music by OBIE DEE

Pay Me No Mind
NorthernBlues NBM0048

Here is a sure bet for best debut album and it comes from the youngest blues band in America. Their combined age is less than 40. Homemade Jamz is comprised of three siblings. Two are in their teen years and one is a pre-teen. Ryan Perry performs lead guitar (on homemade instruments made from car mufflers) and vocals while Kyle Perry handles bass guitar and Taya tackles the drums. The 11 songs – all recorded at their home in Tupelo – ooze with the repetitive boogie blues of Mississippi. A prime example can be heard on Blues Concerto.

Being a trio, the guitar is naturally the main featured instrument. At this point, Ryan’s guitar solos emulate those of his heroes Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. However, to his credit, he resists playing the notes at the pace of a lightning flash. Ryan displays a great potential to blossom into a blues star. He is impressive on Penny Waiting On Change where the guitar crescendos from a leisurely pace and then explodes into fiery passion. The band’s baby, Taya, delivers skimpy beats and some disorderly cymbal crashes.

If you can look past them as being a novelty act, you’ll experience some real blues and will hear true natural talent. The instrumental Shake Rag is assumed to be about dirt-poor, mostly black Shake Rag, Tennessee, which supposedly was a significant influence on a young Elvis Presley. The title track blends a 1950s John Lee Hooker boogie with a trance-like north Mississippi hill drone. Ironically, the least enjoyable track is a cover of Hooker’s Boom Boom. The best of the ten original songs is the gritty minor key Mississippi blues Right Thang Wrong Woman. Here, the sound is so raw you’ll think these kids are being schooled in a smoky juke joint. You wouldn’t think a teen could have experienced the tortured love that is described in the lyrics. Regardless, Ryan sings the song with a deep and serious conviction. Another highlight is Time For Change which lays the foundation for the sound of tomorrow’s blues style.

There is only so much sound that a trio can make. Wisely, harmonica and rhythm guitar – courtesy of Renaud Perry (the band’s proud father) and Miles Wilkinson – have been added to seven songs. This helps with the fills and makes the sound seem larger. Everything about this developing band will improve as their age and experience both increase. Still, this is one of the better releases made by teenagers. Make no mistake. Homemade Jamz are not snotty-nosed rock ‘n’ roll school kids from the playground. These blues siblings play some of the most real deal blues you’ll hear. They need time to further develop but you’ll be blown away by their credibility. In the meantime, they are giving the experienced artists a run for their money and the world an awareness that blues is still alive in Mississippi.

----- Tim Holek

Billy Boy Sings Sonny Boy
Electro-Fi E-fi 3405

Here is a heavy dose of old school blues that you thought wasn’t being recorded any longer. I saw Billy Boy Arnold along with this exact same remarkable band perform over the weekend this CD was recorded in Toronto in 2007. I was on cloud nine for the entire time they were performing as it was some of the finest traditional blues that I've heard in a long time. Needless to say, my expectations for this album were extremely high.

John Lee Williamson (the original Sonny Boy) transformed the blues and was a tremendous influence on Arnold. This album is Arnold’s way of celebrating the music of Williamson and it was released on the 60th anniversary of Sonny Boy’s untimely passing. What a great concept for an album. The vast majority of the repertoire is songs written by Williamson such as Good Morning Little School Girl and Half-A-Pint but there are also three originals by Arnold. Vocally, Billy Boy doesn’t attempt to imitate Sonny Boy but he does emulate Williamson’s harp tone and undulated phrasing especially on New Jail House Blues. How he can play like someone from another generation is astounding.

The 17 songs start to sound similar, and at 71-minutes, the CD is too long in duration to listen to in one sitting. So this loyal tribute CD may be a bit tedious for modernists but traditionalists will be delighted by the electric blues produced by this all star band featuring surviving masters Bob Stroger, Willie Smith, Mel Brown, and Billy Flynn. The best things about the album are it gives awareness to the genuine Sonny Boy and the revelation of Brown as an outstanding keyboard player.

----- Tim Holek

Blues Thing
Blue Star CD2506

Jack de Keyzer – a master of many musical styles – is the pride and joy of the Canadian blues music scene. His latest CD came out towards the end of last year and it is so good that it made it on to my top ten list of 2007.

de Keyzer is a good songwriter – he wrote all of the CD’s 14 songs – but his songwriting isn’t as consistently strong as his guitar playing which is always distinguished. The other note worthy contributions includes a Stax Records sounding horn section and Michael Fonfara’s magnificent keyboards. Largely, the song’s lyrics are about the complications involved with love and de Keyzer sings them with affection. On the title track, which sounds influenced by Albert King’s Pretty Woman, Jack’s ambient guitar surrounds you like close friends supporting you when the chips are down. The guitar becomes mournful on Cry The Blues where the outstanding band emotes despair. The smooth and easy Music Is The Food Of Love is a ’30s and ’40s big band swing. Gentle yet abrasive BB King style guitar materializes on That’s The Only Time while both James Brown and Chuck Berry are saluted on Bills and We Go Together respectively. If I Had Your Love is a radio-friendly pop soul song that sounds similar to Soul Lover from a few years ago. Good Life is a highlight because it brilliantly illustrates the dichotomy of money and happiness. The aristocratic melody contrasts with the blue-collar lyrics which preach the advantages of living a simple existence. Via innocence and seduction, Miss America also delivers a valid message regarding what happened to the America that we all once knew.

This isn’t a straight up blues album and the sweaty energy from his live performances are absent on Blues Thing, yet de Keyzer emits a multitude of emotion via poignant lyrics, graceful guitar, and suave arrangements.

----- Tim Holek

Can’t Stop Now
Electro-Fi E-fi 3407

Award-winning keyboardist/singer/songwriter Kenny Wayne is a triple threat. He has the voice, the talent to play in an exciting way, and the look. Though nicknamed the Blues Boss (after the title of an Amos Milburn album), Wayne’s piano style is more deeply rooted in ’50s rock ‘n’ roll than blues. Born in Spokane, Washington in 1944, Kenneth Wayne Spruell spent his early years in New Orleans before relocating, at age ten, with his family to Los Angeles. Piano playing came easy for him and his preacher father wanted him to play gospel music. But Kenny had boogie-woogie in mind.

Can’t Stop Now was recorded at five different studios in five different cities with more than 20 different musicians and to Wayne’s credit, it isn’t disjointed. Wayne’s music shadows the past as much as it transcends the future. From the start of the lead-off song Boogie Woogie Mama, the boogie woogie begins instantly and it is an ivory tickling party for close to 50 minutes. Throughout, Wayne exercises the upper register until it shrieks from pure enjoyment. The piano’s keys are pounded with so much punch, you can feel the wood and strings shaking on the 1954 Fats Domino hit song You Can Pack Your Suitcase. Judge By The Look states how mixed up and shallow our society is to have an obsession with beauty and a flashy image. Here, Wayne’s full-sounding organ gives way to a cheery piano that sounds both beautiful and intellectual. The song’s inspiration comes from the salary paid to a TV anchorwoman based solely on her appearance. A funky ’70s clavinet appears on My Sweet Little Peach where the rapping of Wayne’s son Cory brings the song into the 21st Century.

The late Johnnie Johnson is honored on a couple songs. The melody of Johnnie J. Was Good is more reminiscent of Johnson’s muscular intensity than the cover of Tangueray. The most moving song – aided by its placement immediately following the contrasting Let’s Have Some Fun – is Ragin’ Storm whose motivational message is to (“bring those folks back to New Orleans”). The heartfelt lyrics, interspersed with the sounds of torrential rain and thunder, illustrates the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina, a government that failed its course, and hope for tomorrow (“did not destroy the spirit of New Orleans”).

Throughout, the party-style music has a life is good and let’s celebrate it feeling. The happy disposition produced by the Blues Boss’ piano playing can make the sun shine on the cloudiest day. It isn’t all focused on the 88s. There is the occasional guitar solo and the most stirring guitarist is Rich McDonough. This is one of Electro-Fi’s best releases in their 11 year history. The stomping keyboards and smooth almost silky vocals on this excellent mix of blues-based New Orleans R&B are glorious. On Can’t Stop Now, Kenny Wayne easily fills the immense void in boogie woogie piano since Johnnie Johnson departed in 2005.

----- Tim Holek

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at


I always thought that it was the Schuylkill River that ran through Philadelphia, PA and that it was the Delaware River that flowed on the city's eastern border - and in all actuality, they do.  However, give a listen to "MORE FIRE", the debut CD from Philly's NEW PONY, and you might just start thinking that the muddy Mississippi River made it's way into the "City of Brotherly Love".  This disc is full of good ol' N'awlins and Delta blues.

The quartet that make up NEW PONY are: CHRIS DEVENNEY on guitar and vocals; PETE GAFFNEY on keyboards, harmonica, accordion and vocals; MAX GUERIN on bass; DWAYNE HOLLOWAY on drums.  The discs eleven tracks are all band originals, and that in itself deserves kudos.

The opening track, a smokin' Cajun, number called "FRENCHMAN STREET", immediately had me craving some Jambalaya, Etouffee, Crawfish Pie and Andouille.  I was ready to jump in the car and make the twelve hour drive to The Court of Two Sisters and The Gumbo Shop.  This one featuring great rhythm, hot piano and guitar licks and funky vocals, is already on the discs best list.

"THE SADDEST PART" about this track is that it's not three times longer than it's three minute length.  This is Delta Blues at it's very best.  Very soulful and emotional vocals, soft yet tight rhythm, good blues guitar riffs and steady background organ all highlight this one.

"RECKLESS" is the first track to feature PETE on the harmonica and his playing already has me hoping there are more.  The distinctly different sounding vocals, make it obvious that it's also him doing a great job on the vocals as well.

It's certainly "FAIR" to say that this track is one of the bluer of the bunch.  The organ intro by PETE makes this track likable from the offset and MAX is absolutely outstanding on bass.  Once again, another good vocal job by PETE as well.

"HOW LONG" had me searching the discs jacket looking to see where BOB MARGOLIN was listed as a special guest, but he wasn't.  Any fans of BOB'S will know that with his vocal abilities and his awesome style of slide guitar play, that a tip of the hat needs to go out to CHRIS for emulating that level of quality.

"MORE FIRE" closes out with a track called "WORD ON THE STREET" and my thoughts are that the interpretation on this one goes something like this........"The "WORD ON THE STREET" is that if you like your music filled with funk, spiced up with some Cajun soul and heavy doses of Delta blues, then NEW PONY is your kinda band.

You can check out the band at  While your there, tell them they got the Blewzzman's stomach's growling.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

(Pronounced Ka-STEEL-Ya)

Writing the liner notes for this disc, BOB PORTER claims that "Albert's own singing and playing are the equal of many performers who are better known at this stage.  This is his time and "THESE ARE THE DAYS" is the album that will move him to the next level".  I could not agree more with BOB.  As a matter of fact, that quote, coming from me, may have referred to ALBERT as being better than many of those better know performers and if this disc doesn't propel him into the mainstream of the blues community it will be an outright shame.

Since his earlier years touring as JUNIOR WELLS' and SANDRA HALL'S guitarist, "THESE ARE THE DAYS" is ALBERT CASTIGLIA'S third release as a bandleader.  Backing him, on guitar and vocals, are his regular South Florida band members: STEVE GASKELL on bass, SUSAN LUSHER on keyboards and BOB AMSEL on drums.  Special guests include: KEN "STRINGBEAN" SORENSON on harmonica, RIO CLEMENTE on Organ, and "SWEET" SUZI SMITH and NICOLE HART on background vocals.

"THESE ARE THE DAYS" opens with a very clever original - "BAD YEAR BLUES".  Sadly, the song could be true - not just for ALBERT - but the rest of us as well.  Since it all hit the fan in January, ALBERT claims that "It's been a real bad year, only twelve more months to go".  And as he tells of his mounting shortcomings, it certainly sounds as if it is going to be a real bad year.  The track is performed as well as it was written.  With the rhythm guys in a zone,  SUSAN beatin' up the piano and ALBERT vocally making the lyrics sound too real, this is one of the discs best.

With the rest of the band very 'lively' behind him, "HE'S GOT ALL THE WHISKEY" is a forum for ALBERT'S stunning guitar abilities.  Throughout this one his rhythm and lead guitar riffs are routinely amazing.

ALBERT sings his heart out on a slow blues ballad titled "LOAN ME A DIME".  This is my kinda stuff - serious, low down blues with some serious low down blues guitar playing.  With the band in a mellow groove behind him, this one is all about ALBERT and his emotions - vocally and musically.  Another of the discs best.

"GODFATHER OF THE BLUES", a song which ALBERT wrote about his former boss - MR. JUNIOR WELLS, is a toe tappin', knee slappin' rocker.  If this one don't get you shakin' then you gotta be achin'.  Of course, a song about JUNIOR wouldn't do him justice without a harp, and on this one KEN "STRINGBEAN" SORENSON certainly does JUNIOR - and the harp - justice.  More good stuff here.

If this disc was an LP, with the amount of times I replayed "NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME", my needle would have worn through the wax by now.  This version of this song is absolutely phenomenal.  With BOB and STEVE setting just the right pace, ALBERT is at discs best on guitar and SUSAN may very well be at career best on the piano.  On top of that, "SWEET" SUZY and NICOLE HART are as fabulous as the 'Rayette's' ever were.  I can't begin to say enough about this track.

Although this is certainly not a complaint, it is however this writer's opinion that "NEED YOUR LOVE SO BAD" is one of the kind of songs that ALBERT just doesn't do enough of.  He's got such a perfect voice for these slow ballads and his slow, burning guitar notes are some of the best - as this track will reveal.  Nice steady background organ by RIO help highlight this one.

If you want to do yourself a favor - and I mean a really big favor - take yourself over to and get yourself a copy of "THESE ARE THE DAYS".  I promise you you'll agree with BOB PORTER and the BLEWZZMAN.  And don't forget to tell ALBERT KA-STEEL-YA that his buddy PETE sent ya.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

Various Artists

SPV 42772 CD

Formed in 1950 by Nashville music entrepreneurs Red Wortham and Jim Bulleit, Delta Records enjoyed its earliest successes with gospel group The Fairfield Four, though the first recordings for the label included the excellent country blues titles of Louis Campbell. Over the years the label became a sideline to Bullet Records, and the 22 tracks of this fine collection (recorded in the fifties) include the gospel and country blues of those acts just mentioned, a couple of big-voiced ballads and of course plenty of jumping Rhythm & blues sides – one of them the well-known ‘Certainly All’ by Eddie Jones, who was soon to become better known as Guitar Slim. Towards the end of these titles the influence of Rock and Roll becomes apparent, and several numbers are rockabilly styled, there is a Little Richard soundalike and some classy doo-wop. There may be nothing truly vital here, but fine notes by Nashville R&B expert Fred James complete a fine package.

----- Norman Darwen

Artist: Janiva Magness
Title: What Love Will Do
Label: Alligator ALCD 4924

Form more information go to: or

Thirty years, seven albums (and one cassette only release) later, Janiva is finally on the cusp of international recognition with this, her new debut release on the Alligator label.  In the past, the many plaudits and awards that have been garnered by her, for the high standards and quality of her music is well deserved. She has demonstrated on her previous albums a hard, tenacious determination to learn, improve, refine and define her natural talents.

Janivas’ voice over the passage of time has matured into an extremely sensuous, sultry and softer version of Janis Joplin; with her somewhat raw and scratchy rasping edge emerging only in moments of high emotion.

Janiva has collected together all the necessary elements required; exemplary musicians, a well considered song selection and  the right state of mind, most importantly a vast wealth of experience and knowledge has been displayed here to create an album that manages to be both understated in its’ references and yet full of singular distinction.

To hear and enjoy on this album the warmly rich fat resonating sounds of the saxophone, coupled with some wonderfully understated guitarwork evokes countless happy memories of many classic numbers from the past.

The sleek sophistication which emanates from the thirteen numbers found on this album has been lovingly produced from the musicians backing Janiva; who, takes lead vocals, are; guitars; Zack Zunis, Michael “junior” Watson, Jeff Turmes and Dave Darling;  key boards; Red Young, Arlan Schierbaum, Benny Yee and John Whynot. Bass; Jeff Turmes Gary Davenport and Dave Darling, drums;  Stephen Hodges, tenor and baritone saxophone; Jeff Turmes, trumpet and trombone; Lee Thornburg.

The thirteen engaging numbers on this album range from the fresh vibrantly happy, clappy sounds reminiscent of Motown in their golden period to smooth, rich Atlantic and Stax soul, infused with mid seventies urban arrangements which are at times punctuated by a sharply attacking horn section.

This album joyously harks back to the sounds of ones’ youth at its invigorating best. Whilst simultaneously being thoroughly modern and forward looking.

----- Brian Harman

Artist: Various
10th Year Anniversary 1997-2007
Label: CeePeeVee Records CPVCD 1301

For more information go to: and

This album could almost be subtitled Big City Rhythm vol.3 if it wasn’t for the fact that all of the twenty two numbers featured on this CD are from the vaults of CeePeeVee records, which have lain on the shelves untouched for at least ten years. Now that we can hear them for ourselves, I can categorically state that there is not one of these numbers that doesn’t stand not only the test of time but, more importantly the very high standard of quality we have come to expect from CeePeeVee records.

Virtually all the fun loving and heartbreaking genres of the forties and fifties are represented here; Jump blues, swing, vintage R&B, the Blues of Westside, Chicago. Cool, cool Harmonica forays and richly picked Jazz lounge sounding crooners and movers.

Every number sounds as if it was not only written and recorded before the days of Rock’n’Roll were upon us but when people were still spending their demob money.

Footapping, richly golden brown guitar runs juxtaposed with delicate rolling and sometimes crashing piano breaks are interspersed with contrasting sharp or sweetly sublime harmonica; alongside sweeping, crisp, clean drums, that are backed but not overshadowed by honking or highly fattening chocolate brown sounding saxophone, all wrapped up in a glowingly relaxed and comforting production.

Label owner and musician Claes Parmland has not once wavered from his commitment to provide the world with classic quality music which also reaches into the soul and firmly grasps the essence of the Blues with both hands.

It also should be taken into account that all the musicians on this and all previous CeePeeVee recordings are from Sweden; they represent not only a very  talented collection of present day blues players but they can also look back on a rich Blues and Jazz heritage.

If you like the rich creamy blues of the forties and fifties, this is for you. In fact if you like good music it’s for you!

----- Brian Harman

Artist: Josh Boyd and the V.I.P. Band
Title:  Josh Boyd and the V.I.P. Band
Label Self Produced

For more information go to: &

Twelve bar blues, country blues, folk blues, Mississippi delta blues, Memphis blues blue collar roadhouse blues; the list of variations is endless. So, what category do Josh Boyd and the V.I.P. Band neatly file away into?

Well, as far as the purists are concerned, I would imagine that they would prefer to file them into oblivion. For although his roots and underlying inspiration is undoubtedly the blues with the self evident influences of artists such as, Albert Collins, Albert King, James Brown and Jimi Hendrix; one can just hear their influencing flavours in his playing. Nevertheless his interesting interpretation of the music genre he loves so much, could well be (to these ears anyway,) described as a loose combination of vocals reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd, with a playing style that has a number of elements that are not dissimilar to Judas Priest and Z.Z. Top.

Although this description does not seem to bode well for a bright future in the blues world; I would suggest that in the wider world of blues influenced music this band would undoubtedly thrive.

The clean, crisp production values given to each of the ten numbers on this album reveal a particular clarity of sound, which can only ever be achieved by a tight, well rehearsed unit.

Lead guitar and vocals are supplied by Josh and Charles Gaston’s’ drums dominate throughout the proceedings with Junior Springs’s bass providing a firm anchoring at all times. As the numbers march forth from the speakers, each player ratchets up the skill level on their respective solos, as a consequence of this, we are treated to ever faster, and more furious, heavier and seemingly complex guitar runs and drum fills.

This is a very good album overall, with an interesting and very different version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” 

While this album may not be everybody’s ‘cup of tea’ it is definitely a breath of fresh air and also hugely enjoyable.

Certainly worth a listen, most certainly not, for the purists!

----- Brian Harman

Born In Arkansas

Big Eye Records BER394

Born in Helena, Arkansas on 19th January 1936, Willie is still best-known I guess for his long stint as Muddy Waters’ drummer, and there is nothing wrong with that, of course, except for the fact that it sometimes overshadows his own considerable talents as an artist in his own right. That is beginning to be corrected, and about time too – ‘Born In Arkansas’ is Willie’s sixth album under his own name, and mighty fine it is. What else would you expect from a band that comprises Billy Flynn and Little Frank Krakowski on guitars, Bob Stroger on bass, Barrelhouse Chuck on piano, and Willie’s son Kenny ‘Beedy Eyes’ Smith (also making a name for himself these days) on drums. That’s right – in case you didn’t know, Willie sings these days and has gone back to his original instrument, the harmonica, the blues harp he blew back in the fifties behind the likes of Bo Diddley, Johnny Shines and Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Spires.

I wonder what he sounded like then, as he sounds great now! Ok, many of the tracks are derivative – but when the inspirations are the fifties Chess and Vee-Jay sounds, the likes of  Little Walter, Elmore James, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers and of course Muddy himself, who’s complaining? Willie learned at the source – and it shows. Highly recommended to all the blues lovers in the house!

----- Norman Darwen

First Takes - Acoustic Blues & Spirituals
Bottleneck Records

If you have experienced Swedish singer and guitarist Johan Eliasson a.k.a. Bottleneck John before, you will have a good idea what to expect and find it confirmed by the CD title. These were indeed, with the exception of some very minor over-dubs, all recorded first take down. John has an outstanding voice for the kind of early blues and sacred material that he so obviously loves and performs so well, even if it does come via the likes of Eric Bibb or Corey Harris in addition to the original masters like Robert Johnson, Son House, The Mississippi Sheiks, Muddy Waters, the Chicago styled singer and harmonica player Dan Smith or Tampa Red.

This time around though, John features his new act, the Delta Trio, which places his vocals, guitars, banjo, mandolin and kazoo alongside the harp and vocals of Stefan Swén and the violin, vocals, and mandolin of Lars Åstrand. The result can be a joyful noise indeed, or a deep, deep blue. Personally I would have preferred one or two of the more up tempo items nearer the beginning of the CD but that is only a slight quibble. There are few around these days who get as deep down into the blues as Bottleneck John.

----- Norman Darwen          

Live In Sweden
LM MusicLMCD0801

This vocal/ piano (Georg) and harmonica (Marc) duo out of Kiel in Germany recorded this double CD in Ange during a tour of Sweden in April 2007. They have known each other a long time and this familiarity is evident throughout the immaculately recorded ninety minute programme. This is certainly no ordinary blues CD, despite the inclusion of numbers such as ‘Route 66’, Elmore James’s ‘Sunnyland’, or Muddy’s ‘Can’t Be Satisfied’. These and the originals are vehicles for experimentation and lengthy improvisation by both men – and both are massively accomplished musicians, willing to go outside the blues box to incorporate jazz, rock, pop, and folk elements to serve their needs. An intriguing release and one that I suspect many harmonica players will listen to in awe.

----- Norman Darwen

Artist: Alvon & the Allstars
Guitars and Cars
Label: Pig Heaven Records

For more information go to:

Alvon was surrounded by music from a very early age; His grandfather being a Baptist minister ensured that his early influences would be of a spiritual nature. His mother and her sisters sang in church but also went on to form a vocal group that was named ‘The Francis Sisters’  and by all accounts were very popular in the Texas area during the forties.

He therefore not surprisingly; as a youngster became greatly interested in music, after choosing to play the guitar he found that the players he enjoyed listening to most, were the Jazz guitarists Wes Montgomery, Andre Segovia and Charlie Christian; and as consequence the combination of their styles emerges very evidently in Alvons’ relaxed, confident and richly mellow playing style of today.

During his time at Portland state university he became very interested in the conga drum and promptly added the instrument to his repertoire; which in turn led to him touring with The West African highlife group “New World Afrika.” He continued his to expand his knowledge and hone his musical skills by working with local funk bands, for a while he sang with The Jim Little Orchestra.

In 1980  he moved to Los Angeles and over time went on to work with such artists as; The Drifters, The Shirelles, Otis Day & the Knights  and  Country artist Jimmie Rodgers.

In recent years Alvon has toured the world as both a solo artist and as part of a touring band. During this time he has released two solo albums and with this, his third album we are presented with a collection of ten numbers which are a mixture of originals and covers.

Alvon uses his deeply rich and creamy voice to great effect throughout the album, especially on the re-worked, jazz influenced “Route, Sixty Six,” at times his phrasing is reminiscent of the late Nat King Cole.. His relaxed and enticing jazz instrumental versions of “For the Love of You,” “The World is a Ghetto” and “People Get Ready,” are a very pleasant change to the possibility of inferior hackneyed versions.

The blues are not forgotten here with five very tasty and arrestingly played numbers, and lastly a leisurely paced “No Particular to Go;” Works a treat.

Should, you like a change from your normal blues diet then I would seriously suggest you investigate this album.
Seriously relaxing!

----- Brian Harman

Life Goes On
Modern Blues Records MBR22801
MySpace URL:

I remember, many years ago, an advertisement for a record by singer Monica Dupont in the back of Living Blues. I often wondered what it was like but never actually found out. So I was thrilled to receive this CD. Monica has had so many ups-and-downs in her life and this is her first new album for 25 years.

Monica’s voice is highly unusual – very deep, so that coming to it the morning after I first listened to it, I forgot and wondered who the guest male vocalist was – yes, that’s right. She is a somewhat inflexible singer, with more of a ‘talking’ voice but that never harmed Howling Wolf, did it? It certainly suits her rocking blues treatment of J. B. Hutto’s ‘Too Much Alcohol’ and the (appropriately) grinding ‘Shakin’ The Sheets’. She sounds a little like Percy Mayfield on Johnny Preston’s / The Big Bopper’s ‘Running Bear’. Then again, she is as effective on the jazzy blues-ballad of the title track or the very cool ‘Mr. Cool’ as she is on the Mississippi-styled ‘The Man From New Orleans’, with just twin acoustic guitars for accompaniment. Some measure of the esteem in which Monica is held can be gauged from the fact that backing musicians on the album include slide guitar ace Ron Thompson (in great form), Microwave Dave, veteran saxman Bobbie Webb, pianist Mitch Woods, and harpmen Mark Hummel and the UK’s own Wolfie Witcher. Do not, however, overlook the excellent contributions of producer, organist, bassist, guitarist and drummer Gary Novak.

So then to sum up this is a fine and exciting set of classy blues, both rough and smooth. Don’t make us wait another 25 years, Monica!

----- Norman Darwen

Artist: Dave Specter
Title: Live in Chicago
Label: Delmark DVD 1794

For more information go to:

Dave is captured playing live on this DVD over two nights, August the 20th at Rosas’ Blues Lounge and on the 21st at Buddy Guys’ Blues Lounge. Joining Dave onstage at Buddy Guys’ are Tad Robinson and Jimmy Johnson; while at Rosas’ blues lounge he is joined by Sharon Lewis. A t both concerts the gentleman providing the stalwart and flawless backing, on both nights are; Brother John Kattke; keyboards, Harlan Tarson; bass and Marty Binder on drums.

Tad Robinson contributes four soul inflected harp led numbers which have resonating echoes of Little Walters’ style about them. Dave’s wonderfully inspired soulful guitar interaction with Tads’ rousing harp produces’ a succulent drenching definition of southern soul.

Whilst Jimmy Johnson brings us back to the windy city with a stark, sharp ferocity of guitar work that belies his seventy nine years. For; he assaults the numbers, with all the vigour and raw enthusiasm of man half his age. The impassioned cries brought forth from Jimmy’s almost hoarse voice command our complete and unadulterated attention; combine all that with his almost duelling scorching solos that are happily exchanged with a good deal of relish and inspiring passion from Dave.

The intimate atmosphere of Rosas’ Lounge seems somewhat small for the expansive vocal talents of the larger than life Sharon Lewis; but when her commanding presence and pricelessly raw voice is harnessed together with Dave’s skilfully dextrous playing you can imagine that you have been transported to the likes of a rough and ready rural juke joint or some smoky, sodden gin palace. The audience here is treated to a down to earth selection of ‘blues shouting’ at its best, with one of the best blues guitar exponents in Chicago.

On this DVD Dave concisely displays exactly why he is so universally applauded not only in the blues world for his consummate and effortless guitar playing abilities but also for his work in the community with youngsters of Chicago who also want to play the blues.

There are also two extras on the DVD; an informative Dave Specter documentary and a photo gallery.
Well worth investigation!

----- Brian Harman

Artist: Mississippi Heat
Title: Hattiesburg Blues
Label: Delmark DE 795

For more information go to:

This music contained within this new release on the Delmark label has opened up a yet another new avenue for one of the most hard line traditional Chicago blues bands, an avenue which enables them to enjoy strutting their stuff and yet at the same time deliver a grinding  groovin’ syncopating Latin groove. With these new sounds and textures infused into the blues mix anything is possible; whilst at the same time continuing to embrace the larger ensemble approach wherein guest artists are invited to heighten not only the core bands’ performance but also adding to the listener’s pleasure level.

The thirteen numbers on this album range in style from old fashioned hard edged harp led Chicago blues to irresistible footapping, hip dislocating Latin groovers; with lead vocalist Inetta Visor commandingly taking a firm grip on seven of them, one moment her impressive vocal talent is making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end and then just as suddenly gently, leisurely, caressing yours ears.

Pierre Lacoques’ raspingly sharp and tenderly reassuring old school harp playing brings us firmly back to the backstreets of the windy city with an image  that keeps our noses firmly  to the grindstone. The guitar playing and phrasing from Giles Corey, Carl Weatherby and special guest Lurrie Bell creates sparkling images of Albert king, Otis Rush and Magic Sam; the atmosphere on most of the album is low down and lovably dirty.

A simply stunning horn section; courtesy of Kenny Anderson; trumpet, Hank Ford; tenor saxophone, Bill McFarland; trombone and Willie Henderson on baritone saxophone simply ratchets- up the swaying goodtime marching feel. Completing this very evocative line-up is; Chris “Hambone” Cameron; keyboards, Spurling Banks and Stephen Howard; bass, Kenny Smith and Dujas Austin; drums with Ruben Alvarez providing Latin percussion.

Well worth investigating!

----- Brian Harman

Blind Pig Records, BPCD5122

Let Life Flow; Blues, Leave Me Alone; You’ve Got To Hurt  Before You Heal; Louisiana Stew; Starlight Diamond; Another Man’s Cologne; Broken Dreams; Bleeding Heart; Since I Met You Baby; Fly Away; It Don’t Make Sense You Can’t Make Peace

This CD, “Let Life Flow,” reflects a revitalized Kenny Neal, who performs from the depths of his soul. He has been through tragedy and health problems for the last three years, and has come back with an optimistic perseverance to continue his 20-year music career.

His title track,”Let Life Flow,”is the first song on the CD. It sets the tone for some of the songs. Whatever happens, life flows on. The catchy rhythm patterns, Kenny’s melodic guitar playing, and the horns magnetically draw one into the music and messages. In “Blues Leave Me Alone,” another one of Kenny’s songs, a  very catchy rhythm pattern, a great long guitar solo and emphatic vocals by Kenny reinforce the words. The heart-rendering song, “You’ve  Got To Hurt Before You Heal,” refers to some of the deep emotions Kenny has been through. Kenny wrote the somber pensive song, “Fly Away,” for the four family members and friend he lost within an eleventh month period.

On the lighter side, Kenny sings about his home state of Louisiana in his “Louisiana Stew.” Several songs are about the heartbreaking and happier sides of relationships. His versions of two cover songs, Ivory Joe Hunter’s “Since I Met You Baby,” and Willie Dixon’s “It Doesn’t Make Sense You Can’t Make Peace” are very moving and creative.

Kenny’s guitar playing, his harmonica blowing, and his vocals are all  very melodic, powerful, and impressive throughout the CD.The varied rhythm patterns are addicting. He wrote or co-wrote five tracks out of the eleven. His dad, wrote two of the songs, and his trumpet player, Joe Campbell, wrote one of the songs. The band sounds great and the album is well-produced by Kenny and his son, Kenny Neal,Jr. All in all, this is a highly recommendable album, full of emotion. It shows that Kenny is back on the track, stronger than ever.

----- Maria Bainer

Artist: Billy Gibson the “Prince of Beale Street”
Live at the North Atlantic Blues Festival
Label: North Atlantic Blues Records DVD

For most artists it would normally take years of constant touring to gain not only a solid fanbase but also a firm grip in that precarious international rockface known as the public eye. Well, Billy has certainly found himself firmly in the public eye, for in May 2006 he was one of a number of artists that were featured in a BBC World Service programme that was broadcast worldwide, entitled Destination Music; his participation included a live performance and an interview section. The programme was broadcast to more than two hundred countries and quite possibly millions of happy listeners.

Now, adding to his ever increasing fanbase the “Prince of Beale Street” as he is affectionately known as since he gained the award of The Beale Street Entertainer of the year in 2005; has charmed, with his earthy performance the extremely discerning audience of the 2007 North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland Maine, during the bands’ first summer tour.

After moving from his hometown of Clinton, Mississippi he moved to Memphis, whilst there he befriended Peter Pedersen; where they studied Jazz harmonica technique. Together they gained a greater understanding and appreciation of the finer points of harmonica musicianship.

This knowledge combined with his many street playing experiences has enabled him to become a fully fledged Beale Street entertainer; also in 2004 he gained a B.A. from the University of Memphis.

The musicians in Billy’s band are the ex Albert King band members, David Bowen; guitar James Jackson; bass with Cedric Keel on drums. They play like the veterans they are, smoothly interacting like well greased gearwheels in a high performance car. An added depth to the overall sound is achieved by the inclusion here of guest keyboard player Charlie Wood tinkling the ivories.

Throughout the set, which lasts for just under an hour; Billy effortlessly manages whilst blowing his harp at full pelt as if his very life depended upon it; to leap, twist, run and dance all over the stage to the obvious delight of the audience who at Billy’s every invitation is involved during the set.

Cedric sympathetically pounds his drums in response to Billy’s acrobatic and rousing harp playing while David provides substantial and satisfying guitar flurries, meanwhile James is their holding it all in place. The pleasing keyboard skills of guest artist Charlie Wood creates an evocative backdrop of sound to the whole set.

On the evidence of this DVD Billy and his band are certainly a force to be reckoned with!

----- Brian Harman

Artist: Christian Dozzler
Title: The Blues and a Half
Label: Blueswave CD-2008

For more information go to

This is Christians’ sixth solo release and his second since his relocation from his home in Vienna, Austria to the Dallas Fort Worth area in 2002. He was invited to tour with the Larry Garner band in 2000 and after extensive touring he took the opportunity to settle down in Texas. As, you probably are aware Christian, who had already, been having formal classical piano lessons since the age of five; promptly, dropped these lessons, for the blues at the age of thirteen, after hearing boogie woogie played on the radio.

After many years of playing across Europe exhibiting his masterful keyboard skills he became rightly famous for his work with the highly regarded Mojo Blues band subsequently emerging as one of the bands’ two frontmen. After ten years or so with the band he went solo and over the next few years awards and plaudits were heading in his direction.

Now in 2006 Christian is taking another turn with this album; a collection of thirteen original numbers that are very fine indeed, atmospheric, low-down and dirty.   Ranging from a footappingly splendiforous zydeco noise; alongside with authentic sounding New Orleans piano accompanied by enormously fat Saxes. The razor sharp harp ranges from melancholy stumblings to supremely Chicago confident.  The guitar playing is red raw tight, meaty beaty and very bouncy!  Christians’ voice is at times vulnerable and caustically confident; coupled with his satisfying and stunning well paced keyboard work it all combines together to make undoubtedly a blaster of an album.

Joining Christian who plays, piano, harmonica, Hammond b3 and accordion, is Anson Funderburgh; guitar, Mike Morgan; lead guitar, Jim Suhler; slide guitar, Hash Brown and Chris Zalez; guitar, Ron Jones; tenor & baritone saxophone, John Garza; bass and Kevin Schermerhorn; drums.

Very fine indeed!

----- Brian Harman

Artist: Doug MacLeod
The Utrecht Sessions
Label: Black & Tan Records CDB&T032

For more information go to: and

With this new album from Doug the overpowering musical sparseness is evident and has an immediately overwhelming feeling of desolation, which seems quickly to be instilled fully into the listener; that sentiment is also further fuelled by the obvious overall starkness of the album.

Doug’s vocal dexterity ranges from a delicate and hesitantly, light gossamer falsetto; to an assuredly powerful, dark, bleak coal black hoarseness.

Doug has created from a combination of guitar, bass and percussion a haunting collection of hugely powerful numbers which are rich in emotional presence. All twelve original compositions are delivered with a succinct and penetrating simplicity.

A cold solitary feeling is strongly evoked throughout the proceedings, which echoes a rural fragility that now in the modern world is possibly lost forever. A fleeting feeling, which is rarely felt, but once triggered, ensures an unwanted grey engulfing coldness.

This album is by no means dark, dank and dismal throughout; there are, one or two shining lights in the darkness, but sometimes we should be reminded about the possibilities of the dark side of life otherwise we would not quite enjoy so much the bright, sweeter side.

One is reminded on some of the numbers of the haunting arrangements used by the late Johnny Cash on his last album. Joining Doug; guitar and left foot, on the album is; Arthur Bent; percussion and Jasper Mortier; double bass.

This is an album that needs to savoured and appreciated like a very old and well matured whisky.

Highly recommended!

----- Brian Harman

Hypertension HYP 8260

Ben Waters is one of an endangered species – a young guy who plays boogie and rock ‘n’ roll piano. Ben is becoming a well-known name on the UK blues scene, having played with the likes of Robert Plant, Chris Jagger, Skin’ Stevens and Florida harp ace Rock Bottom, and this CD, his first for Hypertension, should spread his name even further. It is a blasting set from the outset, with Ben on vocals, piano and organ fronting a combo consisting of co-writer, guitarist and bassist Richard Hymas, drummer Ady Milward, and Clive Ashley on sax, plus a few occasional guests including the under-rated Ed Deane on guitar. Older hands will appreciate the likes of the storming ‘Helicon Boogie’ (lots of dirty sax on this one!), and the following track, a jumping four and a half minutes long version of Amos Milburn’s ‘Roomin’ House Boogie’, which continues the vintage groove. Ben is not a straight blues/ Rock ‘n’ roll pianist though; his vocals and songs are certainly modern, even his tribute to James Booker. There are elements such as the Beatles or more recent British rock bands like Oasis, whilst ‘Mother Nature’s Molecules’ almost approaches the ‘Phil Spector wall of sound’ style. All of the music on this highly entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking CD is at least blues based, though mostly with a different slant than the usual, and if it brings a younger audience to the music, that’s all to the good.

----- Norman Darwen

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at


Once again, here I am about to discuss another CD from Canada.  The enormous amount of submissions I get from our neighbor to the north is interesting.  What I also find interesting is the enormous number of musicians that appear on most of these discs.  Rarely, or more accurately - never, do I ever receive a CD from the Canucks that consists of your basic guitarist, drummer and bassist.  Doing their best to keep the unemployment rate down, several different players on several different instruments are very commonly used.  Which, by the way, with the number of very qualified blues musicians living in that country, makes this a good thing.  It's been extremely pleasant to have been exposed to all of this wonderful talent.

Having said that, let me now introduce you to the dozen stars that appear on RUSSELL JACKSONS "HAVE MERCY" CD.  Joining RUSSELL, on electric and acoustic bass, vocals, background vocals and tambourine are: KENNY "BLUES BOSS" WAYNE on piano, keyboards and B3 organ; THEO BROWN on drums; JOHNNY FERREIRA and STEVE HILLIAM on tenor sax; TERRY TOWNSON on trumpet; BRANDON ISSACS on lead and rhythm guitar, dobro, snare and high hat; DAVID HOERL on harmonica; ROBERT STEPHAN on lead and rhythm guitar and lap steel; RICK CHRISTOPHERSON on lead, rhythm and acoustic guitar; JOHN ELLIS on pedal steel; JEFF NYSTROM on background vocals.

On the opening and title track, "HAVE MERCY", the lyrics tell a very real and very disappointing story.  RUSSELL points out that although the blues gave birth to Jazz and Rock & Roll - from which funk, R&B, soul, rap, hop, country and heavy metal all derived, the blues is barely ever mentioned in class and all they do is talk pop, classical, and a whole lot of jazz.  I share his sentiments as he sings to "Have mercy for the blues".

Get ready to put on your "DANCIN' SHOES" when this track comes on.  It starts out with JOHNNY blowin' smoke out of the tenor sax and gets hotter with each players contributions, especially when the BLUES BOSS starts fanning the flames on piano.  Great vocals by RUSSELL and an all out jam session by the band make this one of the discs best.

"TOSSIN' 'N TURNIN'", is sure to get you tappin' and snappin'.  Definitely another of the discs best.  The great rhythm that RUSSELL, THEO and KENNY lock into, the sharp - and I do mean sharp - harp blowin' by DAVID, the tremendous sounds coming from BRANDON'S dobro and the precision vocal harmony between RUSSELL and JEFF make this a hell of a toe tapping sing along.

It seems that a party RUSSELL was at got a bit too boisterous that "THEY RAIDED THE JOINT".  Don't ya just hate when that happens?  This hot shuffle is another of the many highlights on "HAVE MERCY".  This one features KENNY working his usual magic on piano, ROBERT supplying the hot guitar riffs and RUSSELL singing his heart out.

"WORKING WITH MY BABY" is a soft, steamy ballad. The velvet vocals, the rustling rhythm, the gentle guitar, the tender tickling of the ivories and the sultry sounds of the sax make this one smolder.  The slow dancers will swoon over this one.

"Other equally outstanding tracks - of which most are originals - on "HAVE MERCY" are: "SHOW ME THE DOOR", "TALK ATCHA", "A WOMAN NEEDS", "HOWLIN' AT THE MOON", "BRAND NEW LIFE", BECOMING THE BLUES", "LOVE ALL AROUND" and "FUNKY HIDE AWAY".

Like me, you may be unaware that RUSSELL was B B KING'S bass player for about a dozen years.  To find out many of the other notable blues folk he played with, stop by his My Space page at ..........
While you're there, give him a shout and tell him Blewzzman sent ya.  While you're at it, pick up a disc as well.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

Lowdown Feelin’

Delta Groove DGPCD122

The Mannish Boys are one of today’s top exponents of the Chicago and southern blues sound of the fifties; hardly surprising given the line-up of veteran blues men Bobby Jones, Finis Tasby or Johnny Dyer on vocals, label boss Randy Chortkoff on vocals and harmonica, Frank Goldwasser, Kirk Fletcher or Kid Ramos on guitars (just check the experience of that trio!), Ronnie James Weber or Tom Leavey on bass and Richard Innes on drums.

As if that wasn’t enough, they have some guests along too: one time Earl Hooker sparring partner Little Sam Davis on vocals and harmonica being perhaps the most notable for the purists, whilst lovers of modern blues will welcome the presence of guitar ace Junior Watson, harmonica men Lynwood Slim and Al Blake, and pianist Fred Kaplan. Put these guys in the studio with a bunch of songs such as Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Chocolate Drop’ (never thought I would hear any cover of this particular song, never mind one so well tackled by singer Jones!), Junior Parker’s ‘These Kind Of Blues’, a couple from Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson, some other equally worthwhile borrowings and a few originals (including two by Sam Davis), and the results recommend themselves. If you ever despaired of hearing new recordings of that real blues sound, do yourself a favour and go and buy this right now!

----- Norman Darwen

Deliveries After Dark

Dixiefrog DFGCD 8635

Popa Chubby stands astride the New York blues scene like a colossus – or maybe for some readers, looking at his tattoos and piercings and taking a quick listen to, let’s say for example, the title track or ‘Sally Can Ride’ (maybe via the video clips included on this release) and the Led Zeppelin styled opener ‘Let The Music Set You Free’, we should more accurately call him Chubzilla, laying waste to everything in his path with volume and a tarmac crunching backbeat. But wait.....

Remember the Smog Monster? – Godzilla kicked its ass good and proper! Chubby tends to do the same to the hot air of the critics. His blues-rock, all high energy and punky, feisty attitude is pretty exciting stuff, and the man isn’t afraid to speak his mind or tell it straight (even his song titles are likely to get censored!) – and isn’t the blues all about strong individuals? Those who quibble that Chubby doesn’t play the blues should take a look at the numerous people who have benefited from the Chubster’s attentions, or better still, lend an ear to the likes of the country-blues derived ‘You Can’t Stop Love’ or such muscular, churning blues items as ‘I’ll Piss On Your Grave’ or ‘Grown Man Crying Blues’. Still want something a little more straightforward – try the instrumental ‘2nd Avenue Shuffle’ or the Bo Diddleyesque ‘Man Of The Blues’. Popa has a sense of humour too – how about ‘Theme From The Godfather’ reworked as a heavy, blistering surf instrumental? Yeah, right! It works, too – so does his ‘reggae’ piece ‘Woman In My Bed Dub’ so does this whole CD in fact

----- Norman Darwen

MIKE DOLLINS BAND featuring Ginny Becton
Live Love Laugh
Own label

This outfit is based in Benton, Arkansas and has been raising some sand recently. This is not too surprising as the Mike Dollins Band is a very versatile outfit which can range from the cool and jazzy sound of the opening (and title) track, with its smooth vocal by Ginny Becton, delicate guitar work and underpinning organ, to the dirty, rocking boogie sound of 'Be Your Man'. Along the way are such delights as the slow 'No One To Turn To' with a blueswailing vocal by Ginny, the out-and-out jazz of 'Summertime', the rocking 'Leaving Chicago' with James Cotton styled harp-playing, the down-home 'Strange Things', or the 'Help Me' groove, excellent organ and tough guitar playing of the closing 'Teaser'.
The other numbers also contain elements of soul, funk, rock and roll and swing to add to the delight of those listening to this very enjoyable and varied CD

----- Norman Darwen

Outdoor Kitchen
Deltalectric AGCD0701

I’d never heard of Alex before, but this is (I think) his fourth album. His website makes much of his music being the point where blues meets punk; there are probably as many definitions of the blues as there are lovers of the music itself, but I guess many might quibble at the inclusion of Mr Gomez within the hallowed parameters. His music is certainly wild and unfettered and seems at times to rely on the creation of noise. Mind you, wasn’t it the Memphis Jug Band who said, “Aw, make a racket”? Alex has at times taken those words to heart. As his website states, if you like Keb Mo’ and Eric Clapton, you’ll hate Alex Gomez. If, on the other hand, you like music with a definite attitude and edge, then you might go for this.

----- Norman Darwen

Styx CD 1029

This Austrian combo was formed in 1999 under the leadership of singer and guitarist Hermann ‘Hobo’ Posch, and this is their third CD. The previous two were reviewed by yours truly in Blues Art 03/2006, and I was impressed with the fact that the band has its own take on the blues rather than any slavish copying. That pattern continues on this set, which contains several straight blues numbers in the band’s own individual, relaxed and tight style, and several examples of ‘americana’ for lack of a better term. Hermann has a fine, tough but tender voice which suits his material well and he is ably supported by keyboards player Tom Hornek, bassist Paul Kozakiewicz and drummer Hardy Auer, plus several guests.

The main influences seem to be vintage Fleetwood Mac – the control to be heard on some of the guitar work (particularly on the ten minutes long ‘Blues in The Bottle’) – has only rarely been heard since Peter Green was a young man, the early solo career of Eric Clapton (does the cover of Peter Tosh’s ‘Stop That Train’ equate to EC’s version of fellow Wailer Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot The Sheriff’?), and the laid-back approach of JJ Cale, the latter emphasised by the presence among many fine original numbers of Cale’s ‘I Got The Same Old Blues’. Overall, this is a fine album, maybe not for the purists, but those with a taste for any of those names just mentioned should certainly investigate further.

----- Norman Darwen

Live From Austin TX
New West NW 8051

Live From Austin TX
New West NW 8052

Live From Austin TX
New West NW 8053

If you call yourself a blues lover, then go and buy these. Simple as that… well, OK then. These three artists are presented at the height of their abilities on a long-running television programme that helped Austin to become one of the world’s musical capitals.

Albert Collins, with his distinctive and electric (in every sense)‘cool’ sound and his tight touring band, shows in this programme recorded in 1991 just why he was so highly regarded, and towards the end of the evening he manages to shake hands with just about everyone in the house (including security!). Texas blues might not come much better than this but one man who could give Albert a run for his money was Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, whose guitar slinging abilities are more in a T-Bone Walker style on the blues numbers, but who could also turn in some nifty jazz playing and even turn his hand to hoe-down fiddle playing when he felt like it (as he obviously did here). With a big band behind him, Gate is mightily impressive in this just over an hour long showcase recorded in 1996.

Many blues fans will be aware of Roy Buchanan’s tragic demise, and hopefully more will be aware of his music. When his show was recorded in November 1976 he was still very much a cult figure but his playing is monstrously good! Although this only runs for just over half an hour, his many fans will be delighted to see Roy playing some of his most popular numbers and even joshing with the audience during some single-handed playing.

All three DVDs are handsomely packaged, with full notes. Absolutely wonderful…..

----- Norman Darwen

Various Artists
The Blues Foundation

This one hour DVD is edited down from the Awards ceremony in Memphis and features performances by the likes of Watermelon Slim, the duo of Marcia Ball & Irma Thomas, the great Bobby Rush, Lil’ Ed, Rory Block, Dion, Guitar Shorty, Tab Benoit & Janiva Magness, Mark Hummel’s Harp Blowout (with an all-star cast) a slightly disappointing Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue, and Otis Taylor and cohorts with his ‘Recapturing The Banjo’ project. Though much of the music is fine (with Rush and Taylor easily the standouts), the editing is sometimes clumsy, and many tracks are interrupted in mid-flow to see the performer presented with his/ her award. Guy Davis and Benoit/ Magness are the subject of a couple of special features that are more than worthwhile. A nice souvenir maybe, but many readers can safely pass on this without worrying too much

----- Norman Darwen

Various Artists
SPV/ Blue 42542 CD

Various Artists

SPV/ Blue 42552 CD

Aretha Sings The Blues
SPV/ Blue 43092 CD

Looks good, doesn’t it? But just hang on a minute. It is generally accepted that when the future Queen Of Soul signed with Columbia in 1960, the label didn’t really know what to do with her. It wasn’t until Atlantic picked her up five years later that her career really took off. However, Aretha did have some hits with Columbia (even if they did not compare with what was to come) and she made nine albums. This compilation cherry picks through that catalogue.

It becomes obvious early on that the prime influence on this music is Dinah Washington, though there are also elements of Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn to my ears. Some of the numbers are unhappily over-arranged, with jazz pretensions, but others such as the excellent ‘Today I Sing The Blues’ and ‘Nobody Knows The Way I Feel’ have a strong blues feel and approach. Occasionally a hint of Aretha the future Soul Queen comes through, as on ‘Trouble In Mind’.

Definitely not recommended as an introduction to Aretha then, but fans may like to pick this up as a cheap way of obtaining some of the best tracks of her pre-Atlantic phase.

----- Norman Darwen

Modern Blues Records #MBR22801

Too Much Alcohol, Sittin’ Around, A Bigger Place, Shakin’ the Sheets, Running Bear, The Man From New Orleans, Some Other Girl’s Dream, Mr. Cool, When I’m Gone, Life Goes On

This jewel of a CD sparkles in all its facets: song content; brilliant performances of all the players; arrangements; recording and production.

Monica Dupont, whose music career began over forty years ago, is at the helm of many gems on this CD. Her wonderful ability to write a wide variety of songs is outstanding. She wrote seven of the ten songs on this album, using blues as the foundation and playing not only various shades of blues, but expanding influences to R&B, rockabilly, funk, jazz, country boogie, and soul. Vibes timbales, and congas, not usually found in blues music, add an exciting, refreshing, new dimension to this CD.

Health issues and legalities are responsible for Monica’s 25-year absence from the music business. Undaunted, she has returned in full force, with hundreds of original blues songs, each one unique and memorable! In the 1970s and 80s, she wrote songs for many well known performers and since word has gotten out about her return, people are clamoring to record her material.

Monica sings on all the songs. Her powerful vocals are mature, deep, rich, unforgettable and full of surprise. It is easy to hear all the words in the songs. She sounds like she did over twenty years ago when she recorded the songs for her “Early Eighties” album. Not only is she a unique gifted vocalist, she also plays rhythm guitar on many of the tracks.

The CD begins with the exuberant medium blues shuffle by J.B. Hutto, “Too Much Alcohol,” which makes one feel like dancing. Lead guitarist, Jimi James, aka Jim Thorsen on Monica’s ‘’Early Eighties” CD, and rhythm slide guitarist, Microwave Dave, enhance the song. The legendary English blues harmonica player, Wolfie Witcher, truly a master of his instrument, adds a rich, full tone and great presentation to this and other songs. Dave, Wolfie, and Monica are all drawn together by their love for J.B. Hutto.

A soft, melodic blues, “Sittin’ Around,” follows with a surprise statement from harpist, Mark Hummel. I’ve always enjoyed his high energy performances, but his solo here adds a whole new dimension to his playing. It is emotional, sensitive, and beautiful!

Further on, ‘The Man From New Orleans” is a classic Delta Blues that sounds like it was written 100 years ago and then recorded by Howlin’ Wolf. Nope, it is one of Monica’s originals. Monica and Ron Thompson were jamming for fun when the engineer grabbed the mike and recorded them. What is amazing is that in this totally spontaneous recording, Ron had never heard the song before. Their two guitars are virtually locked together and it sounds like they’ve been playing the song for years! It would be great if Monica and Ron could do an album together.

“When I’m Gone,” another original by Monica, is a modern day version of John Lee Hooker’s infamous boogie. The versatile Ron Thompson turns a driving country solo into a classic Hawaiian lap steel direction in the blink of an eye.

Branching out, but still maintaining a blues base, “Shakin’ The Sheets” is a bouncy, double-entendre song. Mitch Woods turns in a good rockin,’ good time rock-a-boogie here. The humorous R&B song, “A Bigger Place” features Bobbie Webb and his  sweet sounding sax. “Running Bear” is a love ballad and a redo in a tender bluesy vein of a novelty song. “Some Other Girl’s Dream” is a danceable, gentle funk tune.

“Mr. Cool” is blues with a smoky jazz flavor. Three top-notch musicians perform on it. One of the album’s biggest surprises is Blaine Hoopes who plays on several tracks. His passionate wail in this tune speaks volumes. It is one of the all-time classic saxophone solos in any genre and is reminiscent of the late, great Dexter Gordon. Folk-rock musician, Buzzy Linhart, adds a 1950s Asian flavor with the vibes and the jazz great, Kenneth Nash, does the brilliant percussion work.

The jewel in the crown is the very soulful title track, “Life Goes On.” Monica exudes a fervent passion in her singing that gives me shivers. I get the feeling that she is singing about her life. Ron Thompson plays an exceptional guitar solo, which could possibly be his finest work to date. One can feel his every note and phrase. His tone is amazing. This song could become an all-time standard. Blaine Hoopes adds a dynamic sax accompaniment. This is the piece de resistance to the album.

I’m astounded by the proficiency of producer/engineer/musician’s musician, Gary Novak, who captured all of this so incredibly. He played bass, guitar, keyboards and drums on most of the CD and then pieced the whole thing together. This is not assembled, it is painted by a man with a magic paintbrush. It’s handcrafted by a true artist, Gary Novak. I have a feeling you’ll be hearing that name a lot!

This album is truly a showcase of diverse great blues-based songs, astounding  performers, and a producer who knows how to mix diverse songs to perfection. The songs are so great that everybody is playing their absolute best. Many of these performers played music with Monica in the 70s and 80s and the personal connection and love are certainly evident on this CD. The shades of blues are happy and positive and the feeling is there. This is a musical statement from a strong woman who really has something to say!!

Also check out her Website:
and her My Space:"

"This super CD is available on CD Baby":

>>>>> Maria Bainer

Various Artists
SPV/ Blue 42542 CD

Various Artists
SPV/ Blue 42552 CD

Various Artists
SPV/ Blue 91722 CD

Three more reissued sets from Columbia’s acclaimed ‘Roots ‘N’ Blues’ reissue series, if you get my meaning. ‘Hot Nuts & Lollypops contains plenty of 22 tracks of mostly fine urban blues recorded between 1928 and 1939 by the likes of Lil Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, The Hokum Boys, Big Bill Broonzy and others alongside more rural styled material by the like of Bo Carter, The Mississippi Sheiks, Buddy Moss and others. Musically these are above average selections but the main interest lies in the sly nudge in the ribs of the double-entendre lyrics, although there are a couple of items that still would not get airplay today. Compilations of this kind of material come every couple of years, so if you have not previously taken advantage, now is the time to get it at a very nice price.

‘String Dazzlers’ immediately lives up to its name by opening with a couple of those stupendous, ground-breaking and still influential 1929 duets between Lonnie Johnson and white guitarist Eddie Lang; it then goes on to showcase the two backing Texas Alexander, and there is a further duet later in the track listing. Others on the CD include Blind Willie McTell, Blind Willie Johnson, Lonnie Johnson solo, the under-rated but again highly influential Sylvester Weaver, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy, the sometimes unjustly overlooked Tampa Red, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Casey Bill Weldon and of course a certain Mr. Robert Johnson (no relation to any of the Johnsons already mentioned). If you don’t own too much of this stuff already, this is certainly worth considering – sheer aural delight from beginning to end, from between 1924 and 1940.

Bessie Smith with Louis Armstrong, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie Johnson, Bo Carter, Blind Willie McTell, Lonnie Johnson, Charlie Patton, Leroy Carr, Josh White Leadbelly (with or without the Golden Gate Quartet), Peetie Wheatstraw, Robert Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Minnie, Bukka White, Muddy Waters, Big Joe Williams and Son House - ‘Legend’ is a much-overused word these days, and if you are unsure why it is applied to all those artists, then you should go and buy ‘Legends Of The Blues Volume One’ . That’ll put you on the right track.

----- Norman Darwen

2nd Set
SPV/ Yellow 91762 CD

You know how people talk about the blues influence on rock? Well, next time you need an example, you won’t go far wrong with this. The southern rock band par excellence, of course, the Allmans, the line-up for this CD includes Dickie Betts and Warren Haynes on guitars, Gregg Allman on organ (and all three taking lead vocals), and the material was recorded in 1994, with the exception of a single track from a couple of years earlier. There is plenty of powerful, driving music, with duelling guitars, and even an unplugged ‘In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed’, which features some excellent jazz playing. For our purposes though, note especially the covers of Willie Cobbs’ ‘You Don’t Love Me’ and the song Willie Dixon wrote and Muddy Waters first recorded, ‘The Same Thing’. Better still, take a listen to ‘No One To Run With’, based around a Bo Diddley beat but southern rock through and through. And if you enjoy rock with a strong blues flavour, you have probably already bought this!

----- Norman Darwen

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at


It seems that of late, a lot of my blues pleasures are coming from - of all places - Red Bank, NJ.  And please, don't even ask me "what exit is that?"  The past several summers have found me roaming the grounds of Marine Park for the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundations Blues Festival and now I'm sitting here listening to a great local band from that area - THE DENNIS PETERS BAND.

The band is a very strong, three piece combo featuring DENNIS PETERS on guitar and vocals, RUSS DEINSTADT on drums and DAN CHRISTIE on bass.  And, as I've said in the past, a good three piece band deserves a lot of respect - and these guys are good.  Their self titled disc - THE DENNIS PETERS BAND - consists of all original music with quite a broad range of styles.

"IM SATISFIED" might just be what a listener - especially those liking blues rock - would say after hearing this opening track.  It's a smoker with lots of good and rough guitar work, hot rhythm and great vocal work.

"HEY HEY MAMA" gets a bit more traditional.  It's a good ol' blues shuffle that immediately got my foot tappin' and my fingers snappin'.  More great rhythm from RUSS & DAN and some great down and dirty blues licks form DENNIS highlight this one.

Fans of the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan - and who isn't - will appreciate "TOO MANY NIGHTS".  Although the rhythm cats are as tight as usual, this one's pretty much all DENNIS.  The gruff vocals and the rough and tough type of guitar licks that made SRV so famous are this tracks highlights.

DENNIS is right on the money when he says "I GOT THE BLUES BABY".  On this fast as a speeding locomotive track, RUSS and DAN are smokin' on the rhythm and DENNIS flat out kicks ass on the Resonator Guitar.

If this were Jeopardy, would you know the question when the answer was "Because you want to sing the blues"?  It would of course be, "WHY DO I SUFFER LIKE I DO?".  It would stand to reason that the players would be at discs best on the discs best track, and that's exactly what's going on here.  Along with phenomenal guitar work, DENNIS nails it on the vocals.  The other guys?  They're kickin' ass as they've done all disc.

Although there are only eight tracks with just over thirty minutes of music, THE DENNIS PETERS BAND brings it's game for every one of those minutes.

Other tracks not mentioned include "YOU WANTED IT THAT WAY", "I'VE BEEN DOWN FOR SO LONG" and "PANCAKES".

Check the band out at and tell them the Blewzzman told you they rock.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

Iron Man
Alligator ALCD 4923

Arkansas-born Michael’s third album for Alligator is a lovely, soulful, good old-fashioned guitar blues set, the kind of thing that Luther Allison used to do so well, and whilst Michael can certainly play that feisty, rock-tinged, soaring blues guitar, as with Luther it should not overshadow his not inconsiderable vocal qualities (try the lilting southern soul of ‘Don’t Waste My Time’). His backing band –Wayne Sharp masterful on organ and piano (take a listen to his playing on the excellent cover of Jimmy Johnson’s slow ‘Ashes In My Ashtray’), Don Garrett on bass and drummer Chuck ‘Popcorn’ Louden – give him just the right backing, a firm bedrock for his stratospheric flights on several numbers, a fine shuffle for more conventional blues numbers such as ‘No More Crying’ or the broom-dusting closer ‘Changed Man’.
For me this is Michael’s most successful set yet, a mature, tightly focussed and very exciting album.

----- Norman Darwen

The Real Thing
SPV/ Blue 42522 CD

This is a live recording of Taj Mahal made in 1971 at Bill Graham’s famed hippie haven, The Fillmore East (not quite as famed as the Fillmore West, but never mind), and was originally released as a double album, though these days it all fits onto a single CD. The show starts conventionally enough with Taj solo tackling Henry Thomas’s beautiful ‘Fishin’ Blues’, but things quickly turn experimental on the following number and for much of the remainder of the set, with a large and often brash brass section punctuating proceedings; I well remember hearing this for the first time, as the sound really leaps out of the speakers – but once ears have become accustomed to the sound of tubas and trombones, this is a fine set of blues from the days when Taj was still concentrating on the American sound (other numbers include ‘You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond’ and ‘Divin’ Duck Blues’) even if he was pushing the boundaries a little . He plays guitar, banjo (a lovely ‘Tom And Sally Drake’, just Taj a banjo and a tuba) and harmonica and whilst the closer may stretch things a little too far with a running time of almost 18 minutes, this is the kind of music with which Taj made his reputation and is well worth a listen – and purchase.

Incidentally, for those who enjoyed the combination of Hans Theessink and Jon Sass, maybe this is where the idea came from.....

----- Norman Darwen

Various Artists
SPV/ Blue 91672 CD

Various Artists
SPV/ Blue 91682 CD

Various Artists
SPV/ Blue 91732 CD

Another trio of wonderful thematic reissues from the ‘Roots ‘N’ Blues’ series, with material on the first set under consideration covering the years 1927 to 1941. This time span allows for plenty of material by the Memphis Jug Band (and Memphis is also represented by Charlie Burse and Peter Chatman aka Memphis Slim of course. The other main area in evidence  here is Atlanta and the east Coast, with material from Buddy Moss, the Georgia Browns, the Georgia Cotton Pickers (Moss common to both), Sonny Terry, whilst Texas is represented by Son Becky and Bernice Edwards, Mississippi by the Mississippi Jook Band and Chicago by Big Joe And His Washboard band. An excellent, good-timing set of vintage blues and down-home dance numbers.

The other two sets are concerned with lyrical themes, and given that many books have been written on the concerns of early blues, this is fertile ground indeed. The two merely skim the surface of course but the ‘News’ collection, ranging from 1927 to 1953, covers themes local and global, from Mississippi John Hurt’s ‘Frankie’ (about a New Orleans murder) to easy credit plans (very topical!), from pride in the boxer Joe Louis to the Atom Bomb. Along the way we also encounter the Great Depression, the Mississippi flood and posthumous celebrations of blues singers Leroy Carr and Ma Rainey.

Booze has been a constant in the blues since the earliest days, and this set gets kudos for including a 1927 track by Rev. W. M. Mosley; there are numerous tracks dealing with the bootlegger and his product, and most of the tracks are a celebration of alcohol. As the artists include such greats as Memphis Minnie, Barbecue Bob, Peetie Wheatstraw, Joshua White, Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, and Robert Johnson, the results are, as with everything in this series so far, well worth hearing.

----- Norman Darwen

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at


Every once in a while, I'll do a review of a CD by an artist that I feel honored to be doing it for - this is one of those times.  It is with a humbling pleasure that I sit here about to offer my thoughts on one of the last of the original Delta bluesmen - the Grammy Award winning Mr. DAVID "HONEYBOY" EDWARDS.

There's no question this high profile disc is going to be written up, talked about and commented on by the masses within the blues community.  Having said that, I'll leave getting into the production and historical aspects of "ROAMIN' AND RAMBLIN'" to the more qualified crowd.  I'm just going to tell ya 'bout the music and those making it.

Saying HONEYBOY EDWARDS has played with some of the best in the business, as well as with most of the genres legends, would be like saying the color of the sky is blue.  Listing everyone he's played with would be like changing the color of the sky to green.  However those that he's playing with on these nineteen tracks are: BOBBY RUSH, PAUL KAYE, KENNY "BEEDY EYES" SMITH, BILLY BRANCH, RICK SHERRY, SUGAR BLUE, WALTER HORTON, MICHAEL FRANK and JOHNNY "YARD DOG" JONES.

One of my favorite moments on this disc is a less than a minute and a half conversation with HONEYBOY and BOBBY RUSH.  I could listen all night long to some of the stories these old bluesmen tell - especially the way BOBBY tells 'em.  This anecdote has the guys "TALKING ABOUT LITTLE WALTER", and reminiscing about how HONEYBOY was responsible for discovering LITTLE WALTER, and then BOBBY telling how LITTLE WALTER would steal his harmonica licks.  Leave it to BOBBY - he should put out a CD of all these little stories.

Speaking of BOBBY, he - on guitar - and KENNY on drums do a great job on a short instrumental titled "STROLLIN' DOWN HIGHWAY 61".

"SMOKEY MOUNTAINS" & "JUMP OUT" are the two tracks featuring LITTLE WALTER.  This first one has WALTER on vocals as well as harp, and on the later, you get a good taste of what all these other harmonica players have been trying to sound like all these years.  Great pickin' by HONEYBOY on this one.

Even at this age, HONEYBOY claims - and proves - he's still a "BOOGIE RAMBLER".  On this track, which was only recorded nine months ago, his stamina shines as well and his vocals and guitar.  "YARD DOG" gets in his share of hot harp licks on this one.

For this listener, some of HONEBOY'S best vocals on the disc can be heard on "LITTLE BOY BLUE".  His emotions are intense as he growls out for Little Boy Blue to please blow his horn.  In response, he gets some equally emotional harp playing out of MICHAEL FRANK.

Apparently, HONEYBOY and I have something in common.  As he sings......I didn't know "I WAS IN NEW ORLEANS LAST NIGHT", weird feelings of deja vu came over me.  I may have also spent nights in NEW ORLEANS not knowing I was there.  Bourbon Street will do that to ya.  What I do know is HONEBOY and SUGAR BLUE are hot on this duet.

"SHUFFLIN' THE BLUES CONVERSATION" is another chat between HONEYBOY and BOBBY.  It features the two legends talking about what the blues is.  Of course for BOBBY, the blues is getting into town late, and all the other guys getting the girls before he gets there.  Ya gotta love it.


If you're like me and want to know more about the legendary HONEYBOY, visit his website at  While you're there, click on to the EARWIG MUSIC COMPANY link and pick up a copy of "ROAMIN' AND RAMBLIN'".  The Blewzzman's thinking you'll be glad you did.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

Artist: The Guv’nors
Title: Guv’nology: (The DVD; ‘20 Years on the Run’ an Anthology.)
Label: Totally Rhythm DVD001

For more information go to

As most of you will know; it will soon be twenty years since Robert Hokum and the Guv’nors first stepped onto the music stage (12th, May, 1988), at The Southampton public house(as with most dreams and memories, it has now been demolished) in Surbiton. The very place in which it is assumed people go to and subsequently disappear into forever. The English, equivalent one might say of the ‘Bermuda Triangle.’

Well, the Guv’nors; who, like to do things differently; are well on course to totally reverse that process.

As we all know the world of the blues is a place where time moves a tad slower, so, here is a timely aid, to bring you up to date on the world of The Guv’nors.

As time has passed there have  been a number of line-up changes but the enthusiasm of Robert Hokum has never wavered; his willingness to keep an open mind to ever changing perceptions of the blues, also, the importance of differing  musical influences which can at times infuse new life and a freshness of sound and direction into the music.

Consequently, the Guv’nors style over the years has evolved into a stunning display of exciting and infectious Latin grooves mixed with the street funk of the late lamented Ian Dury and The Blockheads; Examples of this unique style provide most of the material used on this DVD. Most of the footage is taken from performances given in July 2004, 2005 and 2007 at the Ealing blues festival. Of the six performances, here for your delectation two are from a recorded concert at the Ealing film studios; as demonstrated in all the clips the band seem to have a telepathic glue which fuses them together even when they individually musically meander off into their own particular musical directions and Bob the ‘ringmaster’ is there totally immersed in the performance as is the rest of the band. The enthusiasm of the performance is amply displayed by all his evocative vocal and hand flourishes, the subtle nuances he gives to the band and the audience as he slowly draws them together, with all the musical strands formed into one singular groove. One particular number is certainly different, “All Along The Watchtower” is not the crunching guitar pyrotechnic we may all have expected, rather it is a soothing, grooving thoughtful almost pastorally lulling piece; which makes it all the more fresher to the ears.

Whether the Guv’nors play in front of large gatherings at a festival or to hot and sweaty club audiences, their enthusiasm, drive, magical inventiveness of skill and sheer infectiousness of playing is a musical event not to be missed. It can only be hoped that this toe-tapping DVD fills the void until you can catch them live.

Oh, yes, there is a bonus feature on the DVD it is Bobs’ definition of Guv’onology; all is revealed there!

----- Brian Harman

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at



Ironically, as I'm sitting here listening to some red hot blues from Canada, the very people who sent me the disc are experiencing a mid spring snow storm.  I guess, as the expression goes, you've got to suffer if you want to sing the blues.

"PURE PLEASURE", by DONALD RAY JOHNSON, consists of thirteen wonderfully arranged tracks of which eight are DRJ originals.  While assembling the ensemble for this project, DONALD not only sought out high quality musicians, he sought out a high quantity of musicians as well - nearly thirty of them.  They are: DONALD RAY JOHNSON on drums, keyboards, piano and vocals; CHRIS BRYRNE, GEORGE PHILLIPS, ROB VAUSE and RUSSEL JACKSON on bass; MICHAEL HUSTON, JOHN MILLS, BILL JOHNSON, JAMES CHIP BURNEY and MAURICE JOHN VAUGHN on guitar; RON CASAT on organ; B. J. EMERY on trombone; GRAHAM GUEST, NATE STRONG, DALE RENE` and GARY BOWMAN on piano; RALPH MONCIVIAS, MIKE YOUNG, DON "DICKIE" CHILDS,  MIKE CLARK (also on background vocals) and PAT BELLAVEAU (also on soprano sax) on tenor sax; JIMMY CARVER on keyboards; GIBB MONKS and P. J. PERRY on alto sax; BRAD STECKEL on acoustic guitar; JOHN PAIN on drums; JANIS KIBLLE and STEVE PINEO on background vocals;  PHEW! It's a good thing the horn section had no trumpet players or I'd be out of room.

Obviously, the opening track wasn't titled for the band, 'cause they certainly didn't "SLOW DOWN BABY".  This track features a funky rhythm with hot sax and guitar solos by RALPH and MICHAEL and dynamic vocals by DONALD.  Great opener.

In spite of some fine guitar and tenor riffs by JOHN and MIKE, "HERE TO STAY" is all about DONALD.  His very soulful and slightly sultry vocals and outstanding keyboard work highlight this very sexy and somewhat Barry White-ish type dance song.

   "SONG FOR PERRY" (WALK AROUND HEAVEN ALL DAY), is a spiritual ballad which, according to the liner notes, appears to be dedicated to a late friend of DONALD'S.  Although melancholy in mood, the performance is stellar.  GIBB'S alto sax at the onset and RON'S organ work throughout the track are both outstanding, the background vocals are right on and you can just feel the sorrow in DONALD'S voice.  Ya gotta know Perry's hearing this one.

Had this song been written this year, "THRILLING YOU KILLING ME" would have been my nomination for song of the year.  It just does not get any better....or more blue than this.  If the question "What is the blues" should ever be asked, this is the song that should be played as the answer.  It's the type of song that just stops you in your tracks, makes your eyes close, your head hang down and carries you away.  I'm feeling this one.  DRJ, ROB VAUSE and JOHN MILLS are flawless on this one.  By far, the discs best.

In addition to musically being another of the discs highlights, "NO GUITAR BLUES" is a lyrical pisser.  In the middle of this very serious and low down blues number, while MICHAEL'S making his guitar cry out some scorching blues, DONALD starts softly telling a story about how a record company exec once said something to him about not having a guitar.  The hotter MICHAEL'S notes get, the more hilarious DONALD gets.  Good stuff right here.

Trouble is just one of the many "NAMES" that DONALD comes up with for his lady on this one.  Because she "digs" so many guys, Shovel is another, and of course, there's Misery as well.  Hmmm, I wonder if he's seeing one of my ex's?  Along with some good tenor work by DON, some of the discs best bass and piano work can be heard right here by GEORGE and NATE.


Although this disc is several years old, I'm highly recommending that if you don't yet have it, then you should make it new to your collection.  You can do that by visiting DONAL RAY JOHNSON at  Of course, after you buy the disc, ya gotta tell him the Blewzzman sent ya.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at



Used to be if someone told me I was a bone head, they'd be very likely to get slapped up side their head.  That was, however, prior to having discovered the debut CD from a band that's spreading the blues up in the Pacific Northwest - BOOGIE BONE.  Just give a listen to their self named CD "BOOGIE BONE", and you, just like me, will be a "bone head" too.

BOOGIE BONE is a group of five musicians, who while attending school at Boogie High, all failed Math, Science and English, yet all got an A+ in Band (sorry, you've gotta see the CD to be in on that joke).  These educated, and very talented musicians are "HOWLIN" JAKE JOHNSON on vocals, STEVE "FANGERS" WILLIAMS on guitars, TODD "SPUD MONEY" STEVENS on drums, HENRY "GROOVE MASTER" GAVALDON on bass and STEVE "TRIPLE THREAT" SNYDER on sax, harp and keyboards.  And yes, their music IS as cool as their nicknames.  Let me tell ya 'bout a few of the tracks that got my bones boogieing.

Nowhere in this review will you ever hear the words - "AIN'T NO GOOD".  Unless, of course, it's to mention the title of one of the disc's hottest tracks.  Caution should be used if listening to this track - which starts out fast and continuously get faster - while driving.  This one features some of the best rhythm that's ever vibrated this listeners ear drums.  Speaking of drums, TODD is at discs - and for all I know, maybe his career best - on this one.  I don't know about him, but if this keeps up, I'm going to be out of breath by the end of this review.  Adding in some hot guitar licks by STEVE and great vocals by JAKE make this one of BOOGIE BONES' best.

After the pace not dropping a notch on "MEAN STREAK WOMAN", the guys settle down nicely into a more traditional blues number called "CHEATIN' HEART".  This one features lots of sharp harp by STEVE, the usual smoke from TODD and great bass lines from HANK.

"WHAT I NEED" is the same thing I always need - good ol' straight down the alley blues.  And I'm getting my needs filled right now.  With HANK and TODD providing a nice slow rhythm - well, slow for them anyway -  the two STEVE'S take turns turning up the heat.  First is STEVE SNYDER with a scorching sax solo, followed by STEVE W. - not allowing himself to be out-scorched - putting out some serious blues licks.  Of course, all this is happening in between JAKE showing how he got "HOWLIN" for a nickname.  More great stuff here.

Although I prefer mine seven days a week, sometimes "WEEKEND BLUES" just has to do.  This one finds the guys doing what most of us do on the weekends - cuttin' it loose.  It's a short three and a half minute song featuring everyone in a cool little jam.

If you haven't "GOT THE FEVA", this one will give it to ya.  This is unquestionably the one that gets BOOGIE BONES' live audiences dancing.  I dare you to listen to this one and not move - I couldn't.  This one had even my old bones shaking.  Once again, - great rhythm, good harp and some of the disc's best guitar work.


Check out the BOOGIE BONE BAND at and tell them you, like the Blewzzman, want to become a "bone head"

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at


It's been well over a year and a half since my first encounter with these Daddies, and here they are - still in the doghouse.  That's right, the DOGHOUSE DADDIES are back, and on their second CD "DIG THIS", it appears they're still dishin' out blues with a bite.

On "DIG THIS", the nucleus of the DOGHOUSE DADDIES, BILL MORLAN on upright bass & vocals and MARK ROLLINGS on guitar & vocals, are joined by newcomers NEIL NOLAN on saxophone & harmonica and JERRY RICCARDI on drums & vocals.  And from the sounds of things, the two newcomers seem very comfortable in the doghouse.

On "MESSIN' WITH THE KID", the discs opening track, it doesn't take the new kids long to establish their credentials.  The scorching 90 second solo NEIL performs on sax is surely this tracks - and possibly one of the discs highlights, and JERRY on the drums proves to be a admirable rhythm partner for BILL on the big bass.  Good stuff on this very popular cover tune.

Although the band slows the pace down a bit on "CONJURED", that's the only thing that changes.  Lots more great sax; softer, yet scintillating rhythm; mellow, yet masterful guitar work by MARK and soothing, soulful vocals by BILL make this another highly enjoyable track.

When's the last time you made someone say "OH BABY" for nearly seven minutes? That's OK, I can't remember either.  Well, with "OH BABY" being one of the longest songs on the disc, what that means is you just get to hear that much more of what's been highlighting all the previous tracks.

This track rocks way too much to be called "AIN'T NO ROCKIN' NO MORE".  And what's got it rockin' is MARK performing some of the discs best guitar work.  This one also features all the dogs in the house on some harmonic howlin'.

I'm sure everyone will have fun adding their own lyrics behind the title of "IF THE SEA WERE WHISKY".  Some of mine might be...........then I'd be a swimming fool".  However, if you want to find out how it really goes, you'll just have to get the disc.  This particular track was one of the bluesiest - and all of my readers know what that means - it was also my most favorite.  BILL'S got the perfect voice for this a matter of fact, he may have just had a swim before recording it.  Being a soft, slow and low down blues number means lots of great sultry sax and hot guitar licks - and that's always a good thing.  The Doghouse Daddies nailed this one.

"MO BLUES", written by JERRY, is the discs only original track, and as you might expect, it's heavy on the rhythm.....very heavy.  This eight minute, nearly all instrumental track, features the band in total jam mode often fed by hot drum leads.  This one's a smoker.

Although there are only nine tracks on "DIG THIS", most of them are long and the disc features nearly an hour of rockin', sockin' music.  Other tracks not mentioned are "BLACK DIAMOND", "FUN TO VISIT" and "MY BABE".

Check out the band at and tell them you wanna be in the doghouse too.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

No Stranger To the Dark – The Best Of…..

SPV/ Blue 42432 CD

As a member of southern rock kings Gregg Allman has always had a toehold (at least) in the blues, and this set draws on material from his solo career which began in 1973. He is mostly in a rock bag on this set (admittedly it certainly sounds like Gregg influenced Eric Clapton’s solo career in the seventies), though ‘Demons’ is a fine blues shuffle, ‘House Of Blues’ sounds a little like a late sixties or early seventies Bobby Bland number, ‘Before The Bullets Fly’ (Warren Haynes is a co-writer) is a very modern sounding blues, and precedes a fine cover of James Carr’s beautiful  ‘Dark End Of The Street’, an equally excellent cover of ‘Slip Away’, which Gregg got from Clarence Carter, and an extremely bluesy rendition of Ray Charles’ ‘I’ve Got News For You’. Towards the end of the 18 tracks, there is also a moody ‘Rendezvous With The Blues’ which should appeal to many readers. So, by my reckoning, there’s a significant blues content – especially as some of the rock tracks are blues-inflected. So, if you enjoy the Allmans, chances are you’ll enjoy this too.

----- Norman Darwen

Magda Live
Artgraff MPAGCD 001

Recorded at Radio Gdansk, this first live recording from Magda – her second CD - finds the singer and guitarist with her band (guitar, sax, double bass and drums) in a lively gig with the audience obviously enjoying every minute (as can be seen in the 15 minute video segment, and heard on the CD). Magda is an excellent, deep-voiced singer – her voice is somewhere between Koko Taylor, Charley Patton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Tommy Johnson) - capable of tackling well-known blues, jazz and gospel numbers alongside more contemporary songs from the pens of Jacques Brel, Paul Rodgers )’Muddy Water Blues’ is a wonderful performance) and Tracy Chapman, and her style is distinctive, individual and unusual. So too are her arrangements, which certainly avoid the obvious and although they are acoustic-based, can be extremely powerful. Kudos too to saxophonist Arkadiusz Osenkowski for his definitely non-traditional playing, and also to Aleksandra Siemieniuk for her dobro playing – and let’s not forget the rhythm section either.
Credit belongs most of all though to Magda for her convincing and compelling creation of blue moods. She deserves to be far better known and hopefully this CD will help her to achieve that.

----- Norman Darwen

Peace, Love & BBQ
Alligator ALCD 4922

Born in Orange, Texas and raised just across the border in Louisiana, singer/ pianist Marcia has been a part of the music scene of these two states for many years, defined as ‘the Gulf Coast sound’; these days she is perhaps most associated with Austin, Texas. She is also associated with romping, stomping blues based music and that is certainly what is on offer on this set titled after her three favourite things. The focus of this set is Louisiana (especially New Orleans) post-Katrina; guests include Mac Rebennack and the well-known accordionists Wayne Toups and Terrance Simien, with several horn arrangements courtesy of Wardell Quezergue, a legendary name to N’Awlins aficionados.
Many of these titles have Marcia’s trademark strutting piano playing behind her warm, confident singing, and if the material is not all blues, New Orleans is never far from the surface – it might be the marching band approach of ‘Watermelon Time’ or the Meters-ish sound of ‘Down In The Neighborhood’, but it is also there (unspoken) in the lyrics of ‘Where Do You Go?’ and of course the opener ‘Party Town’.
Elsewhere there are some fine ballads and even a little zydeco. All in all, one that will please Marcia’s fans, and should bring her some new ones. Lovers of Lousiana music should certainly investigate too.

----- Norman Darwen

Northern Blues NBM0044

This CD is named for the year Kansas joined the Union, and though the State may be flat, these guys sure can play those Hill Country blues, they have thoroughly absorbed the likes of R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough! Consisting of Aaron Moreland on various guitars, Dustin Arbuckle on vocals and harmonica and Brad Horner on drums, these guys sure do kick up a storm. Any CD that opens with a half-decent cover of Hound Dog Taylor is gonna go down well with me, and their rendition of ‘Gonna Send Ya Back To Georgia’ is a stormer, way, way above the ‘half-decent’ mark. It’s no fluke either – listen to these guys evoke the mighty Howlin’ Wolf in his classic Memphis period on Burnside’s ‘See My Jumper Hangin’ Out On The Line’ or Jimmy Reed on ‘Please Please Mammy’. Why, there’s even a track reminiscent of Fred McDowell with his harpman Johnny Woods. Yep, this CD goes down a lot more than well with me.

----- Norman Darwen

Songs Famed For Sorrow And Joy
Northern Blues NBM0043

This young – still a few years short of his thirtieth birthday – singer/ guitarist and banjo player from Maine loves the older forms of blues and it shows in his music. So does the original blues artists’ strong belief in individuality. His songs are full of intriguing lines - things like, “Just one eye that’s all, she had, she don’t see so good but she don’t look so bad!” (from ‘One Eyed Katie’) or “Going back down south to darken up my skin” (‘Mid-December Blues’). Then there is the entire song ‘Sugar Smallhouse And The Legend Of The Wandering Cactus’ which is as distinctive and unusual as its title!

This is Samuel’s second CD – I’ve not heard his first – and his numbers tend to be more narratives set to blues arrangements rather than strings of traditional verses. He has an excellent voice for this kind of material and his guitar work varies from gentle picking somewhat akin to Mississippi John Hurt or Furry Lewis to all-out full-frontal assaults on his steel guitar, generally in a vintage Mississippi style. Samuel James is most definitely a name we will be hearing a lot more frequently.

----- Norman Darwen

The Outsider
Provogue PRD 7245 2

Walter Trout has been typecast as the archetypal blues-rocker, all volume and bombast – but as this set shows, there is far more to him than that. Yes, there are the loud blues-rockers – try the opening, autobiographical ‘Welcome To The Human Race’ or the supercharged ‘The Love Song Of J. Alfred Bluesrock’, or indeed several other numbers. But then, take a listen to ‘Child Of Another Day’ or the title track, which are both loud, but not too far removed from many modern blues. Then there are several acoustic based tracks which show Walter as a better singer than he is usually given credit for (particularly the solo ‘Turn Your Eyes To Heaven’). There is also ‘Sanjay’, with its elements of Indian music grafted onto Walter’s rather traditional sounding blues-rock arrangement!

Walter was a member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and played with the likes of Pee Wee Crayton, Lowell Fulson, and Joe Tex early in his career. These guys wouldn’t have let him on the stage if he hadn’t known what he was doing, and this set, though undeniably contemporary and certainly in the blues-rock camp, gives more than a glimpse of what they saw and heard in him.

----- Norman Darwen

Please, send your blues CD's - DVD's with promo-photos and bio to:
BluesArtStudio, c/o F&S SVACINA, A-1223 Vienna, P.O.Box 54
Worldcopyright © 1998-2008 BluesArtStudio, USA - AT