The Music & Life Of
Big Jack Reynolds

“That's A Good Way To Get To Heaven”

Third Street Cigar Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2019

Unknown Legend - is that a thing? It sound's like it shouldn't be and most likely isn't.  On the other hand, if you wanted to break the rule, Big Jack Reynolds is the guy to do it with.  To those in the Detroit and Toledo areas who knew and worked with him, the man was a legend; but to pretty much the rest of the world, he was virtually unknown.  Marshall "Big Jack" Reynolds was strictly a regional blues musician whose amazing talents were sadly kept under the radar.  It wasn't until after his death in 1993, when because of a few serious blues collectors, word of Big Jack would begin to spread.  Now, some twenty-five years later, with the release of Third Street Cigars and TSC Entertainment's "That's A Good Way To Get To Heaven: The Music & Life Of Big Jack Reynolds" - a CD and DVD collection of Jack's rarest recordings - the word about Big Jack is about to deservedly spread like wildfire.
As mentioned, "That's A Good Way To Get To Heaven" includes a CD containing twenty tracks - of which a half dozen or so are archival (with absolutely no information available) and an eighty-minute DVD.  The CD features: Marshall "Big Jack" Reynolds on vocals. harmonica and guitar; Larry Gold on guitar; Johnny "HiFi" Newman and Joel Hazzard on bass; Slim Tim Gahagan and Chris Arduser on drums; Chad Smith on piano; and The Cobra Twist Horns which consist of: Brad "The Razor" Sharp on trumpet; Randy "The Slider" Knisely on trombone; and "Kevin "Nationwide" Maude on saxophone.  Of its twenty tracks, eleven are originals and nine are covers.
The visual disc is loaded with informative and sometimes hilarious interviews; footage of rare performances not seen since the eighties; other privately recorded performances that have never been seen anywhere; a never before seen performance between Big Jack and Sir Mack Rice of "Mustang Sally" and "Cheaper To Keep Her" fame; and footage of Big Jack's only TV appearance.
The CD opens with "Honest I Do", the first of its three Jimmy Reed covers and also the first of three never released anywhere tracks.  Once you hear his vocal style, along with those piercing high-end harp leads, you'll quickly understand the influence Jimmy had on Big Jack.  With Larry, Johnny and Slim in that repetitive rhythm groove that so fit this song, Jack’s not the only one with the Jimmy vibe going on.  Nicely done cover.
If you're going to cover a B B King song and you really want to do it justice then do it with horns.  Being the only track featuring the Cobra Twist Horns, that's exactly what the guys did on their rendition of "Rock Me Baby".  With Big Jack at his suave best on the vocals; HiFi and Slim right in the pocket on the rhythm; and Larry laying down the blues guitar leads; it's the horns - with a stellar standout by "Nationwide" on the sax -  that give this one its soul.   
Unlike most of the tracks, an original titled "Gonna Love Somebody" is an acoustic solo track featuring Big Jack singing, playing harp and legitimizing his place as a real deal blues/roots artist.    
"Made It Up In Your Mind", a track  Big Jack collaborated on, is also unlike anything else on the disc.  It sounds like a duo that's featuring the big guy singing and blowin' harp with a pumped-up conga/bongo player providing quite progressive percussion.
One of the disc's rockers, another of Jack's originals and part of that shoebox full of stuff found in a storage closet somewhere - is called "I Had A Little Dog".  Obviously, from an earlier point in his career, Jacks sounding quite spry on this organ-led, rhythm fueled dance floor filler.  
The disc closes with Jack doing another original solo titled "She Must Be A Millionaire".  The interesting thing about this song is why the big guy thinks she's rich.  Ya see, according to Jack... "Her father was a millionaire, I can tell by the way she walks".  More importantly, though he also wants you to know... "That little girl is something and she's really fine. Yep, she really is something and you'd better know she's mine."
The documentary DVD is highly entertaining.  The footage was reminiscent of stuff you'll have seen on the old Ed Sullivan Show, Hullabaloo and Shindig but with a restored sound quality that was was absolutely outstanding. Along with interviews of band members, you'll hear what Eddie Shaw, Harmonica Shah, and others had to say about the often fun to play with and sometimes not fun to play with, Big Jack.
This very well produced, very well engineered and mastered  CD/DVD set is loaded with real deal, old school blues, lots of informative and educational clips and photos and is a must-have for any true blues aficionado.
To get a copy of "That's A Good Way To Get To Heaven" contact John Henry at the label's website -   You can also learn more about Big Jack Reynolds by going to and you can search his name on FB where John has a page set up under his name.  As usual, when you talk to John, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Shaun Murphy

“Reason To Try”

Vision Wall Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2019

Just for the record, Shaun Murphy doesn't sing the blues, she doesn't sing rock, she doesn't sing soul, she doesn't sing Gospel, she doesn't sing country and she doesn't get funky... she does ALL OF THAT, and more.  As a matter of fact, after just saying that a crazy thought just ran through my head.  Her versatility kind of brings to mind that Robert Klein "Every Record Ever Recorded" skit.  It's the one where he spoofs those TV record sales commercials by saying "if you act now, we will send you every record ever recorded" and then goes into a rant with a lengthy and hilarious list of examples. "That's right," he says, "we will send a tractor-trailer full of every record ever recorded, right to your door."  That said, if there was ever a person who could sing every one of those recordings, it would be Shaun Murphy.  

Shaun Murphy's latest release is titled "Reason To Try" and although she does sing most of the above-listed styles, she doesn't sing every song ever recorded.  She does, however, belt the hell out of fourteen diverse songs that include a handful of covers and a handful of new material written just for this project.

Musically, Shaun Murphy - on all lead and background vocals and tambourine - is joined by some of Nashville's finest musicians.  That very recognizable list of names includes: Kenne Cramer and Tommy Stillwell on lead guitars; Tom DelRossi on drums; John Marcus on bass; Kevin McKendree on piano and synthesizer; Eric Robert on B3 organ; and Miqui Gutierrez on saxophone.

On the opening track - "Hurt Me Good" (D. Burgess) - between Shaun's soulful, Gospel style vocals; her ability to sing her own background vocals and sound like a small choir; and the hymnal vibe Kevin's laying down on the B3 organ; you're immediately taken straight to church.  But just as your about to comfortably settle into a pew - BAM! - Tom and John start pounding out a vibrant rhythm; Tommy starts wailing on guitar; Eric and Kevin kick the keyboards up several notches and hot damn, mass just turned into a funk fest.

Every fan of Shaun's has their favorite type of song they love hearing her sing and this fans favorite is slow, bluesy, soulful and emotional ballads. The kind where she just blows you away with her amazing note holding ability and takes you on a roller coaster with that limitless range of hers.  I got a "Thang For You" (M. A. Barnette/J. Hinson) is just that song.  That said, you just can't beat the soul a saxophone gives a song like this and Miqui indeed put his soul and his heart into this one. 

The first time I listened to the title track "Reason To Try" (D. Flowers), although there was so much more going on, Shaun's voice and Kevin's piano playing were so compelling that I was totally consumed by them.  That said, the second listen broadened my pleasure but it was that third listen - the one where I stopped typing and sat back with the headphones on - that had me in awe.  Now I need to correct myself and say these are not some of Nashville's finest musicians, they're some of music's finest musicians.

Speaking of powerful performances, the next track is titled "Power Of Love" (A. Cleaveland/K. Greenberg) and with the help of that small choir of hers - as crazy as this may sound - she actually kicks it up a few notches on the vocals.  Of the tracks mentioned thus far, this is the first that features Kenne Cramer working his magic on lead guitar and his monster performance is a testament to why Shaun uses him on all her releases.

Sounding snide, sarcastic and snarky - all characteristics required to be employed there - Shaun sounds quite proud of the first-rate work she does at her second job as a writer at the "Rumor Mill" (R. Gulley/D. Gulley/C. Kirby).  Sadly, some know some people who actually do work there and as it's said to be a dirty job, I disagree that somebody has to do it.  Fun song on which Shaun's having fun singing.
This is the part of the review where I tell you that should you like to learn more about Shaun Murphy just go to - and I just did.  That said, let me now say that visiting that website is not something you should do, it's something you must do.  Shaun's bio: from her days performing on Broadway with Meat Loaf; to her days performing on stage with Muddy, B. B. and more; to touring and recording with the likes of Little Feat, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Bob Seger; is one of the most storied and interesting bios you'll ever read.


Jimmy T & Sidetracked

“Right Place, Right Time”

Hander-Pander Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2019

Jimmy T is Jimmy Talbot, but if you're familiar with the Austin, Texas blues scene - where he's played every major blues venue - you already knew that.  His new band is called Jimmy T & Sidetracked and they consist of: Jimmy on lead guitar and vocals; Richard Radbil on rhythm guitar; Jason Blank on drums and Dean Keller on bass.  Their debut release is titled "Right Place, Right Time" and its eight tracks include five Jimmy T originals and three covers. 

On the opening track, Jimmy addresses his displeasure with some of life's occurrences that take place in a "Big City".  Two things in particular that give him the big city blues are: seeing limos driving the road, while just around the corner homeless are raiding dumpsters for food; and the fact that some have plenty and plenty have not.  Sadly, these are valid concerns but also sadly, they happen in small cities as well.  Musically, it's a rhythm-driven track with Jason and Dean pounding out a beat as compelling as the lyrics of the track.

Creating a perfect segue, the next track opens with the line "This world's gone crazy, just watch the news. I think I'm just gonna kick back and play some ‘Low Down Blues"'.  Backing up that statement, with the guys in a tight rhythm groove behind him, Jimmy T does just that. With equally scorching vocals and guitar licks, he plays the hell out of some low down blues.
The next one's titled "Sweet Tooth" and what I found to be really sweet about it was the way Dean - possibly at disc's best on bass - went toe to toe with Jimmy - possibly at disc's best on the lead guitar.  Definitely one for the movers and shakers.

Not to be confused with the disc's title - "Right Place, Right Time" - which doesn't happen very often, this track is titled "Right Place, Wrong Time" (Otis Rush) - which seems to happen much more often.  It's a melancholy tale of loneliness and musically, it's got perfect slow blues accompaniment for the lyrics: a relaxed yet rich rhythm groove; pain exuding vocals; and chill-inducing blues guitar licks.

Yes, "Sidetracked" is indeed the band's name but it's also the title of this track. Paying tribute to another famous bluesman from the Lone Star State - the "Texas Cannonball" himself - Jimmy T & Sidetracked do a hell of a job on this Freddy King instrumental.  This time, stepping out from the rhythm to the lead guitar, it's Richard Radbil laying down the fierce and aggressive guitar licks.

The disc’s final tune is called “Tried and True”. Yes, it's nice to have new things, but Jimmy loves things "Tried and True". Doing some acoustic style pickin' on his “lectric” guitar, this: feel good, smile encouragingly, cleverly written, wonderfully folksy track - which even features a bit of skat, is all Jimmy. Well done, sir!

For more on Jimmy T & Sidetracked, is the place to go. You can also contact the band at Please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.


Delbert McClinton
And Self Made Men + Dana

“Tall Dark & Handsome”

Hot Shot Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2019

Although I'll give him the handsome, I don't know exactly how tall or dark he is, so your guess is as good as mine as to if Delbert McClinton's new CD, "Tall, Dark & Handsome", is self-titled.  What I do know is that "Tall, Dark & Handsome", his twenty-sixth release, contains fourteen all original tracks that were penned or co-penned by Delbert and in my opinion, it's one of the very best of those of the twenty-six that I've heard. 

As you've come to expect of the Texas Troubadour, he once again has surrounded himself with a stellar batch of bandmates.  Those Self Made Men - and there are many - plus Dana, include: Joe Maher and Jack Bruno on drums: Glen Worf and Michael Joyce on bass; Bob Britt on guitars, mandolin and backing vocals; Kevin McKendree on piano, B3 organ, mellotron, guitar, and backing vocals; Jim Hoke on tenor sax, baritone sax, clarinet and accordion; Dana Robbins on tenor sax; Pat McLaughlin on guitar and backing vocals; Yates McKendree and James Pennebaker on guitars; Quentin Ware on trumpet; Roy Agee on trombone; Stuart Duncan on violin; Dennis Wage on Wurlitzer and piano; and Vicki Hampton, Wendy Moten, Robert Bailey, Delaney McClinton, and Delbert himself, all on backing vocals. 

As you've also come to expect of Delbert, there's no way he's doing fourteen songs in the same flavor.  That said, stay tuned for a little bit o' jazz, a little bit o' blues, a little bit o' Dixieland, a little bit o' country, a little bit o' swing, and a whole lot o' zing. 

The disc opens with most of those horn players mentioned above; blowin' most of the horns listed above; with most of the backup singers joining Delbert in sounding very happy about the fact that "Mr. Smith" is back in town and there's an obvious party going down.

"If I Hock My Guitar"... is a thought I'm sure has entered the minds of a heck of a lot of pickers, strummers and shredders.  There is something to be said for that bird in the hand thing.  In any event, by the time this track's over, we should all be happy that Bob Britt never hocked his.

So can a vocalist singing with a raspy and scratchy voice sound smooth as silk while doing so?  Listen to "No Chicken On The Bone" and I'll be expecting a "yes"! That's exactly what Delbert just did".  With this being his only appearance on the disc, Stuart Duncan and his dazzling fiddle are masterful.         

Seems like Delbert is not quite as happy as "Lulu" coming back into town as he was when Mr. Smith did.  Unlike his arrival sparking a party, her arrival sparked panic.  You see Lulu, to say the least, is a hostile woman from  Delbert's past who wants to still be friends.  Delbert's take on that is "let me be perfectly clear, you can go to hell but you can't stay here."  With Joe, Glenn, and Kevin in a jazzy groove, the rhythm section shines on this one.

"Ruby And Jules" are like precious stones cut with precision tools. Ruby's a jewel and Jules is too.  Along that line, so are Jack and Dennis.  On this very jazzy number, while Delbert is playfully describing the saga of this yin and yang pair, they're totally dialed into each other on the drums and piano.

"A Fool Like Me" is another of just a few tracks that feature the full horn section, and in no time at all, they'll have you dancin' like you're in a French Quarter parade.

As much as you think you may already know about Delbert McClinton, I'm sure you'll be able to discover a whole lot more at - check it out.  BTW, whoever you contact, please let them know the Blewzzman sent you.


Michael Mills

“Dream a Dream”

Sony Distribution
Media Management: Indienink Music

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2019

Before I start to tell you about his music, I'd like to offer a big "WELCOME" to  Michael Mills, the latest addition to this great big blues family of ours.  Michael, who comes to us by way of Huntington Beach, CA, tells me that he's "new to the blues" - and yet everything I heard on "Dream A Dream" tells me differently.  Obviously, the guy's a natural who this listener hopes will stick around the genre for a very long time.

"Dream A Dream", the bands' debut release, contains five all original songs penned by Michael and band mate Jesse Godoy.  On the EP, Michael - on vocals and rhythm guitar, is joined by; Jessie Godoy on lead guitar; Anthony Haas on bass; David Warrick Jones on keyboards and backing vocals; and Frank Cotinola on drums.  Also helping out are: Chrystal Williams and Maurice Christian on backing vocals; and Ron Robbins on saxophone.

It took all of fifteen seconds of the opening track to reinforce my shock over these guys being "new blues artists".  Immediately following the killer opening blues guitar licks by Jesse, Michael starts belting out the vocals and there's no looking back - this blues-rocker, "My New Woman", is already in third gear.  Just like his new woman, this track has everything: hard-driving rhythm; blistering blues guitar leads; powerful, emotionally charged vocals; and similar style backing vocals as well.  Great start guys - that's how to introduce yourself to your new fans.

"I'm Your Man", is a beautifully written and beautifully sung love song.  With the band in a relaxed rhythm groove, Michael knocks this one out of the park.  Reeking of passion and sincerity, he sings his heart out to a woman he wants to tell that if she ever needs someone to hold on to, if she even needs someone to be with, if she ever needs someone to talk to, he's her man.  This songs compelling lyrics, along with the eloquent way they were presented, actually had me hoping that this woman was real and worthy of this powerful love.  When a song moves me as much as this song did I can't help but give it my ultimate compliment - this is indeed "song of the year" material.  WOW!    

Everything about the title track, "Dream A Dream" is upbeat: the lyrics; the vibe; and with Frank sounding like he's having a good ol' time on the drums - especially the beat. Real, feel-good stuff.  

Being my favorite instrument, I've always been a believer that a surefire way for an already great band to kick it up a notch is to add a saxophone and on "Fade Away", this great band did just that.  Being a slow blues burner already puts it at the top of my list and now along with those scorching slow blues guitar leads of Jesse's, Ron's blowin' some equally scorching horn leads.  Then there's Michael - who already has me putting him alongside stellar vocalists the likes of Curtis Salgado, Darrell Nulisch, Tad Robinson, and the late Michael Ledbetter.  To borrow a phrase that Blake Shelton often uses on "The Voice" he "sang the crap out of this song!"  

Take it from me, the splash the Michael Mills Band is going to create in the blues genre could very well turn into a tsunami.  This MUST HAVE CD - "Dream A Dream" - may be a five-song EP, but if you replay these songs as many times as I did, it will have the feel of a two disc set.  

To find out more about Michael Mills and the band, please go to
As usual, whomever you talk to, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.


Frim-Fram Quartet

“Wake Up!”

RetroU Art

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2019

"Wake Up!" is the second release by Frim-Fram, a blues/jazz quartet from Helsinki, Finland.  The band consists of: Juki Valipakka on vocals, guitar and harp; Sirpa Suomalainen on sax and background vocals; Harri Taittonen on Hammond B3 organ and background vocals; and Mikael Seire on drums and percussion.  The disc contains twelve all original tracks that, while staying under the blues and jazz umbrella, will touch on some Delta, soul, R&B, and funk.

Frim-Fram kicks things off with a funky, jazzed up, dance-inducing track. It features Juki powerfully voicing his frustrations with a mate who just cannot make up her mind.  First, she says she loves him then, she says she just doesn't know. The poor guy's feeling like he's part of some God-awful daytime TV show. She has him "Undecided" for the forty-seventh time.  In addition to the intensity of his vocals, his stinging guitar licks will also let you know just how blue he really is.  With Mikael providing the profound percussion and Sirpa and Harri getting in several very strong sax and organ leads, the track is indeed a rhythm powerhouse.

The title track, "Wake Up!", is a funny told story about the ramifications associated with "having just one more.". It's an up-tempo shuffle which several times had my foot tapping as fast I can ever recall it tapping.  About two minutes into this three-plus minute song, Harri takes off on a frantic B3 solo in which he could very well be at disc's best.  Real good stuff!

"Deep End" is one of the disc's bluesiest tracks.  With the band in a real tight rhythm groove, led by Sirpa laying down some scorching sax riffs, Juki kills it here.  Not only is this easily one of his most compelling and emotional vocal performances, but his scorching guitar licks are relentless as well.

"All Is Over" is Frim-Frams hugely successful attempt at some good old fashioned, slow dancin', fifties R&B.  Juki, Sirpa, Harri, and Mikael totally nailed this very soulful performance.  Turn it up, sit back and let these cool cats take you back in will be a break I'm sure you'll not only enjoy but most likely also need.

"You're Not Alone" is a spiritually uplifting ballad in which the combination of the song's message; it's powerful lead and angelic background vocals; the mighty sax sounds; and the heavenly sounding organ; all come together to give it a hymnal quality.  Remarkable work!

To learn a lot more about the band, just go to  As usual, so they know how you found them, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.   

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Jersey Swamp Cats

“Go, Cat, Go!”

Self Released
Publicity by Blind Racoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2019

The debut release by the Jersey Swamp Cats is titled "Go Cat Go!" and the disc is loaded with the bands own brand of jumpin' and swingin' blues and good ol' vintage rock 'n' roll.  Now you too can shake, rattle and roll to the sounds of the Swamp Cats just like the crowds in all the NY/NJ area hot spots have been doing since 2016.
The Jersey Swamp Cats are: Gerry Gladston on vocals and piano; Don Leich on vocals and guitar; Larry Ghiorsi on vocals and bass; Chris Reardon on vocals and drums; with special guests Anthony Salimbene Jr. on tenor sax and Patrick Dudasik on trumpet.  The nine tracks that you'll be shaking your booty to include four originals along with covers of classics by the legendary Louis Prima, Fats Domino, Albert Collins, and Albert King.
The disc opens with a song by a man who knew how to "Jump, Jive and Wail" better than anyone - the "king of swing" himself, Mr. Louis Prima.  This is one of those songs that if the Jersey Swing Cats had a dollar for everyone who has ever performed it they'd all be rich.  That said, their rendition does indeed do the song justice.  The bands' co-founders, Gerry Gladston and Don Leich, do a fantastic job of sparring for the musical lead on the piano and guitar; Larry Ghiorsi and Chris Reardon are fittingly providing the fuel this one requires on rhythm; and with Gerry leading the way, all the Swamp Cats are real smooth on the vocals.  Great start guys!
After hearing the infectious verse on this one, along with Don, Larry and Chris you'll surely become the fourth background singer.  Every time Gerry sings the lines: "What's her name?"; "Who's to blame?"; Ain't that a shame?" or "Don't let her change!" you and the guys will harmoniously shout....."CUPCAKE".  This original track also features Don laying down some of the disc's best straight up blues guitar work.  
Another one that serves the original well is the Jersey Swamp Cats cover of Fats Domino's "Blue Monday".  Along with nailing the piano highlights, Gerry does an excellent job of emulating Fats' vocal swagger as well.
When you're covering an Albert Collins classic and the bands' guitarist is also a vocalist, just give it to him and let him run with it, right? Right!  And on "Too Tired", Don Leich does exactly that.  However, the Jersey Swamp Cats are a guitar AND piano-led band so regardless of it being a Fats Domino or an Albert Collins track you'll get your share of both smoking guitar and smoking piano leads...and that's always a good thing.    
With Albert King being my all-time favorite blues artist, I had to mention this one.  Of course, the fact that the guys do a hell of a job of his "I Get Evil" also came into play.  With this being one of not a whole lot of uptempo songs of Albert's, it's easy to figure out why the Cats chose it.  Like those kids on Bandstand might say, "it had a good beat and was easy to dance to " putting it right in the Jersey Swamp Cats wheelhouse.
Just like the disc started out, it closes with an original track that will not only get you jumping, jiving and wailing but rocking as well - it's titled "Shiny Gray Corvette".  A la Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry, this smoker features the Swamp Cats in all-out jam mode.
To contact the Jersey Swamp Cats just look them up on Facebook at  Jersey Swamp Cats

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Jimmie Vaughan

“Baby, Please Come Home”

The Last Music Company

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2019

So while awaiting the arrival of Jimmie Vaughan's CD for review, I will admit to wondering what the heck I would say about Jimmie that hasn't been said a hundred times before and that his music doesn't already say for itself.  Then the disc arrives and on the back cover I read this: "Experiencing Jimmie Vaughan fronting his whole band with horns does not easily translate into there's almost no point in attempting it...". Thanks, Malcolm Mills, my task just got tougher.

Jimmie Vaughan's latest release is titled "Baby, Please Come Home" and on it, he has chosen to cover eleven of some of his favorite tracks, from some of his biggest inspirations.  Joining Jimmie, on guitar and vocals, is his typical cast of high caliber bandmates: George Rains on drums; Ronnie James and Billy Horton on bass; Billy Pitman on rhythm guitar; Doug James and John Mills on baritone sax; Greg Piccolo and Kaz Kazonoff on tenor sax; Mike Flanigin on Hammond organ; T. Jarrod Bonata on  piano; Randy Zimmerman on trombone; Al Gomez and Jimmy Shortell on trumpet; and Emily Gimble and Georgia Bramhall on background vocals. Having also produced the CD, with the credentialed talent like this, I can't at all imagine that having been much of a task for Jimmie.

On the opening and title track, Lloyd Price's "Baby, Please Come Home", the band starts off in such an old school groove that you immediately - and quite happily - know it's one they'll never leave.  The shuffle features the full horn section magnifying the already magnificent rhythm and Jimmie giving us an early taste of what's ahead - a whole lot of scorching blues guitar licks with bluesy and soulful vocals.

Speaking of those soulful vocals, "Just A Game" (Huey Meaux) is just the place to find them.  With the band laying down a soft horn-led rhythm behind him, Jimmie's at his soulful and emotional best right here.

Lefty Frizzell's "No One To Talk To But The Blues" comes to us from the early fifties and on this rendition, Jimmie and the guys kept the country blues classic right there.  If you're going to do old school, keep it old school.

Talk about old school, Jimmie's crooning on T-Bone Walker's "I'm Still In Love With You" is somewhat reminiscent of something you'd hear Nat King Cole singing.  Musically: Ronnie's soft bass lines; Georges scratching of the brushes on the Tom; T. Jarrod's delicate tickling of the ivories; Mike's soothing Hammond organ chords; the subtle hum of Kaz and John's saxes; and the subtle stinging of Al's muffled trumpet; all provide the perfect, slightly jazzy accompaniment for Jimmie's cooing.  

I found it somewhat peculiar that Fats Domino's "So Glad" didn't feature the piano. That said, it does feature some of Jimmie's best guitar solos.  Combine that with Doug's unfathomed baritone highlights and Greg's outstanding tenor standouts, plus the fact that this is the only track that's over four minutes, and you've got the disc's best track.               
The disc closes with "Baby, What's Wrong?" - a track by one of my all time favorites, the great Jimmy Reed.  It features a fierce rhythm led by George, at his disc's best on drums, and Mike, covering for the missing harmonica with a rapid pace on the Hammond.

Other tracks on "Baby, Please Come Home" include: "Be My Lovey Dovey" (Richard Berry); "What's Your Name?" (Chuck Willis); "Hold It" (Clifford Scott & Billy Butler), "It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)" (Ted Jarrett); and "Midnight Hour" (Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown). 

With the 2019 Blues Music Awards being just about five-six weeks behind us, I'm going to go ahead and call  "Baby, Please Come Home" one of the morning line favorites for at least two-three nods in 2020. 

For more about Jimmie Vaughan just visit him at; for more on the Last Music Company check them out at; and should you need a copy of "Baby Please Come Home" for airplay, just email Lisa Best at  Whomever it is you visit or contact please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



Tullie Brae


Endless Blues Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2019

If there were ever a real-life woman who I would compare to the Statue Of Liberty it would be Tullie Brae.  Like Lady Liberty, Tullie is statuesque; wears flamboyant outfits; is stunning to look at; commands your attention; she's not someone you're not sure you've ever seen because her impression is everlasting; and although in a different way – through her singing, songwriting and musical talents – she has a way of making people feel good.

Tullie Brae's third release is titled "Revelation".  On it, in addition to writing all ten tracks, the multi-talented performer plays piano, Hammond organs, slide cigar box guitar and sings lead and harmony vocals.  Joining Tullie on the project are: the disc's producer Jeff Jensen on guitar, percussion and hand claps; Bill Rufino on bass and hand claps; David Green on drums; James Cunningham on percussion and drums; Rick Steff on Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer organs; Susan Marshall and Dauniele Hill on backing vocals; Mick Kolassa on han dclaps and backing vocals; Brad Webb and Sturges Nikides on slide guitar; Brandon Santini on harmonica; Alice Hasan on violin; and Myra Hall on viola.

Back in 1978, there was a documentary titled "Scared Straight".  In a nutshell, it told the story of a couple of delinquent punks who spend a few hours with a handful of prisoners who are serving life sentences at Rahway State Prison. The object of the project could simply be described as "preventative prison" if you know what I mean.  The disc's opening track reminded me of that documentary.  It's my belief that if you locked a few domestic abusers in a room with Tullie Brae - powerfully belting the hell out of "Price Of The Blues" right up in their faces for a few hours - these bastards may just think twice before pushing another woman around.  With the eerily intense rhythm and slide guitar work from the hands of Bill Ruffino, David Green and Sturgis Nikides respectfully, the song is as powerful musically as it is vocally and lyrically.

Being the daughter of a preacher and honing her singing skills in churches at a young age, Tullie's Gospel roots are quite evident on "Seven Bridges".  The song tells of a place where Tullie goes to find the water to wash her soul - something even us good people need to do from time to time.  Once again, the rhythm, percussion and slide guitar - this time compliments of Bill Ruffino, James Cunningham and Brian Webb - are outstanding and the heavenly sounding lead and harmony vocals, along with the timely hand clapping, lift this one to a hymnal quality.

As the title may imply, this is another song centering around another unappreciative, non-understanding, love-less male and it's time for Tullie to "Break These Chains".  Just like Tullie's vocals and attitude, the rhythm is rough and just like the story the song is telling, Brandon Santini's harp play is chill-inducing.   

So sensing a need to put some of this negativity behind her and bring some happiness into her life, Tullie does what every woman does when that needs to happen - she gets a pair of "New Shoes".  Well not really, but the person who has now entered her life does make Tullie feel as happy as having that new pair of shoes.......hey, it's a girl thing.  Once again, from pen to performance, this is a beautiful song that features Tullie and Jeff sounding so good together on another bluesy ballad.    

The disc closes with a song in which the title consists of words that can never be said often enough - it's called "Thank You Mom".  Of course, it did make me think of my mom and it did bring tears to my eyes as well.  Needless to say, the lyrics are quite emotional and it may very well be the best tribute to a mother that was ever written.  The song could have been spoken like a poem with no music and still have been touching however, the moving concerto that Tullie, Alice, and Myra perform on piano, violin and viola, took it to beyond the sky.  Tullie, bring this to Hallmark to be placed in one of those musical Mother's Day cards and take the Brinks truck with you.

To find out more about Tullie Brae just go to: and to get your hands on a copy of "Revelation" - which I highly recommend you do – just go to see Mick Kolassa at  As usual, please let Tullie or Mick know that the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Bad Influence

“Got What You Need"”

Badblues Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2019

Bad Influence was formed thirty years ago and the nucleus of the band: Michael "Jr" Tash on guitar and bass; Roger Edsall on harmonica, slide guitar and vocals; Bob Mallardi on bass and vocals; and David Thaler on drums; have been intact for a whopping twenty-five years.  Besides that being a testament to dedication, professionalism, and friendship, it's the reason the band consistently feels tight. Containing nearly an hour of music, covering several styles of blues, "Got What You Want" is Bad Influences' fourth release.  Other musicians featured on it include: Mary Shaver and Tom Swanton on vocals; and Ray Tilkens on guitar and organ.  Of its thirteen tracks, four are Roger Edsall originals.

So with the title track and original being "Got What You Need", it would be easy to think this is a thankful song about having what you need. It would also be wrong!   You see, the song - which is actually more about wrath than warmth - is being sung to someone who just happens to have what you want but - very happily - you have what they need.  Yeah, the subject and the lyrics are rough and the roughness doesn't stop there. This rocker's got a rugged rhythm: jarring harp leads: aggressive guitar licks; and fierce vocals.  Great way to kick - and I do mean kick things off.  

Second guessing myself, for a second there I was thinking that the previous track may have been a tough one to follow... then on came the next original track and I came back to my senses.  Take everything I said about the band above and replace the harmonica with some killer slide; make it a bit more ambitious; step up the pace some; and the guys now have you flippin' your lid over  "Lid Flippin' Short".

Funny, had I been a "Male Man" like Roger Edsall, instead of being a mailman like I actually was, I may have never left the post office.  Trust me here, these package's he's delivering aren't the kinda packages you get from Amazon.  In addition to Roger proudly boasting about those 'special deliveries' of his, he and Jr are worthy of boasting about on some of their killer harmonica and lead guitar licks as well.  Another original and another smoker.

Now Chuck Berry may have been commonly known as the "Father of Rock and Roll" but everyone knew he could play the hell out some blues as well. On his "Wee Wee Hours", that's exactly what Bad Influence is doing - playing the hell out of some blues... slow, scorching blues at that.  Although Jr kills it on every song, this being the type of stuff that floats my blues boat at high tide, I honestly feel he's at discs best here.

Coming up towards the end of the review, I gotta tell you, "I Feel Good" (James Brown).  By the way. so does the whole band - especially Bob Mallardi. On what sounds like an upright bass he's all over this rhythm.  Yep, as mentioned earlier, some of that consistent tightness has never been more evident.

The disc closes with an instrumental by "Little" Walter Jacobs titled "Blue Midnight".  The song, being in memory of a friend of the band named John "Taco" Cabral, is indeed blue and indeed as dark as midnight.  Roger lays it out with an emotional and sullen harmonica performance.  

For more on Bad Influence, and to get yourself a copy of what might be one of this year's best contemporary albums, just go to  As usual, please tell Jr and the guys that their buddy the Blewzzman sent you.         

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Ray Fuller & The Bluesrockers

“Pay The Price”

Azuretone Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © May 2019

So what's a better testimonial than having opened shows for Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Buddy Guy?  How about Muddy walking onto the stage after Ray Fuller's set and saying "That was some hot slide boy, I could smell the smoke backstage" or John Lee Hooker being so blown away by Ray Fuller's opening set that he featured Ray as a special guest at his next show?  That's testifying at it's best right there.  Yeah, in the forty years Ray Fuller has been fronting The Bluesrockers, he's not just been around the block a few times, he's been around the world a few times as well.

"Pay The Price", released on May 28, is Ray Fuller and the Bluesrockers eleventh release.  Along with Ray, on vocals and guitar, The Bluesrockers are: Tutu Jumper on drums: Doc Malone on harmonica; and Manny Manuel on bass.  The album features fourteen tracks of which eight are Ray Fuller originals.  

"All Aboard"... The "Hoodoo Train" is about to leave and this is one trip you don't want to miss 'cause once you ride, you'll never be the same.  On this original track, Ray and his engineers take you on a smokin', rhythm-fueled train ride from Memphis, TN all the way to New Orleans, LA.  The trip will take you through many cool places, and Ray will provide you with a musical history lesson along the way.

Later on, Ray will cover a Chuck Berry song but right here on this original titled "Pearlene" you'll certainly hear Chuck's influence.  That said, it's kind of needless to tell you that this one's an all-out rocker with smokin' lead guitar licks.  

Nothing quite makes a song about a train work better than a profound rhythm and a smokin' harp, and on "Alabama Train" (Iverson Minter a.k.a. Louisiana Red), Tutu, Manny, and Doc have that covered quite well.  With this train slowly chugging along, Ray's pain is quite evident as he sincerely and emotionally tells of being a long way from home with nobody to love him.
"Mean And Evil Woman" is another of Ray's original tracks, and being good old down in the alley slow blues, certainly makes it one of my favorites.  Mood inducing, in the pocket rhythm: smokin' harp and blues guitar licks; and gut-wrenching melancholic vocals.....that's what you call the blues.

What's also called the blues is "Bad Luck And Trouble" - something that seems to follow bluesmen like Ray Fuller wherever they go.  The upside to that downside is ya get to write and sing some great songs and play the hell out a guitar - and on this particular track Ray's laying down some of the disc's best slide guitar work.  Real good stuff right here.

To say that Ray Fuller and the Bluesrockers tore it up on "Tore Up" (Hank Ballad) would be totally understated. It's barely over two minutes and similar to calling the Kentucky Derby "the fastest two minutes in sports", this is the fastest two minutes in blues. Turn it up, hold on and just when you think it's time to catch your breath watch out because.........ah, you'll just have to listen and find out for yourself.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Michelle D'Amour
and The Love Dealers
“Heart of Memphis”

BluesKitty Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © May 2019

Ten months seems to be a good common denominator on Michele D'Amour And The Love Dealers calendar.  Not only has it been exactly ten months since I sat here working on "Wiggle Room" (their last release), but with "Heart Of Memphis" being their fifth release since February of 2014 (when they cut their debut disc), they seem to be averaging a recording every ten months. Should we expect to be hearing from you again in March of 2020, Michele?  This listener is hoping so.

"Heart Of Memphis" was recorded in Memphis, at the beginning of the year, while Michele And The Love Dealers were in town for the International Blues Challenge.  The band consists of: "Michele D'Amour McDanel on lead and backing vocals; hubby Patrick McDanel on bass; Jeff Cornell on guitar; Dave Delzotto on drums; Brian Olendorf on keyboards and horn arrangements; and Noel Barnes on tenor sax. Special guests include: Rae Gordon, Sheila Kelly and Kristi Miller on backing vocals; Greg Lyons on trumpet; and Greg Schroeder on trombone.  The recording consists of eight tracks with seven of them being band originals.  

With the rhythm and percussion providing a substantial Latin flair, if you like to Merengue, Cha-Cha, Mambo or Salsa then "Another Sleepless Night" is right in your wheelhouse.  This opening track, although somber in the story it tells, is definitely one you may want to Samba to as well.

"Come On Over" is not anything Michele would ever have to say twice. As a matter of fact, if there were ever an offer I couldn't refuse it would be hearing her sultrily saying "Come On Over, I need some relief. Only your love can satisfy me." From the vocals, to the rhythm, to the entrancing piano and trumpet leads by Brian and Greg, this is one hell of a sexy song.

Since "No Time" is about life at a frenzied pace, that's a logical pace for the band to be at as well.  With the guys in a funk on steroids mode, Michele playfully - and anxiously - sings about making 'instant' coffee, driving her 'fast' car in the 'express' lane, shopping on the 'high speed' Internet, making 'minute' rice and getting 'overnight' deliveries......amongst other quick fixes.  Be advised - if you're driving, as this one comes to an end there is no need to pull I almost did. 

The title track, "The Heart Of Memphis" tells the story of Michele And The Love Dealers trip to Memphis. It's a soulful number that touches on the vibe of the International Blues Challenge; the allure of Beale Street; the camaraderie with fellow musicians; and something that I all too well remember - dealing with snow flurries; slick and icy streets; fourteen-degree temperature; and chilling winds. Yep, I was right - there was a song in there somewhere and Michele co-wrote it. 

The only cover on the disc is the bands very soulful rendition of "Memphis Soul Stew" (King Curtis).  As Michele narrates the instrumental recipe, each performer gets highlighted making it one of the disc's best musical tracks.  That said, I'm thinking the band may have thought they were making a triple batch because they were pleasingly heavy with all the ingredients.    
To find out more about Michele D'Amour And the Love Dealers just go to   Also, should you have not yet received your copy of "Heart Of Memphis" for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at  BTW, when you contact the ladies, please let them know the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

AG Weinberger


AG Weinberger


Bigfoot Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2019

Although he's often referred to as a blues musician, AG Weinberger prefers his music to be described as "related to the blues".  "Reborn", AG Weinberger's ninth release, is a testament to that.  It features twelve tracks - of which ten are originals - that explore a wide range of styles yet never deviating that far from the blues.

On "Reborn", AG Weinberger - on all guitars, lap steel guitars and vocals - is joined by: Cseke Gabor on keys; Pusztai Csaba on drums and percussion' Hars Viktor on bass; Voga Viktoria and Pusztai Kabelacs Rita on background vocals; and special guest Bob Margolin on slide guitar.

The disc opens with a song on which the lyrics will be quickly recognized but the music most likely won't.  AG and the band took Willie Dixon's classic "Wang Dang Doodle" and successfully wanged, danged and doodled a modern jazz sound into it.  The track's highlighted by Cseke, Pusztai, and Hars beautifully sounding like a three-piece combo you'd hear in your favorite local jazz lounge, and AG keeping it very bluesy on the vocals while laying down some quite jazzy guitar chords.  This interpretation was perfectly pulled off.

The jazzy groove stays right in place on "Sweet Little Number" but AG gets a little down and dirty on some hot and bluesy guitar leads.  You may think you recognize the song but be careful as you attempt to sing-along here.  Just as you're about to say "she's barefootin", you'll be stopped in your tracks.

For AG, which side of the tracks he was born on isn't an issue but being born "On The Wrong Side" of the blues is.  Kind of makes you wonder if being born on the wrong side of the tracks may have changed that.  As they've been all along - and unquestionably will continue to be, Cseke, Pusztai and Hars are magnificent on the piano, drums and bass and along with some heartfelt and melancholic vocals, AG does a fine job of channeling some of that pain he's feeling right through his lap steel guitar.

If you want to highlight one of the tracks on your album with a slide guitar then use Bob Margolin and make it just that - a highlight!  Hearing Bob's masterful sliding throughout the track, culminating into a sparring session with AG on some closing licks, turns "The Fool's Lucky Day" into the listener's lucky day.

Since you already know my take on the outstanding musicianship involved here, and with this track individually highlighting all of them, let me simply say that "Slippery Slope" will most likely be six minutes of some of the best jazz-blues fusion you may ever hear.  End of story!

Being from Detroit could have been a reason Johnnie Bassett knew a thing or two about a Cadillac, and anyone who ever heard him play and sing certainly knows he knew a thing or two about the blues.  Doing Johnnie's song justice, AG knows a thing or two about those "Cadillac Blues", as well.  This one isn't at all "blues related", it's straight up blues and you can feel comfortable calling AG a "blues musician" on this one.      

To find out more about AG Weinberger just go and if you've not yet received a copy of "Reborn" for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at  Regardless of whom you contact, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Laurie Jane & The 45s


Laurie Jane & The 45s

“Late Last Night - Elixir Of Sara Martin”

Down In The Alley Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2019

Although I'm not a big fan of doing this, every once in a while something is written in a one sheet or at a band’s website that is worthy of repeating word for word.  "Laurie Jane and the 45s are Louisville, Kentucky’s rising blues sensation. Laurie Jane Duggins’ vocals carry a torch for classic singers of the 40’s and 50’s while the band delivers Chicago blues swagger infused with the raw energy of early rock pouring out of Memphis. Their soulful originals and unique interpretations of classics delight any blues-hungry audience."

"Late Last Night - Elixir Of Sara Martin"  is the band's second release and its mission was to pay homage to Louisville's own, Sara Martin.  As Cort Duggins tells it on the disc's liner notes, Sara could very well have been blues music's most noteworthy unknown artist.  A singer/songwriter, who recorded on the Okeh record label, Sara never quite reached the popularity level of contemporaries such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. Do yourself a favor and look her up.

Laurie Jane And The 45s consists of Laurie Jane Duggins on vocals; Cort Duggins on guitars and piano; Jason Embry on bass; and Scott Dugdale on drums; Guests include: Brian "Boss" Hogg on saxophones; Screamin' John Hawkins on guitar; and Eric Snyder on trumpet.  "Late Last Night - Elixir Of Sara Martin"  includes twelve old school cover tracks - some of which were penned by Sara herself -  that fit right into the disc's M.O.

"Blind Man Blues" (E. Green/B. McLauren) sounds like something you'd hear coming out of a speakeasy during the roaring twenties or a honky-tonk on Bourbon Street during any era.  It's a lazy shuffle that features Laurie vocally stepping back in time to a period she would have easily been a star in. She's a natural when it comes to that slow, sultry singing style that was so prevalent of the time.  Musically, with a relaxed rhythm highlighted by Eric's steamy trumpet leads and Cort's easy-going ivory tickling; and Screamin' John's subtle yet stinging guitar leads; the band's got the mood set just right.                

On another Sara Martin track, the emphatic tone of voice in which Laurie Jane says he's "My Man" makes it pretty obvious she's serving notice to all other women.  Don't even think about it ladies!  With Scott and Jason laying down deep rhythm tones behind him, this one features some amazing pickin' and slide guitar work by Cort.

"Pleading Blues" is the third of five Sara Martin tracks.  It's also another of the three tracks that my late father might recognize from his younger radio listening days.  It's a duo featuring Laurie Jane and Cort - a.k.a. Mr. & Mrs. Duggins - working their magic on vocals and acoustic guitar.

"I'm Gonna Be A Lovin' Old Soul" (S. Martin/C. Hayes) is the disc's most contemporary track and my personal favorite.  It features the beautifully voiced Laurie Jane showcasing some very nice range; Hubby Cort showcasing some very nice slide guitar and fiery piano leads; smoking rhythm by Jason and Scott; and Brian at disc's best on the sax.  Good stuff!

In addition to purchasing "Late Last Night - Elixir Of Sara Martin" at the record labels website, you can also get it through CD Baby, I-Tunes, and Amazon.  Also, I highly recommend checking out Laurie Jane & The 45's at  As usual, please tell Laurie Jane and/or Mike Suttles that the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Vin Mott


Vin Mott

“Rogue Hunter”

Self Released
Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2019

On the liner notes of Vin Mott's second release, "Rogue Hunter", he informs the listener that the album was recorded live in the studio with very little overdubbing.  Vin's take on that is he feels some of the charm of blues music includes its flaws and that the music should be tough, haunting, joyous and heartfelt, but not necessarily perfect.  To that, I say, "You could've fooled me, Vin".

On "Rogue Hunter" - Vin Mott, on harmonica and vocals and composer of all twelve tracks, is joined by: Dean Shot on guitar; Steve "Pretty Boy" Kirsty on bass; and Matt Niedbalski on drums.

In a roundabout way, the opening track explains to us that it wasn't his woman leaving him and taking their dog with her that gave Vin the blues.  Nope, he'll flatly tell you "Car Troubles Made Me A Good Blues Singer."  Musically, it's pretty much what you're going to hear throughout the disc - tough, haunting, joyous and heartfelt blues almost perfectly done.

As the saying goes, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" and with this one being titled "Give Me Cornbread" it's pretty obvious what's high on Vin's food chain.  C'mon Vin, I'm betting a big ol' plate of my mouthwatering Pasta "Fazool" might just whet that appetite of yours.

With its country blues vibe and lyrics like "Honey you must be crazy if you think I'd let you go, I feel like I'm in heaven got to find a way to let you know"; and "Honey you heat the oven baby I'll keep the fire lit, I'm gonna make you happy in a heartbeat lickity-split'; and other slightly more risque lines that require "Not FCC Clean" to have to be noted on the press release; I'm thinking that in the hands of a Chet Atkins or a Garth Brooks, this love song title "Honey" could be a big hit.  With the soft and tender vocals, the smooth and sultry harp leads and the masterful bass lines, Vin and Steve are easily at disc's best right here.

Growing up in close proximity to Paterson, New Jersey, it's breaking Vin Mott's heart that "Paterson Is Crumbling".  If you need to know just how bad it's gotten, consider the fact that Vin now feels he needs to "keep brass knuckles in his front pocket, a switchblade in the back and both eyes open in case of an attack".  The track's sullen rhythm, drawn-out slow blues harp leads and edgy blues guitar licks are the perfect eerie musical accompaniment to the dark story sadly being told.  Monster track!   

To find out more about Vin Mott just go – and if you've not yet received a copy of "Rogue Hunter" for airplay please contact Betsie Brown at  Regardless of whom you contact, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Roger Wilson Live at Madlife


Leroy Ellington's Sacred Hearts


Infinity Group Records
Publicity: The Galaxie Agency

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2019

So when an artist I'm writing about has shared the stage with so many greats of the blues genre, rather than mention those greats individually, I usually just say something to the effect of them collectively adding up to one hell of a two to three day blues festival.  That said, if I were to refer to the artists that Leroy Ellington has shared the stage with I'd have to say they'd have the liking of an oldies revival; an R&B revue; a country jamboree; a rock fest; and last but not least, a blues festival.

Like that skillful kid in school who lettered in football, baseball, wrestling, track, and band, Leroy is about as diverse as one can musically be.  However, it is the blues community's gain that back in 2010 Leroy realized how much he missed playing the blues.  So, for now, he's ours.

His new band is called Leroy Ellington's Sacred Hearts and "Sanctified" is their debut release.  The Sacred Hearts consists of: Leroy Ellington on lead vocals and saxophone; Max Gise on guitar; Marcos Sastre on guitar and background vocals; Charlie Fletcher on keyboards, Hammond B3, accordion and background vocals; Mike Grosser on bass; and Rick "Bam" Powell on drums and background vocals;  Additional special guests include: Chuck Brisbin on harmonica and vocals; Dwayne Irvin on saxophone; Matthew Anklan on trumpet; and Chris Arduser and Teddy Wilburn on drums.  "Sanctified" features eleven, all original tracks.

With the opening line of the opening track being "Well I don't know what you came here to do tonight, but we came here to party", it's a strong bet that the Sacred Hearts use this one to open their live shows as well.  Then once the band kicks in: the rhythm gets rockin'; the guitars and the sax start wailin'; and Leroy starts testifyin' about some "Good Time Blues"; the shuffle goes into full smokin' mode and the party has indeed started. 

So, does calling a new song that's released in 2019 a sixties protest song sound weird?  Well, from my interpretation, "Let's Make Love" is just that.  It's a song written about the riots that Leroy remembers witnessing back when he was a six year old child.  As it turns out, although he doesn't remember anyone being of any color, he was reminded that those were the race riots of 1968.  Frustrated that some fifty years later it still needs to be addressed, this is Leroy doing just that.  With a powerful rhythm being driven by some killer organ work going on behind them, the lead and background vocals - and the message they're delivering - shine on this one.

By now, all of my readers know that I get a bit excited when the most traditional, low down and dirty, slow blues song is the longest song on the disc, and this is one of those glorious minutes of it.  On it, Leroy asks "What Would You Do" if you knew today was your last day? Would you ask for forgiveness and get down and pray or would you spend all your money on a final getaway?  Further into the song he gives his answer but I'll let him tell you that when you listen.  Musically, this one features  Max and Marcos sandwiching Charlies's monster organ leads with some unbelievable blistering blues guitar solos; Leroy, making me think he should be wearing gloves 'cause he's  blowin' nothing but blazing hot blues out of that sax of his; and Mike and Rick backing it all up the rhythm it takes to make tracks like this work as they do.  Right about now my regular readers are also thinking I've I've spent at least twenty-eight to thirty-five minutes listening to this one......and they're right.  WOW!

"Until We Meet Again" is a song on which Leroy pays homage to his dearly departed parents.  The heartfelt and emotional message it sends is to never have to think of the things you "should have said".  If you're lucky enough to be someone who's parents are still alive - say it to them now.  Amen, Leroy! 

If you haven't yet received your copy of "Sanctified" for airplay, please contact Gina Hughes at The Galaxie Agency either by email - - or by phone - 615-351-0485.  Also, to find out more about Leroy Ellington's Sacred Hearts just go their website  Remember, whomever you contact, please make sure you tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Roger Wilson Live at Madlife


John Primer
Featuring the Real Deal Blues Band

“The Soul of a Blues Man”

Blues House Productions

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2019

While thinking about the eighty-five albums John Primer has released or been a part of; his two Grammy nominations; the countless, various blues music awards he's won or been nominated for; the huge contribution he has made to the blues for well over forty years; and mentally comparing him to other legends of the genre; two other blues albums, in particular, came to mind - one very old and one very new.  The old one is a Willie Dixon release titled "I Am The Blues" - to which I say "You sure were Willie but so is John Primer".  The new one is Buddy Guy's latest Grammy winning release titled "The Blues Is Alive And Well" (which I had the pleasure of reviewing), that features a song titled "End Of The Line".  It's a song on which Buddy addresses being one of the last old school blues legends and to that, I say, "You sure are Buddy but you've got some good company - John Primer is right there with you".

"The Soul Of A Blues Man" is John Primer's third release on his own record label - Blues House Productions.  The mission of the CD was to shine a light on his history as a soul singer when he began his music career back in the seventies with The Brotherhood Band.  The album was cut live at House of Tone Studio with John's working band - The Real Deal Blues Band.  That ensemble includes John Primer on vocals and guitar; Steve Bell on harmonica; Ronnie Hicks on keyboard; Charlie Kimble on sax; Lenny Media on drums; Chuckaluck on bass; and special guest Billy Flynn on second guitar.  The disc's twelve tracks include three brand new songs from John and covers of songs made famous by Bobby Bland, Freddie King, Lloyd Price, Johnnie Taylor, Toussaint McCall, Brook Benton, and Clarence Carter.

The first of John's three originals is a song titled "You Shouldn't Tell A Lie".  It's one of the more straight forward blues tracks that features Lenny and Chcukaluck in a tight rhythm groove; sharp, high-end Jimmy Reed type harp leads by Steve; barrelhouse-style piano highlights by Ronnie; and "real deal" blues guitar and vocals from the blues man himself.  

On this version of Toussaint McCall's "Nothing Takes The Place Of You"  John's so wearing his heart on his sleeve.  The emotional way in which he bears his soul on this melancholic ballad would have you believing he wrote this one from one of his own life's experiences.  Then the song ends with his daughter Aliya saying "we love you daddy, with all our heart and soul" and you just know that although he didn't write it, he's lived it. Musically, the somber rhythm, the soft and slow harp leads and the relaxed guitar leads are the perfect accompaniment.  Possibly the disc's best track.

The second of John's originals is "Please Don't Leave Me Baby" and it's another straight-up blues shuffle.  Once again, in addition to John belting the hell out of the blues, this track features him and his right-hand man - Steve Bell - just killing it on the blues guitar and blues harp.

Tony Joe White may have written it, and it has been recorded by some of the biggest names in the history of music, but it was Brook Benton's version of  "Rainy Night In Georgia" that made the song what it is.  That said, The Real Deal Blues Band are giving their rendition its due.  This might be some of the most soulful this listener has ever heard John Primer sounding and Charlie's sax work totally elevated the song.  Classy rendition of a classic song.

"Meet Me In The Dark" is the other John Primer original and like the first two, it's all about the blues.  Although John Primer may have started out - and does one hell of a job - singing soul blues, those of us who know him as a blues man know when he writes 'em, he writes the blues.  On this one, while he's belting the hell out of the blues vocally, it's Billy Flynn joining Steve Bell for the one-two blues knockout punches on the guitar and harp. Another killer track.

For more on "The Soul Of A Blues Man", to download these songs and more of John Primer's music, or to request a copy of "The Soul Of A Blues Man" for airplay, just go to  Additionally, you can find out a whole lot more about this blues legend at  Either way, please tell John and Lisa Primer that the Blewzzman sent you. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Roger Wilson Live at Madlife


Roger "Hurricane" Wilson
& The Hurricane Homeboys

“Live at Madlife”

Blue Storm Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2019

Roger "Hurricane" Wilson and I have crossed paths many times over the years and although many of those paths were business related, a long and wonderful friendship has blossomed from them.  I've had the pleasure of emceeing a few of his concerts, we've also co-emceed a few blues festivals and when Roger did a blues in the schools presentation in my neck of the woods, I had the honor of watching him capture the hearts, minds and souls of a class full of what could have easily been a bunch of unattentive and unruly children.  He's also been a big part of the Mary4Music family by having had us review several of his releases and placing songs on our compilation albums.

Normally, when doing reviews, I'd say something like "Live At Madlife" is Roger "Hurricane" Wilson's  #  release but while at his website, I lost count at "a lot", so we'll just leave it at that.  "Live At Madlife", of course, was recorded live at Madlife - a recording studio that just happens to be a place where you can enjoy fine dining and drink tasty cocktails all while being entertained by a band who just happens to be recording their music.

For this session, Roger "Hurricane" Wilson - on guitar and vocals - is joined by Marvelous Marvin Mahanay on bass and Billy Jeansonne on drums.  The disc's twelve tracks include ten covers and two Roger Wilson originals.

The disc opens with a smokin' rendition of Freddie Kings "San Ho Zay". The instrumental, which showcased the bands' amazing musical talents, was a perfect song to open with. With Marvin and Billy pounding out a blistering rhythm, Roger puts on a virtual rock/blues guitar lesson.  From casually playing rhythm to throwing out some relentless slide, to scorching and note bending licks, and everything in between - he's all over ALL of it.   

Not much changes on the following track, one of Roger's originals titled "Why I Do What I Do".  With Roger and the guys still going at it full throttle, Roger shares with us the reasons why he writes, sings and plays music and all of those reasons have to do with how good it makes him feel when he does it.  That said, I'm taking the liberty of adding another one.....he does what he does because he's damn good at it!

Just like Eddie Boyd did when he recorded Willie Dixon's "Third Degree" Roger absolutely crushes this version.  I'm going to take this opportunity to give Roger a personal message by telling him right here and now that the next time I see him play he has got to do this song for me.  I may have very well just heard some of the best guitar work I've heard in a very long time.

On another of his originals, like all of us, Roger seems to be baffled about the things taking place in "This Crazy World".  He doesn't know how it happened but when he was a kid - as one would be - what they do now, as he did then, they call it ADD.  He also doesn't know how it happened but when he was just a schoolboy he did arithmetic in his head and now you need a calculator to buy a loaf of bread... and there is a whole lot more that he doesn't know how happened.  Oh yeah, musically, the guys are once again killing it.

Perhaps the best-known version of J. Throckmortion's "The Way I Am" is the one done by Merle Haggard.  However, Roger does one heck of a job with this country song as well.  It's the only song of the lot with the music being a bit laid back and as a result, the listener gets to appreciate Roger's soulful and tender vocals.  Nicely done guys. 

So who thinks it makes sense for a three-piece band that consists of a guitarist, a drummer and a bassist to do a song by a pianist with a very unique style?  Roger Marvin and Billy, that's who.  I've got to tell you, their version of Floyd Cramer's  "Last Date" is absolutely masterful... even without a piano.

For more - and I mean a whole lot more - on this singer, songwriter, Radio and TV personality, author and educator, just go to  BTW, this time you don't even need to tell him the Blewzzman sent you 'cause he's just gonna know.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Chicago The Blues Legends Today


The Trevor B. Power Band

“Everyday Angel”

Self Released
Publicity: Blind Racoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2019

When you receive a debut CD from an artist who's been playing the blues for over twenty-five years, and that CD is incredibly good, it's easy to wonder what took so long.  That said, all that really matters is that "Everyday Angel", by Trevor B Power, is here - and as the expression goes - good things are worth waiting for.

The Trevor B. Power Band consists of: Trevor on guitar and vocals; Anthony Krizan on guitar, slide guitar, bass, drums, maracas, and background vocals; John Ginty on Hammond B3 organ and Grand piano; Billy Gensch and Bob Lanza on guitar; Tom DiCianni and Jim Ruffi on drums; Mark Enright and Niles Terrat on bass; Nick Conti on saxophone; Bobby Whitlock on slide guitar, piano, organ, strings, drums and background vocals; Coco Carmel on saxophone and background vocals; Danny Pompei on percussion; C C Coletti on background vocals; and Meghan E. Power on giggles.  The album features ten tracks all penned by Trevor.      

"You Ain't Acting Right" is a song on which Trevor needs to confront his woman about her apparent cheating ways.  It's a shuffle that features some straight up Chicago style blues.  With John Ginty and Nick Conti fueling the rhythm on organ and sax behind, Bob Lanza lights it up with some smokin' blues guitar leads.

This next track is a perfect segue. On it, Trevor's "Future Plans" no longer include that cheatin' woman.  As a matter of fact, he doesn't want her to be happy, he doesn't wish her very well, and he actually goes as far as wishing she was dead.  Oh yeah, he's pissed!  Musically it's an all-out smoker featuring ruthless rhythm, heated sax and piano leads and rockin' guitar licks - this time at the hands of Billy Gensch.               

This one may be titled "Saddest Thing" but at over five minutes of low down, slow blues with scorching, note bending guitar leads that featured over a ninety-second frenzied solo, you know that for this listener it was the happiest thing.  Easily one of the disc's very best.

"Baby I'm Through With You" completes the trifecta of the "get out of my life you dirty rotten, deceiving, unfaithful, loser who I wish would die" songs. It features Anthony and Tom at disc's best on the bass and drums and once again has Bob belting out some gritty guitar licks.       

The disc closes with the title track, a song written for, about, and to Trevor's real life "Everyday Angel" - his loving daughter.  It's an emotionally charged, tear-inducing ballad about having to deal with the worst by-product of a divorce - having to leave your children. Musically, it's nearly six minutes of some of the most beautiful music and heartfelt vocals and lyrics you'll ever hear.  Bobby Whitlock, on top of playing drums and piano on the track, puts on a masterful performance on the slide guitar, organ and synthesized strings, while his wife - Coco Carmel - adds some silky smooth sax highlights.  With this year's Blue Music Awards nominees just recently released, I'm making a long-range prediction and saying this one is a lock for a 2020 "Song Of the Year" nod.

To find out more about Trevor B. Power just go to and if you've not yet received a copy for airplay please contact Betsie Brown at  Regardless of whom you contact, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Dee Miller Band

“Leopard Print Dress”

Self Released
Publicity: Blind Racoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © January 2019

"Leopard Print Dress" is the third release from The Dee Miller Band. The band is based out of Minnesota and unless you're from there, or attend the International Blues Challenge on a regular basis, you may not be aware of how supportive Minnesotans are of the blues.  Considering the state ranks somewhere around number twenty in the population charts, it's my opinion there isn't any other state that has more fans in Memphis during the event.  If you don't believe me just be at the top of Beale Street at 3:00 PM on IBC Friday and you'll see.  That's where the masses...and I do mean masses... of the Minnesota Blues Society gather for their annual IBC photo.  Speaking of that, The Dee Miller Band will be competing at this year's event as the representative of that society.

The Dee Miller Bands consists of: Dee Miller - The Duchess of the Blues - on vocals; Craig Clark on vocals and guitar; Eric Meyer on bass and vocals; Jesse Mueller on keyboard and Mike DuBois on drums. Additional musicians on the project include: Toby Marshall on Hammond organ; John Pinckaers on piano; Paul Mayasich on steel slide guitar; Steve Clarke on tenor sax; Kevin Nord on screech trumpet, tenor sax, trumpet and trombone: Steve "Boom Boom" Vonderharr on blues harp; Dylan Saifer on slide guitar; and John Wright on tambourine;   Covering several style of blues, the album contains two originals mixed in with eight very interestingly done covers.

One sure way to get "Hot And Sweaty" is to head to a crowded dance floor and uncontrollably shake your booty to some sizzling music.  This is that sizzling music!  This original track features everything you need to get moving: hot and sweaty rhythm with some wild organ and piano leads and a powerfully infectious chorus line in which Dee encourages everyone with "Let's get hot and sweaty, c'mon baby get ready".  Great way to open up.

Showing the bands versatility, Dee and the guys took The Eagles' "Take It To The Limit" (Henley/Meisner/Frey) and totally turned it into a hymn. With John Pinckaers' absolutely beautiful piano performance leading the peaceful rhythm mood, it's the vocals that shine on this one.  With admirable supporting and background vocals going on with and behind her, Dee puts on an impeccable display of range as she absolutely belts this one out of the park.

This track credits Kelly Hunt as the composer but there are other songs out there with the same, or similar names, that were written by others.  That said, I will tell you this is NOT your Gene Autry version of "Back In The Saddle". That horse of his couldn't run fast enough to keep up this pace.

After one hell of a boogie woogie piano intro by Jesse Mueller, Dee belts out the very sound advice of "Snap on your seat belt and hold on tight, we're gonna go for a ride tonight" - and once the horns kick in and set the rhythm on fire, there's no looking back.

One of the first bands I started following after moving to Florida nearly forty years ago was Junior Drinkwater and the Thirst Quenchers".  Junior's rendition of "Last Two Dollars" was one that forever makes me think of him whenever I hear the song.  With a powerful and soulful voice very similar to Juniors, after hearing Craig belt out his version of the song I've got to thank for him for not only killing it but for reminding me of my old friend and putting a big smile on my face as well.

Perhaps the most beautifully done track of the bunch is "Midnight In Harlem" (M. Mattison/D. Trucks).  It's one of those stop what you're doing, sit back, relax, focus completely on the music and just allow it to work its magic on you kind of ballad.  Everything about this song from the heavenly vocals of Dee and the background singers as well; to Boom Boom's velvety harp leads; to the soothing rhythm; to the faint tambourine in the background; is mesmeric.

I know that a lot of the musicians I heard on this disc will not be a part of Dee's IBC ensemble but with that said, if whomever she brings bangs out anything like I just heard here, I know they'll be going deep into the competition. 

To find out more about Dee Miller please go, and if you've not yet received a copy for airplay please contact Betsie Brown  Regardless of whom you contact, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Chicago The Blues Legends Today


The Knickerbocker All-Stars
Featuring Darcel Wilson & Thornetta Davis
“Love Makes A Woman”

JP Cadillac Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © December 2018

"Love Makes A Woman" is the fourth release of the famed Knickerbocker All-Stars series.  With some of the best vocalists and musician in the business appearing on the first three projects, the term All-Stars is indeed an understatement. It's this writer's opinion that the band could very well be called The Knickerbocker Super-Stars.

This time around, things are a bit different though.  Oh, the album still features a dozen world class vocalists and musicians but on "Love Makes A Woman", two of those super-stars are ladies.  The musicians welcoming lead and back up vocalists Darcel Wilson and Thornetta Davis to the Knickerbocker All-Stars include: Mark Tiexeira on drums; Brad Hallen on bass; Kevin Barry on guitar; David Limina on piano; Rich Lataille on alto and tenor sax; Doug James on baritone and tenor sax; Carl Querfurth on trombone; Doc Chanonhouse on all trumpet solos; Carl Gerhard on trumpet; and Michael DeQuattro on percussion.

"Love Makes A Woman" contains twelve cover songs that were inspired by some of the greatest female R&B/Soul singers of our time.  Musically, it's a melting pot rhythm and blues, soul, jazz and swing blues.

One of my favorite sing-a-long songs of all time was Jackie Wilson's "Higher & Higher" (Jackson/Smith/Miner/Davis). Most of the times it's a struggle deciding which part I'd prefer to sing, the lead or the backup.  On this outstanding rendition, Darcel is killing it on BOTH - and on those high notes, she indeed takes them higher and higher.  Equally as powerful are the tracks rhythm and horn sections. Right from the drum solo intro, to the precision rhythm of the shakers, to the ever present vibrant horns and the penetrating trumpet and sax leads.

On "Good Rockin' Daddy" (Bihari/Berry) the band backs off into quite a swingin' rhythm groove with Brad laying down some intense bass lines.  And along with the horns - which are habitually profound - David and Kevin are absolutely outstanding on their piano and guitar standouts.  Vocally, this one features Thornetta belting out the lead and back up vocals right up there the way her predecessor - the great Etta James did.

Other than opening with Darcel saying "So you want us to swing? Well here we go!" - "Go Girl" (Austin/Kazanoff) is an instrumental and it surely does swing.  It's basically the full band, in serious roaring twenties, speakeasy, swing mode banging out some smokin' and swingin' jazz.  If this one doesn't get you moving, what hospital should we send those get well cards to?

You could probably offer a million dollars to someone who could name a female blues singer - or for that matter, any genre at all -  who's never covered a Bonnie Rait song, and never have to worry about parting with a dime.  That said, I'm also sure not many would even come close to the level of Thorneta doing Bonnie's "Nick Of Time".  Showcasing an amazing vocal versatility, the only thing silkier than Thorneta's vocals are her own backup vocals.  Musically, the band is in the perfect accompanying groove and Doc - who I believe is the only common denominator on all four releases - shines on a standout muffled trumpet solo.

As far as this track goes, I could probably use the same opening paragraph as above and just substitute the names of Darcel Wilson and Aretha Franklin in place of Thornetta and Bonnie.  If there was ever anyone who could do a rendition of "Since You've Been Gone", and sound as phenomenal as the great Aretha did, Darcel's your lady.  Of course, the All-Stars are all over it as well.

With the Blues Music Awards nominating process in full swing right now, it's this writers thinking that  "Love Makes A Woman" has got to be on the minds of many of the nominators.

By now, since "Love Makes A Woman" has been out for a while I'm sure most of you have already received an airplay copy and have been giving it many deserved spins.  On the other hand, should you need a copy just get a hold of John Sheerar at - and as usual, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you.    

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Rit Johnson

“My Kinda Blues”

Self released

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2018

Throughout his musical career of forty plus years, Rit Johnson has performed many different styles of music.  His diversity has allowed his bands to have shared the stage with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Bonnie Raitt, Little Feat, Bachman Turner Overdrive and The Temptations.  "My Kinda Blues" is his fourth release, with Rit now wanting to make his home in the blues. The album is a compilation of some of the songs he wrote that were inspired by specific artists from his early days and certainly fit into the genre. 

For the project, Rit Johnson, on guitars and lead vocals, assembled quite a talented bunch of musicians and some are names I'm sure you'll recognize. They are: legendary B3 and keyboard player Mark "Muggie Doo" Leach (Buddy Miles/SRV/Taj Mahal/Eric Burden/Peter Frampton just to name a few); Drummer Chris Peet (J. P. Soars & The Red Hots/Southern Hospitality); bassist Dennis Freireich (The Natty Bos); Englebert Humperdinck's former orchestral leader Jason Buelow on synthesized keys and electric piano; Drew Golden on saxophones (Osprey Band and B-Side Jones); and soloists Jeannie Blake & Jensen Murray on backup vocals.

The CD opens with a most impressive track.  It's a smokin', up tempo shuffle that - right out of the gate - features everyone on top of their game. Chris and Dennis are banging out a most pronounced rhythm on the drums and bass; Muggie and Drew are adding monstrous support on the B-3 organ, piano and tenor sax; and Rit's all over it vocally along with his scorching guitar licks.  Lyrically, Rit references the happenings between the birds and the bees, cats and dogs and even Adam and Eve, summing them up as "it's just something they do".  Eventually, he works it around to himself and the things he does - "singing what he loves and loving what he sings" and stating that "It's Just Something I Do."  Rit acknowledges the legendary B. B. King for this tracks' inspiration.         

Steely Dan gets the nod from Rit on this foot tappin', finger snappin' track titled "I've Got Something For Ya".  With it's usually strong rhythm and guitar leads taking place throughout, this one's highlights include Jason (on his only appearance) working some musical magic on the synthesizer and - like Steely Dan themselves - an outstanding vocal collaboration between Rit, Jeannie and Jensen on the lead, backup and harmony vocals.        

"I love My Baby" - inspired by Mike Bloomfield - is done just the way I love my blues... slow and lowdown. You put the rhythm guys in a slow groove with the organ leading the way; you have the guitarist bending out scorching guitar licks; and you let the vocalist emotionally and soulfully belt the hell out of the songs' lyrics; it just doesn't get any better than that.  Unless, of course, you let Muggie Doo loose for a torrid ninety second B-3 solo during which he arguably proves he's one of the best to ever sit at the instrument.  This one was six-and-a-half minutes of blues bliss at its best.

On the aggressive, hard driving track titled "An Important Man" Rit pays homage to the many blues/rock/boogie bands that were all influenced by John Lee Hooker.  From start to finish this one features everyone in all out, full throttle mode with Rit leading the way with a savage slide guitar performance.

To learn more about Rit Johnson all you need to do is check him out at and when you do, please tell him his newest fan, The Blewzzman sent you. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Diane Durrett & Soul Suga


Blooming Tunes Music
Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2018

I could paraphrase Rick J Bowen's opening paragraph on the one sheet but, since he did such a perfect introduction of the artist and the album I'm just using it word for word: “Delivering an evening of music and stories is the commission of a troubadour and the life chosen by Atlanta Soul Blues singer-songwriter Diane Durrett. Her eighth album and second with backing band Soul Suga, titled "Diane Durrett & Soul Suga Live" captures Durrett in her element; on stage with songs and stories of life, love, redemption, and celebration. All her skills are on display on this 25 track set captured at two shows at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, GA in July of 2017”. Well said Rick, thanks!

Backing up Diane, on vocals, spoken pleasures and guitar are the members of Soul Suga. They include: Melissa Junebug on drums and percussion; Yoel B'nai Yehuda on keyboards; Gregg Shapiro on bass; Markham White on guitar; and Adam McKnight and Deborah Reece on background vocals. For this live performance, they were joined by special guests Wes Funderburk on trombone and Kerren Berz on violin.

On this particular song intro, Diane recalls working on a song while watching the wind blowing on some very dry trees in the midst of a drought. Like people, she wondered if the stress on these trees would cause them to "Bend Or Break".

The song that intro refers to is "Wish It Would Rain" and some of its lyrics were directly inspired by that wind. With the band in a very relaxed and light groove, Diane - with the support of strong backup help - puts on an absolutely beautiful vocal performance while showcasing her borderless range. Between the vocal presentation and the song's message - about coping with life's curve balls and learning to bend, not break - the song possesses a hymnal quality.

When you write most of the music you perform it's stories like these that inspire songs and "Be Somebody's Angel" was inspired by that lost and hungry cocker spaniel and the people who loved it. With a similar vocal vibe as the previously mentioned song, and lyrics like: "Be somebody's angel, go out of your way. Do something special, why don't you make somebody's day. It don't take wings to lift spirits, feel how good it feels to be somebody's angel"; the song is wonderfully uplifting and inspirational. All that, along with a masterful organ performance by Yoel, and you'll want to say "Amen" at song's end

When you're listening to one amazing vocal presentation after another, by a singer with such precision, such range and such beauty to her voice, is it crazy to call a performance on a particular track her disc's best vocal performance? If so, then call me crazy. On a song titled "In Between
Times" Diane literally stopped me in my tracks. I stopped typing, hit replay, sat back in my chair and tripped out....four or five times. WOW! Kudos to Kerren as well, the string work was satisfyingly scintillating.

If there was ever a title that said it all it's surely "Junebug's Percussion Solo". For the better part of two minutes, it features Melissa going nuts on a drum and percussion solo leading into the next track... which is a seven-minute smoker titled "Sassy Larue". You name it and it's going on on this one: You've got percussion poundin'; rhythm rockin'; horns blarin'; guitars flarin'; hands clapping; sassy scattin'; wicked whistlin'; tweetie tweetin'; and even some mildly melodic finger poppin'
mouth action. Then, at the end of all the frivolity, Diane coyly asks the howlin' audience "Are ya havin' fun yet?"

Dating back to when I was a kid and hearing the incredible renditions of this song by Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, and many other female jazz/blues singers, Summertime" (Gershwin) has always been one of my favorite songs of all time. The common denominators for perfecting this song are two: first of all, you've got to have a sometimes soft and sometimes powerful, but all times sultry voice; and secondly, you've got to be accompanied by a similarly sultry horn performance. On this version, both Diane and Wes are crushing it.

Having no idea what the ticket price was for this concert was I'm going to now say that whatever it was, this audience got a bargain. This was one hell of a show.

To find out more about Diane Durrett just go to and if you've not yet received a copy of "Live" for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at Whomever you contact, please make sure you tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Dave Keller

“Every Soul's A Star”

Catfood Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2018

With several prestigious achievements and award nominations already under his belt, I have a feeling that - like his good friend, mentor and frequent bandmate, Johnny Rawls - Dave Keller could easily become a perennial "Soul Blues" nominee as well.  Since he's no longer New England's best-kept secret, as long as he keeps putting out releases of this caliber, the name Dave Keller merits being alongside the likes of Johnny Rawls, Wee Willie Walker, Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, et al.

With about half a dozen releases to his credit "Every Soul's A Star", is Dave's first on Catfood Records and his first with Grammy Award winning producer Jim Gaines at the helm.  The album consists of ten of Dave's originals and a cover of an Aretha Franklin hit.

On this project, Dave Keller - on vocals and guitar, is backed up by The Rays - aka the "Catfood Records House Band."  The Rays are: Bob Trenchard on bass; Johnny McGhee on guitar; Dan Ferguson on Hammond B3, Wurlitzer and keyboards; Richy Puga on drums; Mike Middleton on trumpet; and Nick Flood on tenor and baritone sax.  Also joining in are Janelle Thompson and Shakara Weston on background vocals; and Christopher Serrano on percussion.

The title track, "Every Soul's A Star", is a dedication from Dave to each and every one of us.  As he says, "as unique individuals, there is a beauty in each of us" and this is his way of "honoring that star in us all".  In my opinion, the same can be said for each and every song and on this one, each and every performer is a star.  Mike, Nick, and Dan - on the horns and Hammond - are magnificent; same for Bob, Richy and Christopher on the rhythm and percussion; Janelle and Shakara are like silk on the background and harmony vocals; and Dave - well, he's doing everything with the lead vocals that are worthy of those imminent "Soul Male Artist" nominations.

Although there are so many outstanding renditions of this song, Aretha Franklin is the first to ever record "Baby I Love You" (Ronnie Shannon) - a song that was written exclusively for her. The rhythm and horn sections, which I'll probably have praise for on each track I mention, are giving this one a bit of a funky feel; the ladies, whom "I do declare" I'll also repeatedly be complimentary of, are marvelously melodic; on the guitar solos, which aren't always present, Johnny's making me happy they were right here; and the maestro himself is showcasing some very impressive range on the very skillful and soulful vocals.

Ahhhhhh ballads! Have I ever told you how much I love them? Yeah, I know, every time I mention one, right?  Well, here I go again.  "You Bring The Sunshine" is such a beautifully written love song that I really do hope it was actually written for someone in particular.  If it was, that's one heck of a  special person. This whole track is one continuous highlight: Dave's killing it with his powerful and sincerely emotional vocals; Dan, first on the Hammond then on the piano, blew me away twice; Mike and Nick are soulfully sublime on the horns, and Bob and Richy are rhythmically right where a song like this requires them to be.  Easily disc's best with song of the year credentials going on right here.

"If you're gonna kiss me, 'Kiss Me Like You Miss Me'; if you're gonna hold me, don't let go; if you're gonna give me that love, I need it right now; don't make me wonder, I need to know." Having been away for a while, Dave seems a bit insecure as to if his lady missed him as much as he missed her.  With those and the rest of the tracks heartfelt lyrics being so beautifully sung to her, I'm sure she did. 

To find out more about Dave Keller just go to and
if you've not yet received a copy of "Every Soul's A Star" for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at Whomever you contact, please make sure you tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Rod Piazza
The Wizard Of The West Coast Harp
“His Instrumentals”

Rip Cat Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © October 2018

Remember those times you were at a Rod Piazza show and he and the Mighty Flyers got into such a mind blowing instrumental groove that you just didn't want it to ever end?  I sure do!  I also remember saying to the people I was with at some of those shows that "if they locked us in and threw the key away, it would be fine with me."  Well, for those of you who know what I'm talking about, here's your chance to once again experience many of those moments - one right after the other, and for the less fortunate who don't know what I'm talking about, here's your chance to find out.

Disc One
The opening track is "The Upsetter" from the 1986 Black Top Records release titled "Harpburn".  With the band rockin' out behind him, this one features Rod just blowin' the hell out of the harp - as fast and as hard as he can - for nearly four minutes.  Nuff said!

From the 1999 Tone Cool Records release titled "Here And Now" comes more of a jazzed up track titled "Stratospheric".  Except for a few somewhat relaxed harp leads, Rod pretty much let's the rhythm section run with this one and they ran it to a very cool, jazzy place.

"Ghostin'" comes to us from the 2001 Tone Cool Records release titled "Beyond The Source".  The track features several striking harp, piano and guitar leads, that are done in such a relaxing and laid back style that I found it to be absolutely hypnotizing.

"Scary Boogie" is not at all scary but it sure does boogie.  As a matter of fact, Rod gets so caught up in the smokin' guitar and piano thing going on that he can't stop himself from shouting out encouragement.  Oh yeah, he gets in his share of harmonica boogieing as well.  By the way, this one's off of the 1997 Tone Cool Records release titled "Tough And Tender".

The tone for this one gets set right from Honey's deep, dark and sultry four word introduction - "West Coast Midnight Blues" from the 2004 Blind Pig Records release titled "Keepin' it Real."  From there it goes right into some of the disc's most ass kickin' sounds that feature some of disc one's most amazing guitar work - which I do know was done by Henry Carvajal. There are eight more tracks on DIsc 1.

Disc Two
"Harp Throb", off of the 1995 Blind Pig Records release titled "Feelin' Good", is an all out smoker.  It opens with that familiar locomotive sound skilled harp players seem to be so good at blowin' and it accelerates like a locomotive as well.  Of course, these runaway train type songs gotta have a powerful rhythm as well and this one has some serious drumming behind it.

"Eliminator" happens to be the the only track of the bunch that is not off of a Rod Piazza album.  It comes from the 2005 Roseleaf Records release titled "Jimi Bott Live - Vol 1 - Cheap Thrills", which features a multitude of west coast heavyweights.  Along with Jimi, Rod and Miss Honey, this one features Alex Schultz on guitar, Bill Stuve on bass and Johnnie Rames on second bass.  I'm going to let Jimi himself say something about this track: ”Rod picked this rare chromatic instrumental over fifteen other songs to represent the band and himself... what I love about this track is that it shows the band’s incredible ability to think fast and improvise on the spot."  Well said, Jimi.

Although "Night's End" doesn't feature any singing, it does showcase Rod telling the audience a story about finding some "fine, fine late night blues radio programs".  That said, just listening to Rod's cool, laid back style of conversing is entertaining in itself and when you add in the laid back rhythm, Honey tickling those high end keys and some bottom string pickin' and bending that's going on behind him it all comes together so well.  Then, as Rod stops talking and starts blowing his harp, it's once again time to lock me in and toss the key out.

The title "Frankenbop" pretty much says it all.  This monster track features everyone in the band doing their thing as fast and as hard as they can.  It's got got to be a show closing or encore song 'cause I'm exhausted just listening.  The track comes from the 2014 Delta Groove appropriately  titled "Emergency Situation”. There are eight more tracks on DIsc 2.

Should you like to purchase a copy of Rod Piazza's "His Instrumentals", or if you're a radio station wanting a copy for airplay, just let Scott at Rip Cat Records know.  You can do that by going to  Of course, for more on Rod Piazza, all you've got to do is go to:  By now it's kind of needless to say, because I know you'll tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Maria Muldaur
“Don't You Feel My Leg”
The Naughty Bawdy Blues Of Blue Lu Barker
The Last Music Company

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © October 2018

Although "Don't You Feel My Leg" is Multiple Grammy Award and Blues Music Award nominee Maria Muldaur's first release on the London based The Last Music Company, it is actually the forty-first release of her career. That number, being far from a record, is nevertheless an impressive number indeed.

Unbeknownst to everyone involved, the seed for this recording could have possibly been planted back in 1973 when Maria was recording her very first solo album.  That's when Dr. John introduced her to a song called "Don't You Feel My Leg" which she loved, recorded with him and placed on the self titled "Maria Muldaur" album.  That release also featured "Midnight At The Oasis" and after that, there was no looking back for Maria. 

Fast forward some forty-three years and Maria now gets an invitation to put on a concert paying tribute to Blue Lu Barker as part of the newly created Danny Barker Festival held in New Orleans every January.  As the show ended, the awed crowd ultimately led to an overwhelming presence of people at the merch tent, all wanting to purchase the nonexistent CD of what they just heard.  And there you have it, the idea was sprung, the project was put into motion and the fruits of that seed are now available for everyone's enjoyment.

"Don't You Feel My Leg", which was produced by Maria, was recorded in New Orleans and the ensemble of talented musicians backing her on the vocals include: the albums musical director, David Torkanowsky on piano: Herlin Riley on drums and percussion; Chris Adkins on guitar; Roland Guerin on bass; Kevin Lewis and Duke Heitger on trumpet; Roderick Paulin and Tom Fischer on saxophone and clarinet; Eric Trolsen and Charlie Halloran on trombone.  The album contains twelve naughty, bawdy, blues tracks of which eight were written by and/or collaborated on by Blue Lu Barker and her husband Danny Barker.

The album opens with "Georgia Grind" (Allen/Williams).  It's got that familiar sound that anyone who has ever cruised up and down Bourbon Street will surely recognize.  David on the piano, Duke on the trumpet and Tom on the sax and clarinet are all belting out some of the best Dixieland Jazz you'll ever hope to hear, and the obviously good time Maria is having being bad, leaves no wonder as to how she was chosen for that festival.  This stuff is right up her alley. 

On this track, the horns get bluesy and the blues gets hor........errr, never mind.  Good lawdy this music's even making me bawdy.  This is one of the originals and it's called "Loan Me Your Husband."  On it, the band is in a slow and sultry groove with some very steamy sax leads by Roderick.  Speaking of steamy, hot damn - Maria's got my temperature rising. 

This original swinger is called "Now You're Down In The Alley" and it's actually a song about - and for - dancing.....the kind you do standing up.  With Maria belting out lyrics about the popular dances of the forties, fifties and sixties, the band is all over it with just the right groove for swinging to them all.  This one flat out rips.

He's good in the saddle; when he mounts, he knows how to rock and he knows just how to bounce; he never gets tired, he knows how to last; he climbs on slow and doesn't get off fast.  Hopalong Cassidy? Errrrrr, no!  It's her "Bow Legged Daddy" that Maria's talking about, and these are just some of the things he does that keep a smile on her face.... amongst other things.  With David, Herlin and Roland already locked into a sweet groove on the piano drums and bass, as soon as Maria gives her "Ohhhh ride me now" cue - Roderick and Eric join and take thinks up a notch with some sharp sax, clarinet and trombone blowin'.          

Here we are, with the song that started it all - "Don't You Feel My Leg".  Now I'm a firm believer of "No means no!" and yes, I do understand "What didn't you understand about no?" means.  Having said that, I'm kinda thinking that Maria really does want you to touch her "plump yet oh so fine, little old leg."  Featuring every musician in the credits, and on top of their game at that, this one's a musical masterpiece.

For more on Maria, check her out at; for more on the label check them out at; and should you need a copy of "Don't You Feel My Leg" for airplay, contact Lisa Best at  Whomever it is you visit or contact please tell them the Blewzzman sent you, but if it's Maria, also tell her that I said her legs look great on the disc's back cover.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


5 Shades Of Blue
“Sweeping Out the Blues”

Self Released

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © October 2018

One of the many things I've learned from doing these reviews for the last twenty years is the fact that there are so many wonderfully talented blues bands in just about every corner of this great big world of ours.  Another fact is that the majority of the members in this big blues community we're a part of will probably never get to hear most of them - and that, although understandable - is somewhat saddening.  Having said that, one of my biggest pleasures over those years was being one of the fortunate ones who have not only gotten to hear some of these excellent bands but have also gotten to spread the word so that others could, as well.

One of those bands is 5 Shades Of Blue from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The band consists of: Jim Snowdon on vocals: Barry Furneaux on guitar; Blair Brown on drums; Tracy Zukiwsky on bass; and Jerry Brown on guitar, vocals and harp.  "Sweeping Out The Blues" is the band’s debut release and all ten of it's tracks are Jerry Brown originals. For the project, the band was augmented by Dave Babcock on sax; Dennis Meneely on Hammond; Andrew Glover on piano; and Dan Sinasac on hand claps. 

Because I like to know more about the band, and the material I'm working with, than the average reviewer does, I sometimes email back and forth with the artists right in the middle of the review.  Although this story is a bit too long to tell, when Jerry answered my question about this track, I got a very warm and in depth feeling as to what it was like to hang out in “The Memphis Room”... a much cooler term - and place - than a man cave.  Because of the perfect mix and production, the track turns into a great introduction to each member of the band. The rhythm was so profound I felt like Blair and Tracy were playing right behind me; Dave's sax leads were incredibly sharp and crisp; Jerry's vocals were eloquent and vibrant; and the guitar work was commanding.  Great job guys!

Being the sucker that I am for slow blues and ballads, this is another one of my personal favorites.  As he so apologetically and so emotionally poured his heart out with these sorrowful and melancholy lyrics, I found myself actually wanting Jim's woman to hear his pleas and give him "One More Night".  That's how real he made this one feel.  With the rhythm guys in a smooth chill in the background, Jerry's slow burning guitar leads and Andrew's stunningly beautiful piano leads highlight this awesome track.     

This swinging shuffle is a story, or most likely a fantasy, about what happened to Jerry at the end of a gig one night.  As Jerry tells it, just as the band was ending a late night set, a very hot and sexy lady danced her way to the front of the stage and told him "'Wrap It Up', it's time to make love to you"'.  Needless to say, Jerry goes on to tell us he packed his gear up in record breaking time.  Musically, this one's a dance floor filler.  Several sax leads and timely hand claps, from Dave and Dan, added to the already rich rhythm Blair and Tracy had going on was a big plus.             

The disc closes with a song titled "Blue" – a track the band claims is "country blues that turned out more country than blues".  Call it what you want – I'm callin' it one of those down home, front porch, guitar pickin', harp blowin', foot tappin' and knee slappin' hoe downs where everyone – including the listener – is having a grand ol' time.  

You can reach the band by contacting Jerry Brown at and by liking the band’s Facebook page.  Once you find them please tell them the Blewzzman sent you and see if you can get them to tell you about "The Memphis Room".

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Vanessa Collier
“Honey Up”

Phenix Fire Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © October 2018

To say that Vanessa Collier, who is still a few years south of the age of thirty, has done it all would be an outrageously ridiculous statement... or would it?  Yeah, it probably would be - but saying she's doing it all would be hitting the nail right on the head.  In a genre where recognition usually comes after your social security checks start arriving, the name Vanessa Collier is already common place on many different organizations and foundations awards lists; She's pleasing very large audiences in clubs and festivals all over the world; she's talented enough and, equally as important, confident enough to play alongside, and going toe to toe, with some of the genres giants - as her recent stint on The Blues Cruise just proved; and as "Honey Up", her latest release also proved, besides her already established singing/songwriting/instrumentalist prowess - Vanessa is now quite an accomplished music producer as well.  Throw in a glowing personality and and ever present beautiful smile and attitude, and Vanessa Collier's checklist of requirements for success looks like this: check, check check, check, check..

On "Honey Up", her third release, Vanessa Collier on: lead and background vocals; alto, tenor and soprano saxes; acoustic and resonator guitars; and snaps is joined by: Nick Stevens on drums, percussion and shuitar; Nick Trautmann on bass; Sparky Parker on electric and resonator guitars; William Gorman on organ, piano, Rhodes, Wurlitzer and clavinet; Laura Chavez on electric guitar; Quinn Carson on trombone; and Doug Woolverton on trumpet.  In addition to producing the album, Vanessa also wrote nine of its ten tracks.

On the opening track, Vanessa takes us to church - and I mean that literally, as well as musically.  It's an original of hers that describes what it's like to be singing in a choir, in an non air conditioned church down south.  That's exactly why the song is titled "Sweatin' Like A Pig, Singin' Like An Angel".   Now I'm assuming that since this track was recorded in a comfortable atmosphere at Hearstudios in Maine, that there was very little sweatin' goin' on.  On the other hand, between her lead and own backing vocals, Vanessa's sure singin' like an angel.  With this being one of the five tracks that feature Quinn and Doug making it a full three piece horn section; Laura, as she always is, killing it on lead guitar; and monster rhythm led by some crazy good piano work by William; it's musically masterful as well.

So when something percolates, it permeates gradually and gains energy along the way.  If, like me, you're old enough to remember that Maxwell House Coffee commercial where the coffee perks real slow at first them morphs into full throttle percussion, that's a perfect example.  So is "Percolatin'", a very funky instrumental that builds up slowly as it goes along.  Nick Trautmann's dominating bass lines, William's enthusiastic organ leads and Vanessa'a tenor sax solos all highlight this one.

"Don't call me sweetheart. Don't call me baby.  Don't call me anything but my name.  You must be foolish, because I ain't your woman, your daughter or your friend.  There's a saying in the south and the south's real sweet, bless your heart you poor thing".  Now Vanessa may be saying "Bless Your Heart" to this poor dude but with lyrics like those - and the subsequent verses - I'm getting the feeling she really mean "kiss my ass and get the hell out of here!"  Although somewhat mellow, with Vanessa on the resonator and Laura on the electric guitar, the guitar work on this one is absolutely beautiful.  So is the smooth and sassy way Vanessa's telling this guy to get lost.

By now, most of the blues radio host should already be spinning "Honey Up".  With that said, should you need a copy for airplay, or are a fan who'd like to purchase a copy, please go to Vanessa's website -
When you do, please tell her that her friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Midnite Johnny
“Long Road Home”

Mosher St. Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2018

As the expression goes - "Where does the time go?"  I cannot believe that it's rapidly approaching forty years since I first met and became a fan and friend of Midnite Johnny.  It was in the early part of 1980, right after my relocation from New York to Florida.  One of the first blues bands that I discovered and started following was a group called Kilmo and the Killers.  Back then, Midnite Johnny was one of the "killers" and thirty-eight years later not a thing has changed - Johnny is still killing it.  

"Long Road Home" is Midnite Johnny's fourth release and his second on Mosher St. Records. On the project, "Midnite Johnny" Morana - on vocals and lead, slide and acoustic guitars - is joined by: Steve Zoyes on B3 organ and piano; John Grillo on drums; Sergio Caizzo on electric and acoustic bass; Stan Waldman on saxophone; Arlene Coutee on backing vocals; and Yoel Hyman on synthesized brass.  Additional musicians appearing on some tracks include Walter Williams on bass, James Cotmon on drums and Marc Loren on vocals.  Of the album's fifteen tracks, twelve are originals that were individually or collectively penned by John Morana and Steve Zoyes.

The disc opens with a Morana/Zoyes original titled "Your New Occupation".  Since their breakup, Johnny's deeply concerned with his vicious ex's new occupation - making a fool out of him.  It isn't a good situation to be in but certainly one that makes a good blues song.  Frustration is a great inspiration for a powerful and heartfelt vocal performance accompanied by stinging guitar leads and Johnny's all over that.   Also, knowing and having seen this amazing rhythm section many times, I'm quite sure that the masterful work I'm hearing right here from Steve (organ), John (drums) and Sergio (bass) will be an album long occurrence.  Great opening track.

The original and title track, "Long Road Home", is a full throttle smoker.  In addition to tearing it up on slide guitar, Johnny - and Arlene - are belting the hell out of the lead and back up vocals, and the rhythm section - possibly at disc's best - is in a furious and frenzied all out free for all.  Phew!  

It may be called "Lookin' Good" but it's certainly soundin' good, as well.  It's another of Johnny's composition and it's one of its two instrumentals.  The earlier part of this one alternates tempos and features some nice individual highlights: John's doing this cool thing with his sticks and snare drum rim shots; "One Night" Stan gets in a few hot sax leads; and Steve takes a few frolicking trots up and down the piano keys.  Then, with about a minute left; Johnny switches from soothing rhythm guitar mode into relentless, scorching lead guitar mode; everyone escalates it up four or five notches; and all hell basically breaks out.  Another "killer".

"All The Blues", one of Steve's originals, is a number that all of the dancers are going to love. It's a fast paced shuffle that's sure to have you moving and shaking, even if it's in your chair.  With John and Segrio laying down some of the album's most serious rhythm grooves; Stan doing likewise with some of the album's best sax leads and highlights; Marc Loren, the disc's producer, singing his heart out; and the boss, killing it on guitar; this is another of the disc's many winners.

One of the disc's three covers is an instrumental titled "Baby Batter" (Harvey Mandell). It features the whole band locked into a tight but very diverse groove.  At times it's jazzy; at times it's funky; at times it rocks; at times it grooves; and throughout those different times the only constant is that it's flawless and masterful.  Wow!  

Another of the covers is the blues standard "Key To The Highway" (Broonzy/Segar).  When you look at the names of some of the great rock and blues legends that have performed this song it puts into classic status.  Johnny's version is an acoustic solo rendition and it's the kind of performance that could, hands down, win the solo duo category at any blues society's IBC challenge.    

If you haven't yet received a copy of "Long Road Home" for airplay, please contact Jerry Blum at or just email him at  Of course, for more about Midnite Johnny, just go to or like his FB page.  As usual, tell whomever you contact that their friend The Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Sister Mercy

Self-Released CD

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2018

If I were to ever relocate solely based on being able to live in an area with an abundance of very talented blues bands, it would easily be somewhere in the Pacific Northwest - particularly around the Portland, OR area.  Spanning the approximately twenty years I've been writing these reviews I can't even begin to tell you how many high quality submissions I've received from that area.  As a matter of fact, in one of my earlier reviews I recall saying something about assuming a CD would be good just by seeing a zip code starting with 97 or 98 in the return address on the mailer. That was certainly the case when I recently received a package from Debby Espinor of Sister Mercy.  

That package contained "Diamonds", the second release from Sister Mercy -  the Portland, OR based band that consists of: April Brown on lead vocals; Scott Garcia on guitar and vocals; Roger Espinor on drums and vocals; John Webb on bass; and Debby Espinor on keyboards and vocals.  The disc contains ten tracks of which seven are band originals. 

One of the disc's three covers is a very well done version of the traditional "Traveling Shoes".  It's a Gospel style smoker that features what I'm going to call the bands trademark - powerful, range roving, attention commanding lead vocals from April with very similar vocal backing by Debby.  Throw in the added backup from the guys and you'll swear your listening to a full fledged choir.  Speaking of the guys, they're getting in some musical licks as well.  The strong rhythm and stinging guitar leads make the whole thing work as well as it does.

On this original track titled "Poison", April - as she does on everything she sings - is once again, very energetically, belting the hell out of the lead vocals; and the back up support - be it in harmony with April or during their melodic background "shoobie do bops" are absolutely fabulous.  Musically, there are several standouts worthy of mention; Debby's barrelhouse style piano highlights; Scott's scorching guitar leads; John's profound bass lines; and Roger's constant rhythm leading drumming.

The album's most traditional blues effort is an original titled "Beale Street" - the home to where it all goes down in Memphis, TN.  Having been there several times as their blues society's International Blues Challenge representative, and making it to the semi-finals both those times, it's my interpretation that the song is an autobiographical account of the city's merciless seduction of the band: blinding them with the bright city lights; wooing them with the sound of the blues and alluring them with it's charm.  Yep, Sister Mercy fell head-over-heals for Beale Street and they'll never, never, never be the same. Welcome to the club!  The track features a laid back, tight rhythm groove, several very nice slow blues guitar licks and as usual, the lead, harmony and backup vocals are the songs driving force.       

The disc closes with another original titled "Stop Knocking".  Calling it a melancholic break up song would pretty much nail the description.  Although it's April doing the booting, the obvious pain exuding from her emotional vocals make it evident there will be a torch for her to bear.  In spite of the sad subject matter, the duet featuring Debby - with an exquisite piano performance - and April - putting on a flawless, spell binding vocal performance - it becomes an incredibly beautiful song.

To experience some of the pleasure I've had listening to "Diamonds", just go to and grab a copy.  You can also like the bands page by simply searching Sister Mercy on Facebook.  Once you contact them, please tell them their new biggest fan the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Scott Sharrard
“Saving Grace”

We Save Music (Release: 9/21/18)

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2018

With his connection to The Allman Brothers Band, it's a given that Scott Sharrard - Gregg Allman's guitarist and musical director - knows a thing or three about Southern rock, some of which you'll be hearing on "Saving Grace,” his fifth solo release.  On the other hand, you'll also be hearing some soul, blues and R&B - with the keyword there being soul - and the influence of that Southern sound will be quite evident in them all.
"Saving Grace" contains eleven tracks with nine being Scott Sharrard originals, another being the last known composition from Gregg Allman and the other being the disc's only cover. 
On the project, Scott Sharrard - on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars and claps - is joined by just under my listing limit of thirty musicians; so instead of just referring to them as a "talented bunch of recognizable names", it is my pleasure to mention each and every one.  They are: Howard Grimes, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Steve Potts and Chad Gamble on drums; Leroy Hodges, Brett Bass and David Hood on bass; Charles Hodges, Alan Gamble and Pete Levin on B-3 organ; Eric Finland on Wurlitzer & electric piano and B-3 organ; Spooner Oldham on Wurlitzer piano; Moses Patrou on percussion, backing vocals and claps; Mark Franklin on trumpet; Art Edmaiston on tenor sax; Kirk Smothers on baritone sax; Jesse Munson, Yennifer Correia and Wen Yih Yu on violin; Jennifer Puckett on viola; Jonathan Kirkscey on cello; Susan Marshall and Pie on backing vocals; Charles A. Martinez, Jesse Guglielmo and the disc's co-producer Scott Bomar on claps; and special guest Taj Mahal on vocals.
"Saving Grace" is one of those albums where I could just go straight down the list of excellent tracks and make positive comments on each and every one but since I just made my point, I'll keep it to a few.
One of the several soft and relaxed tracks is a love song titled "Faith To Arise" (T. Reid).  It's a beautifully sung song about a weary traveler looking forward to returning home to his loved ones.  With some silky-smooth help from Susan, Scott's not only nailing it on the heartfelt lead vocals, he's doing it on the slide and acoustic guitars as well.
"Everything A Good Man Needs" is said to be the last song written by the late and great Gregg Allman.  Until now, the song had never been recorded and the honor of doing justice to it with the vocal performance it warrants was given to the legendary Taj Mahal.  Teaming up for their only appearance on the disc, Bernard Purdie and Brett Bass are putting out the tight rhythm; Also, on his only appearance, Pete Levin - one of the disc's four B-3 players - and Eric Finland on the piano, are totally killing it on the keys.
An obvious common denominator on so many of these songs is how beautiful they all sound and "Words Can't Say" is the cream of that crop.   The combination of the majestic strings, the heavenly horns, the pulse of the B-3 and Scott's exquisitely smooth and soulful voice all give this ballad a hymnal feel.
Like a flame thrower, "Sweet Compromise" starts off hot and never lets up.  The guitar's smokin', the rhythm's rocking, the horns are howlin' and on an album that has so many monster organ players, I'm going out on a limb and saying Eric's pounding out some of the disc's best B-3 work.  If this smoker doesn't get you moving, you've spent way too much time listening to music in a elevator, or worse than that - your pulse may have stopped.    
By now, those of you who regularly read my reviews surely know that when I'm high on a recording, I generally connect it to some type of comment about future Blues Music Awards.  Having said that, let me now say the "Instrumentalist - Vocal" category list just longer....and stronger.
To find out more about Scott Sharrard just go to and if you've not yet received a copy of "Saving Grace" for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at  Whomever you contact, please make sure you tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Michele D'Amour & The Love Dealers
“Wiggle Room”

Blueskitty Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2018

Although "Wiggle Room" is the fourth release for Michele D'Amour & The Love Dealers, there are several "firsts' that come into play with the project.  The album happens to be her first release on her very own Blueskitty Records - and it's also her first release with her new band.

Joining Michele D'Amour McDanel, on lead and backing vocals, are: hubby Patrick McDanel - the only remaining Love Dealer from past releases - on electric bass, electric upright bass and trombone; Jeff Cornell on electric, acoustic and resonator guitars; Dave Delzotto on drums; Brian Olendorf on keyboards; and Noel Barnes on tenor and baritone saxes.  Other special guest musicians include: Nora Michaels and John Oliver III on backing vocals; Angelo Ortiz on congas; and Greg Lyons on trumpet.

So with so many songs that use those all too common terms such as loser, cheater, liar, drunk, rotten, abusive, dirty dog, etc, to describe men, it's refreshing to hear one being sung about a "Sweet Lovin' Man".  The only problem is that Michele had to go through most of the others prior to finding that sweet lovin' man to come home to every night.  Michele and Nora's lead and back up vocals are smooth and sassy, Patrick and Dave have the rhythm  right in the pocket and Noel's tenor sax leads are absolutely splendid. 

Have you ever thought that one day you might be homeless? Probably not! Although most of us dread the thought of contacting cancer; having a heart attack or even passing a kidney stone (yikes!), most of us don't think we'll ever be homeless - and yet so many unfortunate people are.  Just imagine, as Michele has done, that you are:
"Nothing to no one, of no consequence,
    his heart's overdrawn, his life makes no sense.

Patrick's deep bass lines, Greg's muffling trumpet and Brian's hushed piano leads eerily take you for a walk down a dark alley – a place this unfortunate person most likely calls home.

"Let It Slide" has so much going on it may very well be the disc's best track.  The thirty second intro featured such an intense rhythm and percussion thing that I was actually looking forward to it being an instrumental.  In that short a time I was just blown away by the hypnotic vibe being laid down by Angelo (congas), Brian (organ), Dave (drums) and Patrick (bass). Then Michele starts singing with this absolutely beautiful, powerful yet soft, note holding voice that instantly commanded my attention......that is until Jeff jumped in with his crazy good guitar licks.  Take it from the Blewzzman, if you want to zone out for awhile, put on your headphones, turn the volume up a bit and play this one 4-5 times.  Right about here kudos to the disc's producer - Mark Riley - and engineer - Steve Feasley - are in order.  You guys earned your fee on this one alone.   

On this particular track Michele laments over the useless efforts she puts herself through in her attempts to prove herself "Worthy" to a loser who's not at all worthy of the effort.  It is another of the many well written tracks in which she makes strong statements and sends out strong messages.  If slow, sultry sax leads perk your ears, midway through this one Noel's got a real nice treat for you.       

With a title like "Hard Times", you'd like to think that this was a song about the great depression or some other event you'd like to forget about from the long ago past.  In reality, what's greatly depressing is that story the song is telling is taking place right now.  It's more about humanitarianism...or lack of it...than it is about politics - but we all know how fine than line is.  Michele's heartfelt lead vocals, along with John's soulful back ups as well, do a fabulous job of putting intense feelings into the songs powerful lyrics.  Musically, the dark rhythm, the somber sax tones and the solemn keyboard chords perfectly set the tracks melancholy mood.       .  

Between putting her new and best band together, putting out her best work yet and putting it in the hands of one of the best publicists in the genre, Michele D'amour & The Love Dealers have now got it all going on.

To find out more Michele D'Amour And The Love Dealers go to: or just search her on Facebook. If you've not yet received a copy of "Wiggle Room" for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at  Whomever you contact, please make sure you tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Lawrence Lebo
“Old School Girl”

On The Air Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2018

Those of us who know her already knew this, but for those who don't, it shouldn't take much convincing.  Just one look at Lawrence Lebo and you'll immediately understand that she is indeed an "Old School Girl" - which by the way, is the name of her sixth album.  Furthermore, listening to the album will reinforce the fact.

"Old School Girl" features eight tracks with seven of them being penned by Lawrence.....and as the title of some of her earlier releases warn - "Don't Call Her Larry".  On the project, vocalist Lawrence Lebo is joined by: Tony Mandracchia on guitar and banjo; Denny Croy on bass; Steve Mulagin and Ed Eblen on drums; Larry David on organ, piano and harmonica; Phil Parlapiano and Sasha Smith on Hammond B-3; and Wayne Peet on sweetening. 

As Lawrence tells it on the title track: Girls today like to get a text, but she'd rather you kiss her on the back of her neck; new school girls like to nay-nay and twirk, but she'd rather swing it and do the jerk; new school girls want to ride in an Uber but you'll see her drivin' her '57 T-Bird; she's an "Old School Girl" from head to toe, look her way baby and I'm sure you'll know. As mentioned earlier, those lyrics only tell part of the story. Lawrence's sultry voice and sassy, swingin' deliverance of them tells the rest.  Musically it could easily be one of the disc's best.  Denny Croy (Mr. Lebo, if I may say), Ed Eblen and Phil Parlapiano are nailing it on the bass, drums and organ; and although there's a lot more music ahead, I think Tony Mandacchia's smokin' guitar licks could be some of his best work. Killer track!

So you see T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday" listed in the song credits and right away you start thinking "Ho Hum".  Not this time my friends.  Mark my words, this rendition may just have you saying "Hot Damn!"  Having heard this song thousands of times by hundreds of artists, I'm pretty sure I just heard the most sensuous, most soulful and most powerful version ever recorded.  It's vocal performances like this one that the term "belting the hell out of it" was coined.  With another strong rhythm and guitar performance helping him out, it's Larry David deserving the kudos here. His organ and harmonica highlights were absolutely dynamite.

"Stop Shouting Your Business" is something everyone one of us has thought of saying, or possibly has said, to that jerk having a very loud conversation on a cell phone in the grocery store line.  Lawrence has surely had it, and is telling it like it is - "nobody cares about your shit, keep it to yourself, don't go telling it".  Agreed!  From the sounds of things, that grocery store she's in is on Bourbon Street in N'Awlins.  With Carl Byron leading the way on his accordion, there's a big time Zydeco thing goin' on here.

There's more that Lawrence has had it with.  On "Bad To The Core" she's had it with being good, she's had it with being nice and she's had it with being sweet, but that just ain't happenin' anymore.  This one's a smoker with Denny, Steve and the disc's third organist - Sasha Smith - powering the rhythm.

So you're Denny Croy (Lawrence's long time husband) and you have a big night planned for for your thirtieth anniversary.  You've got a limo picking you up, reservations at the best restaurant in L. A. and a night of dancing at the city's swankiest club afterwards. All of a sudden, Lawrence starts singing "Happy Anniversary Baby", in the sexiest, sultriest and most seductive way you've ever been sung to and that's it, nothing else is necessary. Cancel the limo, cancel the dinner and just do your slow grinding right then and there. The slow and smooth rhythm, the relaxed heartbeat of the organ and the stinging slow guitar licks and harmonica leads are just right for it.  I can't wait for the Blewzzlady to hear this one.

If you haven't yet received a copy of "Old School Girl" for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at and to find out more Lawrence Lebo go to or search her on Facebook.  Whomever you contact, please make sure you tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Daniel Smith & Friends
“Once In A Blue Moon”

Pinetop Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2018

As stated above, "Once In A Blue Moon" is Daniel Smith's eighth solo album.  It was released back in 2009, almost ten years to the day from when he had his first band gig performing under his own name.  Joining Daniel, on piano and backing vocals, are: Alan Glen on harmonica and guitar; Earl Green on vocals; Andy Jones on bass and vocals; Peter Miles on drums and percussion; and Jon Taylor on guitar.

"Once In A Blue Moon" contains eleven tracks of which six are Daniel Smith originals.  Addition-ally, since Daniel Smith is regarded as one of the best boogie-woogie pianists to ever sit in front of the instrument, five of those tracks are smokin' instrumentals you'll surely want to boogie to.
Right out of the gate, the opening track pretty much sets the tone for what you should expect to hear for the next forty-five minutes or so...rock 'em, sock 'em, boogie-woogie blues.  It's an original titled "Big Frank's Fish Fry", and with all the catfish, crawfish, whisky and wine being served, it sounds like the place to be.  As I'm sure it's going to be on most of the tracks, the rhythm on this one furious.  As Daniel leads the way with an accelerated pace of piano playing, everyone, including Andy on the vocals, is in full stride staying right there with him.
Two of the disc's instrumentals are "Once In A Blue Moon" - another original - and "Honky Tonk Train Blues" (M. L. Lewis).  Along with some incredible piano mastery by Daniel, the first of the two tracks also highlight some of Peter's tremendous drumming and smokin' guitar leads by Jon.  The latter of the two features Daniel running up and down those eighty-eights while spending most of the time on some absolutely amazing right hand high end runs while Alan does some similar runs up and down those harmonica holes.  Both excellent tracks.
Considering how popular the song is, and how many greats have had success with it, a lot of artists have made "A'in't Nobody's Business" (P. Grainger) their business.  With the way Daniel and the guys nailed this standard, it's certainly their business as well.  Falling more into the slow blues part of the genre, you all already know I'm loving this one.
Another standard the guys seem to have down pat is "Rock Me Baby" (J. Josea/B. B. King).  Interestingly enough, on an album with about fifty percent instrumentals and featuring masterful piano work on all of the tracks, the vocals have been quite impressive as well.  On one of the two tracks he sings on, Earl's doing one heck of a job right here.       
The following standard is a boogie,"Pinetop's Boogie Woogie", and if you happen to be thinking about the beloved, late and great Pinetop Perkins, you'd be incorrect.  This one was written by an earlier, and possibly even original Pinetop - Mr. Clarence Pinetop Smith (1904-1929).  You also might be thinking that this one is all about some fast and furious piano playing and what Daniel's doing right here would prove you correct on that.

To learn more about Daniel Smith, and to purchase a copy of some of his many releases, just go to And as always, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


J. P. Soars
“Southbound I-95”

Soars High Productions

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2018

It's always a thrill when I get to do a review of a CD that's not only excellent but it happens to be a CD from a very good friend as well.  Living in South Florida for as long as I have, I've had the pleasure of having a long time friendship with J. P. and seeing his live shows more times than I can count - both as J. P. Soars and the Red Hots and as a member of Southern Hospitality.

On "Southbound I-95", his fourth release, J. P. - on vocals; electric guitar; acoustic guitar; slide guitar; two string cigar box guitar; viloa caipira - which is a Portugese folk guitar, and bass; is joined by seventeen outstanding artists of which many should be quite familiar names.  They are: his long time friend and band mate, Chris Peet on drums, percussion, electric and upright bass; Travis Colby on organ, piano and Rhodes electric piano; Teresa James on background vocals; Jason Newsted and Greg Morency on bass; Lee Oskar on harmonica; Jimmy Thackery and Albert Castiglia on guitar; Paul DesLauries on slide guitar; Reza Filsoofi on setar, daf and tomback drums; Sam Harrison, Oscar Santiago and Jeremy Staska on percussion; Terry Hanck and Sax Gordon on tenor saxophone; Tino Barker on baritone saxophone; and Scott Ankrom on tenor and baritone saxophone and trumpet.   

Pretty much everyone who spends a lot of time on the road will eventually  come down with a case of homesickness and on the opening track - "Ain't No Dania Beach" - J. P.'s got the bug.... big time.  I know for a fact that one of his favorite ways to spend a day off is relaxing while searching for shark's teeth on the beach - yep, Dania Beach!  As he tells it, now matter how good he has it while away, "it ain't no Dania Beach".  Adding Paul DesLauries' slide guitar to J. P.'s masterful play, plus a four man rhythm and percussion section, ya gotta know this is a good one.

If you've ever driven I-95 in Florida, no matter which direction you go, you'd better be going fast because the cars behind you sure as hell will be. As a matter of fact, as crazy as it may sound, the faster you go the safer you just  might be. On this particular trip J. P. is heading "Southbound - I-95" and he's flat out flying.  That said, so's the track.  Chris Peet and Jason Newsted (Metallica) have the rhythm in overdrive; there's a tsunami pushing the surf groove J. P.'s laying down on guitar; and his anxious vocals make it quite clear there's a sense of urgency going on. A no holds barred smoker for sure.

"Shining Through The Dark" is the only track that features multi Blues Music Award Winner Terry Hanck on the sax and for that reason alone (but there are others too) it's worthy of mention.  Being good friends, and pretty much neighbors, Terry and J. P. play often and quite well together.  It's a catchy, danceable number that features soulful vocals from J. P., very melodious backup and harmony vocals from Teresa James, smooth rhythm from Chris Peet on both the bass and drums, and Terry laying down some of that Junior Walker Motown silkiness he seems to do oh so well.  Real good stuff.

My regular readers know that I often say that the best way to make a good band better is to add a saxophone and a piano. On "The Grass Ain't Always Greener", with the addition of Sax Gordon (another Blues Music Award winner) on tenor; Tino Barker (Luther ‘Guitar Junior’ Johnson) on baritone; and Travis Colby (Roomful of Blues) on piano; the additions done in absolute grand style. Travis' relentless honky tonk style hammering of the keys along with the toe to toe slug fest taking place on the saxophones totally turn this one into a three-alarmer.

"Deep Down In Florida" (McKinley Morganfield) features J. P. Soars and Albert Castiglia swapping crazy good guitar licks and lead vocals all with some of the disc's best rhythm and percussion - all at the hands of Chris Peet - going on behind them.  Nuff said!  For those reasons alone you you should right now be looking for a place to buy the disc.

"Across The Desert" is a gypsy jazz style instrumental that just features J. P. on guitars, Chris Peet on drums and upright bass and Lee Oskar on harmonica .....and did I really just say just? This is one that should be mandatory listening in music class.  Simply paying attention will be a learning lesson in itself.

If you haven't yet received a copy of "Southbound I-95" for airplay, or if you just want to know more about J. P. Soars, hit him up at  When you do, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


J. T. Lauritsen &
The Buckshot Hunters
“Blue Eyed Soul Volume 1”

Hunters Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2018

So a Knarr sails across the Atlantic from Norway, heads up the Mississippi River and docks in Memphis.  A bunch of Vikings disembark and head toward Beale Street with what appears to be musical instruments on their burly backs.  They walk into Club 152, set up their gear and start playing some Memphis Soul music as good as all get out.  Ridiculous, right?  Not really! Other than the part about the ship, the rest is as real as it gets.  Although J.T. Lauritsen and The Head Hunters aren't really Vikings, their statuesque frames and rugged looks could land any one of them a role in a remake of "The Norseman"; during the International Blues Challenge, the band actually did played at Club 152; and their new CD titled "Blue Eyed Soul Volume 1" is full of some downright, damn good Memphis Soul.  Of the disc's ten tracks, half are J. T. originals. 

The Buckshot Hunters are: J. T. Lauritsen on vocals, Hammond organ, harmonica and accordion; Ian Fredrick Johannessen on rhythm, lead, slide and acoustic guitar; Arnfinn Tørrisen on rhythm, lead and tremolo guitar; John Grimsby on drums, percussion and backing vocals; and Morten Nordskaug on bass, acoustic guitar, baritone guitar and backing vocals.  Many special guests on the project include: Dave Fields on lead, rhythm and acoustic guitar, and backing vocals; Paul Wagnberg on Hammond B3; Børge-Are S. Halvorsen on baritone and tenor sax; Jens Petter Antonsen on trombone and trumpet; Mike Zito on lead and rhythm guitar; Jimmy Carpenter on tenor sax; Deanna Bogart on tenor sax and backing vocals; and Ronny Aagren on backing vocals; That's a lot of music in the making right there.      

"Nothing Takes The Place Of You" (Toussaint McCall) may very well be the disc's best vocal track. It's an old school, sixties slow blues melancholy ballad that features J. T. absolutely singing his heart and soul out. He may have not written these lyrics but I'm telling you, J. T. is feeling their pain.  On top of that, along with the rhythm of Jon and Morten, J. T.'s accordion and organ work wonderfully add to the songs heartbeat. Rounding out this one's' highlights are the magnificently melodic harmony and back-up vocals from Deanna and the masterful horn interludes from Børge-Are and Jens.  I've said this in some of my previous reviews and with this being that caliber of a song, I'll say it right now as well - I have literally been listening to this under five minute song for over a half hour.  Great track, J. T.

I specifically wanted to touch on this original track - "You Got Me Down" - for two reasons.  The first of course, is because its excellent and the second is that it's the only track that features just The Buckshot Hunters.  Sometimes, when an album features the amazing guests that this one does, it's all to easy to overlook the top notch quality musicians that are the core of the group.  With Ian and Arnfinn flipping the lead and rhythm guitar work back and forth, Morten and Jon laying down their usual smokin' rhythm, and J. T. blowing out some powerful vocals and harmonica leads, the music's in good hands with The Buckshot Hunters.
The disc closes with a track written by Mike Zito and it's title "Sweet On Me".  It features a lot of different guitar work but not the type of guitar you might associate with Mike.  It's a slow, smooth ballad highlighted by acoustic, baritone and bass guitars - all played by Morten; relaxed rhythm guitar by Mike; softly soulful vocals by J. T.; more tight rhythm with superb accordion and organ leads by J. T.; and a monster minute long sax solo by Jimmy that closes it all out.

If you haven't yet gotten a copy of "Blue Eyed Soul Volume 1" for airplay, or if you just want to learn more about J. T. Lauritsen And The Buckshot Hunters, please contact them at:  As usual, please tell them their buddy the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Marty Stokes
“Down On My Knees”

USEPPA Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2018

"Down On My Knees" is Marty Stokes' fourth release and the third that we here at Mary4Music have had the pleasure of working with.  Also, since Marty is a fellow Floridian, I've also had the pleasure of seeing him and his band perform on many occasions.  Florida, being the blues hotbed that it is, has more festivals, clubs, juke joints and tiki bars than one can count, and Marty's pretty much played them all - and more than once at that.  Things like that don't happen by accident.

The Marty Stokes Band consists of: Marty on vocals and rhythm, lead, slide and acoustic guitars; Jennifer Mazziotti on saxophone; Daryl Best on bass; and Rick Whiteman on drums.  Special guests include: John McLane on B3; Summer Mendez Kilgore on vocals; and JP Soars on guitar and cigar box guitar. "Down On My Knees" contains thirteen tracks of which eleven are Marty Stokes originals. 

Being one of my favorite guitar players in the genre, as soon as I read in the credits that JP Soars was featured on "Do You No Harm" I knew it would be one I'd love and would ultimately mention.  That said, just like Frazier and Ali, Marty was right there going toe to toe with him.

So if you're going to do a song about a powerful hurricane, it had better have a powerful force behind it.  On this absolutely flawless rendition of Albert Castiglia's "Hurricane Blues", Darryl on bass and Rick - with a chest thumpin' drum lead, saw to it that there indeed was.  That, along with Jen's fierce sax leads and Marty's frantically paced slide guitar licks, created a sense of was time to batten down the hatches.

For so many reasons, "Stop" (Lonnie Brooks) is my favorite track of the lot.  Right off the bat, Marty's slow, scorching, note bending guitar intro immediately told me that this one was going to be some pure, straight up, unadulterated and smokin' slow blues.  Then Marty starts belting out some of his best soulful and emotional vocals and just as I'm thinking "whoa", Summer takes over and that angelic voice of hers just stopped me in my tracks.  That's when I decided to sit back, put the head phones on, start the song over and just lose myself in it... three or four times over.  Now as good as I just made that all sound, it couldn't have happened without some monster rhythm going on and Darryl, Rick, Jennifer and John were all over that.  Off the top of my head, I don't seem to recall how Lonnie's original version of this song went, but I honestly believe I may have just heard the best rendition ever recorded.  Those few replays were unquestionably the best 20-25 minutes of music I've heard all week... and maybe even longer.        

Inasmuch as the subject on "Whiskey Drinkin' Woman" is obviously a woman  intoxicated by whiskey, take it from me, it will be the guitar work on this one that'll intoxicate you.  With a very rich bass line pushing it, Marty and JP are killing it.   From the plain old rhythm chords - and there's really nothing plain about them at all; to the scorching solo swaps; to the crazy amount of sound JP gets out of that two string cigar box; to Marty's skillful slide; - this is one is all about the guitars.

The disc closes with "Pack Two Bags (Reprise)."  It's a minute-and-a-half  instrumental continuation of the non-instrumental track with the same title. The song coming to an abrupt end, just as it was peaking, caused my jaw to drop. I was thinking WTF, did my speakers break? If this was Marty's way of leaving the listener wanting more - IT WORKED!  It's an all out power trio type thing with Marty, Rick and Darryl lust laying it all out. Whew!    

For a lot more about Marty Stokes, - is the place to go.  Once you do, as always, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


“The Blues Is Alive And Well”

Silverstone/RCA Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2018

With all of the great music Buddy has put out over the last six or so decades, you might think it would be going out on a limb by saying that this could be some of his best work ever, but you can go ahead and put me on that limb.         
On "The Blues Is Alive And Well", Buddy Guy - on guitar and vocals - is joined by: Tom Hambridge, the albums' producer, on drums, percussion and background vocals; Rob McNelley on rhythm and slide guitar; Kevin McKendree on keyboards; Willie Weeks and Tommy MacDonald on bass; Emil Justian on harmonica; The Muscle Shoals Horns which include: Charles Rose on trombone and horn arrangements, Steve Herrman on trumpet, Doug Moffet on tenor sax and Jim Hoke on baritone sax; and Regina McCrary, Ann McCrary and Rachel Hambridge on background vocals. Special guests on the album include a few names you may just be familiar with: Keith Richards and Jeff Beck on guitar; James Bay on guitar and vocals; and Mick Jagger on harmonica. With Buddy and Tom having penned and/or collaborated on them, fourteen of the disc's tracks are originals with the fifteenth being a Sonny Boy Williamson cover.
The disc opens with a slow, soulful ballad that could actually be considered a prayer.  Unlike Robert Johnson, who made that infamous deal with the Devil, Buddy is trying to make his own deal with the Lord.  Realizing he's in the twilight of his life, Buddy appears to be pleading with the Lord to just send him down "A Few Good Years" (Hambridge/Fleming).  Good luck with that Buddy!  With the emotional and sincere way in which you asked, I think the Lord may send them to ya... especially if He's a fan of the blues.
Close your ears, Lord.  Here we are on the very next song and as he refers to the devil being in him, Buddy's claiming to be "Guilty As Charged" (Hambridge/Fleming).  Alrighty then!  Musically and vocally, Buddy's on top of his game right here. With Tom, Rob and Kevin lighting up the rhythm behind him Buddy's just killing it on the guitar and vocals, especially with those patented, escalating, falsetto screeches of his...
“I'm GUILTY! I'm GUILTY as charged!”. This is classic Buddy Guy right here.
Those of you who subscribe to SiriusXM radio have already had a taste of - no pun intended - "Cognac" (Guy/Hambridge/Fleming).  Since it features Keith Richards and Jeff Beck joining Buddy in on some back and forth monster guitar licks, this one will surely be on most of the other stations playlists as well.
On the title track, as Buddy hears the back door slam while coming in the front, he's quickly faced with the reality that "The Blues Is Alive And Well" (Hambridge/Nicholson).  It's not as if anything Buddy does needs much help, but with that said, the masterful job of the Muscle Shoals horns, added to the always amazing keyboard work from Kevin, this one does rise to the next level.
The first two minutes of "You Did The Crime" (Hambridge/Fleming) start off with a very slow and deep bass line by Willie, light and timely cymbal taps by Tom, and a trance inducing piano and harmonica performance by Kevin and Mick, that I'd have been fine with this being an instrumental.  Then Buddy joins in and softly, yet strongly, starts belting out some slow blues and something good suddenly got better.
For those of you who like full throttle, smokin' blues rockers, this one will have you saying "Ooh Daddy" (Hambridge/Fleming). With Tom and Willie leading the frantic rhythm pace, Kevin wailing away on those keys and Buddy and Rob slugging it out on guitar, this one's three plus minutes of all hell breaking loose.
To find out more about Buddy Guy, just go to  Whomever you contact, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Chicago The Blues Legends Today


Rockin' Johnny Burgin & Mike Mettalia
with Mary Lane, Milwaukee Slim and Little Jerry Jones
“Chicago/The Blues Legends/Today”

West Tone Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2018

As I read the album's liner notes, written by Rockin' Johnny Burgin, they sounded to me like a mission statement.  As Johnny explains, Mike Mettalia - from Mike Mettalia and Midnight Shift fame - contacted him with the idea of recording a traditional blues album that featured some under-recorded, overlooked, veteran blues singers on the Chicago scene.  Knowing just the right people to turn to, they sought out: Milwaukee Slim, a perennial guest front-man who rarely ever booked shows under his own name: Little Jerry Jones, who other than having a few single releases in the 60's never quite became a household name in the blues community: and Mary Lane, who although has appeared at many Chicago Blues Festivals and is an inductee into that city's Blues Hall of Fame, has also escaped national familiarity.  With that said, since I was just introduced to three blues artists I was unfamiliar with, the results of the project have this listener thinking "Mission Accomplished!"  On top of that, I'm also thinking that if Mike and Johnny follow the necessary process, I may have just listened to one of the nominations in the "Best Traditional Blues Album" category at next year's Blues Music Awards. Remember, you heard it here first.

Now that you know some of what this project is about, let me tell you all about the rest of the credits and some of the music.  Joining Rockin' Johnny Burgin - on lead and slide guitar and vocals - and Mike Mettalia - on harmonica and vocals - are: Mary Lane and Milwaukee Slim on vocals; Little Jerry Jones on vocals and lead and rhythm guitar; Illinois Slim on lead and rhythm guitar; Jeff LaBon and John Sefner on bass; and Steve Dougherty on drums.  With very close to seventy minutes of good ol' straight up blues, the disc features fifteen tracks with two Mike Mettalia, two Mary Lane and one Jerry Jones originals.

The disc opens with a straight up Chicago blues shuffle titled "Hurt My Feelings" (Morris Pejoe) and after just one verse into Mary Lane's vocals I was both shaking and scratching my head.  The shaking part was the result of sheer amazement over this woman's unique and wonderful voice and the scratching part was a result of the bewilderment I was experiencing from never having heard of her.  Thanks to Johnny and Mike are surely in order.  Musically, it's exactly what this traditionalist loves; the rhythm guys - Jeff and Steve - locked into a tight groove on the bass and drums; equally tight rhythm guitar by Illinois Slim; smoking hot blues guitar leads by way of Rockin' Johnny; and equally smoking hot harp leads courtesy of Mike Mettalia. Give me sixty-five more minutes of this (which they did) and I'm a happy listener.

So, with Johnny just killing it on what may very well be the disc's best guitar work and belting out what is also some of the disc's most soulful and emotional vocals, if you said right here that "Things Gonna Work Out Fine"(Sam Maghett), you'd be 100% correct.  With a strong rhythm and a few harp leads helping out, this one's all about Rockin' Johnny Burgin, and things did indeed work out fine. 

With the title of this one being "Midnight Call", ya think you might know who wrote and sings it? Good guess, it is indeed Mike Mettalia of the Midnight Shift Band.  Similar to the above track, with the help of more great rhythm and a few killer lead guitar riffs by Illinois Slim, this one's all about Mike with his gravely vocals and fiery harp leads.

The opening, low down and gritty guitar licks on "Let's Make Love Tonight" had me saying "Oh Yeah!"  Then I noticed the length of the song and I said "Hell Yeah!"  The disc's slowest, grittiest and bluesiest track was also the disc's longest track, and I now knew that I had over seven more minutes of pure listening pleasure ahead of me.....and that's not counting the replays. Keeping with the pattern of passing the lead around, it's now Jerry's turn to shine.  On a song which he wrote, Little Jerry Jones does just that with a knockout one-two punch on the vocals and guitar.                  

"Poppa Tree Top" (Little Miss Cornshucks) is another of Mary Lane's masterful performances.  I'm in such awe over this women's voice that I'm making it a point to either find her, or some of her recordings, while I'm in Chicago for three days in September.  Watch out Mary, there may not be any hell hounds on your trail but there is a Blewzzman for sure.  Also highlighting this one are the crisp, precise and profound harmonica notes and chords being blown around by Mike Mettalia.  They're that high end Jimmy Reed stuff that is by far my favorite style of harp playing.  What another great track.

I'd like to strongly suggest getting your hands on a copy of "Chicago/The Blues Legends/Today", and to do so, just click HERE. Additionally, you can find more on Mike Mettalia at Rockin' Johnny Burgin at; and all ya gotta do is search FB and you'll find both Mary Lane and Milwaukee Slim. Once you do all that, please tell everyone the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



“Memphis Song”

Subcat Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © May 2018

A few years ago I came up with the idea of having an annual "Memphis Reunion" sometime around August and September of each year.  The idea grew from the fact that having gone to Memphis once or twice a year for the last eighteen years, I missed the great friends from all over the country that I only see while there for the International Blues Challenge in January and the Blues Music Awards in May.  That said, from his declaration in the disc's liner notes, it's obvious that Tas Cru feels the same as I do. Here are his thoughts:

"There are very few places in America that mean more to blues lovers, past and present than Memphis. It's a blues Mecca - the birthplace of Sun and Stax and home to the International Blues Foundation and the Blues Hall Of Fame. There is Beale Street, with its legends memorialized with their names engraved on brass notes that dot its crowded sidewalks. There too is BB King Boulevard, that hallowed ground that honors the king of the blues. We are drawn there from near and far - a blues family who twice each year gathers for what seems to me like a big ol' blues family picnic (aka the Blues Music Awards and the International Blues Challenge). We eat and drink, listen and dance, play and sing. We celebrate together as we celebrate being together. We sing our Memphis song - all day and most of the night with voices that grow hoarse and rough from exhaustion.  And then, long after our picnic is done and we have gone home, we hear its call. 'Come home daddy/momma you been too long gone. Come on home and sing your Memphis song'".

Tas Cru's latest release is titled "Memphis Song" and it's a collection of twelve original songs.  On the disc, Tas Cru - on vocals and guitars - is joined by: Bob Purdy on bass; Dick Earl Erickson on harmonica; Andy Rudy on piano and clavichord; Ron Keck on percussion and drums; Sonny Rock and Andy Hearn on drums; Guy Nirelli and Bill Barry on organ; Mary Ann Casale on lead and background vocals and acoustic guitar; and Donna Marie Floyd-Tritico and Patti Parks on backing vocals.  Additionally, featured artists on the title track include Victor Wainright on piano and Pat Harrington on slide guitar.  Now let me tell you a bit about some of my personal favorites.

Obviously, for the story it tells, the title track is surely one of the disc's best.  As mentioned in the prelude, it's all about that magical and musical city of Memphis calling us back home to sing that "Memphis Song".  Just as the city itself does, the song's opening immediately casts a spell upon you with the combination of Mary Ann's acoustic guitar notes and and Dick's harmonica chords.  Then, shortly after Tas joins in with an emotional and soulful presentation of the song's message, you'll be wanting to immediately start your own Memphis reunion. Tas Cru and Mary Ann Casale may just have themselves a 2019 "Song Of the Year" nomination with this one.  I'll be shocked if not.
People say he's crazy, 'cause he plays the blues.  Yeah, they say he's crazy and call him a simple fool.  Call him what you will, Tas Cru is here to testify that he is indeed a "Fool For the Blues".  Aren't we all?  From start to finish, this one is three-and-a-half minutes of all out heat.  Guy Nirelli (organ), Sonny Rock (drums) and Bob Purdy (bass) have the rhythm in three alarm mode; and Tas, with some very powerful back up support from Donna and Patti, is belting the hell out of the vocals and scorching the hell out of those guitar leads. Killer track!

Assembling a percussionist, two organists and three different drummers to team up with bassist Bob Purdy on various tracks, leaves no doubt that Tas was looking for a rhythm rich sound for this project.  "Daddy Didn't Give You Much" is just one of the many tracks on which you'll hear just how well that panned out.  In fact, right here, Andy Hearn and Ron Keck - both at disc's best - are just killin' it on the kit and congas.  Speaking of disc's bests, the boss is at it as well.  Several of the dozen or so times I replayed this track were with the head phones on while mainly focusing on the vocals. Whoa! That Tas Cru can sing!

Attention men! Here is a public service announcement from Tas Cru.  Simply put,  "Don't Lie To That Woman". As many of us have already learned - and probably the hard way at that - this is some sound advice.  This one's a slowed down, laid back, kind of swampy sounding blues tune.  It features Tas doing some fine acoustic pickin' while playfully talk-singing and story-telling; lots of crisp, timely, finger snapping; melodic back up vocals; soft rhythm; and silky soft piano leads.

Knowing that, like him, most of us "Can't Get Over Blues" could have been a great reason for Tas to close out the disc with it's longest and most bluesy track.  For six-and-a-half minutes Tas, the ladies, the rhythm guys and the harmonica player all just wrap themselves around a very cool foot tappin' knee slappin, head bobbin' groove and before you know it, right around six minutes and twenty fives seconds in you'll be hitting the replay button for more.

Should you like to purchase a copy of "Memphis Song", or possibly need one for airplay, contact Tas at, and to find out more about him - especially his involvement with children through his "Blues In The Schools" programs - just go to  And as I know you will, please tell him his buddy the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Peter V Blues Train

“Running Out Of Time”

Self Release
Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2018

The Peter V Blues Train is a quartet that consists of: Peter Veteska on guitars and vocals; Alex D'Agnese on drums; Aron Louis Gornish on keys; and Sean Graverson on bass.  On "Running Out Of Time", the band's third release, they are joined by: Danny Walsh on sax; Jeff Levine on B3 and piano; Tom Adams on piano; Coo Moe Jhee on bass; Eddie Jackson on congas and vocals; Kelley Dewket on vocals; and Gary Neuwirth on harp.  Of the disc's eleven tracks, seven are originals.

"Cherry On The Cream" (Richard Ray Farrel), cream of the crop and creme de la creme are a few different ways of saying the best of the best.  They're terms that are usually associated with something, or someone, very fine.  That said, in this case it's both. You see, the writer uses the song title to describe a woman, who's so sweet she knocks him off his feet and yet this listener is associating it with the musicians on this flawless track being the best of the best.  

All too often, my reaction to a band doing a cover of an often-done blues standard is "ho hum, again?" Then, every once in a great while I'll here a rendition of that cover that will make me think "Wow! This was a great version" and I'm thankful that the band reminded me just how great the song was. This is that rendition of "Worried Life Blues" (Big Maceo Merriweather).  Aron, Alex and Sean - on the organ, drums and bass - have the pulse and the heartbeat of the song at the perfect slow blues level and Peter is just killing it with his gut wrenching vocals and sizzling blues guitar licks.

On the title track, "Running Out Of Time", the tone switches from slow and low down blues to all out rockin' blues.  It features a full throttle, smokin' rhythm along with Peter and Aron going toe to toe on piercing guitar and organ leads.  Lyrically, this original track is about a break up.  Having been involved in situations of that matter over the course of my lifetime, I'm familiar with how the ensuing conversations may go.  That said, "What happened to us, where did our love go? We used to kiss but now all you do is piss me off" is a line I wish I'd had used.  Too funny!

The jazz in Peter V's background is quite evident on an original titled "Time To Collect".  It's a funky and jazzy instrumental oddly reminiscent of the intro to the "Sanford and Son" TV show.  As you'd expect, it's highlighted by some of the disc's best rhythm work from Alex and Sean and it features many outstanding organ and sax leads by Aron and Danny.

"Freedom", another original, is also another slow blues scorcher and for that reason alone, it'd be sacrilegious of me not to mention that. With the appropriately soft and tight rhythm in place, Peter is at disc's best as he vocally and instrumentally belts the hell out of some blues.

On this down home, front porch, acoustic style blues number, the band does an excellent cover of Bonnie Rait's "Love Me Like A Man".  Peter's acoustic pickin' is spot on, the rhythm is its usual excellent, and on their only performance, Kelley Dewket on the vocals and Gary Neuwith on the harp, are a natural together and will be the cause of me doing some Googling when I'm done here. Good stuff!  

If you haven't yet received a copy of "Sometimes The Blues Got Me" for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at and to find out more about Peter V Blues Train, just go to Whomever you contact, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



Breezy Rodio

“Sometimes The Blues Got Me”

Delmark Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2018

While "Sometimes The Blues Got Me" is Breezy Rodio's fourth blues album (his first on Delmark), counting releases in other genres it is collectively his sixth release.  Having reviewed his last one titled "So Close To It", and having just been blown away by this one, I cannot even begin to imagine this talented singer, guitarist and songwriter performing anything but the blues. With the album's title insinuating that the blues has got him, and the natural that he is with the music, I doubt there'll ever be any turning back.

On this project, Breezy Rodio - on vocals and guitar - is joined by: Sumito "Ariyo" Ariyoshi and Luca Chiellini on piano; Chris Foreman on organ; Light Palone on acoustic and electric bass; Lorenzo Francocci, Gregg Essig and Rick King on drums; Ian Letts on tenor sax; Constantine Alexander and Art Davis on trumpet; Ian "The Chief" McGarrie on alto, tenor and baritone saxophones; Joe Barr on background vocals; Billy Branch on vocals and harmonica; John Lauler and Brian Burke on acoustic bass; Simon "Harp: Noble on harmonica.   With well over an hour's worth of music, "Sometimes The Blues Got Me" features seventeen old school tracks with ten of them being penned by Breezy.

If you're going to do old school blues there's nothing like opening with a song that B. B. King did back in the early fifties - "Don't Look Now, But I've Got The Blues" (Lee Hazlewood).  This rendition is a perfect introduction to the band and a great way to set the mood for what's to come: solid, powerful vocals; scorching guitar licks; and penetrating, horn-enhanced rhythm.        

Being a fan of big bands, "I Walked Away" (J. Leblanc) was an obvious favorite of mine.  I haven't even started writing about it yet and I've already replayed it five times.   This one's straight off a '40's or '50's musical soundtrack. You know the kind I'm talking about - the one's where a crooner the likes of a Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Eddie Fisher or a Dean Martin effortlessly belting the hell out of a song while being backed up by the likes of a Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington or Dorsey Brothers orchestra.  Killer stuff! 

You don't need to read the credits to know this one's another of B. B.'s classics, the opening guitar intro on "Make Me Blue" (King/Josea) immediately establishes that. Then, just as you'd expect from a B. B. song there is a lot more impressive guitar work; heartfelt vocals; significant rhythm; melodious piano; and soulful horns.

"You think that I'm a star, because I play guitar"... "You think that I'm so cool, because I play the blues"... Actually Breezy, I think you're a star because of how good you play that guitar and I think that you are cool because of how good you play those blues. Lyrically, vocally and musically this one is a masterpiece. If the blues had a top forty chart this would be one of those five week number one hits - it's certainly got my ultimate "this is song of the year material" compliment. 

Any fan of the genre knows quite well that "Chicago Is Loaded With The Blues" (Clifton James) and now that Breezy has become a fixture on the scene, that statement is even more evident. This is classic slow blues done with the perfect ensemble to do it with: guitar and harmonica for those scorching blues licks - which Breezy and Billy really do scorch on; drums and bass for the required slow and tight rhythm - which Rick and Brian are quite tight on; and piano for that very high-end tickling - which Luca is so fine at.  A fitting and nicely done closing track. 

If there were ever a CD where every track deserved praise, this is it.  That said, I'm pretty sure I made a point of the fact that this is a must have release for every blues freak out there.

To find out more about Breezy Rodio, just go to  Whomever you contact, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.  

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


The Bush League

“James RiVAh”

Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2018

So, with The Bush League having been together for well over ten years now, longevity is obviously well established; and with this being the band's fourth release, it's apparent that consistency is in order as well. Hopefully, breaking out onto the national scene is next in the band's grand scheme of things, and from what I just heard - "James RiVAh," their strongest effort yet - may very well be the vehicle to take them there.

The Bush League are: John Jason "JohnJay" Cecil on vocals; Royce Folks on bass; Wynton Davis on drums; and Brad Moss on lead and rhythm guitar.  For this project some very special guests include: Trenton Ayers (The Cedric Burnside Project) on lead guitar; Jeremy Powell (Southern Avenue) on trumpet and keyboards; Suavo Jones (Ghost Town Blues Band) on trombone; Paul Biasca on sax; Vince Johnson on harp; Ari Morris on synthesizer; and mostly everyone, including Calvin Lauber, Andrew McNeil and Kenya Watkins on stomps, hand claps and hollers. 

"James RiVAh" contains twelve tracks with ten of them being band originals. With the band's energetic style of play, The Bush League pride themselves on the fact that they "push the boundaries of what the blues can be."  Simply put, what they say they actually play is "shiny new dirty ol' blues."

The disc opens with "River's Edge," a song that not only pays tribute to the James River - which flows through the band's home town of Richmond, VA - but it pays tribute to the band's mission statement, as well.  This smoker does indeed push the boundaries of the blues...and yet this traditionalist just loves it. With "rough" and "aggressive" being just a few of the words some have used to describe the Bush League's music, this could very well be one of the tracks that inspired those descriptions.  It features Royce, Wynton and Brad, living up to the consummate definition of a "power trio" with rough and aggressive musicianship and JohnJay aggressively belting out some very rough and powerful vocals.       

Going from the above track to this song speaks volumes for the band's versatility.  Calling it a complete opposite style of play is a gross understatement. It is a beautifully written, tenderly performed ballad that should be the anthem for anyone wanting to make a wedding proposal. Just follow these simple directions: record this song; get on your knees; take out the ring; then play her the song.  I promise that without you having said a word, she will "Say Yes." Replay this six-and-a-half minute long song of the year candidate a few times over and I'll also promise you that this just might be the best 20 - 30 minutes you'll have all week. It was for me.   

As JohnJay tells it, "You can keep your champagne and your chardonnay. Hold off on that Wild Irish Rose and that Beaujolais."  When he wants to have a good time just give him his "Moonshine".  With its constant strong rhythm present, this one features some excellent guitar and piano work from Brad and Jeremy.

Once you hear these lyrics you'll understand that the song was perfectly titled. It's about the frustrations of man dealing with his expectations of what should happen by the second, third, fourth and in this particular man's case, most likely the fifth, sixth, seventh and more dates.  As he tells it..."You keep promising me, that I'm gonna see it".....but that just ain't happening". Sounds like it's time for that "Cold Shower."  As with the title track, this one features the nucleus of the band doing what they do best - pushing boundaries.

The disc closes in signature Bush League style.  It's unquestionably the disc's most ambitious effort.  It features just about everyone listed in the credits doing just about anything they want to do and as fast and hard as they want to do it. It ends with JohnJay exclaiming "There it Go!" (apparently a local Richmond, VA slang term) and indeed, there it went!       

If you haven't yet received a copy of "James RiVAh" for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at and to find out more about The Bush League, just go to  Whomever you contact, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Laurie Morvan


Screaming Lizard Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2018

Since it happens time and time again, it's obviously not an accident that Laurie Morvan has a pretty good track record getting recognition of her releases. In 2008, the year the Laurie Morvan Band made it to the finals at the International Blues Challenge, the band's "Cures What Ails Ya" CD was a finalist for the Blues Foundation's Best Self Produced CD award.  Then in 2010, with their very next release titled "Fire It Up," the band not only got another nod but they took home the gold as well.  Fat chance of that happening again, right? Wrong! In 2012 "Breathe Deep," got them their third consecutive nomination making it all the way to the semifinals.  That's a nice run.

Now Laurie is back with her sixth release - "Gravity" - and the fact that she's teamed up with one of the best producers in the genre, along with some of the best musicians in it as well, it wouldn't surprise me if there was a different Blues Foundation award in her future.

On "Gravity," playing all guitars, singing all lead vocals and writer of all of the twelve tracks, Laurie Morvan is joined by: Mike Finnigan on B3 organ; Jim Pugh on B3 organ, Wurlitzer and piano; Barry Goldberg on piano; Bob Glaub on bass; the disc's producer, Tony Braunagel on drums and percussion; and Lisa Morvan, Maxayn Lewis, Kudisan Kai, Leslie Smith and Ricky Nelson on background vocals. 

The opening track is titled "My Moderation" and with its catchy chorus line of "my moderation needs some moderation," Laurie has obviously decided that the phrase everything in moderation includes moderation itself.  Like most of what you're going to hear on "Gravity," this one is a smoker.  With Laurie and Mike going toe to toe on the guitar and organ and Tony and Bob rockin' the rhythm on drums and bass, there's no relenting here.

"Money Talks," is a cleverly written track.  You see, although money talks, Laurie can't seem to get into a conversation with hers because it waves bye-bye.  Due to lots of scorching blues guitar licks, for my particular taste this one features some of Laurie's best guitar work.  Add in some fancy tickling of the ivories by Barry; Tony and Mike - the dynamic duo of the blues - doing their usual exceptional work on the drums and organ; and very well sung, energetic lead and background vocals and this one's another winner.

The chorus line on this one contains some of the most poignant lyrics I've heard in sometime: "It's backed up on easy street for a long while, but there ain't no traffic on 'The Extra Mile.'" Ain't that the truth.  At the risk of dissing the band (they really do have a lot going on here), Laurie pretty much takes this rocker and runs with it.  Powerful lyrics being powerfully sung while putting on an equally powerful guitar performance.

This is one of those songs where after you hear the story it tells you find yourself hoping it wasn't written from a real life experience but in actuality, you can't help but feel that it was.  It's about a woman in a totally wrong relationship and she's having a rough time figuring out if she's tough as nails or just "Too Dumb To Quit."   On top of singing her heart out, between the pedals and the guitar slide Laurie puts on another masterful performance on the guitar.  With the keyboards being an essential part of all twelve tracks, I gotta get a plug in for the monster job Jim Pugh's doing with them on this one.

To find out more about Laurie Morvan, just go to  Whomever you contact, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Johnny Tucker

“Seven Day Blues”

Highjohn Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2018

Over the past few years, several older and seasoned veterans of the blues have resurfaced with new releases that feature them teaming up with some of the genre's current crop of younger, well known and outstanding artists.  The latest of those living legends to do so is Mr. Johnny Tucker.  Having played with late greats like Lowell Fulson; Phillip Walker; Floyd Dixon; Johnny Otis; and Johnny Copeland; Johnny Tucker's latest release - "Seven Day Blues" - now has him teaming up with: Big Jon Atkinson on guitar and bass; Kid Ramos on guitar; Bob Corritore on harmonica; Troy Sandow on harmonica and bass; Scott Smart on guitar and bass; Malachi Johnson and Marty Dodson on drums; Kedar Roy on bass; and Bob Welch on organ.  The disc contains fifteen of Johnny's originals, which all feature him on the vocals.

The album's mission statement is that although these vintage recordings were recently recorded under very modern conditions, they should still have an old school feel.  Thanks to the masterful work of Big Jon Atkinson, that mission was accomplished.  

The disc opens with a quick two-minute track titled "Talkin' About You Baby".  In spite of it being short on time, it was long enough for Big Jon and Scott to impress on their tandem guitar work; long enough for Malachi and Troy to get into a tight rhythm groove; and long enough for me to be thinking "welcome back Johnny" as I listened to Mr. Tucker belting out some blues.

"Why Do You Let Me Down So Hard?" is smoking, slow blues at its very best. The question the title asks could be the very reason Johnny's singing these blues.  And from the pain and suffering embodied in his vocals, he was obviously let down real hard.  Along with emotional and melancholy vocals, these are the kind of blues that are tailor made for stinging guitar and scorching harmonica licks, and they don't get much more stinging and much more scorching than what Big Jon and Bob are laying down.

Although "Come On Home With Me" sounds like it could be Johnny trying to close the deal with a lady, in actuality it's quite the contrary.  It's more of a plea for his lady to return home to be with him.  A lonely Johnny is not a happy Johnny.  It's a foot tappin' shuffle featuring precision note pickin' by Big Jon on the guitar, and a strong rhythm performance led by some awesome drum work from Marty.   

This particular track is the only one that Kid Ramos appears on and it's just one of the two that Bob Welch appears on.  That right there is reason enough to want to give a listen to "Tell You All".  With Marty and Kedar (also his only appearance on bass) in a tight groove alongside him, the driving force behind the rhythm here is Bob on the organ.  Midway through the song he and Kid step it up on an organ/guitar lead that I would have liked about another five more minutes of.        

"I'm Gonna Give You One More Chance" is another slow blues masterpiece. With the rhythm guys doing their usual tight thing, the song features some of the disc's best vocals and guitar work.  Johnny's shoutin', growlin' and howling the hell out of the blues and Big Jon is killin' it on the slow, scorching, string bending blues licks.  Wow!

To get your hands on a copy of "Seven Day Blues" for airplay, just get a hold of Betsie Brown by visiting and to find out more about Johnny Tucker you can go to the record labels website at  Wherever you go and whomever you contact, just make sure they know the Blewzzman sent you, please.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Mike Mettalia & Midnight Shift

(Featuring Rayburn Anthony & Jimmy Cavallo)
“Crescent Moon Deluxe”

Cabernet Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2018

Crescent Moon Deluxe is the third release from Mike Mettalia & Midnight Shift and I'm happy to have worked with all of them.  With that said, I just took a look back at my reviews of their earlier two releases (2011 and 2012) and was very impressed with the fact that everyone in the band is the same.  There is a lot to be said for that.  Those longtime band mates are: Mike Mettalia on harmonica and lead vocals; Mike McMillan on guitar and backup vocals; Paul Pluta on bass and lead vocals; and Tim Smith on drums and backup vocals.  For this particular project the guys are joined by not one, but two very special guest stars.  They are: 50's Sun Records recording artist and and legendary rockabilly hall of famer Rayburn Anthony, on vocals and guitar; and the legendary 50's rock 'n' roll saxophonist Jimmy Cavallo, on sax and vocals.

"Crescent Moon Deluxe" contains twenty tracks, of which thirteen are originals, and they total well over an hour of pleasurable listening time.  Now let's go hear some.

East coast surf music?  If it wasn't a thing, it is now. Just give a listen to "Brooklyn City" and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.  It's a smokin' original that features the nucleus of the band totally rockin' out a la The Beach Boys.  Paul and Tim are setting a frantic pace on rhythm, Mike McMillan's scorching right along with them on guitar, and Mike Mettalia - along with a lot of harmony support - is belting the hell out of the vocals.  The dancers will love this one.

Although there's not a lot of traditional blues on the disc, the guys nailed it on their version of John Willie "Shifty" Henry's "Description Blues".  As they should be on a track like this, Paul and Tim are settled into a slow and tight rhythm groove; the Mike's are appropriately laying down some stinging harmonica and guitar leads; and as Jimmy emotionally sings about the pitfalls of being in love with a married woman, you just can't help but to feel his pain.                  

Since "Jumpin' With The Jimmy" - another original - is one of half a dozen tracks that were recorded very close to the House of Blewzz, I actually had the pleasure of sitting in on the recording sessions.  I can't even begin to tell you what a thrill it was watching Jimmy Cavallo blowin' the hell out of the saxophone on a song that was written for and about him.  As the story goes, Mike recalls listening to some of Jimmy's early recordings and wanting to put them into his show.  Mission very obviously accomplished.  Paying homage to one of his idols, Mike does a hell of a job on the vocals while singing a nutshell bio about Jimmy.  With another monster performance on the rhythm, Paul and Tim deserve a mention here as well.

A track which he wrote - "Big Bad City" - features the great Rayburn Anthony on the vocals.  Like Jimmy Cavallo, Rayburn is another of Mike Mettalia's idols. As a matter of fact, just a few short years ago Midnight Shift backed up Rayburn on a tour through the southeast and I was fortunate enough to catch the killer show.  Also, like Jimmy again, Rayburn sounds as good as ever.  On top of the smooth vocal performance, some of the disc's best harp and guitar work from Mike Mettalia and Mike McMillan can be heard right here as well.

The disc closes with a song that was recorded live at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa, Fl during that 2015 tour which I mentioned earlier (pictured below)  Keeping with the rockin' theme of the disc, it's titled "She Knows How To Rock" (William Perryman).  It features Rayburn on the vocals and rhythm guitar and the tandem guitar work between him and Mike McMillan on lead is masterful.  It's also filled with it's usual smokin' harp leads and rhythm from the boss and the the guys.

In addition to being available at both and, "Crescent Moon Deluxe" is also available at the bands website -  That's where you'll also find the band's email address, phone number and FB page, making it very easy for you to tell them that the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


The Reverend Shawn Amos

“The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down”

Put Together Music

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2018

The Reverend Shawn Amos is calling his third release "a collection of 21st century freedom songs".  That said, it's saddening that in the 21st century freedom songs still need to be written and sung. 
"The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down" contains nine tracks with six of them penned by the Reverend.  On the vocals, harmonica and various noises, Reverend Shawn Amos is joined by: Chris "Doctor" Roberts on guitar and vocals; Michael Toles on guitar; James Saez on guitar, resonator, drums and percussion; Leroy Hodges, Jr., Alex Al and Hannah Dexter on bass; Steve Potts, Steve Jordan, Rodd Bland and Mike Smirnoff on drums; Charles Hodges and Peter Adams on keys; Chris Anderson on string arrangements; Vikram Devasthali on trombone and horn arrangements; Joe Santa-Maria on baritone sax; and Sharlotte Gibson, Kenya Hathaway, Harold Thomas, Robert "Tex" Wrightsil, Lester lands, Bill Pitman and Philomena Young on vocals.
The disc opens with a very moving original song appropriately title "Moved". The incredibly emotionally delivered opening line of "Well I sleep every night with every single light on" immediately sets its melancholic mood.  Musically, Chris' deep acoustic guitar pickin' and Shawn's dark harmonic leads create an equally somber tone.
Back in 1969 there was a song out called "In The Year 2525".  Lyrically, that song addressed the ideas of what life might be like in centuries to come. Comparisons were made, jumping hundreds of years at a time, from 2525 all the way through to 9595.  Having just heard this song by Reverend Shawn, I'm now wondering had Zager and Evans started their visions of the future say just fifty years out, if they would have been concerned with what their children would have the year "2017?"  As I type, Blues Foundation members are currently voting on their choices for this year's "song of the year" and having said that, I'm just going to go ahead and make the call right now and say that this anthemic quality song will surely be one of their next year's choices. Musically, it's a masterpiece as well.  From its powerful rhythm, to its outstanding guitar leads, to its Gospel preaching vocal deliverance with its choir style backing vocals, this is one heck of a production.
The following three tracks are collectively referred to as The Freedom Suite.
The first one is titled "Uncle Tom's Prayer" (Traditional).  It's a tribute to, Cordell Hull Reagon, founder of the Freedom Singers.  It features Reverend Shawn putting on a powerfully persuasive A capella performance.
The second of this trilogy is an original titled "Does My Life Matter?"  With the subject of the song centering around his three small children waiting for him at home, I'm not looking at that title as a question but more of a statement as to just how much his life really does matter.  With the many changes he makes, this could very well be Shawn's best vocal effort of the lot.  As he speaks of the children he's so soft and tender yet when he addresses why and how he needs to be there for him, his emphasis becomes that of rage and frustration. 
The Freedom Suite closes out with a very funky original titled "(We've Got To) Come Together".  It's an inspirational rally type song featuring a fierce rhythm led by the blaring horns, sharp harmonica leads, great vocal harmonizing, lots of hand clapping and a bunch of laughter.  A good-time song for sure. 
With the messages many of these songs delivered and the spiritual way in which they were delivered, they all seemed to be headed in the direction of church.  That said, with the final track - "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?" - we are now there.  Featuring amazing organ work from Charles and Peter along with choir level vocal harmonies, this perfectly performed hymn is the perfect way to close out the disc.
To find out more about Reverend Shawn Amos and to get a copy of the disc, just go to When you do, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Connie Hawkins & The Blues Wreckers

“Cryin' in The Rain”

Steve Hawkins Music

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © December 2017

Cryin' In The Rain” is the second release for Connie Hawkins And The Blues Wreckers and since their debut release back in 2013, the only constants in the band are Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins.  The 2017 version of the Blues Wreckers are: Connie Hawkins, of course, on vocals; the disc's producer and writer of all ten tracks, Steve Hawkins on guitar; Chuck Payne on keyboards; Jeff Ingram on saxophone; Marc Laney on drums; and Dave Kelley on bass.  Guest Blues Wreckers include Lee Watkins on trumpet & trombone and Zeus Negron on percussion.

The opening and title track, "Cryin' In The Rain", starts off with a strong rhythm groove led by Marc and Chuck, on the drums and organ, that immediately gets your limbs in motion.  Then Connie starts sassily telling a story about meeting a tall, dark and brutally handsome man and your first impression is that it's a story about how she met Steve.  But as the story goes on, the guy turns into a no good cheatin' dirt bag and there is no way Steve could be guilty of the things she's saying.  On the other hand, what he is guilty of is laying down several smoking blues guitar licks that are one of this tracks many highlights.     

This one's titled "You Don't Know What I Know"... but after you listen to it you will. You see, right now I know that this is another rhythm fueled smoker highlighted by Jeff's robust sax leads; Steve once again killing it with scorching guitar leads; and Connie powerfully belting out some wide ranging blues vocals. 

On this melancholy blues ballad the sincerity felt in Connie's voice leaves no doubt about the fact that it sucks being on "Blues Ave".  These type of songs usually call for a soft and tight rhythm groove; some slow, stinging blues guitar riffs; steamy saxophone leads; and emotional, soulful and sultry vocals....all of which always float my blues boat.  Surely one of the disc's best right here.

So the IRS is calling, wanting her to pay more; the landlord's outside knocking, about to break down her door; she has a flat tire, and a black cat crossed her path; and what little money she has she doesn't know where it's at.  Connie just can't catch a break - she may have left Blues Avenue back there but sadly it was for a "Rendezvous With The Blues".  Musically it's another smoker highlighted by some crazy organ work by Chuck.

The disc closes with a Gospel style ballad titled "The Mountain".  Musically, and vocally, this track features everyone at disc's best.  Yet, with so much going on between the extended guitar, organ and saxophone highlights, it was Connie - with her ridiculous range - who totally blew me away here.  And when I say range, I'm not just talking in terms of highs and lows as the term commonly refers to, I'm talking in range of singing styles as well. She is all over this one and I do mean that literally.

With a release slated for the beginning of 2018, as of now "Cryin' In The Rain" may not be available at the bands website.  However, if you do go and tell them their buddy the Blewzzman sent you, I'm betting Connie and Steve might just be able to hook you up. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Al Corté


Publicity: Blind Racoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2017

Al Corte' doesn't just believe in having something to fall back on, he believes in having many choices should he need to.  That said, Al's tried his hand at football, gymnastics, construction, acting, auto mechanics, motorcycle racing, stunt work, photography, horticulture, firefighting, K9 handling and TV production and programming.  In between, during and throughout all those gigs, he always kept his heart - and a least one foot - in music.  Now retired, he's back into music and from what I just heard, falling back shouldn't ever be a necessity.

"Mojo" is Al Corte's follow up release to his 2015 debut disc titled "Seasoned Soul".  Unlike that project - which was all rearranged covers - "Mojo" consists of twelve original, Memphis soul blues tracks penned by his music partner, Ron Miller.

The abundant of talent assembled for this production include: Al Corte' on lead vocals and various hand percussion instruments; Leroy "Flick" Hodges Jr. on bass; Michael Toles on guitar; Rev. Charles Hodges Sr. on B3 organ and piano; Steve Potts on drums; Brad Webb on slide guitar; John Nemeth on harmonica; Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell on piano and synthesizer; Ron Miller on piano; violin patch and guitar; The Royal Singers, who are: Candice Rayburn, Sharisse Norman and Stefanie Bolton; The Royal Horns, who are: Jim Spake and Lannie "The Party" McMillan Jr. on tenor saxes; Kirk Smothers on baritone sax; Robert Dowell on trombone; and Mark Franklin on trumpet and Flugelhorn; The Royal Strings, who are; Jennifer Puckett on viola; Jessie Munson and Wen Yi Yu on violin; Jonathan Kirkscey on cello; with arrangements by Mark Franklin; And (thankfully not all of their names are listed individually) The Tennessee Mass Choir.

If after reading those credits you just went "Whoa!", just wait.  Once you hear the disc that will become an emphatic "WHOA!"

The CD opens with its title track, "Mojo" and immediately, a masterful first impression was made .  As the expression goes, Al - and everyone involved on this track - have their mojo working; Leroy, Steve and Charles, along with some very heavy horn support, have the rhythm ablaze; the guitar work, with a monster solo by Ron, is smokin' as well; and Al's powerful and soulful vocals become even more powerful and much more soulful with the Royal Singers on board.  WHOA!

Since everyone of us in this great big beautiful blues community feels this way, the title of this song alone makes it worthy of mention - "I'll Never Loose My Love For The Blues".  Then there's Al belting out his soulful vocals; Steve at disc's best, leading the powerful rhythm on drums; and a monster slide guitar performance from Brad; making worthy reasons for mentioning it.   

Lyrically, vocally, musically and technically this performance is a complete masterpiece.  I've been blessed to have heard "Blessed To Have You Near".  If there's a more emotionally sung inspirational song out there, these ears have not yet heard it.  Thank you Al, the Tennessee mass choir and all the musicians involved on this track, for these most pleasurable few minutes.  I don't throw these words around loosely and when I do, it's only because I've been moved.  That said, this is song of the year material.

If "Chicken Lickin" and "Funkytown" ever got you moving like they did me, then you're obviously familiar with Funk Incorporated and Lipps, Inc.  Should you not be, they were two of the funkiest bands of the seventies.  "Touch" just put me back in touch with both of them. Turn this one up loud and get ready for "Boo" and his synthesizer to get your booty shaking.

To find out more about Al Corte', and to tell him the Blewzzman is raving about him, just go to

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



Chris Daniels and The Kings 
with Freddi Gowdy

“Blues With Horns - Vol 1”

Moon Voyage Records
Publicity: Blind Racoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2017

Before I even begin to tell you anything about the Chris Daniels and The Kings with Freddi Gowdy "Blues With Horns - Vol 1" recording I'm going to start off with the first thing that will impress you with the product and that's the disc's jacket.  It opens into a five page three dimensional booklet like some of those pop-up greeting cards and it has lots of very cool, strategically placed photos.  If the Blues Foundation gave out a Blues Music Award in a category called "Packaging Creativity", right now, I'd be looking at the sure winner.  Kudos to Greg Carr, Chris Daniels, Jennifer Marriott and Sam Spendlove for their art, design and photo contributions and giving new meaning to the term thinking outside the box or more appropriately - outside the jewel case.

The ensemble assembled for this project are: Chris Daniels on vocals, guitar, slide guitar, and synth guitar; Freddi Gowdy on vocals; Randy Amen on drums and vocals; Kevin Lege on bass and vocals; Colin "Bones" Jones on lead guitar; Jim Waddell on alto and tenor saxes and vocals; and Darryl Abrahamson on trumpet and vocals.  Guests include: Sonny Landreth on slide guitar; John Magnie and Doug Krause on keyboards; Bob Rebhoz on tenor sax and horn arrangements; Clay Kirkland on harmonica; Daren Krammer on trombone and horn arrangements; Jacob Davis on vocals; and Hazel Miller and Coco Brown on background vocals. 

"Blues With Horns" is Chris Daniels and the Kings' fifteenth release and their second with Freddi Gowdy.  The disc contains ten tracks with three being new original and seven being covers of what the disc is all about - soul drenched, horn driven music. 

On the opening track, one of Chris' originals titled "Sweet Memphis", the band immediately lives up to its mission statement.  After a short and slow intro the lead guitar gives way to Sonny's masterful slide guitar work along with some of Randy's chest thumping drum pounding.  From there it's all aboard the soul train.  The keys kick in, the horns kick in, Chris and the ladies start harmonizing and everyone, myself included, is now rocking out and singing "sweet... sweeeet... Memphis".  What a way to start things off.

This one opens up with the sounds of a party going on in the background and accelerates from there.  It's one of Freddi's originals called "Get Up Off The Funk" and I'm thinking that hearing his fiercely funky vocal performance would have put a smile on the face of the funkmeister himself, the late James Brown.  With profound bass lines behind them, this one's pretty much highlighted by the part of the disc's title that states "with horns".

"'Soothe Me Baby" soothe me. Soothe me with your kindness. For you know your powerful lovin' is soothing to me." Those are the opening chorus lines to this Sam Cooke classic and by the time it comes around again you'll become a part of the harmony Chris, Freddi, Hazel and Coco have going on.  With a great rhythm groove going on behind them and some sharp sax standouts, it's the vocals that highlight this feel-good sing-a-long. 

On this "Johnny "Guitar" Watson track titled "Baby's In Love With The Radio", Chris and Freddi do a heck of a job telling the songs funny storyline.  Tearing their ladies away from that funk, rock and blues music is a task bigger than they can handle.  With all of this disc's tracks being rhythm fueled smokers, do I dare say that on this one, Randy and Kevin are at disc's best on the drums and bass? Yeah, I did! 

"Rain Check", another of Chris' originals, closes out the CD and being an acoustic performance, it's not like anything heard before it. The song is a tribute to Chris' mom, who, like himself, was a cancer survivor.  She beat it by dancing every chance she got before she had to go.  Realizing that life was like toilet paper - shorter at the end -  she took to the lesson she learned from The Shawshank Redemption and got busy living instead of getting busy dying.  It's a beautifully written, beautifully sung and beautifully performed song, featuring Chris on the vocals and acoustic guitar, Doug on the piano, and Clay on the harp.    

Finding out more about the band and how you can get a copy of the disc is just a click away.  Just go to  Once again, please tell Chris that the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Shaun Murphy

“Mighty Gates”

Vision Wall Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © October 2017

"Mighty Gates" is Shaun Murphy's eighth release, and it's the sixth one that we here at Mary4Music have had the pleasure of reviewing. Of the disc's thirteen tracks, seven are Shaun Murphy originals, two are band mate Kenne Cramer creations and four others are covers.

For this project, Shaun Murphy - on lead and background vocals, shakers and tambourine - is joined by: Kenne Cramer and Tommy Stillwell on lead guitars; Tom DelRossi on drums; John Marcus on bass; and the disc's producer, Grammy Award winner Kevin McKendree on keyboards. 

"I Don't Need Nobody" telling me how much I'm going to love this opening track, I knew that as soon as I heard the smokin' lead guitar intro by Kenne Cramer.  Since he wrote the song you could say that he "owns it" but I'm saying it for the more obvious reasons.  Then there's this crazy rhythm groove that the guys have going on and suddenly the song has other owners.  Putting all this together behind Shaun Murphy - the greatest female vocalist these ears have had the pleasure of hearing - pretty much makes this a perfect production. 

When it comes to mixing it up no one does it better than Shaun "Diversity" Murphy (that's just my way of saying what I think her middle name could be). On one of her original tracks - "Out Of My Own Way" - she's got a cool country thing going on vocally and that whole vibe comes together quite nicely with the addition of some sharp slide guitar work from Kenne.

On the title track - "Mighty Gates" (D. Gray & R. Rector) Shaun once again takes us in a different direction and that direction heads right towards church. These inspirational ballads are just one of the many types of songs that Shaun Murphy was born to sing.  Powerful, delicate, emotional, moving, soulful, heartfelt, harmonic and range defying are pretty much perfect words to describe this flawless vocal (lead and background) performance.  That said, the band was right there with Shaun: Tommy Stillwell with the blistering guitar licks; Tom DelRossi and John Marcus with the thunderous rhythm; and since church just ain't church without one - Kevin McKendree giving the song it's heart and soul on the organ.

This one's called "Blues In The Morning" (K. Cramer) but I'm calling it blues I can listen to all day long.  Behind Shaun, who's belting the hell out of the vocals, there's an all-out rockin' sock'em jam going on and it's all being led by Kevin's crazed barrelhouse piano presentation.  Very hot stuff!       

The last two tracks are both Shaun's creations.  One is titled "I Never Stopped Loving You" and the other is titled "I Never Loved You".  As the contrasting titles may suggest, the two songs are quite different. The first is a torch song on which Shaun's emotions could not be more evident. If this song was indeed written from a real-life experience it's surely about one heck of a special person who was obviously deeply loved.  Musically, Kevin and Kenne are absolutely amazing on their Piano and guitar leads. "I Never Loved You" - doesn't just have an opposite title and sound, but it's apparently about an opposite type of person as well - one that's not at all deserving of Shaun's love.  This a rhythm fueled smoker not only features Tom and John at disc's best on the drums and bass but Tommy Stillwell, one of the discs two monster guitarists, at his best as well. 

Regardless of the genre of music you may prefer, or the demographic category you may be a part of, I'm suggesting you get your hands on a copy of "Mighty Gates".  To do so, simply go to  And per my usual request, please tell her that her friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Percy Fairweather & The Storm
with The Winters Brothers Band

“Reign of Blues”

SouthStar Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © October 2017

Percy Fairweather & The Storm with the Winters Brothers Band are quite an interesting conglomeration of musicians. They consist of members using fictitious names, overlapping members of different bands, family members and guest members as well. First of all, Percy Fairweather - on vocals and rhythm guitar - is actually a pseudonym for Dennis Winters and secondly, The Storm - on vocals, lead and slide guitar, bass, drums, and keys - is actually a pseudonym for Jamie LaRitz. Should you find those names to be recognizable it's most likely due to the facts that this Southern Rock duo has been touring together for over forty years and have played with every Southern Rock band from the Allman Brothers to ZZ Top, as well as with Blues greats that included Albert King, BB King, Freddie King, and more.    

The rest of the band, family and guests are: Chad Booher on drums and percussion; Casey Winters on vocals and background vocals; Cody Winters, Carly Winters, Hannah Winters, Jason Pitts, "Trez", and Myles Clifton on background vocals; Dave Murphy on keys and background vocals; Matthew Randall on sax; Charles J. Reagan on trumpet; Joel "Taz" Gregorio and Phil Wolfe on B3; and Rick Brothers and T. J. Wilder on drums.

"Reign Of Blues" consists of twelve all original tracks and not to let the earlier reference to Southern Rock confuse you - they are all nothing but the blues.  If there was ever a recording where I was impressed enough with each and every song to go straight down the list and write about them all, this would be it. 

Using a phrase that sounds similar to one that was used on the 1950's TV show Name That Tune, I'm going to say that when the disc's opening track came on "I liked that song after only one note".  "Baby Hates To Love Me" opens with Jamie laying down an incredible stinging guitar lead, and from that second on, and for the next seven minutes, there's no turning back.  Once Dennis started belting out his soulfully emotional vocals, the band locked into a tight, slow blues groove and Jamie's scorching guitar leads continued throughout. I was in blues heaven.  Right out of the gate, I'm giving this one my "this is song of the year material" compliment. 

Almost like a continuation of the opening track, "When You Love Somebody", follows with five more minutes of the same intense vocals, same scalding guitar licks, same smoking rhythm and same impressive effect on me.  Two songs in and I'm thinking I just heard some of the better traditional blues I've heard all year. 

"One Fine Day" features Dennis singing his heart out on an a cappella performance.  Saying this one took me to church would be a total understatement.  This absolutely flawless performance stopped me in my tracks.  As fulfilled as I was while listening, I suddenly felt as unfulfilled when it ended.  Needing much more of this, instinctively - and repeatedly - the replay button became a factor.

"Feeling Low" is one of the more contemporary blues tracks.  This rhythm fueled smoker is led by powerful performances from Phil on the B3 organ and Rick on the drums.  Speaking of powerful performances, the tandem thing Jamie and Dennis have going on with the lead, slide and rhythm guitars is one, as well.     

Inasmuch as I've been mesmerized by Dennis' vocal abilities I'm not at all disappointed that on "Lesson Learned", the lead vocals are turned over to his daughter Casey.  As a matter of fact, Casey, along with the rest of Dennis' daughters - and their children as well - are all masterful on the very melodic lead and backup harmony vocals.  This uptempo number also features Matthew and Charles spicing up the rhythm with some excellent sax and trumpet leads.  

With the Blues Music Awards process now in progress, I'm thinking that if the band is lucky enough to get this disc submitted in time they may just be lucky enough to get themselves a nomination as well. There's a lot of good stuff here. 

To find out more about Percy Fairweather and The Storm with The Winters Brothers Band and how to get a copy of "Reign Of Blues" just go to, search for their page on Facebook or just email direct at However it is you find them, please tell them that the Blewzzman sent you and that I thank them for coming into my musical life.    

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Wee Willie Walker And
The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra

“After a While”

Blue Dot Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2017

For two very good reasons I'm not even going to attempt to tell you about Wee Willie Walker's musical history.  The first reason is I wouldn't know where to start and the second reason is that once I did, I wouldn't know when to stop.  That said, later in this review, I'll tell anyone who may have been living under a rock of late exactly where to find out all about this "Soulman's Soulman".
"After A While" is the first recording featuring Wee Willie Walker and the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra performing together, and the more I listen the more I'm hoping to one day be writing about volumes two, three and more. 
From the many amazing performers: Wee Willie Walker on vocals; Anthony Paule on electric, acoustic and baritone guitars; Tony Lufrano on B-3 organ, Wurlitzer and Steinway Grand; Derrick "D'Mar" Martin on drums, percussion and vibes; Tom Poole on trumpet; Derek James on trombone; Charles McNeal on tenor saxophone; Johnnie Bamont on baritone saxophone and flute; Terrie Odabi on a vocal duet with Willie; and Loralee Christensen, Larry Batiste and Glenn Walters on background vocals; to the outstanding production work by: Bruce Kaphan; Wee Willie Walker; Anthony Paule; and Christine Vitale; right to what is starting to become the incomparable songwriting skills of Christine Vitale; this release is just screaming Blues Music Awards.......and most likely in at least half a dozen categories. 
"After A While" features thirteen tracks of which five are covers and the other eight being band originals with Christine Vitale having a hand in six of them.  Since saying something about all 13 tracks isn't feasible, once again I'm finding it difficult as to where to start and where to stop. 
I can't go wrong starting with what could possibly be the most beautiful song of the lot, the disc's title track - "After A While".  Having given this one several listens I'm convinced that it's easily one of the most beautifully, soulfully and emotionally sung songs I've heard in decades.  As a matter of fact, it's throwback, slow dance style took me back decades as well.  Musically, it features the band in a rhythmically soothing mode with extraordinary vibes and tenor sax highlights by D'Mar and Charles.  Sticking with my favorite way of giving a song my ultimate compliment I'd like to now tell Christine that she may just have written the "Song Of The Year" with this masterpiece.
"I Don't Want To Take A Chance" may have been Willie's thoughts about releasing this song back in the sixties - when he originally recorded it - but just one listen will have you happy his mind was changed.  After a bit of rearranging, he's now taking that chance and in mainstream music, he'd have himself a hit on the soul charts for doing so.  Back then, he obviously didn't have the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra backing him up, and I'm sure these maestros have a lot to do with that.          
"Hate Take A Holiday", a song on which Willie collaborated, is anthem quality.  With lyrics that include: "Hate, take a holiday, I know you must be tired.  For thousands of years you made a river of tears, bringing pain and misery to life.  Once, a man who's heart was filled with love said 'I have a dream', that one day people of all colors and creeds would walk hand and hand in peace"; the song sends a powerful message in a time where messages like this are sadly necessary.  Musically, the song makes changes in which it sometimes sounds like a protest style field holler and at other times like a praise the Lord Gospel hymn.  From all aspects of the songs performance, intensity is it's common denominator
With Willie sitting this one out, the band - in spite of being on top of it throughout - get a chance to take center stage on an instrumental titled "The Willie Walk".  From the opening guitar chords, to the vibrant B3 chords, to the deep baritone sax notes, to the muffled trumpet leads right through to the profound percussion and rhythm, this one about as funky as it gets. 
You can read more about this storied soul man by checking out his website - and while your surfing, be sure to swing by Anthony Paule's site as well -  When you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you and that I'll be hooting and hollering when I hear their names - along with Christine Vitale - being announced in the Memphis Cook Convention Center in May (they'll know what I mean).

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Vanessa Collier

“Meeting My Shadow”

Ruff Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2017

At 26 years of age, which in blues years is still like being a kid, Vanessa Collier is accomplishing feats that some of the genres veterans whom have been in the business 26 years - or more - have yet to accomplish.  One of those feats happened in May of this year when she was part of a group that included: Al Basile; Nancy Wright; Sax Gordon Beale; and Terry Hanck; who were all nominated for a Blues Music Award in the "Instrumentalist Horn" Category.  Now that's what I call keeping serious company.  As we all know, Terry Hanck took home the trophy, and since it was his second consecutive win, he's ineligible in 2018.  You see where I'm going with this, don't you?
"Meeting My Shadow" is Vanessa's second release and first on Ruff Records.  It consists of eleven songs of which eight are her own compositions.  Inside the jacket there is a paragraph where Vanessa offers her thanks and the very first group she addresses are the overwhelming number of fans who have been so supportive to her.  Many of them who, as she states, “often wait in line for more than an hour to purchase a CD and say hello” to her.  Having seen this take place, I can attest to it.  Last April, at the Bonita Springs Blues Festival, I personally witnessed the biggest line I have ever seen at a merch tent and I do happen to know that she sold in the vicinity of 150 CDs.  When she took the stage I have no idea of the percentage of audience members who knew of her, but I do know that by sets end 100% of that audience knew Vanessa Collier.  
On this project, Vanessa Collier, on: Vocals; background vocals; alto, tenor and soprano saxophones; Flute; Rhodes and Wurlitzer keyboards: clavinet; percussion; organ; and guitar; is joined by TK Jackson on drums, percussion, organ and background vocals; Daniel McKee on bass; Laura Chavez on guitar and resonator; Charles Hodges on organ, clavinet, piano and Wurlitzer; Marc Franklin on trumpet and fluglehorn; Josh Roberts on slide guitar; Brenda Jackson on organ; Lenny Bradford on bass; and Nicholas Stevens on drums.  Sound like a lot of music?  You bet!
"Dig A Little Deeper" (V. Collier) is one of several tracks where Vanessa is a quadruple threat.  On this funky dance tune, in addition to belting out the soulful lead and background vocals - along with belting it out on the saxophone - her organ leads are the driving force behind the very funky rhythm.  Of course, TK and Daniel, on the drums and bass, have a lot to do with that as well. 
"Two Parts Sugar, One Part Lime" (V. Collier) - that's just the way life is sometime.  That pretty much sums up momma Colliers advice to Vanessa on this all out smoker.  With some very serious percussion and rhythm going on behind her, Vanessa - with her powerful vocals and wailin' sax leads - is all over this one.  All that - along with Laura's Rockin' guitar chords and Charles' rousing, barrelhouse piano leads - this one's now a three alarmer.
Another excellent track is Vanessa's version of "When Love Comes To Town" (Clayton/Evans/ Hewson/Mullen).  In addition to Vanessa showcasing some amazing vocal range, it features a heck of a 1-2 punch with Laura and Josh nailing it on the lead and slide guitar highlights. 
Being a slow and very beautifully done blues ballad generally makes a song one of my favorites and "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" (D. Malone) is one of those and did just that.  With the band set into a slow and groovy rhythm the ladies take this one and run with it.  Vanessa's emotionally charged vocal performance is absolutely magnificent - especially at the end of the song where the music fades out and all you hear is her angelic voice.  It left me wanting to hear this whole song done acapella style.  Meanwhile, there's another lady who is also working her magic.  Being the slow blues song that it is, Laura's right there with the soft then stinging, note bending guitar licks that these tracks musically call for.  Great job ladies!
"Up Above My Head, I Hear Music In The Air" (R. Tharpe) is a flat out, feel good, foot stompin', hand clappin', joy inspiring, spiritually charged Gospel song about a place that's way above our heads and really up in the air... if you get my drift.  There's no way to individually credit any one in particular here because whatever everyone is doing they're doing it perfectly well.
After you check her site - - tell her the Blewzzman sent you there.     

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



“Outside Ourselves”

Self released

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2017

"Outside Ourselves" is the second project I've had the pleasure of working for Robert "Freightrain" Parker on.  The first was a year ago when I reviewed his debut disc titled "Freightrain Live". 
With the band from that disc still in tact, Freightrain are: Robert "Freightrain" Parker - the discs producer - on bass, percussion and lead vocals; Grace Lougen on guitars and handclaps; Greg Leech on organ; Damone Jackson on drums, percussion and handclaps; and Harry Graser on piano.  Guest artists include: Toney Rhodes on keyboards; Bobby Militello and Ken Parker on sax; Amina Boyd on lead and background vocals; Sarah Parker on background vocals and handclaps; DeJuaine "D'Mott" Motley, Grace Stumberg, Megan Brown, DaMarka Wheeler, Darcel Blue, Carl Smith, Jaimier Hennegan, Leslie Gardner and Simone Appleby on background vocals; and Allison McCulloch, Linnea Cremean, Alex Khoury, Michael Etherington and Justin Brittan on handclaps.  
"Outside Ourselves" contains nine all original songs having smooth, inspiration and precision in common.  After several listens, there were so many ways that I thought of to describe their style that I decided to go straight to the source to see how they do it.  I was told that  "Freightrain are a culturally diverse, soulful band that possesses a distinctive and energetic approach to American Roots" and I could not have said that any better.   
The disc opens with a song titled "Elijah".  It was written for Freightrain's son, who - because of Autism - does not speak.  For that reason, Robert felt the lyrics of the song should be left out, making it an instrumental.  Having told you that, I do want to point out that the lyrics are included in the booklet accompanying the disc and once you read them, you'll be wishing a box of Kleenex was included as well.  Having read that, you now have to know the song is amazingly beautiful and very tenderly performed.  Although it's eight minutes in length, you might want to allow yourself much longer to hear it.  Heck, I just finished my fourth replay.
The title track, "Outside Ourselves", poignantly describes what's going on in the world today. The brilliant duet of Robert and Amina, combined with the angelic backing vocals of Grace (Stumberg) and Megan, raise this one to hymnal level.  Musically, like the listener, the band's in tune with the lyrics as well, and everything rises so perfectly together.  Great production.  
With each and every song I've listened to on this disc, the writing - and the frame of mind it's coming from - has impressed me more and more.  I found myself at least a half dozen times thinking I was listening to the most beautiful song of the lot and then it would happen once again. That said, "You Found Me" is the most beautiful......I think!  It's got everything going on and it's all going on so well.  From the heartfelt and emotional lead vocals by Robert; to the silky smooth harmony back up vocals by the melodic lady choir; that smooth jazz vibe with the mellow sax leads; the organ led rhythm that will take you to church; right down to the timely feel good handclaps.  Yeah, now I'm sure -  it's the most beautiful song of the lot.      
Featuring the nucleus of the band, the disc's second instrumental is "Dark Season Blues".  It's an up tempo shuffle that the dancers will love.  With the band in an incredibly tight, organ led groove behind her, Grace gets into a smooth guitar groove of her own.  This is that kind of song you might listen to for hours before even thinking it was a long just get lost in it. 
The disc closes with basically three more minutes of the same bliss and peacefulness that it opened with.  It's titled "Elijah Reprise" and on it the band, with; it's soothing organ leads; mellowed guitar leads; and relaxed rhythm; is in that same mind transcending groove it was on "Elijah".  
Being a regional band from the Western New York area, there is a chance that some of you may not be all that familiar with Freightrain - and trust me when I say this - you need to change that.  That's why you need to go to  As usual, when you do, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Benny Turner

“My Brother's Blues”

Nola Blue Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2017

Pretty much everyone and their brother are putting out tribute recordings these days, with the key word in this sentence being brother.  However, this is not The Whipping Posts paying tribute to The Allman Brothers; it is not The Thrillers paying tribute to Michael Jackson. This is Benny Turner paying tribute to his brother, and decades long band mate, the late and legendary Freddie King.  Unlike others, who are only familiar with the music on those tribute recordings they release, Benny Turner has lived it.    
"My Brother's Blues" is a collection of eleven songs that were recorded by, and very often associated with, Freddie King.  The songs were composed by a handful of recognizable songwriters of which Freddie himself is one.  Equally recognizable will be the names of the many musicians involved.  They are: Benny Turner on bass, lead and background vocals and tambourine; June Yamagishi on lead guitar; Derwin "Big D" Perkins on rhythm guitar; Barney Floyd and Tracy Griffin on trumpet; Jason Mingledorff and Greg Dawson on saxophone; Jeffery "Jellybean" Alexander on drums; Earl Smith on background vocals; Jack Miele on lead and rhythm guitar; Alonzo Johnson on bass; Davell Crawford on B3; Joe Krown on B3 and keyboards; Otis Clay and Marva Wright on lead vocals; Roosevelt Collier on lap steel; Carolyn Wonderland on lead & rhythm guitar and background vocals; Kathy Murray on background vocals; and Chizuko Yoshihiro on piano.  Lots of good players making lots of good music.
"Have You Ever Loved A Woman" (B. Myles) was always one of my personal favorites of Freddie's so it's no surprise that I enjoyed this version as well.  Besides that, it's got a lot going on: Vocally, the feeling and emotion Benny's putting into it had me believing it was actually him suffering through the pain of loving someone else's woman; Also vocally, he and Earl are all over the soulful backup harmonies on the chorus line; As would be the case when you not only add a horn section but two keyboards as well, the rhythm is profoundly powerful.
Just as you couldn't release a tribute to Freddie King and not include "Tore Down" (S. Thompson), you can't do a review of it and not mention it either...especially when it features two late greats - Otis Clay and Marva Wright - teaming up with Benny on the vocals.  Individually, then collectively, the three take turns belting the hell out of the lead and backup vocals.  It's another rhythm fueled smoker with Benny and Jellybean boosting up the bottom, Davell and Keiko creating chaos on the keys, Barney and Jason blowing fire out of their horns  In the meantime, rounding out this rocker, June's kicking in with some serious ass kickin' guitar.
In addition to having been recorded by so many artists, "You've Got To Love Her With A Feeling" (F. King & S. Thompson) has had a handful of them take credit for writing it as well.  Including Freddie's, I personally have several other renditions that I'm particularly fond of and now - with the arrangement I just heard here - that list now has a new addition.      
"See, See, Baby" (S. Thompson & F. King) is the kind of song that stops me in my tracks.  It comes on and I have to drop whatever it is I'm doing and start tapping my fingers and feet and sway to the music.  It's nothing fancy, it's just the perfect blues band ensemble: a guitarist, bassist and vocalist (Benny); a rhythm guitarist (Jack); a keyboardist (Joe); a trumpet and sax player (Barney and Jason); and a drummer (Jellybean); all locking into a perfectly tight groove while performing a precision perfect shuffle.  It's all I need for my blues boat to float.  

In addition to this new release, Benny Turner also has a brand new book out titled "Survivor - The Benny Turner Story".  You can find out more about the disc, the book and the man himself by going to  You can also follow Benny by searching him on Facebook.  Once you do all this, tell him and Sallie that the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Altered Five Blues Band

“Charmed & Dangerous”

Blind Pig Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2017

After their second release back in 2012, Big City Rhythm & Blues referred to Altered Five as being "Hands Down, one of the best newer blues/R&B bands" and that statement apparently echoed throughout the blues world.  The bands third release, "Cryin' Mercy", not only earned them numerous nominations in various awards competitions but it also won the Blues Foundation's 2015 "Best Self Produced CD" award.  Now some may think that momentum like that may be hard to maintain, but Altered Five don't seem to think so and neither do I.  From what I just heard, their newest release - "Charmed and Dangerous" - could very well be their best yet.  
The Altered Five Blues Band are: Jeff Taylor on lead vocals; Jeff Schroedl on guitar; Mark Solveson on electric & upright bass, Raymond Tevich on keyboards; and the disc's producer, Grammy Award winner Tom Hambridge on drums & percussion.  Joining them are special guests Steve Cohen on harmonica and Candice Smith on backing vocals.  "Charmed and Dangerous" contains thirteen all original tracks covering a variety of blues styles, 
If this song were a personal ad, and it surely sounds like one, it certainly beats the hell out of that "I like long walks on the beach and sunsets" crap."  Proudly and powerfully boasting his apparently desirable assets, this is how Jeff Taylor tells it: "I'm a wanted man, six foot two.  Double barrel chest, wolverine tattoo.  Ride an iron horse chopper, walk a blood hound dog.  Got all the gun powder one man's allowed.  I'm 'Charmed And Dangerous', I want to be your bad boy.  I promise ya darlin', I'll fill you full of joy."  And that's just the first several similar verses!  Of course lyrics as bold as those should have to be backed by bold music as well, and with their gutsy guitar leads and robust rhythm, the guys were all over that. 
Affectionate verse such as "'If Your Heart Went Public'", I'd buy a hundred shares of stock" make this a wonderfully written and beautifully performed love song.  With the sincerity I'm hearing in his voice, I can't imagine any woman not melting upon hearing those words come from JT.  Musically, it's just as beautiful.  I'll be shocked, as well as disappointed, if I don't see several of this bands names on upcoming BMA ballots.   
"My Wallet's like an onion, open it up and it will make you cry; But my lovin' is just like cinnamon, you want it soft and sweet baby I'm your guy"; is not something you'll ever hear Bobby Flay tell Giada De Laurentis on a Food Network show but that, along with other culinary catch phrases like: "I haven't got much bread, but my heart is warm as toast"; and "I don't bring home much bacon, my credit's a little lean"; are some of the reasons JT has no business "Cookin' In Your Kitchin".  That said, using his soulful and gravely voiced vocals to belt the hell out of some slow blues is indeed his business.  Musically, with the guys in a tight rhythm groove behind them, Jeff and Raymond - with some stinging guitar and piano leads - are getting in on some of that business as well.  Good, old school, traditional blues at it's best.   
The rhythm section that has been absolutely profound throughout the disc, amazingly enough, take it up a notch on "She's Still Crazy".  That's due to  Mark, Raymond and Tom just flat out beating up on the bass, organ and drums.  Throw in Jeff and Steve going toe to toe with smokin' guitar and harp leads and you're now listening to the disc's best musical production.
Although this one is about a very special lady, it's title, "Eighth Wonder of the World" - could just as well be a description of Jeff Taylor's voice.  Not that he even remotely needs any help, but with his compelling and emotional vocals being angelically backed up by Candice, this is an absolutely flawless and stunning vocal performance.  Right about now I’m thinking: "this is song of the year material”.
Instead of suggesting, as I usually do, I'm going to politely insist that you go to to learn more about the band.  It's just something ya gotta do!  Once you're there, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you and that I'm hoping to see them in Memphis this coming May.....they'll know what I mean. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


The Jon Spear Band

“Hot Sauce”

Self released

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2017

Because they are located all over the world, I don't get to see too many of the bands whose CDs I review.  That said, at the Blind Raccoon Showcase hosted by Betsie Brown during IBC week, I did have the pleasure of catching the Jon Spear Band live and I now envy those of you who can do so on a regular basis.  That, combined with having reviewed their debut release, had me looking very forward to working with "Hot Sauce" - the band's newest CD. 
"Hot Sauce" consists of twelve original tracks with various members of the band putting their pens to work.  And since there's no reason to fix anything that's not broke, the band has stayed intact for all of its three releases.  They are: Jon Spear on rhythm and lead guitar and vocals; Dara James on lead guitar, harp and vocals; Andy Burdetsky on bass and backing vocals; and John Stubblefield on drums and backing vocals.  Additional artists include: Ron Holloway on sax; Nate Brown on congas; Butch Taylor on keyboards; Matty Metcalfe on accordion; and Nathaniel Star and Yolanda Jones on backing vocals.     
If you are so sick of the crap that's going on around you and you're feeling like you just gotta get the hell out of this place before you explode, then you just might need a "Geographical Cure".  Just as an apple a day is said to keep the doctor away, there's also nothing like a change of scenery every once in a while.  If you allow it, along with its lyrics, the island beat on this one can be transcending.  As a matter of fact, I myself am already feeling better.
This one's called "It Was A Really Great Gig" but it's the next line - "At least that's how it started out" - that really tells the story.  You see, the lead singer and a pretty girl were flirting from the stage.  This girl just happened to be the girlfriend of the local gang leader who saw it all go down.  As the punk grabbed the singers leg, he whacked him in the head with the mic stand.  Oh yeah, it gets worse but you'll have to hear the rest for yourself.  Musically, like the story, it's a feisty one.  The exuberant rhythm and rollicking guitars are the perfect accompaniment to the raucous tale. 
I once asked another artist how his "Stop that grinnin', drop some denim, let's get it on" pick up line went, now here I am wondering how "Could you be my 'Hot Sauce' tonight?" worked for Jon Spear?  Although the song does mention several varieties of chili peppers, it's the music causing the real heat.  Along with some very soulful vocals, Dara's laying down some of the discs more fiery guitar licks; Andy and John pounding out some burning rhythm and guest star Ron is blowing flames out of that sax of his.  As the title track should be, this is one of the disc's best.  
"Hello!"  Hello?"  "Hello, are you there?"  Helloooooooo, I hear you in the background."  "Damn it, 'Butt-Dial Kyle' is it again.  Yep, I'm sure all of us know, and/or have been, a Kyle ourselves at many times.  Clever and very humorous lyrics about a very common situation.  Along with the usual great rhythm and guitar leads, this one features several organ and piano highlights from Butch.  
Being a veteran myself, like Jon and the guys, I also have the "Blues For A Soldier".  This one pays homage to all of the brave American's - and their families - who sacrifice so much of their lives in order to keep the rest of us out of harm's way.  Like the lyrics, and the way they're being sung by Dara, the music is compelling as well.  Simply said, this is a very powerfully presented powerful message. Thanks!
You can find The Jon Spear Band simply by going to 
or liking their FB page by searching "Jon Spear Band".  Once you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Greasy Gravy

“When The Game Is On”

Big H Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2017

With this being the very first CD review of a band from this country, Mary and I are very pleased to welcome Norway to the ever growing list of world wide locations that are part of our Mary4Music family.
Norwegian based Greasy Gravy was established in the early 2000's as a blues band.  Since then the band has gone more towards soul music, but a dose of soulful blues is still part of the band’s repertoire.  "When The Game Is On" is the band’s second release, with their first being a live recording back in 2007.  The disc contains eleven tracks with nine of them being band originals.
Members of Greasy Gravy are: Tom E. Holmlund on lead & background vocals; Rune Endal on bass; Espen Liland on guitar; Alexander Pettersen on drums & percussion; Kasper Skullerud Værnes on saxophone; Tom Erik Antonsen on trumpet; Magnus Østvang on keyboards; Stina Stenerud, Julie S. Christensen, Kim Edward Bergseth, Linda Sønsteby and May-Britt Skaug on background vocals.  
"Love On The Rocks" is a testament to the band’s mission statement.  With the album being a tribute to classic soul music and with the music on it being inspired by the sounds of the genre's glory days, the track reminded me of any one of dozens of the soul classics - done by any one of the dozens of soul maestros.  From the beautiful and smooth sounds of: the rhythm beat; the guitar tones; the horn arrangements; and the soulfully harmonic lead and background vocals; these guys have this thing down pat. 
When this track comes on it's going to be a "Good Thing" for the dancers.  Right from the start it just screams....DANCE!  Never being a fan of the disco craze, I will to admit that there were indeed a handful of that genres songs that did induce some uncontrollable gyrations on my part - this sounds like one of those.  Rune and Alexander, on the bass and drums, are pounding out some serious rhythm; Kasper and Tom are blaring away on the horns; Magnus is out of control on the organ; Espen's crushing it on guitar; and Tom, along with some vigorous background support, is singing his soul out.               
On "Like A Stone", I'm hearing a little more of the bands early blues influence.  Although Tom's vocals are unquestionably soulful, this powerful ballad also showcases his ability to belt out some heartfelt, emotionally charged, melancholy vocals as well.  It's also a pleasure hearing Espen laying down some stinging blues guitar chords.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh.....slow blues!
With the emotion and conviction he's putting into these vocals, hearing Tom sing "I'm A Worried Soul" sounds so frightfully real.  This is exactly how you sing a song and make it sound believable.  At the risk of sounding contradictory, this is one heck of a beautiful yet melancholic song.  The rhythm on this one, led by the amazing piano and organ work of Magnus, gave the song a wonderfully nostalgic feel.  This one blew me away.
Tommy Søvik's (Oslo Soul Experience) liner notes indicate that since "this whole album oozes the Memphis sound" it was quite appropriate to end it with a version of Rufus Thomas' "The Memphis Train".  All I'll add to that is that it was one hell of a version. 
You can reach Greasy Gravy on Facebook by simply searching the bands name and you can find them on the Internet by going to  Regardless of how you do it, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.  
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Andrew JR.Boy Jones

“It's Me Again”

Galexc Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2017

For those of you who know of Andrew JR.Boy Jones as I do, this paragraph isn't necessary.  On the other hand, when the rest of you read some of this you just might think "Why the hell didn't I know that?"  At the ridiculously young age of sixteen, Andrew was in a band called The Thunderbirds and although they weren't "The Fabulous Thunderbirds" they were The Thunderbirds that did a fabulous job backing up one of the King's of the blues - "The Texas Cannonball" himself - Mr. Freddie King. Additionally, JR. Boy spent some thirty years touring the globe playing with the likes of Johnnie Taylor, Bobby Patterson, Charles Musselwhite, Katie "The Swamp Boogie Queen" Webster and countless others while recording with many of them as well.  Since beginning his solo career in 1996 "It's Me Again" is his ninth release. 
"It's Me Again" features ten tracks that were all penned by Andrew. Joining him, on guitar, lead and background vocals, are: Christole Jones on bass; Jamil Byrom on drums and Julie Bonk on piano & organ.  With many of the tracks being just the way I like them - straight up traditional blues - I'm looking very forward to telling you about a few.           
About forty-five seconds into this track I found myself wishing it was an instrumental.  With Christole and Jamil laying down a silky smooth rhythm behind them, Andrew and Julie were sounding absolutely magical together on the guitar and piano.  Then, with all that still going on, sounding something like one of my all time favorite vocalists - Barkin' Bill Smith - Andrew starts belting out the blues, and what I had already thought was a great track just got greater. This one transported me from tapping on a keyboard in my office to tapping on my knees in a “blues joint".  Phenomenal track!
With a nice percussion groove going on in the background, Andrew JR. Boy Jones shines on this one.  "Midnight" is a bit of a jazzy instrumental that's all about the guitar and the masterful way in which it should be and is being played.  For students of the instrument, this should be mandatory listening.     
This one's titled "I Need Time" and on it, Andrew has well over seven minutes to showcase his extraordinary vocal skills.  With this heartfelt and emotionally soulful performance, he's easily at disc's best vocally.  Also outstanding here is Julie's exceptional ninety second, mid-song organ highlight.
The disc closes with a rhythm fueled smoker.  That said, Christole and Jamil are at disc's best on the bass and drums and Julie's piano solo is telling us why she was a winner of The Sammons Center for the Arts Jazz Musician of the Year.  Then there's Jr. Boy - smokin' on the guitar and sounding so soulful and so sincere with his "Baby I'm Sorry" apology.
You can say hello to Andrew JR.Boy Jones by searching his name on Facebook but for bookings, interviews, CD requests, etc. just shoot an email to  When you do so, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.    
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Roots and Dore

“The Blues and Beyond”

Self Produced

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2017

Roots and Dore are a duo who specialize in "organic, acoustic, blues roots music".  They are Riyen Roots on guitars & vocals and Kenny Dore on harmonica.  "The Blues And Beyond" is their debut disc and it consists of ten original tracks penned by Riyen along with a Robert Johnson cover.  Five of the tracks on the project include special guests and they are: Bob Margolin on slide guitar; Tony Black on upright bass; and David Holt on resonator.  
While recording this album at Echo Mountain Recording Studio, which at one time was an old church, an unexplained phenomenon took place.  As Kenny tells it, unbeknownst to them, a signal was picked up from the air which they never heard until they played back the track.  As bizarre as it was, they decided to go with it and after doing a bit of editing and adding some reverb, they came up with a great effect and that wound up making a great intro to the song.  It goes something like this.....With Riyen strumming soft acoustic guitar chords in the background, the opening track starts off with something that sounds like an actual recording off of an old 78 record, static and all, of an evangelist preaching the teachings found in the the the bible.....Then just where it sounds like the needle gets stuck Kenny joins in with some very slow and very drawn out eerie like harmonica chords and a tale about the life of a "Blues Man" unfolds.  This one's just the duo doing what they're known for, and great at as well - playing and singing old school acoustic style roots blues as if they've lived it.       
This song was written for and dedicated to the ladies, or as the guys prefer to say, the "Womens".  Yep, the womens in the city who look real fine and the womens in the country who are sweet like peaches on the farm, Riyen and Kenny just love their womens.  With David joining Riyen on guitar this one's got some real good pickin' and strummin' and with that big bass getting slapped around by Tony and Kenny getting a bit more aggressive on the harp, the rhythm's pretty hot as well.  Very good stuff!
Here's one about a subject that most of us would hope to not relate to and yet many may - "Hard Times".  Once again it's just Riyen and Kenny putting their classic touch to down home Delta style blues.  Inasmuch as this duo didn't invent what they're doing they certainly invented their own and very unique way of doing it.  Their guitar and harmonica rhythms are so perfectly in touch it's almost as if one brain is controlling both instruments.  It's absolutely amazing.      
Along with the rest of us, Riyen is hoping that when his number's called he's hoping that he's "Not Goin' To Hell".  Good luck with that, Riyen.  So you take these two amazing musicians, who by themselves are ridiculously good, and you add Bob Margolin for a little slide guitar mastery and Tony Black for some big bass sound and what do you think happens?  Exactly!
All disc long I've been in awe of Kenny Dore's harmonica style.  His ability to stretch and hold even the softest of notes is incomparable.  All you've got to do is listen to the opening of the disc's last track - "If I'm Gone" - and you'll not only know what I'm referring to but I'm sure you'll agree as well.  It's a perfect track to close the disc with.  The soft and progressively slowing music put to these melancholy lyrics was a perfect marriage and along with the harp work, Riyen and David are mesmerizing on the guitar and resonator.  Acoustic blues just doesn't get any better than this.
You can check out Roots and Dore by either going to their website - or liking their FB page -  However you find them, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Bobby G
with Curtis Grant, Jr. & The Midnight Rockers
“Still Standing”

Third Street Cigar Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2017

Going with the "It's never too late" theory, Bobby G finally decided it was time to release his debut CD - at the age of 73.  In many cases, that's the age where long time veterans of the genre finally get their long over due recognition anyway, however that was not Bobby's reasoning.  Being born into a poor family on a plantation in Mississippi, like everyone else, Bobby G seemed destined to be a cotton picker - which he started doing at the age of seven.  If there could ever be an upside to that, it may have been that in the area where this all took place, he was fortunate enough to become exposed to the blues by the likes of B B King, Mississippi Slim, and Bobby Blue Bland.  That said, more than cotton was planted in those fields.  By the time he was fifteen, he knew that one day he'd harvest those blues seeds sown in inside his soul. 
Fast forward some fifty years or so, during which Bobby G: escaped to Ohio;  made a living working odd jobs; raised a family; and eventually retired from a thirty-nine year career working for a municipality.  With his dues having now been paid, the time was right for him to introduce the world to Bobby G - the bluesman he was really destined to be. 
"Still Standing" Features Bobby G on Vocals; Curtis Grant Jr. on drums; Larry Gold on guitar; Johnny "HiFi" Newmark on bass, and Johnny Rawls on keyboards and guitar.  With Johnny Rawls - the perennial nominee and often winner of many soul blues awards - having written or co-written all of the disc's ten tracks, you'd be correct in assuming that this one's loaded with soulful blues.
Although not written by him, the title track - "Still Standing" - sounds like it was written for and about Bobby G.  It's the sincerity he puts forth singing about much of his life's happenings - some good, some bad, some he's proud of, some he's not - and the matter of fact way in which he states that in spite of it all, he's "Still standing and wouldn't change a thing" that kind of gives the song an autobiographic feel.  Musically it's got a bit of a nostalgic groove, kind of reminiscent of a soul/disco fusion.  Surely one for the dancers.  
On a ballad titled "Good As Gold", it's Larry Golds' guitar intro that had me knowing I was in for some serious, slow and low down blues.....and that's just the way I like it.  With the rhythm locked into one of those tight, slow grooves that this type of song calls for, Larry and Bobby are all over it.  It's only the second track in and I'm making the early call that I could very well be listening to some of the disc's best blues guitar work right here.  Vocally, I honestly don't think Bobby can get any more emotional and soulful than what I'm hearing right here as well, but I so do hope I'm wrong.  Real deal blues at it's best.
"Love, Love, Love" is a smoker that leans more towards a soul rock vibe.  Led by a dramatic and constant group handclap, the rhythm is very hard driven, the guitar leads are quite assertive and the growling, gravelly voiced vocals are intense.  Different yet excellent.
This one's a real feel good song.  Whereas it once felt so good for Bobby G to escape Mississippi it now "Feels So Good" for him to return.  Once again you can just hear the excitement in his voice as he sings of being back home in Greenville, hanging with some old friends and checking out some old stomping grounds.  
Besides this being Bobby's debut disc, it's also the debut disc for the record company - Third Street Cigar Records, founded by John Henry - a blues enthusiast, promoter and club owner.  John has assured me that in addition to hearing a lot more from Bobby G, there will be many more recordings on his label from many more blues artists, as well.  Now that's what I call good news.
To learn more about Bobby G and Third Street Cigar Records just go to the label's website at  Once you're there, please tell Bobby and John that the Blewzzman sent you .
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Michael Packer

“I am The Blues – My Story, Vol. 3”

Iris Music Group

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2017

Sometimes you read something in the liner notes of a CD that just needs to be shared.  That said, the following was written by Alan Lorber:

"In the last cut of this album, Michael starts off by saying,'Alright, Mr. Packer!' as if to acknowledge 'OK Michael, you did it!'.  He was a blues heavyweight, to be sure.  A musician's musician, Michael fought through many incarnations as an artist and songwriter while being an alcoholic, drug abuser, convicted felon, and homeless on the streets of New York.  Through it all, he maintained the deepest sense of devotion to his art, able to come out the other end to finally live honestly, sober and alive, leaving behind a wonderful legacy of recordings.  His songs chronicled his life: first by way of Papa Nebo on Atlantic - a country/folk/rock band with a girl violinist; to Free Beer for Buddah & RCA, with the most beautiful pop/country harmonies; and finally to his destiny as a great bluesman.  Through the forty-seven years I had known him, I was privileged to have been his record producer and friend."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Knowing it was coming, Michael Packer passed just about a week before the release of "I Am The Blues" My Story - Vol 3, making this the final of three chapters of music about his often troubling life.  Knowing what I now do about Michael, it's obvious that if it weren't for bad luck, he'd have no luck at all.
"I Am The Blues" My Story - Vol 3 is a collection of seven original (written by Michael and/or band members) and all true songs preceded by a narrated introduction to each song.  The credits are as follows: Michael Packer on vocals, guitars, Hammond organ and narrations; Jack O'Hara on bass and guitar; Ed Jackson on vocals, and congas; Irving Louis Lattin on vocals; Guy Powell on Drums; John Benton on bass; Adam Valk on guitar; Alexis Suter on vocals; Willie "The Touch" Hayes on guitars; Mike Wheeler on guitars; Roosevelt Purify on piano; and Melvin Smith on bass.
The disc opens with Michael telling us about his Blues For Peace Projects.  Other projects of this nature held around the world were successful in raising a lot of money for the United Nations Refugee Agency.  Then came his planned events: one in Washington Square, in NYC, where the generator powering the stage exploded; another one scheduled to be held in on the Island of Cypress being turned back because of a military coup followed by the promoter having a heart attack; and at the next one, scheduled to be held at the White House, the band was turned away by security.  Michael then claimed that the world just wasn't ready for "Blues For Peace".  As you might imagine, the song which follows is as melancholy as the intro.  That said, it features Michael and Jack performing quite a good acoustic guitar duet.
"Fields Of Sorrow" is the title of a song written about a place that lot's of us blues folk are familiar with - Hopson Plantation in Clarksdale, MS.  Most of us know it as the grounds on which the Shack Up Inn is located but Michael's commentary focuses on the more depressing details.  While walking the grounds, he likened the fact of a black man walking these grounds being similar to a Jewish man walking around Auschwitz.  That's when he turned to bass player John Becton, an African American, and he said: "let's get outta here".  The song that came out of this story was about not wanting to go back to the fields of sorrow.  Once again, this one features more good acoustic guitar picking by Michael and Ed and a powerful vocal performance by Ed and Irving.
"Yo Staten Island" is about the death of Eric Garner, allegedly through the fault of police brutality administered by the NYPD - he was choked to death.  The song about the story is a very well done production.  It combines new lyrics infused with the lyrics of "Born Under A Bad Sign".  It's partially spoken, partially sung, partially rapped and the congas, drums, bass and organ collective create one hell of a profound rhythm.
Referring back to the Washington Square concert, Michael's narration fills us in on the details of that generator explosion.  It was obviously quite serious because an ambulance had to actually take drummer Guy Powell to the burn unit.  The song that came out of that story was "Flash Flame" and yes, it was written by Guy.
By now, you might be thinking that things have just got to get better and thankfully, they do.  As Michael explains, this track is about going to "Chicago" and getting to play with real deal blues cats.  As he tells it, "The blues just do not get much better than this".  The track is a very cool ten minute blend of jazzy blues.  It features Michael on vocals, intros, and interjections and is highlighted by the silky piano playing of Roosevelt, the smooth rhythm of Willie and Melvin and scorching blues guitar licks from Mike.  Musically it's one of the disc's best productions.
As with most people who have let a loved one slip through their lives, on this solo acoustic track, Michael finds himself wanting a chance to "Do It All Over".       
Telling us about having Hep C and the doctors not being able to do anything for him, like the disc, Michael's life is about to come to an end.  Sad as it is, "Mr. Packer" died a bluesman - and that's exactly what he wanted to be remembered as.
Normally, this is where I'd give you the artist's website and tell you to let him know that the Blewzzman sent you.  That said, I'm hoping from the place he's at right now, Michael already knows that.  However, you can get a copy of the disc by going to

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Karen Lovely

“Fish Outta Water”

Independent Release

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2017

In 2010 Karen Lovely hit the ground running and, as the past seven years have proven, she's not slowed down one bit.  Capitalizing on the momentum of her second place finish in the International Blues Challenge that year, she has since garnered many Blues Music and Blues Blast Award nominations - two of the genres most prestigious events.  
As she has done on most of her earlier releases, Karen Lovely once again has aligned herself with a multitude of talented musicians.  That said, when you see the list below, I'm sure you'll agree that on "Fish Outta Water", she does a bit of stepping out of the box.  With her singing all the lead vocals, Karen Lovely is joined by: Rick Holmstrom on guitar; Doug Pettibone on electric and acoustic guitar; Taras Prodaniuk on acoustic and electric bass; and Matt Tacu on drums and percussion.  The album also features: Ben Rice on guitar and dobro; Eamon Ryland on slide guitar; Al Bonhomme on guitar and mandolin; Sasha Smith on piano and Wurlitzer; Skip Edwards on B3 and Farfisa; Phil Parlipiano on piano and Hammond organ; David Ralicke on baritone sax and coronet; DJ Bonebrake on marimba; Alan Mark Lightner on steel drums, timbale, congas and guiro; Eric Gorfain on violin; Richard Dodd on cello and Eric Corne on background vocals, harmonica and acoustic guitar.  The twelve tracks on "Fish Outta Water" are all new and original, penned by Karen and/or several of the band members. That's a lot of music so lets get to it.
The disc opens with the title track, "Fish Outta Water".  It features Karen doing what she does best - using that attention demanding style of hers as she powerfully and emotionally belts the hell out of the vocals.  The track's also highlighted by outstanding guitar leads from Rick and superior B3 leads by Skip on one of his two performances.           
If for no other reason (but yes, there are plenty others), "Everything Means Nothing" deserves mentioning on the merit of Eamon's only slide guitar performance.  But wait, there's Ben's killer electric guitar licks; Skips back with more killer keyboards; and of course, the lovely Karen and her range roving vocals.  Yep, another good one for sure.   
Inasmuch as my favorite line in this song is "there was a time where your love hit me like Frazier hit Ali", there is nothing about "Hades' Bride (There Was A Time)" that isn't delicate.  You have Al, Eric and Richard creating such a smooth and easy vibe on the mandolin, violin and cello and then you have Karen singing with a uniquely strong yet simultaneously soft voice.  Nicely done!
'The world turns as bridges burn, lets have a round of "Molotov Cocktails" here'.  In a world where thousands of lawyers make millions of dollars arguing over "interpretation" I'm sure you'd be hard pressed to find many people willing to debate the reference of that line.  With so much good guitar work by so many good guitarists, it's Doug's time to shine on this one.      
The lyrics in this song about getting a second chance at something are incredibly powerful.  And once you hear the magnitude of the things that will be done differently "Next Time", you'll understand that although Karen's doing a heck of a job singing about them, she's not the one who'll be doing them differently. That's going to take a higher power.  Musically, Taras and Matt have the perfect rhythm groove going and on one of his only two of his performances, Phil's killing it on piano. Songs of this caliber deserve my ultimate compliment - this is song of the year material.
This one is not only done "Nice And Easy" but very sultry as well.  It's a basic four piece ensemble with Karen, Doug, Taras and Matt and yet it's my favorite track of the lot.  Simple, sublime and sexy... nothing else needed.           
Of course, you can find out more about Karen Lovely, her other releases and her tour dates by visiting her website -  When there, please tell her that her friend the Blewzzman sent you.   
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


The Blue Shadows

“The Blue Shadows”

Rip Cat Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2017

If you like your blues seasoned with some rock, punk, Cajun, country, rockabilly, SOCAL swag, and even a bit of Latin flavors - all served up smokin' hot - then come and get it.  The Blue Shadows self-titled debut release is all that and more.  
The Blue Shadows band consists of: Bill Bateman on drums & percussion; Javiar Matos on vocals, guitar, harmonica, pan flute & melodica; John Bazz on bass; and a group of special guests that include: Dave Alvin, Kid Ramos, Johnny "Two Bags" Wickersham and Chopper Franklin on guitar; Chris and Isreal Matos on backing vocals; Aaron Deily on piano; Patrick Harrison on accordion; Mikkel Beckman on washboard; Mondo Dorame on saxophone and Scott Steen on trumpet.   
"The Blue Shadows" the CD, as mentioned above, is a very eclectic mix of many styles of music all with a foot in the blues.  The disc contains fifteen tracks that include a handful of originals. 
The album opens with a track about spinning a stack records and it's titled "Diamond Needles".  In this particular case, it's definitely a rock 'n' roll record that's spinning under that needle.  With Bill and John having the rhythm at full throttle, Javiar keeping up with them vocally and Dave Alvin blasting away on guitar, as good as it all sounds the pace on this one could lead you to wonder if the turntable is actually on the right speed.  Phew!
I don't know exactly where they're heading but on "On The Road Again" it sure sounds to me like it may just be N'awlins.  Once again, and I'm getting the impression this will always be the case, the rhythm is profound but it's the zydeco vibe Javiar's creating with a masterful performance on the melodica that's driving this one.  Full dance floor music for sure.
"She Likes To Boogie Real Low" is the smoothest track of the lot.  With a little extra from Aaron Deily on the piano, the rhythm section's tightly locked into a sweet groove all while Javiar lays down some of those cool west coast swing licks on guitar.  Easily one of the disc's best tracks.
Thank goodness they don't have the boogie woogie flu because the "Rockin' Pneumonia" alone is enough to send The Blue Shadows into fever pitch mode.  Lead by scorching guitar licks from Kid Ramos and some Jerry Lee style piano slammin' by Aaron Deily this one's an all out smoker.   
Although I have no idea what they are saying or what the song is about, "La Voz In Suenos" is an absolutely beautiful song.  Music, after all, is the universal language.  The title of the song, being sung in Spanish, translates to the voice in dreams.  Along with Javiar's brothers - Chris and Isreal - helping him on backing vocals, the vocal harmony just one of this tracks highlights.  Others are Javiars delicate Latin style guitar work and the subtle sounds of Mondo and Scott's saxophone and trumpet.  Nicely done track.
The easiest way to find out more about The Blue Shadows, or to get a copy of the disc, is to just go to Rip Cat Records website -  While you're there, please tell Scott Abeyta that his buddy, the Blewzzman, sent you.  
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Patrick Recob

“Perpetual Luau”

Mr. Lucky's Blues Recording Company

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2017

It's been exactly ten years since I personally discovered Patrick Recob.  Back in 2007, as a member of The National Debonaires, he played bass on the CD which was the recipient of that's year's "Blewzzy" Award".  What that means is that of the forty-five CD reviews I did that year, "New Sounds From Kansas City" was my personal favorite.  That wasn't the only award winning disc he's appeared on.  Seven years later, with a lot more credits before and after these releases, Patrick also played on "Account To Me" - Hank Mowery's 2014 "Best Self Produced" CD.  
"Perpetual Luau" is not only Patrick Recob's debut solo release but it's pretty much his first stint as a front man as well.  And as Patrick tells it, it almost didn't happen.  Had it not been for James Harman (the disc's producer) forcing his then bass player to sing a few songs, I wouldn't be listening to this release and you'd not be reading this review. 
Joining Patrick - on vocals, bass and lead & acoustic guitar - are: James Harman on harmonica background vocals and spoken vocal; Nathan James on guitar; Mike Tempo on percussion; Marty Dodson on drums and magazine; Laura Chavez on guitar; and Kitty LaMieux on vocals.  All thirteen tracks are Patrick Recob originals. 
The disc opens with "Frustration Blues" and it's six plus minutes of slow, straight up, Chicago style blues.  In spite of his past reluctance, Patrick seems to sound real comfortable in front of the mic, and from the way in which he's belting out these blues it's apparent that he's quite good up there as well. This one's highlighted by the first of the two times that the "James Gang" appear together. That would be Nathan James - who's killing it with his Muddyesque style of lead and slide guitar, and James Harman - who does nothing but kill it every time he touches a harmonica. This was not only a heck of a first impression, but it could very well be the disc's best track as well.       
"We Have It Going On" was done as a tribute to Arthur Alexander - the late, great, soulful country singer/songwriter who's songs were covered in just about every genre of music.  "It sounds like him" is what the band claimed after making the recording and I couldn't agree more.  In addition to his smooth and melodic vocals, Patrick is pretty impressive on his three guitar - lead, acoustic and bass - performance.  Outstanding percussion and rhythm as well.
Being a baby boomer who grew up on fifties music, I just love it when current blues artists reach back and pay homage to the old rock 'n' roll type songs that gave way to the birth of the blues.  "Let Me Give You All" is just that kind of song.  Right now I'm picturing two puppy lovers wrapped in each others arms while doing the spotlight dance on American Bandstand.  Great era; great music; great job!  Patrick, you gave my replay button a work out with this one.    
This next track brings a third James into play and that would be Elmore.  Of course he isn't playing on it but the way "Grave Yard Woman" is being done you'd swear he was.  The work of Nathan on slide in conjunction with Laura on rhythm make this one of the better guitar tracks.
Speaking of good guitar tracks, more of the disc's best guitar work can be found on a track titled "Help Me Find The Answer".  The intention behind this one was to pay tribute to the legendary Magic Sam and that mission was accomplished by Nathan in classic style.  This is another one on which you'll find it hard to believe that it's Patrick's rookie appearance up front.             
With Todd Glazer working on radio promotions for Patrick, most of you blues programmers should already have "Perpetual Luau".  That said, if you don't, you can get in touch with Patrick by going to  After you tell him the Blewzzman sent you ask him to tell you the rest of the story as to how this project came about.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Darryl Ellyson

“Been Out Traveling”

Ellysong Publishing

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2017

Just a bit over two years ago I had the pleasure of doing a review of "It's Such A Shame" - Darryl Ellyson's debut release.  In that review, this was one of my opening statements... With the exception of several featured players on a handful of the songs, all of the music comes from Darryl and Bill Roberts, of whom Darryl had this to say: "Bill plays all instruments and without him, all my songs would still be acoustic songs I'd only play at solo gigs"... Going with the philosophy of "If it's not broke, don't fix it", that statement pretty much holds true for this disc, as well. 
On "Been Out Traveling", Darryl Ellyson sings the lead & background vocals and plays rhythm guitar while Bill Roberts plays lead guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and sings background vocals.  Other performers include: Velpo Robertson on lead & slide guitar and background vocals; Janet Martin on slide guitar; Rusty Farmer on bass; Kip Williams on drums; Kevin Simpson on saxophone; Jerel Lewis on keyboards & background vocals; and Carlos Chafin on keyboards.  All ten of the disc's tracks are Darryl Ellyson originals.
The opening and title track is one of the five tracks that were recorded live in the studio by the full five piece band.  It's an all out smoker powered by the relentless rhythm of Kip on the drums, Rusty on the bass, and Jerel on the B3 organ; Killer slide guitar by Velpo; and with a voice the size of his statuesque frame, powerful vocals by Darryl.  As he tells it, Darryl's "Been Out Traveling" all around this great big world and although he's never been to heaven, he's sure been to hell.  From the pen to the performance, a very well done track.
It's only the second track and I'm already knowing I'll be referring to this rhythm section quite often.  As a matter of fact, with Kip's percussion lead, "Lovin' You" is totally about the rhythm.  Put your dancin' shoes on and get ready to rumba.  
"Ain't Gonna Let You Go" is one of a handful of tracks where Bill is all over the place - and with him nailing it on the guitar, keyboards, drums and bass - I do mean that literally.  That said, Carlos on the piano and Kevin on the sax, both do one heck of a job on their only appearances as well.  In a conversation I had with Darryl, who was sounding quite soulful on this one, I was told to expect a lot more soul with a lot more horns on his next CD.  Bring it on, big guy!
The several soft piano notes that gave way to the soothing guitar intro on the opening minute of "Lost In Your Love" clearly defined the mood of this one.  Then Darryl, with a delicate intensity, started to emotionally belt out the songs doleful lyrics and I melted.  My regular readers know that the way to floor the Blewzzman is with a slow, bluesy ballad and Darryl knocked me for a loop with this one.  Wow!
Being a connoisseur of music, while also being someone who cannot play more than one note on any instrument and make it sound good, my envy surfaces when I hear Bill Roberts - a virtual one man orchestra - play.  This is another one of the tracks where whatever music you're hearing is coming from him.  And then there's Darryl, sounding a bit Stevie Ray Vaughn-like on this "Cold Shot" sound-alike, titled "I'm Gone" and once again the dynamic duo has struck.
Right now music is Darryl Ellyson's second career but in the not too distant future, that will be changing.  In the meantime: by writing all of his own songs; sounding incredible singing them; producing and releasing a quality CD every few years; and playing lots of local and regional gigs; he's laying the groundwork for one hell of a musical career when that time does come.  In place of a website, Darryl Ellyson uses ReverbNation - - but should you want to contact him, it's probably best to do so by liking his Facebook Page. As usual, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Micki Free

“Tattoo Burn-Redux”

Dark Idol Music

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © May 2017

Every once in a while I'll receive a CD from an artist who has played with so many recognizable names in the music industry that I'm puzzled as to why I've never heard of said artist.  Along those same lines, when those recognizable names include Kiss, Prince, Janet Jackson, Carlos Santana, Diana Ross, Little Steven Van Zandt, Cheap Trick and members of the Ramones and the Plasmatics (just to name a few), I also become puzzled - and a bit suspicious as well - as to exactly what genre of music I'm about to be hearing.  That said, Micki Free is the artist; "Tattoo Burn-Redux" is the CD; and there's absolutely no doubt about it, the CD is unquestionably rooted in the blues.

"Tattoo Burn-Redux" contains eleven tracks of which ten were penned by Micki with the other being a cover of "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)", written by his biggest influence - Jimi Hendrix.  Along with Micki - on lead & background vocals and lead, slide, rhythm & bass guitars - the music makers include: Howard Hewett on lead & background vocals; Cindy Blackman-Santana and David "Hawk" Lopez on drums; Bill Wyman, Jack Daily, Kenny Gradney and David Santo on bass; Gary Bowden on 12 string guitar; Mark "Muggy Doo" Leach on Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ;  Brother Paul Brown, also on the Hammond organ; Randy Singer on harmonica; and Shea, Wendy Moten and Trish Bowden on background vocals.

The disc opens with a vocally, musically and lyrically compelling Gospel track titled "God Is On The Phone".  Think about that for a that a call you'd rather or rather not receive?  The powerful vocals come from the duet between Micki and Howard; the powerful music is a result of Micki's stinging guitar licks and monster rhythm from Hawk and Kenny and the powerful lyrics are a result of the conversation - c'mon, it's a phone call from God.

I got her name burned on my body, so I never will forget.  I got her name burned on my body, so she knows there's no regrets.  And when that lesson's learned, I want to feel that "Tattoo Burn".  On this title track, it's not just the tattoo that's burning.  From the opening guitar intro right to the closing chords, this one's four scorching guitar filled minutes. 
Everyone knows the pain and suffering involved with break ups.  In addition to the toll it takes on your emotions, there's the loss of material items to deal with as well.  I've heard songs addressing this issue in which the man was hoping his woman wouldn't run off with his Muddy Waters records as well as hearing them about the man not wanting his woman to run off with his dog, his money, his clothes and more.  That said, Micki feels that he'll make it through his troubling breakup as long as she leaves the "Greens And Barbecue".  Another well done track with Micki's usual stinging guitar leads and the usual strong rhythm - this time with Bill Wyman on the bass and Muggy Doo on the keyboards.

Here I am, four tracks in and I've had something to say about all of them.  Either this is going to be my longest review ever or I'm going to have to try real hard to get a bit more selective.  Inasmuch as I've been impressed with everything I've heard so far - and there are still seven tracks yet to go - I'm going to call this one, "Six Feet Down In The Blues", my favorite of the lot.  It's got all the ingredients that I require to be a perfect blues song: Melancholy lyrics; Intense, emotional and soulful vocals; slow, scorching, string bending and note holding guitar leads; relaxed but right in the pocket rhythm; the tickling of those high end piano keys; and that steady heartbeat of the organ.  There you have it - what I commonly refer to as "blues song of the year material". 

Having just described my perfect blues song, "There's A Hole In The Heart Of The Blues" may just be the perfect song for the blues rockers.  I'm now hearing the Cheap Trick, Prince and Kiss connection.  Micki's rocking out on guitar, Cindy and Jack are ferocious on the rhythm and Micki and Shea are wailing away on the vocals. Buckle up!

To find out a whole lot more about Micki Free check him out at www.themickifreeexperience.  As usual, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.  

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


King Bee

“The Beginning”

Hivemaster Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2017

During the fairly recent 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, I had the pleasure of seeing King Bee perform several times, with one of those performances being at the Orpheum Theater during the competition's finals. On that note, I once again offer the band my sincere congratulations. Reaching that stage of the competition is not an easy task and all of the artists who make it that far are winners.
This is King Bee's debut release, and from what I'm hearing, this could be the beginning of a long and successful musical journey for this talented bunch of artists. They are: Jeff Cummings on vocals and harmonica; Dan Cunningham on guitars, vocals and Hammond B3 organ (Tryin' So Hard); Emery Kid on bass guitar, congas and vocals; and A.J. Maestro Hebrew on drums, Hammond B3 organ (You've Got To Move) and synthesizer.  Guest artists on the project include: Jonas Shultz on saxophone; Martin Sager on trombone; Jonathan Avant on trumpet, and Becky Folmer & Belle Monique on backing vocals.  The disc's ten tracks - of which eight are band originals - include a good mix of blues and blues rock.
Between the blaring horns - collectively and individually - and the fierce drum and bass beats, "Have Mercy" is one heck of a rhythm-fueled smoker that's sure to please all the movers and shakers at King Bee live shows. Add to that some stinging guitar leads and powerful lead and backup vocals and this is easily one of the disc's best tracks.
"You've Got To Move" (Mississippi Fred McDowell) features King Bee laying down some seriously good slow and lowdown Gospel style blues.  With it's piercing harp leads, it's powerful & soulful vocals, it's scorching guitar licks, it's raging rhythm and vigorous organ leads, this one is loaded with the blues.        
This particular track should include a warning stating that listening to it too loud while operating a motor vehicle may cause you to speed and space out resulting in conditions that can be "Dangerous".  I'm very serious!  Jeff and Dan are contagiously out of control on the guitar and harp leads and  Emery and A. J. are contagiously delirious on the bass and drums.  
"Wanted" (Someone To Go Back In Time With Me) is a very well written track.  It's about wanting to go back in time to remember the way things used to be.  In addition to getting gas for twenty-nine cents a gallon, some of that journey's other highlights would include: Listening to Jimmy and W. C.; checking out Little Walter and SRV; meeting Robert Johnson and Otis Span; hearing Etta James, and shaking Muddy's hand.  The tracks musical highlights include an outstanding lead vocal performance by Dan; more dynamite harmony vocals by Becky; stellar harp and guitar solos by Jeff and Dan; and killer sax stand out by Jonas.  
Poor Jeff, he's really got a case of the blues.  He's "Tryin' So Hard" to get his woman off of his mind and nothing seems to be working.  Tryin' straight whisky, tequila and wine weren't helping so he tried champagne, reefer and gin... also to no avail.  This one features the guys doing what they do best - jammin' out continuous hard drivin', smokin' hot, rhythm rockin' blues.      
With this band being one you should keep an eye and an ear out for, I'm suggesting you make sure you look further into King Bee.  You can do that through their website - and their FB Page -  However you contact them, please be sure to tell them the Blewzzman sent you.  

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio

“The Flood”

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2017

The M.S.G. Acoustic Trio is the third band I'm reviewing that I discovered as a result of working with the "Virginia Blues Showcase" compilation CD.  That was one heck of a disc and apparently there are a lot of good blues bands in the commonwealth.  Their song on that disc was "Mean Church People" and since it is not on "The Flood", I've decided to include a link to the You Tube Video of the song.  It's the ultimate song about the ultimate hypocrite.  Listen closely, it could very well be about someone you know.
Now I'm not big on quoting passages I read on one sheets, jacket's liner notes or websites, but occasionally something pops up that I feel makes such a point that it needs to be shared.  With that said, here is what Frank Matheis (Roots & Blues music journalist and radio producer/Publisher: had to say about the disc: "The Flood is a triumphant throwback to truehearted folk music, the way people played it in their own communities for their own entertainment - unpretentious, pure, beautiful, and from the heart.  M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio brings out a lovely amalgam of folk-roots-spirituals-blues, at once ethereal and soulful.  It's going to touch you deep down".  That's the way he wrote it, that's the way they played it..  
The M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio consists of: Jackie Merritt on harmonica, bass, uke, guitar, bones and vocals; Miles Spicer on guitar and vocals; and Resa Gibbs on lead, harmony and backing vocals, washboard, cigar box strumstick and kazoo.  Should you have missed it, how the band got it's name is spelled out above in bold.  On The Flood, the special guests joining the trio include: Phil Wiggins on harmonica; Ralph Gordon on bass; Sam Gleaves on banjo, harmony and choir vocals; Cathy Fink on rhythm guitar & choir vocals; David Jackson on choir vocals; and Marcy Cochran on tenor viola.  The disc features fifteen tracks of which eight are M.S.G. originals or compilations.
Sisters get turned against brothers, fathers get turned against sons and cousins get turned against cousins - and it doesn't end there.  Long lost relatives you never knew come crawling out of the woodwork to claim their due and lifelong friends will stab you in the back, too.  Those are just some of the things that happen when "Money Makes You Crazy"   This original, sadly realistic, fast paced track is the only one of the lot that features just the trio using nothing but masterful lead (Jackie) & harmony (Resa & Miles) vocals and skilled hand jive by all.  Outstanding effort.
"Good While It Lasted", another original, is a slow and sullen tune about how things sometimes get taken for granted - and more often than not, those things are the love of someone.  This one's highlighted by Phil's melancholic harp leads perfectly supporting Resa's painful and remorseful vocals.  
Listening to the original "Front Porch Blues", made me think of the band's mission statement as quoted above.  I actually visualized the band "sitting on the front porch with nothing to do; hangin' out with friends and family too; drinking iced tea, telling a joke or two."  Yep, those were the good times.  If the song's title and lyrics had you guessing it might feature a banjo, a guitar, a ukulele and a washboard accompanied by happy and harmonious vocals, you guessed right.  Another great one!
"I'll Fly Away" and "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah" are two similarly and wonderfully done uplifting Gospel style tracks that include just about everyone.  They both feature: Resa's angelic lead vocals; outstanding harmonic riffs, some by Jackie, some by Phil and some by both; Great pickin' and slappin' by Miles on the guitar and Ralph on the standup bass; and majestic sounding harmony and choir vocals.  
Having been doing these CD reviews for well over fifteen years now, it's not a big secret that acoustic blues is not my blues of choice.  That said, when I decide to work with one, it's obviously one that it impressed me a lot.  "The Flood" did that and more.  This one's Blues Music Award caliber - look into, M.S.G.  
For more on the band just go to their website -  As usual, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Campfire Soul

“The Blues Found Me”

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2017

Campfire Soul was formed five years ago (2012) and the two seasoned veterans of the band are now twenty-six year's old - collectively. Yep, do the math.  The band consists of: fourteen year old Sarah-Grace Kimberly on lead & background vocals, keyboards and trumpet; her twelve year old sister Reagan Kimberly on drums; fifteen year old Daniel Holder on bass; and the senior member of the lot, Brian Kimberly (aka dad) on rhythm guitar. For this recording they're joined by: twenty year old Zack Pearson on lead guitar & backup vocals; and fifteen year old Mogi Taylor on saxophone. "The Blues Found Me" is their debut release.  It's a seven song EP with four of those being originals. 
The Opening track is Campfire Soul's rendition of The Blind Boys of Alabama's arrangement of "Amazing Grace". It combines the lyrics of the traditional song being sung to the music of "House Of the Rising Sun". Now I'm not about to go comparing the two groups or their performances of the song but with that said, Campfire Soul did nail their version. Although the band was doing one heck of a job, for most of the song it was Sarah-Grace's powerful and wide-ranging vocals that were blowing me away.  Then midway through the track she uses the B3 organ to elevate the rhythm section to a powerful climax that had me shaking my head in awe. 
From a conversation I had with Brian, the original and title track, "The Blues Found Me", is actually the truth.  In the early stages of the band's short career they were not blues artists and for that matter, they never even knew they liked it. Then, as it happened to many of us, the genre found them and the rest is history.  It's a short up-tempo number which once again features the bands' strengths - smokin' rhythm from Sarah-Grace, Reagan and Daniel on the organ, drums, and bass and more magical vocals by Sarah-Grace.
This next original song's title describes how and where I met the band. It was while we were all "Hanging Round In Memphis" during the 2017 International Blues Challenge.  Our mutual friend James "The Blues Hound" Nagel - who besides being in town to enjoy the competition, was also there to receive a very well deserved KBA Award - introduced me to the Campfire Soul who were performing as the Houston Blues Society's Youth Showcase representatives - a performance I sadly missed.  
Wanting to pay tribute to one of her biggest inspirations, Bessie Smith, Sarah-Grace not only does so by covering her classic "Nobody Knows You (When You're Down And Out)" but she does so by doing it in a way that I'm sure would have put a smile on Bessie's face.  In addition to once again defying her age with the emotion her vocals exude, she puts on one heck of a piano performance as well. 
The EP closes with one of my favorite songs of all time, "I'd Rather Go Blind".  It's a song I've heard by so many different artists and as of yet, I don't recall a version I didn't like.  Sarah- Grace Kimberly, just kept that streak intact.  Everyone knows that this is a song about the heartbreaking pain that comes from a failed relationship.  Something all fourteen year old girls know about, right? Of course not, but don't tell Sarah-Grace that.  She may have never lived the song but her heartfelt, soulful and emotional vocals will have you believing she had.  On top of that, using her trumpet as the lead instrument, she adds a whole new dimension to the song. Throw in some stinging guitar leads and intense rhythm and this one's a total monster.
This is the part of the review where I usually say should you like to find out more about the band just go to their website, but this time I'm changing that to say you should find out more about this band and you can do that by going to  As usual, please tell them the Blewzzman not only sent you but he's raving about you as well. 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


BlueHouse Project


By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2017

I first discovered BlueHouse Project by hearing a song of theirs on a compilation CD titled "Virginia Blues Showcase" that I reviewed and distributed for Bobby BlackHat Productions.  Liking their track on the disc, I contacted the band for a copy of their full recording and as the expression goes - the rest is history.
BlueHouse Project got started by a bunch of old musician friends running into each other at a reunion concert for the Bayou Club in the DC area.  The usual, but rarely ever happening, "we should get together and do some shows" were thrown around and lo and behold, "their people" actually did contact "their people" and wah-lah - BlueHouse Project was formed.  The band consists of: Ron Fetner - composer of all eleven songs - on electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin, and lead & background vocals; Mark Tramonte on keyboard, piano and background vocals; Tom McCarthy on bass and background vocals; and Corey Holland on drums.  There's also a sax crew on some tracks and they are: Mike Caffi, Bobby Reed and Scott Ramminger. On this, the band's debut disc, special guests include: Mark Wenner (The Nighthawks) and Tom Dikon on harp; Tim Tanner on guitar, slide guitar and background vocals; Randy Short on drums; Rich Ridolfino on bass; and Jordan Ponzi on upright bass.   
The disc opens with "Piece Of My Heart" and as an opening track should, it did indeed make an excellent first impression.  Ron's formidable lead vocals; the tight rhythm of Tom, Corey and Mike T.; and the guitar and sax leads by Ron and Bobby respectfully, were all outstanding.
"Black Widow Spider" is one of the tracks that features Mark Wenner on harp and if that's all I said about it, it's reason enough to listen... but, there are others.  Ron's guitar leads are some of the disc's best, Tom M. & Corey are all over the rhythm and the vocals, with some harmonious backup help, are contagious.   
"I Can't Lose These Blues" is the track I referred to in my opening paragraph.  It's an absolutely beautifully done ballad that's highlighted by tender, story telling style vocals backed by silk like rhythm with sultry sax and mesmeric guitar leads.  Ron, if they're all going to be like this then this listener hopes you'll never lose these blues.
After hearing this one you'll surely want to sit down beside Ron and let him "Play You The Blues".  His vocals and acoustic guitar work, along with Jordan's upright bass mastery make this very laid back song a must hear track. 
This one is the disc's smoker.  At the hands of Rich and Randy on the bass and drums, It features some of the disc's hardest driving rhythm; plenty of barrelhouse piano from Mike T.; fiery hot sax leads by Mike C. and Bobby; and Ron and Tim getting rough and raunchy on guitar.  Oh yeah, by mid track you'll be joining the background vocalists as they chant "Going Down To Texas".     
The disc closes with "Black Cat Blues (For Velvet)", an acoustic track that features some fine pickin' by Ron and some equally fine blowin' by Tom.  It's a cleverly and humorously written track that, as a cat person, I was totally able to relate to.  It's about a stray cat that Ron lets into his house and as cats do, it takes over. . 
To learn more about BlueHouse Project check them out at:
Please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Professor Louie and The Crowmatix

“Crowin' The Blues”

Woodstock Records 

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2017

So when I read on the one sheet enclosed with the disc that "Crowin' The Blues" was Professor Louie And The Crowmatix thirteenth release, I literally shook my head in bewilderment as to how and why I don't have any of the previous twelve.  Having not heard of this talented bunch until now I'm feeling more like Rip Van Winkle than I do the Blewzzman.  That said, I immediately went to for a little history lesson and damn did I get one!  The bands extensive and impressive bios, which I'll refrain from getting into but suggest you do, then jarred my memory - the one that I was warned about losing back in the sixties.
Those band members are: Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz on vocals, piano, Hammond organ and accordion; Marie "Miss Marie" Spinosa on vocals, percussion, piano and whistling; Gary Burke on drums; Frank Campbell on bass and background vocals; John Platania on electric & acoustic guitar; and guest guitarist's Josh Colow (lead) and Michael Falzarano (rhythm) on "Love Is Killing Me".
Of the thirteen tracks on "Crowin' The Blues", four are originals with the rest being great blues songs of various styles.  One in particular is a very well done yet unlikely melding of two totally different style songs with a masterful outcome, but I'll get to that later. 
The disc opens with "I'm Gonna Play The Honky Tonks" (Robey/Adams), and it sounds just like what you'd expect to hear while at one.  The hot, organ led rhythm and honky tonk piano make it a perfect dance song and the catchy chorus line is just right for those dancers to sing along to.  
One of the most beautiful songs on the disc is an original titled "Love Is Killing Me".   Although it features outstanding musicianship - especially the piano and guitar leads - the vocals run away with this one.  With and without the outstanding backup vocal help, the things Miss Marie does with her voice are absolutely stunning.  Easily one of the disc's best.
"Blues And Good News", another original, is a short instrumental with one of those feel good island beats.  The smile it put on my face was partially from the melodic whistling Miss Marie was blowin'.  Whistling is a lost art and  hearing it made me think of my dad.  As a kid, I remember him whistling to every song he'd hear no matter where we were.  There was no one better than him - always on key and in tune with the song.  For someone who had half a lung removed early in his life, he could really belt it out. Thanks Marie, you made this one really special for me.
The Crowmatix do quite a fine job on Elmore James' "Fine Little Mama".  With Gary and Frank smokin' on the drums and bass behind them, The Professor is nailing the soulful vocals and John's got the Elmore guitar thing down pat.  
The most interesting track of the lot is The Crowmatix version of the Jimmy Reed classic, "Bright Lights, Big City".  Reason being, the song is done to the tune of the George Benson classic, "On Broadway".  Everything about this laid back performance is flawless; The Professor's soulful vocals are pleasingly smooth; the rhythm and piano leads are soothing; the guitar leads are soft as silk; and the precision percussion perfectly blends in.  Summing this track up in word, I'd have to use mesmerizing.
As I did, before I even started writing this review, I'm recommending you go to to find out more about this talented and interesting band.  When you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you. 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Hurricane Ruth

“Ain't Ready For The Grave”

Hurricane Ruth Records / The Galaxie Agency

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2017

The basis behind naming this CD is that although Ruth LaMaster has come to grips with being far from the cradle, she does know she's still got a lot to give.  I know that as well, and after you hear "Ain't Ready For The Grave", so will you.  With this release, in addition to making a powerful recording, Ruth LaMaster made an equally powerful statement.  From what I heard, regardless of where you are in the blues community you're in the path of Hurricane Ruth.  As we say in Florida, "batten down the hatches".
Pulling no punches when it came to putting together the band for this project, powerhouse vocalist Hurricane Ruth went straight to the best.  Those "A" listers include: the disc's producer, multi Grammy and Blues Music Awards winner Tom Hambridge, on drums; Reese Wynans on B3 & keys; Michael Rhodes on bass; Pat Buchanhan and Rob McNelley on guitar; and The McCrary Sisters & Wendy Moten on background vocals. 
Of the twelve tracks on "Ain't Ready For The Grave", Ruth and Tom are the creators and/or collaborators of eleven.  Fittingly, since many of them rock, the disc's only cover is an AC/DC hit. 
The opening track is most likely about the joint her dad owned while she was growing up, but most definitely about a place I'd like hangin' at - "Barrelhouse Joe's".  They've got Jack on ice, fifty cent schooners of beer, red hot blues and you can barrelhouse till the break of dawn.  Now we already know Ruth's familiar with the place but musically, but there's so much barrelhousing going on that I'm actually thinking that Tom, Reese, Michael and Pat may be as well.
Trust me, you will know this after listening to the song - but just in case,  Hurricane Ruth wants to personally let you know that she's a "Hard Rockin' Woman".  Trust me once again, her telling you that will be one of the biggest understatements you've ever heard.  Being the big Cardinals fan that she is, Ruth might appreciate me saying that when it comes to belting it out, Musial, McGuire and Boyer have nothing over her.  Now if this track was just her, I'd use the category five line - but since the whole band is at full throttle as well, let me call this smoker a five alarmer instead.  This is hard rockin' blues as hard and rockin' as it gets. 
This rhythm driven smoker, about a floozie named "Estilene", wastes no time in getting things back into high gear.  With Tom leading the way on drums, and Reese & Michael in full pursuit on the organ & bass, the rhythm section is ablaze.  Throw in Rob showing he's as good as tearing up the guitar as he was at caressing it earlier and you've got the platform for Ruth to once again be a hard rockin' woman.  
Those familiar with my reviews, and my blues preference as well, have heard me say this many times.  Being the most straight up and low down blues track on the disc - while being the longest track as well - almost always makes it my favorite and that's just what "My Heart Aches For You" is.  Being an original, it had to have been written from a personal experience of Ruth's.  I'm sorry, I don't think anyone can put out that much emotion and obvious pain into a song not having lived it's story.  The guys were feeling it too.  Tom, Michael and Reese gave that broken heart it's beat and Pat's guitar accentuated it's pain.  Wow!
"Yes I Know" this is the last song but please say it ain't so.  There are some who credit the saying "always leave them wanting more" to Walt Disney, others to P. T. Barnum and some even to Gypsy Rose Lee but in this case, it was Hurricane Ruth who left me wanting more.  This get up on your feet, throw your hands in the air, shout out "Hallelujah!" and catch the contagious good spirits style song has me feeling so good I just don't want it to stop.  Ruth, you need to do a whole album of these kind of Gospel songs, please!  And when you do, make sure Wendy and the McCrary Sisters are with you on all of them.  Great stuff!
Knowing Ruth LaMaster and Gina Hughes - the projects executive producer - as well as I do, I know that in addition to working very hard on this project (along with all the musicians as well) they also have some high aspirations for it.  To them I say that from what I just heard, I've got those same aspirations.  This discs got "nominations" written all over it.
For more about Ruth - and Gina, as well - please go to and  When you do, please tell the ladies their friend the Blewzzman sent you.       
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Jon Gindick

“When We Die, We All Come Back As Music”

Old Chimney Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © January 2017

"When We Die, We All Come Back As Music" is Jon Gindick's debut release. Having said that, he is certainly no newcomer to the scene.  He's a harmonica virtuoso who, as an instructor as well, runs several harmonica camps a year in Clarksdale, MS and Ventura, CA.  These camps are world renowned and the coaches who assist him include many harmonica "A" listers.  Having sold over a million copies of his instructional books, he's undoubtedly the force behind many harp blowers.  
All ten of the disc's tracks are Jon Gindick originals and they are a blend of folk, jazz, funk and blues.  Joining Jon - on vocals, harp and guitar are: Ralph Carter - the disc's producer - on bass, keys, percussion and backing vocals; Louie Broussard on drums; Chuck Kavooris on slide guitar; Brad Rabuchin on electric guitar; Ken Stange on piano and organ; Bill Bixler on saxophone and clarinet; Bobby Loya on trumpets; and Al Walker on tenor sax.
So with the 2017 Blues Music Awards nominations having just been released, I'm going very far out on a limb with my thoughts on this song.  That said, they are my thoughts and I'm sticking with them.  I honestly believe that right now I'm listening to an odds on favorite for a nod in the 2018 "Song of the Year" category -  "When We Die, We All Come Back As Music".  According to Jon, "what else can we be?"  As Jon soulfully sings about the various types of music he may come back as, those thoughts are accompanied by highlighting that music's instrumentation.  Very well done track with great rhythm, trumpet, sax and piano work by Ralph, Louie, Bobby, Bill and Ken, and killer vocals and harp work by Jon.  Just for the record, I want to come back as a very long and sultry tenor saxophone lead.
Yes, "Ghost Dance" is a song about dancing.  And to help you along with that, Jon will tell you so many reasons for dancing you'll "keep on dancin' till the dancin's through" - which when you think about it, that can't really happen.  Great up tempo track with some serious rhythm, percussion, and hand clapping and bang up slide guitar by Chuck.    
Some of us - me for sure - may share Jon's recollection of things he learned in that place called "School".  Especially the non-academic things like learning to carve your initials into an old wooden desk; learning the art of aimlessly staring out the window; unhappily learning what soap tastes like; and of course, something many of us majored in - learning how to fight.  Jon's got a lot more and tells it a lot better.  It's a funky number with the rhythm and horn sections on top of their game.  Easily one of my personal favorites.   
So Jon's detailed description of "Maxine" had me thinking I might know what her profession is.  Then he confirmed it with "Maxine, honey is that you?  In the clothes you wear when the rent is due?" Hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  Once again, outstanding harp blowin' from Jon and more remarkable rhythm led by Ralph, who's at disc's best on bass.   

I think it's interesting to mention that Jon did something on the liner notes of this CD that I have never seen before on the countless thousands of albums and CDS I've read those notes on.  After each song he lists all the different keys in which he played his harps.  Now that's a consummate teacher for you.
To find out much more about Jon Gindick, and maybe even look into attending one of his harmonica camps, just go to  And as I always ask you to do, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.  

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Various Artists

“Various Artists”

Produced by Bobby BlackHat Productions
Distributed by Mary4Music

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © January 2017

"Virginia Blues Showcase" is a compilation CD featuring eleven original songs by eleven different bands from the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Since all of the tracks are worthy of mention, I will give a brief description of each.  On the other hand, because I do not have access to the names of all the talented performers, I won't always be able to give credit where credit is due.
The disc opens with "My World Did Not End" (Bobby BlackHat Walters, ASCAP) and it's performed by it's producer, Bobby BlackHat Walters (  By now, that should be a familiar name to most of my readers - Bobby's had songs on several Mary4Music "Keeping the Blues Alive" compilation releases and I've had the pleasure of reviewing all of his releases.  As with most of his work, this one features well sung, soulful, baritone vocals; rich rhythm; and a few hot harp, guitar and piano leads.  The line "My world did not end when you walked out the door and honey now that you're gone I smile a whole lot more" makes it quite obvious that although this IS a song about his woman leaving him, unlike others of that nature, it ISN'T a sad song. 
Next up is "Can't Shake it" (Tom Euler, BMI), by Tom Euler (  The first minute of this six minute plus track was pure, unadulterated, scorching blues guitar licks that had me thinking "Oh yeah, I can happily go for five more minutes of this".  Then Tom started belting out some emotionally charged slow blues on the vocals and something good just got better.....way better.  The purpose of these compilation discs is to introduce the listener to an artist he or she may want to hear more of - and in this case, mission accomplished.  I want to hear a lot more of Tom Euler. 
If you're the kind of person who likes to "Kick Up Yo' Heels" (Cecil, Moss, Folks, Davis, Burgess, BMI) here's one to do, it to.  From start to finish, this smoker by The Bush League ( is an all out three alarmer. 
"Flyin' Blind" (Murray Miller & "Doc" Robin van Tine, BMI) is by another band who has been a part of what we do at Mary4music - the Doc Robin Band (  It's a rhythm fueled smoker led by Doc's wizardry on the organ and piano.
"I Can't Lose These Blues" (Ron Fetner, BMI) is beautifully done ballad by BlueHouse Project (  It's highlighted by tender, story telling style vocals backed by silklike rhtyhm and sultry sax leads.  
"My Well Run Dry" (Herbie Desseyn & Christopher Gifford, ASCAP) is done by yet another Mary4Music alumni - Herbie D & The Dangermen (  This band is an acoustic blues band and had I not seen them perform live, I'd call anyone who told me that a liar.  Their sound is LARGE, to say the least.  The combination of the standup bass, acoustic guitar, percussion and saxophone create a completely unique vibe.
Not knowing them, if Cole Layman and Logan Layman were introduced to you as Barbie and Ken, you'd have a much easier time believing that than being told they were the nucleus of a blues band called In Layman Terms (  Yet, these two young, very good looking, well mannered, intelligent, sports playing, Ivy League looking siblings can get as low down and dirty as some of the best in the genre.  Take it from me, there is no faking it at all on "Fake it Til I Make It" (Cole & Logan Layman, ASCAP).  I've been a fan of theirs since I first saw them a few years back.  It was in a club on Beale Street and the duo - maybe 14 & 15 at the time - handled the room like 60 year old seasoned veterans.
"Money" (Johnny Ray Light, BMI) is a song from a band that's been in the Mary4Music family since they formed back in 2008 - Planet Full Of Blues
(  The bands blues of choice is high energy, rhythm driven, horn powered blues backing up equally high energy, very soulful vocals.
Not only is "Good Man Gone Down" (Julius Ray Pitman, BMI) by Julius Pitman and the Revival ( the disc's longest track but it's the most mesmerizing as well.  It's nearly seven and a half minutes of a trance inducing conglomeration of: melancholy lyrics delivered by smooth yet riveting vocals; trippy organ chords; bewitching rhythm; and sensuously soft saxophone leads.  I suggest you listen to this one by sitting back with your headphones on after you've poured yourself a snifter full of Grand Mariner (or whatever it is you take the edge off with).  Feel free to thank me later.
The CD ends with the most humorous track of the bunch - "In Law Blues" (Shelly Thiss & The Mike Lucci Band, BMI) by The Mike Lucci Band (  So right about now, those of you who can't stand you in-laws are probably thinking this one may be somewhat relatable... WRONG!  You see, Shelly's met several very wonderful men and women who she felt would have made excellent mothers and fathers in law. That said, it's the process of them becoming her in-laws that has her petrified and that's having to marry their son.  
Since this disc is for promotional purposes only, and the amount pressed was limited, it's not likely that many of you will be able to get your hands on a copy.  On the other hand, please feel free to contact the individual bands about the possibility of obtaining a copy of their current releases. 
Additionally, any day now, over 200 radio stations will be receiving a copy of "Virginia Blues Showcase" for airplay.  Should you be one of those lucky recipients, we hope you'll give many of the tracks many amount of spins.  When that happens, please send airplay lists to the disc's producer - Bobby BlackHat Walters - at
As usual, should you make contact with any of this talented bunch, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Ty Curtis

“Blame Me”

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © December 2016

Although he now resides in Austin, TX, Ty Curtis' roots are in an area of the country that has an abundance of outstanding blues artists.  No, I'm not talking about the Delta, I'm talking about the Pacific Northwest - and to be more specific - Oregon, the blues.... er, I mean the beaver state.  Over the close to twenty years I've been doing reviews, Oregon is by far the state that I've received the most submissions from.  They've certainly got a good thing going on up there.   
"Blame Me", is the fifth release by Ty Curtis.  The disc contains ten original tracks that vary in blues styles, with most having one foot in rock.  The players include: Ty Curtis on guitar and vocals; Tony Valdez on bass; Jerry Jacques on drums; Nick Jay on bass & Hammond B3; Dane Farnsworth on Hammond B3 & Moog; Jeff Bryant on Hammond B3 & Rhodes; and Carmelo Torres on percussion.
"Heaven Save Me" is one of the more relaxed tracks.  It's a beautiful ballad that - coming from an artist not know for ballads - was beautifully sung and flawlessly done. This very soulful vocal performance put the spotlight on Ty's tender and emotional sides.  Musically, Ty shines on several stinging guitar leads and the track's heartbeat comes from the velvety smooth B3 grooves by Nick. 
The very next track starts off in a similar way but it doesn't take too long for Ty to "Shake it Up".  It opens with Nick, Jerry and this time Dane on the B3, providing a soft rhythm behind Ty's vocals, but as the track progresses, it aggresses as well.  By it's end, it's become an all out smoker with a much more profound rhythm and blazing guitar licks.
Wanting to be about as diverse as one can be, Ty apparently had an "Urge And Temptation" to give Reggae a shot - and it was a heck of a good shot at that.  With the help of some very impressive synthesizing by Dane, the guys pulled this one off quite nicely.  
So for something to blow you away it's got to be pretty powerful, right?  And from the rhythm, to the vocals, to the guitar leads, powerful is exactly the word I'd use to describe what I just heard on "Blow Me Away".  This one's just Ty, Nick and Jerry giving you an audio definition of the term power trio.     
The disc closes with what is surely it's most eclectic track - "Never Get My Love".  Jerry and Nick have the opening rhythm giving it an R&B feel, which eventually gives way to Ty's guitar riffs turning it into an all out rocker, only to have Dane and Carmelo - on synthesizer and percussion - turn it into a good old disco beat.  Call it what you will, as long as you're dancing.  
If Blues Rock is your blues of choice then you need to heed the words of when they say "Blame Me" is a "great addition to any blues rocker's collection. 
For more on Ty Curtis just go to  Once there, you know the drill - as you always do, you're going to tell him the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Marty Stokes

“Pick Up The Phone”

Lakehouse Records & Publishing

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © December 2016

Marty Stokes calls the area around Sanibel and Captiva Islands (on Florida's Gulf Coast) home, and it's also where he grew up and has been playing the blues since he was a kid.  As a member of the states' many blues societies, The Marty Stokes Band spreads its blues all over the sunshine state.  One would be hard pressed to find a club or festival in Florida where the band has not played.  When you think about it, there's something to be said for that – the band is constantly working!
On "Pick Up The Phone", the band consists of: Marty Stokes on vocals, and lead, rhythm, slide & acoustic guitars: Jennifer Mazziotti on tenor and all harmony saxophones; Darryl Best on bass; and Carveth Clauson on drums.  Special guests on the project include: John McLanne on B-3 keyboards; Summer Kilgore Mendez on lead and backup vocals; J P Soars on lead and cigar box guitars; and Chris Peet on drums.  The album is Marty Stokes' third release, is self-produced and his first on the Lakehouse label. It features thirteen tracks of which nine were penned by Marty.
"Pick Up The Phone", the opening and title track, is the only track on the disc that features just the four members of the band.  Basically, this fast paced shuffle is what those of us familiar with the band get to hear on a regular basis - tight and intense rhythm from Darryl and Carveth, with lots of smokin' sax and guitar leads by Jennifer and Marty. 
The sixty second scorching guitar work Marty lays down on the intro to "Take A Little Time" immediately had me loving this one.  Then shortly afterwards Jennifer blows out a similar scorching riff on her sax and that was it, I was in slow blues heaven.  When these two team up on these tandem burning blues leads, it just doesn't get any better.  Then again, with Chris Pete (J P. Soars & the Red Hots and Southern Hospitality) and John McLane running your rhythm it kind of does.
Since the song was made famous by a powerful female vocalist - Tracy Nelson -  it was a smart production move to have another powerful female vocalist - Summer Kilgore Mendez - sing it.  Between her lead and Marty on backup vocals, Summer nails this version of  "Livin' The Blues".  
"Whiskey Drinking Woman"  and "Do You No Harm" are two tracks that are all about the guitars.  With Darryl and Carveth in their usual rhythm groove behind them, these consecutive tracks feature a collection of phenomenal lead, slide, guitar box and rhythm guitar work by Marty Stokes and J P Soars.
All aboard the “Morning Train”... next stop, church!  This spiritual, Gospel track was pleasantly unexpected.  Not being able to recall Marty ever doing this type of thing, I'm already looking forward to the next time he does.  His acoustic guitar work is as moving as it is masterful and the harmony vocals between him and Summer are heavenly.  Great track!     
For more on Marty Stokes, you can go to his website at and the record label's website at  When you do, please tell Marty and Reno that the Blewzzman sent you.  FYI, Marty and the band will be performing in the 2017 IBC in Memphis.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Buddy Blues Band

“Wrong Side of the Blues”

Lakehouse Records & Publishing

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2016

"Wrong Side Of The Blues" is the debut CD from the Orlando, FL based Buddy Blues Band.  The band consists of: Buddy Blues on guitar and vocals; Ward (Wa Du) Dumigan on upright and electric bass; Glenn (Jammin') Kastrinos on drums: Chris Nordman on Hammond organ and piano; Satch Dixon on percussion; Carlos Hernandez on congas; and guest vocalist Bunky Garrabrant.  The CD contains eleven original tracks that feature a very impressive fusion of blues, jazz, rock and funk.

So when a song starts off with "You call this love, I call it the blues", I'm thinking this may not be one of the best relationships in the world.  Although Buddy claims to be trying hard at making it work, it appears to him as if he's doing nothing more than working on an "Assembly Line".  The very obvious first impression this opening track makes is that the rhythm on this disc is not only going to be stellar but is going to be dominant as well.  The vibrant use of the shakers, the deep beats of the congas, the rich bass lines, the outstanding drum and cymbal work, and the masterful organ leads equally highlight this one.

This one's titled "Listen To Me Baby" but I'm stretching it out to say "Listen to me baby, you'd better prepare your body for some serious shaking".  Now you've been warned!  This fast, furious and funky track is a dance floor filler if there ever was one.  Of course, the rhythm section is again on fire but this time it's running rampant.  Then you add in a few exuberant organ leads by Chris and a feverish guitar solo by Buddy and by now you may very well be out of control.          

No one likes waking up on the wrong side of the bed but when you wake up on the "Wrong Side of The Blues" - as Buddy is finding out, you're really in a world of trouble.  With no other tracks even being a close second, this one's the disc's rocker.  You air drummers get your sticks ready, you air guitarists pick up your ax and you faux front men let the pony tails down 'cause it's time to rock out.  Buddy and the guys sure did.

Once this one starts, you'll definitely have a "Move On".  The smooth yet smoking beat, fueled by the magnificent percussion and rhythm, have It sounding like a jazzed up version of something out of the Ricky Ricardo song book.  This one's got air play and movie soundtrack written all over it - think Copacabana - but better..
Except for a very well done, aggressive guitar lead in the middle of the track, "Lately" is one of the disc's jazzier tracks.  It features a softer and more relaxed rhythm, some exquisitely beautiful keyboard work by Chris and very soulful vocals by Buddy.  It's also another one of the many tracks where the production, mixing and engineering is noticeably masterful, and kudos need to be given to Reno Mussatto and Chris Short, as well.         

Because of it's many changes and because of the way that everyone in the band was so involved, "Hear Me Screaming" is the disc's most interesting track.  At times I was hearing straight up funk, other times I was hearing pure rock and other times I was hearing jazz.  Throughout all that, along with some powerful vocals, Buddy was getting in amazing guitar highlights; Chris was fascinating - first on the piano, then on the organ and then on the piano again;  Glenn and Ward, on the drums and bass, were all over the rhythm  - especially on their solos; and not as if any help was needed but the added percussion support from Carlos and Satch took it all up a notch.  With this type of instrumental interaction having been heard throughout, this is obviously signature Buddy Blues Band music.   

For more information on the Buddy Blues Band, you can go to the bands website - or the record label's website -  Once you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Terry Robb

“Cool On The Bloom”

Niasounds, Inc.

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2016

I thought I'd take a quick look at Terry Robb's website to see how many other releases he's had prior to "Cool On The Bloom".  Well that quick look became a very educating visit. Between his solo, duo and compilation albums there are close to twenty, and then there are another fifty-five - that's right, no typo there - 55 more that he has produced and been featured on. 
Throughout his career, Terry has been praised by the likes of "Rolling Stone", "Guitar Player", "Living Blues", "Southland Blues", "Blues Revue", Downbeat",  "Jazz Now" and pretty much every other magazine, periodical and newsletter you could think of, and here I am with the unenviable task of having to follow that lot.  Well, here goes.
"Cool On The Bloom" features twelve tracks, ten originals and two covers.  They include: solo performances; duets; and quartets; and some are  instrumentals while others feature Terry's outstanding vocals.  Joining Terry Robb, on guitar and vocals, are: Doug Smith on guitar; Albert Reda on acoustic bass guitar; Jeff Minnick on percussion; Dave Kahl on bass guitar; and Dennis Carter on drums.
The CD opens with back to back solo instrumentals titled "Soc Hop" and "Cool On The Bloom".  They're both about two minutes in length, and those four minutes were three more than I needed to realize I was listening to a guitar guru.   
I was told by the record label that "Christmas In Istanbul" is the albums lead single and from what I'm listening to I'm getting why.  It's one of just three tracks that feature the full quartet and the musical chemistry going on between them is melodiously evident.  Though I'm not hearing "Christmas" in the song, I'm certainly hearing "Istanbul".  Turn it up, sit back and let yourself get carried off to a Turkish hookah lounge.  In addition to being one of the best tracks, at 4:16 it's perfect for airplay.      
Five tracks into the disc and I was "So Glad" to finally hear Terry singing.  This is another of the solo efforts but in addition to his instrumental magic we now get to hear his magnificent voice as well.   
So how does an instrumental be a great sing-a-long as well?  It's easy when the song is a cover of a classic you know every word to.  Lyrics or not, this is one of the more compelling renditions of The Byrds' "You Showed Me" (Mcguin, Clarke) you'll ever hear.  The gripping guitar work on this one is the collaboration of Terry and Doug Smith.
The disc's other cover is "Ham Hound Crave" (Rube Lacey).  It's also another solo presentation and the discs other vocal track.  Hearing Terry's singing skills has me curious as to why most of his tracks are instrumentals.  Perhaps, as I discover more of his music - which I intend to do - I'll find that out. 
"Late Night Kahl" might just be one of the better acoustic blues instrumentals I've ever heard.  With Dennis Carter providing a soft drum rhythm behind them, the tandem guitar work of Terry Robb and Dave Kahl was mesmerizing.  The blues licks they were laying down were as good as any I've heard on the electric guitar.
To learn more about Terry Robb - and take it from me, there is a lot to learn - just go to  Additionally, more can be found at as well.  Once you get there, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


The Joey Gilmore Band

“Respect the Blues”

Mosher St. Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2016

Like a fine wine, Joey Gilmore gets better with age.  At 72 he's sounding as good as he did when he was 36.  That's right, I'm happy to say that Joey and I have been friends for exactly 36 years now.  When I first moved to Florida in 1980, Joey was - and still is - the king of the local blues scene.  As a matter of fact, I saw him one week ago today - just five days after he was released from the hospital - and he was still electrifying the audience as he came down from the stage playing stinging guitar licks while walking amongst them.  
If you were to read Joey's bio, you'd see that he's performed with most of the genres legends, past and present.  That said, you can read all that on your own because I'm here to tell you about "Respect the Blues", Joey Gilmore's eighth release. The disc features eleven very soulful and very well done tracks.  Joining Joey Gilmore, on lead & rhythm guitar and lead vocals, are: Robert "High Hat" Carter on bass; Raul Hernandez and Maurice Dukes on drums; Sonny Boy Williams on keyboards; and Ivan Chopik on lead & rhythm guitar.  Guest artists include: Rockin' Jake on harmonica; Drew Preston on lead guitar; Edlene Hart and Domino Johnson on lead vocals; Arlene Coutee on background vocals; and Yoel Hyman on horns.   
Being a "Man Of My Word" (D. Walker), when I tell you that on this opening track you're going to hear some of the best gravely voiced, heartfelt and soulful vocals you've ever heard, you can place a bet on it.  This is classic and signature Joey Gilmore.  Musically, the track's a monster as well:  there's Joey killing it on lead guitar; intense rhythm, led by Sonny on the organ; ear opening horn arrangements by Yoel; and it all culminates with Ivan closing it out with a delirious sixty second lead guitar highlight.  Wow!
According to Jerry Blum, the disc's executive producer, the writers of "Brownskin Woman" (A. Espre & A. Luandrew) have assured him that Joey's rendition of their song is the first and only time the song has ever been covered.  That, along with the way he's emotionally belting it out, could be a few of the reasons Joey's sounding like he owns this one. Once again the rhythm, with some of the disc's best drum work by Raul, is phenomenal; on his only appearance, Rockin' Jake takes things up a notch with some beautifully done blues harp blowin'.  It's no wonder this song is nominated for "Blues Song Of the Year" at the Independent Music Awards taking place in NYC later this month.   
On "This Time I'm Gone For Good" Joey totally turns his attention to making his guitar do his singing while Domino Johnson, with his silky smooth voice, his exquisite range and his ability to endlessly stretch his notes, handily takes on the vocals.   Equally impressive is the quality of Sonny's piano playing.  Another great track.
Covering a song made famous by the great Aretha Franklin is not an easy task and making it sound quite good is even harder.  That said, the dynamic vocal duet of Edlene and Joey seriously nailed their version of "Chain Of Fools".  As a matter of fact, the band did as well with another amazing rhythm effort.
"The Night Time Is The Right Time" but on the other hand, this is the kind of song I can listen to all day, everyday.  Everyone in the band's on fire and once again, Joey and Edlene - with a whole lot of extra help from Arlene - are absolutely singing their hearts out on this one.  
I applaud Jerry Blum's decision to have several other vocalists and several other guitarists accompany Joey on this project.  By himself, Joey Gilmore is already a force to be reckoned with but supplying him with this kind of support took him up another notch.  
Now I'm not making any predictions here but I'm willing to bet that Joey Gilmore could move that IBC award over a bit should he need to fit a BMA award on the mantel.  Good luck my friend.
To get your hands on a copy of "Respect the Blues", and other releases on Mosher St. Records, just go to  Once you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Jason Elmore

“Champagne Velvet”

Underworld Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © October 2016

Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch are a three piece band out of Dallas, Texas.  They consist of: Jason Elmore on vocals, guitar and tequila; Mike Talbot on drums and vodka; and Brandon Katona on bass and jagermeister.  They describe themselves as a high energy trio who's styles of blues include jump, rock, soul, R&B and country, which they feel gives them the flexibility to please any demographic in any venue.  Versatility = Longevity.  
Their third release, "Champagne Velvet", features fourteen all original tracks.  The disclaimer written inside the jacket states that "All sounds on the album were made by real people with guitars, bass, drums and vocals.  No digital tricks or nonsense". Just the way I like it.  Also in the liner notes are listening directions and they suggest "In order to dig this record the most, get your head right, kick back, and put the damn thing on loud.  Best of all, strap on some headphones."  Since that's exactly how I listen when I write these reviews, I'm now going to put my seat belt on and get started.
Spread the word from New York to L. A. the guys are gonna boogie to the break of day, and on the opening track - "House Rockin' Boogie #7" - they're certainly off to a fast start.  This is smokin', jump blues taken up a notch. 
It's probably too late for me, but thanks to Jason's grandmother, I now know how to "Double My Money".  Just like she told him, "you fold it in half and put it back in your pocket".  Similar to my comment above, this is a shuffle - also taken up a notch.  I hear a pattern here that I'm starting to like - things being taken up a notch.
While reading the one sheet accompanied with the disc, I saw a reference to the bands earlier releases that, unlike this one, were heavier on the rock side.  That said, "Maybe" I'm listening to one of those rockers right now.  Actually, there's no maybe about it - this is the disc's rocker.        
Jason has a "Cross Eyed Woman" and although they get along quite well, they "just don't see eye to eye".....and that's just the start of the cunning comments on this cleverly written, humorous track.  Musically, it's a monster as well.  The guitar and rhythm work are some of best the disc offers.       
From what I'm hearing on the title track, "Champagne Velvet", I think the guys need to add Jazz to the list of styles their music is comprised of.  This one's a velvety smooth instrumental featuring a masterful guitar performance from Jason, very deep bass lines by Brandon and sublime snare and brush work from Mike.  I'm no longer in my office because this one took me back some 40 years ago to "Sonny's Place For Jazz" in Seaford, New York.  Wow!  Thanks Jason. 
Somewhere between track two and track thirteen, Jason seems to have stopped heeding grandma's financial advice.  All of a sudden he's down on his luck and barely has a buck, his money now just goes from "Green To Gone".  It's the only acoustic track of the bunch and between the fine pickin', soulful down in the Delta vocals, foot stompin' percussion and melodic hand claps, the guys have this thing down pat.  I could take a few more of these, for sure.             
To find out more about Jason Elmore and Hoodoo Witch, check them out at and just search Jason Elmore on Facebook.  Once you find them please tell them that the Blewzzman, on keypad and bourbon, sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2016

"Mojomama", the CD, is the third and self titled release from Mojomama, the band.  In 2015, the CD was presented the prestigious "Best Self Produced CD" award by the Colorado Blues Society.  The disc contains eleven all original tracks with a mix of songs influenced by blues, funk, rock and reggae. 
Mojomama consists of Jessica Rogalski on vocals, husband Paul Rogalski on bass, Bob Murnaham on guitars and Paul Christiansen on drums.  Additionally, three very special guests on the project include Janiva Magness on vocals, Anne Harris on violin and Tim Davis on keys.
Musically, "Eternity" is a most interesting track.  Adding Ann Harris' skillful violin playing to the very cool reggae vibe the rhythm section has going on, makes the song take on quite a captivating sound.  For lack of a better word I guess exotic might be the best way to describe this one.     
Before you're halfway through "Tell It Like it Is" you'll be singing along with the chorus line as I'm doing right now....."You've got to tell it, tell it like it is".... This one's a fun, catchy, pop style, top 40, sing-a-long that's all Jessica.  It's easy to tell that she's having as great a time singing the lead and three part harmony vocals as I'm having listening to and singing along with her.  Good stuff.           
"Be A Legend" is a song about creating the legacy you'll one day leave behind.  Not only does it make reference to many musical legends but it includes one singing on it as well.  Just as Jessica starts singing about some legendary blues artists, the legendary Janiva Magness joins in and the powerful duo - who each make several switches from lead to backup - turn the song into a vocal smoker.  Although the ladies stole the show on this one, the band's doing a heck of a job driving them on.
"Liberation" rocks.  The Pauls - that's Paul R. on the bass and Paul C. on the drums - are fueling the pace with some fiercely funky rhythm; Bob's goin' off on some smokin' guitar riffs and Jessica's in the thick of it with all with some killer lead and back up vocals.  Great one for dancing.    
The disc closes with "Night After Night" and when you do slow blues this good, and you do it for seven minutes, you know you've made me a very happy listener.  Not only is it the disc's best song but Jessica and Bob are at disc's best on it as well. Then there's the two and a half minute guitar solo that had me shaking my head in awe.  Bob did on his guitar everything that Jess did with her voice.  From his slow and very soft notes and chords to his blistering blues guitar licks and back, the man is absolutely masterful.  Of course, keeping it all together behind them, Paul R., Paul C. and Tim have the perfect rhythm groove going on.  Monster track!     
To learn a lot more about Mojomama, find out their schedule in the Colorado area and purchase some of their music, just go to  As usual, when you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


The King Brothers

“Get Up and Shake It”

Club Savoy Entertainment Group

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2016

King.  Has there ever been a surname more synonymous with the blues than that?  Of course not!  Why just telling you a little bit about the many Kings of the genre would take me well over an hour, but since you already know about most of them, let me introduce you to two that you may not yet be that familiar with - they are Lee and Sam King, a.k.a. The King Brothers.  Now should you be wondering about their blood lines, the answer is "Yes"!  They are second cousins of the late and great Freddie King.
"Get Up And Shake It", the siblings' third release, consists of ten songs.  Three of those are written by Lee and Sam and the other seven - as "Nothing But The Blues" radio show host Gary "The Wagman" Wagner states - are "Blues standards done King Brothers' style".  The lineup on the project is: Lee King on guitar and lead & background vocals; Sam King on drums and background vocals; Ellis Hall on keyboards; Al Threats on bass; and Michael Fell on harmonica.
The first of the original tracks is a jazz influenced instrumental titled "Just Driving Around".  It's a six and a half minute long jam that's an outstanding introduction to the bands musical talents.  There's absolutely nothing flashy about it, and from what I'm hearing, no flash necessary.  It's just four (I believe Michael sat this one out) musical maestros doing their thing.  I've actually played this one four times so far and since I can't type while snapping my fingers, I've been on this paragraph for over 30 (very pleasant) minutes.  As the saying goes, "this's one's worth the price of admission".  
As he tells his lady "Everything you do to me is 'Just The Way I Like It"', you can clearly hear the happiness in Lee King's voice.  Sounds to me like he's one lucky guy.  This is another original track and it features Lee being back up with a whole lot of funk.  That said, Sam, Ellis and Al are smokin' it on the drums, keys and bass.
On Willie Dixon's "Close To You", I'm now understanding what "The Wagman" meant.  This is a traditional blues song done in a partly traditional, partly contemporary and partly funky way.....a.k.a "The King Brothers way".  Lee's soulful and gritty vocals, Michael's smoking harp leads and the straight up and very tight rhythm that Sam and Al are locked into, are all right out of Chicago; Then there's Ellis, with his wonderfully contrasting piano and organ leads, taking the song elsewhere.  Another great track.
The title track is the last of the three originals.  For the dancers, this has to be the bands best song.  It's seven and a half minutes of rapid rhythm guitar licks, fiercely funky bass lines, hard drivin' drum beats, and outrageous organ leads that will surely cause you to "Get Up And Shake It".  Not just a smoker but a three alarmer at that.
The disc closes with a cover of cousin Freddie King's "Tore Down".  Having toured with him, the King Brothers have the song down pat and more than did it justice.  As with all the other tracks, the rhythm section is once again a highlight, but it's Lee's straight up, ass kickin' guitar licks that steal this one.
To learn more about the King Brothers check out their website... You can also follow the band on Lee King's Facebook page at  Once you do, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.  
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Rev. Billy C. Wirtz

Featuring The Nighthawks
“Full Circle”

EllerSoul Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2016

Like the Reverend Billy C. Wirtz, Oscar Levant (1906-1972) was an American pianist, composer, author, comedian and actor.  With that said, they have much more in common than that.  You see, Oscar was the person who proudly proclaimed that "There is a fine line between genius and insanity and I have erased the line".  Now, Billy may not have erased the line but he sure does cross it a lot. 
On "Full Circle", Billy's twelfth release and first on EllerSoul Records, the legendary wild man is joined by the legendary Nighthawks as well as several other stars.  The complete ensemble consists of: Reverend Billy on vocals and piano; Bob Driver on guitar and vocals; Steve Riggs on bass and backup vocals; Lil' Ronnie Owens on harmonica and backup vocals; and a bunch of amazing artists you know as the Nighthawks: Mark Wenner on harmonica and backup vocals; Mark Stutso on drums and backup vocals; Johnny Castle on bass and backup vocals; and Paul Bell on guitar and backup vocals.   
Living not all that far from Billy, I'm occasionally able to catch some of his live shows.  However, the times I have, those shows have always been solo.  When I heard that the guys at EllerSoul teamed Billy up with this stellar lineup I immediately thought this was genius –or insanity – at work.  Either way, I knew it would be a hell of a good time. 
The CD opens with one of Billy's originals, the classic and rockin' "Too Old".  Although what I'm listening to totally contradicts him, Billy seems to think he's "too old to rock and roll but he's just right to sing the blues". Bull Shit, Billy.  With that Jerry Lee thing you've got goin' on piano; the Chuck Berry thing Paul's got goin' on guitar; the way Mark's wailing on harmonica; and some of the rocking-est rhythm these ears have heard coming from Mark S. and Johnny; this is rock 'n' roll at it's very best.   
Because his zany antics and hilarious lyrics usually command most of my attention, it's on an instrumental where I get to fully appreciated the maestro that Billy is on the piano.  On "Smokie Part 2", a Bill Black song, the Reverend's sounding as good as any of those players who's names I keep seeing on "piano player" award ballots.
So with Johnny Castle co-writing "Rockin' Up To Gloryland", it's quite obvious  Reverend Billy's bizarreness can be contagious.  On this smoker it's Saint Peter putting on his blue suede shoes, Sodom rolling over and telling Gomorrah the news and a whole lot of shaking in the angel band.  This is exactly what you'd expect from this match up....The Nighthawks crankin' out the straight up kick ass blues they're know for and Billy killing it on piano while belting out witty and wacky lyrics.
On an absolutely beautiful rendition of Floyd Cramer's "Your Last Goodbye", the insane guy took a break while the genius returned to the stage.  The difference between these two altar egos is staggering.  This instrumental features Mark S. and Johnny laying down a very relaxing rhythm while Billy and Mark create an amazingly enchanting sounds on the piano and harp.  
One of the best parts of this song is the story Billy tells about how he came to write it.  There's a waitress in Billy's favorite dinner who always likes to tell Billy stories about her father, who was also in the music business.  Upon seeing her after not having been there in awhile, Billy asked about her father.  Her reply was "Daddy Passed Away" and she continued on to say "then mama turned gay".  Of course, Billy saw this as a neon sign saying: “Write a song, Billy” – which he apparently did.  Enough said, you'll just have to listen for the rest of the story.
"Mennonite Surf Party" is another furious and chaotic track.  It's indeed a party song and the guys sound like a choir singing some kind of a drinking song.  On the other hand, the middle third of the song features some of the discs best instrumentals.  Billy, Mark and Paul take turns doing piano, harp and guitar leads that I literally wanted to go on forever.  
To get in touch with the Reverend Billy C. Wirtz you can check out his website - and just search his name on Facebook. And please, tell 'em that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Hard Swimmin' Fish

“True Believer”

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2016

So here it is, some twenty plus years and five CDs in and I'm just discovering Hard Swimmin' Fish.  If there was ever a time for a WTF, this is it.  That said, better late than never.  
Should anyone else need an introduction, Hard Swimmin' Fish are: Demian Lewis on vocals, guitar and banjo; Waverly Milor on vocals and harmonica; Jason Walker on drums and percussion; Randy Ball on upright and electric bass;  and special guest John Sharrer on organ.  "True Believer", their fourth release, contains twelve tracks of which eight were written by the guys. 
The thing that most impressed me with this band was the fact that they reminded me so much of... absolutely no one.  How refreshing!  Sure, they have their influences - and they're even mentioned on the one sheet - but musically, they do a good job of not mimicking them. That's originality!
Hard Swimmin' Fish didn't take very long to make me a "True Believer", they did it with the original, opening and title track.  The rhythm is rugged, the guitar leads are feisty, the harp leads are spirited and the vocals (Demian) are scrappy.  With those descriptions all being synonymous with this word, gritty is the best way to describe Hard Swimmin' Fish. 
Don't let the title of this original, "Five Years Hard Labor", fool you.  It's got nothing at all to do with breaking rocks on a chain gang.  The labor referred to here is a labor of love - in actuality, a lack of it - from the woman Demian spent five, obviously miserable, years with.  Another hard driven track sung and performed with the intensity I'm starting to realize I'll be hearing throughout the whole disc. 
This Wolf/Willie cover called "Howlin' For My Darlin'" should be a hint as to who those aforementioned influences may be.  It features Waverly on the vocals and although he and Demian don't look that much alike, with their gritty and grittier vocal styles, they sound like identical twins.  Musically, it's Randy's upright bass and Jason's drum and percussion work that make this one work.
"Ooh, That Was Close", isn't a reference to nearly getting hit by a runaway train, but the song's certainly got the energy of one.  With so much musical diversity taking place between the guitar, the banjo, the harmonica and the rhythm & percussion, this is one heck of a genre crossing track.  
Another of the disc's straight up blues tracks is a cover of "Need Your Love So Bad".  For several reasons, this was by far my favorite track:  One of those is that with Waverly's powerful and emotional deliverance, along with his broad range and note holding ability, this is the disc's best sung track;  Another is the fact that Demian, also at disc's best, is just killing it with his down and dirty, string bending attack on his guitar; and lastly, but certainly not least, throw in John - with his mesmerizing organ work propelling this already potent rhythm section up a notch and all I can say is "WOW". 
To learn more about Hard Swimmin' Fish, as I needed to and happily did, just go to and you can also like their FB page at  Please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


The Incorruptibles

“Leave It At the Door”

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2016

The Incorruptibles are not a crime fighting task force in Chicago and no one in the band is named Elliot Ness.  What they are is a three piece band out of Milwaukee, WI.  Since "Every picture tells a story" and "A picture is worth a thousand words", then take a quick look at the album cover.  Alrighty then, now you know what to expect.  So put on your dancin' shoes and get ready to shake, rattle and roll.    
The Incorruptibles are; Jimmy McCarthy on guitar and vocals; Amy Ashby on upright bass and vocals; and Bill Siebert on drums.  And with a collective 100 years of music experience between them, I'm comfortable with telling you they are indeed a bunch of seasoned veterans.  Joining them are special guests Andrew Spadafora on saxophone and Leroy Deuster on pedal steel.
"Leave It At the Door" is the bands debut release and it contains fourteen all original tracks of which eight were penned by Jimmy and the other six by Amy.  Let's go have a listen...
The opening and title track is a song about a place most of us will relate to.  It's that place you go to when you just need to de-stress and get away from all of the days BS.  Once you get there you take all that jive and just "Leave It At The Door".  It's a swingin' shuffle that, as with twelve of the tracks, features only Jimmy, Amy and Bill - and quite frankly, that works just fine.  Unlike other trios that all too often lean toward working the word "power" into the mix, these three are smooth.  Outstanding vocals and guitar highlights by Jimmy and something I'll probably mention many more times - lots of smokin' rhythm.     
"He's Mine", and Amy sure sounds very happy and quite convincing when she tells you that.  Amongst all the things she likes about him, I think his '55 Chevy is right up there on the list.  With that said, from start to finish, this one will have you putting the pedal to the metal.  
Another woman you need to be careful of - and this time it's on the advice of Jimmy - is the one with the face of an angel and the "Devil In Her Eyes".  Speaking of Jimmy, he's rockin' the vocals on this one.  Additionally, this is the only chance you'll get to hear Andrew wail on sax, and now that I'm doing just that I could handle a lot more of him.
"Come Hell Or High Water" is a smokin' instrumental and this one could very well be the inspiration for the cover art.   That said, other than the very next track - "Nothin' But The Blues" - featuring Amy belting the hell out of the vocals - not much is different.   If you're not rockin' when these two are on, immediately call a doctor!   
The disc closes with a track that's got a very cool Latin beat.  Other than Jimmy and Amy taking turns saying the songs title a few times throughout, it's pretty much an instrumental.  Although it's an interesting piece, it had me somewhat confused - especially at the songs end when the loud sound of someone putting "ten in the pit" on a bowling alley, followed by that familiar sound that a beer being poured into a glass makes, and then an outburst of laughter all takes place.  That's when I looked up the translation of "Estoy Borracho" and then it all seemed to make sense.  Cute!      
From the looks of their schedule, it seems to me that The Incorruptibles are pretty much sticking around the WI area.....for now.  Once the word gets out on this talented group, I'm sure that will all change.  You can view that schedule and learn a lot more about the band at .  Of course, like you always do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Kat Riggins

“Blues Revival”
Bluzpik Media

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2016

The first time I ever saw Kat Riggins perform I was totally blown away.  It was as one of the Seville Sisters, the three piece backup singers for Otis Cadillac and the Eldorados.  I recall thinking that I couldn't remember the last time anyone left as strong a first impression as she did - and no one has since, either.  Immediately after the set ended I walked up to her and said - in these exact words - "You need to get yourself a good agent because young lady, you are a star. Be it as a singer, a model or an actress, you have a bright future ahead of you." Kat Riggins is an incredibly talented, stunningly beautiful woman who's stage presence flat out demands, and gets, attention.  
Blues Revival, the band, consists of: Kat Riggins on lead and background vocals; Darrell Raines on guitars, keyboards and background vocals; George Caldwell on bass; Doc Allison on drums; and guest artist Stephen Hooper Lombardelli on sax on the opening track.
Blues Revival”, the CD consists of ten outstanding songs, of which eight are Kat's originals.
As Kat did way back when, the opening track, "Now I See (Ooh Wee)", is doing exactly what it's supposed to do - make a great first impression.  Kat's vocals are powerful and soulful; Darrell's got me deciding if I like him better as a pianist or guitarist - but it's actually both; George and Doc have already established the fact that there will be lots of smokin' rhythm ahead; and the way he's blowing the hell out of that sax, Stephan has me disappointed that this is the only track he's on.  
At their live shows, Kat explains that she wrote this song for Darrell because on it, he gets to "Wail Away" on his guitar... and man he sure does a hell of a job of it.  Lyrically, the song is being sung by a woman watching and listening to the guitar player.  She wants to leave because she doesn't have a lot of money but if he's going to keep playing like that, she'll just stay and start a tab.  You see, she knows his blues are going to touch somebody but she just don't know who they are.  Then, by songs end, she knows just who they are.  Real good stuff right here.
Although this song is indeed a cover, let me tell you here and now, Kat Riggins takes Sam Cooke's "Change Is Gonna Come" and makes it her own.  With the band making beautiful music behind her she just takes this one and runs with it.  There's a part in the song where Kat sings about changes in the world that have come that have directly affected her, and those of us who know her know exactly how happy she is for those changes having come.  I can't hear this song without a tear appearing in my eyes, a lump appearing in my throat, then a smile appearing on my face.  By far the best song on the disc and the very best seven minutes I'll have all day.  
The other cover track, "Blues Is My Business" has become Kat's signature song.  Simply because the blues IS her business and not only is business good but she's good at the business of blues as well.  As mentioned earlier, George and Doc are again nailing the rhythm and Darrell is still wailing away on guitar.  
Now some of you Netflix fans may think that orange is the new black but Kat knows that "Blues Is The New Black".  Musically it's fast, furious and funky and vocally it's sassy as hell.  I know the band had fun with this one and I'm sure the dancers will as well.   
Now I know that eventually, you will be hearing a lot more about Kat Riggins and Blues Revival so why not get a head start and be ahead of the game.  You can do that by checking out her website -, liking her FB band page by searching Kat Riggins & Blues Revival and friending her on her FB page.  Whichever you do, please tell her that her friend the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



Tracy K

“What's The Rush?”

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2016

Just about two years ago, while writing about some of her acoustic work, this is a line I used to describe Tracy K...

"This is old school... I'm talking Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee kind of stuff... acoustic blues at its best. Tracy K has certainly done her homework, 'cause she nails this type of stuff - vocally, musically and more importantly, mentally. Her scrappy, scratchy voice, her masterful harp skills and her intensity all excel".

Now she's back with her fourth release - "What's the Rush?" - and although she's added a full band on some of the tracks, none of what I said back then has changed, I've just got more to add.
On "What's the Rush?", Tracy - on vocals, guitar and harmonica - is joined by: Jason Nowicki, Terry Barnett and Tony Desmarteau on guitar;  Leonard "Lewsh" Shaw on keys & horns; Vaughan Poyser and Nenad "Keza" Zdjelar on bass; George Demeduk and Ty Rogers on drums; Jamie "Snakeman" Steinhoff on Dobro & acoustic guitar; and Travis Haugen on organ.
"What Tomorrow Brings" has quite the interesting sound.  Musically, with Vaughan and George in a tight rhythm groove and Jason nailing the scorching blues guitar leads, it's easily one of the disc’s most traditional blues tracks.  On the other hand, with Tracy adding a bit of twang and sass to a whole bunch of grit and soul, I found myself enjoying the country feel all of that added to the track.
Everything may have "Done Gone Wrong" as a result of Tracy writing this song but on it's performance, with everyone peaking, everything's done gone damn good.  In addition to belting the hell out of the blues vocally, Tracy's doing it on the harp as well.  Also pulling double duty is Leonard, who's keyboard and horn work are equally exceptional. Throw in Jason's ferocious guitar leads and the ruthless rhythm of Vaughan and George and now you're listening to the disc’s best track.        
"Time Machine" is the second of the discs two acoustic duet tracks.  It's a jazzy number that features Tracy sounding quite skillful at singing a bunch of improvised, meaningless and nonsensical syllables made cool by the famous scat singers of years gone by, and Tony - the songs co-writer - doing a masterful job on acoustic guitar.    
The disc closes with it's only cover - a spine tingling, bone chilling, hair raising rendition of Randy Newman's "Guilty".  It features Nenad and Travis creating the heartbeat on the bass and organ and is highlighted by Tracy singing her heart out while Jamie puts on a pristine performance on acoustic guitar.  At nearly six minutes long, the recording was about ten minutes too short for me.  If you're a music teacher and the lesson is about putting your heart, soul and your mind into the song, just stop instructing and play this track.  In addition to a four chair turn, a performance like this would create havoc amongst "The Voice" judges. 
An interesting side note about this track is that it starts off with footsteps (apparently walking over to the turntable) and leads into the sound of a needle being dropped onto a record.  Then, as the song begins, and ends, you can actually hear the scratches so commonly associated with that mode of listening.  Tracy explained to me that as a youngster, she actually wore out the needle listening to Bonnie Raitt's version of the song and she just felt right adding it to her version, in tribute to her greatest influence.    
To look into getting your hands on a copy of this excellent disc and to find out more about Tracy K, just go to  And as I always ask you to do, please tell her the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Mick Kolassa

“Taylor Made Blues”

Swingsuit Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2016

"Taylor Made Blues" is Mick Kolassa's third release in as many years and just as he did with his first two, he is donating 100% of the profits it generates to The Hart Fund and Generation Blues - two very worthy programs sponsored by The Blues Foundation. 
On "Taylor Made Blues" Mick - on vocals and acoustic guitar - is joined by: Jeff Jensen, the discs producer, on electric and acoustic guitars; Bill Ruffino on bass; James Cunningham on drums and percussion; Chris Stephenson on organ and piano; Colin John on lap steel, resonator and baritone guitars, and baby sitar; Deb Landolt on solo and backing vocals; Eric Hughes on harmonica; Reba Russell and Tullie Brae on backing vocals; Victor Wainwright on piano and Castro Coleman (a.k.a. Mr. Sipp) on guitar.
The opening track is titled "Baby Faced Louise" and it's an original that sounded to me like it was about Mick's wife... except her name is Molli.  Then I saw the explanation of the song at Mick's website and it cleared things up...NOT!  As Mick explains it, the song started out being about a fishing fly and ended up becoming a love song about the Mrs.  Alrighty then!  Anyway, it's one of the few tracks that feature Eric on harmonica and that right there makes it worthy of mention. Between him and the rhythm section, there's plenty of smokin' going on. On top of that, Mick's having a good ol' time telling us just how in love he is with that fishin'... I mean that lady of his.
The title track, "Taylor Made Blues", is another of Mick's works and it's about his hometown of Taylor, MS.  Everything about this song came together so perfectly.  It's a laid back song, about a laid back town, sung in a soft and relaxing style, with the band in an equally soft and relaxing groove.  Excellent song, performance and production.
Very recently, I got to hang out with Mick at the Bradfordville Blues Club in Tallahasee, FL.  While talking to him about this album, I mentioned that I heard a pattern where a few of the songs seemed to be about him getting old.  To that he very mater-of-factly said "I am".  This is the first of those several original songs and as you hear Mick say 'It's tired and "I'm Getting Late"', you kind of know exactly what he means.   Unfortunately, along with the rest of the lyrics, those words are all too relatable.  This one features Victor's only appearance and it's highlight is his one and a half minute N'awlins piano style solo midway through the track.
"Left Too Soon" is a song Mick wrote about losing his best friend of forty years.  From the melancholy lyrics and heartfelt vocals, to the deep rhythm and solemn organ, to the mind blowing guitar tirade that Jeff goes on, this track just reeks of the blues.  Being nearly six minutes long, with every second of them drenched in the blues, I'll give this one my ultimate compliment and say that Mick just may have himself a "song of the year' nomination with this one. 
"My hurry died" and "My hurry expired" are the other two ways Mick has of telling people "My Hurry Done Broke".  This hilarious track was inspired by a true story in which Mick, while walking with a cane, was poked by someone behind him and told to hurry up.  Mick's acoustic guitar pickin' and Eric's lazy harp give this one a good ol' Delta blues feel.
Mick's informed me that he's putting together a tour to promote this CD and from what I just heard, along with having seen him perform a few songs at a recent jam, you just might want to catch his show.  You can get more information on that, as well as finding out a lot more about "Taylor Made Blues", by visiting him at  When you do, please tell him his buddy the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Robert "Freightrain" Parker

“Freightrain Live”

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2016

Although "Freightrain Live" is Robert "Freightrain" Parker's debut release, by no means is he the new kid on the block.  Quite the contrary, this seasoned veteran bassist has: toured with Rock Bottom, Sherman Robertson, Paul Reddick, Big Bill Morganfield and more; he's been the go to guy for the likes of Joe Beard, Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, Mike Morgan and many others while they performed in the Western New York area; and he's appeared on well over a dozen recordings by various artists.  Now he's moved up front and center and doing a damn good job in the spot.
For this live performance, the band consists of: Robert on bass and vocals; Grace Lougen on guitar; Greg Leech on organ; and Damone A-Miracale Jackson on drums.  Throughout the show, special guests include: Willie Haddath and Jony James on guitar; Robert's brother, Ken Parker on sax; Jim Bohm on trumpet; and Jeremy Keys on harmonica.  The disc includes eight cover tracks recorded live at The Sportsmen's Tavern in Buffalo, NY and an original, bonus studio track.  Averaging over eight minutes per track, the nine tracks total over seventy-five minutes of pure listening pleasure.
The opening track is an instrumental titled "Cannonball Shuffle".  It's a perfect way for the band to introduce themselves to their live, and listening, audience.  It's a basic shuffle, with everyone in a tight groove and being individually highlighted as the lead gets passed around.  And right about now, we're all wanting more.
Next up is "Up The Line" and on it we get to hear some lengthy individual skills in action.  With it being quite the funky track, it's a gimme that Robert and Damone are just killing it on the bass and drums.  With that said, it's the middle of the track where the sparks start to really fly.  It begins with Greg cutting loose with over a two minute organ lead that turns into an all out organ/bass/drum orgy.  Then, not to be outdone, Grace cuts loose with her own two plus minute guitar highlight and things just got even hotter.  Super track.
When I saw that the credits listed Robert Parker as the writer of this next track I actually contacted him to dispute that fact.  In an email, I expressly said "Robert, I don't believe you were the writer of "Barefootin".  His reply was "You are right, it was written by the other Robert Parker and when I write a song I use Robert C. Parker".  Funny!  Now, about the performance.  It's one of the two tracks that feature both Ken on the sax and Jim on the trumpet and adding those guys to this already monster rhythm section is crazy good.  It's also one of the tracks that features Jeremy blowin' smoke out of the harp and Willie Haddath smokin' it on guitar.  More great stuff. 
So, "Live My Life Too Fast" being the last song of the live performance, ya think it rocked?  Of course it did.....for the whole thirteen minutes.  Along with it's usual masterful rhythm - still including the fabulous horns, what I'm hearing from Jeremy on harp has me searching the Internet so I can find out more about this maestro; and now, Jony James has joined the band and is doing tag team leads with Grace on several killer guitar leads.  This had to be one hell of a show and I'm sure that everyone in the audience agreed.  FYI, for those of you who may never have known his real name, this track was written by David York, a.k.a Rock Bottom. 
Thinking aloud here, should Robert "Freightrain" Parker take the steps to make this disc eligible for BMA consideration, we could very well see a name we've never seen before on the "Instrumentalist Bass" list. 
For more on Robert and the band just go to  As usual, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


The Jordan Patterson Band

“The Back On Track Recording Project”
Flamingcheese Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2016

While Listening to "The Back On Track Recording Project" by The Jordan Patterson Project, just as the music was arousing my senses, the albums title was doing the same to my curiosity as well.  I couldn't help but wonder that if this was the project that got him back on track, what was it - if anything - that caused him to get off track in the first place?  As it turns out, there is a story line here.
With his career on the rise and his first release getting rave reviews from writers at all of the top blues publications, Jordan decided - in the middle of a tour - that he preferred a more stable life versus being on the road and never looked back... until now.
Here it is, exactly twenty years since that first release and Jordan Patterson - much to our pleasure - is back on track with the "The Back On Track Recording Project".  The album contains ten, all original tracks of rocking, contemporary blues.   
Along with himself, on vocals and harp, The Jordan Paterson Band consists of: Darryl Romphf and Bobby Thompson on guitar and background vocals; Mark McIntyre on bass; and Benjamin Rollo on drums, percussion and background vocals.  Special guests include: Skyler Jordan on background vocals; Darius McKinley on bass; Scott Galloway on keys; and Shawn Kellerman on guitar.
The disc opens with "Favourite Boy" and on it the guys came out swinging and never let up.  From start to finish this one rocks.  It's a song about a "toy" his obviously insightful mother got him as a little boy. 
Hoping to also get a past relationship 'back on track', Jordan finds himself asking "Can We Fall In Love Again?"  It's a ballad featuring soulfully sung sincere lyrics, harmonious backup vocals, tight rhythm and stinging guitar leads.
I won't do it, but if I were to use just two words to tell you why "You're My Girl"  is my favorite song of the lot those two words would be Skyler Jordan.  Her powerful backup vocals – more like a duet on this one – added to Jordan's powerful vocals, totally take the song to a much higher level. With that said, the band – with killer guitar and keyboard leads – is kicking it as well.  I cannot play this disc without replaying this track four or five times.
Blues lyrics don't get any more serious than these: "If You'd Help Me Please, I'd be in debt to you for my life.  See, I got myself a bad, bad break and I think I might take my life".  Indeed, "If You'd Help Me Please" is the most serious blues song of the bunch.  It's the closest thing you'll hear to traditional Chicago Blues and on it, Jordan's blowing harp as good as some of the best traditional Chicago Blues harp players.
If you'd like to check it out, Jordan Patterson's website is  That's where you'll be able to find out what he's been doing for the last twenty years and some of the interesting  people he was doing it for.  And don't forget - please tell him the Blewzzman sent yo

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Sammy Eubanks

“Sugar Me”
Underworld Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2016

Since this is his fifth release, it appears that Sammy Eubanks has managed to fly under the Blewzzman's radar.  With that said, “Sugar Me” impressed me enough to make sure I do try get my hands on the other four. 
The album consists of ten tracks that include three originals and seven re-arranged covers.  On it, Sammy Eubanks on vocals and guitar, is joined by: Darren Theriault on bass; Bob Britt and Matt Hauer on guitars; Chris Kimmerer on drums; and Reese Wynans and Scott Saunders on keyboards.
On the opening track, one of Sammy's originals, he tells us how - as a young boy - he was influenced by the records he heard his father playing.  Artists like: BB King; Elvis; Johnny; Jerry Lee; Ray Charles; and his father himself, Jesse James Eubanks.  As Sammy says it, "It's All Blues To Me".  The guitar worshippers will love this one.
Having experienced most of the sexual revolution as a single man, I thought I pretty much heard - and even used -  some of the craziest pick up lines of all time.  With that said, when it came to walking up to a woman and saying; "You ought to 'Stop That Grinnin', drop some denim, let's get it on";  Sammy, and the late Skeeter Brandon (the songs writer), obviously had bigger balls than I do.  Tell me Sammy, exactly how did that pan out?  Fun, frolicking shuffle with Matt, Chris and Reese killing it on rhythm.
"No Excuse For The Blues", is not only one of the discs best blues tracks but it features several performers at discs best as well.  Using some diverse vocal range, Sammy's on top of his game right here; rhythm wise, Chris is killing it on the drums; Reese is showing you why everybody wants him playing piano in their band; and although the guitarists are making no excuse for the blues, they're certainly cranking it out.
With country being another one of his favorite music genres, Sammy does a stellar job on Mark Collie's top ten hit, "Born To Love You".  From the songs familiar, sing along lyrics; to the way they're being sung; to the outstanding acoustic picking; to the masterful slide guitar chords; this one is absolutely beautifully done.  
Another of Sammy's originals is a track called "I'm Gonna Leave You".  It's a clever track that plays on the "You can't fire me because I quit" and "You can't quit because you're fired" routine.  You see, Sammy's woman is threatening to leave him but the way he sees it, he's leaving her if she doesn't come back... and if he leaves she won't be coming back. My advice?  Get right to the make-up sex and move on.
Sammy's website is  Please pay him a visit and as usual, tell him the Blewzzman sent you.  
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Crooked Eye Tommy

“Butterflies & Snakes”
Crooked Eye Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2016

"Butterflies & Snakes" is the debut release from Crooked Eye Tommy.  When I first heard it, right after it's release in August of 2015, had I been a betting man my money would have been on it getting a BMA nomination in the "Best New Artist Debut" category and I was shocked when it didn't.  Since the rules in that category were changed, allowing other than actual debut discs to be eligible, I guess that's become a tough nut to crack. 
Crooked Eye Tommy consists of brothers Tommy and Paddy Marsh on guitars and vocals; Glade Rasmussen on bass; Tony Cicero on drums; Jimmy Calire on saxophones, piano & Hammond B3; Bil Bilhou on the Hamond B3; Becca Fuchs and Dan Grimm on backing vocals; and Jesse Siebenberg on steel guitar.  "Butterflies & Snakes" contains eleven tracks of all original Marsh brothers music. 
The opening track is the bands namesake, "Crooked Eye Tommy".  It's a partially true and partially embellished story about a medical condition Tommy was born with which became the inspiration for the bands name - Amblyopia - or more commonly, Lazy Eye.  The mythical part of the story tells of the laughter Tommy's condition drew at the hospital when he was born; and the truthful part of the story tells of six year old Tommy having to deal with getting rabies shots for thirty days in a row with that dreaded long needle.  In each case, the moral of those stories is that someday the world will see just what a crooked eye can do.  Excellent, well sung track featuring the brothers on acoustic, electric and slide guitars.
"I Stole The Blues" is a confession by Paddy as to how he learned to play the blues - he stole them. The larceny started the first time he heard "Hard Again" - the Muddy Waters album featuring Johnny Winter, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin and James Cotton and it didn't stop there.  He continued to pilfer from the likes of Albert King, T-Bone Walker, Jerry Garcia and more. The upside to this thievery is that although Tommy stole the blues, he's now ready to give them back, and from what I'm hearing he's doing that in spades. This one features some of the killer guitar leads you'd expect to hear from some of his victims - which we'll call his inspirations; outstanding rhythm from Glade and Tony on the bass and drums; and smokin' tenor saxophone riffs from Jimmy.    
"Somebody's Got To Pay" is a modern day protest song. It's about government corruption and big money not only running the country, but ruining it as well. Along with a whole lot of us, the Marsh brothers know that "The way the world is today, somebody's got to pay".  Besides the very true lyrics being very well sung, this one features Jimmy getting in several real keyboard and sax highlights.    
Unquestionably, this is my favorite track of the bunch so I'm sure I'll listen to it "Over And Over" again.  The slowly sung, sensuous lyrics are delivered with intensity and emotion beyond compare; the rhythm is soothingly soft; the saxophone roams from a smooth, mood setting backdrop to a sultry, pulse rising lead; the guitar leads are chillingly arousing; and for about the last minute of the song, Becca's titillating background vocals take the song to a Pink Floyd level.  This song of the year caliber track was seven plus minutes of pure blues ecstasy.  
Since Paddy didn't confess to stealing from Jimmy Buffett, Duane Allman or Merle Haggard, I may have busted him right here because this one's got a bit of all of them in it.  Growing up on country music and southern rock, Tommy and Paddy have always had a "Southern Heart" and they're doing a heck of a job showing it right here with excellent guitar, slide guitar and vocal harmony. 
To find out more about Crooked Eye Tommy, simply go to  And as usual, please tell them that the Blewzzman sent you.    
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Bill Johnson

“Cold Outside”
Oxborough Music Co.

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2016

Back in 2010 we reviewed Bill Johnson's "Still Blue" CD. That same year Bill was awarded a "Blewzzy Award" for "Half the Man". In 2012 that same song appeared on the debut "Keeping The Blues Alive Volume One" CD. In 2015 a song of Bill's titled "Another One" appeared on "Keeping The Blues Alive Volume Seven". Now Bill's back with another dynamite disc and I just can't wait to tell you about it...
On "Cold Outside" - his fourth release - Bill Johnson, on guitars and vocals, is joined by: Rick Erickson on bass; Darcy Phillips on piano & organ; Ross Hall on drums; Joby Baker on drums plus song on bass: and David Vest on piano.  The disc contains eleven original tracks that include a well rounded mix of  traditional, swing, rock, funk, soul and roots blues.
The disc opens with "Baggage Blues" and as the title seems to indicate, it's about a relationship involving some past hardships.  To his regret, Bill's woman keeps handing him the baggage that someone else has given her... and it's starting to get quite heavy.  Musically, it's one of the more straight up blues tracks.  Rick and Ross are right in the pocket on the rhythm, David's smokin' on the piano and Bill slammin' out some blues on both the guitar and the vocals.  Real great track. 
Hit the floor dancers!  As Bill say's "Don't call it jazz, it's my west coast blues.  Ain't no outside notes, like Charlie Parker used".  Yeah, he may be "one buck short of ten" but "Nine Dollar Bill" – and everyone else, for that matter – are killing it on this one.  Relentless from start to finish.       
His wife was sick while his mother was dying.  He's at the end of his rope he's nearly finished tryin'.  He couldn't find a job and he was close to hitting bottom.  He tried to call his friends but it seems he hasn't got 'em.  He even called his preacher but the preacher never called him back.  The bank took his house he's bust and he's broken.  He's in desperate need of a soul healer but the only friend he has is a drug dealer.  Nobody really knows you when you're down, it's "Cold Outside".  If any of these, or the rest of the bone chilling lyrics are true - and I happen to sadly know that some are - is it any wonder Bill Johnson sings the blues?  Although there's somewhat of an eerie melody going on behind him, this track's pretty much all Bill.  From the somber and heartfelt delivery of the melancholy lyrics to the intriguing sound of his slide guitar, Bill puts his heart and soul into one hell of a performance on this one. 
This song opens with Bill saying "I've got an inclination for the blues and a natural ability to lose".  Now that may be true but the man also has a "Natural Ability" to belt the hell out of the blues as well.  He's at disc's best right here.  His soulful vocals are as convincingly painful as his stinging guitar leads.  Also at disc's best is Darcy.  His seventy second piano and organ intro immediately had me knowing I'd be listening to some amazing blues....and indeed I did.  Here's the Blewzzman's ultimate compliment Bill - not only do I think this song's the one to beat for this year's Blewzzy but it's song of the year material as well.  You nailed this one, my friend.
This one's called "Makes A Fella Nervous" but it had this fella rockin & rollin'.  Lyrically it's a song about paranoia and musically its a song about.....well.....paranoia.  Rick, Joby and David are rockin' the rhythm on bass, drums and piano, Bill's rockin' out on guitar and the whole song just screams rock & roll.  Rockin' good job guys.
"Driftin' and Driftin'" is easily the most beautiful song of the lot.  It's a love ballad with a fifties and a bit of a country feel, and everything about it is perfect.  The rhythm is totally relaxing, Bill's soft and emotional singing is transcending and his pickin' and strummin' on the National Resonator are flawless and masterful.  At five and a half minutes, it's one of the disc's longer tracks but man I could have handled it being an hour and a half.  
Right about now is when you should be going over to  While you're there, make sure you read his bio.  The guy has played with so many of the genres giants you'll think you're reading the lineup of a month of blues festivals.  And please, don't forget to tell him the Blewzzman sent you.  
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Billy Hamilton & The Lowriders

“Pay Some Money”
AMI Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © May 2016

During his forty-five years in the business, Billy Hamilton's been around the block his share of times.  As a matter of fact, he's been around the world a bunch of times as well.  After releasing his first three albums in the states, in 2006 Billy packed his bags and headed off on a European tour and he didn't return until 2011.  Now that's one heck of a road trip.  During those five years he wound up touring the European continent twelve times and releasing his fourth album over there as well. 
His newest recording, released in March of this year, is titled "Pay Some Money."  The disc contains fourteen tracks and other than just two covers, the rest are all originals.  It features: Billy Hamilton on vocals and harp (plus rhythm guitar on one track); Jeff Long on piano and Hammond organ; Tommy Long on guitar; Don Hacker and Steve Schmitt on bass; Lynn Long on drums and percussion; William Brian Hogg on sax solos; Emily Sierra on baritone, alto and tenor saxes; and Angela Combs on backing vocals.
The lyrics on the opening and title track are brutally honest and they go something like this: "Well we don't want to play no benefits, we take all the money that we can get. The old bus needs some gasoline, I ain't got no more guitar strings. You got to 'Pay Some Money' to let me play the blues."  They continue to describe that a big tip jar is nice and so are beers at half price along with selling merchandise.  But the bottom line is that Billy's tired of making do with the same amount of money he made in 1972, so pay him some damn money and let him play the blues.  Amen!  Musically, it's a swingin' shuffle that features hard driving rhythm, smokin' sax and piano leads and very well done lead and harmony vocals.  This is what's called making an impressive first impression.  
Seeing a fine-ass thing in a tiny skirt with a silly boy in a white T-Shirt has Billy wondering what ever happened to the "Fancy Man?"  As a matter of fact, heed his advice: "When that boy comes to get you for the high school dance, you better peak out the window and sneak a glance.  Pants falling down and shoes untied, you tap on the glass and wave goodbye".  Another cleverly written track with Billy and Angela nailing the lead and back up vocals and the band laying down a funky dance beat led by the rhythm and percussion from Don and Lynn.                
As the Diamonds said back in 1958...

"Come let's stroll, stroll across the floor. 
Come let's stro-oh-oh-oll, stroll across the floor".

Now that's not how this one goes lyrically but from the opening notes I was wanting to stro-oh-oh-oll, stroll across my floor.  This fifties sounding flashback is actually called "Don't Waste Your Time" and I didn't waste any of my time when it came to hitting replay oh-oh-over and oh-oh-over again.  Amazingly, Don, Lynn and Jeff aren't doing anything fancy on the piano, bass and drums and yet they make "not doing anything fancy" sound so masterful.  Once again - and at the risk of sounding redundant - Billy and Angela are magical together on the vocals.  Side note to Billy - keep her around for the next CD... PLEASE!    
They can put you in a school house, a university or a big academy; but you don't know nothing until you pay some dues; You ain't "Never Gonna Learn (Until You Lose)."  Yet, more good advice from Billy.  Until now, I haven't heard much harp blowin' but I'm liking what I'm hearing on this one.  What?  What did you say?  I didn't say anything about the vocals?  Yes, they're nailing them. 
"Bad Man's Babies" is the disc's most traditional, slow blues number.  With that said, in addition to Billy belting out the blues on the vocals and the harp, Tommy's kicking ass on some scorching blues guitar licks.  
Since he's here singing about it, I'm guessing that the woman Billy's singing about on "Bar Room Gasoline" isn't or wasn't his woman.  Either that or he's a real light sleeper.  You see, it's a song about a woman who gets a bit ornerey.... errrr make that a bit murderous.... once she has a drink or two.  With this smoker being about a raucous woman in a rowdy environment, the bands in the right frame of mind creating a ruckus of their own.
This is the part of the review where I give you the bands website - - and suggest you head there to find out more about the band, get your hands on some of their music and ask you to tell Billy that the Blewzzman sent you.  With that said, I'm heading there right now myself.  Since this was my first Billy Hamilton & The Lowriders CD, I want their others as well. 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


L.C. Williams and The Driver

“In Another Bar”
Self Released

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © May 2016

L. C. Williams and The Driver are a four piece blues band from Maine who now spend a good share of time in Florida.  "Snowbirds", as us Floridians would say. They consist of L. C. Williams on harp and vocals, with the members of The Driver being: Trent Souder on guitars and vocals; Ben-jamin Sudano on bass; and Jim Mackey on drums.  Any "Maine-iacs" reading this may remember that back in the day, the band started out as The Blood Orange Martinis... Sure, I'll have one.
The bands' debut album is titled "In Another Bar", and at a fast glance of the CD cover, those of us familiar with Beale Street in Memphis can probably name a dozen of those bars.  The disc features twelve tracks of which eleven are originals penned by Trent Souder and Lauren Williams. 
"Let's Ride" sounds like something Lauren might say to The Driver to kick off the song, but it's also the title of the disc's opening track.  BTW, if it was indeed a command, the band delivered.  The rhythm's hard driven, the guitar leads sizzle and Lauren is firing from both barrels with her blazing harp and powerful vocals.
Unlike above, "Stop For A While" is not something the band's being told.  On this one, the pace switches gears to a slower groove and the vocals switch over to Trent and a deeper sound.  Being a more traditional style song, it includes killer blues guitar licks and smokin' harp leads.
"Missing Lester" is an intense instrumental with everyone right on the musical mark.  Besides killing it on the bass and drums, the mix on this one is so good that it sounds like Ben and Jim are right here in the room with me; saying Trent's dazzling on the guitar is a gross understatement; and from what Lauren's blowing through the harp, I'm thinking this is what harmonica maestro and instructor Adam Gussow may have been listening to when he claimed that "L. C. Williams has the best tone of any female harp player I've ever heard".  This one's the disc's replay special - I'm on number six right now.
With this next track I could easily tell you it's name and be able to forego any further commentary.  Although I won't, I will keep it short and sweet and you'll get the point.  Whammer Jammer had a baby and they named it "Harp Thing".  End of story! 
"Paradise" is another dynamite track.  It's a five and a half minute track that's kind of broken down into several different parts.  The first portion is all Lauren blowin' the hell out of the harp, and with the band in a killer groove behind her, I was actually hoping the song was an instrumental.  Then she starts singing and all of a sudden, with all of her style changes and vocal range, I was now happy it wasn't.  The next portion is all Trent.  With the rhythm guys having never left the pocket, he unleashes a lengthy assault on his ax which I also never wanted to end - that is until Lauren started belting it out once again and ultimately closing with a second harp attack.  Wow!

Although I'm not familiar with the blues scene up in Maine, I do know that it's thriving in Florida.  With that said and from what I just heard, L. C. Williams and The Driver will soon be right in the thick of it.
To learn more about the band, their website is the place to go:  As usual you'll tell them it was the Blewzzman who sent you.  

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Guy King

Delmark Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2016

For months, David Ritz sat in the upstairs office of Legends working with Buddy Guy on his autobiography – all while one bluesman or another played downstairs.  One night, in the middle of a conversation, Buddy cut David off and said "There's someone playing I want you to hear".  When asked "Who?", Buddy replied with "A cat from Israel.  He's got all Albert King’s licks down with licks of his own as well. Man, you gotta hear him, his name is Guy King". After going down and watching him bring down the house, Buddy turned to David and said "Told you so". 
Since 2009, "Truth" is Guy Kings fourth release.  Spanning nearly eighty minutes, the album contains fifteen songs of which four are originals - with three of those co-written by David Ritz.  The music is indeed blues but don't let Buddy's Albert King reference point you too far in that direction.  The songs are a mix of soul, pop, jazz and of course some good ol' straight up styles of blues. 
Joining Guy King, on vocals and guitar are: Amr Marcin Fahmy on Rhodes & B3 organ; Jake Vinsel on bass; George Fludas on drums; Marques Carroll on trumpet; Christopher Neal on tenor sax; Brent Griffin Jr. on baritone sax; with Sarah Marie Young, Kiara Shackleford and Jihan Murray-Smith on background vocals.
"My Happiness" (G. King, D. Ritz) is a wonderfully done vocal duet between Guy and Sarah Marie Young.  If there was ever a more hybrid presentation of a song, I've not heard it.  The vocals have a pop vibe, the instrumentation has a jazz standard feel and it's sung like something you'd hear at a theatrical performance. I could listen to a dozen more like this, Guy...hint...hint...hint!   
"It's About The Dollar Bill", is a similar but more soulful style number.  Guy - with his smooth, cool singing style and amazing range - is once again impressive on the lead vocals.  Then in come the ladies on the melodic background vocals and it all goes up another notch.  In the meantime, with some excellent guitar leads, tight rhythm and fiery horns, the band's creating some magic as well.  
First thing in the morning and the blues are on your tail.....thus starts "A Day In The Life With The Blues" (G. King, D. Ritz).  This one's about as upright as straight up blues can get.  As a matter of fact, I'm thinking it's even money that this may have been the song that sent Buddy and David bolting from the office down to the stage.  Slow and passionate vocals; scorching blues guitar licks; piercing trumpet notes, sultry sax chords; and a steady, relaxed rhythm; sounds to me like the ingredients to a perfect blues song.  It was!   
Sandwiched in between Guy and the ladies opening and closing the track with their amazing lead and harmony backup up vocals, it's the band that are "Cooking In Style" on this one.  That's where an amazing two and a half minute instrumental takes place that I'll put up against any jazz ensemble.  Jake and George are nailing it on the bass and drums; Marques' trumpet leads are jolting; Amr is electrifying on piano; and Guy's got his own guitar concerto going on.  After replays, this phenomenal four minute track turned into a phenomenal forty minutes of pleasure for this listener.  
When Guy King says "I Got A Right to Sing The Blues", it won't take  more than to listen to him sing this one to make you a believer.  
One of Guy's most impressive vocal performances is on a track titled "There Must Be A Better World Somewhere".  It opens with the band softly playing behind him as he boldly, confidently, soulfully and articulately belts the hell out the vocals.  It was reminiscent of the way a younger B. B. would send chills through your body as he stood there shouting out the blues.  It probably wasn't a coincidence that his guitar work was reminiscent of that other King as well.  Wow!
As amazing as the vocals have been throughout the disc, the instrumentation has been as well.  With that said, this is the perfect time to mention "King Thing", an instrumental.  Although there's nothing "basic" about it, it's basically Guy and the guys doing what they've done all disc long - make absolutely wonderful music.  It's a swinging shuffle where Guy could arguably be at disc's best on guitar.
Other tracks on this must hear album include: "The Same Thing That Can Make You Laugh (Can Make You Cry)", "Truth", "See Saw", "Hey Now", "Bad Case Of Love", "Something's Wrong", "If the Washing Don't Get You (The Rinsing Will)" and "One Hundred Ways".
If, like me, you've been unfamiliar with Guy King, then you need to hurry over to and change that.  When you go, please tell him his newest big fan the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Val Starr

“Woman on a Mission”
Sandwich Factory Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2016

From way back when I was a kid listening to my dad play his Ella, Dinah, Sarah, Nina and Billie records, right up through my current involvement with the National Women In Blues organization, I have always been an avid fan of the ladies of song.  And with so many excellent female blues artists out there, that list of ladies continues to grow.  With that said, having recently discovered Val Starr, I'd like to officially welcome her to that list.
On their third release - "Woman On A Mission" - Val Starr and the Blues Rocket consist of Val Starr on vocals and rhythm guitar; John Ellis on bass and backup vocals; Frankie Soul on lead guitar; and Pat Farman on drums.  Special Guests on the project include: Guyle Tabor and Rick Meyer on drums; Marty Deradoorian on sax; Todd Morgan on Keys, electric piano and organ; and Horacio Socarras on congas.  The CD contain's twelve all original songs (plus a bonus Christmas song) that encompass a wide range of blues styles.
Reasons for having the blues are generally gender-less.  Your lover leaving you; money; whiskey; gambling; and even stormy weather, are common causes for the blues that affect men and women alike.  But there is a reason for having the blues where the ladies seem to have cornered the market.  I'll let Val explain... Listen up ladies to the story I tell, all about the night I was in high heel hell.  They sure look pretty, yes they do, but everyone of you has had the "Bad Shoes Blues".  The rest of the clever and painfully truthful lyrics easily fall under the "you've got to suffer if you want to sing the blues" umbrella. Musically is a smoker.  John and Paul are tighter on the rhythm than those shoes Val’s complaining about and Frankie's killing it on the blues guitar leads. 
Having just mentioned whiskey as an inducer of the blues, this next song - "The Boozin' Blues" - makes for a perfect segue.  With the Blues Rocket doing pretty much the same thing musically - blasting the hell out of the blues - it's Val's convincingly painful and range roving vocals that highlight this one. 
On the title track, Val's a "Woman On A Mission"; and with that mission being to rock you tonight, this is just the song to do it.  Trust me - it had me rockin'.  From start to finish, John -  who's at discs best on the bass - and Guyle on the drums, are absolutely relentless on the rhythm.  That, along with Val - who's got her motor running on vocals - will definitely complete the mission.  
Since you're already up and rockin', don't sit down just yet.  If that last one didn't kick your ass, then "My Baby" will.  This one's an all out, no holds barred, roof raiser.  With Frankie flat out destroying it on guitar, along with Todd fanning that fire with some crazy organ chords, this one's not for the faint of heart.
Would you like to hear a song with some great lead and backup vocal harmony and a catchy chorus line (Val & John); smooth, toe tappin' rhythm (John & Paul); dynamite piano playing (Todd); and several hot guitar leads (Frankie)?  Then just pop in the disc and go straight to track six.  Yep, "It's As Easy As That".   
It's probably because of my belief that adding a saxophone or a piano to an already good blues band makes the band even better that "The Blues Is Not A Color" is my favorite track - it has both.  With that said, Marty and Todd - who are kicking it on the sax and piano - are a welcomed addition to an already very talented bunch.  Vocally, Val's got this very cool stuttering effect going on as she's belting out the bababababalues. 
For more on this dynamic, contemporary blues artist just go to or like her on Facebook at  Once you do, please tell her the Blewzzman sent you. 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Shaun Murphy

“It Won't Stop Raining”
Vision Wall Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2016

"It Wont Stop Raining" is Shaun Murphy's latest release and although Shaun's boundaries have been without borders when it comes to genres, this one is all about the blues.  It's a collection of eleven songs that include a handful of covers and a handful of previously unrecorded tracks written by current band members and members of a band the disc's producer - T C Davis - was once a part of.  Although Shaun didn't have a hand in penning the songs, she performed them like she owned them. She knows no other way.

Joining Shaun, on the vocals, are: Tom DelRossi on drums; John Marcus on bass; Kenne Cramer & Shawn Starski on guitar; and Larry Van Loon & John Wallum on keys.

The disc opens with a smoking shuffle called "Spreadin' The News" (Al Jacquez).  With everyone nailing it, there couldn't have been a better way to kick things off.  Tom and John M. are so on the rhythm that I'm expecting I'll be hearing a lot more like this from them, Kenne and Larry have the guitar and keyboards on fire and Shaun - who's range roaming in sometimes smooth then sometimes scratchy styles - is belting the hell out of it vocally.  Oh yeah!

"Running Out Of Time" (Corky Newman) totally rocks and that's got a lot to do with the feverish beat Tom's laying down on the drums, the ferocious guitar licks Shawn's putting out and Shaun's intensely powerful vocal delivery.  Damn, can she hold those notes!

You may own the moon and stars or your own money tree, you're still gonna pay with pain and scars 'cause nobody rides for free. Everybody "Pays The Price Of Love" (S. Starski, K. Cramer).  Sadly realistic lyrics beautifully song by Shaun with Tom and John W. providing the pulse on drums and organ.

The answer to this question - "Hey Baby (Don't You Remember Me)" (T. Szell, M. Osborn) would probably be "No" - even if it's a lie. Leaving a woman with a mortgage and four hungry mouths to feed is something every loser would surely want to try to forget.  Fiery rhythm and fiery guitar leads by Kenne are quite the accompaniments for Shaun's fiery vocals. Sounds like she's ready to kick this losers ass...and rightfully so.

This one's called "That's How A Woman Loves" (EG Kight) and this is how a tender ballad like this is supposed to be sung.  I may have said this in one of my reviews of another of Shaun's releases, but heck, it's worth repeating - I'd love to hear a complete album from Shaun featuring nothing but slow, bluesy, love and/or torch songs.  This is as good as it gets.

It took exactly the first three seconds of the song and the first three notes on Kenne's guitar to have me thinking I was about to hear what could be my favorite song of the bunch - and I was right.  Slow blues with a few scorching guitar leads, precision rhythm and powerful, soulful, emotional vocals. There's no questioning Shaun's sincerity as she pleads "I Need Your Love So Bad". This is how you play and sing the blues.

To get your hands on a copy of "It Wont Stop Raining", find out where she's playing, read her storied bio and tell her that her friend the Blewzzman is once again raving about her, visit Shaun Murphy at   The album is also available on iTunes and Amazon.   

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Shari Puorto

“My Obsession”
Little Lightning Productions

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2016

Shari Puorto's fourth release is titled "My Obsession", and it doesn't take more than a quick peek at the jacket's photos of her very fashionable and flamboyant accessories - especially the one on the disc itself - to know what that obsession is.
Along with Shari, on lead and background vocals, the album features some monster music makers: Tony Braunagel, the projects producer, on drums; Johnny Lee Schell on lead & rhythm guitars, bass & background vocals; Jimmy Vivino on lead guitar; Steve Fischer on lead & slide guitar; Johnny Hawthorne on guitars and lap steel; Mike Finnigan on B3 organ, piano & background vocals; Barry Goldberg and Jim Pugh, also on piano; Bob Glaub on bass; Raymon Yslas on percussion; Darrell Leonard and Joe Sublett on horns; and Kenna Ramsey and Julie Delgado on background vocals.    
The recording contains eleven original songs co-written by Shari and a cover of one of the most beautiful songs ever written - "When A Man Loves A Woman". 
Seven rooms of misery, seven rooms of gloom; a room painted black with a feeling made of doom; the devil joins her as she opens the door and there's a black cat moving across the floor......and it gets worse.  Welcome to the "Home Of The Blues".  From start to finish, the pace is frantic.  Shari's belting the hell out of the eerie lyrics, Tony and Bob have an intense rhythm thing happening and Mike and Steve are creating a riveting, spooky effect on the organ and slide guitar.  That's okay Shari, I don't need the address.
The word sobriety is generally associated with an addiction, and most commonly those addictions are to alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex.  With that said, when Shari boasts of being "Six Months Sober", it's a man she's no longer addicted to.  And from the tone of her energetic and confident vocals, it's obvious that kicking this bad habit is having a positive effect.  Once again, the rhythm is powerful and Mike, Bob and Johnny are killing it on the organ, piano and guitar. 
"My Obsession" starts out soft and slow as Shari seductively tells us that the way to her heart is basically through her feet.  If you want to be with her and never lose all ya gotta do is buy her a pair of shoes.  Then the pace picks up and as the band's rockin' out behind her, Shari points out that her obsession is possession.....of every pair.  She even wants the one's she'll probably never wear.  BTW guys, should you want to give her a pair at her next show, she's a size seven.  
This one's about a place from Shari's past, where everything moved so slow and life was so much simpler.  Like all of us who have a similar place, the sincerity and emotion in Shari's voice makes it quite evident she dearly misses "Old Silo Road".   I absolutely loved this beautifully written and beautifully sung song.
When you're "Working The Room" you'd better be on top of your game and on this one, that's exactly where Shari and the whole band are.  Johnny Lee and Tony are bangin' it on bass and drums, Johnny and Barry are smokin' it on guitar, the background singers are kickin' it and Shari is - in her own words - "in heaven 'cause I'm working the room".
Although Percy Sledge set the bar quite high with his version of "When A Man Loves A Woman", there have been a handful of others who have nailed it as well and Shari Puorto is now a part of that group.  I could listen to her sing this one all night long.  As a matter of fact, between the intensity in her vocals here and the emotion in them on "Old Silo Road" this listener would welcome a full disc of these type songs.  Musically, Mike's B3, Jim's electric piano and the horns of Darrell and Joe are all spectacular.
Other tracks on the album include: "It's A Damn Shame", "Sugar Daddy", "Better Left Unsaid", "What's The Matter With The World?", "All About You" and "Turned To Stone".
To learn more about Shari, find out where her next gigs are taking place (remember, size 7) and look into getting your hands on a copy of "My Obsession", just go to  While you're there, please tell her the Blewzzman sent you.  

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Tony Torres

“A Real Gone Time”
Dave Costarella & Company

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2016

Having been a sideman for decades, Tony Torres decided it was time to go front and center with his own band and, on his debut release - “A Real Gone Time” - he actually did it twice (I'll explain that soon).
"A Real Gone Time" contains sixteen tracks of which thirteen are originals of Tony's or collaborations with Dave Costarella, the albums producer.  Ten of the songs are performed by Tony Torres and Real Gone - his touring rhythm section.  This trio includes; Tony on guitar and vocals; Steve Shenberger on bass; and Tom Webb on drums.  The remaining songs are performed with a different rhythm section and these "three cats" call themselves Tres Gatos.  They are: Tony on guitar and vocals; Jonathan Godinez on bass; and David Santana on drums.
One of the disc's three covers is the classic J. Geils smoker, "Whammer Jammer".  Now when I think "Whammer Jammer", I think phenomenally bad ass harmonica blowin'.  On the other hand, I think Tony's take on that might just be "Harmonica?  What harmonica?"  On his version, blistering, bad ass guitar playing will just have to do.  And it does.  Excellent take!
So the Latin beat on this one transforms this sexy, sultry "Surf Queen" from the beaches of Southern California to the Mexican Riviera where she's probably spending more time flamenco dancing in the sand than hangin' ten on the board.  Great vocals, guitar, rhythm and percussion highlight this one. 
"5 O'clock Blues", with it's "Smokestack Lightening" style groove, is one of the more roots type blues tracks.  With Steve and Tom in a mellowed down groove behind him, Tony, with a deep and scratchy vocal delivery, is sounding like a seasoned down home blues man. 
So Rowdy Yates joins the Ventures and together they walk, don't run, to re-record the theme from Rawhide.  But along the way they decide to change the name of the song to "Cowboy Surfer" and totally make it their own.  I loved this instrumental so much I must have listened to it at least a dozen times.  Great job, guys!         
Another one by the three cats is an instrumental version of Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon In The Sky" and it's totally on the other end of the spectrum from the way they just rocked the last one.  It's four magical minutes of beautiful and masterful music.  It's not like anything else on the disc but it's certainly one of the best on the disc. 
For a real good time, you need to get your hands on a copy of "A Real Gone Time" and you can do that by going to  Of course, to learn more about Tony himself just go to While you're there, as usual, you'll tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


The Truth featuring Cat Rhodes

“Knee Deep In The Blues”

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2016

Remember Denise LaSalle's attitude as she belted out lines like "your husband's cheating on us" and "you can have my husband but don't mess with my man"?  Remember the fierce energy Tina Turner generated as she wailed "rollin', rollin'....rollin' on the river" during her wild renditions of "Proud Mary"?  How about those famous growls you'd hear on just about every Koko Taylor song?  Well if you can relate to all of those vocal characteristics, you now have a good idea of what you might expect to hear while listening to Cat Rhodes. 
 "Knee Deep In The Blues" - the second album from The Truth, featuring Cat Rhodes - contains nine original tracks on which you'll hear some blues, some funk, some R&B and a whole lot of soul.  The band consists of Cat Rhodes on lead vocals, Bob Erickson on guitars & vocals, Jojo Morris on bass & vocals, and his brother Bryan Morris on drums & vocals.  Joining them is special guest Avery Green on harmonica. 
The title track describes a situation Cat finds herself in as a result of a bad relationship - "Knee Deep In The Blues".  It's a slow, soulfully sung track with tight, laid back rhythm and several excellent guitar leads.
The smoke you're hearing on "Coat And Hat" is a result of the two alarm fire the rhythm section's got going on.  The brothers Morris - Jojo on bass and Bryan on drums - are unquestionably at discs best right here.  Now that I'm further into the track, so is Avery - the flames erupting out of his harp just made it a three alarmer.  Of course, vocally it's a monster Cat(egory 5).         
"Moan", is pretty much all Bob.  With Jojo and Bryan laying down a smooth rhythm behind him his guitar work and deep, raspy vocals - a nice contrast to Cat's - are both highlighted here. 
"Should Have Known Better" is the discs most straight up blues number, and that always makes it a highlight for me.  And showcasing some crazy vocal range, it also features some of Cat's best vocal work.  Ditto for Bob on the guitar, who's cranking out some real deal blues licks.  Real good stuff right here.   
On this track, Cat shows us what an understanding and cooperative woman she is.  Normally, a man who drinks too much wine would catch hell from his lady, right?  But you see, Cat's not like that.  As she tells it, she has a "Wine Headed Baby" who drinks wine all the time.  He goes down to the corner store and buys his wine by the pint, but she tells him to buy it by the gallon so he won't have to go all the time.  Very humorous lyrics accompanied by Bob doing a heck of a job pickin' and slidin' on acoustic guitar and Avery blowin' some good blues on the harp.     

Now, if some of you are thinking you recognize the names Cat Rhodes and Bryan Morris, think Kenny Neal.  Bryan was part of the Neal Family band for many years and Cat toured as a guest with the band for three of those years.  As a matter of fact, if you were on the 2012 Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise - and I was - you probably saw this...
KBSOUL and the Kenny Neal Band on Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise Jan 2012.
For more on the band, just go to  When you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



Mac Arnold & Plate Full o' Blues

“Give It Away”
Plantation #1 Productions

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2016

Although "Give It Away" is his first release in five years, by no means has Mac Arnold been resting on his laurels.  And knowing him as I do, I'd be willing to bet that won't ever happen.  Between writing music, touring and recording with the band, putting on his annual Cornbread and Collard Greens Blues Festival, owning and operating an organic farm and being the proprietor of Dr. Mac Arnold's Blues Restaurant, Mac - who seems to have discovered the fountain of youth - is having the time of his life.  I gotta get me some of those collard greens. 
Mac Arnold and Plate Full O' Blues include: Mac Arnold - of course - on bass guitar, vocals & gas can guitar; Austin Brasher on guitars & vocals; Max Hightower on harmonica, keyboard, vocals & bass guitar; and Scotty Hawkins on drums & percussion.  Of the albums thirteen tracks, eleven are various band member originals.
The disc opens with a song Mac wrote about an earlier time in his career, when he spent most of his life on the road.  It's titled "Nickel and Dime" - and because of dealing with some unscrupulous shysters back then, Mac unfortunately had neither.  The sincerity spoken through Mac's scratchy vocals is evidence that these blues were truly lived. Musically, Austin and Max sound great on several guitar and piano leads.      
"I ain't tryin' to put other music down, but if it wasn't for the blues it would not be around.  You may think I'm talkin' silly, but the blues is the real "Nitty Gritty" (Max).  Well Said Mac!  This is a fun (and Mac's having a lot of it himself) up tempo rocker that pays tribute to some of the genres legends and the thieves that stole their music.
"I need you like a drunk needs whisky" may not be one of the more traditional love lines but it does make a point.  Especially since when Max wrote "How I Need You", it wasn't just about someone you love but someone you're also addicted to.  Musically, it appears to be a duet with Mac and Scotty performing magic on the gas can guitar and the percussion while Mac sings his heart out.  
It's interesting the way it came about that Mac would do a version of a Brook Benton song made popular by Bobby "Blue" Bland.  While hanging out at the Blues Music Awards, Mac told Bobby he wanted to do one of his songs.  Never being quite satisfied with the way he did it himself, Bobby urged Mac to do - "I'll Take Care Of You".  Now although I have to disagree with Bobby (yes, I just went and listened to his version on the "Two Steps from The Blues" CD), Mac does nail it.  Anyone having never heard the song before would be hard pressed to believe that Mac didn't write it for - and is singing it to - someone in his life.  Right here is where the term "making it your own" comes into play.  Musically, the song gets it's heartbeat from Mac's precision pickin' on the gas can guitar and Max's masterful organ chords.  Since it's been some forty-something years since Bobby did it, this listener is happy to have heard this beautiful love song once again beautifully done.  Thank you, Mac!       
Speaking of some precision pickin', Austin's doing some of his own on a track he wrote called "Memories".  It's a duet with him on acoustic guitar and vocals and Max on harmonica.  As I was with Max, I'm equally impressed with Austin's powerful and compelling vocals as well.  With the vibe I'm feeling from this one, I'm thinking if Austin can get the song in the right country singers hands he'll have himself a hit.
Since I'm done here, you should now be heading to  That's where you'll be able to find out a whole lot more about the band, pick up some of their music and of course, tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Darryl Ellyson

“It's Such a Shame”
Ellysong Publishing

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2016

After close to forty years as a singer, songwriter and performer, the time was right for Darryl Ellyson to release his debut CD.  The disc is titled “It's Such A Shame”, and as you'd expect from an artist who over the last six years has received several awards for his songwriting - including a "Songwriter of the Year" nod - all twelve of the tracks are original music.
With the exception of several featured players on a handful of the songs, all of the music pretty much comes from Darryl and Bill Roberts, of whom Darryl had this to say: "Bill plays all instruments and without him, all my songs would still be acoustic songs I'd only play at solo gigs". 
The complete list of credits is: Darryl Ellyson on vocals, rhythm & acoustic guitar and percussion; Bill Roberts - the albums producer - on lead & acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards; Todd Ellsworth on bass; Carlos Chafin on drums and keyboards; Kip Williams on drums and percussion; and Ronnie Owens on harmonica.
Although it was repeated seven times, and nicely stretched out on a few of them, it took exactly one word of the opening track for Darryl to impress me with his vocals.  The song is titled "Caused My Heart To Bleed" and Darryl's emotionally soulful vocal style is perfectly suited for the song’s melancholy lyrics.  Musically, Carlos and Bill are nailing the rhythm on the drums and organ and Ronnie's blowin' some serious blues through that harp. Great first impression. 
Combined with the opener, this next track created an interesting segue.  You see, one of the things that caused Darryl's heart to bleed was waking up one morning and finding his lady had not come home.  Seeing the apparent silver lining in that cloud, on "My First Day (Without You)"  he's now sounding happy and planning to paint the town.  Nice recovery, Darryl!  This is one of the tracks that - due to Bill's amazing and versatile musical talents - is a duet with a full band effect.
One of my favorite vocalists of all time is Darrell Nulisch and on "Take It Back", this Darryl is sounding as good as that Darrell. It's interesting how similar their smooth, soulful swagger is.  And then there's Bill.  He's not only killing it on rhythm but he's tearing it up on lead guitar as well.  Unreal!
One of the disc's several acoustic tracks is a beautifully sung ballad titled "Love Refugees". After hearing the sad and sullen, then happy and cocky styles of his vocals on previous tracks, this one features his heartfelt, tender style. On it, Darryl and Bill both put on masterful performances on the acoustic guitar. 
"I'm So Worried" is one of Darryl's award winning songs.  In 2015 it took best song honors in the Mid-Atlantic Songwriting contest.  Hearing him sing these songs the way he does it's no wonder that anything you read about him includes praises of his vocal and writing talents.  As with the vocals, Bills rhythm and Carlos piano playing is also silky smooth.            
When perfection happens, just go with it.  "I Don't Know", which was recorded live in one take, closes out the disc as impressively as it opened.  It's another acoustic track featuring Darryl on vocals and guitar, Ronnie on harmonica, Kip on drums and Todd on standup bass.  From what I just heard I'm suggesting this quartet just pack up the van and go on tour. 
In place of a website, Darryl Ellyson uses Darryl Ellyson | ReverbNation but should you want to contact him it's probably best to do so by liking his Facebook Page.  As usual, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



Time Gap Music

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2016

Time Gap is a four piece teenage blues band who recently represented the Philadelphia, PA area in the Youth Showcase at the International Blues Challenge.  The group includes: seventeen year old band leader and guitarist, Radka Kasparcova; fifteen year old vocalist, Sophie Griffiths; seventeen year old bassist, Miles Burger; and seventeen year old drummer, Noah Bryant.  Their debut release is a seven song EP titled "Flashback", and in the words of Radka; "all of the songs are originals, composed by the group as a whole, filled with passion and ambition".  Well said, young lady!
Taking into consideration that collectively these four talented musicians just about add up to the average age of the baby boomers who make up a large portion of the blues community they'll appeal to, it's way too early to tell what may be in store for them in their musical futures. But with that said, if Time Gap sticks to this genre they already seem to have down pat, the blues won't only be in good hands it will have an opportunity to reach the younger audience it needs to survive. 
Making a very good first impression is a shuffle titled "So Many People".  As I'm listening I'm thinking I could make a very good argument that I'm not listening to a bunch of seventeen year olds but rather a bunch of seasoned veterans.  Miles and Noah are a natural on rhythm, Radka's graceful on the rhythm guitar and stinging on the leads and Sophie is melodically belting out the vocals.  Excellent job!
In a note to me stating that "Rain On My Parade" was one of her personal favorites, Radka uses the words "upbeat and lively" in her the description of the track.  That, my dear, is a bit of an understatement 'cause this one is an all out, full throttle, smoker.  Miles and Noah are deliriously wreaking havoc on the bass and drums, Radka's literally trying to break strings and Sophie's singing as hard and fast as all of that.....and it all sounds crazy good.
"New and True" is a testament to Time Gap's versatility.  It's a soulful ballad on which Sophie showcases tremendous range and intensely emotional vocal skills while Radka mesmerizes with a guitar solo as good as ________ (fill in your favorite guitarist).  Wow!
"Two Way Street" is all about the ladies.  It's an acoustic track on which Radka's pickin' and strummin' and Sophie's sassy vocals perfectly compliment each other.  Since just over three minutes of this perfection didn't cut it for me, several replays were in order here.
There are several segments on "THURSDAY" where the rhythm is so profound I felt a need to stress the title of the song and go as far as to say it could have just as well been called "THUMPDAY".  The gals are doing their usual excellent stuff but Miles and Noah pretty much steal the show right here.  Right about now I'm wanting to once again address that argument I referred to earlier.

To learn more about Time Gap just go to and like them on Facebook by clicking the link.  Not only will their bios impress you but they may just surprise you as well.  By the way, please make sure you tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


George Stephen Kelly

“The Power, The Glory & The Monkey Time”
Ace Sleeve Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2016

"The Power, The Glory & The Monkey Time" is George Stephen Kelly's latest release and it features a well rounded combination of straight up blues, soul blues, rock blues and retro rhythm & blues.  On it, George - on vocals and guitars - is joined by: Michael Jenkins on guitars; Motor City Josh on guitars & tambourine; Kevin Tubbs and Chris Codish on the Hammond organ; Ryland Kelly on bass, piano & guitars; Antonio Johnson and Todd Glass on drums; De'Sean Jones, Marcus Elliot and Keith Kaminski on tenor sax; John Douglas and Jimmy Smith on trumpet; Alex Lyon on bass; and Caleb Ford on background vocals.  Eight of the albums ten tracks are originals.  
On the one sheet accompanying the disc, a quote from "All Music Guide" states that George Stephen Kelly is "an artist and writer to watch".  Had I written that I may have said he's an artist and writer to watch and listen to as well.  Now let's do some of that listening...
It's only the second track so this statement may be premature, but from what I'm hearing the smokin' "Morning After Pill" should be the hottest, rocker of the lot.  Between George and Josh mixing it up on lead, rhythm, slide and solos, the guitar work on this one is ferocious.  On top of that, the horns and Hammond are on fire and Todd is out of control on the drums.  Whoa!   
I'm a sucker for a beautiful ballad and "My Forever, Your Always" may very well be the most relatable song I've ever heard in my life.  One of the best ways for me to tell you how I feel about it is to tell you what I emailed George after hearing it for the first time.  Here are my exact words: "My Forever, Your Always" literally brought tears to my eyes.  I know you wrote it for your lady but man, I want to tell my wife those exact words.  As a matter of fact, I'm going to burn the song onto a disc and put that disc in her Valentine's Day card.  It's funny, just yesterday we posted the 2015 "Blewzzy Awards" at our website and that song is probably going to be next years' winner.  I cannot say enough to you about how I feel about that song, thanks for writing it." The intense rhythm, led by the powerful horns, make it musically masterful as well and vocal delivery of the emotional lyrics could not have been more sincere and heartfelt.  Since I first heard this song about two weeks ago, until I sat down to write about it today, I've easily listened to it well over a hundred times.     
Should you not be aware of who Sisyphus is, after you look him up you'll have a much better idea of what it's like to have the "Sisyphus Blues"... day in, day out, over and over again.  As what is apparently going to be the case on many of these tracks, the rhythm – this time led by some amazing organ playing by Chris – is once again a track highlight.  Another is George's monster two minute plus guitar lead encompassing the last half of the song.     
Many songs are written from true stories and sadly this is one of them.  It's about George's friend Jon who, as a result of having to constantly work two jobs, is always tired and exhausted.  According to Jon, there's just "Too Much Month At The End Of The Money".  This funky number features De'Sean wailing on a sax solo and Josh kicking it on lead guitar.
One of the two covers on the disc is the classic Wilson Pickett hit "Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You".  This great sing-a-long is one of my favorite R&B songs and this rendition is right up there with Wilson's.  As I said in my description of an earlier song, I did indeed speak too soon, 'cause this one's another ass kicker. 
Could it be a coincidence that a song about whiskey is the bluesiest song on the recording?  It could be but not likely.  It's just a fact that "Bad Whiskey" has and does cause the blues.  For that matter, so does good whiskey.  As is generally the case with slow and low down blues like this, the rhythm is tight and the guitar licks George is laying down are scorching.  
The second of the two covers is another former hit - this one is Boz Scaggs's "Runnin' Blue".  With all four horns blowing support his way, George sounds phenomenal on the vocals here.  To paraphrase a TV networks slogan, this one's "must hear music".     
George's website, is  Please check him out, and when you do make sure you tell him the Blewzzman send ya. 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Benny Turner

“When She's Gone”
Nola Blue, Inc.

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2016

At the very bottom of this review will be a link to where you can read Benny Turner's biography - and when you do, like me, I'm sure you'll be wondering why this music veteran of fifty plus years isn't headlining blues festivals and having his name appear on any music awards ballots.  With that said, I'm going to go on record as saying that "When She's Gone", his fourth release, may just open enough ears to change all that.
"When She's Gone" consists of six original, re-released tracks from Benny's 1997 debut disc titled "Blue And Not So Blue", and four classic covers.  The long list of performers, some of whom are no longer with us, include: Benny Turner on vocals, lead guitar, lead bass and bass; Marva Wright on vocals; Samuel "The Bishop" Berfect on keyboards, piano, organ and background vocals; Keiko Komaki on keyboards & organ; Josh Paxton on keybpards;  Davell Crawford on organ, Fender Rhodes and background vocals; Charles Brown on piano; Mark Adams on clavinet; Sean Lewis on harmonica; Alonzo Johnson on bass; Jeffery "Jellybean" Alexander, Larry Williams and Herman Ernest III on drums; Dr. John, Mark Stone and Derwin "Big D" Perkins on rhythm guitar; Bob Margolin on lead guitar; Jason Mingledorff on saxophone; Barney Floyd on trumpet; and Diane Lotny, Yvonne Washington, Tanya Jarvis, Craig Adams, Carla Davis, Yvette Whittler, and Charles "Chucky C" Elam all on background vocals.
The perfect way to open a disc is with a perfect song and "I Can't Leave" is just that.  Besides Benny, Diane and Yvonne being absolutely masterful on the lead and harmony vocals, the contagious chorus line will have you singing along while the smooth rhythm groove - led by the incredible keyboard work of "The Bishop" - will have you swaying as you do.  By no means is it a coincidence, but I can't leave either - I've been replaying this one for the last twenty minutes. 
"Have Pity On This Lovesick Fool" is a duet with Benny and the "New Orleans Blues Queen" - the late, great Marva Wright.  With that said, it's mandatory listening.  Musically it's the funkiest track of the lot and since many of these songs do not include the use of guitars, it's the rhythm section making it all sound so good.
At the opening of "Because Of You", Samuel's soft piano chords and Herman's mellow percussion work were literally carrying me away... then Benny started to sing; Tanya joined in; the piano and organ leads got more and more intense; and the song took me to a whole other level.  As it sent me to church, Benny's Gospel roots clearly shone through on this one.  Beautiful!  Beautiful!  Beautiful!  This song will be in my head for days.
"So Deep" is another of the many tracks that (as mentioned above) does not include a lead or rhythm guitar, but Benny - on the lead bass - is one hell of a good substitute.  It's also another of the many tracks that features vocal excellence.  Although Benny's voice is extremely soulful, and quite powerful as well, he clearly appreciates the extra touch a strong supporting cast of backup vocalists can add.  This listener also appreciates it. 
Although there hasn't been a lot of it, "Reconsider Baby" (Lowell Fulson) is one of the few tracks that feature a guitar -  and not just one.  Bob Margolin, with his stinging blues guitar leads, and "Big D", with his accompanying rhythm licks, highlight this one.
The one sheet accompanying this disc refers to the closing track as "the final gem"... no argument here.  It's a compelling, six and a half minute version of "Black Night" (Jessie Mae Robinson) on which Benny belts the hell out of the blues.  It also features the late and great Charles Brown playing some killer piano, and more of the amazing rhythm I've been hearing all disc long - this time with the addition of a fabulous horn section.
To find out more about Benny Turner just go to  After you read that legendary bio I told you about earlier, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Joe Survival Caruso

“You Never Had These Blues”
Lakehouse Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2016

If I had not read in the liner notes that Joe Survival Caruso's latest release - You Never Had These Blues - was recorded live at Orlando Brewing, I may not have ever realized it was indeed a live recording.  Happily, it has none of the annoying background noises, none of the distracting out of time hand clapping by hundreds of uninterested hand clappers and none of that performer/audience banter that is sometimes entertaining at the actual show but mostly displeasing on the recording.  With that said, those involved in the performance, mixing, recording, engineering and production deserve some kudos for making this sound as close to a studio recording as possible
On You Never Had These Blues, Joe Survival Caruso - on vocals and lead guitar - is joined by: Herb Ransberg on guitar; August "Auggie" Antoine on bass; and the disc's producer, Reno Mussatto on drums.  All eight of the disc's tracks were written by Joe Survival Caruso.
The title track, You Never Had These Blues, is typical of what Joe and the band are all about.  They just get up there, lock themselves into a tight rhythm groove and belt out good old fashion blues, both musically and vocally.   
Calling Yearnin' And Burnin a smoker is an understatement for sure.  As a matter of fact, because I couldn't sit still enough while it was on, I had to wait for the song to end before I could write about. Joe and Herb are killing it on the guitars and Reno is totally on fire on the drums. Whew!    
Unlike Delbert McClinton, Joe Survival Caruso is Standing On Solid Ground.  And although he's been knocked in the head and left for dead; abused and misused; betrayed, heart broken and made a fool of; he intends to stand on it till the day that he dies.  That pretty much leaves no question as to why he uses "Survival" as his middle name (by the way, reading his bio provides a lot more insight on that).  Musically, this is one hell of a fiercely funky track with some wild guitar and intense rhythm work.      
This disc closes with possibly it's best number - Things Ain't Been The Same.  Although Joe belts the hell out of the short, repetitive vocal versus, it's the long instrumental breaks that highlight the track.  The tandem rhythm guitar work had me swearing I was hearing an organ, Joe's lead guitar break outs are the best on the disc and Reno & Auggie are just tearing it up on the drums and bass.  Great work! is where you now need to go. That's where you'll be able to pick up the disc, find out a lot more about Joe (do read his bio), and be able tell him and Reno that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Allen-Lamun Band

“Maybe It's A Good Thing”
Mad Left Music
Louisville's Tribute To Muddy Waters

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © January 2016

Since I communicate with Dave Allen and Laura Lamun on a regular basis, they've told me many times just how happy they are about having recently relocated to Nashville, TN.  Now I'm hearing it through their music.  On their second release, "Maybe It's A Good Thing", Dave Allen - on lead, background & choir vocals; drums; percussion; and harmonica; and Laura Lamun - on lead, background & choir vocals; joined forces with some of the "Music City's" finest blues musicians.  They are: Jake Hill on piano, strings and Hammond B3 organ; Randy Coleman on bass; and Kenne Kramer on electric guitar.  Other special guest musicians include: Steve Boynton and Donnie Miller on electric guitar; Larry van Loon on piano and Hammond B3 organ; Miqui Gutierrez on tenor sax; and Matt Workman on choir vocals.  All twelve of the recordings are Dave Allen and Laura Lamun originals.
"Half Of Me" is a perfect way of describing those indecisive moments all of us have experienced in some way or another.  It's about those times when half of you really thinks you want to do something but half of you is also thinking you really shouldn't do it.  Although Dave and Laura never actually figure out which half wins, their indecisiveness sure sounded great.  On the other hand, both halves of Jake and Steve know what they want 'cause their tearing it up on the keyboards and guitar.
Some of the disc's best vocals can be heard right here on the title track - "Maybe It's A Good Thing".  After hearing the track for the first time I mentioned to Laura how much I loved her sound on it and she replied back with "yeah, I got to stretch it out a bit on that one".  A bit?  No!  A lot?  Yes!  Her lead solos, her harmonizing with Dave, her own background vocal support, her range and her very impressive note s...t...r...e...t...c...h...i...n...g... are all absolutely magnificent.             
"I Don't Love My Baby" (she don't love me too).....hmmmm, sounds like some couples I know but I'll not go there.  Musically, this one rips.  In addition to sharing the vocals, Dave's killin' the kit and blowin' the hell out of a harp, Kenne's smokin' the guitar leads and Jake's wailin' away on the piano.  Excellent track!
"Breath Of Fresh Air" has so much FUNK going on I just felt I needed to enlarge the word.  Of course, Dave and Randy are all over the rhythm on the drums and bass, but it's the horn section that stands out on this one.  And by the horn section I mean Miqui leading the way on sax with all the rest of the horn blowin' actually being provided by Jake's magnificent Hammond skills.
"I Love You Pretty Baby" is this disc's track that automatically gets the "Blewzz Approved" stamp.  That happens when the song that's the best slow blues is also the disc's longest track - thereby doubling my pleasure.  You've probably already figured it out that the rhythm is right and tight - thanks to Jake's finesse on organ; Steve's guitar leads are ever so soft and slow but yet quite stimulating as well; and Dave's sounding about as soulful as I've ever heard the smooth vocals.  Very good stuff!
Wouldn't it be nice if you could tune into a "Good News Channel"?  According to Laura, you can - and knowing her like I do - I know she truly believes that.  Just give this spiritually uplifting song a listen and I'm sure that her, and the choir, will have you believing it as well.  This beautifully sung, beautifully written and beautifully performed song needs to be heard by all of humanity.....and often.          
If you'd like to get to know more about Dave Allen and "Little" Laura Lamun, just go to  While you're there, please tell them that their good friend the Blewzzman sent you.  Oh yeah, also tell them I said there's no "Maybe" involved - "It's a good thing"!

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


Various Artists

“The Blues Had A Baby”
Down In The Alley Records
Louisville's Tribute To Muddy Waters

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © January 2016

The following is a word for word reprint of the One Sheet that accompanied the CD.  I felt it makes a statement that needed to be heard...

"This is a cross genre project featuring some of Louisville's best musicians and bands. The idea behind the record is that many say the blues are dying, that younger music fans are not listening to or interested in the blues as a music form. 
    We felt that bringing together bands with different backgrounds and tastes would introduce the blues to a different set of fans. What better way to do that than to introduce them to the artist most responsible for electrifying the blues!
    Our hope was that they would hear their favorite band cover a Muddy song and wonder about Muddy and the blues. Maybe even do a little research and buy a blues record.
    The twelve songs are covered by a Latin group, a Bluegrass band, a jazz duo, two rock groups, an Americana quartet and six blues bands.  The songs include some of Muddy's best known and others that are not as well known.
    The record was released on October 2nd and is available through CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and Google Music. We hope you like it."
– Mike Suttles, Down In The Alley Records.

Because I believe that anyone participating on a disc of this magnitude deserves merit, although I may not touch on all of the songs, I'm going to do my very best to list all of the over fifty participating musicians.
After a short intro, the disc opens with "Forty Days And Forty Nights"  (Bernard Roth), performed by Lamont Gillispie's 100 Proof Blues.  The band consists of a bunch of musicians who have played with the late band leader and they are: Bruce Lively on vocals; Steve Holmes on drums; Jimmy Brown on bass; Dave "Spooney" Witherspoon on guitar; Bill Dean on piano; Mark Bright on saxophone; and Rick Cain on harmonica.  The best way to describe this performance is to say it's done in the classic style of Muddy.  Great vocals, great rhythm and as expected, outstanding harp, sax and piano highlights.  This one was definitely done by seasoned blues veterans.          
"Rollin' And Tumblin" (Muddy Waters), is performed by the Latin band very cleverly called Appalatin.  They are: Yani Vozos on guitar & vocals; Fernando Moya on charnago; Luis deLeon on harmonica, timbales & cowbell; Steve Sizemore on congas; Jose Oreta on upright bass; and Alex Molina on surdo drum & tambourine.  This is not only the most interesting track of the lot but it's also the most surprising.  The result of a bunch of musicians of various Latin cultures, playing a bunch of exotic instruments - on a song from a genre outside of their wheelhouse, in a style all their own, is absolutely masterful.  I must have played this track about 6-7 times and was mesmerized each and every time.  Great track. 
It would be a sacrilege to listen to a compilation of Muddy songs and not mention "Got My Mojo Working" (Preston Foster).  This one's done by the 10th Street Blues Band who's members include: a legendary bluesman who actually played with some of Muddy's buddies - Sonny Sitgraves on drums; Billy Bird on vocals & harmonica; Pen Bogert on guitar; and Matt Swenson on bass.  This is another track that's quite obviously done by another bunch of very talented blues veterans. 
We all know that the Blues' baby is known as rock 'n' roll but the blues also has a famous cousin known as jazz.  Sometimes they're so very different and other times - like right here on "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had" (Muddy Waters), by Carly Johnson and Craig Wagner - they're so very much alike.  Carly's angelic voice and unrestrained range along with Craig's total guitar mastery make this one of the most musically pure and beautiful tracks.  Wow!    
Us blues fans know better, but to most of the world "You Need Love" (Willie Dixon) is a Led Zeppelin song.  Here it's nicely done by  Laurie Jane and The 45s, who are: Laurie Jane Jessup on vocals; Cort Duggins on guitar; Jason Embry on bass; and Scott Dugdale on drums.  This smoker features hard drivin' rhythm, rockin' leads and kick ass vocals.  I'm already a blues fan but this one made me a fan of this blues band.
"Same Thing" (Willie Dixon) was recorded back in 1977 by the late Jim Rosen on vocals & harmonica and Rob Pickett on guitar.  As far as acoustic blues goes, this duet obviously had it down pat.  I'm always amazed when I hear this type of blues - which with all due respect, is not my blues of choice - and end up getting blown away by what I just heard.  And here I sit, amazed and blown away by phenomenal harmonica blowin' and guitar pickin'.      
"She's Into Something" (Carl Wright) is done by Da Mudcats and they are: Susan O'Neil on vocals; Doug Lamb on vocals & piano; Gene Wickcliffe on drums; Rob Pickett on vocals & guitar; Mike Lynch on vocals & bass; and Screamin' John Hawkins on vocals.  Sandwiched between the excellent opening and closing lead vocals, shared by Susan and Doug, the awesome piano and guitar leads really make this one pop.      
"Diamonds At Your Feet" (Henry Morganfield), is performed by the bluegrass band called The Bibelhauser Brothers.  They are: Aaron Bibelhauser on vocals & piano; Adam Bibelhauser on vocals & bass; Tavis Conley on drums; Chris Rodafaffer on guitar; and the world renowned, multi award winning Michael Cleveland on fiddle.  This track is so good and so well done that in addition to hopefully turning some bluegrass fans into blues fans, it actually turned this blues fan into a bluegrass fan.  Thanks guys!     
Although "The Blues Had A Baby" is primarily aimed at recruiting new members to the blues community, it's my opinion that the ones already here should hear it as well.  To get your hands on a copy just go to  As usual, please tell Mike that the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

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