Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Songs, New Club, Old Favorite

by Robert Horn
Grinders, located at 19811 Aurora Avenue in Shoreline Washington, is a new blues club with blues music every weekend. They share the same parking lot as a muffler repair place with a big sign so it is easy to drive right past it. If you do go past, just come back around to find it on the second attempt!

There's A Song In ThereWe went there Saturday night and watched Mark Dufresne put on a show that was magical. He performed some new songs, and the packed place loved it. Years ago Mark told me he had enough material for 10 more CD's. He has written some more songs since then. Mark had a great CD come out last year too. I asked him on Saturday when the next one will come out and he said it depends on whether or not they can get the capital to do that. I sure hope there is a way for some people who love the arts to come forward with some help. You can contact Mark by clicking here.

On Saturday Mark did things with the harmonica that are not from this planet. He showed how to go from tenor to baritone, back through tenor to alto, and do it all for 4 minutes at a time. Mark either didn't take a breath or somehow was breathing through a nostril and out through the mouth hitting all the notes this master dreamed of when he wrote these songs. There are reasons he has won so many awards over the years.

Grinders has even more talent coming up over the next month, from Little Bill to Junkyard Jane, and many others. They are also the producers of what some say are the best sandwiches in the area. I will be back...

Friday, October 29, 2010

2010 Blues Blast Music Awards Announced

The 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards were announced Thursday night October 29th, at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. The awards are conducted by Blues Blast Magazine out of Illinois and are based on voting by blues fans and others who subcribe to the magazine.

Best Contemporary Blues Recording -Nick Moss - Privileged

Best Traditional Blues Recording - Mississippi Heat - Let's Live It Up

Best Blues Song - The Kilborn Alley Blues Band - "Better Off Now"

Best Blues Band - Tommy Castro Band

Better Off NowBest Male Blues Artist - Magic Slim

Best Female Blues Artist - Shemekia Copeland

Best New Artist Debut Recording - Jackie Scott & The Housewreckers - How Much Woman Can You Stand?

Sean Costello Rising Star Award - The Cash Box Kings

How Much Woman Can You Stand2010 Lifetime Achievement Award - Otis Rush

Congratulations to all the winners!

The audio stream of the awards show were broadcast live by WGLT Blues 24/7. WGLT is re-broadcasting the awards show the night of October 30th, 2010. You can listen to them online starting at 7PM Central time by visiting Hopefully WGLT will keep an archive of the show too so it can be heard anytime!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

David Vest Conquers Port Townsend

By Robert Horn
Born in Alabama, Davis Vest is one of many great blues musicians that moved to Portland and became a force in this lively blues scene. He played with Paul DeLay for years and produced some great music of his own. In late October I caught up with him at The Upstage in Port Townsend on the Olympic Penninsula. I was talking to him before the show, and he told about the rythym section he brought with him. He said that Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne highly recomended Andre Thomas as a drummer. He also introduced his bass player to the audience later. He told the audience that they are familiar with his bass player even if they may not recognize him. Jack Levin was the founder of Canada's great blues band, Powder Blues (if you know any swing dancers they worship that band.).

I also got a chance to talk with David about writing. We discussed song writing, and I heard some truths that related to other writing. He then told about discussions he had with a Russian poet about how he thought things out a lot before they got put on paper, saying that if he forgot something then it probably should have been forgotten. David had much to say about music and the arts.

His own piano playing reminds some of Jerry Lee Lewis. Ironically, he played music before he was familiar with Lewis and was developing his style back in the 1950's. David told stories of his first band in 1957 to introduce some songs he had written long ago. His fingers flew all over, and his vocals were first class as well. He sometimes plays in Washington and often in Oregon, so go hear him live because these words can not show the sounds.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blues on the Road: 2010 Kitchener Blues Festival!

By Eric Steiner
This past August, I had the good fortune to attend the 10th Annual Kitchener Blues Festival in Ontario. When I heard that Bruce Iglauer of Alligator Records was up for the Mel Brown Award, this piqued my curiosity as Mel had called Kitchener home since the late 80’s. When I read the festival’s line-up, I was intrigued in that I had not heard about 40% of the artists on the bill.

Kitchener is part of the Waterloo region of Ontario, and Waterloo is home to RIM – Research in Motion – the designer and manufacturer of the Blackberry smartphone. The region also offers an array of urban and rural tourism opportunities, and I hope this article encourages readers to learn more about not only the Kitchener Blues Festival, but Kitchener as a travel destination as well.
Honeyboy Edwards: Missisippi Delta Bluesman
The festival featured five stages and more than 60 shows over four days, and headliners included Dr. John, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Honeyboy Edwards, Jonny Lang, Debbie Davies, The Holmes Brothers, Watermelon Slim and the Workers, and Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, among many others. What initially attracted me were the acts I had not heard.

Cheryl Lescom & The Tucson Choir BoysKitchener songbird Cheryl Lescom, Miss Angel (a longtime singer with Mel Brown), guitarist David Wilcox, Jack De Keyser, and John Campbell each were new to my ears, and I think that is what a great blues festival does: it introduces fans to blues talent that may be new to them. Each of these Canadian blues artists put on a top-notch show, and I especially enjoyed rediscovering Moreland and Arbuckle, Paul Reddick and the young blues band Monkeyjunk, and acts like Delta Moon. The weekend also features local Blues in the Schools performances, and many songs are archived on the festival’s web site.

Open HandWhat also intrigued was the array of public and private sponsors the blues festival had. I expected to see local businesses support the event, but I was particularly impressed that there was a substantial investment from the provincial government, and from Heritage Canada, a federal agency that promotes the arts in Canada. The Ontario Cultural Attractions fund and the Ontario Trillium Foundation all support this festival, and I was pleased that this community of less than a quarter of a million people could host such a world-class event. I’ve been to blues festivals large and small, urban and rural, and the Kitchener Blues Festival is at the top of my list for great blues talent, accessibility, and just plan fun.

Each stage had a presenting sponsor: the Main Stage was sponsored by TD Canada Trust, and the Kitchener Business Improvement Area sponsored the Tent Stage, while Reliance (a local tankless water system manufacturer) sponsored the Children’s Stage. The provincial lottery, OLG, sponsored the Clocktower Stage in beautiful Victoria Park, and the Boathouse hosted workshops from Debbie Davies, Honeyboy Edwards, and the Paul James Band played a tribute to another great Chicagobased record label, Chess Records.

Local businesses pitched in an sponsored individual artists, and the 10-member committee behind the festival, the Kitchener Blues Community, Inc., has a real recipe for success in a market the size of the Kitchener-Waterloo region.

I also appreciated the downtown merchants association’s discount card, which I picked up at the BIA booth – it made my Canadian dollars go just a little bit farther at selected stores and restaurants.

The entire festival had a community feel vibe to it, several blocks of King Street closed to car traffic. Think of Seattle’s Ballard Wurst Festival or Saturday market in downtown Edmonds, but with five additional stages focused on blues music. Street vendors included the Grand River Blues Society (which I joined on the spot), the Kitchener Children’s Museum, each presenting sponsor, and local retailers. I went broke saving money at The Orbit thrift store, and the shop’s windows featured LPs of artists slated to play the festival and historical LPs like Junior Well’s Hoodoo ManBlues on Delmark and an early Etta James release on Cadet Records.

Kitchener has a very diverse community, and one of my favorite meals was the jerk chicken at Ellison’s. Proprietor Elvis Ellison (yes, I saw Elvis in Kitchener!) serves up some of the best Caribbean food I’ve ever tasted, and I look forward to returning to his restaurant.

While I thought I took in much of the four-day festival, I missed a lot, including the“12 Bar Blues,” where festival artists play in one of 12 blues bars until late in the night. There’s also a gospel brunch hosted by the Kitchener businesses (Note to self: try to get to each one next year!).

There’s only one remedy for that: when I return, I’ll stay one more night!

As I landed after an eventful four nights in Ontario, I wondered: how can the Washington Blues Society might work to help light the spark that someday, just someday, might turn in to a festival of this size and scope?

I enjoyed the Hampton Inn less than 20 minutes from downtown, and if I return, I’ll likely fly in and out of Toronto. Wait a minute. Make that “when,” and not “if.”

For more information on the Kitchener and Waterloo area, and this exciting blues festival, you can visit:

Ellison’s Bistro:
Kitchener Blues Festival:
Downtown Kitchener:
Kitchener-Waterloo Regional Tourism:
Waterloo Region Record:
More Video From the Festival:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Walk the Talk" - Son Jack Jr.and Michael Wilde (Self Released)

Living Blues CD Review, October 2010
Walk The Talk
A product of London, England, now hailing from Seattle, Washington, Son Jack Jr. is back with harp sideman Michael Wilde for his third album, Walk The Talk.

With a mixture of tracks that include covers and originals, it’s obvious that Son Jack Jr. is flexing his blues talents on his latest release. While this disc offers more electric guitar than his previous releases, he by no means abandons the Delta blues style that earned him critical acclaim. Tracks such as Howlin’ Poppet and a cover of Charley Patton’s Pony Blues reveal Son Jack Jr.’s Delta blues chops have not slipped one bit. On most of the rest of the album Jack shifts to the electric guitar where his playing has a decidedly North Mississippi/John Lee Hooker feel.
Down So Low, Crying Time, and an excellent cover of Hooker’s Crawlin’ King Snake are the highlights of the disc. Don’t look for blazing fast, intricate, or over-the-top guitar fills or solos here. Son Jack Jr. carries most of the tracks with his slow, often hypnotic guitar playing. His vocals have matured and are much sharper, not wavering as they did on some of his previous work. Michael Wilde’s harmonica works nicely with Jack’s groove and again is not too over the top. His slow, heart-wrenching solo that kicks off Crying Time is his best work on the disc.

Going in a little different direction has worked out well for Son Jack Jr. here. Walk The Talk stacks up well with his other work and gives listeners a little bit more variety. Son Jack Jr.’s and Michael Wilde’s styles mesh well and are satisfying to the ear.


Friday, October 15, 2010

"Back to the Shack" - the BlueVoodoo (Self Released)

By Malcolm Kennedy
Back to the Shack
The BlueVoodoo are based out of Vancouver, BC and their latest CD Back to the Shack (self produced) cover art screams front porch; but the music is everything but. In fact, I hear more elements of rock and country&western than the Delta. But, the blend is definitely a unique blues style.
The band is Ted Tosoff on vocals/guitar, Rick Delgarno on vocals/guitar, Gerry Berg on Bass, and Kelly Stodola on drums. Guest musicians Paul Wainwright-sax and Dave Hoerl-harp provide tasteful support. I particularly enjoyed “Black Moon.” The slide work by Rick Dalgarno and harp fills by Dave on “Suitcase Blues” are both right on the mark. The 14 tracks are all well crafted originals with at least one foot in the blues.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Playing the Game" - Kevin Selfe & the Tornadoes (Mojo Productions)

By Malcolm Kennedy

Playing The Game

This is one of the most solid blues albums I have heard in awhile: every one of the ten original tracks on Playing the Game is a keeper. Kevin is an expert showman too, as we witnessed at a recent Washington Blues Society Blues Bash, and that energy comes across in his recording as well. Just as he did at the Bash, Kevin mixes it up, playing multiple styles of blues with varying amounts of intensity.

With so many great tracks on Playing the Game the hardest part in writing about them is picking only a few. I will start with the title track which has a thick groove provided by the rhythm section, Allen Markel-bass and Don Shultz-drums leaving Kevin a solid foundation for his inspired guitar solo. Allen's bass playing deserves special recognition, the only way a three piece band can sound this good is to have an outstanding bass player and Allen fits the bill. For an excellent example just listen to tracks like 'Just Like Pulling Teeth" with thundering bass, the popping old school bass lines on "Walking Funny" or the subtle work on “Pulled Pork” and you will find the rich bass work that is at the core of the music driving the melodies allowing Kevin's deft guitar playing to float above or sting like a hornet. Kevin's vocals don't take a back seat either from purr to growl and all points in between his vocals add just the right edge to every song.

Catch the band live and take home a copy of Playing the Game. This CD is very highly recommended.


Monday, October 11, 2010

A Blues Weekend in the Pacific NW

By RH 
Saturday October 9th at the Highway 99 Blues Club, the audience got to see who the Washington Blues Society is sending to Memphis to compete at the International Blues Challenge in the solo/duo category: "Porch Stomp" with Nick Vigarino. Nick did one set with the drummer who is the other half of his duo act. The audience was then astounded by the band he brought on stage, adding a wild fiddle player so Nick could have dueling guitar-fiddle was great. He also did a few slower songs as well as his usual fast ones, and that was a treat.

The night was not complete without Nick's flying circus act however. The drummer banged his drum sticks on Nick's guitar as Nick played the neck. Nick then used a plethora of items to play his slide guitar: the bass, the violin, salt shakers, a bottle of Tabasco sauce, etc. as he walked throughout the club. The performance concluded with Nick jumping on the bar and walking above the club. A shot of whiskey was handed up to him. He toasted the crowd, drank it, and used the shot glass as the slide... and because everyone was on their feet cheering I couldn't see all else he was doing.

On this same night there was great blues music in Portland, Tacoma, Spokane, Snohomish, and all over the Pacific NW. The region has the blues, and it sounds great. I was lucky enough to have caught what may have been one of the better shows of the night.

Be sure to attend the "Blues Invasion" on Nov. 7th in Snohomish, WA at the Oxford Saloon. The proceeds will go to sending Porch Stomp and the Wired! band to represent the Washington Blues Society in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge. Click here for more information on the event.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Bone-A-Fied" - Boogie Bone (Self Released)

By Malcolm Kennedy
Boogie Bone has been taking Portland by storm and their new CD, Bone-A-Fied, shows why. An interesting mix of mostly rock with some blues and blue rock on 13 original tracks. They tease you for 1:23 with the bluesy feel of “Angel Preamble” and then crank it up to ten with 4 min of “Avenging Angel.” I would like to hear a 5 min. version of the preamble.

The best track is “Don’t Mean A Thing” a slow bluesy ballad in the vein of Gary Moore with subdued guitar, slick horns with a soaring sax solo and emotionally charged vocals. “Boogie Bone Boogie” is a horn laden romp. “I Don’t Know” features swinging horns and they close things out with “Gotcha Baby” a mid tempo Texas shuffle with a nasty little guitar solo.

I found this record to be well worth checking out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Monthly Blues Bash - Hounds At Bay & The Moon Daddy Band

By Robert Horn
As Eric Steiner pointed out at the event, it used to be called a meeting, but now there is a great turn-out since the Washington Blues Society changed the name to “Blues Bash.” It was a couple hours of listening to music while drinking eating and talking to friends. So it is called a Blues Bash, which it is. Hey, it’s an easy job but somebody’s got to do it. Be there next month (it is always the 2nd Tuesday of each month and always at the same place, the Red Crane Restaurant in Shoreline).

We heard a band that most all of us never heard of before followed by another blues band that knocked us dead. Hounds at Bay started off with the classic blues song “Route 66” which many blues legends recorded as well as Bob Dylan. They did another song by someone talked about in the same sentence as Dylan later, and that was a song by Tom Waits. The voice of the singer sounded enough like Tom that it could have been a sobriety test to identify who was on stage (some people there passed the test I think).

This band broke some rules and won anyway. They had three guys playing guitar and singing and with the exception of one song, nobody played bass or drums. On one song a guitar player tied a string to a mop and played that as a bass. They did an old song popularized by The Kingston Trio, “Scotch and Soda” (so I had one; advertising works). They also did a gospel song that sounded about as good as some done by Blind Boys of Alabama. Later they did “Parchman Farm” followed by “Ruby” and a song called “Caffeine”. Hounds At Bay is Larrry Baumgartner, Steve Peterson, and James Nason.

Among the many announcements was one about how the J&M in Pioneer Square is once again playing a lot of blues including a blues jam every Sunday from 7-11 PM—let’s all go. Then free CD’s were handed out to the crowd as Tony Frederickson played the roll of Santa Claus on stage in September (OK, that is among the roles of Merchandise Director). The next band took over everyone’s hearts, minds, bodies…. The Moon Daddy Band features Jerry Cooper on drums, Dave Chavez on keys as well as vocals and guitar (yes he has 10 hands), Steve Schlecht on guitar and vocals too, Scott Gaylord on bass, and Rubin Chavez (yes related to Dave) on percussion. They performed the old blues classic “Caldonia” with Steve singing and it sounded as good or better than any other time I heard it. Not much later, Dave did a rendition of “Unchain My Heart” that was better than any performance of the song by anyone except for maybe Bill Mattocks who is the world’s master of that song). They did a number of other songs including “Mojo Rising” and I think my mojo rose during that song.
They performed songs by everyone from Santana to Walter Trout, and did several encores as the crowd of dancers on the floor demanded more and more and more. It is hard to believe that some people knew about this event and were not there. Those people must not have known that admission is free and you get free CDs just to show up. I know it sounds too good to be true, so come check it out and I will make a bet with you about whether you keep coming back.

See you next month at the Blues Bash!