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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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Showing posts with label Chris Cain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chris Cain. Show all posts

Monday, February 3, 2014

Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise #22 - Stilladog Rides Again

This was my fifth Blues Cruise and this marks the third review of the LRBC I’ve done for Bman’s Blues Report.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve become a well-seasoned cruiser by now, or if it’s because I had some close friends join me on this cruise, or if the music was any better, or if the islands were more friendly, but this was the best Blues Cruise yet for me!

If you haven’t heard me say it before, I’ll start off with these words of wisdom.  A Blues Cruise vacation is exactly what you make it. You don’t even have to be a fan of blues music to have the time of your life, but it helps!  You can listen to as much music as you want starting as early as 10:30AM and going non-stop somewhere on the ship until 6:00AM.  One night I wandered into the Crows Nest at 5:00AM and listened to JP Soars jam until 5:30AM when they finally called it a night… except for one thing, it was already 6:30AM because we had crossed from the Eastern time zone to the Atlantic time zone at 2 o’clock.

So what I’m saying is you can’t possibly see it all. I know I missed some epic jams but I also saw some great stuff and came away with a new appreciation for several artists (as I always do).  

As all cruises do, it started out with a Sail Away Party on the pool deck. This one was hosted by Curtis Salgado.  Curtis has fought off some very serious health problems including cancer over the past 7 or 8 years yet his voice never sounded better.   I think through the course of the week he brought out his harp and jammed with just about everyone too.

Super Chikan
Next up was one of my –any many other’s–  favorites, Super Chikan.  My friends who were virgin cruisers enjoyed Super Chikan immensely.  From his custom “chiktar” made from a ceiling fan motor to his famous rooster crow, to ending every song with his catch phrase “Somebody shoot that thing!”  He put smiles on all the faces. I knew what to expect and I must say Super Chikan was in excellent form.  His sets are always great fun.  

The first morning, I attended the Returnee Party.  I walked to the venue with Scrap Iron, former manager for Little Milton and co-MC of the Returnee Party (along with Big Llou from BB King’s Bluesville on Sirius Radio).  I asked Scrap who we were going to see figuring if he’s introducing the act he knows who it is. All Scrap said was “They told me it was going to be something special. But they wouldn’t say who it is.”

When Scrap Iron finally did the introduction he told the audience just what he had told me privately.  And he brought on the All-Girls  All-Star Blues Band!  They really set the bar high right off the bat!  This band consisted of triple guitars, Debbie Davies, Ana Popovic, and Samantha Fish!  On keys was Eden Brent.  On bass was Danielle Schnebelen from Trampled Under Foot.  And on vocals in addition to the singing talents of those already mentioned there was Sista Monica Parker, Tasha Taylor, and the great Denise LaSalle.  On drums was the consummate professional, Tony Braunagel  (lucky dude!).  The highlights of this set for me were a) anything sung by Denise LaSalle, and b) the cover of ZZ Top’s “Tush” sung by Eden Brent.  Free drinks aside, this was a party you didn’t want to miss!   
All Girls All-Star Blues Band

While the Returnee Party was taking place, the Virgins had a party of their own on the pool deck with the Selwyn Birchwood Band. Normally I don’t mention this party because I haven’t been a virgin cruiser since the inception of Bman’s Blues Report. But my virgin friends who attended were very impressed with IBC Award Winner Selwyn Birchwood, who himself was a virgin cruiser.

Soon after, this whole cruise just melted into one big party for me.  I will only write about the things that really made an impression on me (there are many) and will not attempt to go in chronological order.  Quite frankly, I believe my brain cells that kept track of time were lost somewhere in the Caribbean, most likely during Lil’ Eds set at Margaritaville on Grand Turk.  But some of these sets were so memorable I’ll never forget them.

One of the most impressive performers on this cruise was Ana Popovic and her new big band,  Mo’ Better Love.   After growing up in Serbia, she now calls Memphis home and there is a definite Memphis sound to this band.  I’ve seen Ana probably 4 or 5 times over the years beginning back in 2006.  Back then, she struggled with English, both speaking and singing. In those days I remember saying “this girl can really play but I wish she’d just keep her mouth shut.”  We’ll let me tell you with each passing year and chance to see her she’s gotten better both on guitar and in English.  Honestly, the metamorphosis that has occurred for her has been amazing to watch.  She is now a master on guitar and speaks very clearly and sings beautifully in English.   When I got a chance to talk to her I told her I know how hard she has worked on both and how much it is appreciated by her fans.  I saw her play at least twice on this cruise in addition to the aforementioned Returnee Party and the band was a joy to see each time. 
Ana Popovic

The Zydeco band for this cruise –every cruise has one– was Corey Ledet and His Zydeco Band. This band featured Lil Buck Sinegal on guitar although he only got limited chances to solo.  They were very popular with cruisers.  They did zydeco versions of songs by as diverse artists as Bob Marley, Guns & Roses, and Cheap Trick, in addition to some fine material of their own.

Lil Ed  (photo courtesy of Michael Udell)
I wore my fez for the Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials sets of which I saw 3.  Ed was without a doubt one of the most popular artists. The “Ed Heads” were out in full force for all of them, particularly for his land event at Margaritaville on Grand Turk where you could spot a fez here and there on people in the pool while the Blues Imperials jammed on.  <pic of Lil Ed>

In addition to playing numerous sets Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials were the house band for two showings of the Joe Plummer play, “Nothing But The Blues.”  Just WOW!  This play is set at Theresa’s Lounge in Chicago in the early 1980s.  It’s the story of a small blues club in a basement in Chicago that culminates in what we now know as the Theresa Needham Award given annually at the Chicago Blues Festival for outstanding service to the blues community .  To find out more about the history of the real life Theresa’s Lounge, click here:'s/Theresa's.htm

Southern Hospitality (Victor Wainwright, JP Soars, Damon Fowler) were another band who absolutely wowed many cruisers.  I guess many of them were unaware of this band but I not only was familiar with SoHo (as they prefer to be called now to eliminate any confusion between them and Royal Southern Brotherhood) but also each of the guys as solo artists.  In addition to their own smokin’ sets,  Wainwright was hugely popular as Piano Bar host where the jams last until the sun comes up.  He was often accompanied by JP Soars who was also a regular in the Crow’s Nest for late night jams. 

Kenny Wayne Shepherd was a “headliner” of sorts mainly due to his popularity.  His sets continue to be professionally done but with little but manufactured passion for what he’s doing.  However, in a pool deck jam hosted by Trampled Under Foot,  Kenny and TUF guitarist, Nick Schnebelen  engaged in a legendary  jam.  It was the first time I saw Kenny Wayne really seem to have fun playing guitar since I first saw him in 2002 at the Chesapeake Blues Fest.  This jam was the talk of the cruise.

Marquise Knox and Selwyn Birchwood each played a land gig on the island of Anguilla.  They sounded good.  But I cannot really say how good because the venue was totally inadequate for viewing beyond a few dozen people and the sound system was not the greatest either.  This trip billed as The Ultimate Beach Party and sometimes known as The Chilla in Anguilla came up far short of expectations although a day on the beach drinking beer and listening to blues is always fun.

Tab Benoit was great.  His sets were wonderful. And he practically commandeered the Crows Nest jams to the point that we started calling it Tab’s Nest!  He could be found up there jamming almost every night and was frequently spotted playing drums while other people –often JP Soars or Selwyn Birchwood – took over guitar duty.   He also hosted a Bingo game to raise money for the Voice of the Wetlands which was hilarious.  I particularly liked his story of playing golf with Willie Nelson!

I did not get to see but a tiny bit of Sugar Ray & The Bluetones but I did hear their guitarist Monster Mike Welch a few times and he is another artist who has matured into a really top notch musician.

Tommy Castro, who is on every cruise, had a CD release party for his new album The Devil You Know which was very entertaining and his jams with Debbie Davies and Chris Cain were the highlights.

Chris Cain was again the supreme guitarist on the ship.  He was often seen playing with Debbie Davies. And they were part of the Legendary R&B Revue along with The Painkillers.  I guess those West Coast blues folks stick together.  His set in the Queens Lounge (called Theresa’s Lounge for this cruise) was great. 
  And few besides Theodis Ealey were willing to cut heads with him when it was his turn to host the jam.  

One of the most entertaining sets I’ve ever seen anywhere was turned in by what was billed as the Down Home Blues Extravaganza.  It featured the Mel Waiters band with Theodis Ealey on guitar, Latimore on keys, and blues hall of famer, Denise LaSalle.  The highlight of this set was the 15 minute version of Snap, Crackle, and Pop by Denise.  She had me practically rolling on the deck laughing as she described how to “make that coochie snap, crackle and pop” in song while poking fun at Theodis, Bobby Rush, and Clarence Carter.   Theodis Ealey was a guitarist I gained much new respect for on this cruise.  It was almost like I discovered him for the first time.

Finally, I went to a guitar summit of sorts hosted by Debbie Davies where Ana Popovic, Marquise Knox, Monster Mike Welch, Chris Cain, John Hammond, and Nick Schnebelen all talked about how they got started and how their styles developed.  It was very telling to hear how many of them started listening to their parents records at a young age. John Hammond whose father’s work in recording was legendary was to be expected.  But Ana Popovic said that all her father had in the house in the former  Yugoslavia was blues, soul and r&b records from America.  And Chris Cain saying his dad drove a truck yet they had the best stereo system around and how all his dad’s blues and soul records ended up in his room.  Or how Cain’s dad took him to see Ray Charles, Charles Brown, and BB King concerts as a youngster.   Very enlightening. 
Guitar Summit

As usual, I’ve left some people out.  Never got to see Otis Clay although I did get to speak briefly with him.  Same for Sista Monica who remembered a set she did with Elvin Bishop which I attended back in 2003. Or the Neal Brothers (Frederick & Darnell) who I found in the Piano Bar late one night/early one morning.   Or Eric Bibb who I saw do 2 songs on the way to someplace else.  Or The James Hunter Six who my friend who goes by the name Texasbluzer said was phenomenal.  As I said, you just can’t see it all.

Bottom line here folks is that if you are a blues fan and can afford to get away for a week in the Caribbean sun, the Legendary Blues Cruise is definitely the way to go.  And if you’re not a blues fan, one week on this ship and you will be!  

Thanks Dog!!  Bman
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Birthday CHRIS CAIN

Chris Cain (born November 19, 1955, San Jose, California, United States) is an American blues and jazz guitarist with an international following. He began playing professionally as a teenager in local clubs, at festivals, and at private events. Cain received four Blues Music Award nominations in 1987 for his debut album, Late Night City Blues, including Guitarist of the Year. He signed to Blind Pig Records in 1990, releasing his second album, Cuttin' Loose, the same year. The guitarist stayed at Blind Pig for the next few years, releasing Can't Buy A Break in 1992 and Somewhere Along the Way in 1995 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, September 4, 2012

Two-Day California Beer Festival Features Specialty Craft Beers, BBQ Contest, Big-Name Blues Acts

Are you kidding me! Take someone along to go on beer runs... you're not going to want to miss a minute! Look at this line up!

Big Two-Day California Beer Festival Features

Craft Beers, BBQ Contest, Big-Name Blues Acts

Saturday, September 15/Sunday, September 16 - Mission Park, Ventura, CA

(Ventura, Calif.) - California Beer Festival takes place Saturday, September 15 (12:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.) and Sunday, September 16 (11 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.) in Ventura's Mission Park, 36 Figueroa St., in the downtown district. CBF is one of the year's biggest entertainment events featuring everyone's favorite three B's: Beer, Barbeque and the Blues!

Tickets for the California Beer Festival Craft Beer Heaven on Saturday are $50 for General Admission, $70 for a special Saturday-only "V.I.P. Meet The Brewer", or $25 for a Designated Driver Ticket. Sunday it's the CBF Blues, Brews & BBQ Blues Festival for $30 (children 5 and under are free on Sunday only). Ventura County Blues Society members receive a $5. discount with I.D. Advance tickets available at CBF event proceeds benefit DARC (Dyslexia Awareness And Resource Center) and the Gen Giammaco Foundation. Space is limited! For more information call (805) 323-5691 or email:

On Sunday, September 16, Kim Wilson (center) and the Fabulous Thunderbirds headline a star-studded Blues lineup at the two-day California Beer Festival in Mission Park, downtown Ventura.

Saturday, September 15: Craft Beer Festival Craft Beer Heaven. Over 150 varieties of specialty craft beers on tap along with 70 microbreweries, great food and live music by popular 14-piece Michael Jackson tribute group, Foreverland. "California Beer Festival's main goal is to shine a light on the Craft Beer Movement and celebrate great beer," says CBF promoter/organizer, Vincenzo Giammanco. There's also a 5K Run on Saturday that will have you running through the streets and along the oceanfront of Ventura, crossing the finish line right inside the Festival itself!

Sunday, September 16: Blues, Brews, & BBQ Blues Festival. Blue Moon Barbeque Cook-Off featuring barbeque teams competing for $3,000 in cash prize plus 15 craft beers on tap. Sunday also features non-stop music by some of the biggest names in the world of blues - Kim Wilson and The Fabulous Thunderbirds (known for their hits "Tuff Enuf," "Wrap It Up," and "She's Tuff," among others); a Tribute To Stevie Ray Vaughan with Crossfire; blues-rock guitarist extraordinaire, Walter Trout; longtime SoCal blues standout harpist-vocalist, Rod Piazza And the Mighty Flyers; Northern California guitar ace, Chris Cain; and Simi Valley's blues stalwarts, Michael John & The Bottom Line. There will be two stages adjacent to one another that day - when one band finishes their set on one stage, the next band immediately starts playing on the other stage!

California Beer Festival - SOUTHLAND BLUES Feature
Q and A With CBF's Vincenzo Giammanco - ALL ACCESS MAGAZINE
California Beer Festival - BLUES E-NEWS Feature
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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Help Me Baby - Chris Cain - LRBC 2012

Chris Cain's jazz-tinged, blues soaked guitar and deep, warm vocals have the maturity and authenticity of bluesmen many years his senior. His expressive style is the result of a lifetime of study and the relentless pursuit of music mastery. His passion and intensity are a blend of his mother's Greek ancestry and his father's soulful black heritage.

Cain was raised on stories of his father's childhood upbringing on Memphis' Historic Beale Street and attended his first B.B King concert at the tender age of three. Blues music played continuously on the home stereo and family outings were often trips to concerts. Cain recalls, "I remember when I was a kid, my Dad would be mowing the lawn with the stereo blasting Muddy Waters. When I look back, that was pretty cool! There was always music playing at our house, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Freddie King, Albert King, all the greats."

At the age of eight, Cain taught himself to play guitar and began playing professionally before he was eighteen. Chris studied music at San Jose City College, and was soon teaching jazz improvisation on campus. Over the next twenty years, Cain would also master piano, bass guitar, clarinet, alto and tenor saxophone. The combination of his blues upbringing and his jazz studies melded to form the searing guitar style that sets Chris Cain apart and has moved him to the top ranks of the blues music scene.

Cain's debut recording, Late Night City Blues (Blue Rock'it Records-1987) garnered four W.C. Handy Blues Award nominations, including Guitarist of the Year." Dan Forte of Guitar Player wrote, "An impressive debut album by a top notch guitarist." Cain's next two releases; "Cuttin Loose" (Blind Pig Records-1990) and "Can't Buy a Break" (Blind Pig Records-1992) collected a long list of awards and accolades. In August of 1995 Blind Pig released "Somewhere Along the Way" his 4th compilation of his unique brand of original music sophisticated blues, funk, jazz and gospel.

In 2003 Patrick Ford produced Chris's latest CD, "Hall Of Shame" (Blue Rock'it Records-2003). "...this is now the sixth Chris Cain solo release I have produced, not to mention his work with me on projects like the Ford Blues Bands' "In Memory Of Michael Bloomfield" CD, and I continue to be in awe of his incredible talent. As a guitarist/singer, Chris has been praised by mentors like Albert King and peers like Robben Ford."

Larry Nager (syndicated Scripts-Howard music critic) writes, "Nowadays most young blues players are Strat-wielding Stevie Ray Vaughan-a-bes. Not Chris Cain. With a voice that recalls B.B. King and a thick toned Gibson guitar sound reminiscent of Albert King, Cain is forging a unique style. With his own highly personalized songwriting, "Hall Of Shame" is a giant step in the development of one of the most compelling young bluesmen on today's scene."

Through his guitar mastery and remarkable songwriting ability, Chris Cain has established himself as a musical force to be reckoned with. And as San Jose Mercury News music reviewer John Orr writes, "more than anyone else, anywhere, Chris Cain represents the future of the blues."

Here's some footage of Chris from the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise 2012.

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Jan. 2012 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise Part I - correspondent Stilladog

Hello Blues fans! They call me Stilladog. Don't ask why, there are many fitting reasons for that name.

The Bman and I have been friends for upwards of 45 years or so and we have shared a common bond in music for that whole time. Suffice it to say he has introduced me to a ton of great music over the years and I have tried to reciprocate. So he asked me to guest author some posts from time to time and help his blog readers become aware of, and familiar with, some of the great blues out there.

Having just returned from the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise earlier this week, I wanted to start off by giving you a run down on the best 7 day party on earth!

The biggest hit of the cruise was without a doubt West Coast guitarist Chris Cain. He was the artist I most wanted to see and I was not disappointed. I met him in the Crow's Nest bar the first hour I was on the ship and saw him play 3 times. Each of his shows were absolutely sizzling!

He obliterated Tommy Castro in a bit of old school "head cutting" at one of the late night jams. All of his shows were filled with passionate tasteful playing that came from both his heart and from deep in his soul.

One of his signature tunes is "Drinkin' Straight Tequila." At his last show in the Showroom At Sea (main concert stage), a gentleman politely handed me a flask of straight tequila with which to totally immerse myself in the music. But that kind of thing happens routinely when you "Bluesin' on the high seas."

Next up, the most pleasant suprise of the cruise; also hailing from the West Coast, was Cafe R&B. I unfortunately was unable to see these guys until the last night. But wow was it worth the wait! Lead singer Roach came on with what seemed to me to be a high-energy combination of James Brown and Tina Turner!! As a matter of fact if James Brown and Tina Turner had a love child it would be Roach!! And much to their credit, Cafe R&B was the only band who acknowledged and honored the passing of Blues great Etta James during the cruise.

In the set that I saw, Cafe R&B also used the percussionist from the Low Rider Band, Chuck Barber. He was fantastic on congas, timbales, and just about every other thing you can hit and make a sound with!
A close runner-up in the most suprisingly good category was Shakura S'Aida from Toronto Canada. Don't lay no Boogie Woogie on the Queen of Rock and Soul! I know that's an old song and Solomon Burke was the King of Rock and Soul. But her cover of it will make you believe Shakura can lay an honest stake to that title!
This is a really tight band with all top notch musicians not the least of which was Shakura's guitarist and frequent songwriting collaborator, Donna Grantis.
I'm not sure what I expected from Shakura. I had a few of her albums so I was familiar with most of her material. I think her stage presence, personality, and the quality of her band really took me by surprise. She is most definitely a lady who should be heard on a widespread basis much more.
I didn't get to hear much of her second set due to a pretty nasty hangover. The source of which was from hanging out with some Californians with personal access to some of the finest Mendocino County wines that they traded me in exchange for a personalized guided tour of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
So if Shakura is the new Queen of Rock and Soul, then the undisputed Queen of the Blues is now Shemekia Copeland! With Koko Taylor and Etta James passing in the past 12 months let me declare now that the blues is still in good hands with Shemekia wearing the crown!!
I first saw this young lady sing when she was 19 years old. She absolutely blew me away. I have seen her at least half a dozen times since and I always come away with my mouth wide open because she always delivers a jaw dropping performance!
On this cruise I actually got to meet and talk to Shemekia and her mother, the wife of the late great Johnny "Clyde" Copeland. They were catching a Phillip Fankhauser set in the Crows Nest. For those that don't know, Johnny Copeland mentored and brought to America Phillip Fankhauser so he could live his life dream of becoming a bluesman. Fankhauser lived in the Copeland home when Shemekia was still in high school. Their friendship is uncommon and I have noticed that Shemekia and Phillip are booking festivals together this summer.
Shemekia also guested on numerous songs during one of the 3 Phillip Fankhauser (pronounced Fawnk-houser) sets I attended. Phillip is from Switzerland and after 30 years in the music business he does not hesitate to remind his audiences to "Get my fucking name right. It's Funk Houser. Don't be putting an R in there. It's not Frankhouser."
A lot of Phillip's music is very well written and he went from a virtual unknown to Blues Main Street over the course of 7 days on the ocean! He employs a horn section on most cuts and the arrangements are really nice. I highly recommend picking up any of his albums.
The usual suspects were also present on the cruise, Taj Mahal, and Tommy Castro. At some point Castro fired all his band so this was their last gig as the Tommy Castro Band in it's current configuration. Probably best for everyone. Castro also acts as bandleader for the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue which this year featured guitarists Debbie Davies and Joe Louis Walker, and harpist Rick Estrin of Rick Estrin & The Nightcats (Formerly Little Charlie & The Nightcats).
I caught a couple sets of the LRBCR and for my money Debbie Davies stole the show. She was really fantastic. Keith Crossan on Tenor Sax (formerly of the Tommy Castro Band) always turns in a professional performance and the cruise was no exception.
In the photo at left, Keith blows out a break between scorching Debbie Davies solos on the Pool Deck stage.
There are so many artists still to talk about and so many stories to tell I've run out of time for this entry. But check back in a few days and I'll share more opinions and stories of what the Blues Cruise is like including playing the steel drums with the Mighty Dow, Calypso King of St. Maartens and other exciting stuff! And please leave a comment or question so I can focus on what interests you.

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