Photo Gallery: International Blues on LRBC, Europe

Man it doesn’t get much better than this experience. Any Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise is a guaranteed all out fantastic event – bucket list kinda thing !

With so many styles of  Blues being performed almost round the clock – Acoustic, rockin’ Blues, soft harmonic styles by bands and artists from around the world.

Featured here is Schroeter & Breitfelder (Germany) and Philipp Fankhauser (Switzerland), different yet each amazing in their own right.

%%wppa%% %%cover=11%% %%size=375%%
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411

Doctors of Documentation – LRBC Videos

There is an unbelievable array of talent aboard the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise – one just needs to just look at the line ups to know that. But there are also special moments that occur nowhere else, the jams – both scheduled and unscheduled plus collaborations between artists who have just net on the cruise and decide to have at it.

There are an amazing  collection of these videos available on YouTube, but I think it is cool that we can share them thru this page and maybe introduce some of you to what happens on the ship, and show why there is a hard-core band of ‘repeat offenders’ who   book passage on these one of a kind experiences. There are more folks out there besides the ones featured here but I know these two cats and they do a good job of documenting the events. And yeh, they are both doctors in real life – go figure.

From Dr. Chris:

Dion DiMucci & Debbie Davies jamming to“Runaround Sue” – Dion & Debbie joined forces for a one time collaboration featuring his songs from his current release ‘Tank Full Of Blues’ plus some of his greatest hits.

and to see how amazing his new work is “Holly Brown” off his new release

Lowrider Band doing their original tune  “Lowrider” Yes, this is the band that made these songs, what’s in a name, great groove.

Shemekia Copeland, Kenny Neal(v/h), Chris Cain(g), Bill Sims Jr. (g),  Byron Cage (d), Patrick Wilson (b) and many more in a late night jam this is the stuff you won’t see anywhere else.

Kenny Wayne Shepard doing classic “King Bee” – hard rockin’ electric blues.

from Dr. Howard:

Theodis Ealey w/LRBC Revue “Stand Up In It” 

Nick Moss & Rick Estrin doing a collaboration that was unscheduled but given a time slot – this is great ! 

Philipp Fankhauser there are also bands that wwe may not know but man they turn out to be some of the best we never heard of, here is an example of such -“Members Only’

I wish to thank everyone connected to this in any way, shape or form and as we all know deep in our hearts ‘we are framily’ !
for my personal recollection of LRBC #18 visit this page


Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
videos courtesy: Dr. Chris

At Home With The Blues-NYC Style

It is not often that one gets to ‘go home’, and it is even less likely that one gets to go back on their own terms. I was quite fortunate to be able to accomplish this bi-fecta (hah bet ya didn’t see that coming). On March 20, 2011 Big City Blues Magazine held a celebration of Spring at Kenny’s Castaways in Greenwich Village. It was a celebration of what might have been the birthplace of the folk revival, which in turn spawned talented musicians who have shaped our lives thru the decades and still do now.

Did I hear disbelief amongst you? John Hammond, Pete Seeger, John Sebastian, Maria Muldaur, Rory Block, more, The Holmes Brothers, The Lovin’ Spoonful, some guy named Bob Dylan. I’ll stop there, but you can do some research on it if you are still not believing, or wish to go deep on this. Check out the links at the end of story.

I grew up in NYC back in the 60’s, and goodness me, there was a revolution going on in the city long before it hit the media and press corps. The music was changing, it seemed like, overnight, Mr. John Sebastian recalled a night he was playing at Gerdies Folk City to a crowd of finger-tapping beatniks, when at the front of the house was but one, long haired girl, dancing what was soon to become the iconic dance of a generation. John, and Zal Yanovsky looked at each other on stage and mutually hoped she would return with her friends. She did. Within days the crowd had changed, gone were the beatniks whose understated coolness disappeared as quickly as it had appeared and they were replaced by ladies dancing to the music, becoming one with the groove and thus leading to the next great movement of American music.

All of this took place in and around Greenwich Village, a.k.a. ‘the Village’ which historically has been known to be the cultural center for Bohemian lifestyles. This has been the case since the earliest part of the 20th century when free (unaffiliated) small presses, art galleries and experimental theater thrived. By the late 1950’s it had become the spot for alternative theater. Known as ‘off-off Broadway’ it was in reaction to Broadway and Off  Broadway which seemed all the same and mundane at best. But quite possibly it’s influence on music then and now is it’s claim to fame.

Enough of the history but I felt I needed to put into perspective how vital and influential it was to be growing up in NYC at the on-set of the musical and cultural revolution that ran from the 50’s thru the 70’s, and may be alive again in the Village. I say this because on this past First day of Spring I was treated to an unprecedented display of some of the most powerful Blues performers in the five boroughs and at least three adjoining states could provide, all at legendary music club, Kenny’s Castaway’s.

‘With a ‘3PM till . . . ?’ notice rakishly taped on the front door, I wandered in about 2:30 to say hi and claim a spot in front from which Leslie and I could do our thing. We felt we needed to be up front because we really only knew one or two of the performers and wanted to be sure to get the full frontal experience from the bands. There were some folks hanging around both in the club and on stage, shuffling about and seemingly starting to feel the edge creep in, when suddenly the stage erupts into a fierce number by the Michael Packer Band that left everyone slack-jawed and wondering what just happened. With a sly grin on his face, Mr. Packer steps to the microphone and wryly states the obvious ‘Good Morning’. Ohh-ohh, I think it’s time to hit the adult beverage concession cos it’s gonna be a hell-raiser. As if in step with my thoughts, Eddie Jackson steps away from the percussion and gives us what might have been the anthem for the day/night ‘Back At That Bar Again‘.

Now that’s pretty scary – this was the FIRST band. Our music coordinator for the event was Dave Fields, and let me say now, that he did an amazing job of keeping the musical threads in line. There were 14 (give or take 2 or 3) bands that would play for this day and never was there a hitch in the fabric. Mr. Fields would have made a fine ‘shnayder’ which is Yiddish for tailor (or from the Germanic Schneider). Mr. Tailor, errh, Fields, took the stage and formed a patchwork coalition of a band with some of his regular players, and various friends and entertained the crowd with so much energy and excitement. He ripped into a bluesy version of Zeppelin’s Black Dog. A special visitor had arrived during Dave’s set, Mr. Pat St. John from Sirius/XM and WCBS-FM radio. Pat is a legend in NYC music, having been a D(isc)J (now a Digital J) from the beginning of alternative/free-form radio with such classic stations as WPLJ and WNEW FM. Pat was thrilled to see Dave do some good Jewish Blues, and was ‘verklempt’ over the ‘Rabbi Blues‘ which Dave wrote and performs regularly to foot stomping Hora processions thru-out the land. Part of his ‘entourage’ was vocalist and energizer bunny Ms. Nikki Armstrong who gave new meaning to the old Hambone Willie Newbern song ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin‘ ‘. Ms. Armstrong has co-authored several songs with Mr. Fields and they seem very comfortable on stage with each other. I must say that whenever Dave plays one never knows what he will pull out of his bag of tricks, a truly entertaining performer and quite exceptional musician, in my book.

An import from the Motor City was Luther ‘Badman’ Keith, whose guitar slinging and vocals were reminiscent of what the Motor City made famous. POWER. Sporting a street legal, modified guitar and a voice that reflected tones of Gas, Tires and Oil (the GTO in GTO) Mr. Keith to me would have been a better player than Eminem for that Detroit is coming back commercial from the super bowl. More real, more believable and way more plausible than a posturing wanna be could ever be.

The harp hit was Mikey Jr, and the Stone Cold Blues Band. Hard hitting, genuine, and fun are all words that you can apply here. Mikey can get some serious tone on his harps. whether they be diatonic or chromatic. His songs are witty, yet poignant and this guy knows how to command a stage, brothers and sisters. A solid band are the Stone Cold’s, but the guitar player, young Mr. Matt Daniels looks like a rising star, oh yeh cool shoes Matt !

At about 6:20 or so, we all were exposed to the Alexis P. Suter Band. Holy crap people ! A seven piece band featuring Ms. Alexis P. Suter as the lead vocalist, Ms.’s Vicki Bell & Linda Pino offering much more than background vocals, Bennie Harrison (keys) Peter Bennett (bass) Ray Grappone (drums) and sitting in Arthur Neilson (Shemeika Copeland) on guitar. Man were we ever un-prepared for this band’s performance. Stunning baritone notes ring from Ms. Suters’ diaphragm, as the ladies accompany her and fill in the cracks with soulful harmonies and stylistic shouts and moans. Each band member contributes to this effort, they seem almost as one giant quaking construct of the music itself. They are currently touring and will be releasing their new album in April.

The event’s honorees The Holmes Brothers received the ‘Happy To have The Blues’ Award from Jr., and Sugar. The running gag for the day was we were all ‘Holmes brothers’ and when they took the stage for a few unplanned numbers we certainly to a person ‘happy to have the blues’.

For fear of over staying my welcome inside your eyes and brains, dear readers, I will quickly touch on one or two more things that stood out for me. Believe me I could do just what I did above for every act from the show – they were all that good. That being said, Mr. Bill Sims working with a broken string early in his set, proceeds to remind us that the Blues is made for a guitar, bass and drums and that it draws influences from everywhere. To the point, his breaking out a bluesy version of Neil Young’s ‘Down By The River’.

Bobby Radcliff pouring his heart and soul into this set, backed by Brad Vickers on bass. Blue-eyed soul indeed.

Big Ed Sullivan attacking his nicely worn guitar with a half filled Budwsier beer bottle (I knew Bud had to be good for something) and using it as a slide and pick, then him and Dave Fields battling it out in ‘king of the hill’ fashion on guitars. Lest we forget the ever on the spot, right there when you need him Mr. David Keyes on the ….keys !

The aforementioned Arthur Neilson, just tearing the place apart with his hi-powered, talent laden guitar work. Did you know he was the lead guitarist for Blue Angel ? Yeah Cyndi Laupers’ original band…..just sayin’…..He tore through his original composition ‘Fenderbender’ and then moved right into Pipeline, hottdamn. Currently Arthur is with the Shemeika Copeland band.

Ok so here we are in the village listening to Blues and who should appear on the stage (another one of those who they heck are they) but Better Off Dead ???? It was like Nick Lowe, Dave Edmonds, Conway Twitty, Carl Perkins and Dashiell Hammett collided and this is what was formed. That’s a good thing ! Appearing as a four man band toweringly led by (great name) V.D. King (told ya) on vocals and guitar, assisted by Don Kenny on guitar (lead) and vocals, these guys just jumped the place and when they ended everyone was wondering what hit them. They are the undisputed demented dukes of musical mayhem from Jersey City, check them out.

For me the true telling of the tale came to light when Brad Vickers and The Vestapolitans came on stage. Featauring Margey Peters on bass, and vocals and a licorice stick/saxaphone artist who just thrills the crowd. Here we were celebrating the music that formed in the Village back in the day, and every band did their best, to honor that goal. But what was that music that was being played back then? In it’s most primal form, it was folksy, old-timey music that tapped into the rag time tradition. Brad and the Vestapolitans brought that to light with their set. With get happy, swinging music they provided the musical link to what was then, and is, now one of the most creative and avant-garde spots on this planet – or any other – the Village.

LINKS (in no particular order):,,,,,
,,,,, www.bigedsullivan.comwww.davekeyes.com!/Vestapolitans?sk=info

for more on Greenwich Village:




Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,

photos courtesy of  Leslie K. Joseph
© 2011


A Conversation With Ronnie Baker Brooks

This originally appeared in ‘BackYard Blues’ the newsletter of the Long Island Blues Society, written by Suzanne Foschino.  You can find them here, and Blues411 feels it is worth sharing with it’s readers.

SF:  What’s next for you, Ronnie?  are we going to see a new recording from you anytime soon?
RBB: Well, I’m writing, I’m always writing.

SF:  When you’re writing, what kinds of things do you keep in mind to keep your music current and keep your recordings timely?  
RBB:  What I always like to do with all of my records is view each new recording as a platform to grow from, to push myself to the next level with.  I’m trying to always be a better thinker, songwriter, guitar player, a better rhythm player, a better band mate…keeping that platform of growth has always been an important part of my philosophy in making a record AND I always try to push the envelope a little bit, but still keeping it true to the blues.

SF:  You say band bate, not band leader…but you’re the band leader.
RBB: When I’m recording, I’m a band mate…we all work together.

SF: And you write all of your music?
RBB:  Yes, I wrote every song on every CD I’ve ever recorded.

SF:  Why?  Why not cover some of the blues greats?  
RBB:  Mainly because my dad always preached to me and my brother Wayne that we should always try to write our own material because you can always play someone else’s stuff, that music is always going to be here, it’s already part of history.  He said, ‘you could always play Albert King, you could always play Albert Collins, you could always play my stuff, but when you write your own material, it’s YOURS…you can deliver it better, and it gives the generation behind you something to grab onto and hopefully they’ll be playing your music like you’ll always be playing ours’.  

SF:  So, that’s the key…I was going to ask you next what you think the key is to keeping it going to the next generation, keeping it new yet real, and prevent it from getting tired and stale, and that makes a lot of sense…you move it to the next generation by creating your own new music instead of constantly covering the old stuff…
RBB: when I do record, I try to keep the authentic feel of people like my dad, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, and update it to feel more like me, and more like the generation that I’m in, musically and how it sounds.

SF:  You mean like bringing a rapper like Al Cappone in to the studio with you to make a cameo appearance on your last CD “The Torch“?  I know he makes an appearance in the song “If It Don’t Make Dollars It Don’t Make Sense”.
RBB:  Yes, exactly

SF:  How did you end up hooking up with a guy like Al Cappone?

  I was down at my engineer, Nico’s studio, he recorded a lot of hip hop in memphis, and he was always cool with those cats down there, and I used a rapper down there on my CD “Take Me Witcha”.

SF: Which song from that CD has a rapper on it?
RBB: “The Flavor of the Week”

SF:  Oh yea, now I remember…so, Nico, your engineer works with Al Cappone?
RBB:  Yes, he worked with him on the soundtrack for the movie “Hustle and Flo”, they wrote a song together on that soundtrack called “Keep Hustlin”.  So, when we were looking for a rapper he said, I can call Al Cappone and he can get it done real quick if he’s available.  

SF: Did you write the lyrics that he raps? 
RBB: No, he wrote that.  I gave him the idea of the song, and what it’s talking about, and  where we wanted the music to go…and I told him I wanted to keep it clean, I didn’t want to be any cussin on it or anything like that.  He listened to the track about 2 or three times, and he wrote the rap.  Then he went into the studio and came out about 10 minutes later with the final rap.

SF:  Wow.  10 minutes?
RBB:  Yup, 10 minutes.  That’s what I mean, I do things like that, like bringing in a rapper, to bridge the gap from the generation behind me to the generation that’s ahead of me, while trying to keep it authentic

SF:  Right.  It’s like when I hear bands like Bon Jovi and Aerosmith talking about how they have two generations in their audience now…the ones who went to their shows back when they were in high school, and now they’re bringing their kids.  Realistically, in blues, people like you and Bernard Allison, you’re the kids…and you’re in your 40s (both laugh) so, how do you try to reach the 20 year olds out there who might be looking for some blues?
RBB:  Well, I try to keep an ear open to what they’re doing, ya know keep an ear to the ground on what they’re listening to.  my step daughter, she’s 19 years old and I pay attention to what she’s listening to and my daughter’s 7 years old and I’m even listening to the kinds of music that she likes.

SF:  Ok, I want to talk some about your family.  Your dad Lonnie Brooks, a member of the Blues Music Hall of Fame…you could probably talk for hours about how he’s influenced you musically…but, how has he influenced you as a human being?  as a man?  How has he taught you to remain grounded while you’re doing what you’re doing?  
RBB:  it’s easy to remain grounded when Lonnie Brooks is your dad.  As a kid, I never thought that I could do what he was doing and he would always say “yes you can, yes you can”.   and, ya know, when I was a kid, playing basketball, no matter how tired he would be, maybe he had a gig the night before, he would always find a way to make it to my games to be there to support me. He’s a great family man.

SF:  And I heard that he fired you when he heard your solo material for the first time?
RBB:  Well, no, he kind of fired me…I was in his band, and as I would say he kicked me out of the nest and he told me if it didn’t work, I could always come back.  And that’s what gave me the confidence to go out and try to go solo.  I’ve got ultimate, ultimate love and respect for my dad and my whole family.  I mean, I could call him today and he would still give me the right advice.  He taught me how to be a musician, a professional musician, ya know like, how to be on time and take care of your band, the fans, and how to take care of the hand that takes care of you, most of all, he taught me how to be a man.  He would always say ‘you’re a man first…you treat everyone the same way.  like if you’re a band mate, a drummer, guitarist, anything, you treat them as a man first, or as a lady first, musician second.  He was always preaching that to me.  

SF:  So, you’ve told me in the past that when you were young, you wanted to be a basketball player.  
RBB:  That’s right

SF:  What changed your mind?
RBB:  Bernard Allison!  

SF: Bernard changed your mind?
RBB: Ya know, when I was playing as a kid, I was playing with adults.  Most of the musicians who played around my house growing up, with dad and with me, they were all grown ups and I didn’t have anyone my age playing music and I used to get teased by my friends about listening to blues and playing blues music.  But, I just loved it, there was something about it I loved.  Most of my friends were into sports.  Kids my age were into basketball, baseball, football…

SF:  When you say “my age” how old do you mean?
RBB:  I’d say from the time I was about 9 till about 16 years old.  I took a break over those years, after I was about 14, I picked up the guitar again, but I took a long break.  and then, I saw Bernard Allison playing with Luther Allison at the Chicago blues festival here in Chicago.  I guess I was about 16 or 17 years old.  My dad saw Bernard and came over to me and said, “see, if you had kept playing, you could have been up there with me now just the way he’s up there with his dad.”  and it finally hit me when I saw Bernard…he was only 2 years older than me, and he was playing blues with his dad, and he was into it like I was.  I finally had met someone else I could really relate to.  So, when he came off stage I went over and talked to him and introduced myself to him.  And he told me he heard about me too and said to me “you should get up there and you should be doing it, too.”  

SF:  And that’s the first time you two had ever met? 
RBB:  That’s the first time.  And Bernard says he has pictures somewhere from that day.He said to me “I heard from your dad that you want to play basketball.”  then he said to me “we got enough Michael Jordans, we need more BB Kings.”

SF:  And you’ve been friends ever since?
RBB:  Yeah, we’ve been buddies ever since.

SF:  You owe him for that!  Hell, I feel like I owe him for that!  (both laugh)  I want to send him a basket of flowers to personally thank him for changing your career path. (both laugh). So, what are the plans for the next CD?
RBB:  I’m writing now…I’m always writing.  I never know when I’ll hit the studio…I don’t go into the studio until I know I’ve got all the songs together and then I move forward.  I’m definitely going to do all original material again.

SF:  How long does it generally take you to record a CD?  I remember talking to Bernard about this and he said he likes to do it in as short a time as possible, spend most of the time with preproduction and recording as close to “live” as possible.  In fact, he told me that his father used to say, “If there’s a mistake in the recording, chances are, that mistake was supposed to be there” which always means to me, don’t over produce the blues. Do you think overproduction is a problem in blues?  
RBB:  Everyone has their own feelings on this.  I try to capture the real feeling that comes from the blues, people should be able to feel your spirit through the music, that “real” feeling that only comes from the blues. You don’t want to over produce that, it’s gotta have some kind of rawness to it to capture it.  But, everybody has their different philosophies on recording.  I like to try to write a bunch of songs, try to cut as many as I can and then I try to choose the songs that fit the big picture for the CD. 

SF:  So, do you sit down and try to write?  or do you just write something that hits you out of the blue and then try to piece it all together later?
RBB:  it comes to me in different ways…like the other day I wrote a song and the music and the lyrics came to me at one time.  But sometimes just a riff will come to me, a guitar riff or a keyboard riff and I’ll record that and I’ll come back to it and try to put a melody to it later, or the lyric will come and I’ll put the music to it later.  You never know where it’s gonna come from.  On my last record, “The Torch”, I wrote and recorded 25 songs for that and released it with 17.

SF:  Where’s the rest?
RBB:  I still got ’em in the can.

SF:  Well, get ’em out of the can!!!  (both laugh)  What was the deciding factor that put those 17 songs on the CD and left the others off?
RBB:  I tried to put them together so the it flowed well, not just showed the individual songs.  The music has to all fit together in some way, the music has to flow.  Maybe I’ll release the rest of the songs on the next CD.

SF:  Why not just release the two CDs? 
RBB:  I know.  We’ll see…right now I’m working with my dad, he’s got a new CD coming out and I worked on that, I’m proud of it and I think the people are really gonna dig it.  And, my brother Wayne’s got a new CD coming out, too.

SF:  Speaking of your brother Wayne, I think he exemplifies the idea of bringing new styles of music into the blues.  I mean, he’s a blues based performer, but he’s got so many other genres and styles mixed into what he does, he’s a perfect example of someone else who’s really pushing the envelope yet still trying to keep it pure.
RBB: Well my dad preached to both of us to be ourselves and try to be different from everybody else.

SF:  What do you say to someone who has a strict idea of “what the blues is” and/or someone who might say something to you like “that’s not blues”?
RBB:  It’s just an opinion.  I used to try to so hard to try to please everybody.  I like to see people having a good time, and if I didn’t please everyone, it bothered me.  And Little Milton saw that and he told me once “you can’t please everybody, Ronnie.  But what you CAN do is start with yourself, do what you feel good about and what you feel comfortable with and the people will get a vibe from that.”  He said, “everybody is not going to like you.  If you see somebody get up and walk out in the middle of your show, just block it out, let ’em go…and concentrate on the ones that stayed.”  

SF:  That’s a good philosophy…work for the ones that stayed.  So, what makes a good crowd to you?  do you work better with people who are up and dancing or someone who might be standing there watching, maybe studying what you’re doing?…because the people sitting there watching could be enjoying you just as much, if not more than the people up and dancing…what do you feed off of more?  how can you read the crowd?
RBB:  I feel the vibes, but if they’re dancing, it’s a whole lot easier to pick up on that vibe. (laughs)   But then again they could be drunk and not caring about the music and just dancing.  You can feel it when the people are sincere.

SF:  I think you know that I’m one of those people that sits and stares, I don’t dance. (laughs)  I’m hoping you get my vibe, haha!
RBB:  BUT, you know, if you do something that really gets to the audience, they’re gonna do something to let you know they like it, whether it be a smile or a dance or tap their feet, clap their hands, whatever, you can feel it sometimes even if you can’t see it. I want to be able to take the blues to another level. I think we need another Stevie Ray Vaughan or another Robert Cray to cross into mainstream.

SF:  Well, why not you?  You’re equally talented to those folks, why can’t it you be that is the next person to cross that barrier???
RBB:  it really takes a machine.  You gotta have a machine behind you.  It’s gonna be done, someone’s gonna break through again, because the blues can’t be kept down forever. The blues is an education process…it takes time but the blues is always gonna be here.

SF: But us blues fans are getting tired of having to work so hard to find it.  It seems every time I turn on a blues radio program, I’m hearing people who have passed on, and I don’t hear enough of people like you who are out there now, working, trying to make a living out of it NOW.  I can understand having nothing but love and respect for the music of the past, but you can’t be married to it if you want to evolve and live on.  I think that blues purists might be stopping a little of that evolution process because they are so incredibly respectful of the past, that they almost don’t want to let it go.  so, where they think they’re doing some good, maybe it’s doing some harm.
RBB:  We just need some soldiers like me and you who keep on going, and keep on pushing until we finally break through in some way, but it will.

SF:  I guess if you require soldiers to keep it going, at the very least it means you end up with quality in the music because that means you’re only doing it because you love it and it means so much to you.  so you work hard to make that music, and us fans work hard to seek it out so we can hear that music.  I guess as long as we have that mutual love of this music, someone will always be making it and someone will always be listening to it…we just need to keep trying our best to spread the word and to increase the numbers of us blues soldiers out there.
RBB:  That’s right.  The blues will always be around.  It’s not going anywhere.

Look for Ronnie on tour this year, and can check his schedule at His recorded music is available for purchase on his website.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease 

photos courtesy of Suzanne Foschino & Leslie K. Joseph.