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March 4, 2010 

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Hey Blues Fans,

Blues In The Digital Age - This week we have part two of a three part investigative report by Nikki O'Neill looking at how the Digital age is impacting the business side of the Blues.  Check out Part Two - Social Networking & Internet Streaming in this issue! SCROLL DOWN!

In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!

James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD from Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones.  John Mitchell reviews a new CD by Joe Louis Walker. Brian Holland reviews a new CD by Nick Moss. Sheralyn Graise reviews a new CD by The Kid and Nick Show. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Julie Black. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!


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 Featured Report - Blues Music In the Digital Age

Blues Music In The Digital Age - Part Two - Social Networks & Internet Streaming

By Nikki O’Neill

With the massive changes in technology that have taken place in the music and media world for the last 10 years, we at Blues Blast Magazine wondered how these changes are effecting the Blues music industry and Blues artists.

How are digital downloads and social networks affecting the careers of Blues artists — especially those who aren't computer savvy? We contacted a number of prominent Blues labels and publicists to hear their thoughts on marketing the Blues in the digital age. We also included a Blues artist and founder of a Blues society, who actively uses Internet technologies for promoting and networking in the Blues community.

Everybody answered independently, without hearing the other's responses.  In part two of this report we look a how Social Networks and Internet Streaming are impacting the Blues music market. We sincerely thank those who took the time to respond to our questions:

Bruce Iglauer - Alligator Records

Scott Billington - Rounder Records

Thomas Ruf - Ruf Records

Jerry Del Guidice - Blind Pig Records

Randy Chortkoff and Robert Fitzpatrick - Delta Groove Productions

Joe Morabia - Blues Leaf Records

Steve Dawson - Black Hen Music

Michael Powers - Yellow Dog Records

Mark Carpentieri -  M.C. Records

Richard Chalk -  TopCat Records

Fred Litwin -  Northern Blues Music

Michael Frank, Earwig Music Company, Inc.

Betsie Brown - Blind Raccoon (publicity firm)

Mark Pucci - Mark Pucci Media (publicity firm)

Phil Gates, founder of the Los Angeles Blues Society, producer and blues artist

What are your views of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social networks? How useful are these tools in targeting Blues fans, and how do you use them to market your artists?

Michael Powers: I think they are great for getting the word out.  We're on twitter and it's a great way for people to get mini-announcements about new album reviews, tour dates, etc.

At the same time, this sort of fan interaction via the internet has been going on for some time.  Bulletin-board style forums like Blindman Blues and Tweed's Blues have been around for a while, and email lists like BLUES-L for even longer.  I'd call the new generation of social networks an evolution of that activity rather than something entirely new.

Steve Dawson: We use MySpace, but don't bother with the rest. It's a good way, for sure, but we only have so much time and energy, so those network sites tend to fall by the wayside. Most of our ad budget is spent on online promotion though, so we're not ignoring the digital side.

Richard Chalk: We market our artists using mainly MySpace and YouTube.  Not so much Facebook or Twitter.

Fred Litwin: I like Facebook a lot, but am no longer a fan of MySpace.  Too much spam in Myspace.  I use Facebook ads, and Facebook groups to get the word out.

Thomas Ruf: They are useful today, just as magazines, radio and other traditional forms of spreading information about music were in the 60's. In the past, people may have been discussing music in coffee houses and other social venues. Today, they might sit in front of a computer and chat about music on digital social platforms. It's just a different form and manner of communication, but it has the same effect.

Bruce Iglauer: We encourage our artists to maintain MySpace and Facebook pages, and we've set them up for the artists who can't. I'm unsure about Twitter...we use it and it's handy, but the short messages are kind of self defeating for getting information out. I think that most of these services will become less popular over time, but at the moment, if I send a tweet and it's picked up and copied, it can get to thousands of people.  On the other hand, maintaining these sites, etc. is a lot of energy, and touring artists can find it overwhelming. Also, we have a number of artists with limited formal education and computer skills. This stuff is really hard for them.

Jerry Del Guidice: Our promotional department maintains pages on all these social network sites.  They certainly help spread the word, just like our more conventional approaches (mailings to terrestrial radio, magazines, blues societies, retailers, talent buyers etc.) If someone on Facebook likes a song, they post it on their wall and then tell all their friends about it.  People get to hear the music and comment upon it, but I don't think it results in any significant sales.  After all, what's the point if you can hear it as much as you like without ever having to purchase.

Joe Morabia: The social networks are very helpful and useful for our artists. Besides having a website, we have Facebook, MySpace, and we use Reverb Nation. It is a way for fans to follow our artists.

Mark Carpentieri:  They all help, but getting people to buy CDs, well, not so much. I believe it works better for artists to connect and maintain connections with fans.

Mark Pucci: In addition to our own web site, we maintain accounts on MySpace and Facebook, and are using them more and more to help publicize albums and events. We use Twitter to a lesser extent right now, but that’s increasing.

Betsie Brown: Just as any genre, we must use every tool at our disposal to spread the word and engage youth.

Randy Chortkoff: They are all vitally important at this point in time and will increase in importance as time goes on. We use most of them as much as possible.

Scott Billington: Artist-driven activity on the social networking sites is a keystone of any music career these days. Record companies have not been as successful in attracting friends and followers. We help artists to interact with fans via social networking sites.

Michael Frank: These tools are very useful to increase attendance at gigs, and to build and maintain a relationship with fans. I use these tools to do the above functions, and to brand Earwig artists and myself as manager of Honeyboy Edwards and as CEO of Earwig Music Company. I also use MySpace and Facebook to do research on where to book Earwig artists and to find other folks to collaborate with. One of my ex interns started a blues cd distribution company by finding musicians on MySpace and Facebook who had finished product and did not want to distribute it themselves.

Phil Gates: I think that the popular social networks of the day are to myself extremely important, and no different than the sandwich-board ads people used to wear walking down the street, or the concert posters, playbills, radio disc jockeys, yellow pages, newspapers, magazines, billboards, and skywriting. They are all tools to engage the fans with what we do, and to communicate with the very people that are looking for blues music. 

Some of the many things that have changed include the area covered by these tools and the instant feedback from fans. It went from reaching a few blocks to a portion of the town, then to a city, and now it's global. The ability to reach as many fans as possible has always been the challenge, and these social sites are imperative tools in conjunction with the existing methods of print, radio, and video. So many blues societies have really gotten involved with this, which is great.

How do you think fans spread the word about artists they like nowadays?

Betsie Brown: Word of mouth is still one of the most important tools.

Mark Carpentieri:  Social networking sites.

Jerry Del Guidice: In the past, a fan may have purchased a CD at a performance and then brought it home to listen to with friends. That would help generate retail sales, but that follow up sale is lost today.  If someone says ‘boy, I really like that CD’, instead of going to a retail outlet to buy it, they just rip a copy or pick it up on a file sharing site. That's been especially hard on the artist as well as the label.

Joe Morabia: The blues community is very good about sharing information on new artists or new CDs that they like. A good CD will usually find a way to reach people. In this computer age, it is very easy for fans to share information.

Robert Fitzpatrick: People spread the word about artists and product they like through newsletters, e-newsletters, blogs, buying CDs and word of mouth, as well as going out to live venues and seeing performances, and through the wonderful support of people and organizations like yours.

Bruce Iglauer: As far as how our customers spread the word, some do indeed use social networking, but for many it's still old-fashioned in-person networking, just whom the fans already know and discuss music with.

Phil Gates: The viral effect of the web social networks and cell texting are the new "have you heard?" because now you can link right to the artists’ pages or videos.

Do you find a different kind of Blues fan in these social networks?

Betsie Brown: No, not really.

Mark Carpentieri:  Not sure.

Steve Dawson: Can’t say – we don’t really take part.

Jerry Del Guidice: Perhaps more technologically savvy.

Fred Litwin: A more technically savvy blues fan.

Thomas Ruf: Mostly younger. Older folks hold on to the forms of communication that they grew up with. Young people grow up with different forms of socializing and communicating. It's just a different way of doing the same old thing: socializing...

Phil Gates: All blues fans are great! If I had to name differences, I think that on social networks, you get some fans that are more apt to be experimental. If a non-blues fan had to buy a blues magazine just to browse the articles, or go to a show to get introduced to the blues, they may have more of a conscience about their disposable income. But in a social network, that same person could be curious about the blues and then go search out artists or genres at no risk, and become enlightened to the vast array of great artists in the blues genre. This introduction could lead to sales, as well as a growth of the blues community at large. The die hard blues fans are going to use what ever is available to stay up on their favorite artists.

Mark Pucci: In my experience thus far, I haven’t really noticed a difference. The great thing about blues fans – wherever they may be and however you hear from them – they are among the most loyal and consistent fan base out there.

Joe Morabia: I don't know if there is a different kind of blues fan. People may not be blues fans, but if they hear something that is good or see a good show, they become fans of good music.

Randy Chortkoff: I don't know.... we can only hope that younger people are exposed to this wonderful art form of feel good music and that the market opens up. We old timers are getting older every year, but we have tons of energy... and good spirits... thanks to BLUES MUSIC.

Bruce Iglauer: I'm not sure I can generalize. My casual observation is that there are a few kinds of blues fans. Some really immerse themselves in the music, the whole tradition, want to constantly hear artists new to them (including dead ones) and read all they can about the music. Others enjoy the social aspect, hanging out together, going to gigs, taking pictures, and networking, but aren't really so interested in diving headfirst into the tradition. My casual observation is that more of this second group are doing more of the social networking. But... those people are coming to gigs, supporting the artists, and garnering new fans. That's all good.

Michael Frank: These fans are more social, more likely to be proactive in seeking out fellow fans and musicians they appreciate or want to explore. These fans are internet savvy, so they are easy to reach. However, they do not appreciate hard sales pitches, which do not work with social media.

How savvy are your artists when it comes to all these new technologies and using social network sites? Do you discuss marketing ideas together?

Scott Billington: We work closely with our artists on social networking activity.

Fred Litwin: Some are savvy and some are not.

Steve Dawson: We mostly focus on marketing from our own perspective - ads, getting reviews, airplay, etc. We leave it to the artists to build their own social network sites.

Phil Gates: I think the artist is becoming more and more savvy out of necessity. Today via MySpace, Facebook, ReverbNation, TuneCore, iTunes, and scores of other sites and web stations, many, many more blues artists can connect to their audiences.

Michael Powers: Music talent and marketing/technology use skills are completely different.  It would be a shame if someone with great music talent also had to have technology skills in order to succeed as a musician.  Part of the value that a label can provide is to contribute that sort of infrastructure so that the musicians can focus on making music for all of us to enjoy.  That being said, some of our artists (Fiona Boyes is one example) are pretty active with blog posts, newsletter blasts, and participation in social sites like LiveBlues World.

Bruce Iglauer: It varies a great deal. Some are pretty hip to social networking, etc. Some are computer illiterate. A lot of musicians start playing professionally at a young age, and don't stay in school. The older blues men and women are often from depressed areas and have limited and bad formal education. Some will hire people to do these services for them. Some can't afford to. There have been artists on Alligator who could barely read and write. I think only one artist on the label has a bachelor's degree. Many didn't finish high school. So this can be hard for them. The lucky ones have helpful friends or spouses. Or they call on us to help them, which we're very glad to do.

Jerry Del Guidice: Depends on the artist. Many maintain their own websites and social network sites.

Mark Carpentieri:  Depends on the artist, but most are locked in.

Joe Morabia: Most of our artists, if not all, are computer savvy. They all have their own websites and My Space pages, and on Reverb Nation, all their information is consolidated into one sight. Our website is more about our CD’s, where the ReverbNation site is more about the artists.

Mark Pucci: Some grasp the technology and relevance better than others and we’re always trying to educate and push our artists into understanding what this is all about and how it can benefit them. We also give our opinion to our label clients as to where they could best spend their advertising dollars.

Richard Chalk: Depends on the artist. Although many are internet savvy, work their web pages and utilize blogs/social networking, most are not so technically oriented and so usually get someone who is to do those tasks for them.

Robert Fitzpatrick: Younger artists are very involved.  Artists like The Insomniacs and Jason Ricci are constantly utilizing media and social media.  Older artists are slower to adapt, but they are beginning to recognize the value inherent therein.

Betsie Brown: Most who truly understand the commitment to a career in the blues world, work at it constantly. Every way to spread the word has to be researched, planned and implemented. This is a business, not a hobby.

Thomas Ruf: Again there's a generation gap: our young artists do nothing else all day long when they're on tour but work on their iPhone, listen to their iPods, and send messages on their Facebook pages, etc. They are more savvy then their label boss with these things! And the label bosses will hire young staff members who can work the artists in the digital world...

Michael Frank: All the current Earwig artists use email, MySpace and Facebook, though some are more active. All have streaming audio on their web sites. And some are experimenting with giving away free downloads. All Earwig recordings are sold as downloads through several hundred sites worldwide, though Earwig's digital distribution deals with The Orchard and Bug Digital Distribution. 

We have some discussions and will be having many more on an ongoing basis. I will be offering online and offline marketing and promotion trainings and software to Earwig recording artists in the very near future.

Internet streaming of live Blues shows – what’s your view on that? Do you think there's a big enough Blues audience for that sort of thing?

Phil Gates: I think any use of technology to get the music to more people is a positive thing. While I don't know if the platform would work band by band, a blues show platform could be very interesting.

Richard Chalk: Absolutely! Streaming and/or digital download/video-on-demand sale of artist shows are excellent ways to promote artists and generate revenue.

Steve Dawson: Sure. I think there should be more streaming live shows. It's a good thing.

Michael Powers: I don't think that will feasibly have broad appeal (for any genre) until there is an easy-to-use technology for getting the streaming content to play on your main TV/media center.  The technology exists, but I don't think it's in widespread use because it's not simple to set up... yet.

Bruce Iglauer: A few concert promoters or festivals promote streaming. Of course, if streaming happens, the streamer must be licensed by both ASCAP and BMI (for the song publishers) and Sound Exchange (which pays a small royalty to the artists). That's the law. Lots of folks don't realize this.

Jerry Del Guidice: Judging from the amount of license money we receive from Sound Exchange, music streaming is becoming extremely popular.

Joe Morabia: Streaming blues shows seems to be getting bigger and bigger, as we get a lot of airplay through these type of shows from all over the world. These shows are very important, as they make the world a lot smaller and unify the blues to one audience no matter where you live.

Mark Pucci: I would love to see more streaming of blues shows on the internet. I think it’s an untapped resource at this point.

Michael Frank: Yes there is a large worldwide audience for internet radio. In fact, I may start an Earwig podcast.

Nikki O’Neill is a singer, songwriter and guitar player in Los Angeles. She fronts the Nikki O’Neill Band – a soul, r&b and rock band. She's included in Sue Foley’s upcoming book “Guitar Woman,” featuring a who’s-who list of great players like Bonnie Raitt, Ana Popovic, Me’shell Ndegeocello, Jennifer Batten, and more.

Online Class in Music Publicity:

Music Business articles:  (the One-On-One section)

NEXT WEEK - Part Three - Licensing and other Revenue Streams

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 5

Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones - Falling Through The Cracks

Mighty Tiger Records

15 songs; 70:44 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Traditional and Contemporary Blues, Swinging Jump Blues, Roots music

There is a wonderful product available on the market. It’ll make you return to fun venues. “It makes the night seem early and all the women fine.” “It’ll make you feel ten feet tall.” It can make you “feel like Hugh Hefner and Donald Trump combined.” So, what could it possibly be? And, of course you are right, “It Was the Wine.” This information, reminiscent of Siegel-Schwall’s fun ode to the fruit of the vine, is contained in the sixth track of Doug Deming’s great, second CD, Falling Through the Cracks.

Several years ago, I saw Doug Deming performing live. I was so impressed by his tasteful playing on a big, hollow-bodied Gibson guitar that I have always remembered him. I have watched his career wondering why someone that good doesn't seem to hired outside the Midwest and his home base in Michigan.

When his latest CD crossed my desk, my memories of him were confirmed: here is a cat that is bedrock solid in the Blues with inventive guitar licks, clever song writing, and upbeat, dance inducing music. As a guitar player, he nails every category: taste, tone, restraint, timing, and phrasing.

Deming also possesses credible vocals as he is a pure singer, not a shouter. His guests on harmonica help make this a standout CD: Dennis Gruenling, Kim Wilson, and Dave Morris.

Band mate Bob Conner’s swinging lines on the upright and solid bottom on the Fender bass add depth and authority. Regular drummer Julian VanSlyke’s jazz-fusion-world music background lends dimension to the Blues and Jump-Swing styles. Guests include Detroiter Bill Heid and Al Hill – keyboards, and, on three songs, Keith Kaminski, Dwight Adams, and John Rutherford on horns.

The fun begins right with track one, “Tonight Is the Night.” The up tempo Rock and Roller is simply guitar, bass, and drums with Gruenling punctuating the fun on harp and taking a nice solo at mid-song followed later by Deming showing off creative solo fretwork. This song is a fine example of what Deming means when he says, “We have no gimmicks. We play pure traditional music from the heart, with an image that conveys a deep respect for the genre.”

Quickening the pace to “breakneck,” Dave Morris blows up a solo storm to open track two, “Don’t Worry Me Pt. 1.” Deming dances on the top twang strings briefly then deftly switches to melodic chords rapidly followed by single string treble note picking in impressive manner.

The title track is a slow Blues with just the core band trio. With six minutes to utilize, the lyrics and accompanying music deftly explore the gamut of failing-love themed Blues.

Other standouts: Kim Wilson’s harp on “Momma Didn’t Raise No Fool” and traditional Blues lumpty-lumper “Only Time Will Tell,” the shimmering ear-worm “Put It Down” with chromatic harp by Dave Morris, Bill Heid’s amazing piano work on slow crooner “Every Night When I Get Home,” and two killer instrumentals “East Side Hop” and “Heiding Out!”

Already a critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter, Deming is deserving of more attention, like major Blues festival appearances. His spellbinding guitar work has not gone completely unnoticed as accolades have come in various publications around the country. This “every-song-is-a-winner” CD should catch attention and open doors. Just one listen reveals the unique qualities and ability to be fresh while staying in the idiom.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 5

Joe Louis Walker – Between A Rock And The Blues

Stony Plain Records

12 tracks; 63.15 minutes

Joe Louis Walker is one of the busiest men in the blues, with a very substantial catalogue of CDs over more than 20 years. Joe plays a lot and is a prolific producer of CDs, and I imagine that most blues fans will own one or more of them. So why buy this one?

Well, let’s start with the musicians involved in the project. Produced by Duke Robillard, the core band is Bruce Katz on keys, Jesse Williams on bass and Mark Teixeira on drums, plus a horn section of Doug “Mr Low” James on sax and Carl Queforth on trombone, plus Sugar Ray Norcia on harp on one track, all ex-Roomful of Blues. Quite a lineup! On two tracks (produced by Kevin Eubanks) Joe uses his touring band of Henry Oden on bass, Jeff Minnieweather on drums and Ellis Blacknell on keys, plus Kevin Eubanks on rhythm guitar.

Then there are the songs which cover a good range of styles and sounds. The opener “I’m Tide” is an up-tempo piece with two great short solos by Joe. A song about the down side of modern life, it has a nomination for song of the year at the BMAs in May. Track 2 is “Eyes Like A Cat” by Travis Phillips, more of a jump style tune which brings the horns into focus. “Black Widow Spider” is a bouncy autobiographical piece about a relationship that did not make the course, with good saxophone from Doug James.

Tracks 4 and 6 are the Kevin Eubanks produced pieces. “If There’s A Heaven” with its repeated reference to “doing some time in the county jail” reminds one lyrically of the old “County Jail Blues”, but is more of a driving funk piece, with slashing slide guitar. “I’ve Been Down” is also upbeat, with a piano motif underscoring the vocal all the way though the song, belying the rather downbeat lyrics – “I’ve been down so long, good luck never crossed my mind”. The solo from Joe is very rocky and these two tracks are so clearly from a different source to the rest of the album, it made me wonder why Joe decided to include them - perhaps for additional variety?

“Way Too Expensive” is a song by Murali Coyell, son of jazz guitarist Larry, and comments on the current economic situation that many find themselves in. Musically it’s quite jazzy, with a stop/go rhythm punctuated by the horns and with a central solo from Joe that has more than a touch of BB King about it.

After that trio of tunes “Prisoner of Mercy” goes back to a slower pace. Bruce Katz takes the main solo on piano, with Joe playing sympathetically behind him. Some frenetic chording and use of the whammy bar see the tune out. That is the last of Joe’s own tunes and the remaining five tunes come from five different authors. Track 8 is entitled “Hallways” written by Bay area guitarist Steve Hall. It’s a classic blues ballad and provides what for me was Joe’s best vocal on the set. Another fine piano solo precedes some relaxed picking in the middle of this extended (7.34) tune. Joe’s playing here is delightful, taking the solo higher and higher emotionally but never losing the melody or sacrificing the tune for guitar effects.

“Tell Me Why” is a Duke Robillard tune and the producer makes an appearance on guitar. Lots of slide here and more great piano from Katz. I assume that the later solo is Duke’s. Next up is a cover of Ray Charles’ “Blackjack”, done fairly straight, rolling piano underpinning the sad tale of woe of the gambler who has lost all on the blackjack table. Joe’s voice here seems to be straining to make the notes, but the ensemble playing is superb. “Big Fine Woman” is a Roy Gaines song which features a lot of wah-wah from Joe and the CD concludes with “Send You Back” which sees Joe pick up his acoustic guitar for a back porch duo with Sugar Ray Norcia’s harp on a tune by Fat Harry Dorth from Holland. It offers a further variation and a nice, gentle finish to the album.
Overall this is a good CD which grew on me as I listened to it a few times. It has a range of styles and makes a strong follow-up to the very successful “Witness to the Blues”, Joe’s first for Stony Plain. Joe plays a wide range of styles and gets superb backing from a crack band. Joe’s voice (never his strongest suit) struggles at times, but his playing is always strong and the CD is well worth investigating.

Readers will be keen to know that Joe recorded all his sets on the recent Blues Cruise and will be issuing a new live CD from those recordings. He jammed with practically everyone on the boat so the result should be interesting as a follow-up to this CD. No sign of the prolific JLW slackening off the pace!.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music. He has just returned from his first Legendary Blues Cruise.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

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Guitarist looking for band to hook up with for gigs and touring. Have pro-equipment and great attitude. Played with or opened for Johnny Clyde Copeland, Albert Collins, Freddy Roulette, Luther Tucker, Elvin Bishop, Joe Louis Walker, Joe Guitar Hughes, just to name a few. Currently residing in the Madison, Wi. area but willing to relocate. Five time winner of the Rockford Area Music Industry Award (RAMI) in the Blues Category. 40+ years playing guitar. Contact me at 608-214 7868 or E-mail me at:

Band Seeks gigs

“THE SHOW OF FORCE” rhythm section experienced studio and road musicians available for short, or long term work. This drummer and bassist collectively with 60 years experience. Well versed in blues, rock and zydeco. Ready to travel overseas, or in the US. Will provide references and music. Call Steve Parrish 859 537 5423, email at

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Blues Blast Magazine is looking for experienced reviewers to review new Blues CD's. If you have a background and experience with Blues music and like to write, we can provide new CD's for you to review. Person must be willing to write a minimum of one review every other week. Reviewer keeps the CD's for writing the review.  If interested please send a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to

Band Seeks Gigs

Deeper Blues - an internationally acclaimed Blues band is seeking festival, club and house concert dates. Band is 3-piece and travels light. First CD hailed as the "best Blues in 30 years." Johnny B. Gayden (Albert Collins) calls the band "perfectly named." Promo and videos online at with full promo package also available. Contact:  217-799-1339


 Featured Blues Review 3 of 5

Nick Moss - Privileged

Blue Bella Records

Release date: March 16, 2010

Privileged, the latest release from Nick Moss, is a different approach for the Chicago bluesman for a couple of reasons. First of all, though most of the Flip Tops appear throughout the album, he's flying solo from the band name this time. And although Moss has displayed a resilient capacity to stay within the boundaries of traditional blues, Chicago in particular, he has changed direction a bit as well.

By way of seven previous CDs of genuine Chicago electric and acoustic blues, a few of which were deserved award winners, rockin' the blues is the general approach on "Privileged". It's immediately discerned in the album's opener, "Born Leader". The song about leadership and truth is coerced down a hard driving path by a dynamic guitar riff. In a Tinsley Ellis vein here, which certainly is a change for Moss, it's interesting that different influences will pop up when a performer's sound and style alters.

Both the front and back of the CD display familiar scenes from the Great Depression, which is a frighteningly painful realism in today's waning economic situation as well. Additionally, the album theme lays reference to what the blues is all about, and the places in time where the music is most relevant. Moss relays the significance in the album's fourth song, "Privileged at Birth," in which harsh lyrical content fronts an appealing melody heavy on rhythm guitar. It contains some brilliant lead work as well, the guitars of which are all performed and overdubbed by Nick. He displays that expertise again in "Louise", as well as his adoration for rhythmic potency, a trait a Chicago bluesman never leaves behind. In a George Thorogood vein, a solid riff intro into tube amp distortion sets the mood.

Gerry Hundt's mandolin gives "Georgia Rattlesnake" a Zeppelin-like presence. In talking influences, Moss gets into a couple of interesting covers. Although his rendition of Cream's funky "Politician" is distinctive in sound and delivery, it's interesting that Moss's voice sounds a lot like Jack Bruce. Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth" is covered in a funky and bluesy way. The appealing rendition has drummer Bob Carter on vocals while Moss concentrates on lead guitar and a wah-wah infected rhythm.

An interesting aspect about this album is that although it seems like a big change for Nick Moss at first listen, it has a tendency to grow on you quickly, to the point of sounding emphatically like another Nick Moss blues gem. And there's nothing wrong with that. However, his biggest departures are "Tear 'Em Down" and "Bolognious Funk". Both are seven minute pieces that fly off on incredible instrumental tangents touching on 60's psychedelia and fusion, the latter being a progressive instrumental that plays off a single chord foundation for a good stretch.

As with traditional blues, Moss proves in "Privileged" that he's pretty adept at what followed as a result, too. And although it can be perceived as being the other side of Nick Moss, the music contains just as much influence, emotion, and realism as the more traditional. The best thing about this crossover is that it demonstrates just how related the music really is, and that one style is not the enemy of the other. But then again, that's what Muddy Waters was saying for years.

Reviewer Brian Holland is a freelance music journalist and an interviewer of legendary musicians, primarily guitarists. With the intention to enlighten others to guitar playing virtuosity, his articles and CD/DVD reviews are published regularly in numerous print and online magazines. He also writes short stories of profound fiction, a few of which have been published as well. Brian resides in Massachusetts with his wife and two children. Visit his website at:

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Have YOUR Music Considered For Nomination

Last year we had quite a few inquiries from Blues artists around the globe wondering how to get their recordings considered for nomination in the annual Blues Blast Music Awards.  This year we are including a process for those interested to send in their recordings for consideration by our nominators. We have 30 nominators and you can send in copies of your CD to be considered. Eligibility for specific recording releases is from May 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010. For complete details about the awards and the new process CLICK HERE

The 2010 nomination process starts March 1st when we begin accepting submissions from labels and artists. Artist do not necessarily have to submit their releases to be considered but any that do will have their recordings screened by the nominators.  Read all the details at the link above for a complete list of options to have your CD release considered now.

CDs for the 2010 nominations are the ones the nominators have heard. We have a diverse group of 30 nominators and they hear many CDs but if an artist or label really wants a CD to be considered by all the nominators they can send in copies of their CDs beginning March 1. CDs received will be sent to the nominators. A minimum of 30 copies are required so that all nominators get to listen to them. There is no charge for this in 2010 but we reserve the right to change this financial policy in future years. Complete information on sending in your CD is HERE

Nominators begin their initial nomination phase on May 1st and final nominations will be announced after May 31st, 2010. Voting Begins in July.  The 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards will be held on Thursday October 28th, 2010 at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago, IL.

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Columbia College - Chicago, IL

Free Blues Camp Audition - Saturday, March 13 from 10:00 AM – Noon for Blues students ages 12 – 18 at Columbia College Chicago Music Center 1014 S. Michigan Ave. This is an opportunity to audition for this great youth Blues Camp held at Columbia College July 4 – 9, 2010 by Artistic Director, Fernando Jones. Go to for more details. RSVP Online at

Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL

Crossroads Blues Society presents The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Sunday, March 7th at 7 PM at Big Cities Lounge. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Big Cities or by calling Steve at 779-537-4006. The show will probably sell out in advance so don't count on tickets being available at the door. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. The other two past shows were sold-out, so don't wait - get your tickets now at Big Cities - or by contacting Mark Thompson at

The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL

Spring 2010 Friends of the Blues shows- March 16 - Shawn Kellerman, 7 pm , Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, April 13 - Perry Weber & DeVilles, 7 pm , Kankakee Elks Country Club, April 17 - Joel Paterson Trio, Kankakee Valley Boat Club (“Rockin’ the River”), April 20 - Too Slim and the Taildraggers, 7 pm , Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, June 22 - Al Stone, 7 pm , River Bend Bar & Grill. For more info see: 

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. March 8 - Bill Evans Annual Eddie Snow Tribute, March 15 - Shawn Kellerman, March 22 - Big Jeff Chapman, March 29 - The Kilborn Alley Blues Band - CD Release Party, April 5 - Motor City Josh, April 12 - Perry Weber and the Devilles,  April 19 - Too Slim & the Taildraggers

River City Blues Society - Peoria, IL

The River City Blues Society has started booking more of their weekly Blues shows. The shows start at 7:00pm at Good Fellas Pizza and Pub, 1414 N 8TH St Pekin, IL. Admission for all shows is $4 or $3 for RCBS members. Shows currently scheduled are:  Thursday March 11 - Shawn Kellerman, Thursday April 1st - Motor City Josh.

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 5

The Kid and Nic Show - Goin’ Downtown

10 Tracks

Kid the player (saxophone) and Nic the actress met, fell in love, married, and formed a band. Kid is Kirk Tracy; Nic is Nicole Tracy. Their forte is “Classis American Music.” They play the House of Blues, casinos, special events…; places not really conducive to blues. They have even performed on Food Nation with Bobby Flay which means that I have seen them because I have seen every episode of Food Nation.

Goin’ Downtown is a compilation, “a best of,” of their previous three CDs. The band is also a compilation as the only constants on all of the tracks are Kid and Nic.

The opening track, “Nothin’ But A Good Time,” is a good time boogie, swing number. “Rollin’ Into Reno” is an upbeat country road song. “Mystify” is a slinky lounge noir written by Kid soon after meeting Nic. “Motorhead Baby” and “HWY 60” are Johnny “Guitar” Watson songs that predate his funk era by 20 plus years. “Come To Me” is a slow pop ballad with nice sax solos. “The Chicken And The Hawk” is a classic 50s rock and roll by Leiber and Stoller. “Pull Through” sounds a lot like Johnny Otis’ “Willie And The Hand Jive” but it has nice jazz interludes through out. “Nothin’ Romantic About LA” is a jazzy ballad about the darker side of Los Angeles. “Who Would Love This Car But Me” is the fourth road/car song on the CD. It’s another upbeat country rock to end the CD.

Goin’ Downtown is not a blues CD per se but it is rather fun and quirky.

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.

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 5

Julie Black - You Might Just Win

BOJA Records

15 tracks

Julie Black is an up and coming vocalist with a mighty fine voice. In this, her second CD overall on BOJA records, we hear this gritty and powerful singer deliver the goods with 15 great original tracks to appreciate. A cut from her first album (“Love This Mama”) was featured on the final 2008 sampler CD from Blues Revue magazine. The CD also features guitarist Dave Eichenberger, Michael Johnn on keys, bassist "Father" Bill Spicuglia and “Jungle Denny” McCarthy and Mike LaSala sharing the drum work, along with a host of backing vocalists and Aaron Rutter on violin; they do a great job backing her up!

I liken her voice in some ways a bit to Bonnie Raitt, in others a bit to Janis Joplin, and in others even a bit to Ella and Etta, but she is uniquely herself in her singing and equally good songwriting. Some of the songs have for me a Carole King feeling of forthrightness and confidence in their approach to words and music, which is a huge compliment because as a 60’s and early 70’s songwriter there may have been few better. This is a great package that showcases a talented young gal’s talents!

She opens with a haunting “Under the Gun” with beautiful and sultry vocals and some sweet guitar backing her. She goes into the pensive and thoughtful “After Falling Out” after a great piano and guitar intro by Johnn and Eichenberger that shows the care these artists have for both the material and each other. If I had to pick a favorite it might be “Both of Us”; this is a gutsy and emotional cut that talks of relationships gone bad and just tears at the soul. Cutting vocals and guitar make this a great song. “Blues in My Blood” give us some gutsy vocals, guitar, piano and really nice organ work. She gets a bit whimsical in a duo of songs, first in an almost Lennon and McCartney-type way in “Cajun Coquette” and following that with a rockabilly country way with “If Love is Kind (Why You Tryin’ to Kill Me?)” (they are listed backwards on the CD from their play order). She closes in a jazzy number entitled “I Got Love” that is an outstanding punctuation mark to a wonderful set of tunes.

What a great CD we have here; jazzy, soulful, rocking, bluesy and oh, so special! I was really impressed with this effort and it got better and better after each play. Julie is the real deal and I think the blues and cross over world may hear a lot more from this fine artist! I give her songs, her voice, her band, her CD and her production the highest marks here- this is one you have to listen to!

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

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