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Winter 2019

VOLUME 24.04

Billtown Blues Notes A

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FALL INTO THE BLUES November 9, 2019

Inside this issue: Fall into the Blues Fall into the Blues info Blues from Main St. Fall into the Blues Walter Trout Tas Cru & Gabe Stillman Blues Foundation Blues on the Radio CD Reviews Reading Blues Fest Festival Audition Application Join the BBA

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This newsletter is a quarterly publication of the Billtown Blues Assoc., Inc. P.O. Box 2, Hughesville, PA 17737 570-584-4480 A non-profit 501(c)3 organization

Fall Into the Blues, the Billtown Blues Association’s annual fundraiser is meaningful in many ways. Most importantly it brings together a group of talented and highly regarded local and regional musicians, who have made a devoted effort to perform blues music – and to perform it well. This year’s event returns to the Garden Terrace Room of the Genetti Hotel in downtown Williamsport, Saturday, November 9th with a 4 pm start time and doors opening at 3:30 pm. Pricing for the general public is $15, and current cardcarrying BBA members receive admission photo: Tom Butler for $10. All of the performing musicians on the bill contribute their time and talent to support the ongoing work of the Billtown Blues Association, especially in their effort to financially support Mini Mojo and the Benjamin Vo Blues Band as they make the journey to Memphis TN in January 2020 to participate in the 36th Annual International Blues Challenge. This year’s event again will present something out of the average showcasing our talented local musicians. With an eye for creating an interesting event featuring several local and regional artists, the music will kick off with Alligator Soup taking the stage at 4 pm. Alligator Soup is a new area band with familiar faces. The brainchild of the band is Shawn Strickland on percussion, harmonica, and vocals. The other members of the band are Doug McMinn on guitar and horns, Al Meck on Guitar, Levi Stover photo: Lori Butler


2011 Blues Organization

The deadline to apply to compete in the 2020 “Billtown Blues Challenge” Festival Audition Concert is January 1, 2020 The application is on page 15 of this newsletter and at

Celebrating 30 Years of Bringing Live Blues to Central PA

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Billtown Blue Notes

Phone: 570-322-6237 Contact: Tom Butler

Publishing Schedule: Spring 2020:

Distributed by February 24

Summer 2020:

Distributed by May 15

Fall 2020:

Distributed by September 4

Winter 2020:

Distributed by October 23 See for complete specs and additional information regarding deadlines and submission specifications.

Advertising Rates 1/8 page: $50, 3.5” w x 2” h 1/4 page: $85, 3.5” w x 4.75” h 1/2 page: $160, 7.5” w x 4.75” h or 3.5” w x 9.5” h * * If you are moving * * please contact us with your new address. The Post Office does not forward Bulk Mail. Membership to the Billtown Blues Association includes a year’s subscription to the Billtown Blue Notes. See application on page 16.

Have an Opinion? Please let us know your ideas, concerns, or suggestions at

on bass, and JT “Blues” Thompson on keys. The group will showcase the special rhythms and sound of New Orleans, covering The Meters, Dr. John, Professor Longhair and other NOLA icons. Shawn Strickland and Colin Beatty, Mini Mojo, winners of the 2019 Audition Concert will represent the BBA at the IBC in Memphis. Many in the area have witnessed the results of the Uptown Music Collective’s staff and teachers by way of the extraordinary concerts presented by the student body. Now celebrating their twentieth anniversary, it is time to witness what the UMC Staff and teachers have to offer. Always mysteriously behind the scenes, the BBA felt it time to bring these special, highly talented musicians away from their desks to center stage. Expected to perform are Dave Brumbaugh, Jared Mondell, Brendan Mondell, Willi Ort, Bre Eisenhardt, Stacia Abernatha, Ben Geise, Kim Adair, and Jesse Roedts. JP Peterson has been a bluesman his entire life, although for the past several years has been satisfied playing for only his own enjoyment in his home. JP was recently asked, “What do you do every day now that you are retired?” His reply, ”I play my guitar!”. The BBA felt it was time JP hit the stage once again and give others the pleasure of his music. JP has assembled a small group consisting of Greg Burgess on piano, Bill Stetz on bass, and Tommy James on drums…JP on guitar and vocals. Closing the show is the 2019 Band Audition winner, Lititz natives Benjamin Vo and his blues band. Benjamin’s new release, Blueberry & Country Sugar recently received high acclaim in the UK publication Blues Matters. Vo states,” I am grateful and honored to have taken part in the Billtown Audition Concert.” “We have no idea what to expect on our trip to Memphis, but that is part of the adventure! We thank the Billtown Blues Association for providing the opportunity.” Fall Into the Blues will also offer it’s 4th annual, very popular and successful Silent Auction. The auction offers a wide variety of items for everyone to bid on from a framed and signed BBA festival poster to a catered prepared dinner. The Genetti Tap House will be open for eat-in or take-out dinners, and $1 drafts will be on tap in the Garden Terrace Room. Free parking will be available until 6 pm in The Genetti Hotel Parking Lot. The Fall Into the Blues concert is the ideal time to renew your BBA membership or become a member in preparation for the March 14th Festival Audition Concert where current BBA members are eligible to receive a ballot to vote in the solo/duo and band categories offering musicians a guaranteed opportunity to perform at the 31st Annual Billtown Blues Festival as well as eligibility to travel to Memphis and perform in the International Blues Challenge in 2021. Additionally, the audition winners will have a guaranteed opportunity to perform at the 2021 Destination Blues and also the Exchange Listening Room. The Billtown Blues Association is now in its 31st consecutive year of producing events in Lycoming County, celebrating America’s homegrown music, providing performing opportunities for local and regional artists, and supporting the arts in the Susquehanna Valley. Plans are currently underway for the 31st Annual Billtown Blues Festival slated for June 12, 13, 14, 2020 at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds in Hughesville. Frequent visits to and will keep you up to date on everything “blues” throughout the Susquehanna Valley and beyond.

This newsletter is published by an all-volunteer staff. The opinions of our writers do not necessarily reflect the views of the BBA.

Billtown Blues Association “Like Us” on Facebook

Visit by our Facebook page and “like us” to keep in touch with what is happening in Billtown’s ever-growing music scene. Get up to the minute information on BBA events and other blues events.

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Visa Gift Card Winner The Billtown Blues Association would like to congratulate this year’s winner of the random drawing of survey cards. The prize for 2019 was a $200 Visa Gift card. The winning card belonged to Sherrie Paul from Danville, PA. The association would also like to thank all of those who attended the festival and filled out the survey cards. We take your comments seriously and bring them before the board while planning next year's festival.

“The blues are the roots and the other musics are the fruits. It's better keeping the roots alive, because it means better fruits from now on. The blues are the roots of all American music. As long as American music survives, so will the blues.” Willie Dixon

YOUR EMAIL MATTERS! If you have shared your email address with us and you did NOT receive an eblast from, we have a problem. Either our messages are landing in a folder within your email system that is not your regular mail inbox, meaning you have the message but don’t know it; we have an incorrect address in our database system, or you are not in our system at all. Perhaps you can take a second and check your email folders and if you find the message FLAG IT, or indicate somehow (relative to your email parameters) that you want these messages to land in your inbox. We are very sensitive to not sending out messages too frequently - usually not more than 6-8 per year. But we do want to keep you informed about the BBA and other important blues happenings which is our responsibility as a blues association. If you are not finding the message anywhere, then perhaps we do not have your email address at all, or perhaps an incorrect one. You are always welcome to email and enter BBA EMAIL ADDRESS in the subject line and we will check it out for you. Can’t thank you enough for your attention to this important issue.

Blues from Main St. ...The Doctor is in! As the year winds down, the leaves changing to a beautiful display of color, and the weather cooling a bit! One thing for sure no matter how cold it gets or how deep the snow, the blues will keep us warm and cozy, at least in our hearts! I am so grateful that I live in an area with a wealth of blues and so many gifted individuals who bring the Music to us. I tell ya it doesn’t get much better than this! Can you believe it? 30 years and we are still going strong. We have a great crew of people who step up time and time again and devote themselves to making the Billtown Blues Association one of the best in the country, maybe the world. With our most recent annual general meeting which also brings about the election of officers, we bid goodbye to our longtime president Bill Van Campen as he is set to enjoy his well-deserved retirement. With Bill stepping down we needed to elect a new president who has some pretty big shoes to fill. The election brought us a new president, vice president, and a few new board members. Looking ahead to the new year with these new officers and board members we hope to not only continue with our success but grow and become a more prominent part of our local society and the blues world. Stay tuned for the official announcement of the staff that will take the reigns on January 1st. Well let's get to the issue at hand that is soon approaching, the Fall Into The Blues fundraiser to help our audition winners, Mini Mojo and Benjamin Vo Blues Band, make their trek to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and represent the BBA on the famous Beale St among the many from around the world. Again this we are straying from the norm of having previous winners to having a lineup of many local musicians. Believe me, this cast of talent is sure to delight everyone and put your feet in motion! So dust off your favorite dancing shoes and get ready for a night of pure fun! Oh, and don’t forget the silent auction, there are so many items for all that you might just want to load up your wallet ahead of time, I know I am! There is always a great selection of CDs for sale also – I can’t keep away from this area no matter how hard I try! Ok, I am going to do some preaching here so don’t get mad at me, this is a great time to pick up a few Christmas presents, therefore, don’t be afraid to frequently visit the auction tables and place some bids, who knows you may just win that perfect gift for someone or yourself! Remember all proceeds go to helping our audition winners in getting to the IBC. Hey honey, how is our bank account looking? I have the fever for spending! Anyone looking to help support Mini Mojo and the Benjamin Vo Blues Band on the historic Beale St. in Memphis, TN you can get your IBC pass through the Blues Foundation or you buy individual day passes when you are experiencing the legendary street where many blues greats have walked, sometimes you can actually feel their presence as you stroll down among the venues. Believe me, the blues will never die and their spirits live on! Ok Santa’s helpers let’s help support this great American art form, the blues, and all those amazing and talented people who keep bringing it all to us. Become a member of the Billtown Blues Association or give the gift of membership and help us to

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keep bringing the blues to you. You can find an application on our website at and on the back of this newsletter. And as always, remember when you are out there supporting the music to have fun and be safe! Hope to see you out around town or wherever the blues may bring us together! Keepin’ the Blues Alive, Dr. Tom

photo: Lori Butler

photo: Tom Butler

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Fall Into The Blues Alligator Soup Alligator Soup is a new area band with an all-star line-up. Shawn Strickland known for being the singer and harmonica player for The Dirty Mojo Blues Band and the solo/duo act Mini Mojo is on percussion, harmonica, and vocals. On guitar and horns is Doug McMinn who has been performing in the Williamsport area for decades in various bands as well as performing as a solo act. Al Meck on Guitar has been part of a few local bands, most recently The Dirty Mojo Blues Band. On bass is Levi Stover a graduate of the Uptown Music Collective. Playing drums is Mark Peterson who is the current drummer forTom The Dirty Mojo Blues Band. Roundphoto: Butler ing out the band is another veteran of the surrounding music scene, JT “Blues” Thompson on keys. The group will showcase the special rhythms and sound of New Orleans, covering The Meters, Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino and other NOLA icons.

JP Peterson and Friends JP Peterson has been a bluesman his entire life, although for the past several years has been satisfied playing for only his own enjoyment in his home. The BBA felt it was time JP hit the stage once again and give others the pleasure of his music. JP has assembled a small group consisting of Greg Burgess on piano, Greg has been a staple in the Billtown area for years. Many may remember Greg as a member of the Ann Kerstetter Band and the Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Bullfrog Brewery. Bill Stetz on bass has been playing bass for a lot of musicians in and around the area including Ann Kerstetter. Tommy James on drums is an Uptown Music Collective alumni and can be seen backing many local acts and of course JP on guitar and vocals.

“Music is good for everybody. They say it soothes the savage beast. Well, I think theirs a beast in all of us. So let's get some more music and soothe all the beasts out there.“ B.B. King

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Fall Into The Blues The UMC Staff & Teachers & The “Uptown Blues Band” Now celebrating their twentieth anniversary, it is time to witness what the UMC Staff and teachers have to offer. Expected to perform are Dave Brumbaugh, Jared Mondell, Brendan Mondell, Willi Ort, Bre Eisenhardt, Stacia Abernatha, Ben Geise, Kim Adair, and Jesse Roedts.

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Fall Into The Blues Benjamin Vo Blues Band Benjamin Vo (guitar/vocals) – I started playing guitar when I was 10 years old. My dad and uncle both played classical Spanish guitar. They showed me how to play a few things and then I really got into it. Listening, playing by ear, intuition, a strong sense of rhythm, and emotional expression are all important elements to me as a musician. I started diving into studying the blues deeply and developing my playing style after hearing BB King’s “Worried Dream”. It was a difficult period in my life, and the blues comforted me like an old friend. As long as the music has the right feel, I love it. I especially love Peter Green’s lyrical and poetic guitar phrasing, the lonely melancholy of Skip James, and Otis Spann’s loose and soulful style. Joel Stoltzfus (drums) – My biggest challenge when I put together this band was finding a drummer that could hit behind the beat like the old players. I was fortunate enough to meet Joel at an open jam. I had Joel come over to play with us and he pulled off the old school style right out of the gate. I was surprised to learn that he had never played in a band before. Although having played in drumline in school and studied under an instructor, Joel plays in a very organic fashion. His hair is often the talk of the crowd at shows (not sure what shampoo he’s using nowadays). Jeff Pickle (bass) – Jeff just recently joined the band on bass and it’s been feeling good. He and Joel had been jamming together for a long time before I met either of them. Naturally, they can tell what the other one’s gonna do without speaking. The “ebb-and-flow” of the rhythm section really fell into place with these two. Outside of music, Jeff enjoys jokes, leisurely walks, and eating tuna. He really loves to finger that bass (among other things). Mike Titzer (keys) – Mike came into the band at a time when I was looking for someone to add a bit of that “rumble and tinkle” only a piano can do. To me, having a piano in blues is like adding that bit of honey to your tea. His playing comes from more of the New Orleans style, but he’s not too far from Chicago. He may be a little older than the rest of us in the band, but photo: Chris Rider he’s usually the first to pound a beer or three.

photo: Jeff Solomon

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Walter Trout at The Sellersville Theater Thursday, August 22nd the historic Sellersville Theater located in the charming little town of Sellersville, PA located about midway between Allentown, PA, and Philadelphia presented veteran bluesman, Walter Trout. Opening for Walter was Bucks County-based blues band Scoville Blues Band. The band warmed up the crowd with their blend of Texas Blues, Chicago Blues, and Scoville Blues. Walter came on stage and rocked the theater with his extraordinary guitar playing to the delight and cheers of the audience. He brought a few guitar players to join him on a few songs, and most impressive to not only listen to but also watch was Walter’s son Jon. The two of them exchanged guitar licks to the point no one wanted it to end. When the opportunity arises don’t pass up the chance to see and hear this bluesman.

Scoville Blues

photo: Lori Butler

photo: Lori Butler

Walter Trout, Johnny Griparic, Jon Trout

Walter Trout & Johnny Griparic

photo: Lori Butler

photo: Tom Butler

Walter Trout

photo: Tom Butler

photo: Tom Butler

Walter Trout, Michael Leasure, Jon Trout

photo: Tom Butler

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Tas Cru and the Gabe Sillman Band On Saturday, September 14th Tas Cru and the Gabe Stillman Band presented a great night of blues at the Deane Center’s Coolidge Theatre in Wellsboro, PA. The night opened with the Gabe Stillman Band bringing their hard stompin’ blues to the stage. Gabe took the opportunity to showcase his astounding guitar playing and letting those in attendance know exactly why he was deserving of winning the Blues Foundation’s Gibson Guitar Award which he proudly played the entire night. Keeping the rhythm going throughout the evening Colin Beatty on the bass and filling in for the band’s drummer Jesse Roedts was the former drummer for the late Sean Costello, Ray Hangen. Taking the stage next was internationally acclaimed blues artist Tas Cru. Joining him on stage was Gabe and Colin and his longtime Tortured Souls drummer Sonny Rock. Performing many of Tas’s originals from throughout his career the band brought the tunes with high energy. On a few occasions Tas and Gabe put on an impressive show with dueling guitar solos to the delight of all in attendance. Gabe and Colin have been touring as members of Tas Cru and His Band Of Tortured Souls and one would swear they have been playing together for many many years. Be sure to check them out when given the opportunity.

Gabe Stillman

Colin Beatty

Sonny Rock

photo: Lori Butler

photo: Tom Butler

photo: Lori Butler photo: Lori Butler

Mary Ann Casale

Ray Hangen

photo: Lori Butler

photo: Tom Butler

photo: Tom Butler

Tas Cru

Tas Cru, Gabe Stillman

photo: Lori Butler

photo: Lori Butler

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Generation Blues

2020 International Blues Challenge The 36th International Blues Challenge officially opens on Tuesday, January 28th. Quarterfinals will take place January 29-30 on Wednesday and Thursday and the Semifinals on Friday at various venues up and down the legendary Beale Street. The IBC Finals will be held Saturday, February 1st starting at Noon at The Historic Orpheum Theatre. The International Blues Challenge embodies the worldwide search for those blues bands and solo/duo blues musicians who are ready for the international stage but are in need of an extra big break. Blues Foundation Affiliates, the likes of which the Billtown Blues Association is a part, are required to stage a regional competition to determine who may represent that organization at the IBC in Memphis. Each affiliate has the right to send a single band and/or solo/duo musician(s) to the IBC. These acts are judged by blues professional from around the world who have years of experience associated with the blues industry. Under the Blues Foundation’s set of criteria all performers are assessed throughout the four days of competition. For more information on tickets and hotels visit The Billtown Blues Association will be holding their next “Blues Challenge” on Saturday March 14, 2020. The deadline to apply is January 1, 2020. For the application and details see page 15 or check our website

Generation Blues was created to provide financial assistance to aspiring young Blues musicians whose limited financial resources might prohibit them from attending a Blues music learning opportunity. This scholarship program is available for those under the age of 21 to study their instrument of choice at reputable camps, seminars, and workshop programs in the United States and Canada. The Scholarship does not fund individual lessons or tuition. Programs attended by Generation Blues scholarship recipients generally take place in the summer at the recipients’ choice of location. Participants are awarded scholarships based first upon financial need using Federal Poverty Guidelines. Participation is open to anyone under the age of 21 who is interested in studying the Blues. Generation Blues scholarships are limited to 3 awards per applicant. Applicants must write a letter of intent and provide a letter of recommendation from a Blues musician, teacher, or someone with experience in the Blues community. The letter of recommendation must be from someone outside the family of the applicant. Generation Blues candidates and all other youth who are either aspiring Blues musicians or Blues fans are required to become a part of The Blues Foundation by joining the organization as a Youth Member at no cost. In addition, the organization will maintain their free membership with The Blues Foundation until they turn 21 years of age. By offering our next generation of Blues lovers a free Blues Foundation membership, we invite them to begin a lifetime of listening to this great music as well as participation in the activities of their local Blues societies and The Blues Foundation.


The Blues Foundation established the HART Fund (Handy Artists Relief Trust) for Blues musicians and their families in financial need due to a broad range of health concerns. The Fund provides for acute, chronic and preventive medical and dental care as well as funeral and burial expenses. Throughout the year at various events the HART Fund provides free health screenings for musicians, with services including but not limited to checking blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, prostate cancer, Hep C, anemia, thyroid, kidney and liver testing via blood work. Requests for funding should be made by contacting The Blues Foundation directly by calling (901) 527-2583 ext. 13 or by email to Upon contacting the foundation, you will be asked to complete a short application form. A committee will then review your application to ensure that the individual qualifies and the request is for health related financial needs. Over the years, our members, other donors, and specific benefit events have made contributions. Funds donated to the HART Fund are dedicated 100% to artist relief efforts. Contributions may be made online or by sending a check to: The Blues Foundation (HART Fund), 421 South Main, Memphis, TN 38103.

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Charlie Lockard 165 E Water St, PO Box 2, Hughesville, PA 17737 570-584-3161 Sunday Blues Brunch 9 - 11 am WZXR 99.3FM - S Williamsport, PA WCXR 103.7FM - Lewisburg, PA Sunday, Noon - 2 pm WQSU 88.9 FM - Selinsgrove, PA

PLAYLIST Artist / Album / Label

1. Keb Mo / Oklahoma / Concord 2.Nick Moss Band / Lucky Man / Alligator 3.Terry Hanck / I Still Get Excited / Vizztone 4.Coco Montoya / Coming On Hot / Alligator 5.Nancy Wright / Alive and Blue / Vizztone 6.Delbert McClinton / Tall, Dark, and Handsome / Hot Shot 7.Ben Levin / Before Me / Vizztone 8.Junior Watkins / Nothin’ To Do, But to Do It / Little Village 9.Various / Cadillac Baby - Bea & Baby Records / Earwig 10.Cash Box Kings / Hail to the Kings / Alligator 11.Giles Robson / Don’t Give Up on the Blues / American Showplace 12.Toronzo Cannon /The Preacher, the Politician of the Pimp /Alligator 13.Reese Wynans / Sweet Release / J&R Adventures

14.Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters / Beyond the Blue Barn / Stony Plain

15.Altered Five Blues Band / Ten Thousand Watts / Blind Pig 16.Christone “Kingfish” Ingram / Kingfish / Alligator 17.Mindi Abair & the Boneshakers / No Good Deed / Pretty Good For a Girl 18.Brandon Santini / The Longshot / American Showplace

19.Arthur Adams / Here to Make You Feel Good / Cleopatra 20.JP Soars / Let Go of the Reins / Whiskey Bayou 21.Shaun Murphy / Reason to Try / Vision Wall Records 22.Rick Estrin and the Nightcats /Contemporary / Alligator 23.Dawn Tyler Watson / Mad Love / Self 24.Gracie Curran / Come Undone / Vizztone 25.Gabe Stillman / The Grind / Temperamental Records

Janiva Magness sings John Fogerty Change In The Weather Blue Élan Records Every era has its iconic bands and songwriters. With those of us who grew up staring Vietnam in the face, one such band was Creedence Clearwater Revival, powered by the songwriting of John Fogerty. A number of their tunes served as anthems for a generation…those songs that gave us a sense of purpose and identity. In the recent past I’ve seen tributes to Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and countless others. John Fogerty & CCR are certainly worth a shot. Magness brings a soulful lilt to the tunes…and, frankly, they’ve never sounded better. Duets with both Taj Mahal and Sam Morrow add a bit of grittiness to that soul and make for a nice change of pace. In a time when many have never heard of Fogerty, this will serve as a pleasant introduction. For others it is a beautiful reminder of our roots and a place that will always be familiar and comfortable. In either case; it is a great tribute to one of the finest songwriters of our time. I recommend it highly. – Bill Wilson Sparky Parker In The Dark Self-Produced

The power trio can get old and tired. In the case of Eric “Sparky” Parker; exactly the opposite is true. It’s hard not to draw comparisons to the likes of Jonny Lang, but this is all Parker. From the start I was impressed with the young guitarist’s willingness and ability to stay grounded. It’s obvious that he could hold his own in any headcutting contest, regardless of the competition. While he does cut loose from time to time on the album; his willingness not to simply shred his way through tune after tune shows a maturity and respect for the music. With the exception of covers by The Rolling Stones, Slim Harpo and Bobby “Blue” Bland, the album is all original material that deals with subjects and situations that will never be in short supply. If the “Good Book” is to be believed; on the sixth day, God created man. He then created woman…and the blues was born. In The Dark is bluesy, swampy, and aimed directly at the heart…and they hit their mark. Parker is joined by Phillip Lock on bass and Kevin Berry on drums. The band, which is the same now as when it started, has been performing for the past seven years and has great chemistry. Like a tall drink of sweet tea, the Sparky Parker Band is cool and refreshing. These cats have something I do not often hear in young bands…a sincere love and dedication to the music. They are worthy of a much wider audience and; if there is any justice, a BMA. They are undoubtedly worthy. Give Sparky a listen. You won’t regret it. – Bill Wilson

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Johnny Burgin Live Delmark Records DE 585 This is the stuff that dreams are made of. Burgin is backed by his regular touring band (Steve Dougherty on drums & Chris Mathoes on bass), Aki Kumar on harp, Kid Anderson on guitar & piano, Rae Gordon on vocals, Nancy Wright on sax, and Charlie Musselwhite on harp. There’s not a player in the bunch who has not paid serious dues. The resulting album, a truly love recording, is delivered with the power and authority that comes from musicians who are not simply performing in a given musical style. Burgin's power lies in the fact that this music is an extension of who and what he is...a bona fide bluesman. In a world where terms like "legendary" and "the real deal" are used so often that they've lost their meaning, in some cases, they honestly do apply. With nearly 30 albums to his credit (9 under his own name), Johnny remains true to his roots. Regardless of the style he is playing, Burgin delivers a true taste of Chicago to everything he does. If the modern blues world has anything better to offer, I've not yet heard it. This could just as easily have been recorded in the 1950s. It’s gritty, ballsy and off-the cuff…without being “primitive.” For a short time I was young again. This album would be a good deal at twice the price. – Bill Wilson Terry Hanck I Still Get Excited TVR Music – VT-TVR-407 I Still Get Excited is one of those albums that left me feeling good from the very first note. Terry Hanck is one of the finest tenor sax players in the business…and his voice is perfectly suited to the project. Whether you’re looking to strut your stuff on the dancefloor of simply enjoy a relaxing evening of music, Hanck covers all the bases. This reminds me of dance parties when I was young. I was as disinterested in dancing then as I am now, but the music was live and it was hot! The album consists of six incredible covers that were recorded by Muddy Waters & Junior Wells, Chuck Willis, Eddie Vinson, Howlin’ Wolf, Louis Jordan and countless others over the years. Then, there are the five originals. These are even more impressive in many ways. While they borrow elements from timeless classics, Hanck works his magic and delivers tunes that may well go down as “classics” in their own right. Listening to this album, I can picture the undisputed masters of sax-driven blues & R&B. “Smooth Tyrone” is reminiscent of Louis Jordan. “Rosita,” on the other hand, is a smoky jazz influenced work that could well result in a spike in the population…if you get my drift. Terry is joined on the album by Chris “Kid” Andersen, playing everything but the kitchen sink, Jim Pugh on keys, Johnny “Cat” Soubrand on guitar, Tim Wagner on bass, Butch Cousins, June Core & Alex Pettersen on drums…and some heavy special guests. I Still Get Excited is easy on the ear and easy on the brain. In this conflicted world, this album is a welcome relief. I recommend it highly. – Bill Wilson

Moonshine Society Sweet Thing Mojo Music Group

From the start of the album, Black Betty demonstrates her remarkable vocal range; belting out tunes that would make even the likes of Koko Taylor, Etta James and Big Mama Thornton sit up and take notice. This woman’s got some chops. Add the backing of some kick-ass musicians, and the only thing left to do is fasten your seatbelt and hang on. I am an old man who has been listening to this stuff for over 50 years, and in my humble opinion, Moonshine Society have what it takes to make the cut. The core unit of the DC based band consists of Black Betty (vocals,) Joe Poppen (guitar,) Chris Brown (bass) & Rodney Dunton (drums)…each well versed in the music and its colorful history. They appear to have a taste for all things nostalgic, with a particular interest in early blues and jazz. Part of the work of processing albums for review, in my case, involves putting the album on for the night and sleeping on it. In this case, I dreamt of small, smoke-filled rooms with a siren singing in the background. We’ve got a band that’s as tight as the proverbial gnat’s backside, a guitarist who knows when to cut loose and when to hold back, scorching harmonica, an accomplished horn section and a pin-up model with a voice that falls somewhere within the ranges of Etta James and Koko Taylor. What’s not to like. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to put it back on and settle in for another nap. – Bill Wilson Miss Bix & The Blues Fix We Don’t Own The Blues Self Miss Bix (Leslie Bixler) has a distinctly contemporary approach to the blues. While she draws more from the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow than she does from Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie, it is most certainly a blues album. We Don’t Own The Blues addresses issues common to us all and manages to paint a picture of the South. It may be a picture we’ve seen before…but she does it incredibly well. This woman has a voice that is strong and sultry, yet compellingly vulnerable. She is joined on the album by Ralph Carter who plays everything but the kitchen sink, John “JT” Thomas on assorted keys, Gary Mallabar and Chad Smith on drums, Brian Calway and Rj Mischo on harmonica, Franck Goldwasser on guitars, and Bill Bixler on saxophones. This is one of those recordings I find myself going back to on a regular basis. Bixler is and accomplished guitarist, a powerful vocalist, and one hell of a songwriter. This album covers the bases, offering everything from straight-ahead blues to tunes colored with jazz influences and Motown infused R&B. What’s not to like? - Bill Wilson

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2020 Billtown Blues Festival Audition Application

Only working Blues Musicians based in Pennsylvania will be considered. If selected, all performing members of your band as described below, must be present at the Audition Concert on Saturday, March 14, 2020. If you win the audition, all performing members of your act as described below must be present to perform at the 31st Annual Billtown Blues Festival, weekend of June 12, 13, 14, 2020. You cannot compete as a solo/duo artist and also compete with a band. The completion and submission of the application does not guarantee acceptance. The audition winners in each category will be eligible to submit for acceptance in the International Blues Competition (IBC) in Memphis for 2021. The winners will also have a guarantee performance “opportunity" at the 2021 Destination Blues (Feb) and the Exchange Listening Room (2020). (For more details on the IBC and eligibility criteria, visit or As our Association does not charge an entrance fee, ALL participating applicants must be a member of the Billtown Blues Association. Example: 5 band members = 5 memberships, same for Solo/Duo To be considered for acceptance in the BBA Audition Concert, all of the following items must be included with your application:

Two 300 dpi COLOR photos (originals) for publicity purposes (Absolutely NO ink jet or laser prints, or newspaper photos please.) To maximize your publicity opportunity, we ask for a photo(s) in a horizontal and a vertical format. A biography on the members of your band, to be used for publicity purposes. A CD with three of your songs, or individual mp3 files. (If there are more than three songs included on the CD, please indicate which three you want to be considered.) BBA membership for all participating applicants. NOTE: You may E-mail items 1, 2, and 3, above or include them on a CD. If you choose to do so, the COLOR photo size is 4” x 6”, 300 dpi resolution in .jpg or .pdf format. The bio must be a Microsoft Word document (.doc) or the text embedded in the body of the E-mail. Depending on the .mp3 file size you may need to send each song separately. If using E-mail please send to address below and in the subject line enter: “BBA Audition Application” or it will not be accepted.

Applications must be postmarked on or before January

1, 2020

Mail or email this completed application (no hand deliveries please) and the four required items above to: BBA Audition Application, c/o Tom and Lori Butler, 557 Main Street So. Williamsport, PA 17702

QUESTIONS: Call (570) 322-6237 or E-mail us at Name of Band: _______________________________________________________________________________ Contact Person: ________________________Telephone: (day)_________________ (evening) ________________ Address: ______________________________________Email address: _________________________________

City: ______________________________ State: ___ Zip: ________ (Emergency) cell phone #______________ What city is your band based in: ______________________ Band’s Website: _____________________________ Name(s) of band members and instrumentation: ______________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________

What style of blues do you perform? Electric __ Acoustic __ R & B __ Other ____________________________ List three (3) venues/festivals in which you have performed in the past year: 1. ___________________________________________________________________________ 2.___________________________________________________________________________ 3.____________________________________________________________________________

Billtown Blues Association, Inc. P. O. Box 2 Hughesville, PA 17737



Williamsport, PA 17701


If your expiration date above your name is not 07/01/20 or later, your membership has expired. Membership renewal form is below.

Mark Your Calendars! Fall into the Blues

Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019


Please join us in Keepin’ the Blues Alive by submitting this application and annual membership of $15 to: BILLTOWN BLUES ASSOCIATION, INC. PO BOX 2 HUGHESVILLE, PA 17737 Ph: 570-584-4480 Fax: 570-584-4608

A 501-3(c) non-profit organization and affiliated member of The Blues Foundation ___ New

“Billtown Blues Challenge” Festival Audition Concert

Saturday, March 14, 2020

31st Annual

Billtown Blues Festival June 12, 13, 14 2020

___ Renewal Date:_________________________ Name: Address: City/St/Zip: Phone: E-Mail Address: Blues Interests:


Bill VanCampen, Pres.; Tom Butler, Vice-Pres.; Charlie Lockard, Treasurer; Teri MacBride, Secretary; Bonnie Tallman, Executive Director

If you are already a member, thank you for your support. Current members have 7/20 or later under “exp. date” on their card. (You can also check the mailing label on this newsletter above your name). Yearly renewal date is July 1. A good renewal time is at our Festival in June.

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