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The Crossroads Blues Society Newsletter

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2018 Festival Lineup Announced ed that Lonnie’s and the Presson family believe in our cause and event and have become our top sponsor for 2018. Thank you so much for your support!

Mike Ledbetter and Monster Mike Welch It’s time to announce our lineup for the 2018 Crossroads Blues Festival! Our 2018 festival has a unique theme, a first for us. We are calling this event “Guitarzapalooza.” Each of the five bands on the main stage has a unique and very cool guitar player (or two) and each has their own varied style. It will be a lot of fun to listen to these bands and their musicians and singers!

come our first ever Festival Level Sponsor! We are excit-

With added support we have stepped up our game a bit. We always have 5 great acts on the main stage and each year we try to see if we can outdo ourselves. I think that 2018 arguably is a our best lineup yet! We are honored to bring to the stage Monster

Crossroads Blues Festival 2018 Guitarzapalooza •

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Another first for us is that Lonnie’s Carpet Max and Lonnie’s Stone Crafters have stepped to the plate to be-

BITS with Wheatbread Johnson & More We’ve added the great local blues man Wheatbread Johnson to our great stable of blues artists performing and educating our area youth as part of our Blues in the Schools Program. Wheatbread will be doing regular assembly programs for us, the residency programs at East HS and our Blues in the Pre-School with Headstart and RPS 205 Pre-

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Schools. Wheatbread is a fantastic guitar player, musician and songwriter and has a brand new album that will be out early in 2018. Also in January we have Tas Cru on the 9th at Thompson ES and on the 10th at Conklin ES along with an evening show in Kirkland at Blind Eye’s Blue Note. Also on the 10th Mark Dvorak and

David Causey bring their Life and Times of Leadbelly program Continued on page 3

Our 2018 headliners are Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter and Toronzo Cannon, two of the hottest acts in the blues world. Soul blues diva Lauren Mitchell from Florida will be in town and her fantastic act is spiced up with the addition of guitar great Joe Moss. Kilborn Alley Blues Band bring their great blues to us from Champaign, IL. Opening the day on stage from NYC is the blues rocker Dave Fields. Between acts we have Riding Atlas, Joe Filsko’s Harmonica Workshop, Wheat Bread Johnson’s guitar workshop, and keyboardist Warren Beck. 9 great acts in all!

Inside this issue:

Wheatbread Johnson

News Music Reviews Playlist, Members Membership Application Upcoming Events

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2018 Festival Lineup Announced Award nominations.

Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter, Toronzo Cannon, Lauren Mitchell and Joe Moss, Kilborn Alley, and Dave Fields! This is a killer lineup featuring many styles of blues and each act has one or more outstanding guitar players, so we are calling this event “Guitarzapalooza.” Welch and Ledbetter produced one of the top albums in the blues world in 2017, with Welch, Ledbetter and guest Laura Chavez tearing it up; the CD garnered a Blues Blast Music Award nomination. Mike and Mike continue to tour and are one of the hottest acts in the blues world and we are very happy to bring them to

Rockford! They will be in the 8 PM time slot. At 6 PM none other than Chicago’s hottest commodity Toronzo Cannon takes the stage. His first release on Alligator records garnered tons of critical acclaim and a new CD is coming soon. Cannon played our first Field of Blues Festival at Aviator’s Stadium in 2013 and has played at the Hope and Anchor for us in Loves Park twice now. His original music is topical, timely and often amusing and has earned him lots of accolades, including multiple BMA and Blues Blast Music

At 4 PM Florida’s soul singing diva of the blues Lauren Mitchell will be performing and top notch Chicago guitar player Joe Moss will be with her. Mitchell and Moss began touring together in 2017 and blend their styles together to produce a fantastic sound. Mitchell’s 2017 efforts landed her two Blues Blast Music Award Nominations. Kilborn Alley returns to Rockford with their hot sound for the 2 PM timeslot. They also were nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award in 2017 for their great new CD and appeared for us at Sinnissippi Park last summer to rave reviews. They also appeared at the second Byron Crossroads Blues Festival in 2011 and we are happy to have Andrew Duncanson and Josh Stimmel bring their guitars and unique sound back for us! Opening the day on the main stage is a man who is familiar to Crossroads’ Blues fans. Dave Fields has supported our Blues In The Schools Program for several years and plays at the Lyran Club and Hope and Anchor several times each year. His fiery guitar and rocking blues sound is always a fan favorite. In between acts we have four more acts in the Pavilion. Our 2018 IBC Youth Act Riding Atlas, Joe Filisko and his Harmonica

Workshop. 2018 IBC Solo/Duo entry Warren Beck and local guitarist Wheatbread Johnson will offer up more blues to savor for a total of nine acts for a mere $5 advanced ticket. Yes, we’ve kept the prices the same and offer up one of the hottest lineups in the blues world! We can do this with great support by our sponsors. In addition to Lonnie’s, we have grants from the Northern Illinois Community Foundation and Rockford Area Arts Council that help us make this happen. Support from our returning spon-

sors also continues and we thank everyone new and old who has supported our festival. This is our primary fundraiser for Blues in the Schools and we depend on making the fest a success. This festival should be our biggest one yet and we will bring in some new foods and beers to add to the fun. Last year we had 34 types of beer and wine and many great food choices. We’ve added wood fired pizza and are looking at other offerings! Stay tuned as more info for the event is announced. Tickets go on sale in March!


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BITS Continues

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Hurricane Fundraiser Jan.14

Tas Cru back to Rockford with programs at the Gifted Academies at Thurgood Marshall Middle and Thurgood Marshall Elementary Schools. The Head Start Programs with Wheatbread Johnson will be at least six facilities with the addition of the YMCA to the Head Start facilities. Dennis Early Education Center, Fairgrounds, Orton Keyes, Handn-Hand, and Rockford Day Nursery will also get programs and possibly Trinity Day Care will also get some. Dennis is also an RPS 205 Facility and we will be working to get our preschool BITS into Fairview, Nashold and Summerdale Early Childhood Centers. East High School has two days of guitar lessons for January with Wheatbread and then two follow on days where the students will demonstrate what they learned and get more instruction from Johnson. Johnson is also doing two school BITS programs on January 25th. Donna Herula is scheduled for a day of BITS on Friday, February 16th and a show at the Lyran Club in the evening. Bobby Messano returns for a day of BITS and Lyran show on Friday, April 6th. We have lots of great stuff planned for this school year and more will be added as time goes along! 23 BITS programs are scheduled plus over 30 Head Start and Preschool programs are coming and we should have more BITS for February through May coming with Dave Fields, Paul Kaye and other great artists!

Mark Dvorak

We are conducting a fundraiser to support on-going Hurricane Relief efforts. Hurricanes devastated Texas, Florida and the Caribbean and the greatest need remaining is Puerto Rico. We will have an all-star band of blues artists at the Lyran Club on Sunday, January 14th from 3 to 6 PM to raise money for the Global Giving Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund. They are at $10,609,360 raised of their $12,000,000 goal at press time and we’d like to do our part to close that gap and help those in need.

Performing will be Reverend Raven on guitar, Jimmy Voegeli on keys, Westside Andy Linderman on harp, Dave Wood on bass and Steve Dougherty on drums. A suggested donation of $10 at the door is recommended. We will also have silent auction items and a 50-50 raffle to help raise money. Please come out and help us to help those in need. Food and beverages will be available for purchase and the football games will be televised in the bar, so there is no excuse to miss this!


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2017 In Review– It Was a Great Year for Crossroads! On behalf of Crossroads Blues Society, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. 2017was an exciting year for Crossroads. Our 8th Annual Crossroads Blues Festival at Lyran Park was a big hit and we raised a good amount of money to support our Blues in the Schools program for the 2017/2018 school year. We operate on a September to August fiscal calendar which pretty much parallels the school years and we usually report on our programming by the school year. If we carve things up on a real calendar basis, we did 60 school and library Blues in the Schools (BITS) programs for 8,000 student in 2017; that is not a bad effort! We also did 51 shows and events with 67 artists/bands in 2017, almost one a week. This is also pretty darn good! The Hope and Anchor Second Saturday Blues and First and Third Friday Blues at the Lyran Club were the majority of these and they will go on as will the Friday Night Ice Hog Home Game pre-game music events. We are backing off at All Saints to only special events in 2018 on the Sunday shows we’ve done there in Byron. Special events at the Nordlof Center, Mendelssohn PAC, Sinnissippi Park and other locations continued in 2017 and we will work to create more special events for the future. Our 2017 Blues Challenge was a success. Our representatives to the 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis is January are The Ivy Ford Band (Band), Warren Beck (Solo/Duo) and Riding Atlas (Youth). We wish them luck as they compete and represent Crossroads on this international stage! We announced the establishment of the Karen Howard Memorial Scholarship back in August which will award $500 to a graduating senior each year that is going on to study music after high school. We will award the first of these in the spring of 2018. As a non-profit organization, we run on a tight budget. We don’t have a lot of luxuries, but we did purchase a second PA system to make moving sound equipment easier on us for BITS and shows. We purchased a very nice set of powered speakers from a friend of the society at a very reasonable price and added mikes, stands and a sound board to facilitate our efforts. The old PA with the 50 pound speakers is used at the Lyran Society shows that we do twice a month plus special events.

Our newsletter is still published every two months. It’s become 32 pages most issues and our post fest issue added 8 pages of photos from that and other summer events, a 40 page issue which was our biggest ever! Our members enjoy about 30 music reviews, stories and interviews that rival some of the major music magazines. Speaking of membership, our roles have expanded and we are at almost 200 members, a level we’ve not seen since the early days of Crossroads in the mid to late 1990’s. There was a lot of great music in 2017 and we plan to make 2018 just as much if not more fun! Our 2018 festival is in planning and we have a great lineup. We are looking at some great shows at Hope and Anchor, the Lyran Society and other locations to make 2018 a special year. In the fall of 2018 we begin our 25th year in existence. Our 2019 Festival will be our 10th Annual and will help us to celebrate 25 years of Crossroads, so we have a lot of things to

think about in 2018 to plan this and other 25th Anniversary events for 2019! Thank you for your support. We can’t do this by ourselves. Our members and friends who help us keep the blues alive are a great group of people. We appreciate the support and assistance. Let’s work together to make 2018 the best year yet! In addition to our regular and BITS shows our first big event of the year will be March 24th at the Nordlof Center with Wayne Baker Brooks. Check the poster below with all the info about this fantastic event!


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2018 Blues Blast Music Awards Coming to Rockford

The 2018 Blues Blast Music Awards are coming to Rockford Illinois on Saturday, September 29th the Tebala Shrine! We at Crossroads are excited to be a major sponsor of the event and that we are helping to coordinate this superb music awards show! In addition to working with the Tebala Shrine, the Rockford Convention and Visitors Bureau is helping to promote the event. The Tebala facility is an outstanding venue and will provide a great backdrop for this prestigious awards event. Bob Kieser, Editor of the Blues Blast Magazine, is in his 11th year in running the Blues Blast Awards; they have become hugely popular and garner lots of attention and recognition for both the nominees and winners. There are 30 nominators from various parts of the blues world who listen to submitted music and other releases to

Crossroads Blues Society Officers and Board Members Contact Info President: Steve Jones sub_insignia@yahoo.com Vice-President: Bill Graw williamjgraw@gmail.com Secretary: Bonnie Fox bonitafx@gmail.com Treasurer: Terry Keller terry@markpack.com Board of Directors: Denny Barker harkthebark@mchsi.com Rick Davis rick_davis_937@comcast.net Bob Haendler rhaendler@comcast.net Ken Pearson cntrylivng@aol.com Rick Hein mrrickhein@sbcglobal.net

put together the slate of award nominees. Voting is held over the summer each year and the awards are usually presented in late September or October. The award categories are: • • • • • • • • • • • •

Contemporary Blues Album Traditional Blues Album Soul Blues Album Rock Blues Album Acoustic Blues Album Live Blues Recording Historical Or Vintage Recording New Artist Debut Album Blues Band Male Blues Artist Female Blues Artist Sean Costello Rising Star Award

The awards show is usually comprised of well over 20 nominated acts who perform at the event. It is always a fantastic evening of music. As more information and plans are made we will have that information in our newsletter and website in addition to Blues Blast Magazine and their web site. Subscriptions to the weekly magazine are free. Just go to www.bluesblastmagazine.com/contact/ to register to receive the magazine each week by email. Each issue features a great interview with a blues artist along with other articles, music reviews and Blues Society News. Stay tuned for more information!

Good Luck to Our IBC Contestants Crossroads wishes all the best to our entries in the 2018 International Blues Challenge! The competition begins on Beale Street on Wednesday, January 17th and 18th for the Quarter Finals where Ivy Ford and her band and Warren Beck will respectively compete in the Band and Solo/Duo competition. If they move on, the Semi Finals are Friday evening on Beale Street and the Finals are Saturday afternoon at the Orpheum Theater. Riding Atlas, our youth band, will be at the Youth Showcase Friday afternoon/early evening on

Beale Street. We wish all three of our representatives the best of luck and hope they garner all sorts of great recognition– they deserve it!


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Music Reviews Howlin’ At Greaseland Various Artists West Tone Records www.bear-family.com/ various-howlin-atgreaseland-cd.html 14 tracks/46 minutes This is not the first tribute album to the late, great Howlin’ Wolf, but it may just be the best. Recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland studios (fast becoming the place to record on the West Coast) this really is an all-star cast. Kid shares guitar duties with Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, Johnny Cat Soubrand and Chris James as well as bass with Robby Yamilov, Joe Kyle Jr, Vance Ehlers, Patrick Rynn and Mike Phillips; Jim Pugh, Henry Gray and Lorenzo Farrell are on piano, Rick Estrin and Aki Kumar harp and June Core, Derrick D’Mar Martin and Alex Pettersen share the drum stool; vocals are split between Tail Dragger, John Blues Boyd, Alabama Mike, Henry Gray, Lee Donald and Terry Hanck who also plays sax on two cuts. Kid had the bright idea of leaving some of the between-takes reminiscences about Wolf on the disc and these add an historic perspective, a personal touch and downright amusement when Terry Hanck recounts the Wolf on all fours howling in front of a white, middle-class audience (who loved it!). Other stories come from Tail Dragger, John Blues Boyd and Henry Gray. The CD opens with a good version of “Meet Me In The Bottom” with Alabama Mike getting Wolf’s vocal style really well, supported by The Nightcats plus Robby Yamilov’s bass. John Blues Boyd gets three vocals: “Smokestack Lighnin’”, probably the Wolf’s most frequently covered song, has plenty of howling and Rick’s harp covering every vocal move; “Riding In The Moonlight” has some great interplay between Kid and Rockin’ Johnny’s guitars, rocking piano from Jim and sax from Terry; another Wolf classic “Spoonful” closes the album. Tail Dragger sounds very Wolf-like on his two tracks, recorded with Rockin’ Johnny on guitar and Aki Kumar on harp: “I’m Leaving You” rolls along well with both front-line instrumentalists playing up a storm; “Don’t Trust No Woman” is slower-paced but Tail Dragger still sounds menacing as he offers his caustic advice on relationships! Nonagenarian piano player Henry Gray played with the Wolf and here sings and plays accompanied only by Kid on acoustic guitar on a relaxed country blues version of “Little Red Rooster” and on a full

band version of Big Maceo’s “Worried Life Blues” where he shares vocals with Aki, backed by Patrick, Chris and June. A slow -paced “Forty Four” features Lee Donald’s tough vocals with Kid switching to piano and Cat on the guitar. The final track to discuss is Terry Hanck’s storming version of “Howlin’ For My Darling” which is preceded by that anecdote about Wolf’s appearance in a shopping mall. Terry sings and plays well with the versatile Kid on bass, Cat on guitar, Jim on piano and Alex on drums, Cat and Terry playing wonderfully together. Needless to say this is a superb album that deserves to be highly successful in reminding all blues fans of the Wolf’s immense contribution – recommended! Reviewed by John Mitchell Two Dogs Popa Chubby PCP www.popachubby.com 13 tracks/68 minutes Following the success of 2016’s The Catfish the ever prolific Popa Chubby returns with Two Dogs, this time recorded in his home studio in New York’s Hudson Valley with a very small cast of musicians as he produced the album, handled all guitars, vocals and percussion as well as playing bass on five tracks and drums on two. On the remaining tracks Sam ‘Freightman’ Bryant plays some thunderous drums and Andy Paladino plays bass on four tracks. Popa’s regular keyboard man Dave Keyes is ever-present and Popa’s daughter Tipitina Horowitz adds trumpet to two tracks alongside sax player Andrew Garrison. Popa wrote all the studio material, two of the songs written with his ex-wife Galea but there are also two bonus live covers: a splendid run through of The Stones’ ‘Sympathy For the Devil’ recorded in France with former rhythm section Andrea and Francesco Beccaro and a duet performance (with DK) of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ recorded in Marlboro, NY. The material includes quite a range of styles with plenty of strong guitar and some of Popa’s acerbic views on our society. The two opening tracks are upbeat and melodic; “It’s Alright” races out of the traps with swirling organ and rousing guitar while “Rescue Me” has Popa channelling Elmore James over a chunky riff with a chorus that embeds itself in your brain. Both songs deal with the usual topic of

love but “Preexisting Conditions”, rocking along with a good horn arrangement, is far more political. Opening with reference to “the rocking pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu” it soon becomes clear that Popa’s multiple problems may still not entitle him to insurance cover if the current administration has anything to do with it! “Sam Lay’s Pistol” is one of the cowrites with Galea and recounts the tale of Howling Wolf’s old drummer who apparently carried a large pistol in case of bandstand problems – in this case someone who mistakenly thought that Hubert Sumlin was the man seeing his wife until Sam saw him off! The title cut “Two Dogs” states that there are two types of ‘dogs’, each fighting for survival and proposes that we should feed the good dog and therefore ensure that the evil one does not prosper. Clearly true for humankind also, the offbeat rhythm supports some tough wah-wah and another horn arrangement. “Dirty Old Blues” does exactly what the title suggests with lots of slide and piano as Popa rails against this “dirty old world full of dirty old rules made by dirty old men for dirty old fools” - a cynical lyric played over some terrific rocking music. The second Galea/ Popa tune is “Shakedown” which returns to relationships: “Gonna be a shakedown, truth is gonna be told. You keep talking about fiction; facts are burning my soul.” The acoustic “Wound Up Getting High” shows how delicate the big man can be when he wishes. Two contrasting instrumentals appear towards the end of the album: the enigmatically titled “Cayophus Dupree” features Popa’s melodic side on a lilting tune and “Chubby’s Boogie” fairly rockets along with Popa and Dave firing on all cylinders across organ, piano and double-tracked guitars. Sandwiched between the two instrumentals is Popa’s statement that “Me Won’t Back Down”, arguably the least accessible track here. The live tracks are both good, especially the rocking take on “Sympathy For The Devil”. “Hallelujah” is a staple of Popa’s live shows and this stately version would have been excellent if the crowd had remained silent! Despite the background ‘chatter’ Popa and Dave play the song beautifully and the majesty of Cohen’s words come across fine. Overall a very good album with several excellent performances, certainly on a par with The Catfish and therefore worth checking out. Reviewed by John Mitchell


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Death Time Love Jade Bennett Rip Cat Records http://ripcatrecords.com 8 tracks/35 minutes A couple of years ago Gino Matteo produced one of the best albums of 2013 in Sweet Revival and since then has been playing in Sugaray Rayford’s band. Now Gino is back, this time as producer, co-writer and guitarist for his wife Jade Bennett’s debut release. Jade and Gino wrote 6 of the 8 tracks and there are two covers. Recorded in LA, the musicians include guitarists Joey Delgado on two tracks and Laura Chavez on three, in addition to Gino who appears throughout; bass is James Breker, drums Lavell Jones and Gino, Lavell and Trevor Monks add percussion. Backing vocalists include Gino, James, Zara Davis, Rachele Quiogue, Travis Dagger and Victor Altaro. Jade’s voice has that raw aggression that needs to be held in check or it can go over the top; mostly Jade manages that control though there are a couple of lapses. The album opens with a gospel-infused song “Death Came A-Knockin’” that sounds like it should be a traditional tune but is one of Gino and Jade’s compositions. The song suits Jade’s voice very well and the music is excellent, with lots of percussion effects, choral vocals and some nice (uncredited) piano. “Point Of No Return” has plenty of wah-wah effects that give a dreamy soundscape behind Jade’s agonised vocal as she appears to have reached the end of the line. The wry lyrics of “Why Buy The Cow” suggest that long-term relationships are overrated, Gino and Laura Chavez playing off each other very effectively against some interesting percussion. Some of the lyrics are X-rated and Jade gets a little over-excited towards the end with some primal screams. “Table For Two” drops the pace for a soulful ballad with strong lyrics about unrequited love, the poor girl embarrassed by the lack of a companion at the restaurant table, Joey Delgado playing some anguished lead lines. The first cover is Ike Turner’s “Fool In Love”, a song always associated with Tina, but Jade does a solid version with some raw-throated vocals set against choral vocals (think the Ikettes), jagged guitar lines and Laura’s fluent solo. “Sister Darktimes” is a dark song lyrically though the twin guitars of Gino and Joey provide a bubbling and soulful backdrop. Jade also seems to be in confessional mood on “Bad Kind”, another slower-paced song with some lovely, ringing guitar from Laura and a splendid chorus that provides a warm backdrop to Jade’s emotional deliv-

ery. This relatively short album concludes with a second cover, “After Dark” by Tito & Tarantula which combines Gino’s raucous wah-wah with Jade’s tough vocals which unfortunately descend into screaming towards the end. Some may enjoy that aspect of the performance but, for this reviewer, it detracts from a mainly enjoyable listen. Reviewed by John Mitchell Big Road Erin Harpe And The Delta Swingers Vizztone www.erinharpe.com 10 tracks/48 minutes On their second album Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers definitely put the emphasis on Erin’s guitar and vocals as she blends three of her own songs, five blues classics and two songs from more contemporary sources. Erin handles all vocals and guitar with Jim Countryman on bass, Kendall Divoll on drums and Matt Prozialeck on harp; Michael Casavant guests on organ on two tracks and accordion on one. The CD opens with some eerie slide that develops into a good version of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Kokomo”, the main surprise being that the band is from New England rather than the Deep South! The title track “Big Road” comes from Tommy Johnson and the band’s version features some fine ensemble playing, Erin harmonising with herself on the chorus. Two Mississippi John Hurt songs are included: “Frankie” is one of several versions of the old ‘Frankie and Johnny’ tale in which Frankie shoots her unfaithful lover (here called Albert), the band playing a gentle acoustic version that works particularly well; “Casey Jones” is also acoustic, a sprightly version of the old song about an engine driver, Erin’s vocals delightful. The fifth blues classic is the often covered “Shake Your Hips” (Slim Harpo) which works less well in an overly long version that clocks in at over eight minutes and might have benefited from some judicious editing. Erin’s three originals are all keepers: “Voodoo Blues” is great, rocking along with references to all manner of weird stuff like brooms across the door and Marie Lavaux, the Louisiana feel supplemented by accordion; “Stop & Listen” is even faster-paced, the lyrics apparently dealing with prison sentences as Erin’s slide and Matt’s harp embellish the hard work of the rhythm section; “Lonely Leavin’ Town” is played at a more gentle pace as Erin sings of having the itch to move on from

her small town despite loving her man there: “don’t know what else to do, I’m looking in my rear view, I got those leavin’ town blues”. Randy Newman’s “Guilty” is something of a ‘go-to’ song for many female singers and Erin does a good job in a short but sweet solo acoustic version. The album closes with “Gimme That (Somethin’ Special)”, a reprise of a tune from Erin’s former band Lovewhip (described on their website as ‘mixing dancehall reggae with disco, pop and rock’). Another lengthy tune finds Erin on wah-wah guitar and although Matt’s harp does its best the song remains too far away from the blues for this reviewer. Overall a mixed bag with good originals and some excellent covers of older blues tunes but the extended improvisations on the longer songs work less well. Reviewed by John Mitchell

The Blues Return to the BMO Harris Bank Center and Ice Hogs Friday Pregame Shows For the fourth straight season there will be pregame music events featuring blues and blues rock artists playing from 5:15 to 6:45 PM prior to each Friday home game for the AHL Hockey Affiliate Rockford Ice Hogs. The season kicks off with music at the Blues Flame Lounge on October 20th with the first Friday home game. Music will be featured prior to each Friday home game this season, twelve dates in all. Admission to the shows is free with a ticket to the game. Check out the schedule and get info for these events here: http:// icehogs.com/ tickets/BluesFlameFridays/ and Cancelled go out for some great music and hockey!


Ike Page 8 Stompin' Ground Tommy Castro and The Painkillers Alligator Records 12 Tracks Growing up in San Jose, California in the 1960s and 1970s, Tommy Castro integrated the musical genres of rock, blues, and soul that were a part of the culture as he was growing up in this Mecca of music, his "stomping ground." His new release with that same title, Stomping Ground, marks his 17th release and fifth on Alligator Records, typifying that blend of music that we have enjoyed from Tommy since 1994, with his first release, No Foolin'. Castro is currently touring in support of his new album, Stomping Ground, with himself on vocals and guitar, Randy McDonald on bass, Michael Emerson on keyboards, and Bowen Brown on drums, and a host of other spectacular musicians on the new album, including special guests Kid Anderson, David Hidalgo, Charlie Musselwhite, Danielle Nicole, and Mike Zito. They open the album with "Nonchalant," the first of seven original tunes on the album written by Tommy. With a powerful horn section added, backing vocals, organ, Nancy Wright's tenor sax solos, Castro's eloquent vocals and guitar solos, this a splendid way to kick off his new release with this high powered, soul drenched tune. "Blues All Around Me" begins with a captivating bass line and builds slowly, with convincing vocals from Castro. As the song progresses, the horn section continues to intensify, leading up to a powerful finish. "Fear Is The Enemy" grabbed my attention with it's driving rhythm and fiery guitar solos as Tommy reminds us that "fear is weak and love is strong." Lisa Leuschner Anderson affirms that sense of urgency heard in Castro's vocals with her powerful backing vocals on this original tune. Castro slows things down to take a nostalgic trip back to where he grew up, paying close attention to the details of the past, as he reminisces about his stomping ground in the heart felt tune "My Old Neighborhood." The follow up, "Enough Is Enough," takes me back to the Chicago guitar style of Magic Sam with powerful, raw slide guitar added along with a driving groove from the rhythm section and an intense keyboard performance from Michael Emerson. What would a Tommy Castro album be without a funky original tune? "Love Is" fits that bill with it's funky bass line and rhythm guitar to support the strong guitar leads and soulful vocals of Castro. With his original tunes in the first half of the album, Castro turns to the next part of the release with

The Groove- Crossroads Blues Society Newsletter some of his favorite covers, as he returns to the music that influenced this seasoned veteran. First on the list is "Rock Bottom," a blues shuffle written and performed originally by singers and songwriters Jo Baker and Elvin Bishop. Castro and Mike Zeto trade guitar licks and combine on the vocals for this hard driving shuffle. Tommy and Danielle Nicole team up for an explosive version of the Margaret Lewis/Myra Smith classic "Soul Shake," performed earlier by Delaney and Bonnie, hitting the charts with the tune in 1970. Tommy searches into the archives for two more tunes of artists that were influential while growing up in San Jose. The first is the classic tune "Further On Down The Road," a tune by Henry St. Clair Fredricks or as we know him as Taj Mahal. Tommy adds a little more soul to his version, calling on Michael Emerson for strong keyboards once again. The second tune straight from the vaults, is the Buddy Miles number "Then Changes" with fiery guitar solos and vocals shared by David Hidalgo of Los Lobos for a blistering rocker. This soulful album would not be complete without a Ray Charles tribute. Castro does just that with a cameo performance of the Titus Lee Turner track "Sticks and Stones," a 1960 hit by Ray Charles and his Raylettes, complete this time around with spectacular vocals from Tommy, keys from Emerson, backing vocals, and guitar solos. Castro is fortunate enough to have Charlie Musselwhite in the house to share vocals and add some soulful harp on the final original tune "Live Every Day," putting the finishing touches on his new release.

was produced by David Z whose production credits include Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Gov’t Mule and Buddy Guy.

If you are being introduced to Tommy Castro for the first time or a longtime fan of his soul, blues, and funk, you will be pleasantly surprised with his new album, Stomping Ground, loaded with some of his best material and an star studded lineup.

Elsewhere Alastair delivers another couple of trademark rockers in “I’m The Taker” and “Demons Down” but also “Rain Stomp” which is a slide-driven country blues making a plea for rain in dry conditions and “Lucky 13”, a short and catchy shuffle to close the album with a fleetfingered solo, proving that he is no one trick pony. This is a solid album that will have broad appeal to guitar fans.

Reviewed by Rick Davis Dream Train Alastair Greene Rip Cat Records www.alastairgreene.com 13 tracks/55 minutes Alastair Greene was the featured guitarist for The Alan Parsons Project for seven years but is now out under his own name with a blend of blues and rock that will please fans of artists like Walter Trout and Mike Zito, both of whom make guest appearances here. Alastair wrote all bar one tune and is supported by his regular rhythm section of Jim Rankin (bass) and Austin Beede (drums). The CD

The album opens with a trio of rocking tunes: the title track makes a thunderous opener with lashings of slide and heavy drums, “Big Bad Wolf” uses a riff from the Slim Harpo songbook as the bassline for a tale of a girl taking some chances and a solo that has some ZZ Top references, very appropriate as the following “Nome Zayne” is a Billy Gibbons tune that Billy gave Alastair permission to record. “Another Lie” is a standout, an extended slow blues with Walter Trout and Alastair exchanging guitar salvoes and Mike Finnigan’s organ filling out the sound, the track also showing that Alastair has a strong voice. There are three instrumentals on the album, two dedicated to companions who have passed on: “Rufus” is a solo acoustic piece in memory of Alastair’s late cat and “Iowa” is dedicated to his grandmother, both showing a gentle touch; on the other hand the chugging “Grateful Swagger” brings to mind Albert Collins, especially as Albert’s one-time colleague Debbie Davies adds her guitar to Alastair’s. Harmonica ace Dennis Gruenling (now playing with Nick Moss) ups the blues quotient on “Daredevil”, a fast-paced shuffle with more of Mike’s organ work and Mike Zito helps to raise the heaviness levels of the slidedriven “Down To Memphis” which appears to have some autobiographical references.

Reviewed by John Mitchell


Ike January-February

2018

I Always Turn The Blues On Val Starr & the Blues Rocket Sandwich Factory www.valstarrandthe bluesrocket.com 12 tracks/58 minutes Originally from Southern California, Val Starr worked in the music industry for a number of record labels and radio promotions through the 1980’s and 90’s. After re -locating to Sacramento in 2003 she and her husband formed a band playing rock covers but in 2010 they started attending blues jams and from there The Blues Rocket was formed. This is their fourth CD since 2012. Val wrote all the material and handles lead vocals and rhythm guitar, her husband John Ellis is on bass and B/ V’s, Frankie Soul on lead guitar and Paul Farman on drums. Todd Morgan adds keys to eight of the twelve tracks while guests include Daniel Castro, lead guitar on two, Steve Wall, slide on two, Tim Barron, harp on four and Guyle Taber who replaces drummer Paul Farman on two. The band plays a range of styles ranging from shuffles to melodic blues-rock. The CD is well-produced so that all instruments can be clearly heard. Val’s voice is central to the songs and her voice can at times be a little monotone, “What Happens After Midnight” being one example. The title track has some very nice piano which adds a jazzy feel to the track as Val sings of getting “lost inside the shuffle, it’s the only place to go”, some mournful harp towards the end adding to the blues quotient. The two tracks with Daniel Castro are both standouts: his torrid lead lines on “Whether Blues” add to the sense of foreboding conjured up by Val’s lyrics; in contrast “Please Don’t Go Away Mad” is an altogether gentler song which Val sings well and finds Daniel playing very lyrically with a hint of country in his tone. Another good track is “You Better Stop”, a bright shuffle enhanced by Steve Wall’s slide which works very well alongside Frankie Soul’s lead though Steve’s other contribution is on “Blind Eye” that is more rock than blues. “The Baby Mama Song” makes you smile as Val get saucy over a catchy tune with electric piano standing out. Val is certainly prepared to take action when a relationship goes sour, as she explains in the fast-paced “Out With The Old”; “Every time I see you you make me feel blue so it’s out with the old and in with the new” Overall this album delivers twelve original songs with a couple of standout tracks. Reviewed by John Mitchell

Page 9 Rescue Kelly Z Self-Release www.kellyslot.com 8 tracks/31 minutes Kelly Zirbes and her band Kelly’s Lot operate in the Los Angeles area and have recorded a number of albums since the mid-90’s. This particular album is an oddity as it was recorded in 2011 and then left on the shelf. When producer Chuck Kavooras and Kelly were discussing a future project they decided to pick up the tapes and issue the album. Clearly intended as a vehicle for Kelly’s vocals, the album contains eight covers of mostly soul and Rn’B songs with a full horn section added to the core band. Kelly handles the lead vocals with John Marx on guitar, Mo Beeks on keys, Rick Reed on bass, Bryan Head on drums and a horn section of Andy Najera on sax and Stan Martin on trumpet. Roy Wiegand adds a second trumpet to one track, Barry Goldberg plays B3 on the same track and Chuck Kavooras adds slide, Perry Robertson and Jack Wargo guitar to a track each. Background vocals are provided by Teresa James, Shari Puorto and Lisa Orloff Staley. Kelly sounds convincing on James Brown’s “What Do I Have To Do” with plenty of funk from the band, blaring horns and solid backing vocals. Her voice seems less suited to “Baby It’s You” (Bacharach/David) though the horn arrangement is great; the song was a 1961 hit for the Shirelles, later covered by The Beatles on their debut album Please Please Me. “You Don’t Realise” is a Michael Bloomfield slow blues from The Electric Flag’s album A Long Time Comin’ and it’s well done, with the extra trumpet making the horns really stand out and Kelly sings it well, mainly in the lower register. Kelly clearly admires Tina Turner as she reprises a pair of Ike and Tina songs next: “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” was an early success for Ike and Tina and is a lovely tune, once covered as an instrumental by Ry Cooder (on Bop Till You Drop). This version has wonderful harmonies and Ike’s original rejoinders to Tina’s expectations are copied here by Perry Robertson. The later “Trying To Find My Mind” works less well with some rather crude drums and Kelly’s voice stretched. The soul ballad “He Called Me Baby” is best known from Candi Staton’s version and suits Kelly’s voice much better. Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing” seems a little flat in comparison before this short album finishes with the classic “You Are My Sunshine”, a song that dates back to 1939 and is a

state song of Louisiana because of its credited author Jimmie Davis, who served two terms as Governor. Kelly’s version probably channels Aretha Franklin’s version with its funky approach. When material remains unreleased one always wonders why. In this case it sounds as if more needed to be done as the album is very short and a couple of tracks sound under-produced. Nevertheless there are some good moments to enjoy. Reviewed by John Mitchell

CBS Christmas Party Photos by/from Rick Davis


Ike Page 10 Johnny Goldtooth And The Chevy Casanovas Kevin Breit Stony Plain Records www.kevinbreit.com 11 songs/38 minutes Once in a while, the concept for an album will come about by pure accident and out of the blue. That’s exactly what happened when guitar slinger Kevin Breit struck upon the idea for this all-instrumental treasure. A Canadian who’s recorded with Nora Jones, k.d. lang, Taj Mahal, Carlos del Junco, Harry Manx, Janis Ian, Cassandra Wilson and Hugh Laurie, whose licks have graced ten Grammy-winning albums and who’s swept most of the major music awards north of the U.S. border in a career that began in the 1980s, he was in his basement studio one night, laying down tracks for another major artist when he happened to glance at a couple of photos in the corner of the room. Both images depicted matadors dressed to the nines: one a real-life bullfighter full of swagger and the other of Breit’s father at Halloween and cradling a bass guitar. It didn’t take long before the two pictures began melding in Kevin’s head. Before he knew what was happening, the character of Johnny Goldtooth was taking form. Although it’s not stated in any of the literature accompanying this CD, it’s apparent that the native of Baldwin, Ont., has a deep love for Wild West movies and TV and the soundtracks that accompany them. In a departure from the many different stylings he’s laid down over the years, Johnny Goldtooth features Breit in a whimsical format. All of the tunes here are both delightful and a whole lot of fun, delivering what Kevin calls “a thinner sound, twangy, uncouth, a little boneheaded…riffs that anybody could play but would love…” In truth, however, it’s technically brilliant and light years beyond most guitarists’ playing ability. Breit wrote ten of the 11 tunes here in ten days, improvising his licks atop loops he’d laid down on Optigan organ and subsequently embellishing the results with upright bass, vibraphone, melodica, organ and bass clarinet, pushing everything through his 1961 Vibrolux amp or a Demeter head into a Saxon cabinet. A week later, he composed the final number and then enlisted the aid of Vincent Henry (Tom Waits) on sax and flute, Michael Ward Bergeman (Yo Yo Ma) on accordion, Davide DiRenzio (Wilson) on drums and Russ Boswell on bass for one cut each and trumpeter Gary Diggins, who sat in on five tunes, to complete the work.

The Groove- Crossroads Blues Society Newsletter “Chevy Casanova” kicks off the action, swinging steadily atop what comes across as a far more lush arrangement than the description above might indicate. It’s both ballsy and sweet, and Breit’s talent is exceptional. A minor keyboard loop opens the percussive “C’mon, Let’s Go” and puts a different spin on Western sound before Kevin rips and runs for “I Got ‘Em, Too,” which hints of several old-time dance numbers. “The Knee High Fizzle” lopes out of the gate in lower register atop a medium fast shuffle before “Cozy With Rosy,” a barebones ballad. The pace quickens for the jazzy “Zing Zong Song,” which combines interesting chording and slide, before “The Goldtooth Shuffle” lays down some rocksteady blues. The next three tunes -“Crime Holler,” “A Horse By Another Stripe” and “One Mo Bo” – all keep the Wild West theme front and center before Breit finishes with “Dr. Lee Van Cleef,” a tip of the fedora to the spaghetti Western superstar actor known for his portrayal of villains in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and For A Few Dollars More. Available through most major retailers, Johnny Goldtooth And The Chevy Casanovas will please anyone with a love for both the Wild West and instrumental blues. Despite the quick turn-around time in production, this album is far more layered and complex than it might appear. If you’re in any way curious, it’s definitely worth a listen. It’ll be time well spent. Reviewed by Marty Gunther Live NYE 2016 The Ivy Ford Band 7 Tracks Ivy Ford, singer, musician, and entertainer is new on the blues scene and making quite a name for herself in the Chicago area live music scene. Primarily self taught, she plays piano, sax, drums, bass, and guitar along with her accomplished vocals. She had the opportunity to join a local blues band in 2012 that evolved into Ivy Ford and The Cadillacs. She has opened for Buddy Guy and has shared the stage with Chicago artists J.B. Richie, Joe Moss, Toronzo Cannon, and Tom Holland. She continues playing private and public events, clubs, and venues in and around the Chicago area and most recently was a featured blues artist at the 2017 Crossroads Blues Festival. Ivy released a solo album two years ago titled "Simply Solo" and more recently her latest release is "Live NYE 2016" with her

band on New Year's Eve at Mickey Finn's in Libertyville. The band features Ivy Ford on guitar and vocals, Steve Dougherty on drums, Willie Rauch on bass, and Mark Hebert on keyboards. Ivy covers blues legends from Little Milton to Koko Taylor captivating the audience with her stage presence and glowing personality. She opens with a Little Milton tune "The Blues is Alright" and rocks the house with her cherry red, Epiphone-339 and her magical vocals. Filling the room with her laughter and with sparkle in her eye, she continues with "Blues Is My Business," mastering the tune much like earlier performances from Kat Riggins & The Funky Biscuit Allstars, Larry McCray, Etta James, and Lightning Hopkins, that preceded Ivy's rendition. With spectacular guitar solos, she calls on the keyboard talent of Mark Herbert on this one. Ford switches gears on the next tune, exploring on the powerful blues vocals of Big Mama Thornton for "You Ain't Nothing But a Houndog," a tune that later hit the rock and roll charts with the release of the tune from legends Little Richard and Elvis Presley. Ivy does a great job of fusing both rock and blues together into her version of the song. With her wah-wah pedal and some funky guitar leads, she tears into Koko Taylor's "Voodoo Woman" for a star performance. For a refreshing change, she calls on the rock and roll talents of Bob Seger for her arrangement of that classic hit "Old Time Rock and Roll, adding more keyboards once again from Mark Herbert. Starting with Ivy's entertaining narrative intro, the rhythm section establishes a pulsating groove on "Talk To Me Baby." She eliminates the slide guitar of both Hound Dog Taylor and Elmore James but keeps the keyboard solos that were heard in the Elmore James rendition. With the audience engaged in this New Years eve celebration, she finishes her live album with some sassy vocals on a shortened version of Floyd Dixon's "Hey Bartender," as 2017 looms closer at Mickey Finn's in Libertyville, Illinois. With high hopes, I can hardly wait until the opportunity lends itself to this talented blues artist for a contract, so she can start releasing studio albums on a major label. Her song writing skills are just within her grasp and will emerge soon. It has been rumored Ivy is working on a new album with original songs, preparing to travel to Memphis for the IBC, representing Crossroads Blues Society in 2018. Review by Rick Davis


Ike January-February

2018

Hauntings Cassie Keenum & Rick Randlett Fox Run Records cassiekeenum.com/ www.rickrandlett.com/ 11 Tracks From Gainesville FL comes an acoustic duo Cassie Keenum & Rick Randlett. Randlett comes from an early 70’s blues and blues rock beginnings. He has 3 releases of his own. Keenum is a singer songwriter and plays guitar and lap steel guitar. They have been playing together for awhile. They represented the North Central Florida Blues Society at the IBC and were semifinalist in 2016. This release is their first together. It includes original material with just one exception. Both sing and lay guitars. They are joined by Nicole Wagner (bass) & Rusty Valentine (drums) on the disc. Mitch Rogers adds keys on 1 track, with Little Mike blowing harp on 2 tracks. Randlett handles the production duties also. The opening cut is “Seventh Day”. Keenum sings and adds acoustic guitar, with Randlett showing off his lap steel guitar prowess. This is a slow dark & mysterious tune. It is an interesting listen. The pace picks up a bit with the Chicago blues tune “One More Last Time”. Little Mike adds his harp to go with the fine vocals from Keenum. The production is crisp and clear. “Won't Make That Mistake Again” is a slower almost gospel type tune. It is a pretty tune with fine acoustic guitar (I hear a bit of “Lean On Me” in the music). “All Along” is a tune about love that went bad. Keenum handles the singing well, and the rest of the players show their skills too. The lone cover is the famed Leonard Cohen tune “Hallelujah”. This one has been covered many times, but these 2 put a pretty good slow haunting spin on it. It stretches out past the 5 minute mark. Mitch Rogers adds his skills on the keyboard on “She's Gone”. Randlett stretches his vocal cords on this one. The 7th cut is “Early In The Morning”. Little Mike is back on harmonica on this another haunting mid-tempo hill country blues tune. “Get Lit” is a powerful blues tune. I like this one a great deal. This is the most up tempo tune so far on the CD. She sings of needing to deal with issues but needing booze to deal with the issue. On “Minute Man”. The woman is looking for someone other than a ‘Minute Man’ to satisfy her ‘needs’. This is a good blues/R&B tune. The music gets a bit of country blues feel on “Born With Wings”. Randlett shows off his guitar skills again. This is a pretty

Page 11 good tune, not a deep blue’s tune though. The closing number is “How Long”. Keenum really shines in the vocal department on the slower acoustic tune. The lap steel is back adding to the mysteriousness of the song. I like this one. It is top quality acoustic based music. There is blues and other influences. The two performers really hit a groove together. They have a special bond. The music is well performed and produced. Certainly acoustic fans will rejoice. Guitar fans should enjoy this too, though it is not a blues rock guitar hero release. Congrats to Keenum and Randlett on a fine release. If their schedule hits your area, go see them. Until then enjoy this fine CD. Reviewed by Mark Nelson Tales Of A Rich Girl Kings And Associates Big Wing Records www.kingsandassociatesmusic.com/ 12 Tracks From the land of Ayers Rock and kangaroos comes another Australian blues band, Kings and Associates. They are based out of Adelaide. This is their second release, following up on 2014’s Red Dress. The band has been well received at festivals and club gigs. Jim Scott (7 time Grammy winner) engineered the track recordings. It was then mixed in Nashville by Vance Powell (also a Grammy winner). The band members wrote all of the material presented here. Angela Portolesi (Lead Vocals and Tambourine), Benjamin Cunningham (Lead Vocals & Lead Guitar), Stephen Portolesi (bass & guitar), Kelven Sugars (drums & guitar) and Matt Williams (Acoustic & Electric guitars) are the core members of the band. The band has their make the better world appeal raising global awareness about child sex slavery.

The group goes to church on the gospel tinged “Peace X Peace”. Portolesi’s singing is very good here. It is a slower tune, but not really a ballad. Things remain slower on” Pabla's Grace”. The organ and drums really carry this mystical and powerful tune. There is a nice guitar solo about half way through the song. “Evergreen” is another good blues rock tune, though maybe a bit more rock than blues. The group hits the ground with a full sprint on “All That's Good”. The tune is crisp and clear. They are solid musicians. On “Charlie B’s” the group goes for some hot R&B, but to me miss the mark. They seem to play it too fast, and don’t let the rhythm take over the listener. This one is not on my favorite list. The style changes to an old timey tune “God Bless Mamma”. It is a fast paced tune, that is only OK. On the 11th cut we another change of pace. “Tales Of A Rich Man” is live and acoustic. They do a good job with this mid paced tune. Closing out the set is a tune with dual lead singers on a strong love ballad. “1000 Ways” is quite good, and very strong. This is a strong effort. I had not heard the band before this review. I can see a good future here. Certainly this is not guitar hero blues rock. The tunes are well recorded and show good musicianship. Vocals are strong, and the band knows how to play, and to write their own music. Touring in the US and Europe is in their future. I like their chances to keep moving forward. Good job!! Reviewed by Mark Nelson

The opening number has a nice guitar and organ intro before the band starts to roar. Louie Higuera handles the organ/piano on this one. The vocals are shared by both of the singers. “Truth Be Told” had a bit of come to meeting feel to it. It is a strong track. On “Tales Of A Rich Girl” the crew uses a bit of slide guitar edge to add blues style to a rock tune. The vocals are handled by Angela. The band gets soulful on “NItty Gritty”. The band does a nice job here. For “Deadwood”, the band really cuts loose without losing their tightness of playing together. This is a good blues rock tune. Ivy Ford at Lyran Society by Rick Davis


Ike Page 12 Mojo Al Corte’ Self Released https://corte.global/ 12 Tracks This is the 2nd release by Al Corte’. Hailing from Arkansas these days, he has lived and played in Buffalo, Florida and Arizona. He played a cowboy role on TV, raced motorcycles, and has his own production company. Al’s father and uncle were both hometown singers. His debut release covered many classic tunes. The music on this release has Memphis all over it. It was made in Willie Mitchell’s studio in Memphis, supported by the High Rhythm Section, and other members of the Memphis music scene. The music is all written by His musical partner Ron Miller wrote all of the musical material, with Corte’ assisting on some tunes. The title cut “Mojo” opens the CD. The music jumps thru the speakers, with the horns and Michael Toles’s guitar really stand out. Things stay lively with “Love Thang”. This one is very soulful, with horns and background singers. On “Memphis Moon.” Things slow down a bit. The band fulfills its job here, but the vocals could be a bit more upfront and forceful. The 4th track “I'll Never Lose My Love For The Blues” really shines. It is a good blues-rock tune. Brad Webb provides the fine slide guitar on this one. John Nemeth adds his harmonica to the Memphis soul tune “Juke Joint Jive”. It’s a bit slower than one might have thought with the song title, but it is a quality tune. I always love a good soul/gospel ballad. “Blessed to Have You Near” fits the bill. The piano adds a nice touch. The gospel feel stays with “It's a Good Day”. It is more upbeat than the last tune, and sounds good. “I’m Ready” is an uplifting soulful tune. The melody is quite good. John Nemeth is back on “What You Hold”. This one is more blues with a stream of gospel flowing through it. Up next is a solid soul love tune called “Were Just A Boy And A Girl”. The organ helps the vocals float along in this ballad. The pace picks up with a big sax solo near the end of the tune. On “Touch” the music gets funky. “Boo” Mitchell puts a great touch on his synthesizer solo. Closing things out is “You Hurt Me So Good”. This is a fine soul tune, and it really caps off the CD well. This is a slower tune with tasteful supporting vocals. This is for sure a Memphis cd. Corte’ does a nice job here. If you are a soul fan, this one should fit nicely into your collection. The production is clean and

The Groove- Crossroads Blues Society Newsletter crisp. The horns, background singers and other gests really make this a full-fledged production. This is tasteful and all soul and many gospel fans will enjoy it. The material was strong. Check this one out folks! Reviewed by Mark Nelson Unconditional Love Davide Pannozzo Self Released www.davidepannozzo.com/ 10 Tracks Currently in New York, Davide Pannozzo is a guitar player with roots in Italy. This is his 6th release, including a release as Three Cool Cats. Eight of the 10 cuts are originals. Davide sings and plays guitar. He is joined by Will Lee (bass, vocals), Steve Jordan (drums), Shawn Pelton (drums), Ricky Peterson (Hammond & Keyboards, and Oli Rockgerger (Hammond & Keyboards). He reached the semi finals at the International Blues Challenge. His guitar work has been praised, as has Davide’s songwriting skills. “Six Wires” is the opening cut. It has powerful guitar work. I hear some funk in this mid tempo tune. I like the message on the reggae tinged “Living, Loving & Giving”. It’s a happy tune but not blues. Next is a bit of a love song called “I Heard You”. It is a slower melodic tune with maybe a hint of jazz. There is fine slide guitar work on “Bring Me To The Light”. It stays within the song framework. The vocals are a bit buried, but I am sure they wanted the instruments in front of the mix. Things rock out and pick up the pace on “One & Only”. This tune has a jazz influenced guitar and a funky bass line. The band jams out well on this one. Blues rock (Hendrix Style) is the musical styling for the self penned “Chasing Illusions”. The song is slower by rising high in its power. The first cover is the George Harrison tune “Wah Wah”. The song moves a lot like the original with a bit more modern chorus. “The Purest Thing” is an 8 ½ minute jazz/ blues guitar epic. It is a slower jam that shows off the guitar skills as well as the rest of the band. Things stay in the jazzier rock fusion vein on the cover of Billy Cobham’s “Stratus”. This one stretches out further at 7:15 in length. Will Lee and Shawn Pelton accompany Pannozzo on this musical trip. Guitar fans will like it. Closing out the CD is the softer “Lord Knows What's In My Heart”. It is a warm fusion type instrumental tune.

I expected this to maybe be a guitar hero release, but it was very polished and the playing is under control. I like the jazzier side of the release. I would go see Davide in a club. Guitar fans, you should enjoy this, unless you desire wild solos and pyrotechnics, then this may not be for you. The quantity of instrumentals may be too much for some. I do like a bit of vocal in most of my tunes. I’ll be checking out some of his back catalog to get a better feel for his music. You may want to also. Reviewed by Mark Nelson Toronzo Cannon Photos by Rick Davis


Ike January-February

2018

Tatoo Burn-Redux Micki Free Mysterium Blues Records www.mickifree.com/ 11 Tracks Micki Free is a long time performer. He won a Gramy for his work with Shalamar on the Beverly Hills Cop OST. He saw Hendrix play in Germany as a young man while his step-father was stationed there with the U.S. Army. He was with a Midwestern band called Smokehouse in the early mid 70’s. He was discovered by Gene Simmons and managed by him. Free joined Shalamar after that, and enjoyed the success with that band. Jean Beauvoir (Plasmatics) and Crown of Thorns followed in his career. Along the ways he has worked with Billy Gibbons, Santana & Diana Ross. His resume also contains 7 Native American Awards (Nammys) nominations. This release is a remaster of his 2012 release of Tattoo Burn. Two new tracks have been added for this rerelease. All songs are written by Micki Free except for one cover. The band includes: Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Cindy BlackmanSantana (Santana and Lenny Kravitz), David “Hawk” Lopez (Crown of Thorns & Power Station), Brother Paul Brown (The Waterboys), Jack Dailey (Lenny Kravitz), Kenny Gradney (Little Feat), Mark “Muggy Doo” Leach (JP Soars and Bernard Allison), and David Santos (Billy Joel & Elton John). On the opening track Howard Hewett (Shalamar) joins on vocals. This is funky blues, with fine Hammond organ and guitar riffs. Free really rocks out strong on the blues rock title cut “Tattoo Burn”. The guitar work is strong. Up next is “Greens & Barbeque”. I hear some ZZ Top in the slower blues rock tune. It is a bit slower, but still very clear and strong. “Six Feet Down in the Blues” is a slower burning blues tune. I like this one. The 5th tune is a Chicago blues tune called “Mojo Black Coffee”. Randy Singer adds the harmonica on this one. Blues fans will enjoy this one. I liked the organ work on “Co-Co-Gin”. The mid tempo blues rock here has some tasty guitar work too. Free really cuts loose on “There's a Hole in the Heart of the Blues”. The guitar work is tough and mighty on this tune that could have come from the mid 70’s. “Angels in the Room” is another blues rocker, though the background vocals did not seem to fit the tune at all. The lone cover is of a Hendrix tune called “Hey Baby (The New Rising Sun)”. Free does a fine job here on his heroes tune. The guitar work is strong and at 6 ½ minutes the band gets to stretch out a great deal. The final 2 cuts are Christmas

Page 13 based blues rock tunes. “Five Minutes 'Til Christmas” is the first. I like this one. It is a happy tune with great blues guitar. The final cut is “Sometimes in Winter”. This is a gospel based ballad, complete with a gospel choir. I was not expecting this nice twist of music at the end. Well done Micki! This is a pretty good set of tunes. This guy knows his way around a guitar in many styles. The notes lack some clarity on who played on which cuts. I’d imagine his live shows are pretty solid, so if you get a chance to see him, I’d make the trip. He is a rocker and there is a solid vein of blues in most of the material. Purists may shy away, but certainly blues rock and guitar fans will rejoice. Reviewed by Mark Nelson The Healing Dave Keyes Keyesland Music www.davekeyes.com/ 11 Tracks Out of New York, we have keyboardist, singer & songwriter Dave Keyes. He has released 5 other CDs on his own and has played with many blues and rock greats (Bo Diddley & Ronnie Spector to name a few). This release contains 9 originals and 2 old time covers. David J. Keyes (of no relation) handles the bass on all tracks. Popa Chubby and Arthur Neilson split the guitar duties. Frank Pagano and Stephen Rushton share the drumming duties. The music is a mix of modern blues, R&B, gospel and piano blues. The initial cut is a tune called “Change”. Frank Paparozzi gives us an initial blues harmonica blast start off the tune. This is a nice long modern blues track. Things slide towards New Orleans R&B on “Dance In The Dark”. The horns are provided by Chris Eminizer (sax) and Tim Ouimette (trumpet). This one will get your toe tapping. Keyes pumps the tune up with his B3. On “Not So Nice Anymore” we get an opening drum beat. Chubby adds his fiery guitar to the mix. This one is an upbeat R&B inspired rocker. The band continues firing on all cylinders on “Aint Looking For Love”. “Aint Looking For Love” is another fine modern blues track. Paparozzi is back on harmonica. Vaneese Thomas jumps in sharing the vocals on this love not-needed relationship song. Keyes summons up a modern sound to an old Robert Johnson tune “Travelling Riverside Blues”. Chubby is back on guitar, with some good piano playing by Keyes. It is not the best version of this oft covered tune, but not bad either. At over 6 minutes they get to jam away on it. Keyes breaks out his boogie-woogie piano on

“Boogie For Stefan”. This is a solo piano instrumental that rocks! “Come To Me” is a rather tender ballad. Chubby is on guitar and the horns are back for this R&B tinged tender ballad. The second and final cover is from the great guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe (recently added to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame). “Strange Things Happening” is a gospel tinged rocking guitar tune. Keyes really lets loose on the piano for this tune. In addition Arthur Neilson gives his all on the guitar solo. This is one of my favorite tunes on the CD. Things stay in the gospel side with the slow ballad “Faith Grace Love And Forgiveness”. Arthur Neilson provides his guitar on this Sunday go to meeting ballad. The Brooklyn Interdenominational Chorus helps drive the tune with their 30 strong choir voices. “Take You Back” is a slow love tune with great keyboard work from Keyes. There is great soul and passion here. This is a strong tune indeed. The background vocals are a plus here as is Arthur Neilson’s guitar work. Closing out the set is “Box Of Blues” This one certainly has a New Orleans feel to it. The horns return, as does Paparozzi on harmonica. This is an easy flowing R&B tune that highlights Keyes voice and we get Diane Cricchio on background vocals too I like this CD. The last 5 tracks are really strong. The feel of it is positive, with the musicianship strong on all counts. Keyes keeps things modern in his music, but shows respect to the past. Blues lovers will like this one, especially keyboard fans. This is a strong release that leaves me wanting to hear Keys at a live venue. I bet he does a hot show. Until then we can enjoy this and his other CDs. Reviewed by Mark Nelson


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The Groove- Crossroads Blues Society Newsletter

2018 Blues Music Award Nominations Announced The nominees for the 39th Blues Music Awards are: Acoustic Album Catfish Keith – Mississippi River Blues Doug MacLeod – Break The Chain Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi – Sonny and Brownie’s Last Train Harrison Kennedy – Who U Tellin ? Mitch Woods – Friends Along The Way Rory Block – Keepin’ Outta Trouble

Historical Album Jimmy Reed, Mr Luck: The Complete Vee-Jay Singles (Craft Recordings) John Lee Hooker, King of the Boogie (Craft Recordings) Luther Allison, A Legend Never Dies (Ruf Records) The Paul deLay Band, Live at Notodden ’97 (Little Village Foundation) Various, American Epic: The Collection (Sony Legacy)

Acoustic Artist Guy Davis Harrison Kennedy Taj Mahal Doug MacLeod Rory Block

Instrumentalist – Bass Benny Turner Bob Stroger Larry Fulcher Michael “Mudcat” Ward Patrick Rynn

Album of the Year Don Bryant – Don’t Give Up on Love Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter – Right Place, Right Time Rick Estrin & The Nightcats – Groovin’ In Greaseland TajMo – TajMo Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra – After A While

Instrumentalist – Drums Jimi Bott June Core Kenny Smith Tom Hambridge Tony Braunagel

B.B. King Entertainer Bobby Rush Michael Ledbetter Rick Estrin Sugaray Rayford Taj Mahal Band The Cash Box Kings Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter Nick Moss Band North Mississippi All-Stars Rick Estrin & the Nightcats Best Emerging Artist Album Altered Five Blues Band – Charmed & Dangerous Larkin Poe – Peach Miss Freddye – Lady Of The Blues R.L. Boyce – Roll and Tumble Southern Avenue – Southern Avenue Tas Cru – Simmered & Stewed Contemporary Blues Album Beth Hart – Fire On The Floor Corey Dennison Band – Night After Night Ronnie Baker Brooks – Times Have Changed Selwyn Birchwood – Pick Your Poison TajMo – TajMo Contemporary Blues Female Artist Beth Hart Karen Lovely Samantha Fish Shemekia Copeland Vanessa Collier Contemporary Blues Male Artist Keb’ Mo’ Michael Ledbetter Ronnie Baker Brooks Selwyn Birchwood Toronzo Cannon

Instrumentalist – Guitar Anson Funderburgh Chris Cain Christoffer “Kid” Andersen Monster Mike Welch Ronnie Earl Instrumentalist – Harmonica Billy Branch Dennis Gruenling Jason Ricci Kim Wilson Rick Estrin Instrumentalist – Horn Al Basile Jimmy Carpenter Nancy Wright Trombone Shorty Vanessa Collier Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Anthony Geraci Henry Gray Jim Pugh Mitch Woods Victor Wainright Instrumentalist – Vocals Beth Hart Don Bryant John Németh Michael Ledbetter Sugaray Rayford Wee Willie Walker Rock Blues Album Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band – Lay It On Down Mike Zito – Make Blues Not War North Mississippi Allstars – Prayer For Peace Savoy Brown – Witchy Feelin’ Walter Trout – We’re All In This Together

Rock Blues Artist Eric Gales Jason Ricci Kenny Wayne Shepherd Mike Zito Walter Trout Song “Don’t Give Up on Love” – written by Don Bryant and Scott Bomar “Don’t Leave Me Here” – written by Kevin R. Moore, Taj Mahal, and Gary Nicholson “Hate Take A Holiday” – written by Wee Willie Walker, Anthony Paule, and Ernie Williams “Prayer For Peace” – written by Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson, and Oteil Burbridge “The Blues Ain’t Going Nowhere” – written by Rick Estrin Soul Blues Album Don Bryant – Don’t Give Up on Love Johnny Rawls – Waiting For The Train Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm – Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm Sugaray Rayford – The World That We Live In Wee Willie Walker &The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra – After A While Soul Blues Female Artist Bettye LaVette Denise LaSalle Mavis Staples Trudy Lynn Vaneese Thomas Soul Blues Male Artist Curtis Salgado Don Bryant Johnny Rawls Sugaray Rayford Wee Willie Walker William Bell Traditional Blues Album The Cash Box Kings – Royal Mint Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio – Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio Kim Wilson – Blues and Boogie Vol. 1 Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter – Right Place, Right Time Rick Estrin & The Nightcats – Groovin’ In Greaseland Various Artists – Howlin’ At Greaseland Traditional Blues Female Artist Annika Chambers Diunna Greenleaf Janiva Magness Miss Freddye Ruthie Foster Traditional Blues Male Artist John Primer Kim Wilson Lurrie Bell R.L.Boyce Rick Estrin The 39th Blues Music Awards will be held on Thursday, May 10th, 2018 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.


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Blues On My Shoulders Peter Ward Gandy Dancer Records www.facebook.com/ Peter-Ward-ElectricBlues528200010587280/ 13 songs/51 minutes When New England-based singer-guitarist Peter “Hi-Fi” Ward decided to step into the limelight after decades playing in support of other musicians, he didn’t mess around. He enlisted the aid of Ronnie Earl, a former roommate, Gordon “Sax Gordon” Beadle and Sugar Ray And The Bluetones, including his brother, bassist Michael “Madcat” Ward, to get the job done. A native of Lewiston, Maine, he, Mudcat and younger brother Jeff played the blues in a family band as teenagers after schooling themselves with LPs and exposure to Muddy Waters, Taj Mahal, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells in concert. Still underage, he played bass behind legendary drummer Ola Dixon in New York before moving to Boston, where he backed several major touring artists, including Jimmy Rogers, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and Lowell Fulson. And he commuted on weekends to Rochester, N.Y., where he worked with guitarist Joe Beard, the man credited with influencing Son House to perform after going “missing” in the late ’30s. In the early ’80s, Peter toured with the Legendary Blues Band in a lineup that included several of Muddy’s former sidemen, appearing on their first two albums, Life Of Ease and Red Hot ‘n’ Blue. Always working, but in the background, he stages an annual fundraiser for breast cancer research in memory of his late wife, blues deejay Mai Cramer, with headliners who’ve included Lurrie Bell, Jody Williams and Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson. In 2010, he and Herb Remington, an original member of Bob Wills And The Texas Playboys, coproduced the album Goodbye Liza Jane: Hello Western Swing. An avid, often humorous, songwriter and stylish guitarist, he’s penned all but one of the 13 tunes on this disc, delivering a solid set of traditional, old-school blues in the process. Peter handles guitar and vocals backed by a rhythm section that includes Mudcat, Bob Berry and Joe Delia on bass and George Dellomo and the Bluetones’ Neil Gouvin on drums. Neil’s bandmates — harp player/vocalist Sugar Ray Norcia, guitarist “Monster” Mike Welch and keyboard player Anthony Geraci — all contribute on multiple cuts, as does Beadle. Eric Kilburn sits in on mandolin for one

Page 15 song, and Rusty Scott provides Hammond B3 organ on two others. Ward’s laid-back vocals play call-andresponse with Norcia’s harp to open “She Took It All,” a steady-walking blues that describes a woman walking away with just about everything — even his goldfish. But he insists he’s not bothered at all. “Which Hazel” is up next and has nothing to do with the topical astringent. Instead, the medium-fast rocker, a tip of the hat to Chuck Berry, deals with a romantic interest in two women as different as night and day but sharing in the same name. The feel continues for the title tune, “Blues On My Shoulders,” with the distinct contributions from Welch and Norcia before Sugar Ray takes command of the mike to deliver the melodic slow blues “Collaborate,” Peter’s tribute to Lonnie Johnson and Robert Lockwood Jr., which is loaded with truly tasty, smooth lyrics that could have come straight out of the ’50s and features stellar horn and harp solos. The instrumental “Shiprock,” a tribute to his late wife influenced by a trip they took to Navajo land, puts Ward’s guitar skills on display before he questions “What Can I Do To You?” as a clerk just hired to work in a downtown store surrounded by beautiful female customers. Earl makes his distinctive first appearance for “It’s On Me,” a horn- and guitar-propelled promise to pick up the tab even though the singer has very little money. The keyboard work of Scott is featured throughout the instrumental, “Southpaw,” Peter’s ode to lefthanded swing guitarist Dickie Thompson, before the slow blues, “A Little More,” features a full arrangement featuring Monster Mike as Ward sings about realizing why his woman left — because she always wanted more than he could deliver. Earl and Geraci trade licks on “On The Ropes,” an instrumental with a Duane Eddy feel, before the acoustic “Colletta” recounts a bad marriage. An uptempo cover of Jim Johnson’s familiar “Kansas City Blues” follows before “Drummin’ Willie,” Peter’s aural slow-blues tribute to Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, who kept the rhythm for Muddy and Legendary and drove the band across country before fronting bands as a harp player, brings the CD to a close. Available through Amazon, CDBaby and other retailers, Blues On My Shoulders is a pleasing taste of what music used to be before pyrotechnic guitarists took command of the airwaves. Strongly recommended for both its original material and musicianship throughout. Reviewed by Marty Gunther

Honkin’ & Jivin’ at the Palomino! Big Jay McNeely Cleopatra Blues cleopatrablues.bandcamp.com CD 8 tracks plus a DVD Ninety year old Big Jay McNeely still tours the world honking on his sax and amazing crowds. He had retired in 1963 but after 20 years the itch to perform remained strong and his career resurfaced in a big way. He was honking in West Berlin in 1989 as the Wall was literally coming down. Here we get a set of 8 tunes from that year from a show at the Palomino Club in North Hollywood for Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance. The ensemble with Jay was Marty Rifkin on pedal steel, Steve von Gelder on fiddle, Dales Watson and Ronnie Mack on guitar, Keith Rosier on bass and Billy Block on drums. Playing in the signature over blowing (honking) sax style he created, this is a marvelous sampling of soul, pop, rock and R&B with a little country twang thrown in for good effect. The Barn Dances in North Hollywood drew many celebrity artists over the years, and this one drew in a huge and appreciative crowd. The package has the 8 cuts on CD and a DVD from the night plus the DVD has a bonus interview with Big Jay. Recorded August 15, 1989, the show remains fresh and entertaining even in today’s standards. Most of the cuts are McNeely’s own“Palomino Hop,” ” All The Wine Is Gone,” “There Is Something On Your Mind,” “Young Girl Blues,” and “Big Jay Shuffle.” He covers classics like “I Can’t Stop Loving You” in a way that is not schlocky or over done; it’s a very cool version and the crowd ate it up. “Honky Tonk” is the other cover and it is 7 plus minutes of raucous fun that had the crowd on their feet. Jay goes over the top on his “Young Girl Blues,” blowing his horn stratospherically to close the show; he then encores with his shuffle, a beautiful slow blues. The set list on the DVD is the same, but getting to see McNeely work the crowd and his great facial expressions make for more fun. Some classic old photos of Jay are interspersed with the video and the interview is interesting. High energy and some fine saxophone with a superb backing band is what we have here. There is nothing not to like. It’s great to have gems like this surface after nearly 30 years for us to savor and enjoy! I recommend this one highly! Reviewed by Steve Jones


Ike Page 16 Something Poppin’ Little G. Weevil featuring Dulzura Vizztone Label Group https://gweevil.com/ 10 tracks/42 minutes Gabor Szucs grew up in Warsaw Pact Hungary and immersed himself in music and books. His dedication to music and performance had another musician say, “like a damned weevil, you just pop up everywhere,” which gave rise to his moniker. Emigrating to America in 2004, his accomplishments include winning the International Blues Challenge and being nominated for both a Blues Blast Award along with a BMA. His four albums have been well received and he has garnered accolades as he tours globally. This new 5th CD includes rock and roll, soul, R&B, hip hop and rap in the blues. Weevil is on guitar and vocals and his band includes Daniel Harper on drums Marton Pfeff on bass, and Matyas Premecz on keys. Laci Borsodi is on guitar for tracks 8 and 10, Danny Del Toro plays harp on the first and third track and Dulzura raps on “Scrub.” Backing vocals are provided by Rebeka Easley Ellis and Sharika Allen Brown. There are 8 Weevil originals here and two covers. “Here I Come Knocking” is a driving and rocking blues that opens the CD. Things slow down in the middle for a thoughtful respite and then things take off to the close again. It’s a catchy cut with piano and organ and harp and guitar and big vocals that grabs the listener. The title cut is next and things slow down a bit in this soulful piece about a woman that Weevil has under his eye. Tasty guitar graces the cut as does some nice vocal accompaniment. “See Me In The Country” is blues with a smidgen of country, rock and funk that makes things interesting. A big guitar solo, more harp and funky organ make this a lot of fun. Written by Laci Borsodi, Weevil helped do the arrangements here.”How Do You Want Me To Deal With This” is a darker R&B/soul piece with Weevil giving some real feeling to the lyrical delivery. The organ helps set the tone for the cut in a nice solo but Weevil’s growling vocals sell the song. He also offers a restrained and cool guitar solo. Gutsy and cool; loved this track! “You Can’t Say Nothing” follows, a call and response R&B number with some pretty organ and guitar work. “Scrub” opens the second half of the album. Dulzura raps throughout while Weevil and backing vocalists offer up the choruses. A stinging guitar adds tot he funky sounds from the keys and vocals as

The Groove- Crossroads Blues Society Newsletter the song builds and builds and then goes into an outro. Nicely done! Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman” gets a gritty makeover with Weevil making this his own as his guitar and Premecz ‘ work on keys make this update sound good. Laci Borsodi’s lead and rhythm guitar is featured on “Crawling,” getting a big solo midway through the cut. The song starts out with some restraint and builds; the conclusion is a fiery and fun guitar duo with Weevil and Borsoli trading licks. The ballad “I Don’t Want To Feel The Rain” follows. Weevil and the backing vocalists offer up soulful vocals and a little pretty guitar make this one cool. Borsoli returns on the concluding piece, “Top Model.” It’s got a driving tempo that the guitar and keys fuel. Weevil and he vocalist also get a workout as they conclude the album as they began it- lots of energy abounds! This is a fine album of originals and a nicely done cover. Weevil is really a great songwriter and performer who can put together an album of songs with a really nice variety of styles and tempos and melds his band into a cohesive and locked in musical force. I enjoyed the album and I think most blues fans will, too. He ventures into lots of styles here but does not stray far from his blues roots. I think he’s got another winner here! Reviewed by Steve Jones Witchy Feelin’ Savoy Brown Ruf Records www.savoybrown.com 11 tracks/54 minutes Kim Simmonds founded Savoy Brown in October 1965. At 69 he still is Savoy Brown as the band is pretty much Kim Simmonds on guitar and vocals and whoever he has a backline. Here we have him with Pat DeSalvo on bass and Garnet Grimm on drums doing a great job backing up this 69 year old British master of the blues guitar. “Why Did You Hoodoo Me” is a nice an above mid-tempo blues rocker where Simmonds demonstrates his prowess on guitar for us. He questions why he’s been cursed by his woman in this slick production. Kim switches things up with ”Livin’ On The Bayou” with a little creole inspired stuff. A Cajun ballad with some pretty and somewhat ethereal guitar. “I Can’t Stop the Blues” has Simmonds growling out the lyrics in a song about loneliness. The guitar work is what this one’s all aboutsteady handed and cool. The title cut is up next, a cool slow blues with nice guitar picking, and a ghostly bass line and

sound. “Guitar Slinger” picks up the tempo a little and gets into what the title saysguitar slinging. “Vintage Man” shuffles and shines nicely as Kin sings about being a vintage sort of guy in Levis, blue suede shoes and listening to his record player as he listens to and plays Jimmy Reed. The slide comes out for “Standing In A Doorway.” Slow blues with voice and slide in a melancholy repartee, nicely done. “Memphis Blues” gives us a driving beat and some big guitar and some more slide, but this time it’s greasy and slick. “Can’t Find Paradise” is a big, blues rock anthem sort of piece with some more slide work. Simmonds guitar cries and wails in “Thunder, Lightning and Rain.” It’s a big cut with lots of guitar that goes on for nearly 8 minutes of 6 string soling to a steady bass and drum beat. The CD closes to “Close to Midnight,” a sultry and thoughtful instrumental of Simmonds showing us why he’s highly regard as a guitar man. If you love Savoy Brown and Kim Simmonds then you’ll be spinning this CD a lot because this is right up your alley. Simmonds shows us he’s still got what it takes. The guitar is not overdone, but it’s big and impressively done. It’s a really enjoyable set of new songs all penned by Kim. Reviewed by Steve Jones


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Daylight Webster Ave Self-produced CD 14 songs – 53 minutes www.websterave.usethesetunes.com A three-piece band based in New York, Webster Ave make their recording debut with this collection of original material that’s blues based, but touches on R&B, soul, reggae and jazz, too. But even though the unit are the new kids on the block, they’re no strangers to the recording studio. Not to be confused with Memphis-based Southern Avenue, this band consists of a trio of seasoned studio musicians who deliver their own brand of music with ease and a light touch that’s often missing in the genre today. Webster Ave is led by guitarist, banjo player and vocalist David Webster. A native of Worcester, Mass., he’s got his own style despite being heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Mike Bloomfield and Eric Clapton. A New York-based sessions player since the early ‘70s, he’s worked behind Bob Dylan, Bette Midler and several reggae artists as well as Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and The Cadillacs. He wrote all 14 tunes here.

Page 17 He’s backed by percussionist/ keyboard player Andrew Caturano and bassist Tony Mercadante, both of whom worked previously with Webster in the R&B band Streetkid. Caturano’s a graduate of the Manhattan School Of Music and has worked in Broadway casts of Godspell and The Magic Show. Both he and Mercadante, a Navy vet from the Bronx and a former street-corner singer, are founding members of Howard Stern’s band, Pig Vomit, and have toured with Otis Rush and Otis Blackwell. They’re augmented here by Benny Harrison, who provides keyboards on three cuts, and Matt Detroy, who adds two more, Joe Meo, who delivers tenor sax and clarinet on four numbers, Jamie Finegan, who sits in on trumpet for three, and Lissie Newman, who contributes backing vocals on two. A brief instrumental opens “This Angry World” and shows from the jump that, even though this is a three-piece band, they’re going to deliver music that’s larger than their numbers. Webster’s vocals float over a funky rhythm and his own guitar riffs as he delivers a musical complaint about the state of the world today, something he believes that no one can change. The slow blues “Sing Me A Sad Line” is bittersweet as it questions the state of a current romance. It gives Webster plenty of space to put his six-string talents on display. “Ronnie O” follows with a pure reggae beat as it describes a singer from Montego Bay who sang from the soul and whose followers always knew his time was about to come. The rootsy “Midnight Sun” glides effortlessly as the singer promises to follow the orb for all of his days, aided by tasty fingerpicking. But it’s full-blown blues for the title tune, “Daylight,” a mediumpaced, percussive shuffle that describes a lady with a certain savoir faire – rumors claim she’s lost her mind. Then it’s back to roots for “Never Surrender,” another sweet fingerpicking fiesta that describes a lady who comes from another world, can stop you in your tracks with only a glance before turning and walking away with nothing to say, but insisting she’ll never submit to romance.

Meo’s horn introduces “Whenever,” the jazzy memory of a lost love, before the funky “Bad Thing” describes the mugging of a hard-working man on a Friday night that results in two people dead and another locked up for life. “Never Tender Your Goodbyes” follows. A quiet ballad, it advises against saying the word because people change as time moves by. The tempo changes dramatically for the horn-drenched urban blues “Ain’t That A Shame,” which describes an incident on a subway, before another ballad, “To Be A Child,” is sung from the position of someone who yearns for lessons on how to live like a kid again. Apparently, he gets his wish because the funky “My Poor Heart” finds the singer bouncing back and promising the world as he seeks romance before counting the hours before it happens in “Heaven Knows” before “Just Don’t Need The Rain” brings the set to a close. Available through Amazon and iTunes, Decisions is first rate throughout, chockful of solid, modern material and strongly recommended. Reviewed by Marty Gunther


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Crossroads Shows and Events November and December 2017

RIP to our Friend and Brother in the Blues Joseph “Smokey” Holman

Dave Hanson’s Blue Gravel @ All Saints Church

Duct-Taped Cadillac/The New Savages at the Lyran Club

Toronzo Cannon at the Hope and Anchor

Trinadora Rocks at the Lyran CLub

Riding Atlas at the Lyran Club

Jimmys at the Hope and Anchor

Ivy Ford Band at the Lyran Club


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Top Blues Releases November and December 2017 Sunday Morning Blues WKGL-FM 96.7 The Eagle •

• • •

Townsquare Media in Connecticut has cancelled all blues programming on their classic rock stations nationwide and, in turn, The Eagle has eliminated The Sunday Morning Blues Calling the Eagle and Townsquare Media to express your concerns is certainly an option Rich Gordon is exploring other options for his long standing blues radio show Gordon has been on eight different stations over the years on the air: • WRWC-FM • WYFE-FM • WDEK-FM • WYBR-FM • WXRX-FM • WYHY-FM • WRTB-FM • WKGL-FM Crossroads Blues Society would like to thank Rich for his over 42 years of dedicated radio work to keep the blues alive in Rockford! We look forward to hearing him on the air again sometime soon!

The Groove is a bi-monthly publication of the Crossroads Blues Society. The PDF version (typically 24 to 32 pages) is emailed to members of Crossroads. Hard copies (12 pages) are sent out to members without email ($5 membership surcharge). Editor in Chief: Steve Jones Music Reviewers: Rick Davis, Marty Gunther, Steve Jones, John Mitchell, Mark Nelson and Mark Thompson. All un-credited content by Steve Jones

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Membership News We continue to grow with new members and renewals continuing to sign on! Thank you for supporting live music and keeping the blues alive to all our new and returning members! New members: Barbara Bartlett Janice Basten Ed Butler Mike Coulahan Dan Burke Dan & Martha Petri Renewing Members: John Grall Rick & Pam Hein Pat Ippen Barb Koeller Al McNary Wes Ralph Skip & Sylvia Richardson New members get a CD upon joining and new family members get two CDs. Membership has been $15 (individual) and $25 (family) for over 15 years. Mail newsletter members have a $5 surcharge to help with printing and postage costs; it’s expensive to produce and distribute the 12 page print newsletters. We produce six PDF version that varies from 28 to 40 page newsletters a year with about 30 music reviews and all sorts of other great information related to the Society and our events.

All Saints Blues

These shows have been put on hold due to low attendance but we will look at some possible special events there.

www.bluesblastmagazine.com

Hope & Anchor English Pub Second Saturday Blues

The Hope and Anchor Saturday Blues runs from 8 PM to 11:30 PM, $5 cover for all shows. Featuring fine English pub fare, the Hope and Anchor is a great spot for dinner, craft beers, liquors, and great live music! At 5040 N 2nd Street, Loves Park IL, USA, phone 815.633.2552 for info! Jan 13th: Reverend Raven & the Chain Smoking Altar Boys with Westside Andy Feb 10th: Ray Fuller & the Blues Rockers Mar 10th: John Primer Apr 14th: Chicago Wind w/Matthew Skoller and Deitra Farr May 12th: Cash Box Kings

Lyran Society Friday Blues

The Lyran Society continues their Fish Fry and Steak Dinners with performances mostly on the first and third Friday of each month at their club. Located half a block east of 7th Street at 1115 4th Ave, Rockford, IL 61104, you can call (815) 964 -0511 for info. There is no cover charge, it’s a free show. Open to the public, all ages are welcome. Jan 5: Don Collins & the Night Shift Jan 19: Blues Disciples Feb 2: Recently Paroled Feb 16: Donna Herula Mar 2: Olivia Dvorak Band Mar 16: Ivy Ford Band Apr 6: Bobby Messano Apr 20: The New Savages

2018 Blues Blast Music Awards

The 2018 BBMAs will be held Saturday, September 29 at the Tebala Event Center, 7910 Newburg Rd, Rockford, IL 61108. Crossroads is proud to be a sponsor!


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The Crossroads Blues Society Newsletter

P.O. Box 840 Byron, IL 61010 The

On the web at: http://crossroadsbluessociety.com Crossroads Blues Festival at Lyran Park: www.crossroadsbluesfestival.com

GROOVE Keeping the Blues Alive Since 1994

2014 Blues Foundation Keeping the Blues Alive Affiliate Award Recipient 2014 Chicago Blues Hall of Fame Inductee

Email us at: sub_insignia@yahoo.com

Blues on Local Radio WNIJ - 89.5 FM • Friday evenings from 9 PM to midnight with Harold Brown • Saturday afternoons from 1 to 4 PM with David Rosik • Saturday evenings from 9 PM to midnight with David James The Eagle - 96.7 FM • Townsquare Media in Connecticut has cancelled all blues programming on their classic rock stations nationwide

News and Upcoming Events 2018 starts with a bang with Don Collins and the Night Shift at the Lyran Club. The Blues Disciples, Recently Paroled and Donna Herula also perform there in January and February. As always, our upcoming regular shows are listed inside the back cover of the newsletter. The Hope and Anchor features Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys in January and Ray Fuller and the Blues Rockers in February. This great band from Ohio has never performed in Rockford before and it will be a lot of fun to have Ray and his superb band in town for a show! Our Hurricane Benefit at the Lyran Club is Sunday, January 14th. See page 3 for more info. We have Tas Cru for BITS and also an evening show at Blind Eye’s Blue Note in Kirkland on Tuesday, January 9th at 7 PM. A big, newly scheduled event for March was just announced–

Wayne Baker Brooks plays the Nordlof Center March 24th! Lots of great stuff happening so stay tuned and check our web site!

Membership Application

http://CrossroadsBluesSociety.com Yes! I’d love to be a part of the Crossroads Blues Society!

Name_____________________________________________ Street Address___________________________________ City________________ State______ Zip Code________ Phone_____________________________________________ Email Address____________________________________ New -or-

Returning Member

This will be a membership for an/a: Individual ($15) -or-

Family ($25)

$5 extra for newsletter via regular mail Please check all applicable interests: Festival Volunteer BITS Volunteer Review CDs Edit Newsletter

Serve as Officer/on Board Volunteer at Shows/Events Public Relations Other:_________________________

Please cut out/copy & mail form & payment to: Crossroads Blues Society P.O. Box 840 Byron, IL 61010

Bring this to our next meeting and get a free CD!

The Groove: Jan-Feb 2018  

The Groove: Crossroads Blues Society's January-February 2018 Issue of their bi-monthly newsletter

The Groove: Jan-Feb 2018  

The Groove: Crossroads Blues Society's January-February 2018 Issue of their bi-monthly newsletter

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