Tuesday, December 11, 2012

CD Review "Candy Store Kid" - Ian Siegal and the Mississippi Mudbloods

By Rick Bowen

British blues guitar man Ian Siegal returned again to the beloved Zebra Ranch studios in the north Mississippi hill country to record the follow up to his very successful album The Skinny and emerged with an even better and bigger band sound on the new album Candy Store Kid.

Once again Siegal is joined by youngest son Cody Dickinson, who produced and mixed the album while also supplying pile driving drums and additional keyboards and guitars; he is a true jack of all trades. Dickinson’s brother Luther adds superb slide guitar to the mix with Alvin Youngblood Hart and Garry Burnside rounding out the Mudblood band. The nine new songs at two covers roll out like well worn classics from a bygone age.

These are not your typical blues tunes, but rather a spicy gumbo of funk, soul, and country and swamp rock. Throughout them Siegel’s voice evokes a mixture of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Iggy Pop, delivering lyrics that are often Dylan-esque and full of metaphorical alliterations. It seems Ian Siegal has truly captured lightning in a bottle with his foray to the hill country and is blessed to find kindred spirits in the Mudbloods. A kid in a candy store indeed.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

CD Review: Don’t Blame the Dynamite… If You Can’t Light the Fuse! - RJ Knapp & Honey Robin

By Eric Steiner 
I first discovered local bluesman RJ “Blues Master” Knapp when his 21st Century Bluzmen competed in the fourth semifinals of the Washington Blues Society’s International Blues Competition at the Oxford Saloon in Snohomish, Washington in 2011.  I was impressed by the way he powered through an original set that tilted heavily toward blues rock, and I could tell that his influences ranged from Led Zepplin and Black Sabbath to Popa Chubby.  RJ’s set featured high energy, plugged-in, and wonderfully over-the-top guitar histrionics thanks to the Blues Master.

If you enjoy full-throttle blues powered by solid electric guitar, you’ll enjoy Don’t Blame the Dynamite… If You Can’t Light the Fuse.  The straight-ahead country blues on “If the Bluz Was Money” relies on the spot-on rock steady beat from the considerably talented engine room of Rick “Dr. Demo” Bowen and “Rob “Powder Monkey” Baker on bass, punctuated by the Blues Master’s fluid slide work.  “Hole in My Heart” gives RJ a chance to stretch with some opening, low-key licks that frame Honey Robin’s sultry vocals, and his inspired noodling up and down the fretboard shows that, as a guitar player, he’s much more than a three-chord power player.  RJ’s been around the Seattle blues scene since the early 80’s, and he’s earned the nickname “Mr. Bluz” by paying his dues in Pioneer Square clubs. RJ’s inventive songwriting and innovative guitar playing are front and center on this CD. 

Since that International Blues Competition at the now-closed Oxford Saloon in downtown Snohomish, RJ and his band have played at the Big Sky Blues Festival in Noxon, Montana, and returned to the Blues to Benefit the Brave benefit held in Snohomish County in 2011 and 2012.  I hope that this CD will get RJ, Honey Robin, Rick, and Rob more attention and more gigs throughout the Pacific Northwest.  Their CD release party was held on December 7th at Cyndy’s Broiler in Stanwood, Washington, and I hope that we can feature the magic of that night in a future Washington Blues Society Bluesletter.

Listen to clips from the CD below. After you check out the 15 (yes, 15!) cuts on the CD, please tell your favorite blues club that this Bothell, Washington-based blues outfit can really put on a show!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bonnie McCoy (Memphis Minnie’s niece) At Garden House Country Blues Series in Seattle

Blues To Do, out of Seattle, Washington, has put together a unique series of world-class traditional blues is presented on the 3rd Friday of the month in November. On Friday, Nov. 16, The series will present Bonnie McCoy (Memphis Minnie’s niece) with special guest Mary Flower.

The concert is open to the public, all ages. The event includes popular meals from area food establishments all under $10, plus beer & wine will be available at the shows. Doors open at 7pm, and the show starts at 8pm. Tickets are $15 per show. Group discounts also available - please email sales@bluestodo.com. Tickets are available at the door, via PayPal at Blue To Do's website, or at Brown Paper Tickets. The historic Garden House is just north of the light rail station at 2336 15th Avenue South.

This final event features the niece of Memphis Minnie, Bonnie McCoy. Her heritage includes her father George McCoy and his sister Ethel McCoy (who sang with Chuck Berry in the 50's). George’s brother, Kansas Joe McCoy, recorded and performed with Minnie in her hottest years. Bonnie raised her family and now has time to peruse her dream to be a blues singer in the family tradition. Last year, Seattle based Arcola Records released her debut recording "Child of the Blues" with liner notes by Dr. David Evans (Professor of music Memphis University). The CD was produced and released by Bob West, the host of "King Biscuit Time" on the now defunct radio station KRAB-FM 107.7. “Child of the Blues” features Eric Freeman along with Northwest artists Ashley Durant, Anthony Estrada and Mike Daugherty.

Mary Flower is a world-class guitarist and lap slide player who swings the blues. Along the way, she’s mastered the intricate, harmonically subtle Piedmont style, with its good-timey, ragtime feel. The Piedmont style forms the foundation of much of her work, but she’s an unrivaled interpreter of Mississippi blues and an ingenious composer in her own right. She’s twice placed in the top three at the prestigious National Fingerpicking Championship in Winfield, Kansas–the only woman to do so. She’s a warm singer who sings down-home yet sophisticated material. Mary was nominated for both “Best Acoustic Artist” and “Best Acoustic Album” in the 2012 Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Her latest CD is “Misery Loves Company” on Yellow Dog Records.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Not sure what to give the Blues Fan in your life?

Looking for that special gift to give that blues crazed friend or spouse of yours? Well... have we got the answer for you! 

Why not give the gift of a one-year membership to the Washington Blues Society? They are already a member? Not a problem! We’ll extend their membership for another year and send them a gift note along with their new Membership Cards.

Just download or print the form below,  fill out the information and mail it and your check to:

Washington Blues Society,
P.O. Box 70604
Seattle, WA 98127

It’s as simple as that! It's a gift that will give all year long... Give the Gift of Membership

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Review: Westport “Dock of the Bay” Blues Festival

Photos by Michael Bruce
I’m a gonna raise a fuss, I’m gonna raise a holler…!

Eddie Cochran’s ghost came to me one night. He told me I had a fever and taking my case to the United Nations won’t help. The only cure for the summertime blues he said was the 4th annual 3-day Westport “Dock of the Bay” Blues Festival September 7th through the 9th …and more cowbell!

Minutes south of Aberdeen on Highway 105, I rolled into this Pacific costal community in search of the cure. Noting that Westport has an annual Pirates Day Festival, I was immediately impressed and felt at home. This town welcomes pirates!

by Michael Bruce
Westport, the beautiful diamond in the rough on the Pacific coast of Grays Harbor County, is now home to a growing cadre of blues aficionados. At the very end of the summer festival season when it seems everyone heads east to Sunbanks Blues Festival in Grand Coulee, Westport Blues non-profit hosts its annual event to showcase Washington blues bands and the ocean beach area as a destination for fun. The tallest lighthouse in the state still beams its Fresnel lamp to passing ships, and t’s also at the same time as the Brady’s Oyster Feed just down the road.

Near the harbor of this quiet little fishing village on the grounds of the Westport Inn and RV Park, owned and operated by festival hosts Mark and Desiree Dodson, the event is tucked into a flat area just a skipping stone’s throw from the Pacific beach. Offering clean rooms and friendly staff, Mark and Desiree have worked hard to create a charming setting for this great blues music attraction. There is lots of spacious parking is just across the street. Centrally located at the very end of the main drag, these gracious hosts have shaped this blues music event with all the allure of a Siren’s song. Sport-fishing charter boats rock on the flowing tides as tourists flock to the restaurants and curio shops along the wharf. Rent a crab pot and try your luck, take a long walk on the beach or… go fly a kite!

by Michael Bruce
With pelicans and seagulls soaring on the gentle ocean summer breeze, the event began late on a warm, sunny Friday evening. In preparation for a “rain or shine” gig, the stage was protected by a large tent that could accommodate well over 200 blues fans.

“Next year,” predicted Mark, “our larger tent will hold 800!”

It was also a real community effort. I commented to Mark on the local major fisheries sponsorships for this event. “Mayor Michael Bruce has worked very hard getting sponsorships,” continued Mark. “He also is taking photos of the bands and staying in contact with the bands.”

Blues Attitude, hailing from Olympia and Tacoma, started out the Festival around 6:00 PM on Friday. They got the crowd up and jumping to solid blues ‘tude! Festival newcomer The Tim Hall Band played an incredible high-energy set to close Friday night to a very enthusiastic crowd.

Beer and wine was sold in the beer garden, two food booths, merchandise vendors and others gave it a carnival atmosphere. Oozing excitement, local Deborah Tiedemann sported a name tag with her title, Beer Wench. She was as bubbly as fresh sea foam on wet beach sand. As she handed out Washington Blues Society Bluesletters and beer on Saturday, I asked her if she was having the obvious fun she poured out.

“I’m having a fabulous time” she told me as the Pleasure Hounds finished their set. A bit later I wanted to know her thoughts about local homegrown singer Mia Vermillion.

by Michael Bruce
“I just finished listening to Mia, she’s fantastic!” she said as Mia left the stage. “If I were a guy, I’d be in love with her! She’s got the whole package. She has an awesome voice, an awesome stage presence and not too hard on the eyes!” Noting her stunning beauty and deep, sultry voice, I couldn’t agree with her more.

Mia, a Westport native, spent her summers commercially fishing these waters as a young girl. She now calls Anacortes home, and tours with a two piece band: drummer Jason Edwards and guitarist Rod Cook.

by Michael Bruce
“It’s fun playing with Mia” said Rod. “We have great material and it’s just a lot of fun!” Rod talked to me as they loaded their gear after their set to travel clear across the state to Sunbanks Blues Festival and play again the next day. “I like the venue here too! The tent makes it nice and cozy! ”

Many blues fans told me that they were impressed with the band’s full sound, even though there were just two instruments and Mia’s booming vocals.

by Michael Bruce
Kim Archer and her band was indeed fantastic including an almost note for note back up singer who absolutely belted out harmonies and impressive gyrations in time with the band. “The Westport Dock of the Bay Blues Festival is a great event and attracts some diehard blues lovers and people who appreciate music in general” Kim told me as she walked to the stage for her part of the show. “It’s just a good feeling here of community around music and it’s definitely something I like to be a part of.” She showed the crowd why she loves what she does by nailing a perfect set. Folks moved to the music at the sparse area at the front of the stage and boogied to the funky R&B sounds.

by Michael Bruce
Guitarist Spider Murphy closed Saturday’s lineup. “I was lucky enough to get up with Spider Murphy last night,” Blues Attitude bassist Peter Crossman told me on Sunday. Peter, who provided the sound backline added, “It was totally off the cuff without rehearsal, he’s an amazing musician, old Chicago blues style. I love his new CD, Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato!”

That night, Blues Attitude hosted a jam session worthy of the name as folks crowded together en masse. The Coho Room, adjacent to the Westport Inn, was at capacity until well after midnight; the joint was rocking so much that even breathing room was at a premium.

by Michael Bruce
Sunday’s sea mist with heavy winds was cured by getting most people huddled casually underneath the tent. The chilly nip of the first taste of fall weather blew in quickly to bring the temperatures down. Ranging from 90 degrees on Friday to 55 on Sunday, the extremes failed to dampen these blues fans’ enthusiasm. It was great, typical western Washington weather!

A friend and I had breakfast, and later Bloody Marys, at the VFW Hall on East pacific Avenue before the day’s music started. It’s the best deal in town! Open to the public for Friday Steak Night and Sunday breakfast, the short order cooks serve up quite an extensive board of fare.

by Michael Bruce
Westport’s local band, Catch of the Day, featured both Mark and Desiree (playing a custom fit washboard) with guest artist Andy “Badd Dog” Koch, got the party started. They introduced some original numbers including "Pack My Bags and Scoot" and "Papa's Song" that seamlessly weaved in a stirring country blues version of the 23rd Psalm in a salute to our nation's unsung heroes for 911. Andy also got the crowd going with his gritty Harp playing and great showmanship.

by Michael Bruce
Master of Ceremonies Merri Sutton, photographer, music promoter and self proclaimed “fetchin’-stepper” chatted with me while Little Bill was playing.

by Michael Bruce
“The Billy Shew Band and the Kim Archer Band played here last year and lit up Westport Saturday afternoon and evening,” she said. “Little Bill and the Blue Notes where here last year, too. They returned this year and are playing another amazing crowd-pleasing set.”

I agreed that Bill and the Blue Notes were in great form and having fun.

by Michael Bruce
To end the festival, Randy Oxford Band’s drummer Steve Sabol brought more cowbell and even more wood block to the stage! Randy Oxford, trombonist extraordinaire, set a frantically intense pace for his band, and they responded in kind! Song after song was full of blazing passion and outstanding technical mastery which had the small audience demanding not one, but two encores! Each band member made a potent, wonderful contribution to the band's sound and stage presence.

by Michael Bruce
“They played totally over the top, brought the house down and had a blast doing it!” Merri told me later in an email after the show. “All of these bands are made up of top-notch musicians who also just happen to be top-notch humans. I love and respect each and every one of them!”

The Coho Room was also the location of Sunday night's dinner to thank the hard-working volunteers. They were thrilled to be "breaking bread" and chatted with members of the Randy Oxford Band, who had just finished their set.

Mark and Desire are also planing music workshops at the Westport Inn this winter.“We are having a Steve Kaufman Flatpick Guitar workshop at the Westport Inn Nov 30, Dec 1st and 2nd” said Mark. “This  includes lodging, meals, parties, workshop and a full concert on Sunday.”

I asked if he had more workshops planned to attract music lovers to the ocean this winter. “We are also working with Lee Oskar and Mia Vermillion for additional winter workshops, but we don't have the dates solid yet. We’ll have to let Bluesletter readers know when we confirm these great opportunities with these great artists!”

You will not be disappointed by the lyrics of the classic hit by Eddie Cochran, “Summer Time Blues.” The cure is right on the beach at Westport Blues “Dock of the Bay” Festival, second weekend in September! CLICK HERE for more information on the Westport Inn.

Festival Videos:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review "Who Ordered The Waffle?" - Bump Kitchen

By Malcolm Kennedy
Bump Kitchen are one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier funk/R&B outfits and one listen to 2009’s Who Ordered The Waffle? will quickly inform you why. Tony Harper’s soulful vocals, Mark Bittler’s keyboards, the deep rhythm groove of Everett James on drums and Joe Bevens on bass along with the funky guitars of Jho Blenis and David Broyles make a powerful unit that fills the dance floors from Vancouver, Canada to Eugene, Spokane to Seattle and beyond.

The infectious funk groove of “Don’t Doubt” had me dancing in my seat and the mellow “Back In The Day,” which brings to mind such indelible R&B classics as “That’s The Way Of The World” and “All Day Music,” had me singing along.  Yes, I am saying that Bump Kitchen has that killer funky sound of yesteryear, which is not to say they are mired in the past. It’s just that they have a real knack for putting the essence of a classic sound into the heart of their music. The jazzy keyboard driven instrumental “4th Monkey” has a percolating pulse which is offset by the stinging lead guitar solo. “Mona Lisa” has a rocking edginess highlighted by the blistering lead guitar licks throughout.

Bump Kitchen shows their collective humorous sides with the title track a true life story for which they thank Club Crow in the credits for asking the question, who ordered the waffle? That of course was Everett. This is just flat out a fun band and their music is fun to listen too. Go ahead and order up your own waffle today from Bump Kitchen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Let's Pull A Party" Lightnin' Hopkins

I don't usually publish older videos on the bog, but this deserves its own post. It is a wonder our digital imformation age we live in today to be able watch blues history on-demand. Growing up, I never had access to footage like this. So, I say... may today's new generations be inspired and influenced by their easy access to the rich history of the blues available to them! And Lightning is on of my all time favorites. Who is yours?

The great Texas bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins, under the watchful eye of a very young Joan Baez, performs "Let's Pull a Party." From the DVD "Texas Blues Guitar."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

CD/DVD Review "House Party" - Alice Stuart

By Malcolm Kennedy
When Alice Stuart & the Formerlys were putting things together to go down to the famed Ardent Studio in Memphis to record their new album with multi Grammy winning producer Jim Gaines; they knew from the start that it was an ambitious project. Music's who’s who have utilized Ardent Studios from Led Zeppelin to the Staple Singers, ZZ Top to Bob Dylan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Albert Collins, Coco Montoya, Robert Cray, Stevie Ray Vaughan and hundreds more from all genres of music. Just traveling the 2,000 plus miles down to Memphis for the Freedom Sessions with all their gear would take some financing and any artists can tell you that it is easy to pour thousands of dollars into putting out a well produced CD.

Alice came out with an inspired way to put some of the finances together by reaching out to her fan base for support. She came up with a plan of tiered support levels, not unlike those fundraising drives on public radio and TV where there were different perks offered for the various levels of support. Starting with pre-release signed CD’s, to inclusion on the CD liner credits and ultimately a house party. House Party, a two CD plus DVD comb package, is that very same house party record and filmed live in the front room of Glen and Susan Beebe’s home on a warm and sunny August 25th, 2007.

In my review of the previously released two audio CD package featured in the October, 2011 Washington Blues Society Bluesletter I stated, “If you ever get the opportunity to attend a “house party” do not let it slip by.” Well with the release of Alice’s House Party combo pack you can sit in your own living and experience a virtual house party of your own whenever you get the urge.

The video of House Party was recorded by Richard DePartee and the audio by Glen Beebe. The digital transfer and CD mastering was by Mark Miller of Karla Studios in Fremont and the video editing and DVD mastering was performed by Nathan Bosseler of Impact Studio Pro in Issaquah. House Party is not a big budget production with a multiple camera crew where one camera is doing close ups of the players hands, another on their faces, another wide, one low, one looking down and several more panning in and out all edited together, this is a smaller affair with one camera; but that just ads to the intimate feeling of the show and makes viewing it feel more like you were sitting in the audience. Glen informs his guests at the beginning of the show that it is a party not a concert and if they want to get up and get a glass of wine or some food to go ahead and do so. The filming and audio are not 100% glitch free; but the few instances are very minor and not a distraction. The filming has that feel of watching something that that high tech buddy you have, who has all the gear and knows just how to use it made. It does not have that; “oh my, you really posted this to You Tube” feel to it at all and is very enjoyable to watch.

Alice plays both acoustic and electric guitars and is accompanied by Formerlys Steve Flynn on keyboards and vocals and Mark Willett on bass and vocals. They decided to not have a drummer on the show partly due to the intimate room size and the setting.

The set features 19 songs from across Alice’s career with five selections included from her then brand new Freedom release. Four of the selections included on the video are not on the two audio CDs (all of them cover songs) including a pair from Freedom Johnny Cash’s “Train of Love” and Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” which is the opening cut on the DVD with Alice on her acoustic guitar. The other two not on the CD’s are, “Shout For Joy,” an uplifting boogie woogie instrumental showcasing Steve Flynn’s considerable chops on the electric piano originated by one of the three giants of boogie piano, Albert Ammons, and Skip James’ “Hard Time Killing Floor” which Alice performs acoustic, a song the first time I heard Alice perform live prompted me to purchase three or four of her CD’s on the spot. The DVD also includes several in between song breaks where Alice, Steve and Mark interact with the audience which as adds to the feeling of being in the room for the show.
Three of the tunes performed off Freedom were played in a row near the end of the show, including a fabulous version of the title track Alice’s emotive vocals as she sings ‘Son said, Mama, I can’t keep from cryin’. Hold on a little longer, got to know I’m tryin’ so hard just to make it on my own. Your Mama’s tryin’ so hard, you know your Daddy’s gone,’ over Steve’s keyboards and the strings on her Telecaster bending and vibrating under her fingers. “Highway Blues,” which was another of the show standouts and the afore mentioned “Train of Love”. Switching back and forth from acoustic to electric throughout the sets adds another dimension to the variety of sounds. The show ended with the bluesy “Drop Down Daddy,” from Can’t Find No Heaven, with Alice playing some slide guitar. The House Party DVD/CD combo package gives you two ways to enjoy this thoroughly pleasurable experience. For fans of Alice Stuart the combo pack is an essential addition to your collection. If you are not yet a fan this package makes a wonderful starting place.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bake's Place - An Awesome Place to Hear Live Blues, Randy Oxford Band Oct. 5th

 Bake's Place
There's a new venue in Bellevue, Washington that has got the blues... Known for having great jazz and other fine artists, Bake's Place has started having more live blues since opening at their new location in downtown Bellevue last May. The first show I saw at the new place was Mia Vermillion about three weeks after their opening. The sound quality and atmosphere is fabulous, and the food is great! It's an awesome new place to hear and see live blues.

Friday night, October 5th, the Randy Oxford Band will be taking the stage at Bake's. What a perfect time to check out Bake's!

Dinner and show seating starts: 6:00PM
Show time: 8:00PM
Show Price: $ 20.00

Description: http://bakesplacebellevue.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/biopicture2-250x198.jpgRandy Oxford – trombonist, “Blues Performer of the Year,” and notorious wild man- has been honored more than 25 times since returning to his home state of Washington more than 20 years ago, following a European Tour of duty with the U.S. Army band. He has won multiple “Best Horn” awards, “Entertainer of the Year,” “Keeping the Blues Alive,” and induction into the Washington Blues Society’s Hall of Fame and has played with some of the best bands the area has produced, including Little Bill and the Blue Notes, Fat Cat, and Junkyard Jane. His own band: the Randy Oxford Band- has been tapped three times by NW blues associations to compete at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. In 2011, The Randy Oxford Band earned a spot at the finals, where they placed among the top 8 bands of the hundreds that competed from around the world.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review "Double Dynamite" -The Mannish Boys

By Malcolm Kennedy
The Mannish Boys new Delta Groove release Double Dynamite is so named because it is a double helping of tough blues and impassioned R&B served up on two platters (2 CD set) filled with generous portions pf 13 selections each. The players, Finis, Randy, Kirk, Frank, Willie and Jimi (most of whom have their own bands and projects) plus the addition of new Mannish Boy vocalist Sugaray Rayford on nine cuts. With 26 selections the menu includes numerous sides like harp players James Harmon, Rod Piazza, Jason Ricci and Bob Corritore; guest vocalists Jackie Payne, Mud Morganfield and Cynthia Manley, guitarists a-plenty with Elvin, Junior, Nathan and the Kid not to mention piano, bass, horn players and various other supporting artists.

Now I have been shouting out for years about this All-Star band bringing their old school meets new school to the cover songs, frequently of under appreciated artists, digging deep into the blues and R&B songbooks for lesser known gems and shedding light on these artists in the process. They are blues miners and here they used Double Dynamite to bring you Atomic Blues and Rhythm & Blues Explosion. As with any Delta Groove release the production, packaging and musicianship are impeccable. Now you know I would just love to tell you something about all 26 cuts on this all you can listen to smorgasbord; but I wouldn’t want you to get stuffed. You might look at the track menu and think, “Mannish Boy,” how can they possibly pull off that signature Muddy Waters song? Well with Mud Morganfield on vocals of course.

Disc 1, Atomic Blues, opens with Son House’s “Death Letter” featuring Frank Goldwasser on bristling slide guitar and Rayford on ardent vocals backed by thundering rhythm breathing new life into this Delta blues crown jewel. The loping shuffle of Little Walter’s “Mean Old World” showcases Piazza’s skill and tone on blues harp with Finis Tasby on vocals, Kirk Fletcher and Frank on rhythm and Elvin Bishop on slide cutting a tasty solo. James Harmon brings the goods to his own “Bad Detective” with Kirk on slinky lead guitar and Rich Wenzel on the ivories flushing out the sound. The Mitch Kashmar/Randy Chortkoff penned “You Dogged Me” from Mitch’s Wake Up & Worry, sounds like a long lost Jimmy Reed tune and features Randy on high end 1st position harp and vocals, Kirk on lead, Frank on rhythm and 2nd position harp. Other selections include song by Robert Nighthawk, Muddy, Frank Frost, Sonny Boy Williamson, Randy, Willie Dixon and Otis Spann.

Disc 2, Rhythm & Blues Explosion, opens with the Albert King staple “Born Under A Bad Sign” featuring Elvin Bishop’s biting guitar, Finis Tasby’s soulful vocals and horns and organ adding punch. Cynthia Manley sings a duet with Rayford on the James Brown soul ballad “You’ve Got The Power.” Nathan James handles the tasteful lead guitar while Fred Kaplan, piano, and David “Woody” Woodford, sax, guide the song with the rhythm section. James Brown’s powerful “Cold Sweat” is rendered here as a percolating instrumental with Fletcher adding stinging lead notes, Goldwasser on rhythm, Bobby Tsukamoto on driving bass, Mike Finnigan master of keyboards on B-3, Woodford on tenor and baritone sax and Lee Thornburg on trumpet and trombone giving this track an almost Tower of Power sound. There are songs penned by James Cotton, James Harmon, Ray Charles, Jimmy McCracklin plus several more. Double Dynamite is double the pleasure and double the fun. Very highly recommended.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

2013 Washington Blues Society Best Self Produced CD Competition Announced, Oct. 9th Deadline

The Washington Blues Society (WBS) has announced it is currently accepting submittals from blues artists in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia, and Alberta for the society's Best Self Produced CD Award. The winner will represent the Washington Blues Society at the 2013 International Blues Challenge Best Self Produced CD competition. To be eligible, the submitted CD must have a release date between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2012. Details are below.

Since 2005, The Blues Foundation has celebrated up and coming artists by bestowing an award for the "Best Self-Produced CD" of the year. It will do so again in 2013. Where the IBC, through its panel of distinguished judges, has been the measure of excellence for a band's live performance, the Best Self-Produced CD award honors artists that have achieved excellence in the studio. Acts can be bands, solo acts, duo acts, trios, full choirs or any other combination. The purpose of this award is to assist Blues musicians in the pursuit of their professional goals.

This award complements the International Blues Challenge-the live music component of IBC Weekend. The Foundation believes this award further emphasizes the critical role of affiliated societies in the Blues world and provides another featured award for IBC weekend.

CD Submissions are due by Tuesday, October 9, 2012. 

The following rules govern the national competition and are from www.wablues.org (adapted from the Blues Foundation Best Self-Produced CD Official Rules:
  • Entries for the Best Self-Produced CD are permitted by affiliated blues societies only.
  • Each affiliate is permitted one entry only. 
  • The CD entered does not have to be performed by the band entered in the 2013 International Blues Challenge. 
  • The CD must have been released during the November 1, 2011 - October 31, 2012 time frame. 
  • Interested bands from the states and provinces listed above must submit 7 (seven) copies of their CD to the Washington Blues Society P.O. Box (below). A committee of three will review each CD submitted. Four copies of the winner’s CD will be submitted to the Blues Foundation as the Washington Blues Society’s official entry. The remaining CDs will be distributed by the Washington Blues Society at Blues Bashes, free raffles, or festivals that promote live blues music. 

Send submissions to:

      Washington Blues Society 
       Best-Self Produced CD 
       P.O. Box 70604 Seattle, WA 98127 

Note: Submissions MUST be in the WBS P.O. Box by Tuesday, October 9, 2012 (or delivered to our monthly Blues Bash at the Red Crane on that date). No submissions after this date will be accepted or reviewed. 

The CD Committee will review each CD for the following:
  1. Blues Content 
  2. Musical Performance 
  3. Audio Quality of the Presentation 
  4. Cover Art and Design 
  5. Credits and Liner Information.
A performer who has previously been nominated for a Blues Music Award (formerly the W.C. Handy Blues Award) shall not be eligible for this competition. A CD issued in the name of an otherwise eligible performer which also includes the contributions of a Blues Music Award nominee may be ineligible, depending on the extent of the contribution. A CD on a record label that has been previously nominated for a Blues Music Award (formerly the W.C. Handy Blues Award) shall not be eligible for this competition.

Compilations are not eligible. 

A singer, band, society or local producer may produce the actual CD as long as the performer is a singer, band or other individual entity.

Recordings with established or "known" producers within the industry are eligible as long as the recording is on the artist's independent label and not on an established national blues label.

If a recording was produced independently but an established blues label has purchased the master for distribution, the recording is still eligible until such time as the established blues label releases the recording.

The affiliates are responsible for ensuring that their submission complies with these rules. If you have any doubts or questions, contact the Washington Blues Society.

The CDs honored to date by the Washington Blues Society are:
  • 2005-Crazy, Cryin' Blues by Robin Rogers and Silver Bird by Collard Greens & Gravy (tie)
  • 2006-Back in Bluesville by Roxy Perry 2007-We are Mighty Lester by Mighty Lester Band
  • 2008-Sophisticated Ladies by Sue Palmer & Her Motel Swing Orchestra
  • 2009-Hollerin' by Nathan James & Ben Hernandez 
  • 2010-Crime Scene Queen by The Informants and Fire it Up! by Laurie Morvan Band 
  • 2011-Get Inside This House by Joe McMurrian - Cascade Blues Associatio
  • 2012-Where I'm Comming From... by Dave Keller - Rhode Island Rhythm and Blues Preservation Society

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Monday Night Madness

Something special happened several nights ago in Tacoma. Not that every week night on the local music scene isn’t special in some way, but that night was different. Monday nights’ at the Swiss Tavern have always been pretty much dedicated to local blues bands. And they generate a tidy little appreciative audience. This night brought out a larger than usual crowd for Rod Cook & Toast with special guest Sue Orfield. Sue was in town for, among other things, the 15th anniversary of Junkyard Jane.

I always try to catch Rod Cook & Toast (Chris Leighton on drums – Jon Bayless on bass and vocals) whenever I can. It certainly is not totally blues, but always top-notch music. Toast is one of the finest trios in the Pacific Northwest. Throw in Sue Orfield, and, well I had to be there.

Immediately that “special vibe” surfaced when the first five audience members I ran into were other local musicians – Les Merrihew (visiting from his “retirement” to Arizona), Doug Skoog, Dean Reichert, Leanne Trevalyan and Billy Stoops. When other musicians come out to listen to their peers you just know it’s going to be good. Joining the audience shortly thereafter were super fans Reverend Dave Brown and his lovely better half and the late arriving Mark Riley. Add another forty locals or so and there was a nice little “house” to play to.

Then special guest number two walked in with his gear. Jay Mabin. Now almost everyone knows that I pick on harmonica players, so listen up! Jay Mabin is a monster on the chromatic. Incredible tone. Wonderfully melodic. There, I did it. I gave props to a harmonica player. That actually felt pretty good!

The anticipation was palpable. But, when the music finally started (there was a “lateness issue” involving Jon Bayless, but that is another story) it did not disappoint. The opening set was awesome. It was five excellent musicians with their “ears on” coming together and filling the room with some fantastic music. As an avid fan it doesn’t get much better than that. Jay had to leave for an early wake up on Tuesday, so Mark Riley was invited up.

It was a late drive home for sure, but I’d make that drive anytime to hear music like that! Cream of the crop players playing “together”. That is SPECIAL.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Westport Dock of the Bay Blues Festival, September 7th-9th

Picture yourself on the edge of the ocean listening to the surf break against the shore under blue skies. Eagles and pelicans fly above you, and sweet breezes of the fresh ocean air fill your lungs. All of this while listening to top Northwest and national Blues acts in a magical 3 day festival.

Westport, Washington is the home port of the Dock of the Bay Blues Festival. Westport is a wonderful, picturesque fishing village with many nautical treasures to enjoy. The Dock of the Bay Blues Festival opens at the beautiful Westport Inn in the heart of the marina. It is a weekend of great music and memories with the beautiful Pacific Ocean, friendly restaurants, bustling working docks, and quaint shops only a short walk away. It all makes for an exciting weekend of live blues music.

Festival hosts Mark and Desiree Dodson wanted to share their passion for blues music and their love of the quaint coastal community, so they started the Westport Blues Nonprofit which supports the event. Each year the festival has grown, and this year it is expected to be the best celebration of the blues ever.

The festival is held in a huge tent to temper the rays of the sun, or keep you dry, so no matter what the weather you will be comfortable while getting your groove on. Vendors bring unique items to shop for, as well as food and espresso. The Blues Beer Garden will have micro brews to choose from and locally produced wines.

Blues Attitude
The festival brings a wide range of the Blues to Westport. Festivities kick off on Friday night, September 7th with the popular band Blues Attitude known for their jamming blues. The Tim Hall Band takes you into the rest of the evening playing blues that will get your out of our seat and dancing.

Mia Vermillion
Saturday, September 8th brings the Pleasure Hounds to get the party started. Then Mia Vermillion, who has opened for blues legend John Hammond and rocked the main stage at the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival, will bring her fresh unique sound to the stage. Mia is “…One of the best vocalists I’ve heard in a while..." according to Graham Clarke with Blues Bytes Magazine. Following Mia, the Billy Shew Band keeps the afternoon rocking with their sound solidly rooted in modern indie groove and spiced with various influences.

Kim Archer
Next, the Kim Archer Band takes the stage to get you up dancing. Kim brings a raw power-house performance with her guitar in hand. She brings her original songs rooted in old school soul, funk, classic rock, sultry blues and ballads along with her interpretation of many classics.

The stage’s final evening performance on Saturday is the great blues man Mr. Spider Murphy. Spider hails from Colorado and is recognized as the best tenor guitar player in the world. You will be captivated by his down, dirty and gritty blues. Opening for Randy Travis and touring throughout the states, Spider is a well known legend in the music world. Spider Murphy is stopping in to the Dock of the Bay Blues Festival during his West Coast tour.
When the stage closes Saturday night, the Blues Jam and Dance starts at the Coho Hall at the Westport Inn. It will be a night of musicians jamming and the party will go until you can’t dance anymore.

Catch of the Day & Andy Koch
Sunday, September 9th, after you have rested up, the festival starts again. The stage brings Andy “Badd Dog” Koch & Catch of the Day. Andy Koch is the founder and leader of the Badd Dogg Blues Society and will get you rocking with his true blue blues and intense harp playing. Joining Andy, Westport’s own Catch of the Day adds their unique harmonic vocal stylings and will show you how the blues are alive and well in Westport!

Little Bill
The festival is honored to have Little Bill and the Blue Notes back again this year. The history of this band mirrors the history of American rock & roll and you’re assured to get shivers down your back. The festival wraps up Sunday afternoon with the Randy Oxford Band burning up the stage. Sexy, funky, cool blues… Randy plays the trombone as a lead instrument, inventing a path through the chord progressions sometimes mimicking the guitars around him taking them with him on one of his wild rides.

Billy Shew Band
A portion of the festival proceeds go to the Westport Blues Nonprofit to support music and arts in Westport, the south beach and Grays Harbor.

The three day festival for all performances and events, including the Blues Jam and Dance, is only $35. One day festival tickets are $18. For ticket and lodging information go to WestportBlues.com or call the Westport Inn at 360-268-0111. A complete schedule can be found HERE