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  • James Cotton, Live at The Mayne Stage in Chicago, May 10, 2013, concert review
    Foster and Darrell Nulisch All except Bonamassa who plays guitar handle vocals While the album has a distinct blues rock aura Cotton s show at the Mayne Stage in Chicago walked on the side of tradition Backed by a band that included Nulisch on vocals Noel Neal on bass Tom Holland on guitar and Jerry Porter on drums Cotton introed as being from Austin Texas sat in a chair for the entire show He chose to blow his harp through a regular mic and PA rather than the standard harmonica going through an amp getting a surprisingly full tone For some obscure reason Porter s drums were placed behind a glass isolation booth making him look like he was being punished Nulisch even joked about it later in the show referring to the bulletproof cage While this is common in recording studios it looks nothing short of bizarre on stage but Porter s propulsive beat could be heard clearly The show started at a leisurely pace with chestnuts like After Hours Honest I Do Birdnest On The Ground That s All Right Rocket 88 and Strange Things Happening gradually working up to fever pitch with the quick tempoed likes of Got My Mojo Working and Don t Start Me Talkin which was preceded by a monologue about that song s creator Sonny Boy Williamson Cotton attempted to sing only once on I m Your Hoochie Coochie Man he spoke the verses while Nulisch sang the choruses It should be mentioned that a good portion of the show was devoted to instrumentals As anybody who has ever attended a blues jam knows it can be hard to sustain interest with a blues instrumental which usually turns out to be a generic 12 bar workout with tedious solos and no hook Good

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/live-reviews/james-cotton-2013/james-cotton-mayne-stage-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Blues at the Crossroads 2: A Tribute to Muddy & The Wolf
    song he wrote on the way to Jimmy Rogers funeral the guitarist played a rip roaring Muddy style slide guitar for Mean Old Chicago making the strings whine like a stingin King Bee The T Birds backed up Steady Rollin Margolin with some fine ensemble playing including traditional keyboard stylings from the ultra talented Barrelhouse Chuck along with super harp blowing from Wilson Margolin slung his guitar and howled as the crowd roared its approval Margolin kept the momentum going with Muddy s Going Down To Main Street played in an upbeat jumpin boogie style aided by Wilson s percussive harp chops Margolin stayed on for Kim Wilson s slow blues on Sonny Boy Williamson s Sad To Be Lonesome Wilson expressed the song s lonely sadness through his clear powerful note perfect voice and his wailing mournful harmonica that rang out across the theatre Wilson kept blowing as he walked off the stage and into the audience and up the center aisle singing and playing without the benefit of a mic no problem as he could still be heard way in the back section Seemingly by magic he loudly blew a high note and held it for a loooong time while continuing to play other notes Don t try this at home folks Needless to say the crowd went nuts as Wilson made his way back to the stage for a lengthy boogie blues jam joined by Margolin that had the fans clapping whoo ing and dancing along And then it was intermission During the break blues fans wondered Is someone recording this show I d love to buy the CD or DVD And How could the second half of the show top this When you ve got blues legends Jody Williams and James Cotton waiting in the wings you know there s greatness to follow Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds lead guitarist Johnny Moeller drummer Jay Moeller bassist Randy Bermudes and Mike Keller on guitar opened the second set to a Bo Diddley beat on You ll Be Mine For the next number Wilson s booming voice belted out the lyrics to Muddy s Mannish Boy as the audience hooted and hollered Rather than sing the entire tune Wilson treated us to more of his inspired harp playing Wilson dedicated the third song to Muddy s granddaughter who was in the house It may not have been the most appropriate song to sing for her as the words included you re gonna get sick and die one of these days When Wilson introduced Jody Williams the audience stood and cheered as the Chicago guitar legend entered he took a seat center stage and cradled his beautiful white and gold Epiphone Jody Williams One of the originators of electric Chicago blues guitar Williams was a prolific session player at Chess Studios during its golden era He played on numerous hits by Bo Diddley Howlin Wolf Billy Boy Arnold and others he influenced future guitar greats like Otis Rush and

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/live-reviews/blues-at-crossroads-2013/blues-at-crossroads-2013-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • 18th Annual Lucerne Blues Festiv
    other than B B King at a gig where Monica played a support slot Dedicated to the blues women who inspired her Ruth Brown Koko Taylor Etta James and Katie Webster Monica opened up on Pussycat Moan this was a real tour de force packed with an emotional intensity that spellbound the audience As a contrast some livelier numbers from her current CD Living In the Danger Zone got everyone into a party mood before a fantastic breakup song Tears brought the set to an outstanding conclusion with some excellent guitar work complementing Monica s full throated delivery Anson Funderburgh The Golden State Lone Star Revue is a name put together to recognise the origins of the twin lead guitars in the next group Representing Texas we had Anson Funderburgh and from California Little Charlie Baty with the vocal and harmonica duties taken on by Mark Hummel What a treat to see these two veteran guitarists working together and clearly having such a good time that it was infectious Throughout the set they would exchange little nudges and winks egging each other on like naughty schoolboys set to outdo each other s performance It was interesting to hear their two distinct complementary guitar styles Anson s spare cutting licks compared beautifully with Charlie s reverb filled riffing A laid back good humoured set included a nice showcase for Anson Funderburgh on the Freddie King tune Side Tracked Little Charlie Baty A visit from Jimmy Carpenter Wolfman Washington s sax player for The Hustle Is On added an extra dimension Not to be left behind Little Charly s showman side came out on the closing number Mark Hummel s Stockholm Train as he swung his pearl inlaid signature semi acoustic around his head Coincidentally their encore Lost A Great Man was recorded for Mark s Heart of Chicago CD with backing from the same guys appearing across the casino on the festival s late night stage namely Billy Flynn Barrelhouse Chuck and Bob Stroger who are indeed the heart of today s Chicago blues Irma Thomas To an air of great expectation Irma Thomas sweetly smiling in a buttercup yellow prom dress entered stage right already singing Love Don t Change People Do and the crowd welcomed her with open arms Let It Be Me was next and the hairs on the back of every neck in the room rose at the immaculate performance There was hardly a dry eye in the house as Irma toured an impressive back catalogue of classy soul numbers like I ve Been Loving You Ruler Of My Heart and Wish Someone Would Care Lightening the emotion a little Irma had fun with more light hearted up tempo fare such as Hip Shakin Mama You Can Have My Husband and a little song called Time Is On My Side that arguably inspired a hit version by a well known British R B band back in the day With a sweet touch she dedicated the final number

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/live-reviews/lucerne-blues-fest-2012/lucerne-blues-fest-2012-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • JOHN MAYALL, live at the Mayne Stage, Chicago
    hear the banshee wail in the pounding keys and screaming guitar The guy sitting next to me who excitedly told me that his buddy in the next seat had turned him on to Mayall when they d been 16 year old high school kids kept exclaiming over the massive size of Mayall s hands You gotta mention them in your article he exclaimed as the two 50 something men leaped to their feet to dance to Congo Square Decades fell away from this tired crowd who responded to the music like they were actually being pulled by the voodoo drums in the songs lyric Mayall s rhythm section propelled us all deep into the swampy bayou beat and suddenly the mardi gras beads hanging around the blues masters neck made perfect sense How he managed to make the piano sound as if it s wafting in on a breeze through the steamy southern night is beyond me it was perfection It was such a pleasure to watch this band John Mayall an artist with a recording career that reaches back to 1965 was unassuming erudite and charming He displayed not a shred of temperament or arrogance despite minor technical glitches that caused his keys to cut out during the intro to one song His reaction was the adorably British quip Oh well I guess that means we re all fallible The audience was right with him As he regained power they cheered for him to Just start it again John And so begins I m Moving On with John and guitarist Rocky Athas trading lead licks seamlessly The band were all smiling clearly enjoying themselves throughout the show and Mayall s obvious delight in the music the band was creating shone on his face Otis Rush s So Many Roads was next Athas picking the lead with his fingers gave the tune a decidedly West Side feel the band displaying beautiful use of dynamics One thing I love about the Mayne Stage for concerts it s never too loud Here the guitar moans and cries and it s the perfect volume the perfect balance of feel and technique coupled with a heartfelt arrangement that tells me this band has found their center This only comes with years of playing experience and trusting each other s choices lending the song the strength to be quiet to build and grow to a climactic fever that sends the transformed crowd into a huge ovation Following that with a song from his first album Chicago Line saw John playing both harp and keys You could see he was enjoying himself as he tilted his head to listen dancing a bit as he chose his moments picking out variations on the theme in a staccato piano then switching the keys to a nice vibes patch It was during this song that Greg Rzab clobbered us with his talent He got a drum stick from Jay and played tapping style with it he roared over the

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/live-reviews/john-mayall-live/john-mayall-live-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • CANNED HEAT at S.P.A.C.E in Evanston, live review
    death unfortunately took it s toll on the band Wilson passed on in 1970 Hite died eleven years later drummer Fito de la Parra has kept the band going continuously over the last 44 years Fito de la Parra When the band played at S P A C E in Evanston recently the lineup included three crucial members from the peak years besides Fito Chicago native Harvey Mandel was on guitar and bassist Larry Taylor was aboard too along with utility man Dale Spaulding who played guitar bass or harmonica when needed Taylor took a few turns on guitar himself From the time they kicked off with On The Road Again the band was in full swing with Fito duplicating the falsetto vocals of the late Al Wilson The other two hits were accounted for as well with Going Up The Country probably getting the biggest crowd response the flute riff was played on harmonica Since De La Parra Mandel and Taylor were all present at the original Woodstock festival there were the inevitable jokes about not taking brown acid But even with this history behind them theirs was not a nostalgia revue Harvey Mandel Quite a few deep cuts from the original albums were played including Time Was Amphetamine Annie Future Blues So Sad The World Is In A Tangle I m Her Man and their Monterey Pop showstopper Rollin Tumblin were all present and accounted for with De La Parra and Spaulding trading off vocals Mandel got a few instrumental feature spots including Christo Redentor a Donald Byrd jazz standard that has since become identified with Mandel who recorded it on one of his many solo albums Dale Spaulding Larry Taylor Towards the end there were guest turns from local legends Dave Specter whose jazzy guitar chordings meshed

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/live-reviews/canned-heat-review/canned-heat-live-review-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • NARAS Chicago Chapter Blues Fest Kickoff Jam 2012
    from the new CD The Devil Ain t Got No Music Lil Ed There was a total change of style as Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials jumped on and all over the stage living up to the title of their current album Jump Start As ever Lil Ed delivered to the excited audience one of their typically high energy performances Deitra Farr Nellie Travis Peaches Staten The Chicago Blues Divas Deitra Farr Peaches Staten and Nellie Tiger Travis represented the great tradition of Chicago s female blues vocalists They took the stage with a tribute to Chicago s Queen of the Blues the late Koko Taylor as three of the most talented ladies on the blues scene today entertained with their readings of some of Koko s classics The diminutive and sparky Peaches Staten opened with So Long Baby Bye Bye Deitra Farr joined the party on I m Feeling Good and Bad Company Along came Nellie Tiger Travis who Let the Good Times Roll and then Oil and Water or maybe Holy Water Boiling Water or Whiskey and Water Finally the three talented ladies joined together for what else but a rousing Wang Dang Doodle The Brooks Family Dynasty Ronnie Lonnie Wayne So from a trio of singing talents we were treated to a trio of guitar talents in the shape of the Brooks family With Wayne Baker Brooks and Ronnie Baker Brooks setting the scene Wayne led off with I Can Read Your Mind from his new CD supported by Matt Skoller s harp Ronnie slid into the rhythm guitar spot with practised ease on the next number before stepping up front as Wayne moved aside Opening with the heavy riffs of I Had My Chance Ronnie soon had the crowd up and ready to welcome on

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/live-reviews/naras-blues-show-review-2012/naras-blues-show-2012-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Chicago Blues Festival 2012 Review
    fingers and hand all over the strings Murali Coryell son of jazz fusion guitarist Larry assisted on second guitar and got to play a wailing bluesy solo on Bye Bye Baby Soaring four part harmonies were featured on two songs from Hellfire the very Stones like Ride and the rhythmic gospel number Soldier for Jesus that had folks singing and clapping along The drummer kicked into some second line New Orleans style beats JLW played another scorching slide solo Bertha swirled and did high kicks as the band played the bluesiest song so far I Won t Do That Walker s lengthy heartfelt solo was greeted with loud appreciative cheers His strong vocals only further mesmerized the fans I Got Eyes Like A Cat written by one of Walker s close friends started with a Texas style boogie as JLW plucked the notes he then produced a uniquely fast fingered solo proving that this artist imitates no one and has refined his own style Walker is a talent that must be seen and heard live to fully appreciate The CD s title track Hellfire kicked off with JLW s stinging notes as he sang Hellfire that s my curse a song about having an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other He walked over to his amp aiming his guitar towards it to get some Hendrix like distortion as the rhythm section pummeled away behind him and Murali got down on his axe too Just before the song closed JLW removed his guitar and bounced it onto the stage for an extra sound effect Take that devil The guitarist switched gears for a more laid back number an Earl Hooker cover with more impressive slide work JLW didn t hold back for long as he a built up into a volley of notes and then hit us with some nimble string pulling followed by rapid fire strumming as the band simply smoked behind him In other words JLW started the song in a traditional blues style and then took the blues into the 21 st century or perhaps another planet in a matter of moments Seeing Joe Louis Walker live is believing As much as we hated to leave Joe s thrilling show we didn t want to completely miss Johnny Rawls on the Mississippi Stage Johnny Rawls on the Mississippi Stage photo Jennifer Noble Back at the Chicago Blues Fest for the third time Johnny Rawls set the tone for the Mississippi stage which became the place to hear the blue est blues performers with their sexy funny risqué lyrics and comedic schtick As we approached the stage we could hear female singer Destini Rawls Johnny s daughter finishing her rousing rendition of the Staples Singers classic I ll Take You There to an appreciative crowd Next up the nattily attired Mr Rawls performed an autobiographical song as he sang I m a Mississippi boy I ve got mud on my shoes An exceptional singer who

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/live-reviews/chicago-blues-fest-review-2012/chgo-blues-fest-review-2012-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  •  James Cotton and Eddy Clearwater live review
    more Chicago style blues as Nulisch sang Change Your Ways Cotton was really into it as he rocked in his chair smiled and slapped his knee as the fans cheered him on The band kicked it up a notch as Holland soloed on guitar with a flurry of notes to more cheers Cotton zoomed right into the next song with a rompin stompin beat and continued to roll from one song into the next with nary a chance for the audience to finish its applause Cotton ruled the stage like the maestro that he is while his bandmates seemed telepathic switching tempos or coming to a halt at the slightest signal from their leader Darrell Nulisch sings Tom Holland on guitar Nulisch and Cotton played off each other very well Cotton egged on the laid back soulful singer by punctuating verses with a well placed whoop or a rejoinder on the harp for emphasis Cotton cupped his hands and flayed his fingers to create a symphony of sounds on his small diatonic harmonica They served up blues classics like That s Alright Down The Road I Go Got My Mojo Workin and songs by Cotton s mentor Sonny Boy Williamson Rice Miller who took on James as an apprentice at age 9 For Jimmy Reed s romantic ballad Honest I Do Nulisch s vocals sounded ever so sweet as did Cotton s harp playing while the band mellowed just a bit Then it was a race to the finish line that really got the joint jumpin for Rocket 88 Don t Start Me To Talking and Baby Keep Your Hand Outta My Pocket The big finale The Creeper which is Cotton s signature tune was a roof raising swinging instrumental that had the audience on its feet boogying and clapping along It was a true blues blast by a legendary performer who sent the folks home happy carrying that juke joint elation with them out into the suburban night One of Cotton s biggest fans was in attendance John The Doctor Jochem a very talented local harp player who worked with the late Johnnie Mae Dunson and Jimmy Lee Robinson Jochem had this to say about his harp hero Cotton s little blues power trio behind him was terrific Cotton still very much has the sound I m very familiar with his recordings I ve followed him for years As he went from song to song I was struck by how true he was to past recordings even with his solos He played several solos note for note in a way consistent with past recordings He s not just up there haphazardly wailing he s approaching each tune with a degree of reverence still having a great time playing the material correctly the way it is traditionally supposed to be played He s a living link to Sonny Boy Williamson II who taught him to play to Muddy Jimmy Reed and Little Walter You could hear all of their influences

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/live-reviews/james-cotton-2012/james-cotton-live-page.html (2016-02-16)
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