Fast Approaching the 17th LRBC October Cruise, Let’s Go Bluesin’

When I first heard of the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise I was listening to XM 74 Bluesville (yeh before the merger). I found the XM site more knowledgeable and played a more well-rounded soundscape of the blues. So one day I hear Bill Wax talking to Roger Nabor about this cruise that you can take that puts a ‘backstage pass’ in everyone’s hand. You cruise for a week and hang out with artists, play with them in jams if you wish, and it sounded like it might be too good to be true. It was all that and more.

Fast forward to now, this will be my 7th Bluescruise and I still get antsy and over excited as the day draws near. This is the last West Coast cruise for the forseeable future, so I asked some of the ‘repeat offenders’ about their recollections regarding their initiation into the framily that is the bluescruise nation. Partly because it is always interesting to hear what other people experienced and also to provide the ‘virgins’  a small guide to what they are about to experience.

One of the most repeated expressions that I have heard has been ‘life changing’ – being a jaded, native New Yorker I never quite got that – till I made it to the boat.  It did change my life in so  many ways that I am still experiencing the effects from the cruise. It introduced me to a whole new type of person – true music lovers, both artists and fans. The artists were so thrilled to be on a boat for seven days and bring their families (including children) and actually not have to travel from gig to gig. A big added attraction was that they could be with fellow artists in a comfortable and very creative atmosphere where they could jam with, watch and work with outside of the normal situations that exist for them. Oh yeh not to mention a boat load of fans, old and new who would become fans for life in most cases. Growing up there was always a barrier, real or imagined, between artist and fan, and I could not believe that I was on this boat and sitting on the deck across from me was Dion DiMucci, or that I would be jamming on stage with Tab Benoit playing the drums and the Roomful of Blues Band next to me ! It was like a fantasy camp except better.

But that’s only part of my story, more on that later. Let’s look at some of the insights from other cruisers as they looked back on that fateful first cruise and hpw it seemed to change their lives.
Wendy Schumer said  “It changed my life – all for the better. It opened my eyes to a community that exists within the music experience – my FRAMILY”.
Pat Dilling seemed to second many of the comments, ‘I have to agree with all those folks that the Blues Cruise changed our lives. We hang with a whole lotta new people and we go to new places, both on the cruise and off. We have seen so many great artists and have seen true legends of the blues, some who are no longer with us, but we got to see, hear and meet them! Kate and I approach the cruise differently, she’s more of a daytime evening person and I’m more of a 20 hours a day person. There are so many things to like about the blues cruise you almost can’t describe them all, because you keep thinking of more!

As it is a charter, this is not your regular cruise by any means. The boat is filled with 2,000 or so like-minded folk, who are about to become the best friends you never knew you had. As referenced by Wendy & Pat, a most rewarding aspect of being a cruiser is the connections for life that you acquire. Go to almost any festival (US, Canada. Europe) and you will see and meet people with cruiser gear on who have been on cruises also. Some of them have ben on the same cruise you were on but for some reason you have never met. Yet there is the instant connection when you realize the sharing of that mutual experience.
This also applies to the performers who recognize the cruise flags flying outdoors at festivals, or the fans wearing clothing from the cruise. There is instant recognition, as they acknowledge the mutual connection and often will chat with you, make stage announcements saying hi to the cruiser framily in the audiance and so on. Add to that the opportunites to be in a comfortable environment where artist and fan can share mutual experiences such as having dinner together, share an adult beverage, or go snorkelling in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean or Pacific Oceans.

The above sentiment was expressed so succintly by Kaley McAnlis Mish who said  ” I’ve always liked cruises, but Rodney Mish would be bored within 5 minutes of getting on the ship. He’s NEVER bored on the Blues Cruise. He LOVES it & I love to be with him when he’s happy. Win…win.” 

But that doesn’t mean that you don’t hit the beaches while there. Usually there is a blues festival planned on one of the stops with artists from the boat as well as some local talent. Warm water, sandy beaches, cool music – it’s hard to beat that combo. And as with most cruises there are the ‘theme nights’, but with the Blues cruise twist. Day of the Dead, Legendary Gear, Soul Blues Night and more where a surprising number of crusiers break out their finest alternative reality garb and promenade around the boat. This is  followed by a Parade on the main deck and ship-wide voting for best outifts from each theme which is tallied at end of cruise and awards are handed out.

One major side effect from the seven days of music (well eight if you count the pre-cruise party put on by the local blues society) and fun is the ‘perma-grin’. 
As Jim Campbell aptly states, “Yes we all have developed Perma-Grin! My life was forever changed after my first cruise in 2007, with Framily all over the U.S. now including Canada and Norway!
Gail Hyams Burlingame seconds that emotion, “Yes, It’s a constant smile. I didn’t have these dimples until the Blues Cruise. I remember thinking on my 1st cruise…Can I last 1 week  on a ship?? It’s the kind of experience you don’t want to end!
Marta Mantzouranis adds “we had the time of our lives and it’s been going on ever since. I was in awe and beaming with happiness that I could actually go see all these acts in one week and have a vacation at the same time. wooohoooo! “

Let us not forget that it is first about the music, everything else comes from that. So who will be on this cruise ?

  • Bobby “Blue” Bland
  • Bobby Womack
  • Elvin Bishop w/ Special Guest Mickey Thomas
  • Big Head Todd & The Monsters “Big Head Blues Club”
  • Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue w/ Tommy Castro Band, Curtis Salgado, Deanna Bogart & Bernard Allison
  • Charlie Musselwhite
  • Tab Benoit
  • Delta Guitar Slingers w/ Michael Burks Band, Vasti Jackson & Sherman Robertson
  • Tommy Castro
  • Ruthie Foster Quintet
  • Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers w/ JP Soars & Hydraulic Horns
  • Billy Branch & The Sons Of Blues
  • Deanna Bogart Band
  • Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band
  • Otis Taylor
  • Gaye Adegbalola
  • Cedric Burnside Project
  • “Girls With Guitars” Samantha Fish, Cassie Taylor, Dani Wilde
  • Eden Brent
  • Leon Blue
  • Scottie “Bones” Miller
  • Steve Willis
  • Lionel Young Band
    (2011 IBC Winner)
  • Laurie Morvan Band
    (SonicBids Winner)
  • Randy Oxford

that’s a damn good line-up. Imagine what it would cost to see these acts at a festival or individually, be sure to include gas, food, lodging and all that stuff and ya know what – the cruise comes up as an economical alternative. Plus you don’t have to drink and drive…think about it, if ya fall asleep on the pool deck someone will put a blanket over you.

So to be on this boat with artists of this caliber and friends who are like-minded and giving is truly an incredible experience, one that I would recommend to any Blues fan to try. They sell out very quickly and with that being said, they do maintain a wait list – get on it. The next cruise is set for January 2012 departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (sold out/wait list). A new venue for the October 2012, Puerto Rico has been added (replacing the San Diego voyage). Get over to their web site and see what fun times are awaiting you.

Earlier I made reference to life changing and all that – well being on the Bluescruise it allowed me to confront my writing demons, and as with all weights/burdens  – once you let them go they don’t weigh anything at all.  There are many other folks who have re-discovered or unearthed some activity related to the cruise and the music that has been buried or stored away in the closet for years. These talents are now seeing the light of day and are being shared with the community and beyond. I have an interesting story here and would like to share it with you. It is from Dee Wallace, veteran crusier who has experienced the ups and downs and life changing effects of the cruise….

“I took a lot of art classes in school – got interested in photography in 1981 on my first trip to Scotland and England. In 2006 I went on my first Blues Cruise and a new world opened up for me – that was the beginning of my wonderful life in the Blues community. In 2008 I lost most of the money I had in the market crash – this while I was on that October Blues Cruise…I had to get something going for real… finally last year I felt I was ready to sell my wares and here I am today working the necklace and earring biz. I got inspired by the colorful skulls and peace symbols I found – that coupled with 2 particular cruiser themes for this 2011 cruise – I Put a Spell on You and Harry Hippie – I got into skull and peace sign necklaces and then earrings….I have sold quite a few skull necklaces here at home to folks who celebrate Dia de los Muertos – one fellow even commissioned a ROSARY with skulls and onyx!!! That was really trippy to make – and he LOVES it. Pretty cool!”

So from Dee re-discovering her love and abilities in art, to Gail playing bass, and Leslie using photography to tell her stories with pictures, the list goes on. There are many more like these out there and all you have to do is ask.

So this Friday I will be flying out to San Diego, setting sail on Sunday for a week of music and fun with a grand bunch of blues lovers, who have grown to know each other over the years and readily take new members into the framily.
This is all accomplished with the ten Legendary Laws:
1. Once a blues cruiser, always a Blues Cruiser
2. Your backstage pass is in hand
3. Dance like nobody’s watching
4. A tequila sunrise is not just a drink
5. What happens on the ship stays on that ship
6. If this cabin’s rockin’ don’t come a knockin’
7. Ain’t no family like a bluesin framily.
8. Sleep when you get home
9. “Lick it before you stick it” – Denise LaSalle
10. Bring your virgin friends and have a friend for life!

Thank you Captain Roger and crew for making all this possible.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2011
photos: Leslie K. Joseph. LRBC

CD Reviews: Friends With Benefits

No not those kind of benefits, more along the lines of artists who are or have become friends over the years and have allowed me to listen to their new releases.
So here I have compiled a short list of some of these talented folk and hi-lighted their releases so that you might grab a hold on to them and enjoy them also.

Johnny Sansone: The Lord Is Waiting and The Devil Is Too
(Short Stack Records)

When I first heard Johnny Sansone’s ‘Poor Man’s Paradise’ (2007) I knew that this man understood the world’s dark side and how it was an eternal struggle to find the light of salvation. I have met Johnny several times and found him open, friendly and very charismatic, almost the other side of the coin from this taut release.

Working with Anders Osborne (producer, guitar, vocals, and additional vibes) and Gallatic drummer Stanton Moore, this 10 track stripped down and raw look at a life as it reaches that all important crossroads where one has to make the choices and decisions that will effect the future for a long long time.

Starting with ‘Sinking Ship’ if one takes this literally – you really don’thave to walk the plank on a sinking ship cos we all are going down on it no matter what. It seems to set the stage for what Mr. Sansone offers up in the remainder of the album. So whether it is a relationship, a job, and it’s sinking there’s no need for the embarrassment of being made to walk that plank. ‘Corn Whiskey’ is an instrumental that allows Johnny to showcase his excellent harp playing skills in a rough and tumble cut that signifies the title. He has become equally adept at both the diatonic and chromatic harmonica and knows how to get down and dirty with them throughout this release.

One might find these songs disturbing and too dark and primal for casual listening, but I urge you to put this baby on and listen to it. His handling of this time in his life is laid out here for us to listen to and be part of the resolution. ‘Johnny and Janie’ paints a picture of the fragility of what appears to be a strong, unchallenged man and how a love gone bad can make him do desperate things. The title track is just a raucous New Orleans romp with sharp overtones of menace and once again the subject of choice and how it is up to the individual to make the choice – but ya better make the right one cos ‘the lord is waiting and the devil is too’.

This fine release is unlike anything else Mr. Sansone has previously shared with us.  This is his 6th release and the very first that features him on harp only. It is modern, yet strongly connected to past both in theme and sound. Within the framework of this release Mr. Sansone proves his worth lyrically, vocally and instrumentally. A good candidate for nominations across the Blues field I cannot be happier for him.

Grace Askew & The Black Market Goods
(self titled and released)

Davis Coen was kind enough to introduce me to Ms. Grace Askew in Memphis while attending the Blues Music Awards this year. A friendly, cheerful young lady who is performing constantly in one of the best musical cities in America.

What I didn’t expect was the depth of her work here on this disc. This release captures a wide range of music – music which I refer to as American Roots music – incorporating Blues, Alternative Country, and a dash of alternative modern. With these 11 cuts Ms. Askew treats us to some of the more sultry vocals that I have heard of late. Her voice falls somewhere between Etta James, Tom Waits and Neko Case. That is not a bad thing.

‘Been Broken Too’ and ‘Go My Way’ are two of the bluesier tunes. With a solid swampy feel Ms. Askew and the band paint pictures that are more complex than we first realize. Like a fine dinner offering from a top notch chef, we at first, take in the general appearance (sound wise) then as we begin to immerse ourselves in it we only then fully appreciate what is being presented to us. ‘Midtown‘ offers us a musical film-noir commentary on the urban landscape and it’s inhabitants that could exist in almost any inner city neighborhood.

There is so much to be enjoyed on this release (10 of the 11 are originals and 1 is co-written with Davis Coen). I firmly believe that we need to embrace what these young, talented artists are bringing into the Blues – without them I fear the tent will not grow and wither from inside.

Bobby Radcliff: Freaking Me Out
(Krellno Records)

I was first introduced to Mr. Radcliff through Mr. Brad Vickers at Kenny’s Castaway’s in NYC earlier this year. A quiet man who gave no hint at the powerful playing he was capable of.

Blues man Bobby Radcliff spent quality time back in the 60’s with ‘Magic Sam’ Maghett which bound him forever to that raucous mixture of deep blues and flashy funk that was seemed to define the sound of Chicago’s West Side. He is a throw-back, old-school, hard-core blues-funk (I wanted to see how many hypens I could use!) master.

Slip this CD into the player and stand back, ‘Invisible Man’, the first cut, screams out the blues at it’s best. With the current re-discovering of The Butterfield Blues Band, Mike Bloomfield and bands like PG&E we don’t need to look any further than Bobby for current, alive and vital sounds that made that era one of the most exciting around. Backed by Chris Matheos laying down some of the funkiest bass-lines in town, and Robert Danielson on drums putting the heat in the beat we immediately get comfortable because we feel like we have heard these songs before.

‘Quake’ is a hard driving instrumental that changes gears but holds the road with aplomb like a classic car. His rapid fire picking straddles the line between country, rock and blues and displays a sensitivity to the piece that sets him apart from many of his contemporaries. ‘Black Hearted Woman’ finds Mr. Radcliff in a very comfortable blues set-up. His vocal treatment lands somewhere between parched and warbly – but it fits so perfectly with the lyrics and overall feel of the tune that we wonder how he decided on that approach. A personal favorite is ‘Picking On Me’ just a fun shuffle relating the constant annoyance from someone who if they keep it up will leave nothing behind of the victim (the singer). ‘Bad Dreams’ harkens back to Michael Bloomfield and the Butterfield Blues Band – there is that sound that says 60’s white boy blues – but it’s real, not an attempt to re-create it for gain or recognition. Bobby has this down pat, from the reverb to the dry tonal quality this baby you know he is laying it out there for us to enjoy.

A refreshing track finishes off the disc ‘Billy’s Nocturn’, an instrumental that reshapes our concept of what an instrumental could be, a feeling of Danny Gatton, and Roy Buchanan permeates the sound and guitar work. Quality work that is at once lyrical and strong, this is a most pleasant composition to ride into the sunset with. I just have to say any artist who can put a painting of ‘Dirty Harry’ as the cover art and call the release ‘Freaking Me Out’  has me on their side, it just is so cool on so many levels !

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2011
photos: Courtesy of artists.

Interview: Walter Trout on Perception, Reality and Inspiration.

Had a great conversation with Walter Trout, it is always amazing when one speaks with these artists as to how much they will share with us. They truly love and appreciate the fans and the above all the music is their reason for living. Walter offers us some interesting looks at his inspirations (good and bad), life and it’s changes and several nuggets that I certainly didn’t expect. Please enjoy our conversation….

You are originally from the Jersey Shore area, one of my favorite places to be, but what’s up with that TV Show ?
I watched that show for five minutes once, and said these are not the people I grew up with. But here I am in Huntington Beach, CA. So . . .

I agree, what are they trying to sell us ….
Are you recording this ?

Yes I am.
Great, you can quote me as to exactly what I am saying. I did an interview with a major publication and the guy said “…I don’t need to record or take notes”. He had asked me about authenticity, and I said if you’re talking about the real authentic blues – I am not an old black guy from Mississippi and I never will be. So I have to play what’s in my heart and be honest with myself and if I can look in the mirror and say that was me without a facade or a front then that’s authentic. So when they published the interview he had me saying “authenticity is not honest”. He completely turned it around. I was dumbfounded.

I had the chance to see you perform at the BMA’s, the required fifteen minutes, it was great, a tad late in the evening but well worth the wait.
Yes, they gave me fifteen minutes and in front of the stage they have a counter, when I left the stage I had thirty seconds left.

What were those selections, they were captivating?
I opened the set with a pretty hard rockin’ number called ‘Maybe a Fool’ which is the opening track of my ‘Common Ground’ CD. Then I ended it with ‘Common Ground’ which is a softer number.

That’s what amazed me was the softer side – not necessarily what you are known for but the stuff that shows you can do anything you want and well.
Sure, what kinda gets me is that they always say he (I) just gets up and plays loud and really fast, but on every one of my albums there are soft ballads. I love ballads and they are there. People just look past that, also there are acoustic songs on each album. I guess it’s the way it is, I just keep doing what I do and am enjoying it and having fun, it really is up to the people to make of it what they will.

Walter, your music seems to reflect a ‘world view’ or have a ‘social conscience’ – without being folksy or preachy. Is this a conscious effort on your part or does it just come from within and is part of your creative inner self?
I am glad you noticed that, it is important to me. If you are talking about the songs I write – I will give ya two answers on serious and one humorous. I am effected by what I see going around me, and from I was a kid I always I have always thought that art can be a means of communicating to people and maybe changing them a little bit. It’s important to me to do that, to try to say something with what I am doing, something I believe in. that I feel, something I see happening be it heartache or injustice in the world.
Now for the humorous part….this is a true story. Back in 1976-77 (?)I had a girlfriend that I was living with, and I was starting to write songs a lot. I still had a day job. At night I was playing with Big Mama Thornton and John Lee Hooker but in the day I was working in a warehouse. I was starting to write, and one day she had a few drinks, oh, and she was a blues fan, but she said to me. “Walter, every Blues song has one of two themes”. I’m sitting there trying to write, pencil in hand, I say ”Yes, my dear what are those themes?” She replies “Theme Number 1 – My baby left me and I’m bummed out” and I say yeh there’s a whole lotta those. Then she states, “Theme Number 2 – I’ll buy you a Cadillac if you’ll sit on my face.”…..

Oh man that’s great ! Hopefully you give her credit for this directional advice.
I took that advice to heart, and have stayed away from those two themes. I still know her, she will show up when I play in Northern California and sometimes I will tell it from the stage. Well, she had a point – don’t fall into that typical rut, and I find that sometimes this genre can get a little too immersed in that stuff. When I was a kid, before I even got into the bands, my brother would bring home albums by John Mayall and he would write songs like the laws must change to fit the times. John always wrote songs about other themes. He wrote about politics and injustice – it always attracted me to his music.
I use that for an inspiration, you don’t have to be stuck into one thing just because it’s the blues. You can use it to say something.

I think that might be happening more these days, many of the newer bands are addressing those issues and playing relative stuff. . .
I have to ask how cool was it that your brother would play John Mayall records for you, and there you were playing with him.
I told John that when I got into his band. I said John I remember being a little kid and my brother handing me an album called ‘The Blues Alone’ by John Mayall, saying listen to this guy he plays the harmonica and overdubs it over the sound of a train. I really got into it back then, and here I am in your band and it blows my mind. I am still in awe of some of the people I have had the honor to play with over the years because they were such heroes of mine when I was a kid.

So how did you go from playing with John Mayall to going out on your own?
Well that was a difficult move for sure. When I lived in NJ I had a band, and it was still a four piece configuration, guitar, bass keyboards and drums. Played my songs, but we couldn’t get anywhere. I came out to LA with the intention of doing exactly what I am doing now. The original plan was for the entire band to come out here, but one by one by chickened out and finally when it came down I was the only one left. I said the hell with it, I’m gone.
I came out here with a VW bug, one hundred and fifty dollars, a Gibson 335, Martin D-28, a mandolin, a trumpet, and a Fender Super Reverb amp – stuck it all in the bug and just started jamming with people.
As it turned out, I got hired by people to play guitar with them, I went from one band to another. After I had been with John for five years – it was on my birthday and we were in Gothenburg, Sweden I believe it was ’88 or ’89 – I was standing up there playing with him, but started thinking that I was thirty-eight and being very lackadaisical about pursuing my own music. It had been very comfortable to play with Canned Heat , Mr. Mayall or out with John Lee Hooker, but if I wanted to make a stab at doing my own thing I had to go for it.
So after that gig I went to his room and said I would have to quit. We both cried, he was like a dad to me, so he said not to worry it’s your birthday and you would feel different in the morning. But I knew it was time, I had a very secure position with him, as far as being a side man and playing lead guitar in the blues you cannot get any higher than that – where are you going to go ? B.B. King, Buddy Guy you won’t be featured, that was the pinnacle. He made me into a name, put me out there every night let me sing, play lead and front the band. I knew I had to take the next step but it was frightening, one thing he did say to me was Walter if you do this and you fail don’t call me up a year from now. By then I will have a new guitar player and once you leave you are gone. It was said with love and respect, he has been through this a lot. To this day we are still friends, and I was talking to his wife and we realized I had just put out my twentieth album – who woulda thunk it.

With last latest release, ‘Common Ground’ it addresses what seems to be a growing rift in our society, and, possibly, the entire culture of acceptance. Is there no common ground left for us?
I have had that title and concept for that song for many years, and it was a ‘political song’, but I could never get anywhere with it. I realized that I had to get past the partisanship and make it a bigger picture
thing. I don’t know if it’s in human nature to actually find common ground, but I think that with the internet and cable TV it gets harder and harder to find. I think the attempt at coming together and actually solve problems seems to get harder and harder to do. With the information explosion over the last fifteen years it has gotten more difficult to discern what the truth really is. Rumors become truth, it is harder – but I want to be a hopeful, optimistic person. I want to believe that we can dig ourselves out of the hole as we have done before, but it is going to require some serious, tough action.
That song is really just a prayer that I put to music. Once I decided to make it a call for help rather than a pissed off political song it wrote itself in a matter of minutes.

So what did a young Walter Trout listen to as a young child?
One of the big ones in our house, and this was long before he had hits, was Ray Charles. It ranged all over the musical map, Bill Monroe, Benny Goodman, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Rollins, Elvis. For my tenth birthday I got to spend the day with Duke Ellington – how cool is that.

Can you tell me more about that ?
One day my mom said hey it’s your birthday and Duke Ellington and Tony Bennett are going to be playing at the theater down the street and would you like to go. This is the day of the gig – it’s like two in the afternoon – and we go down to get tickets and as we are getting them up pulls a bunch of automobiles and all these Black musicians with horn cases are getting out, and there goes Duke Ellington walking around the back of the theater. So my mom and I go around to the back door and she knocks and says to the security guy my son is ten years old, it’s his birthday and is an aspiring trumpet player and is there anyway Mr. Ellington would shake his hand or give an autograph. Off he goes and says follow me – we are escorted into the dressing room with Duke and the full orchestra. So there I am with Paul Gonsalves, who played sax and Pat Anderson – trumpet – so I ask Pat how he hit those high notes and he pulls out the trumpet and gives me a lesson. My mom is talking to Duke and Tony and they call me over. Mr. Ellington gave me advice and told me several things that have stayed with me through the years. Keep your focus on the talent and the music, fame is fleeting – just be an artist and loyal to your talent and gift and it will take care of you. It was an amazing experience, he was the most warm, kind and charismatic human being I ever met. I came away thinking if this is what a musician is then I want to be one. I just hold Mr. Ellington in the highest esteem it was one of my most blessed experiences in my life. I try to keep his words close, and believe I have done so.
The post script to that is five years later I met Buddy Rich and I thought I never wanted to play music again. You know, every night after a gig when I am in the merch booth and a kid comes up, I say to myself, I can be a Duke Ellington or a Buddy Rich. I am extremely concerned about trying to give those kids a positive image of what a musician can be. You can greatly influence a kid’s life with just five minutes of your time.

Can I ask about the Buddy Rich thing ?
Well let me say he physically attacked me after I asked him for an autograph for my father. He had to be pulled of me in a music store in Philadelphia. He just went off, calling me names – so whenever a new drummer comes into my band and wants to play some Buddy Rich in the system I say get that off and explain the deal to them.
Well that sucks big time, but it is in keeping with what I have heard about his reputation. I can also see your why you have such a dedication to being positive and reinforcing influence to young kids who come to your shows.
You will be touring with Popa Chubby in the ‘Giants Of Blues Rock Tour’, starting in, I believe, November 2011. What can we look forward to from you guys?
I think it is going to be fun and exciting. I have know Ted for years we toured Europe and we even made a record of that tour…Jimi Hendrix Tribute Tour… I think he and I will push each other to new heights and be there on the stage jamming out. There is even talk of us bringing it to the United States.

What else is Walter Trout up to?
I still got a lot of touring to get me through the end of the year, in October we are scheduled to make a new record. We are playing around with concepts. A few years ago we did an album called ‘Full Circle’ where I had a guests come in and we played live in the studio, so we are getting some positive response from some great musicians who are interested in this concept. That’s pretty much October, November and then it’s back on the road.

*This post originally appeared in BluesBlast Magazine a weekly e-zine that keep us all up to date with interviews and news from the Blues world.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2011
photos: Courtesy of Aigars Lapsa

I wish to take this moment to sincerely thank Aigars Lapsa for the use of his beautiful artwork for this article. Aigars is well-known in the Blues world for his photography. To see more of his work from around the world please visit thi slink:

Walter Trout Site:

CD Reviews: Music The Healer

So I decided that after Labor Day this year I’d get that long aching left knee scoped. Result is that the existing arthritis and meniscus tear taken care of. The issue of how do I spend my R&R time, led me to South Carolina and sun, beach and beer-can chicken (always a good remedy for what ails ya). Add to that mix some good Blues music and I am almost ready to hit the high seas once again at the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise end of October.
Here is what has been playing in the workout room, on the iPod while biking and keeping me company in the air during my return to Rochester.

Samantha Fish: Runaway (Ruf Records)

Right away – Down in the Swamp – a well paced riff-driven blues with the bite of a ‘gator exposes Samantha’s fine understanding of the guitar and how to make it talk to us. Continuing the aural display we are treated to an upbeat boogie number ‘Runaway‘. The title track keeps the feet moving and allows her to showcase her adroit skills at plucking leads in a tasty manner that enhances the overall mood of the song.

This is her solo debut release containing nine originals and two covers. Produced by Mike Zito, who co-wrote ‘Push Comes To Shove’ where he performs a nice duet with her in a song that is somewhat reminiscent of the Sue Foley/Peter Karp ‘He Said, She Said’ of a while ago. On this release we also get to hear Ms. Cassie Taylor on bass, who is one third of ‘Girls With Guitars’ (along with Samantha and Dani Wilde) who have been burning down festivals across the country this summer.

My favorite cover is ‘Louisiana Rain’, the Tom Petty chestnut, which is presented with perfectly crafted vocals by Samantha, who then adds some thick, sweet slide guitar that refreshes this well known to a new level – and it’s perfect played loud while driving in the car !

I first met Samantha on the an LRBC cruise when she had to step in for an very ill Danielle Schnebelen of Trampled Under Foot, she was outstanding and I believe that opportunity solidified in her mind what her potential really was. She certainly showed it to the crowd who loved every moment of her performance with the band.

Terry Hanck: Here It Comes
(Delta Groove Music)

There aren’t a lot of things to make ya feel good – or better – than a sweet tenor sax and soul filled vocalist. Well Terry Hanck provides all this and more. This is Terry’s 6th release, his first for Delta Groove, and it provides us with an outstanding collection of covers and originals.

Terry covers Chick Willis’ ‘Keep A Drivin’ layered with the languid feel of ‘The Stroll’ and some rough gritty sax work complete with background vocals. A stepping West Coast Swing version of Tiny Bradshaw’s ‘Train Kept a Rollin’ is a rollicking jaunt on the rails of good old fashioned Rock & Roll, and it’s way better than Aerosmith’s version (trust me).

As a songwriter Terry has always been capable, creative and most importantly – enjoyable. In what has become my theme song and expression du jour Terry has given us ‘Appreciate What You Got’. A poignant but uplifting homage to the current state of distress we are all living in we are treated to a scorching guitar solo by co-producer Kid Andersen. Then Terry announces that he will appreciate his own self and gives us a rollicking, swaggering sax solo that recalls the sound of King Curtis and has the feel of some fine old Memphis greasy rock & soul music.

Terry is one of the very best saxophonists around today. He has a complete understanding of where the instrument stands in history but takes it off the mantle and keeps it alive and well. His singing is deep and soulful and his music does what music is supposed to do in it’s purest form – make ya move to it !

Ian Siegal and the Youngest Sons : The Skinny (Nugene Records)
release date October 25, 2011

Ian Siegal is one of the most gifted singers and smart song writers that I know of. That’s a helluva statement to make, and by doing so I hope I don’t alienate people, but damn this guy puts it out there. I have been a fan of his for quite some time, first discovering him with his ‘Meat and Potatoes’ release (2005). Methinks I am not alone as he just won the British Blues Award for Male Artist of The Year.

With ‘The Skinny’ we see Mr. Siegal cross the big pond and come to America to record with American Blues Artists. This is a time honored tradition, done by such British Blues bands as the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Mr. Siegal came to the North Mississippi studio of the late Jim Dickinson, to record with Cody Dickinson (son of Jim), Garry Burnside (son of R.L.), Robert Kimbrough (son of Junior) and Rodd Bland ()son of Bobby ‘Blue) – all of them the youngest sons of their legendary fathers – hence the name reference.

The title track ‘The Skinny’ is a pulsing, grinding down-to-the-bone low down on what is happenin’ right here and right now – the skinny = the truth delivered in a menacing straight up rhythm. ‘Stud Spider’ is a Tony Joe White tune presented as a dark metaphorical look at the world of male/female relations. Robert Kimbrough’s solo is an incredibly dizzying venture down into a web of sound, only to be pulled out at the end by a rattling, clanking scratching at the strings that had seemed to have given up the fight just seconds earlier. No black widow feast here.

There is not a soft spot here, as come to be expected from Mr. Siegal. ‘Master Plan’ is a open pledge to acquire the apple of his eye much in the same way that ‘Ruby Baby’ stated ‘Ruby bay, how I want you, like a ghost I’m gonna haunt you’ but with more conviction than that dark pop song had. ‘Devil’s In The Details’ is a treat for us to experience the sound of some really fine Hill Country Fife and Drum music featuring Andre Turner on fife with some call and response added to fullness.

If you are a fan of Ian Siegal then this is a must. If you have not yet had the pleasure than this will serve as a proper introduction. It is pure Ian but served up with a raw and edgy side of Mississippi Hill Country Fried Poke Salad.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2011