Looking Ahead to 2012

Well 2011 was far more than I ever thought it would be. Seriously crashing into, and breaking thru the ceiling of expectations here at Blues411, with over 4k unique visitors a month, averaging just over 7k visits for the month of December – all I can say is WOW ! The “Jimi” awards alone garned almost 1k in hits on the day it was posted and had a slip- stream effect pulling another 500+ the next day.

With your help and continued support we plan on building on these numbers and looking forward to starting 2012 off right !  Feel free to share Blues411.com with all your blues loving friends as many of you already have done, as it is this word of mouth that is the backbone of this little home for blues news.

Here are some of the things planned for the end of the world as the Mayan’s knew of it . . .

Returning to Western NY to see what snow looks like, and realize that it’s pretty until ya have to live with it for six-months and it’s dark and gray and icy to boot.

With that in mind we are taking steps to change our perspective.
Starting with the LRBC #18 Caribbean Adventure Bluescruise, January 22-29  (SOLD OUT) but the October 2012, Southeastern Caribbean cruise has still some more spots left as does the January 2013 which is taking reservastions.

With a one-day turn around I will be heading to Memphis for The Blues Foundations’ amazing International Blues Challenge January 31 thru February 4, 2012. Be sure to check them out at this link and maybe get yourselves down here for a great opportunity to see over 100 bands from around the world compete for prizes and acclaim as they take over downtown Memphis for these five days. http://www.blues.org/#ref=ibc_index

Blues 411 is also opening up the door to advertisers who wish to be part of the official Blues411 family. Long time supporter Heritage Shortbread has expanded their base and are doing really well. They feature a great selection of hand made original recipe shortbread unlike any you have ever had. Check them out here http://www.heritageshortbread.com/ .  If you are interested in advertising on my site, just hit me up with an email or grab me on facebook to discuss the down ‘n dirties.

Looking forward to hooking up with some super artists for interviews, quick chats and just plain talkin’, plus all the great music slated to come out this year sure makes ’12 look really super. Thanks to all of you – the artists, the fans, the labels. PR and related folks who work tirelessly keeping the blues alive for us and the future generations.
Oh yeh, a special shout out to Mr.’s  Bill Wax, Tony Colter and Pat St. John at B.B. King’s Bluesville Sirius/XM 70 for believing in this project from the get go. Check out the home page to see what’s happening down at Lo-Fi’s ! http://www.siriusxm.com/bluesville


So Happy New Year to everyone out there and together we can not only keep the Blues alive but help to make it a vital and widespread around the world.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
©Blues411.com 2011
photos: Courtesy of organizations.



Blues411 ‘The Jimi Awards’ for 2011.

So with this, our second annual tribute to the releases that we have received at Blues411, and other stuff as deemed appropriate, we salute those artists, friends and fans who have made our second year better than I ever expected. Thank you all.

Last year we sat back and poured a Jameson’s, this year we are kicking back with a pitcher of our newest favorite Martini, “The Gingerbread Housewrecker” a tempestuous concoction consisting of Irish Cream, Coffee Liquor, plain Svedka Vodka, Gingerbread syrup, served chilled in a martini glass with a graham cracker crust rim ! Ahhh prosit !

Category winners are BOLD

Nuthin’ like live music to get the party started . . .
Best Live Release:
Sean Costello – At His Best – LIVE !
Tommy Castro, et al – Presents Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue Live !
Sean Chambers – Live from the Long Island Blues Warehouse
Louisiana Red & Little Victor – Memphis Mojo

There is something organic and basic to non-electrified music. . .
Acoustic Blues (Guitar):
Mary Flower – Misery Loves Company
Doug MacLeod – Brand New Eyes
Fiona Boyes – Blues For Hard Times

K.K. Martin – Naked Blues Vol. II

If we are going down the alley, let’s go with the best of the best. . .
Soul, R&B Blues:
Diunna Greenleaf – Trying To Hold On
Bobby Rush – Show You A Good Time
Soul of John Black – Good Thang

Jackie Johnson – Memphis Jewel

Grady Champion – Dreamin’
Sista Monica Parker – Living In The Danger Zone

While we are here in the alley look who came back . . .
Welcome Back Release:
Satan & Adam – Back In The Game

Johnny Winter – Roots
George Thorogood & The Destroyers – 2120 South Michigan Avenue
Savoy Brown – Voodoo Moon
Bobby Radcliff – Freaking Me Out

Still in that alley there were some great newbies to the scene. . .
Best New Debut Release:
Grace Askew & The Black Market Goods – self titled
Samantha Fish – Runaway
Peter Novelli – self titled
Paxton Norris – Something’s Gotta Give
Keith Patterson – Stone Cold & Blue
Davina & The Vagabonds – Black Cloud

Ladies singin’ the Blues is always so good. . .
Female Vocalist:
E.G. Kight – Lip Service
Gina Sicilia – Can’t Control Myself 
Cassie Taylor – Blue
Davina Sowers – Black Cloud
Maria Muldaur – Steady Love
Alexis P. Suter – Two Sides
Once again a very tough choice, rock, scissor paper double elimination decided the winner.

I need to freshen up my martini, be right back . . . .ahhh. . . . .

Slamming metal, screaming electric Blues ain’t just for men so here we go . . .
Guitar Hero (Electric):
JP Soars
Matt Schofield
Eric Sardinas

Samantha Fish
Ana Popovic
Laura Chavez
(it’s a tie or one from each – however ya like it to be)

If there’s a guitar, there’s usually a bass. . .
Badass Bass:
Scot Sutherland

Cassie Taylor
Johnny Ace
Biscuit Miller
Patrick Rynn

Those 88’s have been radiating like mad this year. . .
Piano Player:
Lee Pons

Ron Tanski
Victor Wainwright
David Maxwell 
Scottie ‘Bones’ Miller

Harmonica Player:
Johnny Sansone

Billy Branch
Charlie Musselwhite
Rod Piazza 
Gary Allegretto

Outstanding Combo (either recorded or live). . .
JP Soars & Jimmy Thackery

Rich DelGrosso & Jonn Richardson 
Watermelon Slim & Super Chikan
Chris O’Leary & Vincent Hayes
Laurie Morvan & Big Head Todd Mohr

 I need to get back to basics here. . .
Traditional Release:
Ben Prestage – One Crow Murder
April Mae & The June Bugs – self titled
Super Chikan & Watermelon Slim –  Okiesippi
Toby Walker – Shake Shake Mama
Brad Vickers & The Vestopolitans – Travelling Fool
Spencer Bohren – Black Water Music

Let’s not forget how the Blues is really an International art form, so . . .
International Release of the Year:
Ana Popovic – Unconditional
Sunday Wilde – What Man ? Oh That Man! ! !
Ian Siegal & The Youngest Sons – The Skinny

Carolyn Fe – Original Sin
Shelley Hardinge- Reclaim Your Land
Todd Sharpeville – Porchlight

Just cos the music has been so good this year let’s name a…
Song of The Year:
The Lord Is Waiting and The Devil Is Too – Johnny Sansone

Savior – Alexis P. Suter Band
The Ballard of Ray & Ruby – Ben Prestage
Facebook Mama – Greg Nagy
John Lee Hooker For President – Ry Cooder
Back To The Blues – Hadden Sayers w/Ruthie Foster

what a great selection of songs here, you folks have outdone yourselves- just stunning musical artistry….

So with that said, I’ve decided to name an album of the year. . .
Album of the Year:
The Lord Is Waiting And The Devil Is Too – Johnny Sansone
Lit Up – Victor Wainwright
Sister Vagabond – Candye Kane featuring Laura Chavez
Show You A Good Time – Bobby Rush
Hard Dollar – Hadden Sayers
Alexis P. Suter Band – Two Sides
loved every one of these releases, each of you artists are winners here, thank you so much for your music.

Where is it all going, the future is now and these artists have made the move to digital press releases, downloads and  more…
22st Century Distribution Channel Award:
Lee Pons
Nick Moss/Blue Bella Records
The Revelations featuring Tre’ Williams

Outstanding Fan of Blues411…
Cee Cee James
Sidney Earl Long
Dale Rates
Friends of the Blues
Randy Oxford
Pete Enright
Wendy Schumer

So another year shot to hell, what a great year it was.  Festivals, cruises, shows, travel and the common thread that runs thru it all – the music !

I cannot thank the artists enough for the time they shared with us, their music and their love of what they do.

Here’s to another sterling year for 2012 and let’s take a moment and remember those who have passed…….

Until next time, Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
©Blues411.com 2011
photos: Courtesy of artists

The Blues Foundation: HART Fund, helping out year round.

The Blues Foundation does more than promote the Blues, run the Blues Music Awards and the International Blues Challenge. It’s charitable arm reaches deep into the community and helps those folks who make their living in the blues when they need it the most. We caught up with Ricky Stevens who works with the HART (Handy Artist Relief Fund) Fund, while he was dashing between tasks and eating lunch at a waffle house in Mississippi. He was kind enough to share his time with us to talk about what type of help they provide.


B411: With the rash of passing’s of some of our veteran blues folk I see the HART fund mentioned a lot. What exactly is HART and what does it do?

RS: The HART Fund was established in 2001, by The Blues Foundation and actually started giving monies out in 2003. Recently this year we passed the $100,000 mark total of money given out by the HART fund. This year alone we have paid out more than $15,000 this year alone.

Our main focus is help blues professionals, and that is musicians, DJ’s, recording engineers people who make their living in the blues with medical, dental health care expenses. Unfortunately sometimes we also help paying out funeral expenses as well. This year so far we have helped pay all or part of  five funerals alone this year. We also help with things like dentures, bifocals, home oxygen – a little bit of everything, whatever people have the need for.

B411: So it’s not just for funeral expenses, it’s for the living too, if not more.

RS: Please I would rather pay out, as would anyone affiliated with the HART FUND, money to somebody that will keep them on stage and help them earn a living. I can tell you a short story about a recent case . . .bass player from a little bar band, no one has ever heard of them very local, going home in the rain, well he slipped going up the steps and fell on his face. Knocked his front teeth out, and had to have dental work done, wound up needing a full upper and lower partial. His daughter contacted us and asked for some funds to pay for the dental work. We got it and we were discussing it and the costs seemed a lot lower than what we thought the cost would be fore that kind of work.

So I called her and discussed it, and she said yes it was more money than she asked for, and I asked her why she didn’t ask for the full amount. She said she didn’t want to overstep and ask for too much, my next question was how did your dad plan on paying for the rest of it. Her answer was that her dad was going to sell his truck.
B411: Oh perfect – wrong.
RS: So we contacted the dentist got the costs from him and sent him a check and paid for the whole cost and got this guy new dentures. We heard from his daughter this week saying thank you and how grateful they were –  plus because of the dentures dad was able to get back on stage and get back and sing and play because of the dentures. What is amazing to me that we were able to put this guy back to work for something as simple as a set of teeth! One thing a lot of people may not realize about the HART Fund is that 100% of the monies received goes to help musicians and their families. All the overhead is covered by the Blues Foundation operating fund. If someone wants to send $5 or $10 dollars and designated to the HART fund all that money is going to go to the musicians and their families.

B411: How do we donate or designate money to the HART fund?

RS:  Go to www.Blues.org and click on the link that says HART Fund on the top of the page and click to donate.

B411: And know that each cent of the donation is going to the fund, not to overhead, perfect. With the holiday season upon us is there more of a need out there, or is it pretty much spread out through the year ?

RS: I can’t really tell. We had a slow first part of the year. But it picked up just before Thanksgiving we had several specific donation requests from the HART Fund. I should clarify one thing, I said that we are set up for medical and dental care and healthcare. There was one exception, during Hurricane Katrina there were so many musicians wiped out and in need, that we did make a cash grant directly to some musicians – we paid out about $8,000 at that time.

B411: On the web site I saw listed HART Fund Resources, what are they? I see a bunch of other organizations, do you work together or what is the protocol for them?

RS: A couple of things that we do, we work with several other groups. We work with Music Makers Relief Fund, Music Cares so we refer people back and forth – if people contact us with a need that really doesn’t fit into what we do we refer them to other groups. What we do with Music Cares is if somebody has some large expense that we would not be able to cover the whole thing we work with Music Cares to take care of it by splitting costs.

We are based out of Memphis area, so we know more about what resources are available there, but I have called dentist offices in California and explain what we are doing and they are more than happy to work with us.

B411: So it acts almost like insurance for these folks. What is your background, Ricky?

RS: I graduated as a REN in 1982 and have worked in healthcare for over 25 years. I have worked a lot with per-certification with the insurance companies and have found that if someone is willing to pay cash they will drop the rates. Even if they know that they will be getting paid they will work with the patient etc.

B411: So if I can re-visit the earlier question it really doesn’t matter when people give to the HART Fund.
RS: Yes true, it can be used year round. If they give us $1 in May it will sit there till it is needed.

B411: Is there something else the Blues Foundation does that might not be known by many of us?

RS: Well yes, there’s one other thing that many people may not be aware of. It’s Generation Blues Scholarship Programs. We provide scholarships for young musicians under twenty five years of age for music camps or workshops. The Pinetop Perkins Master Class that we have at Hopson every year we have provided scholarships in conjunction with the Pinetop Perkins Foundation. You can find that at the web site under the Generation Blues link.

B411: Isn’t membership free for folks under twenty or so in the Blues Foundation?

RS: Membership is free and they get newsletters and memberships cards as part of joining. It for folks fourteen to twenty years of age.

Once again we thank Ricky Stevens for his time and his work  helping those folks working in the Blues field when they need it the most. Please visit www.blues.org for more info and find out how you can help. If you are not a member and reading this consider joining at the lowest level $25. Tell them Blues411 sent you.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
©Blues411.com 2011
photos: Courtesy of Blues Foundation

Hubert Sumlin Tribute; Rest In Peace Good Sir.

A Hubert Sumlin Memorial Tribute and Benefit Jam was held Tues., Dec. 13th at Fitzgerald’s, a landmark Chicago Blues venue, which had a fantastic turnout from the Blues community! Blues artists, Blues fans, friends and relatives of Hubert Sumlin attending shared their talents and memories of the sorely missed Blues great Hubert Sumlin.

Key to organizing this tribute were Bob Corritore and Bob Margolin who both sat in on many sets with the long list of artists that helped make the night a successful benefit to the HART (Handy Artists Relief Trust) Fund in memory of Hubert.

Fitzgerald’s sends out many thanks to all of the great musicians who turned out to honor Hubert Sumlin and raise money for HART Fund. What a fantastic night of music and what a generous crowd! Not only did they donate thousands of dollars, but they pitched a wang dang doodle of their own. Fitzgerald’s delivery guys surveyed the wreckage the next day and said “what the hell happened HERE last night?”

As the word got out about this tribute the list of attendees and performers planning to attend grew to these Blues notables such as Bob Corritore, Bob Margolin, Nick Moss, Sam Burckhardt, Big Head Todd, Lil’ Ed, Eddie Shaw, Sam Lay, Taildragger, Mud Morganfield, Billy Branch, Zora Young, Eddie C. Campbell, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Tom Holland,Wayne Baker Brooks, Mary Lane, Billy Branch, Billy Flynn, Twist Turner,Rick Kreher, Bob Reidy, Dave Katzman, Dave Herrero, Harry Garner, Mark Wydra, Harlan Terson, Little Frank, Kenny “Beady Eyes” Smith, Jody Williams , Bob Stroger, Bob Margolin, Jonn Del Toro Richardson, Matt Hill, Willie Mays, Michael Frank, Richard Rosenblatt, Jon Hiller, Hubert’s nephew Gary Martin and many others. Thanks to the artists who came out to honor Hubert, and to the fans who showed up to pay their respects.

Blues411 woud like to thank Kurt Foor and Friends of the Blues for providing us with the photos and coverage of this event. Big love to them !

You can find Friends of the Blues here https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Friends-Of-The-Blues/189482004399270 on Facebook,
or Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/friendsofblues/status/148819030734667776 .

To view all 64 photos from the event please go to: http://blues411.com/gallery/index.php and click on the Hubert Sumlin tribute Link )should be the first one)

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
chefjimi ©Blues411.com 2011
photos: Kurt Foor, Friends of the Blues.