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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 Illinois. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Illinois. Show all posts

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Justin Howl - Wanderlust - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Wanderlust, from Justin Howl and it shows a unique blend of country, blues, rock and folk. Opening with Interstate 55, Justin Howl wastes no time in getting things going. With his fleet fingered guitar vamp and his harmonica answer, Howl takes command vocally with the presence of a seasoned veteran. Sweet Babe is 3/4 time will have you stompin' your foot in concert with Howl's firm guitar rhythm and his harmonica riffs perfectly frame his story telling vocals. Very nice. One of my favorite tracks on the release is I Must Confess with it's driving rhythm and Dylan like vocal delivery. His detailed harmonica playing is a great accent to this track. Title track, Wanderlust, has a lot of zest with traces of country and modern composers such as Frank Black. This track moves like the wind and feels like a cool breeze in your hair. With quick paced guitar accompaniment and howling harmonica, this has a strong melody. The Magician has real blues roots with it's call and response format, slide work and harmonica answer behind Howl's solid vocals. wrapping the release is slow country style blues, Josephina with it's terrific wandering return. This is a strong closer for a real cool acoustic release. 

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Delmark Records artist: Mike Wheeler Band - Turn Up!! - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Turn Up!!, from the Mike Wheeler Band, and it cranks! Opening with high energy R&B style blues number, Sweet Girl, Wheeler leads the way with his silky vocals on call and his guitar on response. Brian James on organ lays out a real nice solo and Wheeler follows with a energetic solo, backed by Larry Williams on bass, Cleo Cole on drums and great horn work by Kenny Anderson on trumpet and Hank Ford on sax. Another modern fusion of R&B and blues follows on You Won't Do Right, showing that Wheeler's vocals are every bit as solid as his guitar work. Funky, Yeah!, has a real nice feel with James' keyboard work and a lot of punch from the horns. Wheeler takes a real nice ride on his strat with just a minimal amount of wah on his sound. Very cool! Heavy bottomed, Brand New Cadillac, is one of my favorites on the release with a lot of rhythmic swagger and powerful blues rock guitar riffs. Excellent! Shuffle track, Talking To Myself, has a super swing and cool organ work by James. Light fingered guitar work by Wheeler compliments his vocals nicely. Really kicking up the R&B high stepping, the horns are pumped and ready on title track, Turn Up!!. On easy soul track, Nothing Lasts Forever, Wheeler guides the band with smooth vocals surrounded by warm backing vocals and nice guitar phrasing. Taking his guitar for a nice ride on this track, Wheeler continues to show his various expressive styles. With a New Orleans flair, I Can't Do That, has a super drum beat and a super cool piano solo. Wheeler steps up with really nicely crafted blues riffs giving the track a real bite. Nice! Living My Dream is a funky R&B rocker with really nice guitar work popped by the horn guys. Hot blues number, A Blind Man Can See, slows down the pace but cranks up the heat. Wheeler again demonstrates his soulful voice with only light keys, bass and drums. Excellent blues riffs roll off of his fretboard once he lets his guitar do his talking really smoking up the place. Very nice! Coming back to the funk, That's What Love Will Make You Do, is a tight, organ, drum, bass and rhythm guitar backing for Wheeler's vocals. Stepping up with fiery guitar riffs and Cole's drum work, this track is hot. Williams steps up with a smoker of a bass solo of his own making this a real standout track. Kicker, I'm Hooked, has a terrific rolling beat and Wheeler's vocals are so smooth at this pace. Organ backing and horn punch provides an excellent platform for Wheelers' stinging guitar riffs. Very nice! Wrapping the release is Sad State Of The World, with a real slinky blues feel and cool piano and organ tracks. Wheeler's vocals are top notch and Williams' bass lines are spot on. The guitar phrasing on this track is really sweet, reminding me a bit of Vernon Reid. With just a tough of gospel influence, this is a super closer for a solid release.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Delmark Records artist: Corey Dennison Band - Self Titled release - New Release Review

I just received the self titled release, Corey Dennis Band and it's way cool! Opening with Getcha' Pull!, Dennison, who has an incredible voice and also manages lead guitar is joined by Gerry Hundt on guitar and organ, Nik Skilnik on bass and Joel Baer on drums. This opening track has a little bit of rural country flavor with an easy picking rhythm but his vocals are truly off the hook! On Tugboat Blues the track oozes Chicago with a hint of Mud and a Hint of Elmo. I like Dennison's open guitar styling with a cool understated strut. Excellent! The Deacon is a high stepper with a funky underbelly. Just listen to this guy sing. Firm guitar riffs and a driving bass and drum lines carry Dennison proudly on it's shoulders. Room To Breathe is a laid back R&B style track that is bound to hit the airwaves (and encourage lots of couples to the dance floor). Very cool! City Lights also has a funky R&B carriage and Dennison not only sings the blues, he picks it well. Each track on this release reinforces that this is for real. She's No Good swings back toward the country styling but with roots in Gimme Back My Wig of T for Texas. Country style picking and riding snare/hi hat define the track but the blues prevails. Very nice! Aw, Snap! really digs in with a nice bass groove. It is like James Brown playing with Albert King. I love this track. It's great! Don't Say You're Sorry conjures feelings of the impressions. You can see where this guy lives. Super vocals, blending and feel. Ok. You been waiting for that slow, screamer. Here it is... A Fool's Goodbye. Dennison plays stinging guitar riff after riff behind his lush vocals. Skilnik sets down a really nice bass line giving Dennison the floor to Albert King it up and King it up he does. It doesn't sound like Mr King himself...nor does it sound like SRV doing Mr King, but in the big picture... this is great. Dennison has King's spirit and with real nice rhythm guitar by Hundt, Dennison squeezes the neck till it squeals and his vocals are spot on. Excellent! Jasper's Hop is a cool instrumental with traces of the MG's. Understated guitar riffs with clean articulation makes this track sing. Shame On Me has a really nice groove... a bit of funky under the soulful blues. I can't say enough how much I like this guys voice. His voice has just the right amount of grit but smooth and his phrasing is perfect. With Skilnik riding a nice groove, Dennison lays out really smooth riffs. Excellent! On Strange Things Happenin', a driving James Brown style track, it's Baer's drumming that drives the train with Skilnik riding high but again Dennison shines on vocals and his guitar talks for itself. Chicago style blues number, Good Enuff, wraps the release with a great swagger. Dennison sits on the beat and wails on vocals. His guitar work is tight and precise. This is a very nice closer to an absolutely excellent release!

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Saturday, January 17, 2015


Chicago’s Southern Blues and R&B singer, Theo Huff was raised by his Mississippi mother and grandmother. Both women gave him high principles and values that he holds today. At an early age his mother encourage him to sing at church. Theo Huff at an early age had the pleasure to perform on the same stage with the likes of Koko Taylor, Bobby Rush, Harold Melvin,s Blue notes, Gene Chandler, Willie Clayton, Denise Lasalle, Albertina Walker, Garland Green, Darius Brook, and Ms. Millie Jackson. When he became a member of the Black Ensemble Theater, musical director, Jimmy Tillman took Huff under his wing. This experience enhanced his energetic personality in showing strong emotions that captivate his audience. He only recently begun to hone a proper nightclub act. He received nominations for most promising Actor, and best featured Actor for “That Sensuous Seductive. His blend of traditional and the contemporary is the cause of his success performance at The Liri Blues Festival in Italy and nominate for the best of Chicago 2009 music – Best Blues Act. Blues Festival in Italy and nominate for the best of Chicago 2009 music – Best Blues Act.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mark T. Small Wins "Acoustic Blues Album of the Year" Award at 2014 Blues Blast Magazine Awards Show

Mark T. Small Wins “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year” Award at 2014 Blues Blast Magazine Awards Show

CHAMPAIGN, IL – Blues singer/guitarist Mark T. Small won the “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year” award at the 2014 Blues Blast Magazine Awards Ceremonies, held October 23 at the Fluid Events Center in Champaign, Illinois. Small also performed during the gala held to honor blues music artists and CD releases for the year. "It was an honor to be part of such a fine event and be associated with such a fantastic publication,” said Mark T. Small. “Winning the award was the icing on the cake.”

The Somerset, Massachusetts-based artist garnered the recognition for his January, 2014, release, Smokin’ Blues, on the Lead Foot Music label imprint. The dozen tracks on Smokin’ Blues, Small’s fourth CD,  solidified his place as an emerging master of the guitar, whose styles range from Delta and Chicago blues to the intricate, flatpicking style from his early days in “Newgrass” bands. The 12 songs on the CD reflect music originally performed by such early blues legends as Blind Boy Fuller, Tampa Red, Charley Patton and Reverend Gary Davis to post-war icons John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James and even a Stax/Memphis soul vibe with the inclusion of a Rufus Thomas tune.  

“Smokin' Blues is a sampler of the guitar grooves that make up my solo show,” said Mark T. Small upon the album’s release. “My main objective for this CD was to produce a recording that sounds and feels like I am playing in a small room with the listener. The only effect that was added, other than the ‘radio tone’ on the song, ‘Daddy Was a Jockey,’ was a touch of reverb to further simulate listening in a small room.”

Upon its release, reviews for the CD were over-the-top in their praise. “Smokin’ Blues lives up to its title from start to finish,” wrote Malcolm Kennedy in his review for the Washington Blues Society. “I give it my highest recommendation, simply fabulous!” “He's as good a guitarist as you will hear and if you listen to Smokin’ Blues, you will hear plenty of evidence of that, as Small tears through a dozen of his favorite songs,” said Graham Clarke in Friday Blues Fix. “With vocals as strong as sweet as his fret work, Small has made one memorable and amazingly versatile album right here that guitar fans will love.”

Mark T. Small has been playing music since his early teens, when he began listening to Old Time Music. He learned to play fiddle tunes on the guitar in the styles of Doc Watson and Norman Blake and also learned to play the Dobro. In 1981, this music took Mark to Indiana to play and record with a five-piece “Newgrass Band” called The Brown County Band. At the same time, he was playing harmonica and listening to Junior Wells and Charlie Musselwhite.
After returning to the East Coast, Mark dug deeper into the blues, playing more electric guitar. When he was playing progressive Newgrass, his style had the influence of the blues. Now delving into the blues, his playing has the razors edge and speed that was developed from years of flat-picking. This combination of the lightning fast bluegrass style and soulful blues playing are the key components of Mark’s sound. .
Beginning in the late 1980s, Mark started his own Chicago-style blues band that ranged anywhere from three to ten pieces on a given night and was a staple on the New England club circuit for over a dozen years. Many of the gigs were played as a “power trio” with Mark singing and filling the band out with scorching electric blues guitar. Other times, the band included a keyboard or sax player and/or the addition of the Newport Navy Band Horn Section.
 In 2000, Mark began to gravitate back to his acoustic roots and the studio became his classroom. After making a decision to pursue a solo career, Mark took all of the lessons that he had learned over the last 25 years and constructed an act that was as hard- hitting as the band, but all in a one-man show. As such, he’s opened for Johnny Winter, Robert Cray, James Cotton and others.
Today, his show includes many traditional Delta blues numbers with a Chicago blues slant that transforms each tune into a “tour de force.” Included are the blazing flat-picking techniques that grabbed audiences in Mark’s bluegrass days, the hot slide guitar playing that creates a mood and timbre change in each set and the showmanship that was developed from his years of experience. 
“On Smokin' Blues I tried to match the intensity of playing in a club setting,” Mark said at the time. “In these settings I take the tunes that I love, interpret them and do everything possible to make that connection with the audience.”
To download a photo of Mark at the Blues Blast Awards with his trophy, click here: marktsmallbbaward
For more information, visit
Upcoming Mark T. Small Performances
December 12 / The Amazing Things Arts Center - Framingham, MA
A Night Of Acoustic Blues / Co-Bill with Danielle Miraglia 
January 17 / The Narrows Center For The Arts - Fall River, MA - Winter Blues Fest / On the bill with Young Neal & The Vipers, Mike Zito & The Wheel, Johnny Hoy & The Bluefish
January 24th / The Cotuit Cultural Center - Cotuit, MA - With James Montgomery & Bruce Marshal 
In residence every Thursday at The New World Tavern, Plymouth, MA (7:00-10:00 PM)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Back Pack Jones - Betsy's Kitchen - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Betsy's Kitchen from Back Pack Jones and it's a cool bag of upbeat blues. Opening with shuffle track Riptide Baby, Big Mike Wallace takes the lead on vocals and Kirk Lonbom swings in with some cool guitar riffs. Backing vocals by drummer Harvey Horton and bassist Michael Baier add to the swing. A driving bass line from Baier also drives this train. I'm Just A Man has a cool jazzy beat and Albert King like guitar riffs from Lonbom. Wendell Day takes a cool organ solo on this track and horn work from Jim Culberston (trumpet), AJ Good (trumpet), Jarrod Hill (sax), Archer Logan (sax) and Lawrence Niehaus (trombone) really sets this track off. Fixin' To Leave is a BB King style slower blues track with clean original guitar riffs.I particularly like the vocal work on this track which may be my favorite track on the release. Sit back and just let is rip. Baggage has a Latin feel with stinging "Santana like" guitar riffs from Lonbom. Dey steps up on the electric piano for a nice solo as well. The End, a quieter track, footed with percussion and keys leaves a wide open highway for Big Mike to sing with his robust voice. A loose "jazzy" touch on this track opens the door for more seemingly effortless jam solos from Dey and Lonbom. Even God Sings The Blues is another dirty blues track with a modified theme on "Help Me". A gripping guitar intro by Lonbom is a really sweet start. Big Mike really shines vocally on this track but Lonbom has the floor and makes good use of it! A complimentary organ solo from Dey over Baier's bass work and meticulous drums from Horton rounds out the track. Hey Diddle Riddle again rolls into more of a light jazzy jam. Nice violin work from Chenoa Alamu and chord work by Lonbom over organ work by Dey sets this track off from the rest. Hiding In Plain Sight has a funky feel with strong drum work from Horton. Archer Logan steps up with a real nice sax solo and Lonbom isn't far behind with a few quick riffs. The release is wrapped by I Got A Girlfriend, a bopping swing track with full horn compliment This track is a great finisher for the release featuring hot riffs, swinging beat and harmonious vocals.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Earwig Music Company artist: Johnny Drummer - Bad Attitude - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Bad Attitude, from Johnny Drummer and it's really good. Opening with funky R&B style Is It Love Or Is It Lust, with James Brown style and nice horn backing from Rodney "Hotrod" Brown on sax and Kenny Anderson on trumpet. On Chicago style blues track, Drummer has a familiar story with Another Rooster Is Pecking My Hen. A clever lyric and warm horn basics make this a cool track. Drummer takes a nice harp solo on this track and Anthony Palmer is right in there with some slick riffs on guitar. Bit Her In The Butt has a real cool funky feel along the lines of JG Watson. Title track Bad Attitude is a cool shuffle track leading off with Palmer laying down an easy stroll. Drummer has a nice delivery on vocal and Palmer keeps the riffs coming making this a real natural track. Make You Happy has a R&B feel in the most traditional sense. Authentic era horns bring up the rear and although Drummer doesn't have Al Green's voice, this track falls into his orbit. One Size Fits All is a high stepping strut with strong bass work from Kenny Hampton. Palmer lays down some of the finest hot stinging riffs on the release right here right now. Ronnie Hicks also adds a real nice electric piano solo on this track. Sure Sign Of The Blues comes from the roots of Morganfield. Easy going guitar work and harp work with a solid organ line from Drummer highlight his vocals. Don't Call Me Trash takes a clever look at the less fortunate keeping the instrumentation simple with tight horn call/response but allowing a hot burst of guitar flame in the door. Ain't No Secret In A Small Town is a solid blues track with cool instrumental arrangement throughout. Palmer really lets the dog out on this track with just the right amount of push. U-Turn On A One Way Street, again in the R&B format gives the floor over to Brown on sax and Palmer does step up with a smokin hot riff to polish the track off. On swing shuffle, Better Than Good, Drummer really gets the band rockin. Palmer shines again with stylized riffs and Drummer has the lyrics dancing. Closing out the track is Brown on sax. Cool. My Woman My Money My Whiskey is the track most likely to be remembered years from now. It has a low slung pace, lyrics that we can all relate to and a nicely articulated guitar solos off the beat. Very nice! Also of note is the guitar work of Sir Walter Scott, and drumming of Jeremiah Thomas and Terrance Williams. Wrapping the release is Star 69, a slick funky track. A heavy horned tune that struts like a banty rooster.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Update on Matthew Curry!

BLOOMINGTON — For most 18-year-olds, graduating from high school would ranks as the Big Life Experience of the Year.
For Bloomington’s Matthew Curry, being handed his diploma with Bloomington High School’s Class of 2013 last string was just one in a series.
The veteran blues prodigy is putting a capper on his amazing ’13 by headlining this year’s New Year’s Eve at the Castle party at 8 p.m. Tuesday, along with musical cronies the Turncoats and Kyle Yap.
It’s Curry’s second NYE in a row headlining at the Castle — still, he notes, his favorite musical space.
That’s saying something, since 2013 saw the singer-guitarist performing in major venues during his first national tour, opening for rock legends Foreigner in arena spaces and playing a flurry of summer blues fests, from the Chicago Blues Festival to the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival.
“I love the Castle,” he says. “It’s so historic and not so huge like, say, the Coliseum (U.S. Cellular) … you get to be more up-close-and-personal with the audience.”
Don’t get him wrong about the Coliseum.
His gig opening there in September for Foreigner and 38 Special “was a pretty huge deal and a huge honor … to play the Coliseum finally. It was really cool being on that big stage in my hometown.”
The Foreigner teaming extended to a string of opening dates elsewhere with the rock veterans (including Chicago and Nashville), a result of Curry having being signed with the same talent agency that handles Foreigner and other acts.
Among the latter is another rock legend whose heyday was forged long before Curry was even born: the Steve Miller Band.
In his next big career step, Curry will be opening for Miller & Co. in April along dates of their spring tour in Canada, starting in Winnipeg and ending in Vancouver.
As Curry heard it, “Foreigner’s people were happy with us and began raving to Steve’s people.” Such is the power of word of mouth.
Never mind that he comes from an era several times removed: “To me, these guys are huge inspirations who’ve made a huge mark in rock history and I’m hugely honored to being sharing a stage with them. It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around that.”
Speaking of which:
As if the globe-trotting to Canada weren’t sufficient for one month, Curry will follow that gig with a trip Down Under for Australia’s all-star, five-day Byron Bay Bluesfest, the roster of which includes Gregg and Devon Allman (the latter at the Castle this week; see today’s cover story), Aaron Neville (kid brother Cyril is also at the Castle), the Dave Matthews Band, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Elvis Costello, the Doobie Brothers, Steve Earle, Dr. John, Boz Scaggs, Suzanne Vega, Booker T. Jones, Erykah Badu and dozens more.
“Mind-boggling” is Curry’s succinct assessment of that impending life experience.
Another big deal, one being unveiled at the New Year’s Eve show, is Curry’s new band, not to be confused with the former group’s handle, The Fury, which is being retired.
“I really loved playing with the old group, but they all have day jobs and kids and it just was not possible for them to out on the road and tour,” says Curry of keyboardist Erik Nelson, bass player Jeff Paxton and drummer Greg Neville (no relation to the other Nevilles afoot in today’s GO!).
Paxton is remaining with Team Curry in the role of band manager, while the other departing members will continue to collaborate on the songwriting front.
On stage with Matthew at the Castle will be drummer Tim Kramp (late of Backyard Tire Fire), keyboardist Mike Nellas and Peoria music scene vet Tim Brickner on bass.
Out in the lobby will be another big deal: the just-pressed vinyl edition of Curry’s sophomore album, “Electric Religion.”
“I really do think vinyl has the better sound … cleaner … crisper,” says Curry of the format whose passing from the mainstream predates his birth.
As for the year ahead, Curry, though still technically a teen, speaks with the careful cadences of someone who’s been around much longer.
“I do feel an interest in getting out of Bloomington and touring every part of the world,” he says of his future here. “But is also nice to always come back home to our nice little blues scene here, where I’m thankful for my family and all the great people I work with … it’s all very humbling.”

At a Glance

What: New Year’s Eve at the Castle, with Matthew Curry, featuring The Turncoats and Kyle Yap
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Castle Theatre, 209 E. Washington St., Bloomington
Tickets: $50 (includes food, 5 drink tickets)
Box office: 309-820-0352


In addition to Matthew Curry’s show at the Castle Theatre, a sampling of other events around the area poised to help us ring in ’14 includes:
-- New Year’s Eve Comedy: Featuring two shows with funny man J Chris Newberg, at 7:30 and 10 p.m. via Bloomington’s Laugh Comedy Club ($25 and $35).
-- Noon Year’s Eve: Annual family-friendly fete in the Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with admission $8 ($2 for members).
-- Bellflower Country Opry New Year’s Eve Show: Featuring the house band, guests and a potluck dinner, 6 p.m., Bellflower Community Center, 202 Center St., Bellflower ($15).
-- Deck the Halls: Final performance of the Barn II Dinner Theatre’s holiday offering on the stage near Goodfield, with dinner and a show at special rate of $125 per couple.
-- Get Lit New Year’s Even Fun Run: Annual grand finale to the East Peoria Festival of Lights, featuring a con-competitive run/walk on a 2-mile paved course through the Winter Wonderland display, 11:50 p.m. ($14).
-- First Night Springfield: Last of the First Night fetes in Illinois, kicking off at 6:15 p.m. with ceremony and fireworks and continuing through midnight at assorted downtown locales ($5 to $15).

Monday, November 11, 2013

Severn Records artist Lou Pride - Ain't No More In This House - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (October 15, 2013), Aint No More Love In This House, from Lou Pride and it's solid soul. This,the final recording from Pride was just recorded prior to his death in June of 2012. Opening with the title track, Ain't No More Love In This House, Pride establishes that he he was a force to be reckoned with. This is a richly vocal backed track featuring Christal Rheams, Paige Martin and Daryl Duff and horns by Kenny Rittenhouse (trumpet and flugelhorn), Liesl Whitaker (trumpet and flugelhorn), Morgan Price (Sax) and Reginald Cyntje (trombone). On I Didn't Take Your Woman, Pride gets a solid groove going vocally and Benjie Porecki on keys along with the horn section provide a smokey backdrop for the lead work and crisp guitar work of Johnny Moeller. Steve Gomes lays down a very cool bass line keeping this track rolling tight. Speaking the intro to Take It Slow, Pride walks you into his smooth soul groove and envelopes you with the warmth of this track. Never is an easy tempo track which has been covered by several Reggae bands and the thread remains constant with the horn harmony. Pride adjusting back and forth from his natural singing voice to his falsetto voice is particularly successful on this track. Moeller opens the doors with hot guitar riffs on She Boom Boom Me, the track showing traces of JG Watson. Moeller is alive on this track really stiring up the flames and Rittenhouse and Whitaker riding high on the wave. Excellent! Love Come Got Me is a bopping cool soul track with Robb Stupka showing strong drum chops and Moeller and Porecki providing the basis for the track and Rittenhouse and Whitaker adding punctuation throughout. Solid vocal backing really gives pride free rein to guide the track. I Gotta Move On Up has a super sway and pride lays back on the track just riding the melody. He has an excellent feel for this style of music and it's a genuine pleasure to listen to him roll it out. Moeller takes a cool guitar solo on this track as well punching up the track. One of my favorite tracks on the release, Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast, has Pride in a somewhat spiritual posture singing lead over a smooth bed of keys and percussion. Adding his lead vocals over a cloud of backing vocals really works especially well on this track. Wrapping the release is Holding Back The Years, a faster soul track with a cool groove. This entire release has strong character and warmth which makes it an absolute pleasure to listen to.

  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” This track is not from the new release but characteristic of Lou's work.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Deb Ryder - Might Just Get Lucky - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Might Just Get Lucky, from Deb Ryder and it's smokin'! Opening with Get A Grip, Kirk Fletcher pulls out some super riffs and Ryder shows her incredibly rich pipes. Larry David steps up on harp blowing a cool 8 and Ryder keeps a firm "Grip" on this track, shuffle style. On Blue Collar Blues, Ryder takes us on a swingin' ride and Albert Lee adds his own guitar wizardry to the mix. Brad Swanson on drums and Paul Kenedy on bass round out the mix. Greasy shuffle, Really Gone is a real hot potato with sassy vocal work from Ryder and great guitar response from Fletcher. Stan Behrens takes the harp on this track and a nice job he does. Fletcher shows why he is a wildly requested session man playing some really cool solo work on this track. Somber ballad, Might Just Get Lucky, takes an easy pace reflecting the jazzy side of the blues. Ryder has the opportunity to show the more reflective side of her work and this track is very strong complimented by nicely played keys from Greg Hilfman. The up tempo R&B/funky Come On Home To Me finds Ric Ryder leading the way on bass. Fletcher again steps up with some flaming hot guitar riffs punching up the mix. On Louisiana infused Ce Soir Ce Soir, Fletcher, Ryder, Hilfman and Swanson make a cool gumbo to highlight Ms Ryder's vocals. Bad Bad Dream is a really heartfelt slower blues track and not only highlights Ryders vocals but also puts the spotlight on Fletcher for some of the richest guitar work on the release. Excellent! On The Angels Cried, Ryder paints a vivid picture vocally on a blues/R&B track along the lines of Robert Cray. Fletcher again is up to the job laying down some articulate riffs in the mix. On boogie track, Love Stealin Liar, Dave Dills really pulls out the stops on his guitar ride. This is a swinging boogie and Ryder gives it a kick with Dills pushing all the way. These Hands, a country gospel style track wraps the release with the smooth dobro work of James McVay and some of the most compelling vocals on the release. This is an especially cool vocal release with obvious hot guitar work and super supporting instrumentalists.

  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”


Friday, October 11, 2013

Help Me - LZ Love & Lightning Red

LZ Love is a vocalist, percussionist and songwriter; Born in Chicago, back to Louisiana at age 3, then raised in Berkeley California. As so many great American singers have, LZ began singing gospel in a southern church…at age five. Having sung and toured with a long list of icons including Mary Wells, Joan Armatrading, Billy Preston (the 5th Beatle), Parliament Funkadelic, Luther Vandross and Stephen Marley, her credentials are impressive. A favorite of Tommy Castro and Michael Franti, her voice appears on their releases, as does theirs on her CD. LZ Love’s s solo career began in 1995 when her song Lift Me Up reached number two on the European dance charts. Mainly known for her back-up vocals and co lead vocals, LZ has had the pleasure to record with many great artists. LZ made a name for herself with releases in the UK of her dance singles from 1999 to 2005. When residing in London, LZ’s dance-music career was interrupted by the severe illness of her mother. After caring for her dying mother in California, her career took yet another path. In 2001 she co-wrote ‘ONE’, her first album, and the song Been Lonely became a favorite on the San Francisco scene and was released on ‘San Francisco Bay’s Best Blues’ by Epitaph Records. In addition to singing in the Broadway production of ‘The Lion King’ in San Francisco, 2003 saw the release of the acclaimed CD ‘Standing Wide-legged & Proud’. Relocating to Austin, Texas (The Music Capital of the World) in 2004, with her song-writing partner and their lead guitarist, LZ continues to release dance-singles in Europe, albums in the US, and lend her amazing vocal abilities to other projects. In 2006, she released her debut solo album, 'My Higher Ground', featuring her incomparable songwriting and vocal talents. 2006 saw her adding supporting vocals on a Michael Franti Spearhead CD and Lightning Red’s first acoustic release. LZ and Lightning Red's duo recording, 'Gut Bucket Blues' in 2007 has led to label interest and tours. It's Stumpdown acoustic - raw blues at it's best! 2007 was a banner year for LZ. LZ took her band on several short tours, receiving accolades from Clubs, Blues Festivals and Blues magazines. She sang the Star Spangled Banner for the San Antonio Spurs NBA Playoff Game on May 2. LZ also recorded with Calvin Russell on his latest CD, 'Unrepentant' adding backing vocals on 2 songs. The City of Austin declared November 29th as LZ Love day and presented her with a proclamation. Her song, 'My Higher Ground' has been selected to appear on the Austin Convention & Visitor Bureau's compilation CD Volume 7, as well. In 2008, she released her second solo CD, 'Dancin' With The Blues' to much acclaim. LZ performed at several Blues Festivals and took her band on a few tours. In 2009 she Recorded on Ouachita's new CD in the studio. In 2010, she performed on Sara Hichman's new project, "Theater Action" - featuring Willie Nelson, Ray Benson, Ruthie Foster, Carolyn Wonderland, LZ Love, Shelley King and many more. LZ also spent the greater part of 2009 writing and refining her new music and sound while looking for a record producer to take her music to the next level. LZ found her producer in Matt Smith of the "Monstas" fame. Together, they formed a music partnership that has made "MYSTERIOUS" such an amazing album in 2010. LZ is off on a tour of Europe and Blues Festivals in late June for several weeks to pump up the volume on her new album. She plans to tour extensively this year and beyond.

  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 favorite band!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Rigdon & Gatewood

A down to Earth Duo with Passion for the Blues.& Roots Surprising Vocals and Instrumentation.

  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 favorite band!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lotta Blues-za Indeed!: Howard and the White Boys to Perform at Lotta Blues-za Festival

Howard Logo
            "Chicago's Hardest-Working Blues Band...For Over Two Decades!"
Howard and the White Boys

                              Lotta Blues-za, Indeed!: 
Howard & The White Boys Performing At Lotta Blues-za Festival  
          Friday, August 16 - at LaPorte County Fairgrounds
   (LaPorte, IN ) - The Dog Days of Summer are upon us, but the music is still rockin' full-steam with "Chicago's Hardest-Working Blues Band," Howard and the White Boys, set to perform locally at the Lotta Blues-za Festival, LaPorte County Fairgrounds, 2581 W. State Rd. 2, LaPorte, Friday, August 16. 6 pm-1 am. $10. advance, $15. day of show. Info: (219) 229-0775 or Also appearing is popular area attraction, the Elwood Splinters Blues Band, plus three other great groups.

  This past weekend H&TWB recorded their long-awaited new album (and follow-up to the critically-acclaimed "Made In Chicago") at Rosas' Lounge in  Chicago, scheduled for a late-Summer release date. Read more about it here:
  The veteran blues quartet continue to perform through out the U.S., bringing audiences to their feet and out onto the dance floor - much as they have done for over twenty years. Longtime band member Rocco Calipari has also branched out with his successful side project Head Honchos', who have released a well-received debut CD and play regularly throughout the Midwest as well as the rest of the U.S. and Canada.   

  The members of Howard And the White Boys first met at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb in 1988 and began jamming together just for fun, but their fast-growing popularity soon convinced them they could make a career of it. After only a few months, they got their first big break by opening for Blues legend, B.B. King. The band soon made the move to Chicago and began performing with the biggest names in Blues: Koko Taylor, Albert King, Junior Wells, Lonnie Brooks, Luther Allison, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry (the latter whom they were the backing band for in a headlining capacity at the 2002 Long Beach Blues Festival in Long Beach, Calif.).

Howard and the White Boys Interviews/ Promotional Materials On Request 


Monday, August 5, 2013

Live At the Hermosa Saloon - Phil Gates - New release review

I just received a copy of Live At The Hermosa Saloon by Phil Gates and it's really tasty! Opening with Addicted to The Blues, Gates hauls out a basic shuffle with a nice swing. Supple vocals and sassy guitar riffs define this track. On Messin' With The Kid, Gates stays close to the original arrangement and a nice organ solo by Morris Beeks opens the door for some hot rippin guitar work. Ron Battle leads Away I Go with a funky bass line. Vocal harmonies define this track which has a bit of a pop line but doesn't limit the instrumental interludes on keys and guitar. Keith Williams keeps the beat tight on drums throughout. Gates takes Allman like free flowing guitar solo's complimenting the track nicely. You Used Me Up is a cool R&B style track along the lines of You Hurt Me Too. Again , Beeks steps up with a full organ solo and the barn door flies open letting the slide out. Absolutely rippin slide solo's really trigger this track and are like molasses for blues fans! Up Tempo End Of Time finds Gates in an Albert Collins style track again with solid organ work from Beeks. Gates doesn't mince words when it's time to play , stepping up and just slamming it down. Real nice! Evening Train takes a Chicago/ Muddy Waters /rockin blues approach and turn out a solid jam. Wrapping the release with a more contemporary sounding Get Around To Me with a Seasons of the Witch like melody and John Mayer like rhythm, it would appear to be a great track for solid radio play. Gates plays a grinding guitar solo which really has a lot of south in the riffs but with nice fluidity without going overboard with showmanship. This is a solid release which should satisfy existing Gates fans as well as win him a boatload of new ones.

  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”


Monday, July 22, 2013

Maurice John Vaughn

Maurice John Vaughn (born May 10, 1952) is an American blues musician from Chicago, Illinois. He is a guitarist, saxophonist, keyboardist and singer. Vaughn began playing professionally in 1968 as a saxophonist in Chicago R&B groups. He recorded with The Chosen Few in 1976, and played and recorded with Phil Guy, went on tour in Canada in 1979. He played as a sideman with Luther Allison, Son Seals, Junior Wells, Valerie Wellington, and A.C. Reed. His debut solo record was 1984's Generic Blues Album, released in plain white packaging on his own Reecy Records record label; Alligator Records reissued it in 1987. In the 1990s, Vaughn played with Detroit Junior, but spent much of his time working in A&R for Appaloosa Records, and produced albums by Shirley Johnson, Zoom, Maxine Carr, B.J. Emery, and Velvet McNair. Vaughn and his band backed up Detroit Junior on the latter's two releases on Blue Suit Records, "Turn Up The Heat" and "Take Out The Time." In 1994, his song "(Everything I Do) Got To Be Funky" was released on the soundtrack for the film Major League II. The song was also a part of his 1993 release, In the Shadow of the City.  

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 favorite band!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Crazy About My Baby -- Richard "Rip Lee" Pryor

Richard "Rip Lee" Pryor is the son of the legendary Snooky Pryor. He was born in Chicago in 1958. At a very young age he started playing his dad's discarded harmonicas, mimicking his dad's records. Rip played guitar in several local soul bands while in high school. In 1994 he started playing guitar with his dad netting a CD recording "Mind Your Own Business" and a Japan tour. Rip formed several blues bands in the Carbondale area singing and blowing harmonica. He recorded a CD in 1998, "Pitch a Boogie Woogie" then Rip eventually got into doing a solo act playing guitar and harmonica. With the hassle of music and a day job he got out of the music business in 2000. After retiring from his day job and a bout with bone marrow cancer in 2010, Rip is back and very strong. Rip has been working steady with his One Man Blues Show and has taken two South American tours and scheduling a tour for Europe in 2013.  

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 favorite band!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Yellow Dog Records artist: The Soul of John Black - A Sunshine State of Mind - New Release Review

I just received the new release, A Sunshine State Of Mind, from  The Soul of John Black and it's really enjoyable. John A. Bigham, playing most of the parts as singer, songwriter and instrumentalist really delivers a nice package here. Opening with Magic Woman a rock/R&B style track, JB provides a solid package with a catchy hook and snappy beat. Echoing his voice with layers of backing vocals and lead guitar melody, this is a track that easily find it's way to the airwaves. Beautiful Day is a great soul track with a certain Al Green feel... excellent! East LA Lady has an uptempo club beat but not venturing far from the soul thread established by Marvin Gaye. Higher Power is another soul ballad again with an Al Green style structure. No real question where influences come from here. My thoughts, listen to masters to make masterful music. Johnny Bear (Give It To Me), is another high energy dance track with R&B rhythms. I know that I make references to legendary artists in comparison but this music sounds fresh. Everyone is influenced by someone. It's what they do with it. JB is doing something new. With ripping guitar riffs JB pierces the standard for R&B dance music. Lenny Love Cha Cha is a great soul track strongly showing the vocal and rhythmic strength of JB. This is a great release to just lay around the pool and sip a beverage and take in the day. Too Much Tequila again has strong ties to Al Green and if I haven't made it clear, I really like Al Green. Again, not a clone but a branch of a great style. Wrapping the release with Summertime Thang, JB does a marvelous job of pulling all of the feeling of a great classic soul track (which this may be). I've only had the opportunity to listen to this release a few times, but it will be in my car soon, and I expect to listen to it quite a bit more... Very Strong!

  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”


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Delmark Records artist: Lurrie Bell - Blues In My Soul - New Release Review

I just received a copy of the new release, Blues In My Soul, by Lurrie Bell and it certainly lives up to my high expectations. Bell is one of those guys that continuously puts out great music! Opening with T-Bone Walker's Hey Hey Baby, a really strutting blues track bringing to mind Albert Collins and Gatemouth Brown, Bell plays some sting riffs backed by Marques Carroll on trumpet, Chris Neal and Mark Hiebert on sax and strong key work from Roosevelt Purifoy. Blues In My Soul is a great slow blues track allowing Bell the opportunity to bare his soul, both vocally and on the fretboard.... excellent! On Bill Broonzy's I Feel So Good, Matt Skoller adds really cool harp riffs leading the way for Bell to swing. She's A Good "Un has a real smooth groove and Bells syncopation on his solo on this track is particularly effective. On 'Bout The Break Of Day, Bell really digs in on the intro making you sweat just listening. This is a great track featuring Bell but also with a lot of warth on the bottom from Purifoy. Melvin Smith on bass and Willie Hayes on drums keep the bottom effectively tight giving Bell all the room to bend well articulated solos. His vocals on this track are among the best on this release. Going Away Baby, along the lines of Rollin' and Tumblin' just smells like Chicago. Bell keeps it light on guitar and Skoller rides along nicely on harp. On 24 Hour Blues, a nice loping blues number Bell again has particularly strong vocals and his riffs are slick. Purifoy on piano adds brightness nicely complimenting the track. My Little Machine is a super tight slow blues track with crisp guitar riffs ... taste the heat! Big Walter's I Just Keep Loving Her is a jump blues giving Skoller and Bell each a chance to shine and they use the opportunity very nicely. Another T-Bone Walker track, T-Bone Blues Special starts with a really traditional Walker riff, then into a swing track with nice harp work from Skoller. Eddie Boyd's Just The Blues is a particularly strong cut, possibly my favorite track on the release with a nice balance between Bells vocals, Purifoy on piano and really soulful guitar work by Bell. Southside To Riverside turns up the funk a la Albert King and Bell riff off backed strongly by the horn section. Purifoy plays a cool organ solo on this track but it's really all about playing the funk against the blues ... nicely done. One of my all time favorites, Otis Spann's Blues Never Die is up last to wrap up the set. Skoller and Bell both hit super accents to Bells vocals delivering a very nice rendition of this smokin track. Both soloists do super jobs on this track making it a fitting completion to a very strong blues set.

 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 28, 2013

Blue Hoss Records artist: Frank Bang & the Secret Stash - Double Dare - New Release review

I just received the new release, Double Dare from Frank Bang & The Secret Stash. Bash, an ex Buddy Guy band member delivers his 5th release and it's quite unpredictable and interesting. Opening with the title track, Double Dare, Bang has the joint rockin. Having traces of Rory Gallagher and Jimi Hendrix, Bang plays some wicked slide. Burnin' Up The Wind is a cool modern blues rock track with traces of Willie Dixon. Russ Green plays some drifting blues riffs on harp and Bang sings the blues complimented by nice slide work. Next up is Lose Control demonstrates a unconventional approach to the blues such as that shown by Chris Duarte or Eric Gales. Bang has a sound all his own with hot horn interludes from Greg Ward and interesting guitar work.. God Fearin' Man is a great blues rocker with a crisp drum rhythm by Bobby Spelbring and continuing a strong set of driving blues rock tracks. Wonder Woman has a more solitary sound featuring excellent vocals and resonator slide work from Bang. As the track picks up steam it starts to take on the life of a Led Zep style track with nice electric slide work, additional harp work from Green, Ryan Fitzgerald on bass and really nice drums work from Spelbring. Nice track! My Own Country Way is a catchy acoustic foot stomper with real nice resonator guitar work from Drew Pentkowski and Phil Miller and some of the best vocal work on the release. 18 Wheels of Hell rings back to the trucker sounds of the 70's or the country rock sound first popularized by the likes of Charlie Daniels. Spelbring really drives this track home being right on the mark. Finishing up with acoustic number Mattie's Girl, Bang accompanies himself with some real nice finger/slide guitar work and soulful vocals. This is a pretty cool release with a slice of blues rock, country and acoustic blues to please less hard core listeners.  

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 favorite band!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Thrill Is Gone - Small Train

Milton Lewis - Drums Tim Austin - Lead Guitar Lindsey Purcell - Bass, Vocals Jim Ruston - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals My cousin Tim and I have been playing together in various line-ups for over forty years. We had played in rock and top 40 bands, along with a stint in a C & W band. In the late 70's and early 80's we started working on writing original material. Then we started a blues/rock band and with long time friend and drummer, Milton Lewis, we played with a few different bassists off and on until the late 80's. During this time I was side lining, along with bassist Lindsey Purcell in a C&W band. When we'd finally had enogh of the C & W group, Lindsey and I hooked back up with Tim and Milton, who we both had played with in different configurations, and formed Small Train. We cut a demo with 4 originals and 2 covers at a small studio in Henderson Ky. Then we picked up long time aquaintance, Max Jefferson, for lead throat and started playing throughout Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky, with several performances at the annual W.C. Handy Blues Festival in Henderson Ky. In the early 90's we went back to the studio,armed with six new original tunes and cut our first CD, which was self-produced and self-promoted, and sold at our gigs. In 2000 we aquired Jesse Sellers on Lead throat and guitar, and Charlie Crowe on bass and started gigging all over the tristate area. I'm submitting a cut, "A Year Ago Today" from that CD, "SMALL TRAIN Arrives". Also, one from our Live Bootleg album, "Momma's Dream". We have several more original tunes, and are constantly writing more.

 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 favorite band!