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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

R&B Guitar Legend Shuggie Otis Hits The Road For An Extended Summer Tour!

For Immediate Release

R&B Guitar Legend Shuggie Otis Hits The Road For An Extended Summer Tour!

Los Angeles, CA - After the recent release of his first-ever live album, Live In Williamsburg (available on CD, vinyl and DVD), R&B legend Shuggie Otis is once again bringing his talents to the stage for a 20+ date, coast-to-coast tour starting July 5th. Nobody brings as much soul, style, and swagger to a live performance as Shug with his signature red Gibson SG, and fans who have followed this multi-talented performer’s tumultuous career know that a Shuggie Otis concert is not an event to be missed. Whether it be the fabulous grooves of “Inspiration Information” or the funkdafied rhythm of the all-time classic “Strawberry Letter 23,” Shuggie’s songs have a magical sway over audiences, both young and old, guaranteed to get them on their feet and dancing in the aisles!

The son of renowned bandleader and musician Johnny Otis, Shuggie Otis began his incredible career at the tender age of 15, playing as a session guitarist alongside Al Kooper before releasing his first solo album Here Comes Shuggie Otis in 1970. Already being hailed as a uniquely skillful guitarist, Shuggie proved his mettle as a songwriter the following year with the hit single “Strawberry Letter 23” from his second solo album. Now one of the most sampled songs in all of modern music, “Strawberry Letter 23” became an even bigger smash when The Brothers Johnson recorded their version in 1977 (produced by Quincy Jones). After the release of his third album Inspiration Information failed to meet outsized expectations, Shuggie seemed to retire permanently from music. But, thankfully, he reemerged in 2013 with a deluxe reissue of Inspiration Information that included a new album of previously unreleased recordings called Wings Of Love. Since then, Shuggie has returned to the stage and been re-embraced by an adoring public who have waited a long time and never lost faith!

07/05/15 Napa, CA City Winery
07/16/15 Nashville, TN City Winery
07/17/15 Chicago, IL City Winery
07/19/15 Ottawa Ottawa Bluesfest
07/20/15 Toronto, ONT Lee's Palace
07/23/15 North Hampton, MA Iron Horse
07/24/15 Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn Bowl
07/25/15 New York, NY B.B. King Blues Club
07/28/15 Allston, MA Brighton Music Hall
07/30/15 Lancaster, PA Ardmore Music Hall
07/31/15 Washington, DC Howard Theater
08/01/15 Raleigh, NC Lincoln Theatre
08/03/15 Atlanta Georgia Terminal West

Spend Father's Day with Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials (VCBS Event)

Little Ed & The Blues Imperials - "a bazooka assault of foot-stompin' blues and slow-burnin' knee-bucklers" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES) - appears in concert on Father's Day (Sunday, June 21) at Studio Channels Island Arts Center in Camarillo, in a concert presented by the Ventura County Blues Society. Buy advance tickets here.

"Chicago Blues Royalty!"


Sunday, June 21, 2015 - 2:00 P.M.
Studio Channel Islands Art Center, Camarillo

Also Win Tickets To Attend The Big Blues Bender in Las Vegas!
Only $10. To Enter (Good for 2 Entries) - Click Here

  (CAMARILLO, CA) - The Ventura County Blues Society is proud to present a very special concert with "Chicago Blues Royalty," Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials, Sunday, June 21 (Father's Day) at Studio Channel Islands Art Center, 2222 Ventura Blvd. in Camarillo. Showtime is 2 p.m. (doors open 1 p.m.). Tickets $30. (General Admission), $50. VIP (includes early 12:30 p.m. entry, two drink tickets, and seating in the first five rows). Info: (805) 501-7122 or Opening the show is VCBS Band Challenge winner and IBC semi-finalist, the always-enjoyable, Lightnin' Willie.

  Also win two tickets to attend the four-day The Big Blues Bender in Las Vegas, the "largest gathering of national blues acts in the world," in our special drawing. Only $10. to enter (good for 2 entries), and you need not be present to win! Click here to enter. Proceeds benefit the Ventura County Blues Society.

"A bazooka assault of foot-stompin' blues and slow-burnin' knee-bucklers."                                      - Chicago Sun-Times
"Full of fire, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials hit the floor running and accelerate from there. High-octane, expressive, fiercely articulated, harrowing intensity, raucous slide."          - Living Blues

"The world's #1 houserocking blues band." - Boston Globe 

"With a jumping band pumping behind him, Lil' Ed blasts wild, passionate, blazing-hot slide...powerful, raucous boogie blues that's utterly devoid of rock, jazz or fusion influences ."   Guitar Player

"Raw-boned, old-fashioned Chicago blues has a new young master--Lil' Ed Williams."                     - New York Times

"Ed plays slide guitar like a back-alley shiv...high-decibal, gutbucket blues at its most brutally honest."          -Chicago Sun-Times

"The liveliest blues showman alive, with an explosive, good-rocking guitar sound and the stage moves to match. Raw, gutbucket blues sure to get you up and dancing."       - Philadelphia Daily News

"A party band in the best sense of the word...the hottest purveyors of bottleneck boogie to come out of Chicago since Hound Dog Taylor ."
Boston Globe

"The meanest bottle neck boogie blues around. This roughhousin' stage spitfire will ignite any crowd... rollicking good fun and raw intensity."                                                    - Austin Chronicle

                                           ABOUT LIL ED & THE BLUES IMPERIALS

   Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials released six Alligator albums between 1989 and 2008. With each one, the band's stature grew as their fan base continued to expand. With 2006's Rattleshake, Ed and company reached a whole new audience. Die-hard "Ed Head" Conan O'Brien brought the band before millions of television viewers on two separate occasions. Then, in June 2008, celebrating the release of Full Tilt, Ed hit the main stage at The Chicago Blues Festival, performing in front of 100,000 screaming fans, as he whipped the overflowing crowd into a blues-induced frenzy. The band won the prestigious Blues Music Award for Band Of The Year in both 2007 and 2009 and also took home the Best Live Band Award in the 2011 Living Blues Critics' Poll. Blues Revue said, "Listen and hear how a great blues player can make a guitar weep...Lil' Ed is a blues master at the top of his game.

   Now, with Jump Start, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials will continue bringing their seriously inspired and wildly fun Chicago blues to "Ed Heads" new and old, wherever they may be. After almost a quarter century together, Lil' Ed, Pookie, Mike and Kelly have played thousands of gigs, logged tens of thousands of miles and have no plans to slow down anytime soon. According to Littleton, "The journey has been amazing. We melded right away and have kept growing." Garrett agrees, saying, "It's a perfect fit. And we keep getting better." Young adds, "We are way stronger now, and we're still having fun. My dreams have all come true.  


  The Ventura County Blues Society was founded June of 2011.  The Society  is dedicated to supporting America’s music in addition to supporting others in need by providing funds generated from the society’s events which will be scheduled throughout the year.

  The society will strengthen and bring value to the Southern California Blues scene by working with other organizations. This will be accomplished through scheduled events based here in Southern California.  This is the heartbeat of what VCBS is about with the core of helping others.

   We encourage everyone to get involved; even if you don’t have the time to volunteer, or you are hundreds of miles away, you can still be a part of this unique organization.  Becoming a member of the Ventura County Blues Society is a big way of showing your support.

  The Ventura County Blues Society (VCBS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that depends on memberships, contributions, event sponsorships and volunteers to operate. The Ventura County Blues Society is an all-volunteer organization. We need your help to grow and maintain the Blues scene.  You can help make a difference by becoming a member. Please go to our membership page and be a part.



High Steppin’ features wild-man raconteur Carl Gustafson’s epic tales plus eclectic sounds; reunites band with producer Donny Markowitz; set for July 17 release date on Silver Talon Records exclusively distributed by City Hall Records in tandem with The Orchard

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Blinddog Smokin’s larger-than-life new album High Steppin’ is a kaleidoscopic romp through the wild side of roots music. The disc’s nine songs ricochet from rock ’n’ roll to juke joint blues to New Orleans jazz to raw Americana, all supported by the band’s twin pillars: hot ’n’ greasy funk and frontman Carl Gustafson’s epic storytelling.

High Steppin’ follows 2014’s Decisions, a collaboration with soul-blues legend Bobby Rush that earned a Grammy nomination for Best Blues Album. Decisions includes the song “Another Murder in New Orleans,” which enlisted another legend, Dr. John, to tell its tale of street violence. The tune was widely played on Americana and blues radio, and was used by the New Orleans Crimestoppers organization to raise awareness. Blinddog Smokin’s imaginative video for “Another Murder in New Orleans” mixes performance footage, cartoons and live action actors, and has received more than 110,000 views on YouTube.

Blinddog Smokin’s 11th release, High Steppin’ kicks off with “Pimp Shoes,” an ebullient, percolating funk gem that displays the group’s spectacular ensemble.  “’Pimp Shoes’ is not about pimps or shoes,” says Gustafson. “It’s about attitude. When a man becomes the captain of his soul, and he’s mastered who he is, it comes out in his posture, in his pose, in his walk. That’s what that song’s about.” On a more literal note, there’s “Big Behind,” an ode to a lady’s posterior largess that straddles funky soul-blues, rock and — with its sweeping pedal steel guitar — honky-tonk country. High Steppin’ is set for a July 17th release date on Silver Talon Records exclusively distributed by City Hall Records in tandem with The Orchard. 

“I Caught Her Lyin’” goes deeper into the country tradition to offer Blinddog Smokin’s version of a mountain lament surrounding Gustafson’s heartbroken yarn with an Americana-perfect framework of crying violin, grinding guitar and his appealing worn-leather voice. “Lady’s Playin’” changes the locale to New Orleans. That song’s a Crescent City funk powerhouse, with bold horns, a scalding six-string solo and chanting group vocals that celebrate la difference. Similarly, “Don’t Put No Money on Me” a wickedly funny loser’s lament sounds like a drunken Mardi Gras street parade, while “Tell ’em Shuffle” is a straight-up Chicago blues.

Blinddog Smokin’s marvelously eclectic sound and approach is the result of Gustafson’s literal and musical world travels. He and the band have toured the planet numerous times since 1994, putting more than a million road miles on their vehicles which include Gustafson’s bicycle.

“When we get to a new town, I like to take my bike off the bus and ride the backstreets,” he says. “When you travel the alleys, you learn about people. The front yard is for show; the backyard shows the way they live. And when I run into old-timers, I stop and listen to their stories.”

Gustafson, who describes himself as an adventurer and philosopher, has plenty of tales of his own. And his book It Ain’t Just the Blues, It’s Showtime: Hard Times, Heartache and Glory Along the Blue Highway chronicles Blinddog Smokin’s experiences on the road.

“I come from a time before television, when telling stories was part of the fabric of life,” he offers. “So I’m a songwriting machine. I’m constantly coming up with new lyrics and our producer and friend, Donny Markowitz, has provided much of the music based on his skills and his knowledge of how we think and play as a band.”

That knowledge is deep. Markowitz is the Oscar-, Grammy- and Golden Globe-winning writer of the song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and the composer of soundtracks for the hit Steve Carell film Crazy, Stupid, Love and many others. And High Steppin’ is the third album in a row he’s produced for Blinddog Smokin’. “We didn’t hit our stride in the studio until we started working with Donny,” Gustafson says.

The other essential ingredient to Blinddog Smokin’s broad stylistic mastery is the ability of its players. The core members of the group comprise one of the finest modern bands in American roots music. Dynamic drummer and vocalist Chuck Gullens started with the Blinddogs in 1994 in Laramie, Wyoming, shortly after Gustafson and the band, then named Bluestone, returned from traveling the Middle East and Mediterranean, playing for troops on a 49 day DOD tour. Versatile bassist Roland Pritzker joined in 2000, followed by keyboardist and exceptional vocalist, Mo Beeks — whose own, earlier band, Lock & Chain, gave R&B singer Chaka Kahn her start back in 1972. In 2009 came back-up singer and bassist Chris White, and virtuoso guitarist Chalo Ortiz also entered the fold, followed quickly by backing vocalist Linda Gustafson, who plays feminine yin to her husband’s hot-dogging, high stepping yang in concert.

“I couldn’t ask for a better group of performers to share the stage with,” says Gustafson. “They can go anywhere at any time, and get along, and that’s a rare thing in any style of music.”

Gustafson’s own musical tale begins in Laramie, his hometown. “My first exposure to blues was hearing Willie Dixon,” he recounts. “My parents went to a little club outside Cheyenne, and my brother and I — we were six and eight years old — stayed in the car. When we heard the music, we were absolutely fascinated by it, so we peeked in the windows. Then I started sneaking around listening to blues whenever I could. I had to sneak, because my father was a classical pianist and said the blues was ‘Satan’s music’ and ‘not culturally acceptable.’ He’d only gone to the club to socialize with relatives. 

 “When I was 16 I ran away from home,” Gustafson continues. “There was a little after-hours café down by the railroad tracks called the Pic-a-Rib. I went down there and lived with a black boy I played football with, whose mother, Miss Peggy, ran the café. I stayed with them, hiding from my mom and dad, and I learned how to appreciate blues. I learned how to dance. I learned how to sing. It was a really cool, isolated pocket, of black culture in a completely white conservative environment.”

Gustafson says that High Steppin’ reflects those early life lessons and the myriad others he’s learned along the way. “This album shows me as a philosopher; as somebody who analyzes life and adjusts from honest vulnerability to establish a fun swagger. There’s a journey here that can only happen to an introspective person who loves life, people, stories, and never believes that you have to stay in the station where you are. And until the day I die, I plan to grow as an artist and storyteller.”

Wed., June 24 PHOENIX, AZ The Rhythm Room
Thurs., June 25 NEW ORLEANS, LA Old U.S. Mint
Mon., June 29 CHICAGO, IL  Martyr’s
Fri., July 3 OKLAHOMA CITY, OK  Bourbon Street
Sat., July 4 MCPHERSON, KS
Fri., July 10 LARAMIE, WY  Jubilee Days
Sat., July 11 LARAMEE, WY Jubilee Days
Tues., July 14 OVERLAND PARK, KS Kanza Hall
Thurs., July 16 JACKSON, MS  Underground 119
Sat., July 18  MEMPHIS, TN Hard Rock Café
Thurs., July 23  TORONTO, ON  Hard Rock Café
Thurs., July 30 RAWLINS, WY  Rawlins in the Park
Fri., July 31 LARAMIE, WY  Alibi
Sat., Aug. 8  ROCK SPRINGS, WY Blues & Brews Festival
Thurs., Aug. 13 THEMOPOLIS, WY
Fri., Aug. 14 CASPER, WY  The Attic
Sat., Aug. 15 SINCLAIR, WY  Platte River Festival
Sun., Aug. 16  CENTINNIAL, WY  Bear Tree
Sun., Sept. 6  LARAMIE, WY  Snowy Range Music Festival
Sat., Nov. 15  HIGH POINT, NC High Point Theatre

Specialty Records artist: Little Richard - Directly From My Heart: The Best Of the Specialty & Vee-Jay Years - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Directly From My Heart: The Best of the Specialty & Vee-Jay Years from Little Richard and it's a blast! This 3CD set features 64 tracks spanning the mid fifties through the mid 60's and a super 36 page book with a ton of great photos and notes by Billy Vera. Most people only think of Tutti Frutti or Long Tall Sally when they think of Little Richard but this deluxe release shows so much more. These three CD's are packed with soul, blues, R&B and rock and roll tracks that will open your eyes. With great backing vocals and some hot sax work as well this is a super release. Of course he does Tutti Frutti, Kansas City, Slippin and Slidin, Long Tall Sally, I Got It, Ready Teddy, Rip It Up, Lucille, Jenny Jenny, Good Golly Miss Molly, The Girl Can't Help It, Keep A Knockin, Whole Lotta Shakin and Lawdy Miss Clawdy but a number of lesser known tracks like Goin Home Tomorrow, a hot remake of Blueberry Hill, a seductive Cherry Red and super bluesy I Don't Know What You've Got But It's Got Me featuring Jimi Hendrix on guitar (to name a few). This is a really strong R&B/soul set with a broad sprinkle of early rock and roll. I really like it and think many of you will be surprised at how strong it really is.

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Music Theories Recordings artist: Neal Schon - Vortex - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (June 23, 2015), Vortex, from Neal Schon and it's quite good! Opening with Miles Beyond it is immediately recognized that you are listening to something different. With it's heavy bottom, almost like a giant strolling, it has unusual time signatures mixed in with middle eastern sounds and maybe even traces of Led Zep, but what it is all about is clean instrumental guitar work joined by Steve Smith on drums and Jan Hammer on keys. Very nice! Awakening immediately puts you into the feel of the Mahavishnu Orchestra with its excellent sense of rhythm and timing. Schon is certainly not copying McLaughlin here with totally different lead guitar style but essential and fluid just the same. Excellent! Cuban Fly Zone is a much more evenly paced track with vocal like jazz guitar leads and Hammer creating nice tension on keys. Schon is certainly equipped to fill a frame with notes but restrains himself for the most part creating melodic quick runs that tie nicely into the melody. El Matador has a Spanish guitar break within the melody and a Spanish guitar bridge between searing electric guitar soloing and hot tight drums. Eternal Love is a sweet piano melody set down by Igor Len. In A Cloud is a simple transition piece from the full onslaught of the earlier opening and ultimate quiet of Eternal Love. Slowly building from an easy flow to a more and more dynamic piece, this track does it's job nicely with clean ballad like guitar work. Irish Cream has an airy almost soaring kind of guitar feel over simple keyboard tracings of melody giving the track it's name. Smith really nails it on this track as Schon rides the wave. Lady M (Our Love Remains) is a bluesy ballad along what I'd consider the Gary Moore line. Although I like much of what I'm hearing overall, this track would seem the most natural radio transitional track from disc one. Airliner NS910 is a straight up rocker with Schon laying it all out there. Super smoker for the closer.

 Opening disc 2 is Tortured Souls, the epic track for the release. I particularly like Schon's bass lines on this track but am not as enamored with the synth horns but overall this is a real nice track with a solid focus. Schon & Hammer Now is guitar extravaganza with nice duets between Schon and Hammer reminiscent of earlier instrumental banter with Beck. Schon plays some incredibly fast runs on guitar and the track actually dances at times. NS Vortex opens with ethereal guitar work and then breaking into a fast, drum driven funk with Schon soloing over the top. Minor nods to BxB as Schon carves his own path accompanied by excellent precision drumming. Unspoken Faith reminds me a bit of a Jerry Goodman release from many years ago. It has a very tasty melody and clean guitar delivery. Excellent! Twilight Spellbound is another cool track that kind of walks between rock and jazz. I really like the dark melody that repeats itself under the prime guitar soloing which is the icing on the cake! Nicely done. Triumph Of Love has a definite anthem feel to it with it's repetition of the theme and military like drums. Once broken, the main track sounds like the soundtrack of an action film. Polished and nicely executed. Another break in the searing guitar is the simple acoustic Mom. Schon takes every care to make each note count on this quiet but impactful tune. Talk To Me is a slowly building slick guitar over scaled bass line track with some smoking hot guitar riffs. I like the tracks simplicity giving Hammer freedom on keys and Smith the chance to really hammer it home. Light bongo percussion and acoustic Spanish guitar balances nicely against a refrain on very heavy driving rhythm guitar with searing electric guitar lead. The release is wrapped by White Light, a cleverly light electric guitar solo over an acoustic guitar sequence and light keys. A nice track to cool down from a hot ride.  
If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”