Friday, December 28, 2012

Spammer Blues

Well, spammers found a home on my blog and have been leaving commentary aimed at selling something to someone. I've been deleting them as I detect them, but it's been a daily occurrence. Of course, none of these have anything to do with me, the blues, or you (unless you respond to them). None of them are solicited by me, so ignore them. If you leave a comment, don't request an e-mail follow-up or you'll get their spam from the comments page. I always respond to any comments left on any pages directly, except those left by these scumbags, who will respond to this post, and leave advertisements, as if I didn't call them snotnosed scumbags. Then again, once the find you, they automate the process.

I haven't abandoned the blog, just been roped into the activities of others around me that have demanded more of my time. I do have plans to get some reviews generated real soon. Some of those: The Muddy Waters/Rolling Stones DVD (planned on getting this up for quite some time...way before PBS ran with it), Rick Estrin and the Nightcats latest (love these guys), John Nemeth's live blues, and Doug Demings latest outing with Dennis Gruenling. That's my best laid plan. Now, off to battle the spambot comments.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Another Blues For Food Helping

Here's some more Blues For Food 2012 info from Houston Bluesharp Ace Sonny Boy Terry:

Hello everyone. Please help us get the word out for Shakespeare Pub's 23rd annual Blues For Food Music Festival and Food Drive. All proceeds benefit the Houston Food Bank. Every year in November before the start of the holiday season blues musicians, Shakespeare Pub, The Houston Blues Society, KPFT 90.1 radio and blues fans of all persuasions join together to donate non perishable food items and cash to the Houston Food Bank for needy families in the Houston area. 

This year's line up of talent Houston blues acts is second to none. The music kicks off with the Mighty Orq doing an acoustic set followed by the Texas Blues Gentleman himself from Bellville, Don Kesee and the Bluesmasters featuring Pops Stewart and Pee Wee Stevens.  By 3PM some chick power rolls in from Austin with the stellar Erin James Band. After that the true to life gulf coast legend, Galveston's Bert Wills along with Clint Boyd join the fun. Houston favorite The Tony Vega Band then takes the stage followed by two working front men in the same band Rich Delgrosso and John Del Toro Richardson change things up with superb blues mandolin and some very tasty lead guitar. Blues For Food producer organizer Sonny Boy Terry and his band serve up an offering of spicy  harmonica deeply rooted in Houston blues history.  Headlining this year's Blues For Food is two artists who don't do things like this often, former BB King bandleader Milton Hopkins and the delicious vocals of Jewel Brown. Keeping the ball rolling and into the evening is party favorites Mojofromopolis, rising star Annika Chambers and the House Rules Band will surely try and take house then on to Texas Blues/Rock guitar god John McVey and the Stumble. Topping the evening is the man voted Houston's best bass player Spare Time Murray and the Honeymakers featuring Little Screamin' Kenny hosting his weekly "World's Famous Blues Jam". This is over 12 hours of a diverse array of non stop Texas blues we hope represents the seen well. All musicians are donating their time for this good cause and Houston blues tradition.  

Those who attend and donate receive a free plate of BBQ. There will be raffles, a silent auction, and lots of surprises. For those who cannot attend, you can use KPFT studios as a drop off point for any food items. There will be a Houston Food Bank truck on site at Shakespeare Pub the day of the show with volunteers to load your food. 

This is a great charity but we need the Houston media's support too. Social networking, KPFT, the blogosphere and the Houston Blues Society help tremendously and we are truly grateful but without mainstream media support from the local we are often "preaching to the choir". 

Blues For Food is by all accounts the "mother of all benefits" on the Houston blues scene - a true model showing how much good we can do at a grass roots level. it was started in 1991 by blues singer and KPFT deejay Big Roger Collins and has continued for 23 years now serving as a precursor to the development of the Houston Blues Society. Many on the Houston scene consider Blues For Food the best party of the year. The amount of cash and food donations accumulated through the years is remarkable. All the bands bring their A game with each act performing a tight set approximately 30 minutes long. There is hardly any lag throughout the day. it is truly a huge celebration with overflow crowds in the parking lot enjoying the music, the vibe and great BBQ. So please give us the print. We humbly feel it is well deserved. 

So please share and help get the word out. Let's make this year's Blues For Food the biggest and best one yet. Again, music kicks off at 1PM and goes until 1:30AM. Admission is any non perishable food items or cash. Shakespeare Pub is located at 14129 Memorial Drive at Kirkwood just west of Beltway 8 off  Interstate 10. Please call 713.822.0437 for more information. You may also for more information. 

Sonny Boy Terry

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blues For Food Poster

You just ain't gonna find a better blues show than this one, or one for a better cause.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Blues For Food 2012

Once a year, Houston musicians pull together and put together one of the best blues events in the city aimed at refilling the shelves at the Houston Food Bank. Here's is the preliminary news release and schedule, courtesy of Sonny Boy Terry.

Here is the blues for food line up for November 11th 2012 at Shakespeare Pub. Time slots are subject to change but the line up is pretty much confirmed. Due to the volunteer nature, an artist may fall out and someone of equal stature will take their place. This is the 23rd consecutive year and we are proud to say this is the "Mother of all blues related benefits in Houston. It has set the bar and served as the model and led to the formation of the Houston Blues Society". All proceeds benefit the Houston Food Bank and everyone performs with their bands for free. Hopefully, this is an honest representation of Houston's diverse blues scene. Many artists add special guest to their sets as we all do our best to be as inclusive as possible. Each year artists asking to play Blues For Food is overwhelming. Admission is any non perishable food items or cash. Co-sponsored by the Houston Blues Society and KPFT 90.1 along with the Shakespeare Pub and the blues musicians of Houston. Sonny Boy Terry took over hosting and producing the event after the founder blues singer Big Roger Collins passed away in 2001. Free BBQ plate for those who donate.

Mighty Orq - 1:PM - 1:45PM
Don Kesee and the Blues Masters - 2PM - 2:30PM
Erin James - 2:45PM - 3:15PM
Bert Wills and Clint Boyd 3:30PM - 4PM
Tony Vega Band 4:15PM - 4:45P
Jewell Brown and Milton Hopkins - 5PM - 5:30PM
Sonny Boy Terry Band - 5:45PM - 6:15PM
Rich Delgrosso and Jonn Richardson Band - 6:30PM - 7PM
Mojofromopolis - 7:15 - 7:45PM
Annika Chambers and the House Rules Band - 8PM - 8:30PM
John McVey and the Stumble - 8:45 - 9:15PM
Spare Time Murray and the Honeymakers World Famous Blues Jam - 9:30PM till Closing.

The times are always fluid and subject to change. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Devil's Blues Cover

My publisher revealed the cover for The Devil's Blues, so I'll reveal it here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

River Bottom Blues Half Price Sale

The one year anniversary of my publisher, Barking Rain Press, is cause for celebration. They are doing so by offering all their eBooks at 50% off, which means the eBook version of River Bottom Blues can be had for $2.99. Visit their site and type in the code BRP1YEAR at checkout for the bargain price.

I've been really pleased with the growth and progress Barking Rain Press has made over the past year under the leadership of publisher, Sheri Gormley. They've acquired the works of excellent authors, added staff members, and significantly increased their profile on the publishing scene since I signed with them. Once my capable editor, Ti Locke and I finish the final round of edits and put the shine on The Devil's Blues, it just may make a release date prior to Thanksgiving. I just got a gander at the marvelous cover work supplied by staff artist Stephanie Flint. Can wait to show it off. Of course, I'll shout it out here.

In the meantime, be sure to get the first in the Mitty Andersen/Pete Bolden series by taking advantage of the 1/2 price eBook deal. Of course, a signed trade paperback can still be ordered by clicking the "Buy Now" button in the sidebar of the blog here. By the way, Amazon and B&N are offering the $2.99 deal also. 'Nuff blatant self promotion for now.

P.S.---Just found out from my publisher that the print version is 50% off also.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mississippi Heat

Bring on the heat...Mississippi Heat, that is. The band is celebrating their 20th anniversary in the business of playing the blues by releasing Delta Bound by way of Delmark Records. It's been that long since blues harp meister Pierre Lacocque's dream of getting a blues band up and running in his adopted hometown of Chicago materialized and he's never had to look back. The aggregation has seen a myriad of personnel changes over the years, but Lococque has always managed to pull together a team to keep his vision intact. I went looking for my CD of 1992's Straight From The Heart, with Robert Covington leading the group on vocals, and had trouble finding it. Was going to revisit what they did twenty years ago. Took awhile to realize that I hadn't bought a CD player yet and had my copy on cassette. That machine has been shelved for awhile. The point is that I've been a fan of Pierre Lacocque's playing for quite some time now.

Deitre Farr took over the vocal duties after that debut album, with songbird Inetta Visor settling in for the duration in 2001. The band has never been a straight up, down the river Chi-town blues band. Lacocque has always mixed and matched blues styles along the way and Delta Bound carries on the tradition, with Lacocque leading the way with his tough as nails, fat and crunchy harp tones. Previous Heat members Farr and guitarist Billy Flynn join the core group of Visor, Giles Corey/Billy Satterfield (guitars), Chris "Hambone" Cameron/Johnny Iquana (keyboards), Joseph Veloz (bass) and Kenny Smith (drums) for the anniversary celebration. Lacocque throws in the incendiary guitar work of Carl Weathersby on a few cuts and Chubby Carrier's accordion for some Louisiana flavor with Keith Blair adding his guitar chops.

Lacocque kicks things off with fat, octave tongued chromatic work on the opener, "Granny Mae", and locks in with Cameron's organ pumps to provide for a horn driven sound. Even though Lacocque's tone throughout the proceedings rips and roars for the most part, he can call up a rounded, horn like, tenor sax vibe at will, or for variety, lay back a bit and display his acoustic chops. He proves his acoustic meddle on the piano driven, "What's Happening To Me" and "Trouble In His Trail". He pulls out the full on, amped up tones on quite a few numbers, but really pulls out the stopper on "Sweet Ol' Blues" with tongue flutters and nice lick runs and on the instrumental, "Lemon Twist". On the former, Flynn sticks in one his trademark understated, but spot on solos. On the latter, Lococque calls to mind Rod Piazza while Veloz' bass lines drive the tune along with Smith's insistent drum beats and Iquana's organ swirls.

Weatherby's guitar work has always leaned towards a rock attitude, but stays blues rooted and manages keep it on that side of the line. A bit more high energy, I guess. He rips into "Mr. Mistreater" with tenacity, and he takes the old chestnut, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" for a pretty good ride. Being so accustomed to hearing Eric Burdon turn the song inside out, it took me a bit to adjust to Visor's version. She won me over and can claim ownership now. Speaking of ownership, Lacocque penned the vast majority of the songs on this set and he, of course, writes from the female's perspective of the blues, so there's plenty of my man's done gone, done me wrong, or he suits me to a tee blues. He turns some mighty fine lyrics into some mighty fine blues songs for his songbirds. The Blues Matrix threw me a little, but it's a fun time tune with reference to the movie, which of course, I never understood.

Speaking of songbirds. I was hard pressed to distinguish between the vocal stylings of Visor and Farr. I listened to the CD before checking credits and had no idea which songs Farr sat in upon. Neither are what I'd call "blues shouters". They don't go for the vocal histrionics of some that ply the trade. I like that. Don't get me wrong. They both have powerful voices and bring forth that power when the song calls for it, but not for the sake of "listen to the octaves that I can hit". They get what the deep blues is all about and both go about the business of bringing that to Lacocque's lyrics.

Even though Lacocque's harp is always front and center, Mississippi Heat is about solid, in the pocket, ensemble work. Whether it is on the traditional Chi-town stop time shuffle, "Lookee Here, Baby" with Kenny Smith illustrating why he is one of the most sought after drummers in the genre, the jazzy, vibraphone ladened (Kenneth Hall) "Going To St. Louis", or the second line whomp of "New Orleans Man". All the parts and pieces blend and make the whole groove happen.

So, if it's taken you twenty years to discover what Mississippi Heat is all about, I'd say better late than never and this CD would provide a great entry point for the introduction. Well played, well sung, well written, and well, you know, just a darned good blues recording, especially if one's taste run towards great blues harp.
'Nuff for Now.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Annie Raines

I've always been a big fan of Annie Raines. She got one wail of a big tone on the harmonica, whether she's playing acoustic pre-war blues with her partner, Paul Rishell, or flat out, gutbucket, fat and greasy amplified blues harp. I was about to say that she's got the fattest tone of any woman that I've heard, but that would be misleading....she has as fat a tone and anyone in the game; male or female. Think Big Walter, no really, she can whom the deep stuff. I've got several of her recorded examples around the house, but one that stands out is her performance at one of Mark Hummel's Blues Blowout, where she holds her own with all the gentlemen on the bill. Anyway, now she shares what she knows on a set of instructionals Without further ado, I simply pass along the press release announcing what has to be a valuable resource to assist us harp players in gettin' it down better.



Blues Music Award winner and foremost of only a handful of female harmonica players Annie Raines has recorded the most comprehensive harmonica instruction to date and the only interactive video format with "Blues Harmonica Blueprint" with 263 minutes of instruction, 68 video lessons, and over 75 charts. It will be available as interactive video software available via DVD-R or download July 31. Raines is eminently qualified to teach as harmonica legend James Cotton calls Raines “James Cotton Junior” and Muddy Waters sideman Pinetop Perkins said, “She plays so good it hurts."

Here is TrueFire's Blues Harmonica Blueprint playlist on YouTube, with numerous embeddable clips:

Presented for the beginner to advanced intermediate player, this revolutionary video drills deeper and wider than any blues harmonica course ever published. Over two years in the making, with hundreds of hours dedicated just to the visual notation guides and animations, "Blues Harmonica Blueprint" features animated graphics showing where the notes are as they're being played; detailed video breakdowns of songs and exercises; text descriptions; live band jam tracks so you can play along with a blues combo including guitarists Paul Rishell & Troy Gonyea; an adjustable metronome; and a guitar tuner in multiple tunings.

One of the challenges of teaching harmonica is that one cannot see what a harp player is doing and TrueFire's animation over the footage of Raines cuts through that barrier.

Finally, Raines teaches solos and repertoire in the styles of blues harmonica masters such as Sonny Boy Williamson II, Big Walter Horton, Jimmy Reed, and Little Walter.

Having learned from Jerry Portnoy who has toured with Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton, Raines has performed on three Susan Tedeschi albums and with John Sebastian over her distinguished twenty-five year career. She has been the touring and recording partner of Paul Rishell for over twenty years. They have released six albums together, including the W.C. Handy Award-winning 'Moving to the Country.'

Over the past 20 years, TrueFire has worked with over 600 top artists and educators building what Guitar Player magazine calls "the planet's largest and most comprehensive selection of guitar lessons. Over 220,000 students from 140 countries are enrolled in various TrueFire educational programs"

For more information on Annie Raines or "Blues Harmonica Blueprint," please contact Nick Loss-Eaton or 718.541.1130.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blues In School/Texas Style

Here's a great Blues In Schools mini documentary forwarded to me by my great friend Sonny Boy Terry. Very enjoyable and commendable.

Sonny Boy Terry, Milton Hopkins, Texas Johnny Brown, RJ Mischo

Presented by The Houston Blues Society, Gail Singer, pres.
Shot & Directed by Guy Schwartz
Radio News Article by MArlo Blue
2012 Guy Schwartz, The Houston Blues Society & Sirius Hippies Productions

New From The Bo-Keys

Trust me. Just click this and listen to Percy Wiggins sing his butt off behind the wailing Bo-Keys.

Memphis soul group The Bo-Keys teamed up with vocalist Percy Wiggins to bring a double shot of Memphis Soul and R&B. Wiggins, who cut classic Northern Soul sides in the 60s for ATCO and RCA, is featured on two original songs penned by the Bo-Keys and Wiggins. The Bobby "Blue" Bland-inspired R&B of "Writing on the Wall" and the Southern Soul ballad "I'm Still In Need."

Check out their website for more information:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Texas Harmonica Fest Schedule


Here's the more details for the upcoming Texas Harmonica Festival from Sonny Boy Terry:
Now in its third year after two very successful Texas Harmonica Festival and Clinics, this year, it's just a little bit bigger with harp players from Austin, Port Arthur, Houston and Dallas representing a large chunk of Texas well. "I try to bring in artists and workshop instructors who I think I can learn something from and inspire me with their talent", says Terry. "Houston is a known guitar town. My goal with the Texas Harmonica Festival is to put the spotlight on the Houston harmonica scene and hopefully help other aspiring harmonica players up their game." "I also like networking with harmonica players across the country and beyond. The guys who I promote in this region, if they can, bring me to their cities to teach or perform".

The idea is to mix afternoon workshops and an evening concert is to bring one national known artist to Houston to headline (This year it's RJ Mischo), a special workshop instructor (This year it's Mike Rubin of youtube's Meat and Potatoes Harmonica), along with regionally and locally known performers. Christian Dozzler plays piano with the killer elite blues musicians of Dallas is also a stellar blues harmonica player/vocalist so he will pull double duty fattening up the Sonny Boy Terry Band's sound with classic blues piano.

"I have always loved RJ Mischo’s blues," says Sonny Boy Terry, "He learned straight from Muddy Waters' harmonica player Mojo Bruford while living in Minnesota. Anytime a young player learns from someone like Mojo he gets my respect because he is carrying on the tradition. RJ was meant to do what he does"
Blues fans will also love Paul Orta who hails from Port Arthur, where more great musicians are born per capita there than anywhere else in Texas it seems. He is known by many as the "Mexican Little Walter" who is a deep traditionalist with a sound that is distinctly east Texas. He worked with everybody in Austin during that town's blues hey day. "I've been following Paul for years, Sonny Boy says, "We are putting a great band behind him reintroducing him to Houston so he can really shine. I know he is going to put on a great show". This year’s festival as a very special day of authentic American blues and harmonica. Everybody is just a little more bluesier, Sonny Boy Terry’s band super tight and with Christian Dozzler on piano, the blues is going to swing. It’s going to be sublime!”

Sonny Boy Terry will kick the day off with short orientation and a beginner/intermediate workshop just to get everybody up to speed and prepared for a full day of harmonica heaven. After Terry’s introduction, Austin’s Mike Rubin will take over for his highly anticipated workshop “Meat and Potatoes Harmonica”. After that, the extremely seasoned RJ Mischo steps and guides participants on “How to Lead a Blues Band and Other Tricks of the Trade”.

An extra added attraction to this year’s workshops is Lone Wolf Harmonica Pedals owner Randy Landry out of New Orleans teaming up with Houston amp tech Stephen “Fess” Schneider to demonstrate how to use effects and amplification for harmonica. Steve is Houston’s best harmonica technician and a full line of effects, Lone Wolf Pedals for harmonica have taken the industry by storm. After that participants are invited to join the Sonny Boy Terry Band for a conga line style blues jam where everyone can get their licks in with an authentic Texas Blues act.

Following the afternoon workshops and short dinner break (Food is available on site). Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar transform from classroom back to a nightclub for a night of what promises to be a night to remember of Texas Blues. With Sonny Boy Terry Band, Mike Rubin, RJ Mischo, Paul Orta, and Christian Dozzler the music is sure to be on fire.

To register for the Texas Harmonica Festival and Clinic, you can visit or . The cost is still reasonable. You can sign up for the afternoon workshop for 30.oo or the evening concert for 15.00. But if you purchase the entire day, it only costs 40 dollars. But if you register online in advance you can get an additional 5.00 discount by entering the access code 0202 whether it’s the showcase, workshop or entire day.

Here is the schedule of the day’s activities:

Clinic times are a rough draft to provide a guide for the day's activities but
most likely will end before 6:30PM and include a short intermission.


2PM - Sonny Boy Terry - Intro. Beginner/Intermediate Harmonica

3PM - RJ Mischo - How to front a blues act workshop

4PM - Mike Rubin's Meat and Potatoes Harmonica Workshop

5PM - Lone Wolf Harp pedals Demo and Amplifying the Harmonica Workshop

6PM - Jam with a Pro blues Band (Sonny Boy Terry Band w/Christian Dozzler on


7PM - Movie Time! intermission/dinner. Fantastic Food Available On Site.

Texas Blues Harmonica Showcase

8PM - Mike Rubin

9 PM - Paul Orta

10PM - Christian Dozzler

11PM - Sonny Boy Terry

12PM - RJ Mischo

1AM Grand Finale





Sonny Boy Terry

Producer/Founder of the Texas Harmonica Festival and Clinic, Blues harp man “Sonny Boy” Terry Jerome earned his moniker gigging and recording the past 29 years with Houston icons Johnny Copeland, Joe Guitar Hughes, Grady Gaines, Roy Head and Calvin Owens all the while fronting his own uptempo blues act and recording two excellent solo albums, Breakfast Dance and Live at Miss Ann's Playpen for the Austin based imprint Doc Blues Records. Sonny Boy Terry was featured in the 2008 book release Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound by author Alan Govenar.

In 1993, Sonny Boy Terry founded the 501©3 Houston Blues Society and served as president for three years. In his final year as president, HBS won the prestigious Keepin' the Blues Alive Award in 1996 for "Best Blues Organization" presented by the Blues Foundation in Memphis during the Blues Music Awards. In 2010, Terry's career came full circle when his band won the Houston Blues Society Regional International Blues Challenge scoring very high in Memphis representing Houston well while moving his career up a notch. "I am really grateful for that opportunity," "The Houston Blues Society's people were just so incredibly kind towards me" he says. "They have a wonderful group of people involved in that organization".

A noted harmonica teacher for twenty five years, Terry has long given private harmonica lessons, taught at local community colleges, high schools, for corporate retreats, and had the honor to serve as an instructor for Houston's Society for the Performing Arts' February 2012 acclaimed presentation Preserving a Legacy: A Tribute to Houston’s Blues. In 2011 Sonny Boy performed, taught and shared the stage with several of America's finest harmonica players like Adam Gussow, Jason Ricci and Jimi Lee at Hill Country Harmonica where the blues began in northern Mississippi. "Going to Mississippi was, much like spending years gigging in Houston's Wards, another of my going to the crossroads type experiences", Terry, who also took up guitar seven years ago believes it is essential to immerse yourself in the deep blues culture says, "Mississippi really helped me move my playing forward. They were mixing earthy northern Mississippi vamps and rhythms with technical sophistication of harmonica player Howard Levy of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. To me, from documentaries I have seen, it was the same way pre war jazz musicians integrated. I am starting to bring a raw form of bluesy jazz to my performances and has given me things to work on the rest of my life. I can play the latin grooves I have been messing around with much better now. And I am just at the tip of the iceberg," he claim, "I am excited about growing and maturing as a veteran blues artist. Making music is a life long journey."

RJ Mischo

Singer/Harmonica player R.J. Mischo began his music career over 20 years ago in Minneapolis. He worked with the area’s legends of the Blues scene like Muddy Waters alumni Mojo Buford and Sonny Rogers, as well as Percy Strothers & Milwaukee Slim. R.J. then led his own groups and gained a reputation as one of the region's top blues acts.

During his tenure in Minneapolis, R.J. was nominated in several categories by the Minnesota Music Academy and in 1996 won the award for Best Harmonica Player.

RJ Mischo scoops up everyday life and personal experiences and funnels them through his harp and vocals, and what pours out is the hot-blooded passion, the playful humor and high voltage energy of the blues.

R.J. was introduced to audiences worldwide when he and guitarist Teddy Morgan formed the RJ & Kid Morgan Blues Band featuring Percy Strother. In 1992 they released Ready To Go on the W. C. Handy award-winning Blue Loon Records.

1994 brought the critically acclaimed Gonna Rock Tonight also on Blue Loon Records. After several successful tours of Europe, RJ recorded Rough ’N" Tough "live in Europe "in 1996 and Cool Disposition in 1997 on the prestigious German label, Crosscut Records.

In 1998 R.J. Mischo and His Red Hot Blues Band moved to San Francisco, California and quickly established himself in the local music scene as each performance typically runs the gamut from mellow-down-easy acoustic to highly-charged full-on electric.

The CD "West Wind Blowin'" featured advances in R.J.'s writing style and guest performances by guitarist/vocalists Steve Freund and Rusty Zinn. RJ waxed three more Albums in California plus appeared on 2 volumes of Blues Harp Meltdown CD"s compilations featuriing live recording's of Mark Hummel's famous blues harmonica blow-outs with Kim Wilson, James Harman, Billy Branch, Rick Estrin, Gary Primich, Johnny Dyer, Annie Raines, Gary Smith, and Cephas & Wiggins.

His 9th CD "King Of a Mighty Good Time" 2008 was recorded "live" in the studio to best capture the energy and interplay of sympathic musicians under optimal recording conditions. His latest CD and first from Delta Groove Music, Make It Good has been release to critical review.

RJ and his Wife now reside in Fayetteville, Arkansas. R.J. works in the area with Northwest Arkansas' finest including guitar-ace Jimmy Thackery, the Table Rockers, Zack Bramhall and Arkansas legend Earl Cate. As well as touring worldwide performong on Blues Festivals and clubs with his own Red Hot Blues bands!

Paul Orta

Paul Orta (Vocal and Harmonica) was born in Port Arthur, Texas hometown of Janis Joplin, Guitar Junior and other prominent musicians. Paul was first influenced by the blues at the age of eight, when he saw Louis Armstrong on a movie. After nine years of playing with school band, Paul quit because the band never played Jazz or Blues. Within a half of a year Paul picked up the harmonica, and in three months he was in his first professional band. The name of the group was the Bayou Boogie Band, and they played and toured the Golden Triangle of Southeast Texas Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange, and Louisiana for three years.

In 1979, Paul moved to Austin, Texas and he won the Kerrville Folk Festival harmonica contest in 1980. Later he formed the The Backdoormen with Port Arthur native Bill Arthur Jones, and with the help of bass player Eddie Stout they evolved into the Kingpins. Afterwards Paul entered the Antones University Of the Blues: playing with Blues greats Matt Guitar Murphy, Pinetop Perkins, Eddie Taylor, Sunnyland Slim, Wayne Benett, Robert Lockwood Jr, Luther Tucker, Willie Big Eyes Smith, Ted Harvey and many others, even being invited by Jimmy Rogers to play gigs and Snooky Pryor to join him on stage everytime he was at Antones. And every Wednesday night for three months Paul played with Howlin Wolf s guitar player Hubert Sumlin.

Paul also toured and recorded with Texas Guitar Tornado U.P. Wilson (U.S.A. and Europe) for over two years. Paul has also recorded over a dozen albums and also can be heard on over three dozen different compilations and various artists, albums in North & South America, Europe, Japan and Australia. In addition he has performed with second generation bluesman like Kim Wilson, Derek O'Brian, and has recorded with Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton (Stevie Ray Vaughn rythm section) with Brazilian Blues/Rock guitar player Nuno Mindelis, even performing several festvals in front of thousand fans. Past members have included Uncle John Turner (Johnny Winter), Keith Ferguson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Mike Kindred (Stevie Ray Vaughn), Wesley Starr (Delbert Mc Clinton, Willie Nelson), Freddie Walden (Anson Funderburg), Jimmy Carl Black (Franck Zappa).

Mike Rubin’s Meat and Potatoes Harmonica Workshop

Mike Rubin's Meat and Potatoes Harmonica is getting lots of attention across the internet the past year or so. But Mike has been playing a highly professional harmonica for years. He is a monster technically sound and soulful all around great harmonica player. Sonny Boy Terry met Mike at 10,000 harmonicas where both were joined by Denver's Ronnie Shellist and Los Angeles harp player Gary Allegretto as they led the crowd at Minute Maid Park attempting to break the Guinness Book of World Records for largest harmonica ensemble only to fall short due to extra innings. "I was just impressed" Terry recollects, “Mike put on a great show later that night. He was fun and entertaining along with being an outstanding harmonica player

At 15 Mike worked as a camp counselor. His boss had a harp he let me borrow. Instead of looking at it for a minute, he went to a corner and jammed for a half an hour. 6 months later he was with a friend, Robert Schmidt, at a bookstore. There was Jon Gindicks’ Country and Blues Harmonica for the Musically Hopeless , a book that came with a tape and a harp for $14. His friend said, "There’s something flaky you would do." He had the money, which at 15 years old was a minor miracle. "You’ll never get anywhere with that." He said. The moment he played, he knew it was my thing. I was gigging a year later.

A respected Austin session musician, Mike has recorded with Ruthie Foster among other great talents He took 3 jazz improv semesters in college, Sonoma State University, on chromatic. A couple of years back he took another semester’s worth at Austin Community College playing one diatonic harmonica fully chromatically. In college he also took chorus and ear training. He plays diatonic harp (10 hole blues harp) played fully chromatically, the chromatic harp, the bass harp, mandolin, vocals, electric bass, keyboards, melodica, kazoo, various flutelike things and percussion. He loves Paul Butterfield, Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller), James Cotton and William Clarke. He writes and sings too. He’s a showman with his own solo CD out. Besides live performances, check out his CD "Call of my Harp" which is a collection of live and studio cuts of him backing up 15 of Austin’s best players. His Meat and Potatoes Harmonica Workshop is sure to be a treat any harmonica lover is sure to enjoy.

Christian Dozzler

Christian Dozzler was born into a musical family in Vienna, Austria on September 22, 1958. He started getting classical piano training when he was five years old. At age 14 he fell in love with the blues and has continued this romantic relationship ever since.

Solo piano blues and boogie woogie were the starting point and are until now a major part in Christian’s work. In 1976 he formed his first group, the "Backyard Bluesband", where he also played harmonica and guitar. 1981 was the year when he decided to make a profession out of his musical addiction, he also picked up the accordion after discovering Zydeco-music.

The years from 1984 till 1993 Christian spent as the co-frontman of Austria’s "Mojo Blues Band", and started recording and extensive touring throughout Europe. Frequently working with American blues artists on their European tours widened his musical horizon and made him an experienced player in many different styles of blues music.

From 1993 till 2000, he had his own band again, "Christian Dozzler & The Blues Wave", where he could finally bring the whole diversity of his talent into play. The program was a musical journey from Chicago Blues, Boogie Woogie, Rhythm & Blues to Swamp Blues and Zydeco, and anything in between. Especially the Louisiana music would soon become a trademark of this band. Four CDs resulted from these years. In 1999 the band recorded their fourth CD "Louisiana" right in the land of the bayous, together with some legendary figures of the Louisiana music scene.

In May 2000 Christian Dozzler accepted an offer that couldn’t be refused. He joined the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, based band of Larry Garner, moved to America, and toured the US and the rest of the world with Larry for two years.

In 2002 he settled in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and continued his solo career. This Metroplex rightfully has the reputation of having one of the best blues scenes in the world, and is consequently the ideal home base for any blues man. In spring 2003 he released his fifth CD "All Alone And Blue", going back to his personal roots in solo piano blues and boogie woogie. The success of this album in the KNON Texas Blues Radio charts even got Christian on the cover of Southwest Blues Magazine. In 2008 the next CD "The Blues And A Half" followed with all original songs, accompanied by some of the finest Texas blues guitar players: Anson Funderburgh, Mike Morgan, Jim Suhler, Hash Brown.

2009 found Christian Dozzler and Robin Banks renewing their musical partnership to record a highly acclaimed duo CD. "Livin’ Life" reached #1 and stayed in the top 10 of the Texas Blues Radio charts for several months, and was also featured extensively on XM-Satellite-Radio.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RJ Mischo

Since a few folks reading this blog will also attend the Texas Harmonica Festival and since RJ Mischo will be one of the headliners, I thought that I'd best share my thoughts about RJ's newest release, Make It Good, from Delta Groove Music.

I've been listening to and writing about RJ Mischo's music since his Blue Loon release with Percy Strother back in 1992. I'm pretty sure that I've written reviews on most of what he's recorded since then, and it is quite a body of blues harp blasting work. He's never disappointed the blues loving harp player in me and he certainly ain't starting now.

Make It Good is a particular strong outing and not just for the remarkable talent RJ has with a harp in his mouth, or his sometimes wise ass lyrics, or his solid vocals. He's rounded up one hell of a band with some of best at what they do. How can one go wrong with Wes Starr on drums, Ronnie James Weber on bass, and a couple of real blues "ringers" for guitarists. What could go wrong with current T-Bird slinger Johnny Moeller spitting out licks out of one channel, while ex-T-Birder, Nick Curran's doing the same out of the other. The note vocabulary of this duo is unfathomable and relentless throughout the disc. They bounce leads back and forth like Chinese ping pongers, sometimes blending lead notes together, and slipping in and out of rhythms duties seamlessly. I'd like to know who's slinging what and when, but it really doesn't matter. I want pretend that I know their styles well enough to tell one from the other, but I'd be a liar, because both have chameleonic styles to suit whatever a song demands.

Oh, and then there's Nick Connelly's remarkable organ swells and fleet fingered piano runs punctuating the proceedings all disc long. His presence is noticeable from the "get go" on the opening cut, "Trouble Belt", on which RJ warns each and everyone to stay away from his girl. He pounds the hell out of the 88s on the rawkus tune, which by the way is devoid of harp, while the guitar twins get wound up with some kind of down and dirty tones and start rippin' notes from the fret board. Connelly's organ sets the stage for the instrumental, "The Frozen Pickle", along with RJs fat tone warbles.

There IS a third guitarist lurking about on this disc too, though. RJ included two cuts with what he calls his two man blues band, The Super Reverbs. He and guitarist Jeremy Johnson provide the smoke for the title cut, and Johnson get some down right, low down, funky tones going on with "Make It Good", with RJ providing minimal backing on harp. Drummer Richard Meade is thrown into the two man mix on this one and his heavy handed bombs are integral to the drive of the song. On their second outing on "Up To The Brim", it's Johnson keeping time with bass drum and high hat while slinging his notes around, and RJ lets his dirty, nasty, fat toned, freak flag fly on the instrumental.

RJ tends to always mix things up and keep the harp chops flying with other modes than full on, amped up tones. He does some good time, acoustic, chord heavy whomping on "Papa's S.T. Special", replete with Sonny Terry whooping, but also by tossing in plenty of single note nuggets. His acoustic superiority is on full display on "Not Your Good Man", which kicks off with some dirty Muddy guitar stylings. The tone that comes out of RJ's harp elicits remarkably deep bends. Whoa! Talk about blues with a feeling. I do know that Moeller stabs the hell out of the solo, because RJ calls his name out. He rips it. On "Elevator Juice", RJ drags notes from the bottom of the barrel with a low keyed harp and then swings to some of the best high end playing that I've heard anyone play.

Wes Starr and Ronnie James strut their stuff particularly effectively on the gut bucket shufflin' of "All Over Again". Look no further for a rhythm section operating on all cylinders. They drive the hell out of the tune.
They do the same to the rumba flavored instrumental "Arumbala Part 1" (early in the disc) and "Arumbala Part 2" (the closer), which is a lesson in what ensemble playing is all about. RJ breaks out his chromatic chops, as he and Connelly's organ mix and mingle together.

I don't think that I have enough adverbs, adjectives, or superlatives to describe every harp lick that RJ brings to the table on this CD, not to mention just what the hell Moeller and Curran continuously swap with each other. I'll just say this, "Hell Yeah!". Oh, and get this one.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tunes At Noon

Just received this and thought it certainly worthy to pass along.

The Houston Public Library has started a new music series called Tunes At Noon. According to Allen J. Westrick, Library Service Specialist, the program will feature local musicians performing in the restored Julia Ideson Building at 500 McKinney. The series is held the second Tuesday of each month from 12 noon to 1p.m. The duo of Snit and Org are the featured performers for July.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Texas Harmonica Festival 2012

Gonna be another Killer show! Absolutely guaranteed!

Friday, June 15, 2012

River Bottom Blues Reviewed

Just had to share that River Bottom Blues received a nice review on the Reader's Den website. I'll forgo the details and simply leave a link to the article. If you comment on the review, you have a chance to win a signed copy of the book from me. And I'll throw in a bookmark. If you don't win, then you can click on the cover in the sidebar of my blog and order a signed copy directly from me. I'll throw in the bookmark and a coupon from the publisher for a FREE eBook version. Of course, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony eReader, iBooks, Powells, Booksamillion, Diesel, and oodles of other places will see a copy to ya also.

The esteemed book review site Midwest Book Review also calls River Bottom Blues a "face pace mystery of murder and blues".

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Upcoming Harp Events

2012 Texas Harmonica Festival
Sonny Boy Terry has announced that tickets are available for his annual harmonica extravaganza at: It will be held on August 4 and once again at Dan Electros Guitar Bar in Houston. The fest will include a harmonica clinic for beginning/intermediate harmonica enthusiasts, including demonstrations of Lone Wolf Harp pedals by owner Randy Landry, Steve "Fess" Schneider's amplified harp tutorial, Michael Rubin's "Meat and Potatoes" instructional, and Sonny Boy Terry's beginner's lessons. All attendees will have a chance to jam with the professionals.

The pro showcase will be headlined by renowned blues harp master, RJ Mischo. Gulf Coast legend, Paul Orta will also be onboard with some real "Old School" blues whomping. Filling out the bill will be Sonny Boy Terry's band, Christian Dozzler, and Michael Rubin. Stay tuned. I'll post more information later.

The Bugle Boy Presents "Pocket Full of Soul"
If you need a harmonica fix sooner, then The Bugle Boy in La Grange, Texas will host a showing of the critically acclaimed harmonica documentary, Pocket Full of Soul, presented by the Houston Blues Museum on Sunday, August 24. The event will include a harmonica presentation and clinic by Houston blues harpman, Steve Krase. For more information go to: The Bugle Boy has gained a reputation as one of the finest music listening rooms in Texas. "How, how, how, how, how!"

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Big Pete Choice Cuts

First off, let's not confuse this Big Pete with Big Pete Pearson. They both blow harp and both sing the blues, but this Big Pete's real name is Pieter va der Pluijm and he hails from the Netherlands. You'd be hard pressed to tell by his singing, which shows absolutely no hint of his foreign origins. Matter of fact, his vocal style reminds me eerily of Mitch Kashmar's. Solid.

Big Pete Choice Cuts from Delta Groove Productions is an All-Star affair with Kim Wilson, Johnny Dyer, Al Blake, Paul Oscher, Kirk Fletcher, John Marx, Mojo Mark, Shawn Pittman, Kid Ramos, Rusty Zinn, Malcolm Lukens, and Rob Rio lending their estimable talents in guest spots. Now, such discs can be a mixed bag with too many spoons stirring the chili, but if anyone can pull it off, it's Randy Chortkoff, Delta Groove's chief, who has done such for a few years now with The Mannish Boys. No telling who'll end up playing with those cats.

According to Scott Dirks' liner notes, after hearing Big Pete in action Chortkoff got him to the States and onto the stage at the Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival. It looks to me that half the musicians at the fest followed Big Pete into the studio after that for a three day recording session of these choice cuts, but the core unit here is Alex Schultz (guitar), Willie J. Campbell (bass), and Jimi Bott (drums). Big Pete is an unabashed disciple of Lester Butler, and in fact led The Lester Butler Tribute band around Europe for a time, and having musicians on board who played with Butler, such as Schultz adds to that vibe. The first song on the disc is Butler's "Driftin'" with Botts' opening whomps driving the hell out of the tune. Big Pete proves he knows his book of Butler right off the bat, complete with a soaring, high energy crescendo to top off the song. He adds the same style where it's least expected, such as on the Jody Williams' tune, mostly associated with Billy Boy Arnold, "I Was Fooled". His harp takes the song where it's never been before, proving that he just may be Butler's heir apparent.

BUT, Big Pete is far from being a one trick pony, enslaved by the master's blasting. A peek at this link points out just how diverse this young Dutchman really must be:
He lays his harp down on Albert King's "Can't You See What You're Doing To Me" and allows Schultz to strut his stuff, who quotes King's licks, but plays it far from by the numbers. He lets Kim Wilson do his thang on Jimmy Rogers' driving shuffle, "Act Like You Love Me", while he sings the Chi-Town classic like he owns it. He revs the engine with some full chordal whomping and tongue slaps on Slim Harpos' seldom covered swamp rocker, "Don't Start Me Crying Now", with Schulz playing rapid, lights out licks. He relinquishes harp duties to Al Blake, he of the Hollywood Fats Band, on a straight up version of Big Otis Smothers, "Got My Eyes On You" with that wonderful "Green Onions" groove.

He whips out some Junior Wells' style acoustic work on "Hey Lawdy Mama" and absolutely turns Kirk Fletcher loose to do, well, what Fletcher does best, tear up the fret board. Who, by the way, also yanks out some stinging, stabbing leads on Muddy Waters' "Just To Be With You", credited to someone named Roth Bernard. Big Pete also takes his acoustic chops on a ride with a down the river take on Willie Dixon's "I'm A Business Man", which is highlighted by the Hammond B3 swirls from Malcolm Lukens.

He does rip into Little Walter's "Just Your Fool" as if Butler's ghost was standing by his side, egging him on to get down with it, but then he turns around with the big chromatic to do William Clarke's "Chromatic Crumbs" justice, and then he goes deep down in the alley with the Howlin' Wolf's "Rockin' Daddy". Kid Ramos rips and roars with a dirty tone that evokes the spirit of Pat Hare. The Mannish Boys connection to the proceedings arrives with vocals from Johnny Dyer on Jimmy Rogers' "Left Me With A Broken Heart", while Big Pete's harp dips, dives, and swoops through the song.

So, yeah, Lester Butler just might have influenced the young Pieter van der Pluijm to put down guitar and put the blues harp to his lips, but this disc proves that he has a whole lot more in him than being stuck playing in tribute. This All Star affair is definitely his show, and he proves he belongs in that elite group of musicians. 'Nuff for now.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Devil's Blues

Just a quick, but important, announcement regarding the further adventures of the blues slinging, crime fighting duo of Mitty Andersen and Pete Bolden. The Devil's Blues has officially replaced Soldiers of Satan as the title of my new thriller, due out from Barking Rain Press in the Fall of 2012. Stay tuned.

By the way, I'm getting some nice feedback from those in the blues community who have read River Bottom Blues. Their comments mean the world to me. So maybe I got it right. Grab a copy and let me know.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Thriller and Marcia Ball

The blues playing, crime fighting duo of Mitty Andersen and Pete Bolden will continue fighting dastardly evil in my second novel, Soldiers of Satan. It has just been offered a publishing contract and should be available in the Fall of 2112.  I'll post more about my new thriller down the road.

I'll be sharing my thoughts on "Writing What I Know" as a guest writer on Buried Under Books' Blog.  Great site, by the way.

I'll be signing copies of River Bottom Blues at beginning at 2pm on April 14. It is in conjunction with the city's Mance Lipscomb annual birthday bash with Marcia Ball pitching a free concert. Should be a fine time. 'Nuff for now

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ronnie Shellist--'til Then

Chock full of it. That's what it is. Ronnie Shellist's 'til Then is chock full of superb blues harp being displayed in a variety of blues grooves. He lays out danged nice acoustic tone on the cautionary tales "One Day" and "Three Days", the jumpin' diddy swing of "Shoes", and Sonny Boy Williamson II's "Eyesight to the Blind" (the only cover other than Little Walter's Last Night. He nails both by the way.). He starts "Evil Woman" acoustic then switches to his mic for some mighty deep toned amped up grooves. Gerry Hundt, who has accompanied Nick Moss and has his own release on Moss' Blue Bella records, proves he's one of the leading practitioners of blues mandolin on "Shoes" (which is a showcase for his pickin') and the SBWII number. He does the deep blues acoustic guitar thing on "Three Days", as does Shellist. Even though my main thang is the deep, fat backed amped up stuff, Shellist sure wins me over with his acoustic tone, note choices and runs, especially on "Three Days".

Oh, but Shellist does knock it out of the park with his techniques while cupping a microphone in his hand. As well he might. He's one of the most sought after instructors of the instrument and runs a website devoted to such instruction at I witnessed just what sort of player he was at Sonny Boy Terry's Harmonica Fest and Clinic in Houston last summer. He floored me with his tone and expertise on the mouth harp and this is the CD release that does justice to what he exposed me to back then.

He runs through a rousing shuffle on the opener, "Knockin'", and sets the bar for what's to follow with his deep, deep bends, full on octave runs and all of what one expects from a blues harp professional. An epiphany for me was the guitar slinging of Jeremy Vasquez, who lights up a solo on this first tune. Throughout the disc, he and Hundt swap off leads and rhythms that'll provide plenty of pleasure for blues guitar fans from the minor keyed, "Bad News", the funky grooves of "Found You", the shufflin' gem "Trust Is Gone" and, well, the entire program. Shellist proves his third position metal on "Bad News" with some nice inventive runs and bottom end boom.

While Hundt does a Curtis Mayfield thang on "Evil Woman", Marquez picks up the torch and shakes the hell out the tune. Shellist goes particularly deep and fat once he switches from acoustic. They let it all hang out, though, on the instrumental, "Mook", with Hundt doing the boogie, while Marquez smokes the leads. Shellist's high end work is to die for, but when he and Marquez start bouncing lead notes off each other, then the party really gets crankin'.

The title tune, "'til Then", exemplifies Shellist's skills at turning a lyric or two...'til Then, my life is hanging by a thread, which is a driving tune held down pat by drummer, Bob Carter, and bassist, Todd Edmunds. Hundt lays down some effective Jimmy Vaughn style guitar swinging on this one.

I could drag this out and attempt to describe all the various harp styles and techniques (tongue slaps, octaves, flutters, double stops, deep bends, trills, warbles, note runs, etc...) that Shellist is superb at summoning at will, but things would get pretty darned repetitive. He certainly doesn't display his chops for the sake of displaying his chops, but he darn sure has the chops. Let's just say that this one is nirvana for blues harp afficionados and leave it at that. Get it at 'nuff for now.

P.S.--FLASH for blues fans in Houston. Ronnie Shellist and the fabulous blues guitarist, Holland K. Smith will hold court at The Big Easy, 5731 Kirby Dr on May 25.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mo' River Bottom Blues Signing Events

Just a quick note to update my quest to meet readers in person and promote River Bottom Blues (and maybe sell a copy or two). It does my heart good that the word is getting out to the blues harmonica community. Many blues harp brethren, who have read my book, have sent me very kind and favorable e-mails indicating that they love my murder mystery. Once one bares their soul and puts out a story for all to read, getting such positive comments makes it all worthwhile.

That sort of feedback certainly lets me know that I just might have gotten it right. I welcome ALL comments from my readers. Anyone who has had the opportunity to take a spin with Mitty Andersen and Pete Bolden's quest to catch the killers of their close friend, feel free to contact me at richardbush.bush at gmail dot com or rkbush51 at att dot net. If so inclined, leave a short sentence or two on the book's site on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Just takes a minute and helps sales. Now, on to the reason for this blatant self promotional.

The Mobius Coffeehouse signing was a great debut book launch in Brenham. A lot of old friends dropped by and I met a slew of new ones.

The Book Nook--has been added to my signing journey on March 17 from 1-3 at 106 S. Douglas, Brenham, Tx. Swing into town, check out the crops of bluebonnet flowers in the area, and come by and see me.

The Navasota Blues Alley--has agreed to host my signing on April 14 during the city's Mance Lipscomb Birthday Bash at 129 E. Washington Ave, Navasota, Tx. Should be a fine time with Marcia Ball entertaining for FREE.

Murder By The Book--Houston's premier book store specializing in mysteries has lined up May 31 6:30 pm for me to hawk River Bottom Blues in the big city at 2342 Bissonet St, Houston, Tx. FROM there, I'll head over to the Houston Blues Society's monthly jam hosted by the best blues club in the city, The Big Easy at 5731 Kirby Dr., Houston, Tx. I'll be able to blow a little blues harp and visit with blues fans about my book.

The Hasting book signing in College Station, Tx on March 24, which I mentioned earlier is still on from 1-3 also. Okay, 'nuff for now.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Little Elmore Reed Blues Band

"Honey, you've got to get out more", is what the white hair matron says to those that she feels needs a casino fix. I don't do casinos, but she's on the money when it comes to me needing to get out there and listening to some "live" blues. That way I'd probably already have been over to Austin to hear The Little Elmore Reed Band.

No, there is no Elmore Reed in the band, just a conglomerate of some of the finest musicians playing some of the finest blues. To be honest, the reason I bought this release was because I thought that Greg Izor was blowing some of his deep toned magic on blues harp, because my research told me that he played with these cats around Austin. I reviewed Greg's debut CD on the blog here and then caught what he can do live at Sonny Boy Terry's Harp Fest last summer. Impressed I was.

Greg doesn't blow here, but Dale Spalding opens the disc, blowing like hell on a tune credited to guitarist Willie Pipkin called, "The G.P. Blues", and I'm assuming that it is a tribute to the legendary harp man, Gary Primich and is a kick butt instrumental. See, I've never heard of Dale Spalding, but since the disc cover indicates a man of my advance tenure in the world, I'd say that he's been on the blues scene quite some time; especially since his technique on the blues harp is fat backed and stone solid of tone. He immediately jumps into Sam Myers' "My Love Is Here to Stay" next with chops that'd make old Sam rise up and smile. Not sure who's impressive vocals carry the tune, because Pipkin, Spalding, and Mike Keller are all listed as vocalist and individual songs aren't credited. I'm voting for Spalding since it is a harp centric song and I've heard the other two sing before. Same with "I Can Tell". Deep toned harp thrown down there too. The man can play and sing (if it's his voice). I gotta get out more.

I mentioned on the Izor review that I'd seen Willie Pipkin play with the South Texas Jug Band at Conroe's Crighton Theatre a few years back, and even though they are far from being a blues band, they played some bluesy stuff a time or two and Pipkin's blues bending was substantial, as it was in support of Izor. As on the Izor disc, he works in tandem with blues guitar wizard, Mike Keller, which is another reason I bought this. Keller, who hits the road with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, has been one of my favorite blues guitarist for quite awhile. Those two guys bounce guitar licks off each other like Chinese ping pong artists. Don't know who is doing the reverb drenched pulls on "I Can Tell", but they're slaying it. The ripping leads on "Young Girl" is most likely Keller, since it's his song, but then again he may be deferring to Pipkin, since he's singing the rocking' tune.

"It's Wrong" is a Louisiana swamper by Earl King and Spalding pulls out some of his nastiest, dirtiest licks before giving way to low down string bending by one of those guys. Since these guys don't care if I know who's doing the singing and I guess it doesn't matter, but I'll guess Pipkin.

Guessing Pipkin on "School Girl", which is driven by drummer and bass man, Mark Hays and J.P. Whitefield respectively....and drive it they do. Spalding shines once more on the mouth harp with some nice bends on his runs. And someone nails the hell out of Muddy's slide guitar on "Country Boy", which, of course is tailored made for the harp man to get down with it.

The one song credited to Spalding is "You're The One", which convinces me that he sang on the early couple of the songs. He's got a solid voice for the blues and this shuffle is once again driven by the rhythm section, especially the cymbal crashes thrown out by Hays. The band turns Spalding loose on his harp and one of the string slingers picks it up and rips a whole through the tune.

I know that Keller is singing on his rollicking "Hey Little Girl" because I heard him sing it on one of Primich's shows and Spalding gets some mighty fine octave work going on, then Keller plays lights out on his Telecaster. I think.

Billy Boy Arnold's "Kissing At Midnight" gives Spalding an excuse to showcase his acoustic harp tone, which proves might fine and tasty chicken picking. It's a stripped down jaunt with an incessant groove provided my someone's one chord acoustic guitar plucking

Hell yeah, I need to get out more. I love these guys and now I know more about Dale Spalding. What I don't know is whether or not he's a mainstay with The Little Elmore Reed Blues Band, because I keep up with Greg Izor and do know that he plays live with them frequently. They seem to have a rotating crew, anchor by Whitefield and Hays, but what do I know. I don't get out enough. 'Nuff for now.

Monday, February 27, 2012

River Bottom Blues Book Events

Hitting the trail to meet and greet anyone with the inclination to drop by a signing of River Bottom Blues. First, let me mention that I shared a table with a great group of middle school students at their annual Authors and Appetizers event at Brenham, Texas' esteemed Giddings Stone Mansion. The purpose is to allow the students to mingle and hob nob with authors and poets from the area to show them that authors are "real" people and that they too can possibly do the same. True. If I can get it done, then anyone can. Each writer addressed the group with their stories about doing it after a fine lunch provided by the parents.

Mobius Coffehouse  will host my local book launch, for lack of a better term, this coming Saturday, March 3 between 9am-1pm. They have some mighty fine food to go with their mighty fine coffee. Great pizzas, soups and the best homemade bread ever to encase a sandwich. Anyone who buys a print copy of the book will get the coupon for the FREE eBook version from the publisher. BY THE WAY...anyone who has a coupon can get the Kindle, ePub and PDF format from now.

Those who have bought a book already, but would like it signed can drop by Mobius and I'll stick my signature to it. The Brenham Book Nook has copies available and I'd be glad to sign those.

For those who live over in the College Station/Bryan area, I'll be signing copies at Hastings Books, 2004 Texas Ave in College Station from 1-3 on March 24th. Get the word out to all those Aggie sons, daughters, relatives or friends and tell 'em to drop by for a visit. The book is in stock now for those who want to drop by and pick up a copy.

River Bottom Blues is now available at Amazon is both print and Kindle, Barnes and Noble in print and Nook, and numerous other booksellers such as Books-a-million, Abe Books, Powells, and Bookdepository and Pickabook in the UK. OR order it through a favorite independent book store.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

RIP Louisiana Red

So sad to hear that Louisiana Red passed on. I first heard him as Rocky Fuller on Chess, but it was Bob Corritore who turned me on to his latter day stuff. Noisy crowd sounds, but a might fine video here:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Juke Joint Boogie--CG&G

After posting this on facebook and twitter, I realized that I just had to paste it here. Ian Collard is one of my all time favorite harp blowing bluesmen and Collard Greens and Gravy prove the blues is alive in Australia.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Junior Wells and The Aces

Junior Wells and The Aces
Live In Boston 1966
Delmark 809

I can't think of any recordings of Junior Wells' that I don't have in my collection of blues harmonica greats. For me, this is a treasure, not because of it's pristine production values, but just the opposite. It is a live slice of Chicago blues, warts and all, as it existed in 1966. By this time in his career, The Aces had not been his band since he took over Little Walter's slot as the harp man in Muddy Waters' band in 1952 and Walter took the Aces on the road and into the studio. Brothers Louis (guitarist) and Dave Myers (bass), along with drummer Fred Below, became an important component in defining the Chicago brand of blues as much as the bands of Muddy and Howling Wolf did.

This is Junior Wells in his element, and is devoid of his James Brown jiving. His running patter with an appreciative Boston audience is helps provide a complete picture of this master at work. Most of the program consists of covers of blues tunes that are certainly considered "warhorses" by blues fans today, but
had not worn out their welcome yet in latter part of this decade. I doubt seriously if anyone cared that "Junior's Whoop" was a take off on Little Walter's "Mellow Down Easy", and the epiphany for me is listening to Louis Myers rip an extended solo on his six strings. Really solidifies just what a guitarist he was. That to me is the highlight of the entire proceedings...hearing The Aces tear it up on stage as a solid blues band following the sometimes unpredictable Wells. They follow-up this jumping, uptempo mood and get down in the alley with Jimmy Rogers' "That's Alright", and when he hollers "somebody, somebody, somebody", he's calling out for Louis to lay his fingers on the strings for a sweet 12 bar solo.

Of course, Wells is not going to deny the audience a rendition of his hit, "Messin' With The Kid". He kicks butt on the song that has become a staple of blues bands since. The audience eats this one up and then Juniors' applies his signature licks to open Big Arthur Cruddup's "Look Over Yonder Walls". Anyone who is unfamiliar with Wells' harp style, replete with rapid fire runs, double stops, triple tonguing, and full, bent notes, need to look no further than what he gets going here.

"Man Downstairs" is simply a nice reworking of what Sonny Boy Williamson II warned about in his "One Way Out" and even though "If Your Gonna Leave Me" is credited to Wells', it is akin to Wille Cobbs' "You Don't Love Me". But that's all alright, because that's the way the blues was done back in the day. You borrowed from your friends, threw down your own lyrics and called it your own, and in some cases could claim it.

"Hideaway", of course, is a guitar highlight played by every blues guitarist worth his salt since Freddy King rip it out for King Records and Louis proves that he really knows his way around the fret board and brother Dave and Below drive it into submission and are each given some space to kick it. It does become a bit of a train wreck after Junior jumps in with his harp, but they right the ship before it ends.

Get this for a piece of blues history that has languished in Delmark Record's vault for way too long. This, my friends, is '60s era blues at its best.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I've said it before and I'll say it again. Writing the damn book was the easiest thing about River Bottom Blues. The book rolled out "live" on Amazon Monday and I've been as busy as my Australian Sheppard chasing squirrels around the yard. Just as I get one problem treed, another scurries into view and needs my attention.

I've overwhelmed myself by visiting sites aimed at book promotion, authors, crime novelists, blues fans and any other spot on the internet that will help me spread the joy of RBB hitting the market. Of course, Facebook  and Twitter are "must do" social networking sites, according to the marketing gurus, so I must stay on top of posting there, which can turn into a total time suck sometimes.

Visited with a printer about promo posters, bookmarks, banners and the like. My publisher clued me into the fact that I have no clue as to what I'm doing in regards to their pixels, dpis, RGB, bleed sizes, etc...I just finished setting up a Paypal Buy Now button here and at Richard Bush Books so I can offer signed copies for folks that may want such, and create links to Amazon and Barking Rain Press for other buying options. Eventually, an e-book version will be offered online at various an sundry other sites, such as Barnes and Noble, so I'll have to revamp when that happens.

I just happened to spot the local radio station owner and his sports director broke down on the side of the road. I've known 'em for quite sometime and promised to drop a book by the station for each of them, and the Sports Doc reciprocated with an offer to run a press release. So, that was serendipity doo.

I've got a box of books due from UPS tomorrow so I can mail off copies to my relatives, who all have offered to buy copies, but I'll just have them promise to tell at least 100 potential readers that they need my book. I'm going to hand a few copies around the high school where I bent the minds of students for 29 years and see if some of the department heads will help GET the word out.

Gonna head back over to Navasota to deliver some books and maybe jam with the fine folks at Blues Alley. I crashed (unintentionally) The Blues Alley Blues Band's reheasal for their Chamber of Commerce dinner gig, but they graciously invited me to sit in with them. They play some great blues. The Blues Alley store just might host a book signing event with me.

Am I complaining? No, not really. I expected the work load to increase on the promotional end of things once the book was released and it's tiring already, but it's a good kind of tired. I wrote River Bottom Blues because the story was in me and had to come out. If I can share that tale with one other person, then I've succeeded. Never had intentions of making much money out of this gig. I've got another book, that I call Soldiers of Satan, ready to roll and now that I know what to expect, I'm ready to roll with it. Ex-reporter/blues harp blower, Mitty Andersen, and his partner in chime, Pete Bolden are back, battling evil in the world. I've started a third book in the series that I've set in Belize (maybe). So, I'm in this for awhile.

I've never intended this blog to be a promo page for my novels, but they do have a strong enough blues element that they do fit the theme here. I do promise, though, that my promo posts will be kept to a minimum and that the focus will be on sharing stuff I love about that nasty ol' blues music. So, expect a Junior Wells Live In Boston w/The Aces review real soon. In the meantime, River Bottom Blues is available at the links provided in the sidebar to the right. I'll send you a signed copy if you click on the Pay Pal link. You don't need an account.

Okay. That's more than 'nuff for now.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

River Bottom Blues Redux

River Bottom Blues--A crime novel for blues fans is due out sooooon!
Really. It is.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bobby Mack's Texas Guitar Review

I'm quite late with this, but, if you want to witness three of the "Best Damned Blues Guitarists in Texas" get down with it "LIVE" head to the Big Easy in Houston tonight (1/14/12) or tap into Bobby Mack's live stream at It's is definitely the next best thing to being there. These guys seriously bring it to the blue table.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sugar Ray Norcia & the Bluetones

Sugar Ray Norcia and The Bluetones
Severn CD 0052

THIS is more like it! This is what drew me to Sugar Ray Norcia way back when and why I've followed his career ever since. I've got most of Sugar Ray's recorded output, with and without the Bluetones, and I've always preferred the releases on which he get down and dirty, nitty and gritty with his harmonica tones the best. Oh, I've found his work with the Roomful of Blues pleasant, and his forays off into Sinatra-land enjoyable enough, but the straight ahead, down-in-the-alley blues is just where my blues taste buds reside. The low down, gut bucket stuff, and the scruffier, the better.

Now, for the better part of the last decade, Norcia would stick such a blues on his albums here and there, but Evening is chock full of prime cuts of nasty. All one has to do is listen to the two cuts that bookend the album to know that this is all about gettin' down with the grit. The Johnny Young penned opener, "I'm Having A Ball" fires a heavily distorted amplified first shot---and it's also heavenly amplified. Norcia is ripping tones out that sound as if he's trying to emulate what Pat Hare had going on with his legendary distorted blues guitar back with Muddy and the Wolf.  Norcia also gets a gritty timbre happening in the vocal department, which belies the velvety smooth chops normally associated with him. He does a darned good job of sounding eerily like the song's author, as the Bluetones employ some of that good ol' Chitown ensemble playing where everyone is threading their instrumental sounds around each other's grooves. Especially effective is orginal Bluetones' piano pounder, Anthony Geraci, who lays down a good Otis Spann impersonation. It the nasty that Norcia's getting from his harp that does it for me, though. I don't know exactly what he's playing through, other than he credits Sonny Jr's Four-Ten amp, but he's got to be processing some of that dirtyness through a pedal or two. That's my guess anyway. He gets down and dirty throughout the CD, but nothing touches the rock bottom grit coming out of the speakers on this tune. Perfect start.

The last cut "XO" is just one of those fine ol' amplifed harmonica instrumentals in the vein of his mentor, Big Walter Horton, or Little Walter, or whoever. Just kickin' sold lick after lick played like the masters played 'em back in those Chicago clubs in the '50s. It's apparent that he's having a ball and he shouts through his harp mic, "Let's take it home brothers and have a good time with it now".

In between, Norcia does vary slightly a time or two from the all out amped up harp assualt, such as when he almost made me forget Otis Rush when he lights into the Willie Dixon penned, "You Know My Love" with vocals that are just as deep and tortured as the original. "Monster" Mike Welch, who has been in and out of the Bluetones over the years, does just as much justice with his string bending. This is only one of two songs without harp at all added to the mix, but Norcia's vocals, like Rush's were, is as much of a blues instrument as his harp. The other is "Dancing Bear (Little Indian Boy)" with Norcia opening up with a Native American riff on flute. Sounds strange in the beginnig, but quickly segues into a swinging shuffle, with Welch's taking over with some nice Gatemouth Brown type riffing on his guitar. Another departure is "Dear John", as in one of those letters, and it lopes along pleasantly in a country/western groove with Norcia supplying some melodic, but still gritty harp runs.

He adds to the variety by showing off his estimatable acoustic harp chops on  the lowdown, slowdown of "Too Many Rules and Regulations" and shows his wit with lyrical turns like They tell you don't do this, don't do that/If you eat too many calories, it's gonna make you fat. He puts down the harp mic for "I Came Down With The Blues", which has a "Look Over Yonder Wall" feel to it and a Junior Wells' vibe. The title tune, "Evening", breaks out the chromatic harp for some minor keyed, laid back stuff. This, and the Dixon/Johnny Young tunes are the only covers on the twelve track program. The rest of the tunes showcase Norcia's skill as a tunesmith, along with the Welch penned, "Hard To Get Along With" and bassman Mudcat Ward's "(That's Not Yet) One Of My Blues", both of which are solid blues. Welch's number would fit well alongside of Floyd Jones' "Stockyard Blues" in the Chitown blues tradition.

Well, anyway, I do believe that this will go down as my favorite Sugar Ray Norcia release just because of the sheer number of times that he decides to get down with the nasty ol' gritty amplified blues harmonica. Oh, yeah, and of course he's singing his butt off  with a more gut bucket approach than he's ever done before. 'Nuff for now.