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Issue 7-48, December 5, 2013

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Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine

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 In This Issue

Tom Hyslop and Terry Mullins have our feature interview with Felix Reyes.

We have six Blues music reviews for you. Rainey Wetnight reviews 3 CD's of Blues Christmas music from 2 new albums. James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews the newly released Duane Allman 7 CD box set. John Mitchell reviews a new album from Gino Matteo. Marty Gunther reviews a new CD from Snarky Dave And The Prickly Bluesmen. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new release from Niecie. We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 From The Editor's Desk

Hey Blues Fans,

I just wanted to to let you know that our Fall advertising special is going on now and has been extended until the first day of winter on December 21st. (Yes I know it seems like fall is long passed but not officially!)

The advertising rates in this special will be our lowest rates for the 2014 season so get your spring, summer and fall ad campaign at this low rate now! Great for artists advertising for festival bookings or promoting a new CD. Also a great deal for festivals and venues to advertise those spring and summer festivals at a bargain price. So lock in these low advertising rates now! For details, see our ad below.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

Blues Blast Magazine is offering a fall advertising special. This special pricing will be our lowest pricing of the 2013-2014 season.

This 6-week combo rate of only $350 affordably adds significant impact to your Blues advertising and promotion campaign. It is a great way to kick up the visibility of your new album release, Blues event or music product around the globe!

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 26,000 Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries. We get more than 2,000,000 (That's TWO MILLION) hits and more than 45,000 visitors a month on our website. 

Normal 2013 - 2014 ad rates are $90 per issue for Blues Blast magazine ads and $100 per month for website ads. BUT, for a limited time, you can advertise in six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and on our website for a month and a half for only $350. This is a $690 value! To get this special rate simply reserve and pay for your ad space by December 21, 2013. Ads can be booked to run anytime between now and September 30, 2014 for your 2014 Blues festival, album release or other music related product.

With this special rate, your ad can viewed more than 220,000 times by our readers who want to know about your 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 by December 21, 2013. To get more information email or call 309 267-4425 today! Other ad packages, single ads, short run ads or long term bulk rates available too. Call today for an ad plan that fits your needs.

 Blues Want Ads

Blues Blast Magazine Seeks Social Networking Coordinator

We're growing! We are looking for a part-time social media coordinator to help with the roll-out of our new Blues Blast Magazine website.

If you or someone you know is interested, please send us your resume and a paragraph about why you think you'd be a great social media coordinator. Be sure to describe your relevant experience and how you think you can help our social media presence while growing our numbers.

An ideal candidate will be able to work from home and report on a weekly basis. Experience in the following areas is preferred:

- Social media content creation
- Managing multiple Facebook pages and Insights analysis
- Event promotion
- Marketing and/or advertising

Share with anyone who you think might be a great fit.  If you are interested please reply to with your resume for consideration. Please include your phone number with the reply

Blues Blast Magazine Seeks Staff Writers

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for experienced writers to complete interviews and other writing assignments for the magazine. These are paid positions. Must have experience writing with a background or degree in journalism or publicity. Must also be familiar with Blues music. Successful applicant must be willing to complete one interview or writing assignment every week.

If interested please send a resume, a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to . Please include your phone number in the reply.

 Featured Blues Interview - Felix Reyes  

Back then, he probably would have preferred to choke him.

These days, he simply prefers to thank him.

A hot young guitar slinger eager to make a name for himself and show off his skill set on the vibrant Texas blues scene, Felix Reyes quickly found out that Doug Simril had other ideas in mind for him.

Ideas like teaching his protégée that it’s really important to learn how to walk before you can take off and run.

“He (Simril) was a member of the Marksmen, the band that had Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs in it, and he was like my guitar mentor who taught me how to play rhythm guitar,” Reyes said recently. “And in fact he didn’t let me play any leads in the band for almost eight months – just kind of drilled this rhythm guitar thing into my head. I was really kind of pissed at him for a long time about that, but it’s the best kind of learning that you could ever have.”

And judging from the resume he’s written since those long-ago days in the Lonestar State, it’s easy to see that Reyes has put those lessons to good use over the years.

A virtual jack of all trades, Reyes has left his mark on the music scene all over the place - in Dallas, Atlanta and in Chicago, a place he calls home these days, over the course of his three decade-plus career as a guitarist, songwriter, producer and recording engineer.

“It’s been a wonderful ride. I’ve met the most fantastic people … it’s such a family and it keeps growing and growing, like a circle of love that comes into your life through music,” he said.

That feeling of love through the shared experience of music really reverberated through the heart of the Atlanta music scene when Reyes came into the orbit of the late, great Sean Costello. It was a common sight to see the fire-balling Costello sitting in and jamming with Felix and the Cats late into the hot Atlanta night.

“We worked together and then he went off and did his thing. The whole time he was out there, I didn’t realize the groundwork he laid for me,” said Reyes. “We had a ton of respect that always carried through in our relationship. I just wish I’d got to take him fishing, actually. We always talked about it, but I didn’t.”

Costello flared through the blues stratosphere with all the brilliance of a supernova and although he was gone way before his time, his presence can still be felt today and looks like it will never go away. That’s one reason Blues Blast magazine calls the award it gives to the most promising young musicians each year The Sean Costello Rising Star Award.

“That deal with Sean, he was a phenom, you know? He came out and blew all our minds. He still continues to blow people’s minds,” Reyes said. “It’s really strange. His presence in my life is still felt almost every day. I think that sometimes people like that, that’s what they have to give us. We don’t write our own stories or anything. That’s his story and he lived it and he accomplished a lot more than a lot of people with a lot more time.”

That connection with Costello was also instrumental in Reyes’ penning the Grammy-nominated song “Wait for Me” for Susan Tedeschi (off her album of the same name). “He (Costello) made all that happen. That’s totally how that happened,” he said.

It’s something of a miracle that anyone around Atlanta even knew that Reyes was an accomplished guitarist, because for nearly the first year he was there, he was knee-deep in another line of work.

“I was working with my brother making tons of money in the contracting business and I really didn’t want to play (guitar) that much. I had never had any money – not like that – so this was all new to me. But I went down and met the Blind Willie’s (legendary Altanta blues club) crew, my brother kind of dragged me down there to see the house band and he made me bring my guitar … it wasn’t like I really wanted to play,” Reyes said.

Then fate stepped into the mix.

“There was a girl from Dallas there who recognized me and she kept hounding them (the band) to let me sit in and they weren’t having it. But at the end of the night, they let me sit in and they were like, ‘Oh! That guy can play.’ Then I went back to building swimming pools and didn’t think too much about it,” he said.

A couple of weeks after that, Reyes got a call from that very band, requesting his services after their regular guitarist had nearly cut his finger off. And just like that, Reyes was back in the swing of things, musically speaking.

“Through that gig, I met (tenor saxophone player) Grady ‘Fats’ Jackson, who was a big jump-swing guy. We connected not only on a personal level, but on a really deep musical level. And Fats got to where he wouldn’t play a gig there if I didn’t play guitar with him,” Reyes said. “I loved the way he was playing, with all that Gene Ammons, Illinois Jacquet kind of honkin.’ He helped me immensely when I was in Atlanta.”

The past several years, Reyes has been a regular member of Dave Herrero and The Hero Brothers’ Band. Not only did Reyes play guitar on the group’s latest disc, Corazon, he also co-produced it and recorded a good part of it at his House of Tone studio in Oak Park, Illinois. And although he still steps onto the bandstand whenever the opportunity arises, these days Reyes is spending more and more time inside his House of Tone.

“I haven’t been playing a lot lately; I’ve been doing more recording here. Ed (Strohsahl, who plays bass for Herrero) is with Nikki Hill and Dave (Herrero) went to Poland again and is on tour with Jimmy Burns right now in Turkey, but I opted to stay here and record,” he said.

While it has to be super-convenient to have a recording studio mere steps away from your living room, that comfort factor was not exactly the reason Reyes initially constructed a laboratory to create sounds in.

“I didn’t start out to have a studio. I started out wanting to get the best guitar tone I can on a recording and I was having problems doing that when I’d record at other places,” he said. “Sometimes engineers have a one-size-fits-all approach to recording, and I know from listening to records that a lot of stuff that we love was recorded in ways that are very ambient, which runs counter to the way that engineers are trained to record now.”

Coming of age in the Dallas area, Reyes had the luxury of seeing a host of impressive blues men and women playing all around town on any given day or night.

“I got pretty lucky. We’d go to the park on Sunday and Freddy King would be playing there. And you know, it got to the point where he was out there so much that quite honestly, we kind of took Freddy for granted. And Marc Benno was in town then (Stevie Ray Vaughan played in his band, The Nightcrawlers),” he said. “And you had Cookie McGee. She’s one of those Dallas artists that nobody knows about, but she was on the scene in the early ‘80s. She learned from Freddy King, played a Flying V and an Explorer and was amazing; if you could imagine a young girl who played like Freddy and could sing her ass off, that’s what you got.”

Seeing performers like that sure didn’t deter Reyes from wanting to get in on the action and play the blues.

“When I was coming on the scene there, those people were around and you had Zuzu Bollin. Prior to that, I was kind of playing world music … reggae and Brazilian stuff … and they really turned my head around about the blues,” he said. “I was such an Allman Brother’s fanatic, when I heard them mention T-Bone Walker, and I found out he was from Dallas, you know, I started to listen – well, even to find out about it. Now, you have YouTube, and anything is possible and easy to research. But back then, there weren’t very many resources.”

It’s obvious through his playing that Reyes is well-versed in the history of the blues and has great respect for the fore-fathers of the genre and the groundwork they have done to build such a glorious musical platform. With that being said, Reyes is also sharp enough to know that if artists in the here-and-now don’t do their part to help keep that platform a sturdy one with their own original contributions, the blues might become stagnant.

“”I’m way into anyone who’s trying to write songs. I love those classic blues tunes just like everybody else does, but the genre needs people to write songs for it to move forward,” he said. “I really think that’s what’s kind of lacking.”

The Chicagoland area now seems as comfortable as a pair of well-worn shoes to Reyes, but when he first arrived there, that wasn’t necessarily the case.

“When I first got here, I didn’t really know the city and I was older and it was just hard for me to go out and be in clubs every night in a very competitive atmosphere. Of course I met people early on and these guys have been really, really great about helping me out. I always remember stuff like that,” he said. “Tom Holland hooked me up with a gig with Eddy Clearwater and I went out on the road with him on bass. Tom got me a gig with Byther Smith and I played with Sam Lay for a while.”

Reyes also went out on the road for – looking back on now – what had to be a bittersweet time; the last tour of Pinetop Perkins and Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith.

“I lucked into that. Willie’s son (Kenny ‘Beady Eyes’ Smith) was on that tour on drums. I’m glad to have it under my belt. You know, if I didn’t play again at all, (after that) that would be alright. It was amazing,” Reyes said. “One night we were playing and they played three-and-a-half – almost four – hours straight. I knew that we were supposed to be done, but everybody stayed there and Willie kept calling tunes. It wasn’t like we were going to say, ‘We’re done at two o’clock … I’m outta here.’ And that was really cool.”

Reyes is certainly blessed with all the flash, fire and technical ability of just about any of the most jaw-dropping guitarists that a person can name. While it’s important to have those tools on your workbench, he also understands that there’s way more to playing the blues than just seeing how many notes you can peel off at one time.

“Rhythm guitar playing is a lost art. Everybody wants to be a hotshot lead guitar player. When you hear a bunch of guys play – I hear it all the time – it’s like nobody’s really listening (to each other), they’re just kind of all playing. It’s like a horse race,” he said. “Doug’s (Simril) concept was, hey, I’m gonna make you sound good when you play your solo, so you had better damn well make me sound great when I’m playing my solo.”

Whether comping for another guitarist, or whether he’s the one out front soloing, it’s evident that Felix Reyes was just born to play the guitar. And as he found out somewhere along the path he’s traveled, that bond between man and instrument can result in much more than just a good time.

“I remember the first time I got paid for playing a gig. I was like, ‘What? Are you kidding?’ When you first start playing guitar, you just want to get good enough to play a piece of a song. And you learn a song and then you want to play guitar with somebody and then you want to play in a band,” he said. “And that’s a big deal. Really my expectations at that point were were just to play for people and have them like it. I never expected to get paid for it. I’ve been really lucky.”

For more info on Felix visit his website at

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine.

Interview conducted by Tom Hyslop. Story written by Terry Mullins.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 1 & 2 of 6

Various Artists  - Blues, Blues Christmas Volume 3 - 1927-1962

Document Records

CD 1: 20 songs; 50:24 Minutes

CD 2: 20 songs; 52:34 Minutes

Styles: Blues, Jazz, Do-Wop, Rockabilly, and Gospel

It’s the most wonderful time of the year - for blues music, of course! The UK’s Document Records knows this well, and that’s why they’ve extracted forty festive favorites from their vaults. They span the years 1927 to 1962, featuring artists from John Lee Hooker and Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter to Ella Fitzgerald and Victoria Spivey. Blues is not the only genre of music that is performed here: there are jazz, do-wop, rockabilly, gospel and even a couple of fiery Christmas sermons by the Reverend J.M. Gates. The most delightful of these Yuletide offerings are “The Holy Baby” by the magnificent Magnolia Five, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan’s sultry rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and Hop Wilson’s pure-blues masterpiece “Merry Christmas Darling.” Also, who knew that the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from “The Nutcracker” could be such a spectacular jazz number? Duke Ellington and his orchestra accomplish this unique feat on track four of the second CD.

Those who are fans of traditional carols might be disappointed that both Frosty and Rudolph are absent from this collection, but the peppy originals more than make up for this slight deficit. As if the songs weren’t fantastic enough, this compilation includes a 20-page booklet with explanatory notes and accompanying photographs. A pithy poem from Bessie Smith in the liner notes sums up this reference-quality collection: “Hooray for Christmas! Christmas comes but once a year, and to me it brings good cheer, and to everyone who likes wine and beer. Happy New Year is after that; happy I’ll be, that is a fact. That is why I like to hear, folks I say that Christmas is here.”

Westchester All Stars and Friends - Christmas for Wounded Veterans Volume 2

Produced by Bill Edwards

CD: 15 songs; 55:23 Minutes

Styles: Blues Rock, Christmas Pop, Rap

During our holiday festivities, let’s definitely remember those who serve our country in the Armed Forces, especially if they’ve been wounded doing so. Such is executive producer Bill Edwards’ aim in “Christmas for Wounded Veterans Volume 2.” It features fifteen snow-fresh tracks and seventeen artists, as seen in the liner notes. The most famous of these are probably New York Yankee great Bernie Williams, Eden Riegal of “All My Children,” and guitarist Earl Slick, who played with David Bowie and John Lennon. All proceeds from this album, as well as those from the live concert on December 6th in New York, will go to wounded veterans’ organizations. The Westchester All Stars and their friends have gone all out to celebrate this month’s best holiday, and to that end, they’ve provided highly-energetic selections!

The catchiest of these are “Santa Gonna Fly,” a rock-and-roll powerhouse ballad from Bill Edwards, Vaneese Thomas’ poignant “Make Every Day like Christmas,” and the tongue-in-cheek “Twelve Santa Babies” by Dave Keyes and Duchess Di. Rap fans will get a surefire kick out of track number eight, “Love and Family,” although blues fans might not. Nevertheless, its viral chorus will give you an earworm as a present. Featured ensemble bands are Stolen Moments, the Barnstormers, and the Renovators. Everyone, whether a solo musician or a member of a band, is in the sincere spirit of the season.

“On behalf of all the great artists that took part this year, I ask you to support our troops, pray for the wounded, and bless the ones that have fallen and their families,” asks Bill Edwards in the album’s liner notes. Its cover provides an even more direct request: “Hate war, but love the American warrior.” Truer words were never spoken, and this reviewer hopes that the holidays will find our soldiers safe and sound. If not, may their memory comfort those who mourn them, and may their spirits find peace.
Season’s greetings and all the best in the New Year from Rainey Wetnight!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 34 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 6

Duane Allman - with Early Bands featuring Duane and Gregg, Various Artists, and The original Allman Brothers Band - Skydog: Duane Allman Retrospective [Limited Edition [Numbered] or Encore Edition] (Box Set)

Rounder Records

 7 CDs - 129 tracks; about 6 hours; Reference Quality

Styles: Electric Blues, Acoustic Blues, Blues-Rock, Soul, Pop, Southern Rock, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, 60s Rock and Roll

“Duane Allman was the greatest guitar player that ever lived,” argues Allman Brothers author Scott Freeman at the end of a new two-hour DVD, “Song of the South.” Among his reasons for making such a controversial statement is this: Dying in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24, Duane had an effective studio career of 3 – 5 years. In that short time, he left a body of work with irreplaceable contributions to studio recordings by Eric Clapton, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs, Clarence Carter, King Curtis, Delaney & Bonnie, John Hammond, Jr., and many more, including, of course, The Allman Brothers Band.

In this 2013 seven CD “Retrospective,” we find the evidence to support that contention. Arranged in chronological order, the 129 songs highlight killer guitar passages by Duane in songs by early bands featuring Duane and his younger brother Gregg (The Escorts, Allman Joys and Hour Glass) and the original-six, Allman Brothers Band. Mainly, Duane’s “original, tasteful, sensitive” guitar playing is featured in songs by a multitude of other artists. Duane served as a catalyst on many of these legendary artists' cuts, making them better with his incredible playing and arrangements.

This is not a greatest hits collection nor is it a “complete works” box set (there are 324 released tracks known). But, it has three of the two-brothers’ earliest recordings - previously unreleased. The box adds to, and hugely extends, the number of studio-recorded songs by various artists first found in the earlier released double CDs, “Duane Allman: An Anthology” and “Duane Allman: An Anthology Volume 2.” Some songs are repeated here from those two earlier sets.

One Critic has contended that for the “Duane-completest-collector,” this box set will not prevent redundancies. For example, one would need to purchase Otis Rush’s “Mourning in the Morning” CD to get all six tracks with Duane’s guitar, making the three tracks included here repeats. Also, this box set’s liner notes do not detail exactly, track-by-track, Duane’s contributions and their importance. For example, not included in the liner notes is this information: in the Otis Rush songs, “Me” and “Reap What You Sow,” Duane is playing lead guitar, but in “It Takes Time” Duane is playing only the lead boogie line in the right channel. For some songs, this means the beginner or casual listener must use effort to find Duane because, as a sideman, he's deep in the mix or because he just adds the occasional brilliant lick.

Produced by Duane’s daughter Galadrielle Allman and reissue producer Bill Levenson, the “Retrospective” shows the full breadth and depth of Duane’s work. There are nine previously unreleased tunes in the set (on CDs #1,6,7) including a live jam session with the Grateful Dead. The set includes many classic Allman Brothers songs and a collector’s cache of rare singles and long out-of-print album tracks. Also included is a 72 page book with song liner notes and essays by Scott Schinder and Galadrielle Allman and many rare photographs. The numbered “Limited Edition” box (10,000 were issued) also contains a replica of Duane’s guitar pick and a “Skydog” sticker with the CDs in velum sleeves like those containing guitar strings.

“Duane Allman was utterly driven,” says daughter Galadrielle in her essay in the accompanying booklet. “No one tried harder than Duane and his band,” and “the longer Duane is gone, the clearer it becomes that there will never be another like him.” Born November 20, 1946, Duane Allman was one of the defining musicians of our era, mentioned equally in the same breath with Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. A founding member, with his brother Gregg, of the Allman Brothers Band, Duane and the Brothers started and inspired an entire genre of music that came to be known as “Southern Rock” (e.g. he was the “Freebird” in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song).

All songs appear in chronological order!

CD One (1965 – 1968): 23 tracks (5 previously unreleased) - The Escorts, The Allman Joys, Hour Glass, 31st of February, The Bleus.

The box set launches with three previously unreleased tracks by the 1965 teenage band, The Escorts. In 1965, Duane was 18 until his birthday November 20, and Gregg was 17 until December 8. Obviously caught in their formative years, their early interest in Blues and Rhythm and Blues is showcased here with covers of Bobby Bland’s “Turn on Your Love Light” and Ray Charles’s “What’d I Say.” Track 2 is an interesting “No Name Instrumental” written by Duane and Gregg with tremolo guitar by Duane. Of the six tracks by The Allman Joys (basically a covers band) in August 1966, two were previously unreleased: Manfred Mann’s “Mister, You’re a Better Man Than I” and The Yardbird’s “Lost Woman.” All the ill-fated Hour Glass band’s songs are covers except the Gregg penned “Been Gone too Long.” Duane’s early mastery of Blues guitar is first revealed in their timeless recording of the “B.B. King Medley” taped in Muscle Shoals AL, 1968. A real highlight (although previously released) is Duane’s first recorded slide guitar work heard on “Melissa,” a Gregg penned and sung tune performed with Butch Truck’s 1968 Folk-Rock band 31st of February. Just because Duane was great does not mean his additions could rescue bands that were not great, beginning with The Bleus, a 1960s blue-eyed soul band from Gadsden AL with regional success.

CD Two (1968 – 1969): 26 tracks - Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett, Laura Lee, Spencer Wiggins, Arthur Conley, Willie Walker, The Lovelles, Aretha Franklin, Soul Survivors, King Curtis, The Sweet Inspirations.

Clarence Carter’s “The Road of Love” was the first commercially released recording to feature one of Duane’s trademark slide solos. Clarence can be heard saying/singing into his microphone midway through Duane’s solo, “I like what I’m listening to right now!” When Wilson Pickett’s single of “Hey Jude” was released in January 1969, Duane’s ground-breaking guitar playing caught the attention of Eric Clapton and the entire pop music world. That exposure at age 22 opened doors and had inestimable positive impact on Duane’s fateful career. For example, he so impressed that he was invited to record with Aretha Franklin; “The Weight” reveals what a deft move that was. Duane then trades wonderful slide licks with King Curtis’s saxophone on an instrumental version of “The Weight.” The Spencer Wiggins track has the right ingredients with impassioned rich, pleading vocals and Duane punctuating vocal lines with guitar licks akin to his approach with Wilson Pickett on “Hey Jude.”

CD Three (1969): 17 tracks – The Barry Goldberg Blues Band, Duane Allman, Otis Rush, The Duck & The Bear, Boz Scaggs, The Allman Brothers Band

Duane’s slide was particularly greasy, poignant, and prominent on the Barry Goldberg track, plus he is dubbed in beside Mike Bloomfield on guitar. Duane rarely sang, but here he does on three precious tracks from his uncompleted solo album. In May 1969, one of Duane’s most outstanding contributions was on Boz Scaggs’ American debut album. Duane delivers a searing guitar solo to the song “Loan Me a Dime,” which runs 13 minutes. On Scaggs haunting “Finding Her,” Duane adds his signature “bird calls” to the ending (a precursor to those on “Layla”). The disc ends with four songs from the ABB debut album.

CD Four (1969): 21 tracks - The Allman Brothers Band, Ronnie Hawkins, Lulu, Johnny Jenkins, John Hammond, Jr., Doris Duke

The disc opens (puzzlingly) with three more cuts from the ABB debut album. Canadian Ronnie Hawkins’ “Down in the Alley” is a strong work; it had previously been a hit for the Clovers. One cut by Scottish pop star Lulu would probably have been enough; my vote “Dirty Old Man” written by Delaney Bramlett and Mac Davis. Duane could play anything and everything. On the swampy Johnny Jenkins’ tracks, we get a taste of Duane on Dobro (resonator) guitar; check out Muddy Water’s “Rollin’ Stone.” As the story goes, Duane’s arrival for the John Hammond, Jr. sessions saved the project. “Shake for Me” where Duane’s electric slide takes complete flight stands the test of time. Deep Soul fans know Doris Duke’s “I’m a Loser” album; from it, disc four closes with “Ghost of Myself.”

CD Five (1969 – 1970): 17 tracks – Eric Quincy Tate, The Allman Brothers Band, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Laura Nyro, Ella Brown, Bobby Lance, Derek & the Dominos, Eric Clapton & Duane Allman

Eric Quincy Tate (EQT) was a Southern Rock band that recorded demos in Capricorn studios with Duane on slide in the left channel. Next are ABB tracks: one from their second album and three live tracks (Fillmore East February 1970 and Ludlow Garage April 1970). In April 1970, Duane joined Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett at Miami’s Criteria Studios. Delaney had asked Jerry Wexler about getting Ry Cooder to play slide guitar, but Wexler suggested Duane Allman instead; two songs from that collaboration are presented. In New York, Duane played lead guitar on American songwriter, singer, and pianist Laura Nyro’s “Beads of Sweat.” At Capricorn studios, Duane backed soul singer Ella Brown on singles, “Touch Me” and “A Woman Left Lonely.” Bobby Lance was a songwriter interested in Soul scoring serious Soul cred by penning Aretha's hit "The House That Jack Built." Questionably, it was Duane who overdubbed slide guitar onto one Lance song, “More Than Enough Rain.” The disc ends with five cuts from the legendary “Layla” album by Eric Clapton’s Derek & the Dominos with Duane joining in the Miami studio.

CD Six: (1970 – 1971) 15 tracks (2 previously unreleased) – Sam Samudio, Ronnie Hawkins, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, The Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead, Herbie Mann

Here are the 6th and 7th (of 9) previously unreleased tracks: “Gift of Love” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends and the Grateful Dead’s “Sugar Magnolia” recorded live April 26, 1971 in New York. Duane helped Sam Samudio (Sam the Sham) in Miami for his album “Sam, Hard and Heavy;” three tracks are included here with an acoustic cover of “Me and Bobby McGhee” closer to Kris Kristoferson’s original than Janis Joplin’s. In July 1970, Duane worked again with Ronnie Hawkins, energetically playing Dobro, lead and rhythm guitar for his next album “The Hawk.” If one is completely new to Duane Allman, the starting point has to be the classic “Statesboro Blues” from the live double ABB album “At Fillmore East.” Showing Duane’s complete versatility and new found interest in Jazz, three tracks end the disc from American Jazz flautist, Herbie Mann.

CD Seven (1971): 10 tracks (2 previously unreleased) - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, The Allman Brothers Band, Cowboy

The final unreleased tracks are two from Delaney & Bonnie & Friends recorded live July 22, 1971 at A&R Studios, New York, for a live WPLJ-FM broadcast: “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” and “Poor Elijah / Tribute to Johnson Medley.” Long available as a bootleg, it is great to have improved quality here. Perhaps the entire show with Duane on Dobro can be commercially released in the future. Duane’s last sessions (apart from ABB) were for Scott Boyer’s band Cowboy in August 1971. He recorded a beautiful Dobro accompaniment to “Please Be with Me.” Scott Boyer was Duane’s old friend from The 31st of February days. The disc ends with songs recorded for the ABB “Eat a Peach” album in September and October 1971 plus two live tracks from the September 19, 1971 show at the State university of New York at Stony Brook. The final track, “Little Martha,” is one of the two songs Duane ever wrote.

So, after you hear the evidence, was, as Scott Freeman argues, “Duane Allman the greatest guitar player that ever lived”? A cohort and long-studied fan has this contention: “Looking at Duane's entire discography by the time he died in October 1971, he is, without a doubt in the top-five. Considering that he was still shy of his 25th birthday by the time he accomplished that discography, you can put him in the top-three. Looking over the praise he received from industry heavyweights like Jerry Wexler, Wilson Pickett, Tom Dowd, Eric Clapton and plenty more,” he is unquestionably number one. “Is there another guitarist who accomplished what Duane did in that same time frame? Who accompanied the stature of the artists Duane did as a session player, and added considerably to those sessions?”

Scott Freeman further points out that Phil Walden (Capricorn Records) bought Duane's contract and basically built a label around him. At the time Walden came into the picture, "Duane didn't sing, he didn't have a band, he wasn't a songwriter... he was just a guitar player." It is simply mind boggling what arose in his wake. “Duane really did usher in a whole new style and approach to music.”

Thank you to Duane Allman guru, Craig Ruskey for help with this review.

Source information came from the Liner Notes included in the box set booklet. Further information came from the website: Duane Allman – the Studio Recordings and also at

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast 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.

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 Featured Blues Review 4 of 6

Gino Matteo – Sweet Revival

Rip Cat Records

9 tracks; 46 minutes

Gino Matteo comes from Southern California and this is his first release on Rip Cat following an earlier independent release. This album was produced by Gino and Joey Delgado (Delgado Brothers) and features Gino on guitar and vocals across nine originals. Jason Ricci adds harmonica on a couple of tracks and no fewer than four people (including both Delgado brothers, Gino’s wife Jade Bennett and Sherri Pruitt) do backing vocals behind Gino and a full quartet of guitar, bass, drums and keys.

Blues purists can look away now as this is definitely more of a rock and soul record than blues. However, those who enjoy strong singing and playing, interesting, sometimes uplifting, lyrics and original music should continue reading. Gino has a great voice, ideally suited to these songs, and there are several very strong guitar solos across the record. The material is quite varied with some ballads, rockers, a touch of Latin rhythm in “Grandma Told Me” (and even some blues in “We Can Find A Way”). Among some strong performances the following tracks stood out to my ears:

Track 3: Gino excels on what I would call ‘anthemic rockers’ like “Coming Clean”. There are several tracks like this where a strong guitar riff is central. On this one Jason Ricci adds a little harp for colour but the song is all about that riff and Gino’s convincing rock vocal framed by the backing singers.

Track 4 “Take A Chance On Me” is a soul ballad with excellent harmonies and keyboard accompaniment. Gino pleads for someone to have a little faith in him, singing in a rather lighter voice than on the rockers. His guitar weeps after each chorus and the central solo ramps up that emotional style a level – a superb performance.

Track 5 “Childhood Games” is a real earworm. “It’s all the same, it’s all the same, you play your little childhood games, but Baby you won’t be playing me” says the super-catchy chorus as Gino tells us how he stepped away from an over-controlling partner. His solo builds impressively to complete a track to which I am sure I will return often.

Track 9 “Listen To Your Mother” is a beautifully crafted piece with a real message about making sure you appreciate those closest to you while they are here: The opening stanza stayed with me: “Listen to your Mother, paint her memory in your mind”. On this gentle track Gino plays acoustic guitar and Jason Ricci’s harp accents add to the atmosphere of quiet reverence.

So not a blues record but as some chap called Mick once said: “It’s only rock and roll but I like it”!

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He had a blast at this year’s Blues Blast Awards and is already planning his next trip stateside.

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 Featured Blues Review 5 of 6

Snarky Dave And The Prickly Bluesmen – Big Snark

Self-produced CD

9 songs – 33 minutes

Snarky Dave Brenton is a musician with attitude as his name implies, and he delivers plenty of it in this brief CD. Whether you agree with his wise old owl Snarkasm or not is a matter of personal choice, but he lays it all on the line with the all-original material he and his band have produced.

Brenton is a former airline pilot from Delaware who’s been playing hand-crafted Taylor guitars for more than four decades. His regular weekend jams at a private hanger on his Dragonfly Air Ranch in Townsend are locally legendary. Although he doesn’t profess to be a great picker and he refuses to play cover tunes, he views himself as a creative wordsmith with a unique sound.

He and the Prickly Bluesmen – Rick Beck on Hammond B-3 organ, Bobby Barr on bass and Chris Foltz on percussion – are a tight quartet. They take off like a rocket on the rock tinged “Caucasian Blues,” a funky complaint about a former lover running her mouth about him all over town after he’s lost everything after a corporate layoff. She’s the reason, Dave says, that “the old guy who’s white singin’ blues.” The complaints multiply with “Bitchin’,” a profanity laced, tongue-in-cheek love song in which the singer claims he does everything to keep her happy, but can’t do anything to stop her harangue. The song’s laced with a steady verbal chorus of complaint from Tina Werner, Diane Kendrick and Justine Huey. It continues into the fade at song’s end.

A driving bottom fuels “Big Girl,” another love song, which draws a bead on a large, older target. It includes the lyrical hooks: “I need a big girl to carry me ‘round the world just like you” and “don’t want a too hot to handle, too cold to hold just like you.” The mood gets somber for “Mother And I,” which Snarky Dave recounts the conversation with a son after a divorce, and expresses the singer’s desire to keep details of marital strife away from the boy. Joey Fulkerson adds haunting overtones on E-bow guitar. The funk kicks in again on “Doggone Fool” Jay Heath contributes a solid tenor sax line as Snarky Dave sings about becoming aware of his blessings, and trying to repent for unspoken past mistakes. “Pick It Up” provides another complaint about whining and feeling sorry for one’s self, but turns it into a tough lesson to one’s self about facing life head-on because there “will be better things to deal with today.”

“Mike Sully’s Boogie” is dedicated to a lost friend. On one hand it appears to be a song about an attempted pick-up in a bar, but on the other, appears to be an approach for a simple barroom conversation. “Makes No Sense” is an unvarnished statement about the state of the world -- up is down/down is up – before the disc concludes with an acoustic version of the album opener, retitled “Caucoustic Blues.”

One listen to this CD will prove that Snarky Dave definitely has some things to get off his chest. Whether you agree with his message or not, the music, albeit short at 33 minutes, definitely won’t offend. A nice, tight presentation that leaves you wanting more.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

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 Featured Blues Review 6 of 6

Niecie – Wanted Woman

Self-release through Ride the Tiger Records

10 tracks / 42:55

If you are an entertainer that is going to go by one name (like Sting, Cher or Bono), you had better have the talent to back it up, and Niecie passes this test easily. Niecie has moved all over the United States in search of the blues, and has done a marvelous job of honing her chops along the way.

Originally from Detroit, she left the Motor City for Chicago, where the blues found a home in her heart. From there she tried Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Boston (home of the Berklee College of Music!), but finally settled in Nashville, arguably the songwriting capital of the US. Nashville also has the distinction of being home to some of the finest musicians and producers around, and since moving there Niecie has taken advantage of this and cut three well-received albums, the latest of which is Wanted Woman.

This album is a slick piece of work thanks in part to producer Johnny Neel, who you may know from his work with the Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule, and Dickey Betts. Johnny also contributed on the keyboards and Hammond B-3, as well as with his songwriting skills. Other musicians on this project include Dennis Gully on bass, Chris Anderson on guitar, and Daryl Burgess on the skins. Also chipping were Danny Hamelin and Jon Conley on the extra guitar parts and Kim Morrison on backing vocals. Oh, and Niecie on lead vocals, of course!

Not being familiar with Niecie’s previous work, I did not know what to expect so I was pleasantly surprised by how hard she can rock. There are eight original tracks with Neel getting writing credit on all of them, and Niecie on three. The content is huge sounding blues/rock, and things get up to speed quickly as ”Traffic Light” kicks the album off on an upbeat note. This song is more rock than blues, with a classic driving bass line and heavy drums that are perfectly executed by her stellar backline. The lyrics are quite funny, and she delivers each punch line right on cue with her distinctively throaty voice.

Niecie pitched in on the writing for the title track, and it is always cool to hear people sing their own stuff because it just clicks a little better. Johnny Neel helps make the mood on the intro with subtle organ and piano, and later on the catchy chorus with its vocal harmonics makes this an easy tune to get stuck in your head. She also wrote “Typical Chick,” a fun roadhouse song with thundering drums, honkytonk piano and very tasty guitar solos.

The two cover tunes are really neat. “Crying for My Baby” is a number that was penned by Harold Burrage in 1960 for Vee-Jay Records. The simple lyrics are timeless, and Niecie belts them out with a soulful wail that does them justice. “Mother Nature” is her take on Little Milton’s often-copied song, though this one clocks in at over nine minutes thanks to some amazing work on the keys from Johnny Neel and plenty of Zeppelin-esque guitars throughout. Both of these songs work in well with the other tracks on the album, and it was wise to include them in the mix. By the way, I have added “Mother Nature” works so well that I added it into the mix of music that I listen to while I write.

The CD finishes up with a testimonial, “God’s Got This,” which I have to assume is autobiographical because Niecie got writing credit for it. It has a 1970s funk feel with heavy synths, organ, popping bass and syncopated guitars galore. It is not preachy by any stretch of the imagination, but it lets you know where this lady stands, and it is always good to finish an album on a positive note.

Niecie has put in a lot of hard work since she first arrived on the Chicago scene three decades ago, and it has all paid off with her latest album. This is a great collection of well-written songs that were recorded by the best in the business, and she should be proud of what she has accomplished. I hope you get a chance to give it a listen!

Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at

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 Blues Society News

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The Houston Blues Society - Houston, TX

The Houston Blues Society will be hosting their Annual Holiday Bash in connection with their 20th anniversary celebration on Sunday, December 15, at House Of Blues (Crossroads Restaurant, Houston, TX) The event will also be a Jimmy "T-99" Nelson Youth Scholarship Fundraiser. The event will feature an all-star Houston line-up. For more info, please visit

The Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society - Newhall, CA

The Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society invites you to our Winter Fundraiser & Christmas Party on Saturday, December 14th from 3:00pm - 6:00pm. The location is Vincenzo's Pizza, 24504 1/2 Lyons Avenue, Newhall, CA 91321 For your entertainment, we are featuring our recent "Battle of the Blues Bands" Winners and and our "Best Self Produced CD" Winner:

3:00pm - Toni Dodd & Southbound Blues - 2nd Place Runner Up / "Battle of the Blues Bands"
4:00pm - Phil Gates - Winner "Best Self Produced CD" / "Live At The Hermosa Saloon"
5:00pm - Mikey Mo Band - Winner "Battle of the Blues Bands"

We'll have Raffles, CDs, Tshirts, Jewelry and Blues Art for sale. We'll also be taking up gifts for "Toys For Tots" so bring something to make a kid happy this Christmas. All Ages are welcome. $10 for Adults, Kids 12 & Under are Free, Doors open at 2:30pm so come early and get a good seat. Come hungry, Vincenzo's has really great Pizza, Salads, Deserts, etc. For more info visit

The DC Blues Society - Washington, DC

The DC Blues Society rings in the New Year on December 31, 2013 from 7pm-12:30am with the region’s Soul-Blues legends, The Hardway Connection (at American Legion, 11225 Fern Street, Wheaton MD 20902.) Tickets are $35 in advance (at or $40 at the door. The party includes dinner, champagne toast and exceptionally reasonable cash bar. The Hardway Connection evokes “old school” R&B – sometimes smooth, sometimes funky but always danceable! The powerhouse band has been together more than 15 years, gigging throughout the Southeast, and gathering a large following along the way. Known for their excellent vocals and tight rhythms, The Hardway Connection play the “oldies but goodies” with dynamism, power and fun. They have opened for major acts, including Johnny Taylor and Chuck Brown. The band placed first in the 11th Annual National Blues Talent Competition sponsored by The Blues Foundation. Said Eric Brace of the Washington Post, The Hardway Connection is a “superb soul/blues/R&B band. They sing and play and deliver the goods like few bands I've ever seen.” More info at

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club presents "Blue Monday" every Monday night for the last 27 years - BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:00pm $3 cover. Dec. 9 – Scott Ellison, Dec. 16 – Hurricane Ruth, Dec. 23 –Brooke Thomas & the Blues Suns, Dec. 30 – James Armstrong More info available at

Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL

On Friday December 13th, the Crossroads Blues Society presents afternoon BITS with Bobby Messano followed by our mini-Winter Blues Fest featuring Bobby Messano and Sena Erhardt at the Adriatic on Jefferson and Church Streets in Rockford, 8 PM. $15 advanced, $20 at the door.

For more information about these presentations please contact: Steve Jones - Crossroads Blues Society 779-537-4006 To find out about the event, go to

Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL

Now in their seventh season, The Friends of the Blues present 7 pm early shows: Tues, Dec 10, the return of the Ori Naftaly Band from Israel! - Moose Lodge in Bradley IL sponsored by Mr. Vacuum, Bradley IL More information visit us at or email  

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