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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beautiful Minds

Debbie  Smith is a woman who has earned respect over the years through her continued battle to honor her son's life, death, music and her unfaltering determination to impact the lives of other creative souls who suffer from a condition which is often left untreated.

Sean Costello was one of the brightest lights to burst upon the scene in the blues world.  As an up and coming star, he fell to darkness on April 15, 2008.  The Delta Groove Artist released Going Home, a poignant and perhaps telling song 14 months earlier.

Today, Sean's impact on the Blues industry is honored by two organizations.  First, the Blues Blast Magazine, which created and accepts nominations to the Sean Costello Rising Star Award.  Past nominees include: Eden Brant; Gina Sicilia; Damon Fowler; John Nemeth; Marquise Knox; Trampled Under Foot and Cash Box Kings.  The second, is the Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research.  Like her son, there is No Half Steppin' for his mother, Debbie.


Bipolar Disorder

Lecture and Performance Series

DATE:     Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 6:00 PM 

PLACE:   Briarcliff Campus of Emory University
                1256 Briarcliff Rd, Building A, 3rd Floor Auditorium
                Atlanta, GA 30306

WHO:    The Emory University Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program and The Sean Costello                    Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research
WHAT:  The Emory University Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program and The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research are sponsoring a series of lectures on bipolar disorder, accompanied by performances by creative people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The first lecture, "What is Type II Bipolar Disorder?" will be held at 6 PM, Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at the Briarcliff Campus of Emory University, 1256 Briarcliff Rd, Building A, 3rd Floor Auditorium, Atlanta, Georgia 30306. Light refreshments will be provided.

We are looking for artists in any creative genre who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Performances/exhibits will be held in conjunction with each lecture. If interested, artists can contact Debbie Smith at

The topics are appropriate for any audience, including families, caregivers, educators and people wanting to know more about the disease.

The schedule of the remainder of lectures will be announced in the near future.

For more information please contact Debbie Smith.

Contact: Debbie Smith

Friday, May 6, 2011

Baton Rouge Blues Festival

If anyone is looking for an excuse to go to Baton Rouge, the Blues Festival this weekend might make a good one.  The more I read about the line up, the more I had to restrain myself from actually clicking on the Expedia App on my phone.

In addition to some of the Swamp Blues of the region, toss in a little bit of Kansas. It's not really just Kansas, it's Kansas with an eclectic spin. Like BBQ with various spice influences. When I think of Kansas, I think of My Grandmother, Ribs, Royals, Twisters, Dorothy, Irish Dance Scholarships, nice people and ....  one of my favorite lesser known duo's, although it escapes me as to why, Moreland & Arbuckle.  They will be playing tomorrow night at The Blues Festival in addition to Delbert McClinton, Jimmie Vaughn and others.

I became aware of Aaron Moreland and Dustin Arbuckle prior to the release of 1861.  I have almost as much patience in waiting for a much anticipated music release, as I do for books.  So, as with books, I started to listen to their previous artistic endeavors.  I started my research with Caney Valley Blues and found a song named "Red Bricks."   From that moment on, Moreland and Arbuckle, garnered my creative respect.  Another song made it's way to my playlist in '08 named "Fishin' Hole off the 1861 release.

Signed by Telarc, they released Flood, earlier this year.

Baton Rouge - Topix

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mark Your Calendars - 15th Anniversary of Blues On The Fox

Where can you see Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Kenny Neal, Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues, Charlie Musselwhite, Eric Lindell and the Hix Brothers all for $10?  Aurora, Illinois on June 17th & 18th.

Aurora, home to the 1930's RCA Bluebird Recording Studio in The Leland Hotel, recorded hundred's of songs considered precursers to the early Urban Blues, by artists such as Big Bill Broonzy, Roosevelt Sykes, Tampa Red, Sonny Boy Williamson and John Lee Hooker among others.

The only catch, it's a bring your own chair event.  "Libations" frozen or otherwise, are extra. Attendees would be wise not to bring their own.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Something's Going Down"

There are several "Oh hell no" categories of music in my world:  Techno, Trance, Industrial Goth, and Rap.  They just hurt my head. Literally.  Or so I thought.

Twice this week I have found myself listening to things that would shock my traditional blues sensibilities. 

The first was to a young friend of my son's. That can be easily explained away.  He has been out trying to get gigs, I have an odd interest in struggling young artists.  I spent a while talking to him in my driveway about his music.   My son went to one of his gigs on the south side of Chicago.  I smiled as they said they were the only ones who didn't get searched. He has a long way to go, but he has that crazy sense about him that musicians and writers have, when they know that is what they are supposed to be doing.  I like the fact he has his own sense of style.  I can't say I have ever heard classical music, rap verbage, and a smattering of Polish mixed together, but it works for him.  I just might even check back to see if live videos are added.

Today I bought my first... I can't bring myself to say it... (Rap single.) I am sure I blew their whole demographic statistical deviance.  I probably would have bought a whole CD, but single was my only choice.  And... it's not really rap. Sure it has GLC and Twista.  But, it's Chicago.  It's Chicago musicians.  After Mystery, you never know what to expect from the baby Brooks.  But from the first few bars you know, it's blues.  Blues infused with a lil soul, hip-hop, rap, chicago blues.  Sorta like a strawberry smoothie, with a bunch of other fruits thrown in for flavor, but down deep, at it's core, it's a strawberry.   So there... coughs.. I didn't really buy a rap Download from itunes, I bought BLUES.

Besides, I had to buy it.  It has one of my all time favorite Grammy winning Blues men.... Sugar Blue on Harmonica.  It's got blues guitar, awesome drums, and talented keyboardist.  But the whipped cream on top of this smoothie? MiMi Brooks. She wove a blues feeling all through the track from beginning to end.  With any luck, we will all hear more of MiMi Brooks and this Chi Town Music out of Mr. Wayne Baker Brooks in the near future.  I feel so incomplete, just buying a single.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

One of These Days (You're Gonna Realize)

It's that time of year, when Blues Lovers often wander down south in their musical taste to sample a little Swamp music.  Here is a fun one, featuring Love Potions and Snake Oil by D.B. Rielly set to more movies than I can mention.

For me, Mardi Gras does not mean beads and body parts on Fat Tuesday.  Maybe it is because I experienced it, before I had either, or maybe there was just a different emphasis in the 1970's.  Mardi Gras was my first experience with music that makes your feet move, and I never forgot it.

My first cultural immersion experience started right after the season began and lasted a week.   It is and was a veritable sensory explosion, on all fronts: Musicians jamming in unexpected places all times of the day and night; Scents of regional foods wafting through the night air simply not found in Central Illinois; and lastly, the vivid images of the Krewes and bright costumes started my love affair with Mardi Gras and regional music.  

I suppose, a sentimental aspect to the music exists as well.  It brings back memories of being nearly fifteen and experiencing Louisiana for the first time. Doing the tourist things, a Mint Julep at the Court of the Two Sisters, Beignets and Chicory Coffee at Cafe du Monde, getting up the courage to go into a VooDoo shop, being shoed back to my hotel before anyone discovered I was out adventuring, only to repeat it day after day, and finally getting lost in the music and recognizing nothing had ever made me feel quite like that.

Maybe, just maybe I might get around to taking a road trip.  I know two things.  One, I won't be there on Fat Tuesday. And two, I think I would have to keep a sharper eye on my offspring.  Something tells me, their feet would be moving too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chainsaw Ready to Rip Midwest

Did you ever wonder about chainsaws?  Where did they come from, and why?

I admit, I have never looked at where "Chainsaws" originated before today, and it was a bone shivering tale Wiki revealed. Some think the toothy chained invention was created by a German orthopedic surgeon in the early 1800's. Fortunately, the new and improved Chainsaw  provides superior healing, and a far more pleasurable experience.

David Dupont is not a Chicago native, but he is Chicago Blues, with a whole lot of diversity.  One of the draws to this artist is his ability to break out into his own individual style, and yet equally be seen as a traditional blues artist. He grew up in the Delta, and moved here when he was 14. His earlier guitar days include reggae and country, as well as blues, most notably touring with Junior Wells as his guitarist.

Blues fans are fickle.  What have you done for us lately, Chainsaw?  Well if you are a Chicagoan, history buff, or a well informed tourist, you might have heard of the Maxwell Street Market.  Once upon a time, blues musicians jammed there.  Dupont helped to revitalize this tradition by hosting a jam session on Sunday mornings during the past summer.  Now that, is a tradition no sports team can rival, even in Chicago.  We hope to see more of him in that capacity in warmer weather.

For those of you looking to get your Mardi Gras groove, and wish David good luck on the start of his Midwest "Acoustified/Electrified" tour, catch him at The Blue Note in Broadview on Thursday, February 24th.  It will be the best five bucks you have spent on live music in a long time.  CD's are available from Chicago Blues Records as well as the artist's website

Other dates include:

·         Friday, February 25, Memphis On MainChampaign, IL
·         Saturday, February 26, BB’s Jazz Blues & SoupsSaint Louis, MO
·         Sunday, February 27, Huey’sMemphis, TN
·         Friday, March 18, Dick O’DowsBirmingham, MI
·         Saturday, March 19, Harbor House, Detroit, MI
·         Friday/Saturday, May 7&8, Slippery Noodle InnIndianapolis, IN

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Who Was August Wilson?

August Wilson is not related to Alex Wilson or any other blues musicians.  Nor is he my Black History Month artistic pick. He is one of those people, when you meet them, they command your immediate respect.  Only, I never met him. I only know what he left behind.

I first saw a tattered copy, of a bound play in a used bookstore, The Frugal Muse.  It was red, wrinkled and ancient.  I immediately liked it, especially for a quarter.  Expecting a book about the legendary female blues singer,  I thumbed through, and realized it was a play, set on the South Side of Chicago during the 1920's.  I had never heard of him, or it!  How could that be? Who was this guy?

Wilson was an amazing voice in the world of writing.  He grew up poor in Pittsburgh, and lived a mere sixty years, before passing within two months of a liver cancer diagnosis.  

He choose to wield a pen, not a pick or a brush. His art and calling, was writing, particularly, scriptwriting.  Blues, significantly influenced the writer's life, intentions and art.  He knew enough about the music, history, and good storytelling, to write and catch the nuance's of recording musicians to get his play produced at Yale in 1984. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is a behind the scenes historical glance at blues studio artists, contrasted with one indomitable female blues singer.  Wilson's play has become a must see of the Blues Community.  

Today, I saw on a newsfeed, The American Stage Theatre Company has extended the run of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" one extra week through Feb 20, at the Raymond James Theatre.  I think it's the perfect solution to the blizzard of 2011. There is a reason it was nominated for a Tony Award.

Wilson became a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright.  He is also known for such thought provoking productions as; Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone; and Radio Golf.  

"I see the blues as a book of literature, and it influences everything I do."   ~August Wilson