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September 24, 2010 

© 2010 Blues Blast Magazine

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Hey Blues Fans,

This week we are featuring videos of 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards Nominees Bobby Rush and Sean Costello. Bobby Rush is nominated as Best Male artist. Bobby Rush has been nominated for the Blues Music Awards 30 times and this is his second Blues Blast Music Award nomination.  It is EASY to see why in the video below.

Sean's Blues, a collection of Sean Costello songs, is nominated for Best Contemporary Blues CD. This posthumous release only hints at the talent this young man had. Check out these videos to see why. SCROLL DOWN!

In This Issue

We welcome new contributor David Horwitz. David is a noted Blues photographer. He sends us a review of a new music festival called the Snowy Range Music Festival in Laramie, Wyoming.

We have five new CD reviews this week! James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD by James Nixon. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD by Oli Brown. Steve Jones reviews new CDs from Seasick Steve and Stevie Paige. John Mitchell reviews a new CD by Chris O’Leary Band. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 Featured Blues Videos

Our Videos this week are Blues Blast Music Award nominees Bobby Rush and Sean Costello

Click picture for video

 Bobby Rush - Live at Ground Zero Blues Club.

Bobby Rush has been a significant force in Blue music for more than 50 years. He was born in Homer, LA, on November 10, 1940. His family relocated to Chicago in 1953, and by the 1960s he became a force on the West Side blues circuit in Chicago. He is famous for his multi instrumentalist skills and he performs with his big show band dancing girls and all in this video clip. He is also quite a show as a solo performer and he is scheduled to do just that at this years Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival (King Biscuit Festival) headlining the Lockwood Stackhouse Stage on Friday October 8th, 2010

Click picture for video

  Sean Costello - Performing B.B. King's "It's My Own Fault"

Sean Costello was a young rising Blues artist when he tragically passed away in 2008 at the age of 29. He died just shortly after his incredible Delta Groove release We Can Get Together.

Sean was a self taught guitar player from Atlanta who discovered the Blues early in his life. In 1994, at the age of 14 he won the Beale Street Blues Society's talent award. At eighteen he recorded with Susan Tedeschi on her 1998 album, Just Won't Burn. Much of the great guitar work on that CD was Sean!

Sean never seemed to notice he was a young white guy trying to play the Blues. He had so much respect and awe of the great Blues legends he just let his guitar do the talking. He loved and respected this music.  Our Rising Star Award is named after Sean Costello.

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 Sean Costello - Performing Otis Rush song "Double Trouble" on 5 strings

We have witnessed Blues Legend Lurrie Bell at live shows where he broke the high E string on his guitar during the first song of the set. Lurrie not only finished the first song, he continued to play 3 more songs with only 5 strings as the guitar tech tried frantically in vain to let Lurrie know he had another guitar ready to hand him.  Lurrie was playing from the heart and it doesn't matter how many strings are on your instrument. Your heart tells you what notes to play and your fingers just know where to go. Here is Sean doing the same thing.

Click picture for video

 Sean Costello - Freddie King instrumental on 5 strings

Here is Sean performing a Freddie King song with only 5 strings on his guitar. On our website there is another 3rd video of this amazing ability on a tune called Sloppy Drunk. CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 5

James Nixon - Live in Europe

Blue Label/SPV

11 tracks; 48:00 minutes; Splendid

Styles: Blues, Gospel, Soul

Have you ever seen that TV commercial where a guy is seated at his computer, and he reaches the “end” of the internet? Impossibly, he has seen it all, and there’s no more websites to visit. Sometimes, that is how I feel when it comes to Blues artists; it would be impossible to reach the end where there are no more artists, living or deceased, that have escaped my attention. Perhaps, a more realistic goal would be reaching the 25% level.

With James “Nick” Nixon, I am one step closer to the “end” as I have now encountered this great, veteran singer, songwriter, guitarist, and band leader. A Nashville TN native, Nixon had his biggest success in the late 1990s with the Gospel single “Stand Up.” Nixon always keeps more than one iron in the fire by continuing his work in R&B and Blues, often finding himself supporting artists in the studio when not recording his own CDs.

“Live in Europe,” for a live CD, is an exceptionally well recorded and entertaining set. With Nixon on lead vocals, lead guitar, and acoustic slide guitar, it was recorded in Utrecht, Holland while on tour in 2001. “This session shows James at his peak,” according to the liner notes by Nashville’s Fred James, producer, rhythm guitar, slide guitar, and background vocals. The rhythm section is from The Amazing Rhythm Aces: Billy Earheart – organ, Jeff Davis – bass, Bryan Owings – drums. In addition, singer Mary-Ann Brandon adds background vocals. All songs are Nixon originals with “The Best in Town” by Nixon and Billy Cox (later Jimi Hendrix’s bassist). The only cover is a moving rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get ready” served up as the night’s encore.

“The Best in Town” will get aired first on our Friends of the Blues Radio Show. It’s a real-deal Blues shuffle reminiscent of Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me To Do” and has a great mid-song slide guitar solo by Fred James.

A true live showman, Nixon shares interesting insights with the audience, and he and the band vary the tempos and rhythms never getting in a rut. The show opener “Trying to Hold On” is a party starter that had to bring smiles to audience members as they realize their ticket money has been well invested.

“Please Come Back to Me” finds Nixon peeling off some single note guitar runs that perfectly punctuate the message. James and Earheart are locked into a perfect underlying rhythm guitar and organ duet. “Sundown Blues” is a slower Blues with Nixon pouring out gut wrenching, heart breaking vocals.

Before it’s over, Nixon takes us to the “Church House” with a rousing performance of his hit, “Stand Up” and an equally great “People Get Ready.”

If you are like me in that James Nixon has, until now, flown under your radar, this CD is more than a great introduction. It is a thoroughly entertaining live set.

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

Tickets for the biggest Blues event of the fall season, The 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards are now on sale. To buy yours before they sell out, CLICK HERE.

Held at the brand new Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago, confirmed artists Candye Kane  Kilborn Alley Blues BandMarquise Knox, Shaun Murphy Band, Mississippi Heat, Carl Weathersby, Dave Riley & Bob Corritore, Zora YoungQuintus McCormickCash Box Kings, Joel Paterson and Jackie Scott & The Housewreckers will all join in to celebrate the Best in Blues Music for 2010.

Sponsorships Needed - This event would not be possible without the help of our sponsors and friends! For info on the best seats and others greats benefits, (T- Shirts, commemorative posters, Blues "goodie" bag, your band or company name advertised in the program and more)  CLICK HERE.  Sponsorships start just $200 for two people!

The Essex Inn in Chicago at 800 South Michigan Avenue is the official hotel for the 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards. The hotel is located one block from Buddy Guy's Legends Fans coming to Chicago for the event can get a 20% discount off by mentioning the Blues Blast awards. Call them at (312) 939-2800 and mention the awards to get this discount on stays during October 27th to 29th for the awards show.

Blues Blast Discount Advertising Special

Blues Blast Magazine is offering a Fall Ad special. This is our lowest pricing of the year and offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out! This 6 week combo rate of only $180 allows you to affordably add significant impact to your Blues ad campaign. It is a great way to kick up the visibility of you new CD release or Blues event!

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 17,000 Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries. We also get more than 1,000,000  (That's ONE MILLION) hits and more than 25,000 visitors a month on our website. Normal 2010 Advertising rates are $45 a week for Blues Blast magazine ads and website ads are $70 per month.

BUT, for a limited time, you can advertise your Blues event or CD in six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and on our website for a month and a half for less that the cost of a small ad in your local newspaper. To get the special rate of $180 simply reserve your ad space by October 15th, 2010.  Ads can be booked to run anytime between September 15, 2010 and March 31, 2011.

So for only $180 your ad can be seen more than 135,000 times by Blues fans who want to know about Blues events and music! Reserve your space today!  Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis.  Ads must be reserved  and paid for before October 15, 2010. To get more information email or call 309 267-4425 today!

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

 Blues Society News

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

You can submit a maximum of 175 words or less in a Text or MS Word document format.

The Decatur Blues Society - Decatur, IL

The Decatur Blues Society is holding their 1st annual "Blues Challenge" October 16th at the Bourbon Barrel in Decatur, Illinois. The winner of the band & the solo/duo divisions will receive a slot in the 2011 International Blues Competition in Memphis next February. In addition $1,000 travel money will be awarded the band winner, & $500 to the solo/duo winner. Information & entry forms are available at  Entry deadline is September 25th.

The Wichita Blues Society - Wichita, KS

The Wichita Blues Society presents the Fall Blues Crawl Sunday, Sept. 26 at 5p.m. in Wichita Old Town. Cost: $5 - get your wristbands at each of the venues and at the WBS tent in the Old Town Plaza. Who's Playing? Loft 150* - Nobody's Business, Heroes* - Berry Harris, Brickyard - Fabulous Fleshtones, Morts - JukeRoots, Larkspur* – Cleveland Blue (challenge winner), Rock Island Live – Josh Vowell & The Rumble (challenge winner), America's Pub - 360 Degrees and at Club Indigo - Made from Scratch. There will be an after party at 8 p.m. with Samantha Fish Blues Band from K.C. at America's Pub for more information visit 

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. September 27 - Eric Guitar Davis, October 4 - Big Jeff Chapman, October 11 - Too Slim & the Taildraggers, October 18 - Reverend Raven & the Chain Smoking Altar Boys, October 25 - Perry Weber & the Devilles.

The West Virginia Blues Society - Huntington, W.V.

The 4th Annual Appalachian Blues Competition is Oct.2, 2010 at Tomahawks Smokehouse & Saloon Sponsored by the West Virginia Blues Society. Winners in Band, Solo/Duo and Youth Division will move on to the International Blues Challenge In Memphis, Tn. Feb 2011. Entry fee is: $ 50. Cash Prizes will be, 1 St. Place $ 500 Band Winner, 2 nd. Place $200 Band, Solo/Duo Winner $ 200 and $ 100 Youth Division. Rules and App. at  or call, 304-389-1439. Deadline is Sept. 15, 2010.

The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL

2010 Friends of the Blues shows - 7 pm , Kankakee Valley Boat Club, October 12, Too Slim & Taildraggers, 7 pm , Kankakee Valley Boat Club, October 26, Perry Weber & DeVilles, 7 pm , Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club. For more info see: 

Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA

MVBS Presents  Chicago's Mississippi Heat on Friday October 29 at The Lodge in Bettendorf! This will be a fundraiser for the MVBS, including a silent auction with signed guitars, posters, photographs, and more. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the music starting at 8. Admission is $20, $15 for MVBS members. The Lodge will be offering stay-over packages.

Windy City Blues Society - Chicago, IL

The Windy City Blues Society (WCBS) is proud to present the 2010 Chicago Blues Challenge (CBC) Solo/Duo competition at the Harlem Avenue Lounge in Berwyn, IL, on Sunday, September 26th. The winner of this competition will represent Chicago and WCBS at 2011 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. All proceeds from the CBC events will be used to defray a portion of the cost of sending the winners to Memphis.

Other Chicago Blues Challenge dates include: Thursday, October 14 at Rosa's Lounge – Band Competition Round 1, Sunday, October 24 at the Heartland Café – Band Competition Round 2, Sunday, November 7 at Buddy Guy’s Legends – CBC Finals

For more information about the WCBS and the CBC please visit  or the WCBS Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter Sites

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 5

Oli Brown - Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Ruf Records RUF 1160

12 Tracks - 52mins 50secs

To be quite honest, Oli Brown is barely a household name in the UK and in the USA his name is still well below the horizon but that is now. Here’s a prediction You Just Wait. IMHO this young man is gonna be BIG. He is still only 19 years old and has a couple of years touring Europe behind him already. This is his second CD on Ruf Record and my goodness, it’s a good ’un. Not only that but Mr Brown has just been voted as the Male Vocalist of the Year (sponsored by Blues In the South ) in the inaugural British Blues Awards announced in early September 2010. (Check out the full list of winners at

Oli is one of the growing number of young British musicians with one foot and a good portion of a leg in the blues with the other foot and most of the other leg in the rock pile. He clearly has influences as an axe man that range from Hendrix through to jazzers like Herb Ellis and Barney Kessell and as a singer from Hendrix (again) to Lonnie Johnson and Muddy.

This CD, produced by Mike Vernon, the mover behind early recordings of Clapton and Peter Green, shows Oli’s talents remarkably well.

Twelve tracks, only two more than 5 minutes long, feature a band consisting of Gary Rackham, bass; Jamie Little, drums and percussion; and Dave Lennox, Keyboards, which is tight and comes with well thought out arrangements. The opener, ‘EvilSoul’ is a foot tapper with an excellent work out by Little and really gets you in the mood for what follows.

‘Good Tme’ is a seriously funky piece in the James Brown tradition and ‘Take A Look Back’ is similarly funky, but this time, less James Brown and more jazz inflected - like the best of Blood Sweat and Tears, and with a guitar sound/tone that reminds me of the more laid back work produced by Billy Gibbons when he is not in heavy rock mode.

‘I Can Make Your Day’ is a bass riff driven piece, almost guaranteed to get the girls screaming and strongly in the tradition of Muddy Waters’, who’s self-confirmed efforts in his music were often aimed at getting the ladies into bed.

Justifying his award as a singer rather than as a guitarist (he was also nominated in the British Blues Awards as Guitarist of the Year and Young Artist of the Year) the outstanding vocal tracks are ‘Fever’ and ‘No Diggity’, the first best know from its cover version by Peggy Lee of the Little Willie John hit in 1950’s, and ‘No Diggity‘ the R&B, New jack swing, G-Funk/West Coast hip hop hit by American R&B group Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre and Queen Pen. Brown sings the parts the of 1996 hit by Blackstreet: so no rappin’ here.

‘Love’s Gone Cold’ at 7 mins + is a serious late night blues with some sexy Herb Ellis type chording and comes with some excellent single string fills which should have blues aficionados learning the licks in sheds, garages and bedrooms across the western world.

The closer ‘(I Feel) On Top Of The World’ says it all really. Well he should do, shouldn’t he? Mike Vernon came out of retirement to work with this young man he is being nominated for and winning awards and he’s only 19. God, I feel so old.Strongly recommended.

Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer  and has a webcast regular blues radio show on Phonic FM in Exeter (1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central).

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Review 3 of 5

Seasick Steve - Man From Another Time

Atlantic Records

12 tracks

It’s embarrassing to me to hear an artist for the first time this past year on Sirius/XM radio who has been around this long and is so talented. Steve Gene Wold, was born in Oakland in 1941, toured with Janis and Joni in the ‘60’s, has been a recording engineer, was a close friend of Kurt Cobain, lived as a busker in Europe for awhile and began getting some real exposure there in 2006. Sporting a long grey beard, a weather beaten John Deere cap and overalls, and using an equally weather beaten set of guitars and other musical pieces, Steve is winding his way to notoriety in the blues scene.

This 2009 effort is Steve’s fourth album (he has a newer one from this year), the first I’ve had the honor to listen to. I had heard a few cuts on BB King’s Bluesville satellite radio station and was impressed; listening to the entire album shows me this guy is the real deal. Performing mostly solo with a one-string didley bow, a three-string Trance Wonder guitar, a guitar made from Morris Minor hub caps, a banjo, a drum box made from small wooden box, a license plate and a piece of carpet that he calls the MDM (Mississippi Drum Machine), and a Roland Cube Amplifier, we get a very hills country folk sound that is real and authentic. Dave Magnusson is on drums for 7 tracks.

He starts off the CD with a song featuring and called the “Diddley Bow”. If a diddley bow can wail, this one surely does. The deep and colorful sound is almost magical, with a tribal thump and rhythm and lyrics reminiscent of the man who used the name of the instrument reversed as his stage name. “That’s All” is a big and driving song that is one of my favorites on the CD. “Seasick Boogie” is another great track: it weaves a hypnotic boogie that grabs at both your mind and soul. These and all songs here are originals; the deluxe edition (which we did not receive) has extra tracks including a cover of a Hank Williams song). “Big, Green and Yeller” is an interesting homage to his John Deere tractor. The title tracks is also quite interesting, where he describes himself as feeling as a man from another time. All the cuts are quite interesting, well done and sung with his world weary yet still determined vocals.

Traditional, authentic, down home, Spartan, impressive, mystical, worldly; these descriptors only begin to capture something about this man and his music. If you like acoustic music delivered in a unique manner with unique instruments and an even more unique performer  then perhaps Seasick Steve and his music are something that must be experienced by you. I recommend him- it was a fun ride and I can’t wait to hear the new and earlier work!.

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 5

Chris O’Leary Band – Mr Used To Be

Vizztone 2010

11 tracks, 48.06 minutes.

Chris O’Leary learned his trade by fronting Levon Helm’s band for six years and has also played with Hubert Sumlin and James Cotton. A former U.S. marine, Chris sings in a strong, clear voice and plays a mean harp. This is his first full CD and he wrote ten of the 11 tunes. There are no covers as the 11th track was written by guitar player Chris Vitarello. The band consists of Chris O’Leary on vocals and harp, Chris Vitarello on guitar and vocals, Frank Ingrao on bass and vocals, Willa McCarthy on vocals, Sean McCarthy on drums. The band is augmented on most tracks by Chris de Francesco and Andy Stahl (The Bonneville Horns) on baritone and tenor saxophones and by Bruce Katz on keyboards.

The CD starts with the title track which features a strong harp break and great piano by Bruce Katz right up front in the mix. Straight away you can sense that Chris has a good way with a lyric: “Well I don’t miss you baby, don’t you come home to me, you see, I’m perfectly happy to be your Mr Used To Be”. “Dress Blues” references Chris’s time in the army and is dedicated to his former army buddies, complete with a short burst of army marching chant bookending the song! A shuffle tune with plenty of swing, especially in Bruce Katz’s organ solo, the supporting horns add depth.

“Grease Monkey Mama” pays tribute to lady who is not only attractive but knows how to fix a car engine! Guitarist Chris Vitarello contributes a good solo here and the tune gives an opportunity to reverse the usual double entendres one usually associates with songs about car engines and women: “My baby turns those wrenches, she knows just what to do – hear my engine purr when she’s under my hood”! The slower paced “Blues Is A Woman” opens with excellent, fluid guitar backed by sympathetic horns before Chris’s vocal comes in to explain just how the blues is doing him wrong. “I know where blues lives and she don’t pay me no rent”.

“Water’s Risin’” is more of a rock’n’roll song and I enjoyed the harmony vocals on this one. The piano and guitar breaks are again excellent and the song offers plenty of opportunities for watery imagery: “you better grab a life preserver cos’ our relationship might sink “;” going down, taking in water”, for example. This is perhaps my favourite song on the whole CD.

“The Grass Is Always Green” is a shuffle that features harp at the beginning, a strong guitar solo and Bruce Katz cooking throughout on organ. “Christine” is a tune very much in the Muddy Waters tradition and so it is particularly appropriate that guest Bob Margolin is featured on slide. This is a stripped down approach, with acoustic bass and harp well to the fore. “When the bullets leave the pistol you can bet that the devil knows your name” gives a flavour of this rather downbeat song.

Rather like what John Nemeth has been doing on recent CDs “Walk The Walk” is almost a soul tune with the horns, augmented by trumpet and trombone, featured strongly and there is a nice sax break in the middle. “South Flats Boogie” is the shortest track on the CD, clocking in at less than 2 minutes, and is a feature for guitarist (and composer) Chris Vitarello. It certainly does what it says and drummer Sean McCarthy earns his corn throughout on flat out boogie beat!

“King of the jungle” opens with slide guitar and the solos are from Chris’s harp and the slide. The song is dedicated to Chris’s son Ryan:” he’s the King of the jungle, the baddest cat around.” The final tune on the CD is “Tchoupitoulas”, a street in New Orleans close to the river Mississippi. Appropriately the track has a jazzy, NO feel, partly due to Bruce Katz’s piano underpinnings, an enlarged horn section and drums very much in the second line tradition.

It is always good to see new acts writing their own material and not resorting to covers of the usual suspects. The Chris O’Leary band has produced a varied CD which deserves to get them more attention. A band to watch out for, in my view.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He is looking forward to attending the Blues Blast Awards in Chicago in October.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 5

Stevie Paige - Welcome to the Big Time

Self Released

12 tracks

Wow! I popped the CD from this Australian singer and guitar player in and was immediately taken aback by the great sound. I love being surprised by artists that I’ve never heard of; sometimes it makes me think that maybe I should have already heard of them, but in Stevie’s case she’s only 19, pretty new to the music scene and she’s from half way around the world.

Paige has a superb and powerful voice. When that voice gets paired up with really strong instrumental work it will get her and this album noticed quickly! Her guitar is clean and not over done and her band is outstanding. Mick Connor on keys, Anthony Norris on trumpet, Paul Williamson on the sax, Rob Little on bass and Mark Kennedy on drums and percussion give this album a big sound. But what strikes the listener first and foremost are Paige’s vocals. She’s a singer who seems ready to grasp any style of music and deliver the goods. While this CD is predominantly blues and soul, one can tell that she could belt out a song in almost any genre with success. I really was impressed with her.

Paige wrote all but the final track on the CD; she is also a pretty darn good songwriter. Here songs are fresh and bright, and range from slow, bluesy ballads and soulful songs to jumping and rocking numbers. There is not a bad song in the set. The last song is a modernized take on “Ol’ Man River” and also features Charlie Musselwhite on harp. A stark and bare song with only Paige on vocals with an acoustic guitar and Musselwhite filling in on harp, Paige closes out her album in a grand down home and gutsy style.

A graduate of Australia’s premier music school (the Victorian College of the Arts), Paige is classically trained but embraces the blues and soul. She is a young, new force to be musically reckoned with. I recommend you check her out!!!!

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

Sean Costello Memorial Fund's Second Annual Benefit Concert

A Blues And Roots Festival
Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 5:00 PM
Tabernacle's Cotton Club
152 Luckie Street, Atlanta, GA

Performances by Burnt Bacon, Candye Kane, Coy Bowles and the Fellowship, Jon Justice, Seth Walker, and Sonia Leigh

A limited number of advance tickets are available at Tickets are also on sale at  (search Sean Costello) and at the Tabernacle Box Office. Advance ticket purchases will include a special DVD of Sean. Ticket cost is $30.00 (plus applicable service fees) in advance and $35 (plus applicable service fees) at the door. Sponsorship information is available at

The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research is uniquely focused on the needs of musicians with bipolar disorder. The Fund supports and conducts research on bipolar disorder and creativity while promoting awareness, providing education, and serving as a resource for these musicians and their support systems in order to foster acceptance, functioning and health.

For volunteer opportunities, silent auction donations, and more information, please visit

 Featured Festival Review

Snowy Range Music Festival - Laramie, Wyoming
Labor Day Weekend - 2010

Who would have thunk it: boots, blues and brews in Laramie, Wyoming? But the Snowy Range Music Festival (SRMF) pulled it off. Only in its second year, the SRMF has it all. Laramie is a two hour ride from Denver. If you have the time it’s worth your while to explore this small Western community. A college town (“U Dub”, home of the Cowboys), there are plenty of bars and restaurants. Lodging is abundant. There is a nice historic downtown, plus some historic homes near the U. The festival site is the Albany County Fairgrounds, held in a rodeo arena, covered in AstroTurf so people could kick off their boots and shake their booty. )

While not billed as a blues festival almost every act traces its roots back to the blues. With 26 acts and 39 performances the music was non-stop for 2 ½ days over the Labor Day weekend.

Two main stages and a smaller acoustic stage made for continuous music. The main stages alternated performances, so when Stage 1 was playing, Stage 2 was setting up – there was no delay between acts. All the while the acoustic stage had a steady turnover of acts from the opening set until the jam, when the acoustic stage became a juke joint. The jams were unique as they were organized and had a professional major act as the anchor band, such as Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, Billy Branch, and Gino Matteo.

You can go to  to view the complete line up and details. I’m a photographer, not a music critic, and I’ve been to hundreds of music festivals in my 40 plus years of blues photography. I can assure you that the SRMF is destined for greatness if they maintain the diversified bookings. It has something for everyone. Hard core blues fans were not disappointed with the likes of Ana Popovic, Billy Branch, Rick Estrin, Eden Brent, Jon Cleary, Carl Weathersby, Blinddog Smokin’, the Insomniacs and Mavis Staples. That alone would have been a solid festival, now add Los Lobos, The Subdudes, Soulive, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Anders Osborne and Carrie Rodriguez. All you roots rockers and New Orleans funksters should be happy.




With a half day Friday, and all day Saturday, Sunday was the most wide ranging and eclectic day. The opening 12:15 show on the main stage was a group of youngsters Another Kind of Magick ages 14-17. Two sets of brothers Mike and Louie Uribe, Evan and Taylor Scott, along with Mason Carberry were carrying on the blues tradition and pleasing the crowd; closing the show was a veteran rocker from Colorado Big Head Todd and the Monsters. They rocked out, and gave a surprising blues feel to many of his songs. Sandwiched in between were acts like Carrie Rodriguez, Jon Cleary and Anders Osborne among others.


People always ask me “What was your favorite act?” I can’t narrow it down to only one, but I always have a few favorites, and the SRMF was no exception. In no particular order:

Los Lobos - Their set was Los Lobos at its best. It was the end to a long tour promoting their latest release Tin Can Trust and they were heading home. The guys were relaxed (or maybe it was the tequila shots before the show!) Whatever it was, they played with abandonment. You could see the smiles and joy these guys still have after 30 odd years of playing together. They played some of the selections from the new CD, but also played cumbias and Mexican folk songs in Spanish, La Bamba and Will the Wolf Survive, and took requests from the adoring crowd. Chalo Ortiz from Blinddog Smokin’ was called up to accompany them on one of their many encores.


Mavis Staples - Wow, what a well-oiled machine! I saw her many times with Pops (Staples) who kept the sisters in line and the musicians on time. But I have to hand it to her back up band, made up of some of the West Coast veteran blues men – Steven Hodges, Jeff Turmes, Rick Holmstrom – who could switch from gospel to blues without a hitch. Mavis had three backup singers besides the band. At 71, she’s still a dream to listen to and watch as she radiates good vibes from the stage. She was also stumping for her new CD, You Are Not Alone.


Soulive - This 3 piece band (drums, guitar and keys) has two brothers, and their set was dynamic, soulful and funky. The drums are a lead instrument for this group with keys carrying the baseline. All the while the guitar rips and shreds its way to sonic heights. Their take on the Beatles music was a special treat!

Carrie Rodriguez - Carrie is a violinist and vocalist from Austin, Texas, whose rootsy approach to her music can be classified as new era Americana – soulful, melodic and heartfelt. What can I say? I’m such a sucker for the gals – they’re nice to look at and somehow seem to say more from the heart. Carrie’s blend of her violin and the band switching from mandolin to guitar and back again was a perfect blend of roots music with a dash of wistfulness and melodic tunes.

I could go on and on – other highlights were Eden Brent and Ken Saydak at solo keyboards; Gretchen Troop - sultry singer and photographer; Richard Ackerman – former football player, now country singer teaming up with Carl Weathersby for an unrehearsed killer acoustic set. Who said cowboys and blues don’t mix?

Suffice it to say there wasn’t a bad set. The promoter and booker, Carl Gustafson of Blinddog Smokin’ should be proud of his efforts, not only as a promoter, but also as a performer. His band put on an exceptional show, and backed Carl Weathersby for yet another good performance.

Musically this was world class entertainment without the crowds of Chicago or New Orleans. The audience could get within 6 feet of the stage (and did, loving every minute). The food and drink, including local micro brews, were moderately priced, and there was a smattering of merchandise – CDs, tee shirts and other vendors.

It’s a tremendous job to organize a festival. It takes many people to make things work, from security to equipment haulers, stage set up, sound and hospitality. Harley’s House of Sound did a great job keeping the musicians sounding their best, and not bleeding into other areas. All the acts were on time, and the sound was excellent at all stages – a job well done.

Keeping the musicians and crew fed and happy was the responsibility of Dan Garcia of Bailey’s Restaurant, along with his brother Ray and sister Cathy, with Dad Alejandro Garcia keeping an eye on things. Interesting footnote about 91 year old Alejandro: he went to the same high school in east LA as some of the band members of Los Lobos. The blues world is a small but tight community – you never know who you will meet.

So for next Labor Day, mark your calendar. Catch the Snowy Range Music Festival while it’s still not overflowing with crowds, and the prices are reasonable. This year a 3 day pass was under $90, and camping was available on site. That way you can say 20 years from now that you were there at the beginning!:

Photos & commentary  by David Horwitz. 
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