t Go On Mrs. Jones,” is another play on a famous song, “Me and Mrs. Jones,” by Billy Paul. In this instance, however, Blake is letting go of his married Mrs. Jones. The title track, “I’m Satisfied,” is positioned to be a new Blake standard and is repeated in extended form later on the CD. The band, consisting of the aforementioned Carl Marshall, Andre Houston, Antoine Stewart, and Troy Anthony is smooth and tight. They particularly shine on “She Works The Night Shift,” and “It’s The Blues Uprising.” The music on these two tracks makes these my favorite cuts on the CD. “In The Vibe Room/Let Jesus Lead You” is the last track. On it he gives testimony to surviving and recovering from cancer and working to return to music.

The bottom line is I’m Satisfied is a good CD. Even though his voice isn"t what it used to be, he still sounds great and a whole lot better than many “so-called” singers.

Reviewer Sheralyn Graise graduated from the University of Akron a while back. A former Social Services professional, she is now pursuing other interests such as music history, writing, and photography. She has been a member of the Blues Foundation since 2001.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Blues Society News

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

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Colorado Blues Society - Boulder, CO

Sunday November 28th The Colorado Blues Society and Boulder Outlook are presenting Otis Taylor’s Trans Blues Certified Jam Work Shop. Join Otis for a rare opportunity to learn his unique perspective on music. Otis has played with a virtual who’s who of Blues stars over the years and has won numerous Blues Foundation awards. The workshop runs from 1PM to 5PM with a Live one hour jam with Otis and the Students at 6PM. Followed by an open Blues Jam hosted by Lionel Young.

The workshop is open to all ages and all levels. It’s for musicians, singers, writers and educators, even poets. All instruments welcome, acoustic and electric (bring your amp if electric). The cost is $40 per student. To reserve your spot call the Boulder Outlook at 303-443-3322. 800 28th Street, Boulder, CO. There is no specific level or age, kids are particularly welcome, as are teachers. The Colorado Blues Society will be providing four scholarships for hardship cases.

Also The Colorado Blues Society is holding their 1st Annual Holiday Party & Benefit December 11, 2010. Headlining the show will be 2009 IBC winners, JP Soars and the Red Hots. Opening the event will be young guitar wizard Taylor Marvin, the Colorado Blues Society two-time Youth Showcase performer at the IBCs in 2010 and 2011.

Show starts at 6PM. Tickets are $10 and on sale at the Boulder Outlook. In addition to seeing a great show this is for a great cause. We are collecting for the Emergency Family Assistance Association ( E.F.A.A), so please bring your donations to help. EFAA can use canned goods (chili, tuna and peanut butter are hot items, but all are welcome) and also these families can use toiletries like—shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and lotion. Tis the season for giving so bring as many items as you like! Plus, all money, after expenses will go to E.F.A.A

Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society invites you to a holiday party Friday December 10 at The Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf. John Resch and the Detroit Blues will providing music. Their sound is reminiscent of Chicago electric blues from the ‘50s and ‘60s. John Resch and the Detroit Blues were voted Best Band in the Quad Cities in 2001, won the Iowa Blues Challenge in 2002, released a well-reviewed CD in 2004 and have played numerous festivals and venues around the Midwest.

Doors open at 7pm with food being served at 7:30; the music starts at 9:00. Admission is $10, $5 for MVBS members.  PH 563-322-5837, MWF 11:30 - 1:30, 2:00 - 5:30

ALSO Join MVBS in Memphis for the IBC in February! The Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge [IBC] will take place in Memphis February 2-5, 2011, and the Quad-Cities’ Steady Rollin’ Blues Band will be there to represent the state of Iowa. We are trying to organize a contingent to go down together for this event.

If you are interested in being part of a party bus traveling to Memphis in the early hours of Wednesday February 2 and returning on Sunday February 6, please contact Lonnie Britt. You can e-mail him at or call him at 309-737-5087.

We have also reserved a block of rooms through Linda Kibak, the travel agent for Big City Rhythm & Blues magazine. Unless you are a member of the Blues Foundation, rooms at the host hotel, the Doubletree on Union Avenue, are already sold out. Linda has reserved us a block of 25 rooms for February 2-5 at the Benchmark, right across the street from the Doubletree on Union Avenue, about 3 blocks from Beale Street. The rooms are $114 per night, both kings and doubles, smoking and non-smoking.

To reserve your room, please contact Linda by e-mail before January 12 at either or . You will need to tell her what kind of room you want (king or double, smoking or non) and give her your credit card number to guarantee the room.  PH 563-322-5837, MWF 11:30 - 1:30, 2:00 - 5:30

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 $3 cover. December 6 - The Mojocats, December 13 - Studebaker John & the Hawks, Dec 20 - Brooke Thomas and The Blue Suns, Dec 27 - The Sally Weisenburg Blues Trio. 

The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL

2010 Friends of the Blues shows - Tuesday, December 14, Shawn Pittman (Texas Blues trio), 7 p.m., Kankakee Valley Boat Club, 1600 Cobb Boulevard, Kankakee IL 60901. (815) 936-1699.

2007 Blewzzy Award Best CD Winner & Blues Blast Magazine Best Song Nominee Release Second CD
Steve Gerard & The National Debonaires
Words Are Like Bullets
Order at  plus CD Baby and iTunes

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 5

Studebaker John’s Maxwell Street Kings - That’s The Way You Do It

Delmark Records

15 tracks

I’ve listened to a lot of Studebaker John Grimaldi’s recordings over the years, and this new release (the first on Delmark) may just blow the rest of them all away! John offers up 15 original cuts, all offering his take on really low down, Westside Chicago Maxwell Street blues. His harp is greasy and hot, his slide cuts like a knife and his vocals are truly inspired. Joined by Rick Kreher on guitar (the last guy to play guitar with Muddy Waters and Rockin’ Johnny’s rhythm player) and drummer Steve Cushing (who is also radio host of “Blues Before Sunrise”), this is gritty, filthy dirty blues the way it is supposed to be played!

Studebaker John’s songs here all hearken back to the West Side of Chicago and the days when blues were played in open air markets by the up and coming along with the greats who played the clubs. John and his band the Hawks began there in the early ‘70’s, honing their skills while listening to and playing with the masters. John writes his own stuff and has filled many acclaimed CDs with his great songs.

The album opens to the title track and introduces the listener to John’s nasal tones and stinging harp. “Side by Side” shuffles along and shows you how John’s guitar can burn it up. “Fine Cadillac” then goes ballistic with a rocking good tempo. Then on the next track John gives us a superb history of Maxwell Street blues with his lyrics and greasy harp on “Headin’ Down To Maxwell Street”. That’s just the first four tracks and there are 11 more that are equally good! “If You Would Love Me”, “Son Of The Seventh Son”, “When Your Mule Won’t Ride”, and “Steppin’ Stone” are but a few of the other great tracks showcasing John and his legendary Maxwell Street Kings band. All of the songs are very tight and well done- no fluff here!

This album is filled with primal blues energy. Each song evokes deep rooted emotions of loves both won and lost, heartaches, fine automobiles, and the time when his blues forefathers blistered the world with their songs and playing. John and his band play it all with equal skill and loving care: slow blues, shuffles and a rocking good style. If you are a fan of his, this one needs to be added to your collection. If Studebaker John is new to your horizons, this is an ideal CD to both introduce you to him and to how the blues should be played! Delmark has delivered another winner with Studebaker John in their stable of great artists.!

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

I Got The Blues... All Because Of You is an eclectic mix of female blues classics and of originals written by G'Jai. This CD will make you reminisce of a time when women reigned supreme in the Blues world.
I Got The Blues All Because Of You
Available at
With some blues classics like "Chirping The Blues", and a link to the present with originals like "Little Lady From Detroit".

"You can't look to the future without embracing your past!"

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 5

Track44 - Prove It

Boston based Track44 recently released their debut CD, Prove it. The band is essentially a duo, but guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Pircio and keyboardist Dan Sevush recruited drummer Joe Bellomo, bassist Steve Dubois, background singer Kristin Fonseca, background singer and percussionist Paul Gallo, and fiddler Wendy Mittelstadt to complete the project. Along with Pircio and Sevush, Gallo produced and engineered the recordings.

Be prepared for a straightforward serving of the blues in some of the nine tracks (and one surprise) presented here, chased with an even flow of traditional musicianship. The first slide guitar note in the opening song, "Can't Take It Back," initiates the display of respect and adoration that these guys have for traditional blues. When more instruments are added, the lethargic yet catchy riff is supplemented by a funky drive, one that adds more of a contemporary blues sound to the initial acoustic feel. With that said, if pure-in-spirit acoustic atmosphere is one's preference, further into the CD is "Ten Years Passed." This delta blues gem stays acoustic throughout, and contains more interesting slide from Pircio.

A New England blue-jazz feel converges with Bourbon Street in "I Wonder Why." Sevush pulls all the stops on both organ and piano, displaying a sundry flair on both. Pircio's piercing guitar solo responds to the 'you treat me so bad' lyrics with corresponding emotion, yet all the while, the rhythm section keeps the music firmly entrenched in tradition.

The CD's music contains an unrefined earthiness in places, especially in the more acoustic and traditional material. The sound authenticates the blues feel. But on the other end of the spectrum, the CD's title song and its follower are examples of precision in arrangement and production. Drummer Joe Bollomo struts along in an appealing groove in "Prove It." In a performance that's solid and tight, the piano and guitar solos are concise and dynamic, and the background vocal adds a nice element to the recording. "Land On Me" is a poignant country blues with a colorful piano and slide arrangement.

The last three tracks take tradition into the bluesrock generation. "Even Angels Get The Blues" possesses an incredible air of Clapton and Cream, especially the song's potent riff, the solo as well. Pircio's licks are astoundingly suggestive of the era. "What's Up With That" is in that Cream mode, too. The rhythm section gets downright prominent and subterranean in these songs, giving them that trio punch. Pircio's singing voice sometimes evokes a Mayall sound and style in places, which is suggestive of a different Clapton era.

The final track, "Love Looks A Lot Like You," follows suit with the previous two, with more catchy rhythmic grooves and excellent organ and guitar solos. This track ends with a surprising acoustic piece that's about as pure as blues tradition gets. Not desiring to be the spoiler, I'll keep it that way for surprise sake.

Prove It should do just that, prove to fans everywhere that Track44 is a blues band to reckon with. It's a successful debut release from a couple of strangers who grew to be friends after meeting one evening at Johnny D's in Somerville, Ma., where the idea to create traditional music was originally spawned.

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 5

Pete Cornelius - Tumbleweed

Only Blues Music (Australia)

10 tracks

Total time: 49:30

What Cornelius offers on Tumbleweed is a very sophisticated rock album with links to the blues. There is, of course, Cornelius’s excellent lead guitar playing that draws inspiration from later blues guitarists, notably Buddy Guy and the late Mike Bloomfield. Also, the Pete Cornelius-penned title song, track 4, is a solid blues-rock number of desperate getting-away-from-it-all that adapts country as well as blues influences, a Nashville/Memphis fusion sound backed by riffing blues piano. Further, another Cornelius original, track 9, “Helpless Man,” with its low-tone, slightly fuzz-guitar riff and burning lyrics, sounds much like a rock adaptation of city blues. But that’s it for actual ties to blues.

The rest of Tumbleweed is far more rock than blues, although a sophisticated modern rock that’s learned well from the best of 1960s-1980s rock, from the Rolling Stones through Mellencamp and Springsteen. That to me, as one who loves good rock as much as he loves good blues, is a solid pedigree which commends this CD.

Of the 10 tracks, six are Pete Cornelius originals; of the four songs written by others, three are from certified rockers who only occasionally did blues: Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul,” the 1967 hit by Buffalo Springfield, track 2; and the ending instrumental, “Deadman Theme;” along with Rory Gallagher’s “Bad Penny,” track 6, a rocker built around the kind of imagery common to the blues, comparing a bad woman to a bad penny that just keeps proverbially coming back. The final song written by someone else is blues/R&B master Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down,” track 8, which is done here as a longish, pensive, yet thoroughly modern rock, not blues, ballad.

Pete Cornelius does indeed have a way with original song lyrics, as all six of his originals show; they are evocative, sensual, and philosophical in the way the best rock of the late 1960s-early 1970s could so often be. Interestingly enough, the geographical imagery on tracks 3-5, “San Jose,” “Tumbleweed” and “Driving Love,” seem more evocative of the U.S. than they do of Australia. Only the first track, “Town of Machine,” evokes images of Australia more than it does of the U.S., at least to this American listener. But maybe that’s because, with the wide spread of rock worldwide now, what we have is a Global Village music that borrows freely from, and incorporates, influences from all over, and is at home anywhere—as, for example, track 7, “Stars,” a song of getting out and realizing ambition that relates to the way many feel not only in the U.S., but, I’m sure, also in Canada, Europe and Australia.

The instrumentation is first-rate throughout, with Cornelius showing himself adept on a wide range of different guitars, which encompass standard electric and acoustic, resonator, lap steel and pedal steel, along with electric and stand-up bass. With nicely-understated backing only by Henry Nichols, drums, and Randal Muir’s Hammond organ and piano to Cornelius’s rhythm guitar and bass, it’s solidly captivating in the way it sticks just to the essentials, without histrionics or overplaying. The same could also be said of Cornelius’s lead guitar playing—just sticking felicitously to the basics, creatively and originally, certainly, but not overdone or with gratuitous flash. Ian Collard adds accompanying harmonica to Cornelius’s guitar solo on “”On Your Way Down;” and Kelly Ottaway plays Wurlitzer electric piano and regular piano on “Town of Machine.” Background singers Carmel Claxton and Jane McArthur appear on a couple of tracks.

All in all, Pete Cornelius’s latest release, Tumbleweed, is a top-notch, original rock CD that draws on, but does not depend on, the best of contemporary rock and some blues influences. Being a rock music fan, I would recommend it.

Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style and has written a regular music column for several years.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 5

Mikey Jr and Matt Daniels – Pocket Full Of Money

8th Train Records

10 tracks, 30.55 minutes.

Mikey Junior is a native of New Jersey and has played harmonica and sung since his teenage years. This is his fourth CD release and is in acoustic trio format with regular guitarist Matt Daniels and Jimmy Pritchard on upright bass. Mikey also runs a full band called “Mikey Junior And The Cold Stone Blues” which will be competing at the IBCs in February. Mikey endears himself to any reviewer by providing a humorous press release which informs us that Mikey and Matt met while auditioning for “So You Think You Can Dance” – a likely story!

Each of the players contributes one original song. Mikey’s “We Made A Mistake” features some tough harp on a song of regret at the end of a relationship (“No matter who I’m with it’s you I’m thinking of”). Matt’s “North Country Blues” is an instrumental that does pretty well what the title suggests, Matt’s guitar sympathetically underpinned by Jimmy’s bass. Jimmy’s effort opens the CD and provides the title of the CD. It provides a good start to the CD locating the music in classic acoustic blues before we get versions of four RJ, two Muddy Waters and one tune from the pen of Junior Wells. All are well done and clearly recorded, but does the world need more versions of these classic songs?

Well the truth is that Mikey will probably sell more CDs off the bandstand after people enjoy his shows. Nevertheless for someone who has not seen the live show the CD works well and I particularly enjoyed the uptempo version of “They’re Red Hot”, the stately version of “Me And The Devil Blues” and the rolling tempo of closer “You Don’t Have To Go”. All three originals work well and suggest that next time round they might do more original music and fewer covers.

The CD is a good introduction to Mikey Jr. and friends’ music and should appeal to all lovers of well recorded acoustic blues.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He recently attended the Blues Blast Awards in Chicago and had a great time! Back in the USA for the January 2011 Blues Cruise!

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

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