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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, June 25, 2014

VizzTone News - Memphis and More!!

Here's the latest VizzTone news blast.  There's been a lot happening, so it's a long one!  To make it easier to navigate, here's a little Table of Contents. Read on for:

    We had a natural ball in Memphis last month, as expected.  We were proud to root for all our nominees at the Blues Music Awards, and thrilled to see Diunna Greenleaf accept the Koko Taylor Award, Traditional Blues Female Artist.  We watched great performances by Little G Weevil, Gracie Curran, and Bob Margolin (performing on the eve of his birthday with Ronnie Earl.) Here are a few pics.

Diunna Greenleaf accepting her long-overdue Koko Taylor Award!  (photo by Louis Blackwell)

Bob Margolin with Ronnie Earl

"Acoustic Blues Artist" nominee Little G Weevil striking a blue mood (Photo by Louis Blackwell)

"Best Blues Song" nominee, Ruff Kutt Blues Band's James Goode

..and "Best New Artist Debut" nominee Gracie Curran tearing it up with guests Peter Parcek and Richard Rosenblatt.

SNACK TIME!   And what would the BMA's be without the ever-popular SNACK TIME after-party!?  That's Dave Keller, Sax Gordon Beadle, Richard Rosenblatt, Dennis Gruenling, first-time snacker James Montgomery, Amy Brat, Laura Chavez, Dave Gross, Kurt Kalker, Michael Bram, Dean Shot, Matt Raymond, and Greg Nagy. (not pictured: Ricky Stevens, Dick Shurman, and Zaida Zoller.)  Yes, this is what happens in Memphis at 3AM.  ;-)


    Our annual BMA Blues Party On Beale was nothing short of amazing!  We kicked it off and 9:30, and rocked the Rum Boogie until well past 2:00 AM.  Bob Margolin was our congenial host, with a house band featuring Dave Gross, Matt Raymond, Michael Bram and Dean Shot.  The evening featured performances by Bob Margolin, Candye Kane, Laura Chavez, Debbie Davies, Mitch Woods, EG Kight, Bob Corritore, Diunna Greenleaf, Dave Gross, Long Tall Deb, Colin John, Cathy Lemons, Dennis Gruenling, Little G Weevil, Michael "Leroy" Bram, Dean Shot, Gracie Curran, Terry Hanck, and Richard Rosenblatt.

Debbie Davies, Michael Bram, Dave Gross, Laura Chavez

Bob Margolin, Matt Raymond, Cathy Lemons, Phil Berkowitz

Michael Bram, EG Kight, Bob Margolin

Bob about to become Laura's human guitar strap, Rosy pretending nothing is unusual

Amy Brat with "Contemporary Female Artist" nominee Candye Kane - bangs rule!


Now that we're starting to catch our breath and regroup from the Blues Music Awards, it's time to think about the next wave of awards, this time from three major Blues Publications!

BIG CITY BLUES: Ruff Kutt Blues Band is nominated for the Big City Bues award, COOLEST BLUES SONG IN THE WORLD 2014 for their song "That's When The Blues Begins" – James Goode, writer / Zac Harmon, vocalist / Anson Funderburgh, guitar.  You can VOTE NOW until June 30 by clicking the Big City Blues logo.

LIVING BLUES AWARDSBob Corritore is nominated in the harmonica category for the third year in a row - he won last year!  Place your vote at, now until July 15.

BLUES BLAST MUSIC AWARDS:  Blues Blast Magazine is having their annual awards ceremony and celebration in Champaign, Illinois on October 23, 2014.  Voting is from July 15 - Septmeber 15, 2014.  For more info or to vote, click the Blues Blast Music Awards logo, above.  Nominees inclues:
  • Candye Kane - Female BLues Artist
  • Bob Corritore - Male Blues Artist
  • Dave Riley & Bob Corritore -  Acoustic Blues Album
  • Little G Weevil - Acoustic Blues Album


    Critically acclaimed singer-songrwiter Gina Sicilia traveled to the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, area to soak up the Southern Soul vibe for her new 5-song EP, The Alabama Sessions.  This is Gina’s first self-produced release, and features her powerful, sultry vocals over five new original compositions.
    The Alabama Sessions EP wil digitally released by VizzTone on July 29.

    Chris O’Leary’s first two albums established him as a driving force in modern blues.  Former front man for Levon Helm’s Barn Burners, Chris leads his horn-driven band through his ultra-cool songs, taking the lead with powerful vocals and harmonica.  Live at BLUES NOW was recorded March 2014 in Basel, Switzerland with special guest, veteran blues guitarist Alex Schultz.


    VizzTone proudly welcomes harp-playing vocalist Rob Stone to the family! Rob brings a hard-hitting fresh energo to traditional Chicago blues, Centered in Chicago and LA, Rob has established a solid reputation with his first three albums and high-powered live shows in the US and around the world — he's doing a three week tour of Japan in August.  Esteemed journalist Bill Dahl writes, Rob Stone "respects Chicago Blues enough to blow the dust right off it!"
    Rob's new CD features a band including Chris James, Partick Rynn, Willie Hayes and David Maxwell. Special guests include Eddie Shaw, John Primer, and Henry Gray.  Oh yeah, you're gonna dig this one!  Look for an early September release of Rob's new CD, Gotta Keep Rollin.  You'll be hearing MUCH more about Rob Stone in the near future!

    We are particularly thrilled to welcome Boston's Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers to the VizzTone family.  Erin learned to play Delta Blues guitar at an early age from her father, Maryland area bluesman Neil Harpe. She showed an immediate affinity for the finger-picking style of Memhis Minnie and Kansas City Joe. Erin's travels brought her an appreciation of World music styles, particularly Afro-Beat and reggae.  Landing in Boston, she did solo blues gigs, simultaneously started a electro-funk dance band called Lovewhip, and self-released a couple of acoustic blues CDs. 
    A few years ago, Erin formed the Delta Swingers, a deep blues-based group that was also a dance band with a wealth of influences.  The sound was aptly christened "Charles River Delta Blues"  The Delta Swingers immediately won the Boston Blues Challenge, and went to Memphis for the International Blues Challange, made a lot of friends, and got to the semi-finals. THe band won a Boston Music Award, and Erin returned to the IBC with her harp player to compete in the solo/duo category.
    The Delta Swingers are:  Erin Harpe on guitar and vocals, Bob Nisi on drums and background vocals, Jim Countryman on bass, and VizzTone co-founder Richard "Rosy" Rosenblatt on harmonica.  The new record was recorded in Boston, then mixed and mastered by Dave Gross at Fat Rabbit Studios, with guest appearances by Dave Gross and Bob Margolin.  Coming pretty soon, we'll keep you posted!


    Mikey Junior was on the road with an all-star band, promoting his critically-acclaimed, radio-charting new VizzTone album, Traveling South, heading towards Memphis to hit the BMAs and perform at the VizzTone Blues Party on Beale, when suddenly...  Mikey's newest production, his first child, decided he wanted to make an early appearance.  Mikey returned home to help welcome Michael Grayson Hudak, born May 4, 2014, and let the very capable band of Dave Gross, Michael Bram, Matt Raymond and Dean Shot carry on without him.  Young Michael is doing fine, and exhibiting excellent taste in music!  By the way, have you seen Mikey Junior's official music video?  CLICK HERE FOR THE MIKEY JUNIOR VIDEO!

    Little G Weevil has been having a hell of a year or so.. Winning the 2013 IBC in the solo/duo category, releasing his VizzTone debut to widespread acclaim, BMA and Blues Blast Award nominations, and now... TV stardom? 
    Much to his surprise, Little G Weevil has been tapped as of the judges on the X Factor TV show - the Hungarian version - for the next season.  The X Factor - created by Simon Cowell - (American Idol) is a British television music competition to find new singing talent, contested by aspiring singers drawn from public auditions. As the biggest talent competition, the show airs in many countries all over the world. This is the 5th season in Hungary with the first blues musician judge ever in the history of the show. (check out the above video to see the press fawning over him - it's in Hungarian, but you get the picture!)
    "Blues musicians hardly ever get invited to a mainstream show like this. I`m very proud to represent my genre. I hope that my presence will help gravitate more people towards blues and blues related music. With over 2000 gigs behind me, 7 albums in the EU and the US, i know i can help the contestants a lot and i`m very excited." - says Weevil
    In between shootings you find Little G on the road. Last weekend he appeared on a festival in the Netherlands. He's currently on a Hungarian tour, with dates followed in Spain. His next US tour is in September.

    Eight weeks = eight countries; greetings from the road! I am currently in the final stages of a big tour that started in the USA at MerleFest, NC, and has taken me to fantastic gigs round Europe.  Club dates and Jazz/Blues festivals in Belgium, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Holland - even managed to fit in an arty photo shoot with Italian rock photographer, Cristina Arrigoni!

    Long Tall Deb continues to knock 'em dead with her band the Werewolves of Alabama (long story, ask her sometime!) at shows and festivals around the world.  ReverbNation liked her song "Married to the Blues" so much, they made her Featured Artist of the Week.  Deb and the Werewolves are currently working on a brand new single, while gearing up for a busy festival season to include a performance at the Ottawa Blues Fest and a tour of Italy!

    Doug, Dennis and Jewel Tones are in the middle of major summer tours through the US, and also appearing in France. They headlined at the First Annual Brevard Blues Festival recently with special guest Anson Funderburgh. (Pictured above: Anson Funderburgh, Dennis Gruenling, Doug Deming, Andrew Gohman, Brian Phillips) On this tour they will also hitting the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, Field Of Blues Festival, and Vache de Blues festival in France, as well as blues venues and concerts all over the east coast & midwest.

    Starting the year out on a good note, EG Kight's song, “Blue Dawn”, written with Tom Horner and Sunny Stephens, aired on ABC Family's "The Fosters" show in February. Then she teamed up with "Belle of the Blues" Lisa Biales, and together as the "Peach Pickin' Mamas" they toured Indiana and Ohio. Last month, Kight took to the Rum Boogie stage in Memphis for the VizzTone jam, and had a blast jammin' with Bob Margolin.
    EG is also a photographer, and has been asked by a book publisher to use one of her photos for the cover of a book on the life and times of Robert Johnson. (See above!) The book is set to be released later this year.
    Kight's upcoming tour dates include a museum of art in Knoxville, a Billiards club in Chattanooga, the BBC in Tallahassee, the Bradenton Blues Festival, more clubs, and several house concerts and private parties. Find all dates at

    Bob reports:  "I'm still steady rollin' for my own gigs, but my shades misted up on the eyes side when my dear friend Diunna Greenleaf won the Koko Taylor Traditional Blues Woman for 2014 at the Blues Music Awards. I am inspired by her music and her friendship and we're conspiring to write some songs together and record and tour. Diunna is a treasure!"

    James Goode, old coach and producer/bassist/songwriter for the Ruff Kutt Blues Band, has been writing and producing new songs for future projects.  Right now the title song from their VizzTone CD, "That's When The Blues Begins", written by James and featuring Zac Harmon on vocals and Anson Funderburgh, is nominated for 2014 COOLEST BLUES SONG IN THE WORLD by Big CIty Blues magazine. James won this same award last year!  (pictured above)   There's just about one week left to vote, so let's go for two in a row - CLICK HERE TO VOTE NOW!

    In the studio and on the road, Dave Gross is an amazing perpetual motion machine!  (Arty photo by Jen Taylor!)  Dave reports:
    "I've been in the studio the last few weeks finishing up overdubs and mixing for Erin Harpe's upcoming album, as well as finishing the master for The Chris O'Leary Band's upcoming live release. I was touring earlier this year with Candye Kane & Laura Chavez, in the Northeast and Canada, as well as many regional and road performances with Mikey Junior (as well as many throughout the rest of the year). I'll be traveling from 6/26-7/26 playing guitar with Chris O'Leary, across the country and up to the Northwest and then back in the studio for a few new exciting projects in August!"

    Michael "Leroy" Bram is widely known for playing drums with the stars - but he's also a a hell of a blues singer/songwriter/guitarist/harp player, as his VizzTone album and his Memphis performance will attest!         
    Michael reports: "Writing and in pre-pre-production for next album... Just returned from  "Traveling South" tour with Mikey Jr.... which ended up being the Mikey-less Mikey Jr Band due to his wife going in to labor during the first gig!  Finished the tour with Dave Gross and Dean Shot culminating in 4 glorious days in MEMPHIS, where we were the house band and featured performers at the Vizztone Label Showcase at Rum Boogie Cafe. What an Awesome night where I got to perform and hang with many new friends! The Memphis stop included the BMA's.... so many great performances but my favorite thing was that I got to put my photographers hat on and got great shots of James Cotton, Bob Margolin, Ronnie Earl and more! I also got to spend some time in Clarksdale where we saw Candye Kane's wonderful band and I got to shoot some portraits of one of my heroes, Watermelon Slim! ...a trip full of music and photography. My favorite.
    I recently scored a new residency gig at the New Rochelle Radisson every Thursday. Steady is good!
Look for news on an upcoming tour on drums with grammy award winning singer Jason Mraz, and future gigs with Mikey Jr, Dave Gross, Johnny Nicholas; as well as upcoming gigs under my own name.... keep it greasy!"

    MItch Woods is rolling strong, and in high style!  He reports: “Heading off to Europe for a whirlwind summer tour appearing at Notodden Blues Festival (Norway), Umbria Jazz Festival (Italy), and Ascona Jazz Festival (Switzerland)….should be a blast!"

    Ted just back home to Nashville, after a week of teaching in Colorado at an innovative self-discovery program for artists. He also did some playing along the way, including guesting with Otis Taylor.  Back home, he proceeded to pack Nashville music room The Family Wash to the rafters to help celebrate the hometown debut of the new Ted Drozdowski's Scissormen line-up featuring Sean Zywick and Pete Pulkrabek!

Debbie Davies, pictured here backstage at BB Kings NYC for Johnny Winter's birthday party, is looking forward to upcoming summer festivals and a very special series of shows with Chris Cain mid summer. 

James reports:  "Just finished 3 nights in a row – all benefits – with our band and the amazing Grace Kelly!! (pictured here) Old pal Jonathan Edwards was on one of them! All of them were EXTREMELY powerful shows! We started with her when she was 12!  Look for more with Grace in the near future!  Our Vizztone CD is flying off the bandstand with out new T Shirts!"


It's been a rewarding time for VIzzTone's sister promo company, Vizzable Music!

    We were happy to work with Gracie Curran from square one all the way to the BMAs.  Gracie's album, Proof of Love, was produced in Richard Rosenblatt's Vizzable Studios, promoted by Vizzable Music to press, radio, and the world, then nominated for a Best New Artist Debut Blues Music Award. Thats the way it's supposed to work, right!  ;-)

    It was a pleasure to promote old friend Luther Dickinson's recent CD, Rock n' Roll Blues.  It's what Luther describes as "folk country punk blues", and it's a beauty, rolling up the punk rock exhuberance of his early years and the blues and folk music traditions that are his birthright into a careening autobiographical album, full of wit, irony, and joy.  Not really a blues album, but most people love it.  We got a lot of press and radio attention, as well as an interview on Elwood's Bluesmobile.

    Next up - Jeremy Baum!  We'll be telling you much more about this release VERY soon, but here are the basics: 
     Jeremy Baum plays the Hammond Organ and leads his own band, which is rooted in the blues and funky soul-jazz sounds of the late 60s (think Booker T and the MG’s, the Meters, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff!)  Jeremy has been a successful sideman, working with Shemekia Copeland, Levon Helm, The North Mississippi Allsatars, Debbie Davies, Chris O’Leary, John Hammond Jr., and many more.  He has played in nearly every state in the USA, in over 20 countries in North America, Europe and Asia, at countless music festivals, at Carnegie Hall, and many television appearances including Late Night with David Letterman. The man has paid some dues!
    Back in the studio for his sophomore release, The Eel, Jeremy Baum knocks it out of the park with 10 Hammond organ and piano driven arrangements.  Backed by a stellar cast of musicians, this album is a great listen from start to finish.  Special guests include, among others, Jay Collins, Eric Kalb, Michael Bram, Scott Sherrard, Chris Vitarello, Miles Mancuso, Dennis Gruenling, and Chris O’Leary.
    You'll be hearing a lot more about Jeremy Baum, soon!

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