Photo Gallery: Blues411’s Best Photos of 2015

It’s Throwback Thursday for Blues411, well just a 12313981_1107230745954484_2619813449974241903_nshort throw actually.


The esteemed eyes of Blues411, Leslie K. Joseph has gone through her over 20,000 photos from the year and decided that these would be her best of the best.


This was not an easy task,” said Leslie. “there are so many different ways of looking at photos, and to narrow it down to just over a baker’s dozen, from my point of view is truly difficult”.


We here at Blues411 think she did a splendid job. What makes it even more special is that she included her thoughts on each shot. Divulging what she was looking for or what she was intending to do with the photo – that takes us into her mind set and that’s always fascinating.


Of note, for me, was the Sugarray Rayford shot with Willie C. Campbell in front of a crowded stage and Ray just being Ray is top flight. Then there is the pure soul and spitfire of Annika Chambers and the IMG_4898stark calm of Rev. Billy C. Wirths while listening to some early gospel roots of blues.


I also like the photo of Ronnie Earl. Those of us who have been blessed to see him perform can attest that this is the quintessential photo of him in performance. It captures all the fervent feelings, and the resident calm that is within his soul as he plays for us.


There are many more (sixteen to be exact) to be found on our Smugmug page – visit it here:


Hope they bring a smile to your face and a song to your heart as we move forward in 2016.


Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
 © 2016
 Where Blues Thrives
 Photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411
Photo of Leslie:  Terry Slagle

A Baker’s Dozen of Blues: April 21, 2014

A Baker's Dozen Of Blues

A Baker’s Dozen Of Blues

Well the taxman has been fed, the piggie bank is empty so there’s nothing left to do but look forward!
Our #1 Artist is Root Doctor,  led by vocalist Freddy Cunningham and a splendid band of musicians, they hold the top spot and we are featuring the song ‘Steppin’ In’.
Three new debuts on the Baker’s Dozen play list – Lisa Mann, wonderful vocalist and bad azz bass player from Portland. The simply amazing Holmes Brothers, bringing gospel and soul to our chart, and retro-swing blues band Blue Lunch Special. They all will thrill and fill your spirit with great music and show us the real diversity in the blues.

In the Chef Suggestion section we have three new additions. The Shane Dwight Band with a killer new release, IBC finalist Arthur Migliazza, who plays those keys with passion and skill. Our final addition is a new band to us Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers  bringing the funk and soul of the horn section to our ears. Great additions. I must say there has been so much great new music out these past fe weeks that it’s hard to choose who gets in now or waits till later. A good place to be.

Our Amuse Bouche section features #1’s from before the Baker’s Dozen Radio show. Back then it was called Chef Suggestions and we did not have any air-play. So we want to give them some love and we start with our very first Chef Suggestions title holder – Brandon Santini. Brandon is up for a Blues Music Award, as are many of our #1 artists. So enjoy!

uncle-sam3A Baker’s Dozen of Blues, on MojoWax Radio presented by Blues Music Magazine at

Broadcast times are as follows:
Tuesday – 10pm EST
Wednesday – Noon EST
Thursday –  11pm EST
Friday –  4pm EST
Saturday – 2pm EST


A Baker’s Dozen:

1 3 “New Attitude” Root Doctor Self 9 Someone Else Is Steppin’ In
2 6 “Wicked” 24th Street Wailers Self 8 Solid Ground
3 5 “Panther Burn” Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat Underworld Records 2 I Declare
4 7 “Far As I Can See” Matt Schofield Provogue 9 Yellow Moon
5 8 “Sounds of Home” Damon Fowler Blind Pig 8 Alison
6 10 “Blue Yonder” Hard Garden Hard Garden Music 2 Depot Blues
7 9 “Baptized By The Mud” Kat Danser Independent 12 You Gotta Move
8 11 “Belle of The Blues” Lisa Biales Big Song Music 8 Peach Pickin’ Mama
9 12 “Guitar Angels” James Armstrong Catfood Records 8 Saturday Night Women
10 13 “He Digs Me” Sunday Wilde Self 9 Gimme One More
11 ~ Move On Lisa Mann Self 4 The Blues Is My Medicine
12 ~ “Brotherhood” The Holmes Brothers Alligator 1 Stayed At The Party
13 ~ “30th Anniversary Special Edition” Blue Lunch Special Rip Cat Records 10 Sixty Minute Man

Chef Suggestions:

“Blues With Friends” Dixie Peach Big Shew Records 1 Too Much Trouble
“Chunkabilly Blues” Chris Lord & Cheatin’ River Self 5 Jelly Bean
“Drivin Me Wild” Jonn Del Toro Richardson & Sean Carney Self 3 Lookin’ For My Baby
“Bad Attitude” Johnny Drummer Earwig Records 3 Bit Her In The Butt
“Troubles” John & Sylvia Embry Delmark Records 2 Troubles
“Five Finger Discount” Soulstack Self 7 Hangin’ in The Kitchen
“Betsy’s Kitchen” Back Pack Jones Self 6 Even God Sings The Blues
Hornet’s Nest Joe Louis Walker Alligator Records 4 Stick A Fork In Me
“Blue Soul” Norman Taylor Soul Stew Records 9 Grace Walking
“Compass” Polly O’Keary & The Rhythm Method Self 10 You Get Me High
“This House” Shane Dwight Blues Band Electro Groove Records 6 Devil’s Noose
“Laying It Down” Arthur Migliazza Hobemian Records 12 Professor Calling Me
“Josh Hoyer & The Shadowboxers” Josh Hoyer & The Shadowboxers Self 3 Illusions

Amuse Bouche:
Pre-Baker’s Dozen #1’s aka Chef Suggestions (former #1’s)

This Time Another Year Brandon Santini 7 Things You Putting Down
Raise Your Hands Long Tall Deb 2 Hush Your Mouth
All In Sena Ehrhardt 2 Cry To Me
Cotton Mouth Man James Cotton 7 Saint On Sunday
Knockin’ Around These Blues John Primer & Bob Corritore 9 Man or Mouse
It Wasn’t Real Gina Sicilia 1 It Wasn’t Real
Tempered Steel Spencer Bohren 5 Hallelujah
Like You Mean It California Honeydrops 7 Down In Central Tennessee
Once It Gets Started Johnny Sansone 5 Sang With The Gypsies
Blue Heart Too Slim & The Taildraggers 9 Shape of Blues To Come
Mississippi Hill Country Homemdae Jamz Blues Band 9 So Many Tears
Before The Beginning Anthony Gomes 10 Blues In Technicolor
That’s When The Blues Began Ruff Kutt Blues Band 7 Blues Ain’t A Color
Great Day In The Morning Brad Vickers & His Vestopolitans 13 The Way It’s Got To Be
Remembering Little Walter Arnold, Musselwhite, Hummel, Norcia, Harman 4 It’s Too Late Brother
Bull Goose Rooster Watermelon Slim & The Workers 1 Tomorrow Night

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2014
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411

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Opinion: Baseball & Blues Bound by the Seams

Hope springs eternal for every team.

Hope springs eternal for every team.

This past week was quite the roller-coaster for baseball fans. While we had spring training in full bloom and the news wires and internet world alive with box scores and bits about each team, we also suffered two major loses.

Carmen Berra,  wife of the much loved and mal-apropped person to ever misspeak the English language, Yogi Berra.  They had a love affair that spanned parts of eight decades, and the couple just celebrated their 65th anniversary this past January 26th.
At one point a few years ago, Carmen Berra related how her husband once sent her an anniversary card signed, “Yogi Berra.” She said she was glad he signed it that way because it eliminated any confusion about all the other Yogis she knew.

The second, somewhat less personal to me, but overall more relating to baseball as we know it was the passing of Dr. Frank Jobe. Who was this guy, read on.

On a July night in 1974, Dr. Frank Jobe, the orthopedist for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was sitting in the stands at Dodger Stadium watching the ace left-hander Tommy John face the Montreal Expos. In the third inning, John threw a pair of wild pitches and heard the sound of a “collision,” as he put it, coming from his arm. He had torn an elbow ligament, which almost certainly meant the end of a pitcher’s career. But Dr. Jobe performed a pioneering operation, transplanting an unneeded tendon from John’s right wrist into his left elbow, where it functioned as a new ligament. John went on to win another 164 games over 14 seasons, retiring from the game at age 46. Dr. Jobe, who died on Thursday, March 6,  in Santa Monica, Calif., at 88, was renowned as the father of Tommy John surgery, a landmark in sports medicine that has been duplicated thousands of times and has saved the careers of numerous athletes, most of them pitchers.

Scrappy guitarist dons uniform for other love besides music.

Scrappy guitarist dons uniform for other love besides music.

So I have been working on the idea of the baseball & blues tie in since I first interviewed George Thorogood back in 2010. George and I discussed baseball and it’s relation to his career in the blues. He liked to think of himself as that pesky utility infielder who always made the play when needed, may not get the big headlines but has a long career and several World Series rings on his fingers. Here is the link to that interview because if I were to pull out a few quotes, one would lose the overall effect of the relationship that we established there. George Thorogood interview.

Purists vs. Modernists:
Baseball & the Blues have certain things that link them together, both have ‘Purists v. Modernists’ – we really don’t need to go too deep there. We know the Blues purists are staunchly in their corner, reinforced by their belief that the blues world is going to wrack & ruin and its just not the same anymore. In baseball we have the DH (Designated Hitter) and non DH camps, plus I am sure expansion freaks and wanting to cut back the playing in foreign countries and all.

Dilution of Talent Pool:
The dilution of the talent base is an interesting one, we see that in both of these endeavors, In baseball the opponents claimed that the dilution of talent has lessened the entire field of it’s high quality level. In the blues we hear much about the same effect happening in certain circles.

Okeh Records

Okeh Records

The initial segregation of these art forms is also a common thread, in baseball it took Branch Rickey’s signing of Jackie Robinson to break the color line. In the Blues it was basically ‘colored music’ and the white establishment would actively seek to ban or discourage their audience (white) from buying or listening to ‘race records‘. Yes they were specifically marketed to black audiences, but there was no interest in assimilating them into the broader market by the white record labels or producers because it would then cut into their part of the pie. I think that with any ‘institution’ that has been around for so long we can see these fissures occurring. But to see them side by side makes for interesting observations. Hopefully this will open up some thought and conversations between us.

So with Spring training well into it’s very own special season, and the weather turning sweetly warm I figured I would ask around and get some input on what if any baseball and the blues has. So enjoy these comments and insights from some folks ya know and others ya might not have heard of, they range from artists to fans, to friends – but we all love the blues and baseball…

Pedal Steel and Baseball Blues

Pedal Steel and Baseball Blues

Sterling Koch:
I asked Sterling Koch about the relationship between baseball and the blues and how they seem to be similar in many ways. Purists v. modernists, what appears to be a very simple endeavor to take on but most difficult to master….

   ” Jimi I think you hit it right on the head there. Simple to play yet difficult to master. Only as I’ve gotten older have I had an appreciation for the intricacies of baseball. Hitters working the count, pitchers throwing a pitch to set up the next pitch, etc. The blues may be only 3 chords and 12 bars but there IS a particular way to play them and the subtleties and intricacies of the blues are what separate the wanna be players from the true blues musicians.
     I’ve always loved the blues and wanted to play them even back in the 80’s when I was doing the hair metal thing I wanted to play blues but I felt I was too young at the time. I didn’t understand them or appreciate how to properly play them. I’m not sure it works this way for everyone but I only fully understood playing the blues as I got older and more experienced as a musician. When I was younger I played baseball too. I was a pitcher and was quite good in my area. My last year of Teener ball I had a 10 and 1 record as a starting pitcher. Yet I didn’t understand all the ins and outs of pitching. I just basically rared back and “let her fly.” Much in the same way I would solo on my guitar back in the 80s. Just let it rip. Now I have come to realize that there’s SO much more to both pitching a baseball and playing the blues than just rearing back and “let it fly.”
    The subtleties and nuance of both, things that escape the novice or inexperienced baseball enthusiast and blues enthusiast, are what makes playing the blues and following baseball now for me so much more rewarding. Hope any of this will help Jimi and thanks for asking.”

Helena, Arkansas. King Biscuit 2012.

Helena, Arkansas. King Biscuit 2012.

Ricky Stevens:
Making it a habit to check out Ricky’s post about baseball and his keen insights into just about everything, I asked him for his thoughts on Blues and baseball.

   “This hit me as I was driving to work this morning. Here is the link between blues and baseball. Specifically, hope in the midst of failure. The best blues songs have an element of hope; the hope that things will be better no matter how bad they may seem today. A ballplayer who fails to get a hit 70% of the time is a .300 hitter and has a chance to be an all-star. That same player may get on base 200 times in the course. If he scores 100 runs, 50% of the times he is on base, he has had a great year. Despite knowing he’s more likely to fail than succeed, every ballplayer walks to the plate with an element of hope. Want more evidence? Look at Chicago, one of the great blues towns. Every year, the folks there maintain hope that THIS year, the Cubs will win it all.”

Self proclaimed slap-hitter who can clear the bases with his power.

Self proclaimed slap-hitter who can clear the bases with his power.

Watermelon Slim:
Having spent many hours talking about any, and everything under the sun with Slim, I knew he was the go-to guy. Now ya just don’t get a simple answer from someone as loquacious as Slim. The man sent me an entire article on his growing up, and feelings about baseball, the DH, plus other insights that I have yet to publish here. So please allow me to selectively edit a few things in relation to his wonderful song ‘Max The Baseball Clown‘, which can be found on the “No Paid Holidays” release.

   “I grew up in a Class A minor-league town, Asheville, NC, and refer to that upbringing in my song, Max the Baseball Clown. Max Patkin was the Clown Prince of Baseball. Some will say Al Schacht, a former major-league pitcher, was the King, because he clowned in major-league ball parks, including 28 years as an entertainer for the World Series, from 1927 to 1952, and 18 at the annual All-Star Game.
   But Patkin’s career of clowning, after a minor-league career cut very short by injury, spanned 51 years, from 1944 to 1995. I watched Patkin twice in Asheville. Patkin’s clowning career partly overlapped Schacht’s, but Patkin never clowned for the major leagues, instead barnstorming around the country in minor league ballparks.

Max The Baseball Clown

Max The Baseball Clown

   Patkin accomplished (and not just once, but every time he did it) the greatest baseball feat I have ever watched, or have any knowledge of. One of his highlights involved an air-gun that shot baseballs. To demonstrate the power of this gun, Patkin would first shoot a baseball from the pitcher’s mound of Tourist Stadium (also known as McCormick Field) all the way into the Asheville High School football stadium, somewhere between a quarter and a half mile away.
   Then, he would turn the gun straight up, and fire a ball into the night above him (I never watched him in a day game, though I assume he also clowned for day games). There is no telling how high that airgun shot the ball into the air, but I never saw that he had adjusted the gun for a shorter shot. The report of the gun sounded the same as when he shot the ball for near a half a mile.
   Researchers have determined that the highest that any batter ever hit, or ever could hit, a pop fly is a little over 200 feet. The balls Patkin fired into the sky took far longer than the time for even a very high pop fly. Might have been 15-20 seconds in the air. Surely the air-gun had fired the balls at least hundreds of feet into the dark sky. It is a mystery how Patkin could know where that ball was going to come down. But when it finally did, Patkin would turn his back to the ball and catch it in a way-oversized back pocket of his uniform! I saw him do it twice, in the early 1960s.
   I never watched Al Schacht— he was before my time– and I am sure that he was a hilarious baseball clown, by the fact of his own long major-league clowning career. But I doubt that he ever performed anything like what I must now consider the miracle of baseball skill that was a regular part of Patkin’s clowning show. My song, ‘Max The Baseball Clown’, which I recorded for my CD No Paid Holidays in 2008, is my tribute to the greatest baseball entertainer I ever saw, and perhaps– probably–  that ANYONE ever saw. In 1988, Patkin was named King of Baseball at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Atlanta, GA.”

Mysterious man of Facebook.

Mysterious man of Facebook.

Gerry Lo:
Gerry is a great supporter of the Blues. We met on Facebook (where else), and he has always had a pointed insight on almost any topic. A master crossword puzzle cat, I instinctively knew he would have some golden insight for us here. Enjoy…

   “Well, I will be very much obliged to you for any excuse for playing more of Miss Julia Lee, who was wed to Mr Frank Duncan for a while. Julia Lee, of course, was the Empress of the “Songs Her Mama Taught Her NOT to Sing” and Frank Duncan was a Negro Leagues star. 
   Baseball, like the blues, is something to be taken in and not merely observed. We absorb and are absorbed by only a few aspects of existence, and to me these two schools represent not only the quintessence of America but the respective tops of their forms.
   Sure, jazz and football might claim to appeal to greater numbers, and I like them both just fine, but they seem to me to lack that essential quality that demands a greater level of emotional investment and appreciation that comes from baseball and the blues.”

Gerry and I also talked about the Single A Short-Season baseball that goes on in Savannah and many other cities around the country. These folks play for the love of the game. Gerry pointed out that they were akin to gladiators in caps, playing for nothing but for their own personal reasons, it was something they had or wanted to do. This is much like the local blues musicians who play to nearly empty clubs at times, but they return every night lugging their equipment to and from the car. In both these cases there may be no truer expression of commitment to either art.

So to bring this around to the heart of the matter, baseball and songs about baseball have a section in the American Treasuries of the Library of Congress. No these are not blues songs but the fact that they exist shows the connection between the sport and music.  This alone is pretty cool.

Sonny & Brownie

Sonny & Brownie

So here are some links to some blues music about baseball. Check them out, find some more and go down this path that we have set before you.

The Robby-Dobby Boogie – recorded by Brownie McGhee about the first two black players in the major leagues – Larry Doby, Cleveland (AL) and Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn (NL)

Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? – performed by Buddy Johnson, also done by Count Basie Orchestra. Here is a link to the Baseball Almanac’s  listing of lyrics.

Say Hey – The Treniers, their tribute to Willie ‘Say Hey ‘ Mays. Willie appears on the recording to settle a dispute on who’s ball it was!

Life Is A Ball Game Sister Wyn0na Carr, a gospel singer works the path to righteousness into a baseball song. This song was featured in the movie ‘42‘ about Jackie Robinson. Personally I love this one!

The First Baseball Game – similar to the Wynona Carr tune, but more biblical references, by golden voiced Nat King Cole.
Catfish – While not technically the Blues, Bob Dylan doffs his cap to Jim ‘Catfish ‘ Hunter. This version is by Joe Cocker  with guitar solo by Eric Gale.

Baseball Boogie – Mabel Scott in a classic double entendre baseball song, it’s the blues baby!

Baseball Blues – Toby Walker’s double entendre where a Louisville Slugger is more than just a bat!

The Last Home Run 
a tribute song to Hank Aaron’s breaking of Babe Ruth’s home run record. Written by Willie Dixon,   recorded by McKenley Mitchell, with Billy Branch on harp. Could not find a video of this, but there are some copies around of release.
These are just a few samples of Blues songs that are about baseball and easily found. There are a bunch more around.
Plus we did not even touch all the bases on just plain ol’ baseball songs. John Fogerty’s ‘Centerfield’, Terry Cashman’s ‘Talking Baseball’ and many many others.

So batter up! Pick up that bat or guitar and feel the thread that runs thru our National pastime and what should be our National Music. Thank you Sterling Koch, Ricky Stevens, Watermelon Slim,Gerry Lo for your time and contributions to this little bit of passion that we share.

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2014
Where Blues Thrives

Online Blues Survey – Researching The Relevance of The Blues

Fans at a festival

Fans at a festival

You know, these days everyone and their cousin has an opinion on the blues, and what it should, or, shouldn’t be. So here is a great opportunity to get your voice heard about it’s relevance in these digital and modern times.

A good friend is conducting this as work on their PhD thesis, might be a book…might be earth shattering. Might even be a keen insight into the minds of blues fans around the world.

So, if you are a fan of the blues, you can help us all find out more about what it is that makes the blues unique.

Lonesome backstreet Blues

Lonesome backstreet Blues

A  good friend of mine is conducting research around the relevance of the blues in the 21st century. You can help by following the link below and taking the online survey.

Afterwards, please share with friends, who also might be blues fans. This survey will run through February so get on it and spread the word.

Blues Survey

Thanks for your help, 

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease

© 2014
Where Blues Thrives