Friday, December 30, 2011


Ya know, I really can't recall my resolutions from last January. Maybe it's because I rarely make any. I do think I did make a few last time out, but if I did, I certainly didn't write them down anywhere as proof. So I don't know if I met those goals. Gonna change that today, because I'm jotting down a few here. I doubt if I go back a year from now and check to see if I did 'em or not, but they be recorded for posterity...or whatever.

FIRST--I need to maintain the ol' blog here a bit better with mo' frequent posts.

SECOND--Some of those posts would be reviews of some CDs that I've been meaning to review such as:
Evening by Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Live In Boston 1966 by Junior Wells & The Aces, The Bull Creek Sessions by The Moeller Bros, The Little Elmore Reed Blues Band, and Choice Cuts by Big Pete. I'll just say right now that all of these are worthy editions to anyone's blues library...just in case I don't get around to reviewing them.

THIRD--Stay busy writing, writing, and writing. Even though River Bottom Blues hasn't hit the market yet, my second book in the series is ready to go and I need to get more of the third down on paper. RBB should be out by the end of January (I'm thinking anyway), so I need to also focus on putting a marketing/promotion cap on the ol' head and figure out the best way to get the word out to readers.

FOURTH--Try to get out there and see more live blues in action.

FIFTH--Ain't no fifth. I'll be doing good to do the last four good. 'Nuff for now.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

RIP Hubert Sumlin

Hubert Sumlin has left us at age 80. One more blues legend of several that we lost this past year, and one that no one will ever replace or duplicate.

No one played blues guitar licks like Hubert Sumlin. IMHO he was the most innovative blues guitarist to ever walk the planet. All one needs to do is listen to enough recycled, 12 bar, I-IV-V blues progression licks to know that Sumlin came from another dimension when he applied his fingers to the fretboard. No where can one hear the type of things that he pulls off on classic Howlin' Wolf cuts, such as "Smokestack Lightning", "Killing Floor", or "Spoonful" and how they give snap, crackle, and pop to Wolf's brand of blues. He'd ride Wolf's rhythm and then throw down total surprise riffs that slipped out of nowhere, or outer space. Like most blues fans, it is the Wolf albums that define Hubert Sumlin, but he did have a very long and distinguished solo career. I have a good number of his solo efforts, like Hubert Sumlin's Blues Party, Healing Feeling, Heart and Soul, and Wake Up Call. All of them have remarkable examples of Sumlin's brilliance, but they don't hang together as well as a couple that I'm listing here.

I was reluctant to purchase About Them Shoes because I thought would be one of those star studded affairs, where the guests out shine the hosts. I should have known better and that folks such as Eric Clapton, Levon Helms, Jame Cotton, and Paul Oscher would defer to the master and let him shine, and shine he does on a set dominated by songs associated with Muddy Waters instead of the Wolf. Of course, Sumlin did have a short stint playing in Waters' band when he and the Wolf fell out for a bit.

I Know You has Chi-town harp master Carey Bell on board (who passed away not too long ago) and they cover a bit of Wolf territory, standard Chicago blues stuff, with a little Bo Diddly thrown into the mix. The folks at APO records really brought out the best of what Hubert Sumlin is all about on this release.

Of course, Howlin' Wolf's complete Chess stuff is the mother lode of Hubert Sumlin's shining examples of why every blues guitarist since has deferred to the man with the wry smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.

Friday, November 18, 2011

FREE Preview Plus Discount

FREE is alway good, huh? In this case Barking Rain Press is offering a four chapter free preview of my crime novel for blues fans, River Bottom Blues. Once it is available. Sign up now and they'll send out the chapter preview in PDF. Those that are enticed by the preview can order River Bottom Blues for 35% off, but have absolutely NO obligation to do so. The form over in my blog sidebar can be filled out, or visit the publisher's website here:

Also, my official press release can be found here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yo-Yo Blues

Yeah, that's it. I'm going to subtitle my crime novel, River Bottom Blues, with Yo-Yo Blues. It just fits what's been going on with this book. I could have posted the info that I'm going to reveal here today a couple of weeks ago, but I'm getting a little gun shy touting the novel. Now, I'm tempted to say that I've just signed my third book contract within a little more than a year. Those that haven't read the blog, or could care less about my novel ideas, would think that I'm quite prolific. At some point, though, I'd have to explain that the contract is indeed for the same River Bottom Blues for which I signed two previous contracts.

In my last post on this subject, I lamented that my second publisher for the book quit publishing in October, after my first publisher folded up shop in March. Somewhere along the way, I mentioned just how enthusiastic both publishing houses were with my crime novel and its blues element and how pleased I was that they were excited about my tale. So, originally the book was set for an October 2011 release by the first press and I went about shouting out into cyberspace, handing out business cards, and telling friends and family to look for it then. Then, the publisher's partners quit partnering so well and they all parted ways. Then, my second publisher promised an April 2012 release and I blasted that news around, until their demise forced me to say: "nevermind".

Okay, to cut to the chase, River Bottom Blues has been acquired by Barking Rain Press and being run by one of the partners associated with the first publisher and who has plans to get things done right. My previous editor is also on board, so extensive edits aren't needed and it could hit the market by Christmas. They are as excited about getting my book on the market as they were the first time, so I'm looking forward to the relationship there. 'Nuff for now.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

More Blues For Food Info

Trudy Lynn

The Mighty Org

Holland K. Smith



CONTACT: SONNY BOY TERRY, OFFICE: 713.869.7746, MOBILE: 713.822.0437,





By Ida Mae McLemore

Here it is, once again folks BLUES FOR FOOD 2011 is upon us. Every year, on

the second Sunday of November the Houston blues community takes their

perpetually joined hands and moves over for their next great cause at

Houston’s oldest blues club, The Shakespeare Pub. Ironically located on

Memorial Drive in west Houston and always benevolent to the blues, The

Shakespeare Pub has hosted BLUES FOR FOOD since it’s inception in 1991. This

year, BLUES FOR FOOD takes place on Sunday, November 13th at Shakespeare

Pub at 14129 Memorial Drive with a dynamic array of Texas blues talent from

Holland K Smith from Dallas, Erin Jaimes and Chris Ruest from Austin to The

Mighty Orq, Trudy Lynn, Tommy Dardar and Texas Johnny Brown, all hailing

from Houston and the gulf coast. Music kicks off at 1PM and goes until the

wee wee hours of 2AM.

Initially, BLUES FOR FOOD was the brainchild of lowdown blues singer and

KPFT 90.1FM Sunday morning deejay Big Roger Collins. Big Roger, who despite

the suit and tie image, was a rough edged bluesman who could sing so loud,

he would overdrive most any microphone creating a mad rush to the sound

system when he stepped up on a stage. Aside from being a radio deejay and

band leader, Roger was known for years producing many benefits and revues in

the region. Hired regularly by the blues-friendly Shakespeare Pub, Roger was

able to use his voice on KPFT to publicize his causes and gigs. As history

recollects, BLUES FOR FOOD started in 1991. Big Roger, known as the “king of

benefits” would bring his BBQ pit and kettles cooking all night in the

parking lot. As funky as BLUES FOR FOOD started out, it was a also formal

charity right off. Representatives from the Houston Food Bank would go on

KPFT then drop by the day of, endorsing BLUES FOR FOOD while making sure

the truck for donations was always dropped off. Roger would have every blues

and zydeco band in town on the bill from young acts like DA and the

Prosecutors to Sweet Mama Cotton, Joe Guitar Hughes, Mean Gene Kelton, Lonny

Mitchell, The Zydeco Dots and Pete Mayes. Admission was any can or bag of

non perishable food items or cash and patrons were served free soul food BBQ

or perhaps some very interesting gumbo by Big Roger himself when he wasn’t

singing or emceeing. It was in many respects, a big chaotic beautiful mess

of music, intense partying and mayhem all for a great cause.

With all the regular promotion and sponsorship from KPFT’s Sunday blues

shows, plus a nightclub like The Shakespeare Pub, who supported the music

with open arms, and many of the most relevant blues musicians on the Texas

scene, BLUES FOR FOOD is now an institution, where the entire Houston blues

scene takes stewardship, pride and fiduciary responsibility to keep the

annual tradition of BLUES FOR FOOD going for many years to come.

Fast forwarding to 2011, in all it’s years, BLUES FOR FOOD has raised close

to 200 thousand pounds of non perishable foots items and over 100 thousand

dollars in cash while serving over 40 thousand plates of BBQ to

participants. As each year passes BLUES FOR FOOD keeps growing. It’s now

officially sponsored by Beans Café, KPFT 90.1 FM, Music News, The Houston

Blues Society and Shakespeare Pub’s patrons serving food and loading the

truck while vendors chip in donating items for the silent auction and

raffles. The Shakespeare Pub has seen four owners now, but BLUES FOR FOOD

keeps on keepin’ on bringing new life and inspiration to the Houston blues

tradition. New owner Kyle Soltis is as committed as ever. BLUES FOR FOOD

even has its logo design, banners, posters and T-shirts to commemorate the


Big Roger Collins died in 2000 and former Joe Guitar Hughes sideman Sonny

Boy Terry now coordinates the music. All day, bands are showcased in 30

minute sets and perform as if lives depend on it, because well, in a sense,

lives do depend on it. Music fans and benefactors get a huge bang for their

buck with top drawer performances of deep Texas blues from bands hell bent

on taking house. Yes, this is a huge block party of sorts but feeding

families, children, the elderly and even the homeless reminds us all this is

serious business. It’s just human nature for people to step up even more if

we all know our charity is making a real difference. Everyone has a serious

good time. That friends, is what BLUES FOR FOOD is all about.

So please join us on Sunday, November 13th at Shakespeare Pub’s 21st annual

BLUES FOR FOOD FEST. If you have never been part of the Houston blues scene

and would like to check it out, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

The line up bands is as dynamic as it is intense from start to finish with a

healthy representation of up and comers, seasoned musicians and legends. You

can visit or for more

details. Shakespeare Pub is located at 14129 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX

77079. You may also call 281.497.4625.

Here is the list of bands and their time slots for the whole day:
















Monday, October 24, 2011

2011 Blues for Food

Here's a couple of posters that should stir a bit of interest for a most worthy cause. Lots of marvelous donated blues talent being shared for donated food.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Diunna Greenleaf @ The Rhythm Room

I snatched this from Bob Corritore's weekly newsletter. This is for those who aren't familiar with Diunna Greenleaf's talent, or for that matter, Bob Corritore's harp blowing. 'Course, everyone should be familiar with Bob Margolin and he's smokin' on the guitar here. Corritore's Rhythm Room is one of the premier blues clubs on the planet, situated way out yonder in Phoenix. He's been keeping the blues alive for many years in that neck of the woods and has showcased the finest blues musicians on his stage.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Covering River Bottom Blues

While my publisher and I were plotting and planning cover ideas for River Bottom Blues, my wife sketched a cover design that just seemed to be the perfect wrap for my crime story. So, come April 2012 this just might be the first thing that potential readers see.
I think it's a pretty darned cool idea and am sure looking forward to seeing the final product hit the market. Pretty sure that I finished the book in '09, so finally getting it into the hands of those that wish to read it will sure be sweet. Remember, April 2012..."the good lord willing and the creeks don't rise".

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Time to tout a great day of music for a great cause once again. For the cover price of a non-perishable food item, some of the best musicians in the city will be offering up a tasty menu of blues. Always a fine time.

From Sonny Boy Terry here is the confirmed line up for the upcoming 2011 BLUES FOR FOOD FESTIVAL to be held on Sunday November 13 from 1PM - 1:30AM at Shakepeares Pub, 14129 Memorial Dr, Houston. Feel free to share and pass the good word. Thanks everybody in advance for helping to make this years the best one ever! Artwork forthcoming.
















Monday, August 22, 2011

Chi-Town Blues Harp Bash

If this can't get your Mojo Working, well it just won't work for you. Looks like plenty of Chi-town type blues harp talent on tap gonna be bringing it to the table. The fact that the tone monster himself, Gary Smith, will be getting fat and nasty sure tempts me to book a ticket from Texas to Chicago. I saw Morry Sochat on my last visit to Chicago and the man swings. SPACE is a great, intimate place to hear what will just have to be a fantastic show. Go to for the lowdown on the blowdown.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Navasota Blues Festival 2011-Recap

Well, I certainly got my blues fix during the month of July. I was still dripping from the blues from the Texas Harmonica Festival when the saturation continued at the Navasota Blues Festival this past weekend. Since I was only able to make it to Saturday extravaganza, these pix and tidbits come from the Saturday event. My plan was to have this all posted by yesterday, but this danged blogger service sometimes just won't cooperate with picture downloads sometimes. Michael Birnbaum, who has excellent instructionals on playing Mance Lipscomb's style of guitar, told me that Friday's show was a great one and went very well. He opened Friday's festivities with he and his daughter doing Mance's stuff. My loss. Birnbaum also kicked off Saturday with a guitar tutorial in the morning, prior to the showcase acts.

Sweet Mama Cotton got the day off on the right foot and got the crowd into the spirit of the day with a solo set. Accompanying herself on keyboards, she ran through her sassy woman blues with her big and powerful vocals. In the solo setting I got a better feel for her musicianship on her axe than when she's backed by a full course band. The sweet mama can really get the notes rolling on that keyboard. The crowd's always a bit on the light side 1:30 in the afternoon, but those that showed up were an enthusiastic bunch and they gave Sweet Mama plenty of blues love.

Sweet Mama Cotton lays it on down
Bernie Pearl spun tales about his personal relationship with Mance Lipscomb, including a story about spending Christmas 1973 in Navasota with the Texas Songster and his wife. He mentioned that back then he played what he called "Right Hand Blues", because he always sat on the right hand side of Mance, Lightnin', or Mississippi Fred McDowell in order to watch how they fingered the fret board. Matter of fact his newest CD is entitled Right Hand Blues. He learned his lessons well, running through Mance tunes such as, "Blues In A Bottle", "Night Time Ain't the Right Time", some of Lighntin' Hopkins repertoire, and after breaking out the National steel guitar and slide; some McDowell and Son House. He really did shake 'em on down on McDowell's "Shake 'Em On Down". He packed a bass player with him this year in the body of Michael Barry, who helped fill out the stage sound. He even gave the bass player some, by allowing a few thumping solos to take place. Great couple of guys, playing the music that has been in their souls for a long time, and they travelled from California to do it.

Bernie and Michael saddled up their ponies and ride

Bernie Pearl breaks out the National steel and slides the blues
David Egan and Twenty Years of Trouble hit the stage with his booming voice filling the room and his fingers moving lickety split across his keyboard. He mixed in quite a few of his originals along with substantial covers of tunes like "Scratch My Back", "That's My Soul", and "Messaround". He tends to add a humorous, real life take on the blues to the songs that he has penned, or co-penned with his good-time buddy, Buddy Flett. Loved it when he sang about the need to get his butt out of Mississippi. He mashed up straight ahead blues with old time rock n roll, rhythm and blues, and soulful soul.

David Egan scratches the back of his keyboard
A pause for the cause, which is awarding scholarships in Mance Lipscomb's name to hard working students from Navasota High School, had Mance's sons Jimmy Lipscomb and John Lockett passing out certificates and congratulating recipients; previous and current.

Mance's sons congratulate scholarship recipients

Perennial fest favorite, Rob Roy Parnell took over the bandstand with his skin tight band to blast through his roadhouse rumble, swamp ballads, and pure Texas blues. Accompanying his smooth as molasses vocals with his ripping blues harmonica tone, he picked up where Egan's high energy set left off and gave it his own boost or two. I put Rob Roy on the same pedestal as Delbert McClinton. Both are Texas treasures and mine similar musical territory. The dance floor stayed mighty lively as he swung through songs from his CD releases and covers from the likes of Ray Price. He had the crowd on its feat with his solo harmonica breakdown that segued into a tough and nails Texas shuffle about boogie woogying all night long.
Just had to include a shot of Rob Roy's Customized Masco amplifier and speaker cabinets with a 12 and 10 inch speaker in each--heck of a tone monster.

Rob Roy blowing heavy through that Masco rig

Hard to say enough about Texas Johnny Brown and his Quality Blues Band. The man's a legend and proved that his chops are solidly intact, both vocally and instrumentally, as they were back in the '50s and '60s when he led the bands of Bobby Bland and B.B. King, and when Duke/Peacock records hired him as a studio guitarist. He had the crowd rocking, swinging, and swooning throughout his set. He pulled classic blues, R&B, and soul from his vast repertoire. It did not take long for the multitude to realize that they were in the midst of blues royalty; honest to goodness blues royalty. While his bass player restrung a string, he nailed solo renditions of Lightnin' Hopkins "Short Hair Woman", Bill Broozy's "Key To The Highway", John Lee Hooker's "Crawling Kingsnake", and a snappy "Rock Me Baby". By the time he stepped off the stage and began prowling the venue aisles, picking and grinning all the while, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand. An African-American Corvette organization from Houston got the dance floor moving and grooving with their concise, precision line-dancing, that added to the party atmosphere that Texas Johnny Brown got going.

Texas Johnny Brown picked immaculate blues notes for "real"
Texas Johnny took his guitar to the dance floor and wowed 'em

Having just witnessed the highly talented Texas Johnny Boy's band at the Texas Harmonica Festival a few weeks before, I knew that he'd bring it. I also felt that Texas Johnny Brown would be a hard act to follow. Texas Johnny Boy managed meeting the challenge extremely well with the "BIG" band that he brought to the festival. This was an old school, horn driven blues band that he rounded up to blow the roof off of the Grimes County Expo Center. Having headlined the festival last year, Texas Johnny Boy decided to up the ante, so to speak, this go 'round and treat the audience to the type of blues reviews that have been lost to time. With a horn section fueled by Eric Demmer's sax and Andre Hayword's trombone and adding ringers like guitarist Hash Brown and keyboardist Christian Dozzler to his working band, they took the downhome lowdown blues uptown more than a few times. Kicking off his set with his fat tone harp, Johnny Boy took Willie Dixon's "I Just Want To Make Love To You" out of Chicago and jacked it up with a swinging rhythm. He slicked up Slim Harpo a bit also. Guitarist Dave Haley's slide kept an Elmore James' tune rooted, but Johnny Boy did put the song into a tux. His strong vocals were as fat toned as his harp all night. He knows how to put a song across. The band swung with the power of a B-52 and the crowd swung with it. Great way to cap off a day of the blues.

Texas Johnny Boy's Blues Revue gettin' her done
Texas Johnny Boy and Hash Brown blowing the Mojo
Yep. The blues chased a rabbit and swirled all 'round my head by the time I woke up Sunday morning. The Navasota Blues Festival volunteers get a hats off and salute from me for putting together a fine show for blues fans and they might have even gained more than a few converts that showed up at their doors. Their hearts are in the right place. I had no idea the a statue of Mance Lipscomb had finally been built and then dedicated during the weekend. All I have to say is..."Ain't it about time". These Navasota folks know just how important the old sharecropper's music was to the world.

Now, given the time and inclination, I would have mentioned all the fine musicians that shared the bandstand with their bosses, but I just tend to get way too caught up in the music to get that done very well any longer. Just let me say that the degree of professionalism was unparalleled by the musicians that graced the stage at the festival. 'Nuff for now.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Master Blaster

I couldn't help myself. I just had to post this vid of Little Walter playing the fire out of his harp. Those that speak of LW's skills deteriorating late in his career should listen carefully to what the master's doing here. I say that he was in total command of his sound and the instrument before he died. He might have slipped a bit in his overall performance, but he ruled over the blues harp.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Texas Harmonica Festival Video

Here's some great video from the Texas Harmonica Festival. Most of it highlights the harmonica clinic conducted by Sonny Boy Terry, Ronnie Shellist, and Steve Schneider and the attendees jamming with a "Real" blues band; some for the first time. The highlight of the video is the interview segments with Sonny Boy Terry. It is long, but worth it. Especially if you weren't there or double especially if you were. Guy Schwartz shot the flick for his and did a fantastic job.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Navasota Blues Fest

Since it's August, it must mean that the Navasota Blues Fest will be rolling around. Not that it's always been in August, but has been for the past several years and does always provide a respite from the Texas heat with some mighty fine blues. The fest began, and still is, a tribute to hometown legend, Mance Lipscomb. I've got a bit of history with the fest going all the way back to the first one, when I wrote several of the musician bios for the program for a couple of years and blew my harmonica at several of them. Watched plenty of fine performances and gained some good friends over the years. The event this year will run from Thursday, August 11 through Saturday August 13 at the cavernous Grimes County Expo Center. Before I get too ahead of myself and if you don't care to read through this post go to: You'll know as much as I know about this year's event. Well, maybe not as much as I know, but pretty much. Click on the band links for even mo' knowledge for yo' brain.

Some old hands and some new bands will be slinging and bringing it again, beginning with the appetizer being served up by the Navasota BluesCapital Revue featuring a slew of talent from the from the area. This event is sponsored by Navasota Blues Alley and will be held at the historic Miller Theater, which has limited seating so call 936 830-3331 for details. I do hear that Joe Tex Jr will be in performance, so that should be a treat.

The first course will be served up Friday night. Friday nights have always kicked off the festival with what they used to call a "dance". The Blues Brothers Tribute Act have filled the opening bill for a few years now and after parking their blues police cruizer in front of the building, they'll commence their humorous take on these humorous blues men. Tubie and the Touchtones follow with set of blues, tinged with a bit of rock.

Don Kessee headlines Friday night with his blues from the "Old School", because he's in that class with B.B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland, T-Bone Walker, etc, etc...His band is always as tight as a snake skin and he puts a song across vocally just as well as the aforementioned masters. Bonafide blues will be on tap.

The main course, of course, is the Saturday blues whomping from 1:30 pm until midnight. Carb up the night before and come early to stay late. If you don't, they have plenty of food available. Michael Birnbaum will actually start the proceedings with a guitar clinic, demonstrating Mance's technique. I had the pleasure of playing a set with Michael a few years ago at one of the Friday night dances, and the man knows his book of Mance.

Sweet Mama Cotton will open up the showcase at 1:30 with blues belted out in the tradition of Sippy Wallace and Bessie Smith. As one of the fest veterans, she know how to kick start the crowd with her big, booming voice refusing to allow anyone to remain glued to their folding chairs. She always brings a finely tuned group of muscians to the show from her homebase in Houston.
One of the highlights for me was the first time I saw Bernie Pearl at the festival. I'd long had a CD of his stuff that he recorded with Harmonica Fats from some years back, but nothing prepared me for just how deep this man could play the blues. At the time, I had no idea at the time that he'd sat elbow to elbow with Lightnin' Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, and Fred McDowell back in the day at his brother's legendary Ash Grove Club in LA. The club was these guys home away from home when they were in California. Bernie pulled out all the stops that day and slayed me with his mastery of blues guitar. He'll do it again, for sure, on August 13.

David Egan & Twenty Four Years of Trouble returns to the fest again this year to lay down his high energy show, marked by mighty fine singing and great musicians. His forte is the song, because he's been covered by a who's who in the blues over the years.

Rob Roy Parnell is one of those previous mentioned friends that I've made over the years. He is a Texas bluesman and that can be hard to define, because that style mixes the swamp of Louisiana, with big city grooves, and West Texas swing. He's got a voice that's big as Texas too and blows the hell out of a harmonica. The roadhouse rumble will start with his set.

Texas Johnny Brown was a member of Amos Milburn's band when they backed him on his recordings in 1949. He led the bands of Bobby "Blue" Bland and Junior Parker and played the part of studio musician for Duke/Peacock Records, and he wrote the classic "Two Steps From The Blues". I thought that I'd throw those tidbits out throwing around the well-worn phrases, "Authentic" and "Real Deal", but if anyone fits the bill, then it sure the heck is he. The price of admission is worth seeing Texas Johnny Brown and His Quality Blues band put that authenticity and real deal blues to work. Heck of a great guy, too.

Just witnessed what Texas Johnny Boy (yeah, Johnny Boy, not Brown) can do with a blues harp in his mouth last weekend at the Texas Harmonica Festival and I guarantee that he can get it going, both vocally and instrumentally. Plus, on this gig he just might break on the flute. Flute? In blues? Trust me, you'll have to see it too believe how well he can make it work. Not saying that he will mind you, because he's bringing in a blue review conglomerate that will also feature DFW stars, Brian "Hash Brown" Calway and Christian "Vienna Slim" Dozzler. I've seen both those boys blow harp, so maybe they'll just all throw it down together, even though guitar and keyboard (respectively) seem to be their main axe choices. It'll be an old fashion blues review completed by the horn section made up by Eric Demmer (sax, Gatemouth Brown alum), Andre Hayward (trombone, Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsailles). They hit the stage at 9 pm and take it to the midnight hours, to they ain't no telling what's gonna take place while they're doing it.

There it is. Sounds like some good sounds to me and a mighty cool place to be when the temperature is still 90 degrees at ten o'clock in the evening time. 'Nuff said.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Texas Harmonica Festival Whomped 'Em!

Blues harp nirvana. The Texas Harmonica Festival held this past Saturday at Houston's Dan Electro's Guitar Bar granted every wish that blues harp fans could possibly dream up; including excellent instruction on getting to the next playing level, how to get that amplified tone happening, an opportunity to jam with the pros, and witnessing one whale of show by incredibly talented blues musicians. And I mean incredible talent.

Sonny Boy Terry has produced excellent blues harp shows for almost as long as I've known him. He's put together harp rumbles and blues blasts sporadically over the past couple of decades and has always pulled in the best danged blues harp talent in the state, and plenty from elsewhere too. Last year he ramrodded his first harmonica festival, that included an instructional clinic, so successfully that the second annual event became a must-do. He tweaked and fine-tuned his model from last year to produce a stupendous show that topped last year's, which I thought would be pretty danged difficult to achieve. Keep in mind that what is posted here is from memory, I found it difficult to sit and write anything while my jaw dropped all night. True. I'm going to run out of superlatives quickly, so if I repeat a few, forgive me.

The afternoon kicked off with the master demonstrating and instructing how to get a harmonica to play the blues for the beginner to the instrument. He covered things such as the difference in playing straight melody in first position on such tunes as Ol' Suzanna and coaxing the wailing blue notes from the harp in cross harp or second position. He stressed the importance of getting that single note and getting it to bend down or up in order to get the blues going on. In his laid back personable style he demonstrated the blues scale on the harmonica the importance of working it into the grooves and keeping a groove witht he music. He had the entire assemblage of sixty or so blowing Muddy Waters "I'm A Man" by the end.

Sonny Boy listens close to an attendee.
I can't say enough about Ronnie Shellist, so I'll just stop here. No, just joking. Shellist was one of the first blues harp instructors to tap into Youtube and offer to share his knowledge with a hungry audience wanting a bigger menu of harmonica playing tips. Today he offers his blues focused harmonica lessons on his website with an array of instruction aimed at everyone from beginners through the advanced student. Shellist followed Sonny Boy's clinic with exhuberance and enthusiasm as he took the lessons to the intermediate level players in the crowd, starting on how to hold the harp and cup it to make it wah-wah properly. His discussion covered first, second and third position playing, tongue blocking slaps and pulls, flutter tongue technique, hitting bends, the importance of rhythm, and other advanced tricks of the trade--including overblows. Attendees were running up and down the blues scale and playing a Kim Wilson rhythmic whomp before he was finished with them. It was plain to see that he wants you to know everything that he knows about the playing the blues and nothing but the blues.
Ronnie Shellist does some one on one.
Stephen "The Professor" Schneider stepped up with a trio of amplifiers and a bagful of microphones and pedals for his demo instructional on how to amplify the little instrument and get huge, fat tone from it. He began by illustrating the importance of obtaining a good cup around the mic and harmonica, so that the amplifier receives the best representation of the note being presented to it. From there he demo'd how to dial in the Fender Reissue Bassman for stage use and explained how he'd modified it to be more conducive for harp playing. He fielded questions relating to the choices for microphones and the pros and cons of each one, and then blew a few tonal differences. He broke out a few Lone Wolf harmonica pedals, such as their harp octave, to show how they could improve the tone of amplifiers that don't quite cut it for harp. Few can explain what goes on inside an amplifier to get that nasty ol' blues harp tone as well as The Professor. From input tubes, to rectifier tubes, to power tubes, to speaker area; Schneider knows the score and shared all on that score.
Stephen Schneider demos a mic.

After a short break after watching the Pocket Full of Soul harmonica documentary, Sonny Boy Terry rounded up his rhythm section of Brian Scardino (drums), Lenny Fatigati (bass), and Holland K. Smith (guitar) for the jam session. These three guys were amazing all night. Except for a break during Texas Johnny Boy's set, these guys backed everyone up all afternoon long and night until the 1 am quitting time. They never missed a beat, regardless of who was calling out what number, and things kicked off with the jam intended to get the clinic participants off their butts and onto the stage to blow the blues. Attendees were given a preview of the kick butt blues harmonica that would follow for the evening with Sonny Boy setting the tone by blasting out his signature sound with the band. From there, the jammers lined up to form what he called a "conga line" and two players at a time stepped on stage, grabbed a harp mic, and joined band's groove with whatever notes they could conjour. Shellist and Sonny Boy highly encouraged participation from everyone, regardless the level of their expertise and play with a real blues band. All levels of expertise did hit the stage and all received a warm welcome and a warm round of applause, whether they squawked out the notes or hit the tone right. Plenty of smiles lit up Dan Electro's room and a big fun vibe permeated the premises.

The jammers did some jamming.
Heather Korb presented her award winning documentary "Third Ward Blues", which portrays the slice of blues life of Houston's Third Ward. Invaluable interviews with Joe "Guitar" Hughes, Gatemouth Brown, and Albert Collins highlight the film with snippets of the music that they were known for, along with a history lesson about the era and the area.

Heather Korb introduces "Third Ward Blues".
 Texas Johnny Boy brought his band to the stage to set the bar high for the rest of the blues harpist to follow. He kicked off with a tough, deep toned, Chi-town style instrumental and proved just how well he has that stuff down. His forte, though, is stylistic shiffs and he has the perfect voice to jump into Louis Jordan jump territory and cover Ray Charles on a tune like the "Messaround". He moved from full blast amped up diatonic to jazzy chromatic and a touch of unamplified acoustic harp and it illustrated his tonal pallete very well. Johnny Boy brought a skin tight band with him in the form of Richard Cholokian (drums), Parker Murphy (bass) and Dave Haley (guitar). They really had a feel for the variety of grooves demanded from Johnny Boy's set. Haley really had a nice touch for the R&B type stuff and could really lay down some jazzy riffs. Johnny Boy will be headlining this year's Navosota Blues Fest on August 13. If you've never caught his show, the fest would be an excellent venue to do so.
Texas Johnny Boy kicks the showcase in gear.

Holland K. Smith kicked butt with a scorching set of blues standards. Sonny Boy had roped him into coming down from his Dallas homebase and the man played impressive blues guitar all night long, but really rocked the joint on his own set, where he was allowed to share his vocal chops with us also. He absolutely scorched "Black Cat Bone", both vocally and with his strings, and how appropriate to thrown down a tune from one of Houston's lengendary bluesmen, Hop Wilson. Smith plays stone cold, solid Texas blues guitar, not blues rock, BLUES guitar. The stuff Johnny Copeland, Albert Collins, Joe Hughes, T-Bone, and Freddy King threw around. Loved his energetic set. He also allowed Lenny to sing one. The bassman surprised me with vocal prowess on a jump number. I can see frontman in his future at some point.

Holland K. Smith lights up the crowd.

Lenny Fatigati sings the blues.

Don't know what can be said about Tommy DarDar that hasn't been said, but since some of y'all ain't heard it said--the man is a Texas treasure. Best known around his Houston stomping grounds, he's one of those talents that should be better known way beyond the Texas Gulf Coast. DarDar does the blues that inner bred with the Louisiana swamp and comes out jumping and jiving with its own viberation. He's got a ruff tuff voice that fits the music like a welder's glove and swings it hard. When he hits the stage, its party time from "Big Mamou" to "Let The Good Times Roll", and buddy, they did roll while he held court. His harp playing doesn't evoke Chicago as much as it does the Gulf Coast and it's there to support his songs, not eclipse them. He'd swing up some rapid runs up toward the higher end of the harp and finish them off with some deeply drawn low notes, reverberating the ceiling fan above him. Don't know if they call him Big Daddy Gumbo any longer, but it fits his style. I do know that we were calling him "Good Time Tommy" Saturday night.

Tommy DarDar loves that "Big Mamou".
Even though Ronnie Shellist demonstrated some of his harmonica licks during his instructional time, I wasn't prepared for the Chi-town toned set he blew through during his showcase set. I thought that Kim Wilson had taken the stage. He had me hooked from his opening instrumental and as he blasted through Junior Parker's "Mother-in-Law Blues", I knew that he was one of the "Real Deal" blues harp guys now, and his vocals are polished and expressive. As he bounced call and response notes back and forth off of Holland's guitar, there was no doubt left that Shellist had a deep feeling for the music inside of him and he enjoy the hell out of sharing it. A highlight of the set was when he called up Greg Izor for a little friendly head cutting session. Seems that those two hung together in New Orleans and the gig provided a bit of a reunion for them. They smoked the stage, pinging fat notes to each other and back again. Izor returned the favor during his set, with much the same results.

Ronnie Shellist has his rooster crowing.
I really don't think that a straight jacket could keep Greg Izor's energy level in check. He hit the stage full steam ahead and never once let up. Once he placed a harmonica mic to his lips, the music moved him and put him in constant motion. Having reviewed his CD on the blog here recently, I knew darned well that his harp playing had "it"--all the fat and no filler, just killer stuff. He blew like his life depended on it and sang as well as anyone out there doing the blues today. Then he broke out his chromatic harmonica. Wow! I can't remember the last time I heard anyone play the blues on chromatic as well as Greg Izor. He was all over the big harp, button. He swoop from the high octaves and then bottom out and boom heavy, heavy stuff from the low octave. His telling me that he grabbed hold of Johnny Sansone when he was in New Orleans and never let him go until he learned all that he could proved invaluable. Then, of course, the returned the head cutting favor by getting Shellist back up and they went into blues harp frenzy.
A little friendly head cutting going down.

Greg Izor's blowing it fat and nasty.

Sonny Boy returned to join the band and show why he's such a legend in Houston. As many harp players as I've listened to over the years, no one does it quite like Sonny Boy Terry. He's just got a style and deep tone that he can call his own. Plenty of Chi-town fat, but there's something about that humid Gulf Coast vibe that permeates what comes out and it drips blues like sweat. He coaxes nuances from his harp, mic, and amp that just sets him apart from others. Sonny Boy got up and did his thang and took no prisoners and then orchestrated the "Grand Finale", which, of course, blew the roof on Dan Electro's.

Sonny Boy wraps up the showcase.
By the end of the evening, blues music had seeped through the crowd like molasses that'll take days to wash away. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


My crime novel, featuring the blues harp playing duo Mitty Andersen and Pete Bolden, is living and breathing life once more. After being orphaned by my last publisher, who called it quits, River Bottom Blues has found a new home at Authors' Niche I've been on the prowl since last March searching for a publisher who had the same enthusiasm for my manuscript as my last one and AN certainly rose to the occasion. Even though I know signing up with an outfit that is brand spanking new has it's risks, when a publisher offers really nice, sincere compliments about my writing and then goes on to say how much they love the blues, well then, they get me leaning in their direction. Any publisher who asks me if I've heard of Mojo Buford is all right in my book.

What helped seal the deal, though, was a request from the publisher for a phone conversation in order to discuss what I may be getting into with Authors' Niche; such as their publishing philosophies and business model, and what they will do and won't do. This took place before I signed a contract and was sure a nice personal touch. Never talked to a publisher before and I've had two other conversations since signing a contract a couple of weeks ago. They've convinced me that they are hell bent on getting things right in this wicked publishing industry, and that they have faith in River Bottom Blues and Richard Bush. I'm putting my faith into these nice folks over there also and I believe in them. A short bio and book blurb has already been published at their website and production will commence soon. So...stay tuned for the debut of River Bottom Blues.
contact: richardbush at authorsniche. com

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Suddenly Everything Got Fuzzy

Knowing that I've spent hours on end delving into the inner workings of my harp amps to tweak and modify them, my son asked me if I'd build an octave fuzz pedal with him for his guitar. There seemed to be a few more tones that Jimi Hendrix got on some of his stuff that he wanted to emulate a little closer. I told him that we could look around for a kit maybe and go from there. We found one at Their kit sold for $68 plus shipping, which seemed like a lot, but then we priced manufactured octave fuzz pedals and they ran $230 and up. In that case, I told him, a kit makes sense. So we ordered one and they impressively sent it out the day ordered and it arrived per UPS a week later.

We spent the better part of yesterday sticking and stabbing the ol' soldering iron to tiny resistors, capacitors, transistors, the tiny circuit board. It was touch and go (literally) throughout the entire process. There is so little room to negotiate the tip of the iron around the pcb without fear of melting down an adjacent component or the board itself. Of course, there is always that printed instruction or two that assumed that we knew exactly what they are instructing, but didn't. So we had to assume. Most of it was clear and concise for us virgin pedal do it yourselfers. Since it is a diy kit, they guarantee nothing as far as it working once the sticking and stabbing are done. That's fair enough though.

Once I soldered a few resistors down, I turned things over to him and he got the hang of it pretty quickly. It's that or destroy the product. He found the experience very tedious and very intense. Wrack his nerves a bit, I'd say. I'd take over only when we hit one of those tight shoe spots and he wanted me to ruin things instead of him.

We had to wait until this a.m. to crank it up, and lo and behold it worked beautifully. Now he can get the octave fuzzy thing going on and he nailed the Hendrix tone that he sought. He said that the fuzz has a much better tone than the manufactured model that I bought him a couple of Christmas' ago. Bonding this pedal together gave us a bonding together experience that should last awhile---'til he hears some other tone that won't come from his guitar and thinks that we should do it all over again. Me, I prefer the nasty ol' blues played with a guitar chord straight to the amp. Someday that'll impress him just as much. 'Nuff for now.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Great Acoustic Blues Show

Dang! I tried to get this posted earlier this week, but my blogger account kept giving me the "NO SERVICE" message. Gotta thank the Houston Blues Society for zapping me, and reminding me, with the information about Sunday's great showcase of acoustic blues presented by KPFT 90.1's Blues Hound and performed at KPFT's Backyard. The world renowned Doug Macleod will be grinning and picking along with Houstonians The Mighty Org and John Egan. They can all bring it on. Macleod writes a column for Blues Revue magazine that I never fail to read, especially his tales of playing with George "Harmonica" Smith and Pee Wee Crayton back in the day.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Greg Izor & The Box Kickers

I don't know why it's taken me so long to get my hands on some of Greg Izor's harp playing. The first time I heard his blowing was on satellite radio's BB King's Bluesville. A song popped up with that greasy fat amplified blues harp blasting and I had to find out who was blowing. I've totally forgotten the name of the band that he was playing with, but I looked them up back then long enough to find out that it was Greg Izor. I had all intentions of tracking him down, but life got in the way and I forgot to follow up. My loss, but not any longer, since he kindly sent me a copy of I Was Wrong. The cover has a picture of Izor cupping a bullet mic that covers the bottom third of his face. Whenever I see a CD cover with such, my first thought is "Okay, now back it up with your blowing". Greg Izor lives up to that photo.

He gets down with it from the "get go" by opening "Who You Lying To" with a few fat back harp licks that sets the tone for what follows. What caught my ear very quickly, though, was Izor's vocal chops. The man's in great voice throughout this release. One of the drawbacks with a lot of blues harp aces who stretch out into front man territory is the ability to pull it off vocally. Izor can do the do in that category. I place him on a shelf with Mitch Kasmar, Tad Robinson, John Nemeth, and Darrell Nulisch-to name a few contemporaries that can really sing the blues. Speaking of Nulisch, the first time I heard him sing was pre-Sam Myers Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, and guess what? Izor is now the post-Sam Myers lead man for Anson Funderbugh's group.

Here he leads his Greg Izor & The Box Kickers band through a tough set of predominantly original blues. The Box Kickers feature a couple of guitarists that ring my bell. I've been listening to Mike Keller slinging blues guitar notes since he and his brother Cory walked on stage at Antone's as the Keller Brothers back in the day and floored audiences with their command for the blues at such a young age. Today he's Johnny Moeller's partner in chime with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, as well as laying down some mighty fine stuff  with Izor's band. I first heard guitarist Willie Pipkin at a gig with The South Austin Jug Band, which had threads of bluegrass, country, folk, and blues emanating from the stage. Pipkin was the blues card in the band and when he lit into it, he impressed me. I'd say that he's in his element as a Box Kicker. This duo bends some stone cold blues strings throughout the CD and follow the variety of vibes that Izor lays out for them, whether it's a Louisiana swamp rocker from Izor's native state, like "I Thought It Would Be Me", something country twinged, or gettin' jazzy. On the former he gets his fat chords sounding kinda like a squeeze box that's reminisent of his mentor, Johnny Sansone.

He brings the Texas sound (he's lived in Austin since '06) to the table with the hard shuffling "Stuck In Texas", on which he also whips out some of my favorite deep fried, greasy licks of the CD. Drummer Jason Corbiere and bassman Johnny Bradley drive the bottom all the way from the Colorado River to the Sabine with Keller and Pipkin's rhythm and leads riding the groove. I could venture a guess as to who plays what, but then I could be wrong. It's Izor's harp runs, bends, and whomp that sets this apart from any other Texas shuffle, though.

He throws down the George Jackson/Jimmy Webb penned "Old Friend" to venture off into a country western flavored tune. I'm am guessing that it is Keller's Telecaster that kicks this into the ol' two steppin' territory which reminds me of a sort of "Mathilda" riff. Izor could give quite a few of those radio ready faux cowboys a run for the money with his vocal lines here. This is the only cut withot his harp blowing applied.

The title tune lopes along pleasantly with a couple of harp breaks that takes off like a Little Walter solo with nice runs up and down the comb. "Broken Heart" covers the K.C. Douglas song with some of Izor's baddest lowdown Chicago blues harp tones, as he drags some deep stuff from the low end and bends the reeds for all they are worth. Speaking of Little Walter, "Swiss Krissly" has the master's influence written all over it-think "Off The Wall" as a point of reference, but Izor throws plenty of his own making into the mix.

He breaks out the chromatic harp on "I'm Yours", on which the guitar rhythm approximates Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Empty Arms". Izor gets the big harp pumping out a swinging motif with huge octave runs blasting though his mic. William Clarke ain't got nothing on this Louisiana cat. He does the same for the instrumental, "Turkey Necks", which bops along with an insistent beat and a great guitar lead break from one of those two aforementioned slingers. The chromatic on "Voleur", another instrumental, falls squarely into the jazzier realm and he proves that he knows what the button is for on the instument.

When "Soul Survivor" hit my ears, James Cotton hit my brain, because Izor was yanking some powerful stuff out and emulating the "no holds" blasting that only Cotton is known to produce. Of course, James Cotton recorded this tune written by his piano player at the time, Albert Gianquinto, and with the greatest band that he had ever assembled. Izor covers the song remarkably well and switches over to chromatic for one of the harp breaks.

I'm impressed with Greg Izor's talent and his band and this CD. Greg Izor & The Box Kickers have it going on and deliver all the goods that I look for in a release of blues harp music. Thoroughly enjoyed this, or enjoying it, or will keep enjoying it, or whatever. Worth it. Get it.

So, I'm glad that I've finally caught up somewhat with who Greg Izor is, but getting to watch and listen to him strut this stuff at the Texas Harmonica Festival on July 30 at Dan Electros will be loads better. He's definitely a triple threat with his vocals, blues harp playing, and writing. Check out and check out his youtube vids, but beware--you'll get lost in the music over there. 'Nuff for now.

Texas Harmonica Festival News Flash!

Sonny Boy Terry announced that esteemed blues guitarist, Holland K. Smith will be added to the Texas Harmonica Festival line-up. Smith has been a major talent on the DFW blues scene for a number of years now and will certainly up the ante to an already full deck of blues talent at the event on July 30 at Houston's Dan Electro Guitar Bar. Kudos to Sonny Boy for gettin' him down to the Bayou City.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011 Texas Harmonica Festival--Mo' Details




DAN ELECTRO'S GUITAR BAR, 1112 E. 24TH ST, HOUSTON, TX 77009 (713.862.8707)


CONTACT: SONNY BOY TERRY - (OFFICE) 713.869.7746 (MOBILE) 713.822.0437



Following last summer's triumphant success of the very first TEXAS HARMONICA FESTIVAL AND CLINIC featuring Brooklyn blues harp busker and famed author Adam Gussow , Austin's Rob Roy Parnell , regional favorites Dave Nevling and the Blues Kats , The H-Town Jukes, event producer Sonny Boy Terry and his band, this year's version of the Texas Harmonica Festival promises to be bigger and perhaps even a little better.

This year, teams up with the Houston Blues Society to expand the festival to even greater heights, not only to put on one heck of a blues harp showcase and clinic at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar but also as they reprise the Houston Blues Society's once very successful BLUES 'N' KIDS program with a fabulous workshop and presentation at the legendary Eldorado Ballroom teaching neighborhood kids how to play harmonica and about it's relation to blues history Friday morning. The workshop will be presented by youtube sensation Denver Colorado's Ronnie Shellist , who is also proprietor of the harmonica instruction web site along with Houston blues harp man and recording artist Sonny Boy Terry, who is a renown harmonica teacher sharing his talents at middle and high schools, harmonica camps, community colleges, universities, corporate retreats and private instruction in Houston, across the US and even on SKYPE . Assisting on guitar will be bonifide Houston guitar legend Texas Johnny Brown . Introducing the kids to the world of blues harmonica, will be a viewing the award winning film Pocket Full Of Soul: The Harmonica Documentary, produced by Houston filmakers Todd Slobin and Marc Lempert . The BLUES 'N' KIDS workshop will kick things off on Friday at around 10AM and go for approximately 90 minutes. The workshop is free to kids in the neighborhood and harmonicas will be provided free of charge by the HOUSTON BLUES SOCIETY for the children to take home with them.

The TEXAS HARMONICA FESTIVAL moves over to Dan Electro's Guitar Bar in Houston's Heights for an afternoon clinic/workshop starting at 1PM on Saturday. Tickets for the clinic are on sale now at This year's clinic/workshop offers four sessions instead of one at a great price ($30.00 for the clinic only and $40.00 including the evening showcase). Sonny Boy Terry starts it off with a "Harmonica for Beginners" workshop - great for fathers and sons, young and old or anybody who is just starting out. Terry will go for an hour or so before turning it over to Ronnie Shellist from 2PM - 4PM for the Intermediate/Advanced Harmonica" clinic that would be great for anybody but focuses on techniques and instruction for those who have some background playing harmonica. Ronnie will take a brief survey survey from the attendees to guage where the majority's interests and abilities lie, then proceed so students can get the most out the clinic. Immediately after Ronnie's workshop is Stephen "Fess" Schneider's " Amplifying the Harmonica" Clinic. Steve is a known vintage amp repairman for many blues musicians in Houston and also an excellent blues harp player himself. He is able to set up and specialty tune harmonicas, and work on vintage microphones known for creating classic "Chicago Sound". As an English professor at Houston Community College's main campus, Steve is a superb teacher who will certainly be able assist attendees to help understand the nuances of harmonica amplification. Top top the afternoon's clinics off, there will a one hour jam session with the Sonny Boy Terry Band allowing all the attendees an opportunity to sit in with a true Texas blues band with a list for them to sign up on. Wow! What an afternoon! And what a great price with a genuine chance to learn from several of america's finest blues harmonica performers and instructors! Attendees are highly recommended to get there early and stay for the entire program.The novice or the more experienced players should be able to gain from the entire experience.

After a dinner break with a film documentary (TBA) between 6PM - 8PM (grill food is available on site at Dan Electro's), the real blues kicks in with Houston multi instrumentalist Texas Johnny Boy and his band. Texas Johnny Boy is a known commodity on the Texas music scene working regularly on the Dallas-Fort Worth blues circuit as well as Houston venues for nearly 30 years. An excellent harmonica player and vocalist, Texas Johnny Boy is also gifted at playing saxaphone, piano, and flute blending his talents creating his own unique sound.

Starting at 9PM, a true Houston treasure, Tommy Dardar will give blues lovers a taste of his soul drenching vocals and firey harmonica. Tommy has been doing this long time having gigged with Lightnin Hopkins, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Juke Boy Bonner even. Guitar hero Jimmy Vaughn and Dardar friend once advised Tommy after hearing him sing to take up the harmonica way back in the late 60s. The rest is history. The late Houston Chronicle music critic Bob Claypool once wrote:

"Tommy Dardar can play the blues like a man possessed".

Dardar plays a powerful brand of swamp rock steeped in the traditions of Louisiana Zydeco and blues masters such as Bobby Bland and the legendary Jimmy Reed. His recent album, Fool For Love is produced by Tony Braunigal , drummer for Taj Majal, Bonnie Raitt, Jim Belushi and currently with Robert Cray . this CD cooks from start to finish! It is a steaming cauldron of creole swamp blues rich with the traditions of all the styles that Tommy and his band bring to the table. Tommy's music moves you and makes you want to move, whether to celebrate your joy, or bury your pain.

At 10PM, the Texas Harmonica Festival's featured instructor Ronnie Shellist takes the stage. Ronnie is a wonderful harmonica player inspired by William Clarke and Kim Wison . He has an excellent album out produced by Chicago bluesman Nick Moss titled "Chicago Sessions". Ronnie's family lives in Houston so expect him to step up and give a rousing performance.

At 11PM, Houston's own Sonny Boy Terry and his band will show blues lovers what the harmonica is about Houston style. Sonny Boy Terry , wearing three hats for the day serving as producer, instructor, and perfomer got his start in Houston sleeping on Johnny Winter drummer Uncle John Turner's floor on a kinder garden mat in Montrose just to break into the blues scene. "Before that", says Sonny Boy, "I couldn't buy a gig in this town". A genuine ambassador of Houston's rich blues heritage, Terry has eventually went to perform all over the world and record with Texas legends Joe Guitar Hughes, Johnny Clyde Copeland, Calvin Owens and with contempory blues artists Rich Delgrosso, Jonn Del Toro Richardson, and Tony Vega . Sonny Boy is the founder of the Houston Blues Society, starting it in 1993 and serving as president for over 3 years. He has two crtically acclaimed albums on the Auston blues label Doc Blues Records who has recorded on over twenty albums to date Terry is featured in most complete book on Texas blues to date, Alan Govenar's Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound.

At midnight, topping off an evening of great blues, the unheralded but deeply talented Greg Izor hits the stage. A former New Orleans resident and Hurricane Katrina "evacuee", Greg now resides in Austin, Texas where he is certainly making a name for himself. His brand new CD is getting rave reviews. A recent review of his album "I Was Wrong" in Living Blues Magazine says,

" The list serious blues harmonica players who have distinguished themselves as disciples of the post war greats is an all too short one, at least in comparison to the aspiring guitarists out there. And although he may not be a household name yet, Greg Izor, from Austin Texas deserves a place on that short list of harp player/singers who have developed a truly unique voice on the instrument without sounding like watered down versions of Little Walter, James Cotton, or Big Walter Horton."

It's not just the critics who are enamoured with Greg Izor. He just filled some very large, in fact mammoth shoes replacing the late great Sam Myers in the prototype Texas blues band Anson Funderburg and the Rockets. The Texas Harmonica Festival is proud to introduce Greg Izor to the Houston blues scene hoping his gets the audience and recognition he truly deserves.  and the Houston Blues Society are collaborating on a festival we hope can bring the notoriety of the blues and harmonica to a larger audience, and not just "preaching to the choir", so to speak. We want to use the festival as an educational tool for the young and old alike. The blues are arguably america's most original art form and we want people to realize that. The harmonica, which rose to prominance during the civil war due to it's portability is a simple intrument to learn but very difficult to master and play at the level of the true legends. It continues to evolve as many such as Howard Levy, Adam Gussow, Sugar Blue and Jason Ricci knock down barriers and limitations moving the tiny instrument into musical realms never known by humankind before. With the advent of the internet, providing more outlets to promote and market the harmonica, it is becoming more popular all the time. We feel a festival of this nature is something the Houston blues scene can build on and taken blues to even greater heights letting the world know Houston is a great blues town that is starting to become a great harmonica town too. Please join us for a day of not only great harmonica, but great blues with a respect for history and tradition steeped in a modern uptempo blues sound.

Tickets for the Texas Harmonica Festival are very reasonably priced. For the entire day that includes the full afternoon of clinics, the jam session, movie time and the evening blues harmonica showcase, you can purchase tickets for one low price of $40.00. You can also get tickets for the aftenoon clinics for one low price of $30.00. Or if you just want to enjoy the evening showcase, showcase, admission is only $12.00. It's advised you arrive early to get a seat. Tickets will be available at the door that day. No one will be turned away. But we strongly advise you get tickets in advance online at It's a secure web site so please don't worry. You may also but advance tickets securely at . So if learning the harmonica is on your bucket list or you just want to dance your blues away, we have the event for you. Your support is appreciated.

Here is a schedule of the entire day's activies:





The Professor




Texas Johnny Boy


Tommy Dar Dar


Ronnie Shellist


Sonny Boy Terry

12AM - 12:45AM - GREG IZOR


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Texas Harmonica Festival Poster--2011

Is this one cool poster or what? Martin Miglioretti did a bang up job with the design. Hey, get over to and line-up a ticket for the event. The posters will be on sale at the gig.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Down Home Texas Harmonica Festival Update


(Houston, TX) The line up for this year's Down Home Texas Blues Harmonica Festival and Clinic (TEXAS HARMONICA FESTIVAL) is now officially set. After last year's huge success with Austin's Rob Roy Parnell, Sonny Boy Terry w/Jonn Richardson, Dave Nevling and the Blues Kats, Adam Gussow and the H-Town Jukes, it became obvious Houston could do this every year in July. This year's festival looks to be just as strong with a few tweaks and added attractions, to make it more organized and accomodating for the person wanting to improve thier harmonica playing as well as making the entertainment just a little more jammed packed for the showcase that evening. Houston's own Sonny Boy Terry wears several hats this year serving as producer/performer and he is also getting it all started teaching a beginner blues harmonica class. All the way from Denver, YouTube sensation, harmonica instructor and top notch performer Ronnie Shellist is joining the line-up this year teaching an intermediate/advanced blues harp clinic. Topping the afternoon harmonica clinics off will be Stephen Fess Schneider doing a seminar on blues harmonica amplification. Following Steve's session, we will have an open jam for those who participated in the clinics hosted by the Sonny Boy Terry Band. That evening, Houstonians Texas Johnny Boy and Tommy Dar Dar kick off the Blues Harp Showcase in style, followed by a set by Ronnie Shellist, Sonny Boy Terry. Headlining this year's Texas Harmonica Festival is New Orleans native Greg Izor. If we have time and everyone is still kicking, we will have a huge grand finale for with the Texas Harmonica Festival feature perfomers.

So mark your calendars and get your tickets online today. The Texas Harmonica Festival takes place on Saturday, July 30th at Dan Electro's in the Houston Heights. It's twelve hours of blues harmonica nervana with some of the region's not to mention some of America's top blues harmonica players and perfomers. Everything gets started at 1PM and goes until 1AM. Dan Electro's Guitar Bar is located at 1112 East 24th Street, Houston, Texas 77009. You can get your tickets online at More details to follow so please keep checking back with us or visit us online at or

This press release says it all and all I've got to add is: DON'T MISS THIS. Stay tuned.