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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Poland Has Been "Spectified"

by Renee Hyzy
Blues music fans in Poland were "Spectified," or at least introduced to "The West Side Strut," during Specter's Monday night performance. The Chicago Blues musician is finishing his European tour with Harmonica Hinds this week performing in Warsaw, Poland, at The Lucerne Blues Fest in Switzerland, and finishing the tour in Barcelona. His latest release "Spectified" made its debut earlier in the year. Specter plays Chicago House of Blues on November, 18, 2010.
(Image courtesy of Fret12)

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Real Guitar Hero

Enjoy! If you have no idea who Chainsaw Dupont is, do yourself a favor, and if you can't make it to a live show, check out his website.

Rosa's Lounge, Chicago, IL is the place to be tonight!

The Real Guitar Hero - Topix

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Dysfunctional Crossroad, Crystal Springs, Mississippi

Tommy Johnson doesn't have a headstone where he is buried. Bonnie Raitt contributed to one ten years ago. Where is it? Caught in the Crossroads of a long conflict, with little progress in the negotiation.

The Family of Tommy Johnson, The owners of a farm, and the Copiah County Board of Supervisors can't seem to come to the table to hammer out a win-win for all parties.

Crystal Springs, Mississippi is the home to 5,873 residents.  Founded in 1823, the Copiah County town became the "Tomatopolis of the World." Over history, many famous blues musicians have stepped foot into Crystal Springs. Significantly more tourists come to see the Robert Johnson Blues Museum and attend the blues festival.

The grave of the Blues Artist is unmarked, as it has been for a half a century at the Warm Springs Methodist Church Cemetery.  The past ten years, the headstone has been stored at the public library for the Tommy Johnson Blues Foundation in Crystal Springs.  Most reasonable people would ask,"Why?" at this point.  It seems the cemetery access road now lies on private property, and the owners (Keating) have denied access to Johnson's family several times, to allow them to place the headstone of their descendant.

Mention Tommy Johnson and Robert Johnson in the same sentence, and most assume the conversation will be about the long controversy of which Johnson is "The Johnson," and met the Devil at the Crossroads. There are many articles and books on the subject.'s Blues Guide states: " Robert must have been the better negotiator of the two (unrelated) musicians because Tommy Johnson became a mere footnote in the blues genre.."

How is it that an access road to a cemetery, once maintained by the Copiah County authority, is now private property?  Why would anyone want to deny passage to a cemetery to allow a marker to be placed? What logical basis could possibly exist?  Perhaps the owners are oblivious to the Blues world, and the Blues community.  The one in which Buddy Guy sings "Skin Deep" and the majority of genre fans believe, "There is no black, no white, just blues."

Problems without solutions are whining.  Two solutions might be to engage in an arbitration process and negotiate in good faith to insure the real issues are addressed and a timely outcome would result.  An alternative suggestion could be to have the three parties Come On In My Kitchen and sit around the table and study the meaning behind the lyrics of Canned Heat.  I am certain the issue would be resolved in a relatively shorter time frame.

I was sad to see, as I researched this article, how much has been written about this bizarre conflict over the past nine years, including an excellent blog post in the Sheyboygan Blues Society and an article on this morning's Topix Blues newsfeed from Frost Illustrated.  I read a Mississippi Senate Resolution to commemorate the life and legacy of Tommy Johnson. I saw a website that promoted T-shirts and encouraged readers to write the Governor of Mississippi. There is a deeper sense of injustice behind the story.  One that brings to mind a man, who once a long time ago, simply said, "Do justice."  Then there is the question of how we treat our neighbors in our community. That man, told us to "Love our neighbors as ourselves." The appearance of land deals, inept government, and lack of urgency steeped in bureaucracy, I leave to those who practice Law, and hopefully justice.  I want to acknowledge Andrew Buncombe of the U.K. for shedding further light on the issue in 2003.  

What will it take for a man to be allowed to finally rest in peace?  Do justice. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Remembering and Honoring Blues Artists - Detroit Style

19 hrs ago | Posted by: 12 Bars of Fate

Detroit Blues Society Headstone Project

One of several 2010 goals and objectives listed by the non-profit include honoring, marking and recognizing two of Detroit's deceased blues musician's. The first is Mr. Bo Collins (If Trouble was Money), originally from Mississippi. Bo settled in Detroit in the earlly 1950's. The second is Harmonica player, Uncle Jessie White, White was also a Mississippi native and became endeared to many including Harmonica Shaw, Ann Rabson and many more.

In the blues world, it is not uncommon for another member of the community to secure a grave marker. Janis Joplin ensured her mentor's grave had a headstone, 33 years after the passing of the Empress of The Blues, Bessie Smith. The DBS started this project in 1997, ensuring Son House had a Headstone, believing "Proper recognition of deceased Detroit Blues greats is vital to teach history and to keep the music alive through remembrances."

The Detroit Blues Society received the Best Blues Society Award in 2006. Further information on the fundraisers, direct contributions for the Headstones and membership are available at their website, myspace or through the DBS Headstone Project Coordinator at

Sunday, February 28, 2010

BMA - Hours Remain To Cast Votes

Blues fans, and conceivably more so the artists, wait with anticipation for the announcement of the coveted Blues Music Awards. With less than 24 hours remaining to vote in the The Blues Foundation's 31st Blues Music Awards, members are encouraged to vote before Monday, March 1, 2010 at 07:59:59.  Non-current members may sign up and then vote.

What is one more vote?  Often the deciding factor.  Joe Whitmer, in a gentle nudge email reminder to procrastinating members, stated that in the past, categories had been decided by as little as 10 votes.  As The Blues Music Awards are  "Universally recognized as the highest honor given to Blues artists," many feel voting is not only a right, but a responsibility as well.

Those entries with the most votes in each of the following categories will be celebrating in Memphis on May 6.  Tickets are available through the website and are non-refundable.  It is, however, one of the best shows, a blues fan can see.  The true difficulty, is selecting just one in each category.

Acoustic Album of the Year

David Maxwell & Louisiana Red, You Got to Move
Maria Muldaur & her Garden of Joy, Good Time Music for Hard Times
Saffire-the Uppity Blues Women, Havin' The Last Word
Samuel James, For Rosa, Maeve and Noreen
Various Artists, Things About Comin' My Way - A Tribute to the music of the Mississippi Sheiks

Acoustic Artist of the Year
Annie Raines & Paul Rishell
Doug MacLeod
Guy Davis
Louisiana Red
Samuel James

Album of the Year
Duke Robillard's Jumpin' Blues Revue, Stomp! the Blues Tonight
Eddie C. Campbell, Tear This World Up
Joe Louis Walker, Between a Rock and the Blues
Louisiana Red & Little Victor's Juke Joint, Back to the Black Bayou
Various Artists, Chicago Blues A Living History

B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
Candye Kane
Magic Slim
Rick Estrin
Super Chikan
Taj Mahal
Tommy Castro

Band of the Year
Duke Robillard's Jumpin' Blues Revue
Nick Moss & the Flip Tops
Rick Estrin and the Nightcats
The Mannish Boys
Tommy Castro Band

Best New Artist Debut
Greg Nagy, Walk That Fine Thin Line
Joanne Shaw Taylor, White Sugar
Marquise Knox, Man Child
Monkey Junk, Tiger in your Tank
The California Honeydrops, Soul Tub!

Contemporary Blues Album of the Year
Candye Kane, Superhero
Joe Louis Walker, Between a Rock and the Blues
Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, Twisted
Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, Living in the Light
Tommy Castro, Hard Believer

Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year
Bettye LaVette
Candye Kane
Janiva Magness
Ruthie Foster
Shemekia Copeland

Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year
Derek Trucks
Joe Louis Walker
John Nemeth
Michael Burks
Tommy Castro

Delmark Records, It Ain't Over! Delmark Celebrates 55 Years of Blues, Live at Buddy Guy's Legends
Eagle Eye Media, Live at Montreux 1993 (B.B. King)
Jo Films & Roadside Productions, Hot Flash (Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women)
Mojo Rodeo Records, A Night in Woodstock (Paul Rishell and Annie Raines)
Vincent Productions, Down to the Crossroads Vol. 1 (George Thorogood & the Destroyers w/ Eddie Shaw)

Historical Album of the Year
Bear Family Records, Taking Care of Business (1956-1973) (Freddie King)
Chess, Authorized Bootleg (Muddy Waters)
Eagle Records, Essential Montreux (Gary Moore)
Hip-O Select, The Complete Chess Masters (1950-1967) (Little Walter)
Landslide Records, Sean's Blues (Sean Costello)

Bill Stuve
Bob Stroger
Larry Taylor
Mookie Brill
Patrick Rynn

Cedric Burnside
Jimi Bott
Kenny Smith
Sam Carr
Tony Braunagel

Derek Trucks
Duke Robillard
Joe Louis Walker
Lurrie Bell
Ronnie Earl

Billy Branch
Jason Ricci
Kim Wilson
Mark Hummel
Rick Estrin

Al Basile
Big James Montgomery
Deanna Bogart
Eddie Shaw
Keith Crossan

Buckwheat Zydeco (accordion)
Gerry Hundt (mandolin)
Johnny Sansone (accordion)
Otis Taylor (banjo)
Rich Del Grosso (mandolin)

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Bruce Katz
David Maxwell
Eden Brent
Henry Butler
Henry Gray

Rock Blues Album of the Year
Derek Trucks Band, Already Free
Jason Ricci & New Blood, Done with the Devil
Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat, Tijuana Bible
Mike Zito, Pearl River
Tinsley Ellis, Speak No Evil

Song of the Year
Cyril Neville & Mike Zito, 'Pearl River' (Pearl River--Mike Zito)
James Johnson , 'Fred's Dollar Store' (Chikadelic--Super Chikan)
Joe Louis Walker, 'I'm Tide' (Between a Rock and the Blues--Joe Louis Walker)
John Hahn & Oliver Wood, 'Never Going Back to Memphis' (Never Going Back--Shemekia Copeland)
Vyasa Dodson, 'At Least I'm Not With You' (At Least I'm Not With You--The Insomniacs)

Soul Blues Album of the Year
Charles Wilson, Troubled Child
Darrell Nulisch, Just for You
Johnny Rawls, Ace Of Spades
Latimore, All About the Rhythm and the Blues
Mighty Sam McClain, Betcha Didn't Know

Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year
Barbara Carr
Denise LaSalle
Irma Thomas
Shirley Brown
Sista Monica Parker

Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year
Curtis Salgado
Darrell Nulisch
Jackie Payne
Johnny Rawls

Traditional Blues Album of the Year
John Primer, All Original
Johnnie Bassett, The Gentleman is Back
Louisiana Red & Little Victor's Juke Joint, Back to the Black Bayou
Super Chikan, Chikadelic
Various Artists, Chicago Blues A Living History

Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year
Ann Rabson
Debbie Davies
Fiona Boyes
Shirley Johnson
Zora Young

Traditional Blues Male Artist of the Year
Duke Robillard
John Primer
Johnnie Bassett
Louisiana Red
Super Chikan