Artist: Johnny Rawls
Title: Rockin’ in Rockland
Label: Deep South Records / Juke Joint Video CD &DVD Pack (no catalogue number)

For more information go to

This double CD/DVD which was recorded at The Timeout Pub, Rockland, Maine, is a joint release with Juke Joint Video and Johnny’s own record label, Deep South Soul Records.

Apart from an extra number on the CD and an after gig interview on the DVD all twelve numbers are the same on both discs. Johnny (who, by the way is not related to that other fine soul singer Lou Rawls) has served a long and highly informative apprenticeship; beginning with his grandfather John Paul Newson, a blind guitarist who played in and around the Hattiesburg area of Mississippi; roughly eight miles from the small town of Purvis where Johnny was born in 1951.

As Johnny steadily progressed musically through his teenage years his band was approached to provide backing for such legendary artists as Z.Z. Hill, Little Johnny Taylor, Joe Tex and The Sweet Inspirations. In the mid seventies he became O.V. Wrights’ band director but, after the sad and untimely passing of O.V. Wright in 1980 Johnny subsequently became the bandleader for Johnny Taylor up until 1985 when he felt that the time was right to strike out as solo performer. In the intervening years he has recorded, produced and arranged a number of albums for himself and others on labels such as; Touch Records, Rooster Blues and JSP to name but a few.

With this win double of a release we not only hear the reassuring and hugely satisfying; gospel inflected soulful blues of Johnny; vocals, guitar and his two sterling sidemen Greg Allen; bass and David Span; drums. But we also see how well the band coax the audience in this small intimate setting, out of their chairs and onto the dancefloor with a mixture of a homely presence and a friendly demeanour; combined with a consummate  relaxed  easygoing southern  style that comforts and inspires everybody to simply throw their cares away and groove to the tunes.

Johnny has a strong, naturally effortless, singular voice that is not dissimilar to that of Van Morrison; while his smooth silky guitar playing produces a sound that appears to be on the verge of going out of tune; yet strangely, not only does it stay in tune but it creates a very pleasant ringing sensation in your ears, which in turn causes you to experience a warm relaxing glow on the inside.

As the concert progresses it becomes apparent that Johnny and the boys are in full command and everybody is happy dancing and singing the night away.

One for the collection, I think!

----- Brian Harman.

Artist: The Insomniacs
Title: Left Coast Blues
Label: Delta Groove Music DGPCD117

For more information go to:

This is the debut album from The Insomniacs and a more impressive start than this, I feel, could not be achieved; for that which comes spilling forth from the speakers is pure footapping ecstasy. If you are familiar with the theme tune from the comedy “Third Rock from the Sun,” then you will have some idea of what is waiting for you on this album.
For everybody else, I have the utmost pleasure in informing you that these thirteen original numbers (including two live performances) are; refreshingly accurate in delivery and rendition of numbers reminiscent of the early innocent fun loving times of the fifties; the styles range from a hopping and bopping rockabilly tinged sound to straight ahead rock’n’rollers; all of which contain some of the most richly resonant, mellow and feelgood twangin guitarwork around. Partnered with crystal clear, loose as a goose, irresistible ivory tinkling, and a solid, warmly rich and mellow, rhythm section no tune is out of place, whether, they are fast paced dancing shuffles or slowburnin’ blues, the whole album has you jiving in the aisle.

The gentlemen who have created this fun, fun, fun piece of musical joy have their base in Portland Oregon; and are; Vyasa Dodson; vocals, Dean Mueller; bass, Alex Shakeri; keyboards and Dave Melyan; drums.

What more can one say! Oh yes, definitely one for the collection, no doubt about it!

----- 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 [email protected]



It's a beautiful thing to be able to instantly recognize a beautiful thing.  That's exactly what happened as I listened to "NEW SOUNDS FROM KANSAS CITY" by the NATIONAL DEBONAIRES.  It was barely twenty-five seconds into the opening track when I had decided I was listening to a winner of a disc, and the next  fifty-one minutes repeatedly validated that decision.

The NATIONAL DEBONAIRES are: STEVE GERARD on guitar; DAVE "ELMO" BAILEY on vocals; ANDY GRAFFITI on drums; PATRICK RECOB on bass; MIKE "SHINETOP JR" SEDOVIC on piano and organ; And their very special guests on "NEW SOUNDS FROM KANSAS CITY" include: LEE MCBEE on harmonica; DOUG "SARGE" RYNACK on piano; JIMI BOTT on drums; MIKE CLARK on sax.

"LET'S RUN", the opening track referred to earlier, starts out with a hot piano and guitar lead, by DAVE and MIKE, backed by the rhythm section setting the pace that immediately had me snappin' and tappin' my fingers and feet.  Then, ELMO started singing and what was already good, just got better.

The very same groove continues right into "MY BABY'S GONE", with MIKE adding some great sax highlights.  Meanwhile, ELMO continues to blow me away on vocals.  I think it may be due to the fact that his voice and style are so much reminiscent of the late "Barkin" Bill Smith, one of my all time favorites blues vocalists.

"CLEAR VIEW", is another of several STEVE GERARD originals.  It's a smoker with that rockin' "Johnny B. Goode" thing happening on guitar and that wailin' "Great Balls of Fire" thing going on the piano.  One of the discs best right here.

ANDY, PATRICK and MIKE are on fire on "WRAPPED AROUND HER FINGER".  The pace they set on drums, bass and piano absolutely rips.  This one will definitely delight the dancers.

One of ANDY'S originals, "ROCKING FOOL", has such a great, line in it.  It goes like this........
"I had a job pumping gas, I just had to quit it.....I tried to tell the boss, but he just didn't get it.......When the radio was rockin', I just had to stop.....You can't check the oil when you're doin' the bop".  Damn could I relate to that.  In many a review, I've mentioned not being able to type due to excessive bopping.  Some of the discs best guitar work can be heard on this one.

One of the more serious blues tracks is "AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN AGAIN", another original by ANDY.  This is the kind of stuff that gets my blues boat floatin'.  ELMO'S super soulful vocals sent chills right through me.  Damn, who is this guy and why have I not heard of him before?  Also highlighting this one is some great blues guitar work by STEVE and lots of masterful mood setting organ by MIKE.  Unquestionably this listeners favorite track.

The closing track, "THE HUSTLE IS ON", is the one that features all of the special guests with MIKE'S tenor sax being the highlight.


I know I recommend a lot of CD's to my readers, but this one's a must have.  Check out the NATIONAL DEBONAIRES at and grab a copy.  While you're there, tell the guys that Blewzzman's saying that if you want to win the 2007 BLEWZZY AWARD, "NEW SOUNDS FROM KANSAS CITY" is the disc ya gotta beat.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

DWMC Records DWMC000161

Like your wild sisters and nutty aunts, Detroit Women are a bunch of down to earth gals. However, they are anything but ordinary. This album’s format follows the format of the great revue shows of the ’60s, where each of the seven women sings lead while the others provide back-up vocals. Sassitude features seven original songs among a total of 13. There is no competition between this fun mix of vocalists, but listeners will notice some sing better than others. In my opinion, Rhonda Bantsimba’s soulful and gospel vocals rein supreme and her calming No Time For Singing The Blues is a highlight of the CD. Like a smorgasbord, these complex ladies dish out a versatile repertoire that includes R&B, soul, rock, funk, and blues.

Down In The Basement reflects a very excited group of party going women. Here, the enthusiasm of lead singers Kate Hart – the group’s leader – and Valerie Barrymore grows uncontrolled. The singing becomes overbearing shouts and distracting screams. Meanwhile, the backing voices harmonize with energy and power. With brass and class, Karen Vesprini commands the butt-kickin’, roadhouse boogie Coffee’s On The Table. This song best reflects the group’s bad ass sassitude. Cheery harp can be heard, but the credits don’t clarify whether Bobby Rush or Pete Fetters performs on this track. These and other special guests are welcomed since there are a lot of voices and estrogen for the undersized four-member core group to support. Lady T’s raw and rough vocals reflect a prior pain that’s released on the funky dance boogie Side To Side. The song contains southern soul sex-laden lyrics. Barrymore’s vocals are impressive and top-notch on Desire. Her dynamic range is electrifying. It varies from delicately sweet to inelegantly bitter. The catchy guitar hook on the burning rocker Long Cold Lonely Night will blast you apart if you get too close. Here, Stacia Petrie’s attractive vocals are contrastingly innocent, when compared to the song’s lyrics, and a cranking guitar solo adds testosterone. David Bowie’s Panic In Detroit is given an Americana arrangement. It is unique and enjoyable while Hart’s lead vocals are purposefully made punk-like and whiny for a dramatic effect. On the beautiful country rock ballad A Good Place To Start Again, Cheryl Lescom’s mature and emotive vocals prove to be a welcome addition. Dying Day looses its spark quickly. The ensemble’s live version of The Weight fails to capture the feeling of the original version and the wicked guitar solo introduction doesn’t fit well. Also out of place is Stacia’s pretty acoustic song What You’re Looking For, where her vocals are tender and sensitive. This radio-friendly tune would fair better on a solo album.

Throughout, the powerful backing vocals are thoroughly enjoyable, and Susie Woodman’s rockin’ piano and ’60s-like organ is impressive. Best of all, the joyous and complementary backing vocals do not steal away from the lead vocals.

------ Tim Holek

Shake Your Money Maker
SPV/ Blue 49782 CD

For many years Homesick played in the band of his cousin, the celebrated blues slide king Elmore James; after the latter’s death in 1963, he picked up the mantle, though his own playing was rather rougher and his adherence to bar structures more flexible. From the mid-sixties onwards, he also developed a reputation for, let’s call it, irascibility towards his backing musicians, and to judge from accompanist Fred James’ memories of the 1999 tour that resulted in this live recording from Switzerland, age didn’t mellow Homesick, though it did impede his performance on this evidence. Just short of his ninetieth birthday, his vocals are indistinct and his guitar playing rather more approximate than ever. Fred assembled a tight backing band, who really do save the day more than once, and for some it may be instructive to hear one of the last of the originals; overall though, this rambling set is one for completists only.

----- Norman Darwen

Artist: Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers Blues Quartet
Title: Thrill Ville
Label: Delta Groove Music DGPCD118
For more information go to:

Well here we are with Rods’ second album for Delta Groove, with his newly renamed band; a highly talented and versatile combo, which includes Rod himself on vocals & harmonica, Henry Carvajal; guitar, Honey Piazza; piano & thunder bass, Dave Kida; drums, Jonny Viau & Allen Ortiz; saxophones.

Where does one start? Well, of the fourteen numbers available for our delectation seven are covers and obviously seven are originals; but, the great thing is that they all mine the same rich musical vein and that the quality is such that one is forced to reach for the track listing to avoid confusing old with new.

All the numbers are wonderfully arranged; Rods warm affectionate playing displays accurately the laid back, mouth-watering, harmonica of Slim Harpo and the urban grittiness of Chicago, with the sharp harp style of “Little Walter” Jacobs, all the while incorporating, where required, his contemporary, hard edged playing. The music is further underpinned and expanded by a classic relaxed New Orleans piano led approach to Jump, Jive and Swing.

In the more relaxed, sanguine moments on the album, there are lovely groovin’ piano led shuffles to boot!

This inventive and hugely enjoyable album seems to be have been created in a relaxed, almost playful mood; For after listening to it several times I was seriously comfortable and relaxed.
One for the collection I feel!

----- Brian Harman.

image not available

Lawdy Miss Clawdy
SPV 50792 CD

Baby Please Don’t Go
SPV 50802 CD

Shake Baby Shake
SPV 50812 CD

Rock Me Mama
SPV 50822 CD

Four more titles in ‘The Essential Blue Archive’ reissue series and this quartet still maintains that ‘essential’ status.

Lloyd Price’s fifties recordings have ‘New Orleans’ right through them, all rolling piano (played by the Fat Man himself on the title track) and lovely horns on a very attractively programmed CD. Champion Jack was also a Crescent City man, but these sides are more standard blues and R&B numbers, though with a healthy dose of Jack’s popular humorous entertainment and some wonderful musicians in support – his numbers were recorded between 1943 and 1956. Moving deeper into the Louisiana bayou country we encounter Lightnin’ Slim and his down-home swamp-blues, genre-defining material from the mid-fifties (plus two equally fine sides with School Boy Cleve). Big Joe Williams is the odd man out here, not associated with the Pelican State but rather with Mississippi of course, and even on the sides where he has some ever-so slightly more sophisticated accompaniment than usual, his roots are loud and clear. Naturally enough though, his sides with John Lee ‘Sonny Boy No.1’ Williamson also have plenty of southern grit, as do his later Trumpet recordings.

Check your shelves and if these artists are at all under-represented, then rectify that by buying these!

----- Norman Darwen

Artist: Brian Templeton
Title: Live at Bluesiana Rock Café
Label: Feelin’ Good Records 003

For more information go to:

Sixteen years is probably about the length of time it takes to become an established artist in the blues world; for it is only now that Brian’s talent is being recognised by worldwide audiences and promoters and not solely by his fellow musicians, critics and reviewers.

Brian’s career started in Boson in1989; with him joining local musicians at various harmonica jam sessions, it was after these events that he was first offered the chance to play alongside Harmonica player Jake Jacobs in his band the Rollercoasters.
After spending invaluable time with them he moved on to gain more experience with Little Frankie & the Premiers.

In1991 he decided to front his own band, The Radio Kings; after entering and subsequently winning the Boston Blues Society ‘Battle of the Bands.’

The band, as a consequence of this victory, became known to the renowned harmonica player Jerry Portnoy who promptly employed them as his road band and they spent the whole of 1992 travelling across America with him; doing one night stands.
In 1994 the band released an album on the Memphis based Icehouse label, on one of the numbers Brian shared vocals with Little Mitlon; this was the breakthrough into Europe that Brian and the band needed and they continued playing and recording until Brian went solo in 2000.

In the intervening years Brian has toured across the world with Otis Grand and Sonny Rhodes as well as releasing two solo albums. Now, with this his third release, a live double album recorded in Valden, Austria on the 18th and 19th of March 2007; He will, I have no doubt capture the musical hearts and minds of a greater number of music lovers.
Brian’s harmonica style is never harsh or brash, his sweetly reassuring insistent blowing moves the tunes along at the particular pace they each need to be. His playing style also exhibits hints of Slim Harpo while at the same time exuding a great many examples of the old Chicago sound. Brian’s vocal similarities to Kim Wilson, of the Fabulous Thunderbirds; contributes a somewhat Texan feel to the proceedings but, this I might add only further enhances the listening pleasure.

He is backed throughout the two nights by Enrico Crivellaro; guitar, Luca Tonani; bass, and Lele Zamperini; drums. These gentlemen have backed Brian on most of his recent tours and they gell together so wonderfully, whether they are playing Chicago or Texas Shuffles, Jump, Rocking Blues, New Orleans Strolls, Slowburners or even Rock’n’Roll;  they simply ooze class and ferociously burn Rubber when required (As one might say!)

Of the twenty seven numbers here for your delectation not one single tune is a filler or throwaway instrumental all of them are serious foot-tappers!  The two sets cover Brian’s entire career to date and provide a great insight into a man and his music.

A thoroughly engrossing and entertaining album and you don’t hear the audience (except to show their appreciation) spoil your enjoyment once.

A Blast!

----- 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 [email protected]


The minute I laid my eyes on MATT WALSH'S CD, "HARD LUCK", I started thinking about the Blues Music Awards.  Now notice I said my eyes, not my ears - as of yet, I haven't heard a note of the music.  However, my decision was already made that if there were ever a category for the "BLUES' BEST 'DO", this young man is not only getting my nomination, but he's a lock to win - pun intended.  And by the way, that's envy speaking, not sarcasm.

On "HARD LUCK", MATT'S debut release, he also makes several other impressive first impressions.  A visit to his website will tell you that MATT WALSH is known for his "Fifties style of Chicago Blues, with detours into Rockabilly, Swing and Roots Rock".  What it doesn't tell you is how well he does it and that he does it with the feeling and confidence of a seasoned veteran.

Speaking of seasoned veterans, you should recognize a few of them giving him a hand here.   Joining MATT WALSH - writer of all tracks - on electric, acoustic, slide and national steel guitars and vocals are: BOB MARGOLIN on guitar; JESSIE MAJOR, F J VENTRE & "WASABI" BOBBY KELLY on upright bass; KYLE COUCH on drums; MAX DRAKE on guitar and mandolin; MATT HILL on guitar and lap dobro; CHUCK COTTON on drums and vocals;  RENE AARON on harmonica.

A fast paced rocker titled"LEAVING MY BABY" opens the disc with it's Producer, guest guitarist, and obvious strong MATT WALSH influencer, BOB MARGOLIN, leading the band on guitar.  MATT'S vocals immediately make an impression on this one, and the rhythm of CHUCK and F J highlight the track.

Other than listening to the 3 or 4 slide guitar players who I consider to be the cream of the crop, I generally prefer to not even here it played.  Hearing MATT on "WHY MY BABY AIN'T AROUND" just increased my favorite slide players to a complete handful.  MATT shines on this Margolinesque track.

"BREAKING UP OVER YOU" is good old, down home, Piedmont style roots blues at it's best.
This one features MATT perfectly pickin' an acoustic guitar and RENE masterfully blowing into a harp.  Equally as interesting is "POINTLESS BLUES", a very laid back number featuring a vocal duet between MATT & Chuck.  The track is highlighted by MAX DRAKE & MATT HILL on mandolin and lap dobro.  Good stuff on these two.

Fans of good old straight up Chicago Blues will enjoy "HARD LUCK" & "20 MORE MILES".  Both tracks feature great guitar licks - the first by BOB and the second by MATT.  Both tracks are also highlighted by MATT belting out some good blues vocals.

Other tracks on "HARD LUCK" include: "ONE LOOK", "HARD TO FIND", "GOIN' OUT", "SIT AND WONDER" and "WOODY'S RAG".

As I opened this review, I made a humorous reference to the Blues Music Awards.  However, I'm certainly not joking when I say that if "HARD LUCK" should catch a bit of "good luck" and fall into enough right hands, MATT WALSH may just get himself a "Best New Artist Debut" nod.

Check MATT out at
While you're there, tell him Pete the Blewzzman is crazy about his disc.........and his 'do.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

Artist: Stacy Mitchhart
Title: Gotta’ Get That Feeling Back Again
Label: Dr. Sam Records (no catalogue number)
and is also available on the Select-O-Hits label in Europe

For more information go to

A combination of influences are immediately apparent on this new album from Stacy; an optimistic, openly funky, groovin’ly brassy upbeat horn section, a sound, normally associated with Stevie Wonder; is combined with the strikingly confident strident guitar phrases reminiscent of the late Albert King and to round it all off, a smashing soul satisfying Dobro and slide performance that elicits a warmly downhome rural foot-Stomping delta blues atmosphere.

The Cincinnati born guitarist has over the years lived and played in Los Angeles and New York, he then moved in and around the Southern states, at one point he returned to his hometown, but has now finally settled in Nashville, where he has a residency as the house band in Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar in Pinters Alley.

Seven of the eleven numbers on this album are original compositions the four other covers are; an amazingly simple and highly infectious delta blues foot-stomping rendition of Led Zeppelins’ “Black Dog/Whole Lotta Love,” also, an engaging version of Albert King’s “I’ll Play the Blues For You,” two more slowburner highlights are the Allman Brothers “Whipping Post,” and a live version of Little Milton’s “Blue Monday,”

Helping Stacy; guitar, vocals, to create this cornucopia of eclectic sounds that pleasantly assault your ears are; Darin James, drums; Rob Cureton, Michael Dearing, Anthony Joyner, Chris Kent, bass; Sam Corley III, Howard Laravae, keyboards; Quentin Ware, horn and trumpet arranger; Jon Paul Frapper, Michael McDaniel, Roy Agee,Chris Dunn, Billy Huber, Doug Moffit, Jeff Cauthen, horns; Greg Perkins, fiddle; Wanda Vick, banjo.

This album with its stirring twists and turns has plenty of variety; especially the extremely fluidly funky guitar and dobro moments.

Slowburners or stompers they all are movers!

----- 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 [email protected]



When does one of your favorite foods become not only one of your favorite things to eat, but one of your favorite things to listen to as well?  When it's a talented band that plays a killer mix of Delta, Chicago, and Jumpin' Swing Blues, and they call themselves RED BEANS & RICE - that's when.  Just as the dish contains all the right ingredients to make it a favorite of many, the bands' got just what it takes to do the same.

The personnel.....or ingredients, if you will.....that make up RED BEANS & RICE are: BISHOP MAYFIELD, lead vocals, djembe and handclaps; TAMAS MARIUS, tenor and alto saxes; GIL RUBIO, guitar, congas, organ, handclaps and vocals; TOM LAWSON, keyboards, accordion and vocals; JOE VALLAIRE, bass; JAMEY DE MARIA, drums & percussion; JON GORMAN, special guest vocalist.

On "HOT 'N SPICY", RED BEANS & RICE open the disc dishing out a tasty cover of a Taj Mahal favorite - "STRUT".  Everything about this number impressed me - their adaptation and presentation is masterful.  The vocals are splendid, the rhythm - with all it's got going on - is awesome,  the guitar work is sharp and the organ and horns just blew me away.  I'm sure it's happened before, but I can't recall the last time I was this impressed with my first listen to a new band.

Be prepared for body parts to start flailing when "SHE'S TOO YOUNG TO KNOW", comes on.  Calling this one an all out swing-fest is a certain understatement.  It's a fast and furious four minutes of hot horn blowing, finger lickin' guitar pickin', pounding piano playing, raucous rhythm and lots of great harmony and timely hand clapping.  Another of this discs many highlights.

I had a problem with another of the discs originals, "GETTING OLD".  You see, I was able to relate!  Lyrics such as "aching in the morning and aching at night",  "sitting down fast and getting up slow", "taking pills if I were able to read the label".  Damn, this track reminded me too much of me ....... especially the part which claims "I'm too young to be this old".  Great song with lots of hot guitar riffs.

Although I'm overwhelmed by his vocals on every track, some of BISHOP'S best work can be heard on "UNCHAIN MY HEART".  His voice is just too incredible on this one.  On top of that, the music is masterful.  TOM and TAMUS get in some nice highlights on piano and sax and the rhythm section is sounding better than I've ever heard any rhythm section sound.  Here I am five songs into the disc and I've already raved about four.  I need to start skipping around or I'm gonna be here awhile.

For my thoughts on "BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE", you could pretty much re-read what I said about "SHE'S TOO YOUNG".  This one is a smoker with JAMEY at his absolute best on drums.

Fans of the Hammond Organ and Dr. John - and pretty much all the rest of you - are going to love "ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY".  With the band doing a great job of backing him up, this one's all about TOM.  On this Dr. John cover, TOM not only does an excellent job on the vocals, but he tears it up on the organ as well.  Another of many great tracks.

About the only slow track on the disc happens to be the closing track - an original titled "I'M NOT GOING TO STAND IN YOUR WAY".  This one closes out "HOT 'N SPICY" with some very soft and sultry sax work by TAMUS.

Other tracks on "HOT 'N SPICY" that were not mentioned - and only for the sake of space limitations are:"HANDA WANDA", "HOPIN' FOR THE BEST", "SHE CAUGHT THE KATY", "RED GUMBO", "VOODOO", and "CONGA SQUARE".

So my friends, the next time your stomach is telling you it wants something good to eat and your head is telling you it needs to hear some good music, just fix yourself a batch of "RED BEANS AND RICE" and satisfy both cravings.

Stop by and say hi to the best band from Monterey Bay.  While you're there do these two things: Grab yourself some grub - a RED BEANS & RICE CD that is - and tell the band that the Blewzzman is talkin' bout a frontrunner in the BLEWZZY competition.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

Artist: Willie King
Title: Down in the Woods
Label: Visible World Film Productions

For more information go to: and

This DVD is a documentary profile lasting just over sixty minutes, of the artist and his priorities in life. There are four numbers which last for forty minutes included as a bonus feature; these appear in briefer forms in the documentary film.

Although Willie King has been showered in plaudits and awards, he has shunned the emerging fame and popularity that surrounds his album releases and concerts.

Willie is one of that rare breed of person who works in and for his local community; he shares virtually all his royalties’ amongst his family, friends and anybody that needs help.

To say that he lives a normal life is an understatement, for his home is a trailer-home on the same land that he worked on in his youth picking cotton in the fifties in Old Memphis, Pickens County Alabama.

He drives a beaten-up old motor car and everyday visits his cousin (who badly injured his legs in a tractor accident a number of years ago,) to cook him his breakfast; probably his main meal of the day. He is involved running after-school musical workshops for underprivileged children; he can also be found entertaining the old and the infirm at the local care centre.

Willies brand of down-home rural rustic call it what you will blues is also passionately fused with political and social comment that can make for unpleasant listening for the authorities be they local or national government.  His fervent continued campaigning to instil awareness of the civil rights and equal rights for the rural black community that are less than sometimes strictly observed in some areas of Alabama; have not gone unnoticed by the Klu-Klux Klan who have tried on occasions to make life difficult for him; but he is undeterred and his vocal criticisms of the social injustices that have been suffered by the poor and disenfranchised have not been stifled.

Whether it be it rural rickety, wooden built Juke Joints, smart uptown Blues clubs or large Blues Festival stages Willie continues to preach his simple message of tolerance, fair play and traditional family values to all members of society; rich, poor, Black or White; in fact anybody who will listen and hopefully inwardly digest the message. He is optimistic and believes that good will eventually prevail and in any moments of doubt that he might have; he is bolstered by the spirit, charisma and determination of his hero the Legendary Howlin’ Wolf.

This DVD is eye-opening, entertaining, educational and thoroughly uplifting; reminding you of the kindness and generosity of the human spirit. It also contains some of the purest, uncomplicated, hugely enjoyable and satisfying Blues you are ever likely to hear in the world today!

To understand the blues as it really is. Buy this DVD!

----- Brian Harman.

"She's the next big thing in music"
-Ewan McGreggor

"Johnnie Johnson taught (her) timing... this I know!"
-Bob Weir
Rock Legend (Grateful Dead)

Title: Step Up
Label: FountainBleu Records (no cat. Number)

For more information go to: and

As with most musicians, Dona’s interest in music started early, in her case it was a toy piano given to her for her fifth birthday; as her passion grew she started taking formal piano lessons at the age of seven and continued with them until she was sixteen. Spending her childhood living in upstate New York, made supplementing her musical education all the more easy; for her mother (who was a cabaret singer) took her to a wide number of music venues ranging from CGBG’s through to Perry Como concerts.

Whilst working at the Lone Star Café in New York. She met the guitarist Arthur Neilson, who she subsequently became great friends with; together they began to play onstage and following on from these performances they decided to record an album and after forming a band they decided tour to promote the album..

Now, three albums later and after substantial playing, touring and on occasions recording with the likes of; Lonnie Brooks, Hubert Sumlin, Sons Seals, Buddy Guy, Shemekia Copeland, Dave Gross, Keith Richards and her idol, the legendary piano player Johnnie Johnson; Dona is definitely making musical waves with her infectious voice which is an exciting amalgam of Millie Jackson and Joan Armatrading, she backs her unique vocal talents with her superlative keyboard skills, whether it be piano, Wurlitzer, organ or clave, her fluid fingertip precision only enhances the emotion that flows from her voice.

On this album she is more than ably assisted by; Bob Glaub; bass, Don Heffington; drums, Jake Andrews, Colin Ryan and Phil Upchurch; guitars, Joe Sublet; saxophones, Darryl Leonardl; trumpets and Billy Sullivan; percussion.

The thirteen piano led, original numbers range from exquisite southern, gospel influenced soulful slowburners to blues fuelled rollicking, rolling, furniture moving rockers.

This album is well worth the shilling! Dona is a seriously talented lady.

----- 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 [email protected]

REVEREND RAVEN AND HIS CHAIN SMOKING ALTAR can you not like a band called that?  I don't know about you, but if I'm cruising the blues bins at the local record mart, this ones going in my cart on the name alone.  C'mon, how can you go wrong?  Anyone creative and daring enough to call his band REVEREND RAVEN AND HIS CHAIN SMOKING ALTAR BOYS has gotta have some talent.....and man this band does.

REVEREND RAVEN, author of most of the discs songs, leads the band on vocals and guitar, and the CSAB's are P. T. PEDERSON on bass, SPENCER PODASH on drums and BENNY RICKUN on harmonica.

"BIG BEE" opens with "MY LIFE", one of the discs many originals.  It's a quick little number that gives you a taste of what's to come - lot's of great guitar and harmonica work backed up by some very tight rhythm with lots of well done vocals.

"SOMEDAY WHEN I'M DEAD AND GONE" is a sizzling jam with everyone at their peak.  It's unquestionably one of the discs hottest tracks.  Grooves this tight are what separates the professionals from the amateurs.  This is the kind of stuff, that at live shows, causes everyone in the audience to look like a bunch of bobble heads and shuts up those obnoxious talkers by commanding even their attention.  Man, It just doesn't get much better than this (said as the replay button's getting hit).

If hard blowing harp blues gets your blues boat floating, you're going to love "YOU AIN'T NO FRIEND OF MINE".  By the end of this track,  BENNY RICKUN is going to be a very good friend of yours.  Aside from some great vocals by the REVEREND, this one's all about BENNY and his blowin'.  Another of the discs continuous list of highlights.

"TWO TIMES FINE" is an all out rhythm race.  As rapid as it is, SPENCER & P. T. are keeping perfect time.  As one speeds it up, the other automatically keeps pace in this obvious dead heat.  If you're a toe and finger tapper, loosen up before this track - it's gonna be like aerobics.

The pace may mellow a bit, but the groove is still constant on "HERE COMES MY BABY".  This one finds REV and CSAB'S feelin' a bit funky - and that's a good thing.  With redundancy at risk, once again, everyone's on their mark with REV'S vocals and guitar licks leading the way.

"BENNY'S BOUNCE".  With a name like this, and being written by the harp player - BENNY RICKUN, need I say more?  Of course not - you already know this one is three minutes of all out, no holds barred, wailing, harp playing - at it's best.

Other tracks on "BIG BEE", which equally wonderful things can be said about are: "BIG BEE", "ONCE THE WOMEN START TALKIN", "I DON'T WANT TO KNOW", "DON'T GET ON THE WRONG SIDE OF MY BABY", "BAD LITTLE GIRLS", "I WANNA LOVE YOU" and "SHE'S MOVIN ON".

Check out:
REVEREND RAVEN AND HIS CHAIN SMOKING ALTER BOYS @ and tell them Blewzzman's sending them some new parishioners.  While your there, drop some money in the collection box and get yourself a copy of "BIG BEE".

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

Artist: Eli Cook Band
Title: Electric Holy Fire Water
Label: No label, no cat number

For more information go to: 

Black Sabbath, Z.Z. Top and Motorhead, now what on earth can these three bands have to do with the Blues? A good question, but unfortunately not one that I have the slightest inclination to start to answer here; but, Eli Cook who is from Nelson County, Virginia might have some answers to the riddle; for he pursues two musical furrows. One being, a solo acoustic Downhome Blues singer and this, his other musical passion, the fusing of Iron Hard, Metal with powerfully fluid Downhome Electric Blues.  Well, for me, it works, for when combining the primal feelings of the rawest blues with metal’s bludgeoning, unexpressed, even possibly repressed emotions, it is here that the music is given its shape and form.

Intricate guitar runs and gentle flurries that would normally be associated with a normal Blues album are happily lurking in amongst the alleged musical maelstrom. Waiting for their moment to pounce upon unsuspecting ears; whilst the cacophony of relentless jagged, snarling, guitars and drums continue to assault the senses.

The darkly menacing guitar sounds that violently erupt from the speakers with little regard for the frailties of the human state also deliver gentle soothing acoustic time bombs throughout the whole proceedings

This seemingly, is Eli and the bands preferred choice of musical expression and when you consider the effect of his coarsely hoarse vocal delivery when matched together with the music it all makes perfect sense.

Joining Eli who takes lead vocals and guitar are Eric Yates; bass, and Jordan Marchini; drums. Only two of the twelve numbers are covers Jimi Hendrix’s “Castles in the Sand,” and Willie Dixon’s “Backdoor Man.” The remaining ten are delightful original compositions, veritable little toe –tappers.

This is a very fine album; if you like that sort of thing, ‘Blue Ferrous Metal,’ shall we say?

----- Brian Harman.

Various Artists
SPV/ Blue 49802 CD

Nashville Rhythm & Blues sounds were unjustly overlooked for many years, but now SPV, in association with the tireless Fred James, are making up for lost time.
This set comprises recordings made by Mr. James at his Bluesland Studio between 1994 and 2007, with veteran frontmen Roscoe Shelton, James Nixon, Freddie Waters, Charles Walker, Larry LaDon, Johnny Jones, Earl Gaines, Clifford Curry, Al Garner, and Herbert Hunter. All have two titles apiece (except Curry and Hunter with just one each), and the effect is a little like listening to a collection of late sixties or early seventies singles, as most men perform one tough blues number and one super slab of aching southern soul.
Champions these guys are, not only musically, but also because they were all associated in one way or another with Ted Jarrett, owner of the Champion label in the fifties. As Fred says in his informative notes to this set, "This is the REAL THING" – and he’s right.

----- Norman Darwen

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