Thursday, June 28, 2018

Steve Soto - August 23, 1963 to June 27, 2018

Rest in peace, brother. 54 doesn't seem old to me anymore...

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: John Long – Stand Your Ground


This CD review was originally published in the November 10, 2016 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

John Long – Stand Your Ground

Delta Groove Music

13 tracks / 52:54

John Long is a fine bluesman, and the path he took to where he is today was not the easy one, but he ended up in the right place. Growing up in St. Louis, he sought out the blues at a young age, and it certainly did not hurt that his mom was a guitar teacher or that his brother, Claude, was also a bluesman. By his teens, John was playing out and started exploring the intricacies of pre-war blues. In the early 1970s, Long moved to Chicago where he mentored under a new father figure, Homesick James Williamson, who was a protégé of none other than Elmore James.

In the forty years since then, John has continued his journey, honing his craft and writing solid material, earning a BMA nomination for his debut album, and eventually moving back to Springfield, Missouri. His new Delta Groove Music album, Stand Your Ground, is a really cool collection of original and classic acoustic blues. Long did most of the heavy lifting here, writing eight of the thirteen tracks, singing all of the vocals, and taking on all of the harp and guitar parts. He was joined on a few of the tracks by a handful of tight and very experienced musicians from Southern California, including Fred Kaplan on piano, Bill Stuve on upright bass, and Washington Rucker behind the drum kit.

This disc was cut in only two days at Audiogrand in North Hollywood, California, and the resulting music has a very natural and live feel. First up is a tribute to Long’s mentor, and the message of James Williamson’s “Baby Please Set a Date” is the timeless story of a man who does not want to wait another day to be with his lady. Long’s voice is perfectly worn, and his inflection and tone hearken back to the early days of blues music. Fred Kaplan’s piano work fits in wonderfully on this track, as he carries over his years of experience from Hollywood Fats’ band.

The remaining cover tunes are sequenced near the end of Stand Your Ground, and Long does not screw around at all with Blind Willie Johnson’s 1920s gospel blues song, “I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole.” John takes this one on as a solo effort with his jangly slide acoustic, and he displays a lot of vocal versatility, adding in a wicked warble that is to die for. There is also a slow-tempo version of Thomas Dorsey’s “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” with a neat drum accompaniment from Rucker, and harp-heavy take on Blind Willie McTell’s “Climbing High Mountains” (big time falsetto here!).

But this is not a cover album, and Long’s originals are well written and stand up well to the blues masters’ songs that he chose for the mix. His guitar playing on these songs is fascinating, as he is innovative and goes far beyond what pre-war players did with their instruments, but he never loses the vintage vibe. “Red Hawk” is a prime example of this, as he uses a lot of double stops, harmonics, and descending patterns that sound amazing on his resonator guitar. Long also covers subjects that were not song-worthy back in the 1920s or 1930s, and he can write a tune about living with Parkinson’s disease (“No Flowers For Me”), and have it fit in perfectly with the classic material. The same can be said for “One Earth, Many Colors,” which carries a beautiful message of inclusion.

The originals are righteous enough that the title track turns out to be one of the standout songs on the album. “Stand Your Ground” brings Stuve and Rucker back on stage and these two fellows really click, contributing a fat and woody bass tone, as well as lovely rhythms on the drums. The melody is very catchy, and the lyrics are about a father’s advice to his son, not the controversial Florida law.

John ends his set with his original “Suitcase Stomp,” and as it is only two minutes long it is a neat coda to this project. This is a fun and rowdy song, and Long get the chance to shine on his harp and guitar one last time before he leaves the stage.

John Long has the pre-war blues sound and feel nailed down tight, and he is able to carry this mood over to more modern lyrics with no awkwardness or feeling that things are contrived. Stand Your Ground works on a lot of levels, including its content, musicianship, and production. If you dig classic blues and want to hear something fresh, Stand Your Ground would definitely be a wise purchase.

Press Release: New Effect Pedal - Cinnamon Drive from Aclam Guitars


I know there are a million pedal makers out there, but I dig Aclam, a Spanish company that is run by music fans and professional musicians. Their new Cinnamon Drive pedal is set-up for Smart Track pedalboards, and I look forward to trying one out in person.

“Barcelona -

After a few years being an innovative pedalboard manufacturer, Aclam has started to expand its catalogue with a pedal line. This first unit named Cinnamon Drive is a dual stage overdrive pedal, inspired by the tones of the greatest 60’s and 70’s guitar players like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck. Created to have the tube saturation characteristics inside its DNA, it is highly dynamic and touch responsive, you can play it like your favorite vintage tube amp. It features a custom enclosure designed to fit Aclam Smart Track pedalboards and other major brands. Available worldwide from our website and authorized dealers this summer.

‘Our goal was to make the ultimate riff machine. With an amazing tone and offering new possibilities with an enclosure designed to take the most advantage of the Smart Track pedalboard, and making it easy to place onto all other boards.’

The Cinnamon Drive has a dual stage engine, featuring both soft and hard clipping circuits, starts from a clean preamp to a light overdrive, leading to a highly saturated distortion to cover a wide range of tones. Its simple controls let you dial two completely different tones thanks to the “Boost” section, which gets activated via footswitch. It also features a gain knob and independent volume control. It has internal fine-tuning controls for the most demanding players.

Take advantage of the patented enclosure using the two side thumbscrews on Smart Track pedalboards or attaching it to your pedalboard through the holes using standard screws or zip ties. It also comes with a super-strong Velcro® pad for classic boards.

Assembled and tested with care, one by one in Barcelona with the best components available.”


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: Alabama Mike – Upset the Status Quo


This CD review was originally published in the December 11, 2016 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

Alabama Mike – Upset the Status Quo

Self Release through Jukehouse Records

11 tracks / 59:25

Alabama Mike adopted his nickname as he was born in Talladega, and that is where he got his first experience as a vocalist in the church choir. But for the last thirty years he has made his living on the left coast of the United States: in the military, as a truck driver, and now as a bluesman. The latter has been very rewarding, as he has earned two BMA nominations, both as a solo artist and with his acoustic blues trio, The Hound Kings. Mike (a.k.a. Michael Benjamin) writes and plays traditional-sounding blues songs with more modern lyrics that connect well with today’s listeners. This is one of Mike’s ways of pushing the edge of the envelope, so the title of his third solo album, Upset the Status Quo, makes a lot of sense!

This record is a slick piece of work, with production credit going out to Kid Anderson, who recorded this project at his Greaseland Studios in San Jose. Eight of the eleven tracks were written by Mike, and he provided all of the soulful lead vocals in his distinctive tenor voice. Thirteen fantastic musicians joined him in the studio, and the result of their labor is an hour-long set of blues, soul, and rhythm and blues, with a little funk thrown in for good measure. These folks include Ali Kumar on harp, Bernard Anderson on sax, Sid Morris on piano, Derrick D’mar Martin and Ronnie Smith on drums, Jerry Jemmot and Kedar Roy on bass, Jon Lawton on slide guitar, Jim Pugh on the Hammond B3, Bob Welsh on guitar and piano, and Kid Anderson on B3 and guitar.

Mike and his friends kick off the show with the title track, and “Upset the Status Quo” is a mid-tempo shuffle with a rich feel thanks to Kumar’s harmonica and Anderson’s sax. The backline has a neat feel with a conventional bass line and a dry snare tone that kills (in a good way). The lyrics poke at things that modern man spends too much time focusing on, such as the pursuit of material gain and the allure of giving in to the pervasive influence of social media, and Mr. Benjamin howls about these things with gusto.

Modern themes are also visited in “Identity Theft,” “Restraining Order,” and “SSI Blues,” and it is cool that Mike can take the stuff that people have to deal with today and put it into a musical form that is timeless. The latter has a sweet old-time feel with raunchy harp from Kumar and plenty of barroom piano over a foot-stomping beat. Mike shows off a great range as he takes thing up a register to tear this song apart. This is one of the standout tunes on the disc, in my opinion!

There are also three cover tunes on this disc, including Jimmy McCracklin’s “Think,” John Lawton’s “Rock Me in Your Arms,” and Little Johnny Taylor’s “Somewhere Down the Line.” “Think” is my favorite of these as the gang turns up the funk knob with Anderson’s sax, plenty of organ and wonderful guitar leads – this is all top-shelf material. The final product is a respectful and talented re-do of a classic tune, and the band really nailed it.

The set closes out with “God is With You (Benediction),” and it has a gnarly intro that is driven by a heavy dose of the mighty Hammond B-3. It settles down pretty quickly into a conventional rhythm and blues song, and Mike’s voice is at his best here as he has soul down to his very core. There are lovely backing vocals from Loralee Christiansen and Lisa Leuschner Anderson and this song of faith and love is beautiful; it is a sweet way to finish the set.

Upset the Status Quo contains some of Alabama Mike’s best work, and it is a very well engineered and mixed album that is entertaining from start to finish. Check it out for yourself, and if you like conventional blues this might just be a nice breath of fresh air for you. Also, if you follow his Facebook page you will find announcements for his upcoming gigs in the Bay Area, and if you come to one of his shows you might even get to see a few of the guest artists from this disc sitting in too!

1986 Yamaha LP-400 Lord Player Electric Guitar Review

Hi there!

I am glad to be getting a break so I can write about a few of the vintage guitars that made their way into my shop. Today we are looking at a nice Les Paul copy guitar, a late 1980s Yamaha Lord Player Les Paul copy.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Japanese guitar companies used classic guitar and bass designs from Fender, Gibson, Hofner, Martin and Rickenbacker, and made killer knock-offs. The 70s and 80s were not exactly the best years for quality for any of these companies, and consumers really ate up these good quality copies. Eventually, Fender and the gang caught on eventually and upped their game. Some of these very playable guitars are now collectible.

A fine specimen of these is this late 1980s Yamaha Lord Player model LP-400. In traditional Japanese manufacturing-ese, the 400 in the model name relates to the instrument’s original list price, in this case it was 40,000 yen. This was around $250 back then, if I did the math right. I have never seen another one in the US. I picked this one for a few hundred bucks on a business trip overseas.

This Lord Player is finished in a classy tobacco burst, with a little more yellow thrown in. The body is mahogany, with an agathis back, maybe. It is not unduly heavy for a Les Paul, coming in at a bit under 10 pounds.

It has a set neck with a rosewood fretboard. The neck is nicely rounded, is between the 50s and 60s style Les Pauls as far as feel. It is straight with plenty of life left in the frets. It has a medium action and it plays like a dream. There are a few small marks on the back of the neck, but nothing that bothers me when I play it, because I am a rock star. Note that this guitar has 1959 Les Paul style headstock.

Everything appears to be original on this guitar. The wiring is tidy with no terrible circuit board and the pickups and knobs appear to be OEM. The pickups measure 7.23k ohm for the bridge and 7.20k ohm for the neck, in case you really need this information. The tailpiece shows some pitting and the tuning pegs have a few signs of oxidization but those things are not a big deal. As this is a 30-year-old guitar, there are some small blemishes and the typical soft markings on the rear of the guitar. But overall it is in very respectable condition.

It plays very well with a set of Ernie Ball 0.010s on it. The pickups are sweet at normal levels, and are super crunchy with an overdriven amp. The action and feel is awesome. The neck is not chubby and not thin…in between. All electronics work as they should, though god only know why a previous owner drilled some holes in the cover.

If you are considering a new Gibson Les Paul, think twice. Their necks and frets are a crapshoot in a losing game. Find an older guitar from Yamaha, Tokai or Greco, and you will spend a lot less coin and get a better playing guitar.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: AC Steel and the Galvanizers – Now or Never


This CD review was originally published in the December 1, 2016 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

AC Steel and the Galvanizers – Now or Never

Self Release

11 tracks / 48:24

Philadelphia’s AC Steel and the Galvanizers is a slick band and their new disc, Now or Never, is perfect for listeners who want plenty of guitar with their blues. You may never heard of their frontman, Stephen Solotist, but he took an interesting path to get to this point in his music career.

An awesome guitarist, Solotist and his band flirted with the big time back in the 1970s, opening for big name acts such as the Allman Brothers and Pink Floyd. After shipping off to England for a while and turning down a slot with UFO, he eventually came back to the States and entered the world of day jobs and daily commutes. But he also stayed in the music game, playing gigs with the Jukerockers and the Dukes of Destiny.

Stephen is joined on Now or Never by the Galvanizers, whose members include “Chicago” Carl Snyder on the keys, Rich Curtis on the bass, Bud Manton on the skins, and Arlyn Wolters with the backing vocals (most of these folks are also members of the Dukes of Destiny). The disc was cut at Buckeye Studios in the City of Brotherly Love by co-producer Peter Richan. Ten of the eleven tracks on this album are originals that were written by Solotist, and apparently he is a capable singer and songwriter, in addition to his prodigious guitar skills.

The disc starts off with a taste of edgy blues-rock, “Can’t Keep the Big Man Down,” and this tune is the story of Kevin McCann (the singer and guitarist for the Little Red Rooster Blues Band), who is recovering from Guillain-Barre syndrome. Joining into the fray with his harmonica is another Rooster member, Dave Holtzman, and he has a sweet tone!

The mood changes dramatically for the next song as a pair of locals join in: Wanamaker Lewis on banjo, and Larry Feldman on fiddle and mandolin. This instrumentation gives “What Would Muddy Say” more of a roots feel, as Stephen ponders how historical figures such as Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and Frederick Douglass would interpret the state of society today. The vocal harmonies between Wolters and Solotist really make this song special. Lewis and Feldman also help out on the lone cover on this disc, an acoustic and folksy take on Robert Johnson’s “Come On in My Kitchen,” featuring harp from John Colgan Davis (another member of the Dukes).

The band also lays down a few tracks that are more whimsical, and some listeners may find the funky “Little Cat Purr” to be adults-only material. There is also a slow-burning ode to the misuse of alcohol, “Tequila Seals the Deal,” and the mother of all stalking songs, “Love Hate Letters.” And finally, the album finishes up with “Too Many Guitar Slingers,” an uptempo blues piece where Stephen bemoans the surplus of guitarists on the market, and he warns “if you want to get paid and have it made in the shade, don't become a become a guitar slinger.” Snyder throws down a nice piano solo here and Curtis also get the chance for a bass solo, driving home the point of this song. For a change of pace, there is also a cool instrumental featuring AC’s guitar, and “Steelman’s Stroll” is a fun two and a half minute romp, just in case anybody doubted Solotist’s guitar slinger qualifications.

Now or Never is a neat album from AC Steel and the Galvanizers, and their particular brand of guitar-driven blues is fresh and fun. Please note that should you happen to purchase a copy of this CD, a third of the funds will be donated to Kevin McCann to help defray the expenses for his medical care. And, if you get a chance, head over to the band’s website and check out their gig schedule. They have some dates coming up, and if you are anywhere around Philadelphia area you should make the time to see one of their shows. There is a lot of experience in this group, which should translate well to the stage!

Galaxy Audio TQ6 Portable PA Preview


Here is a press release I got on the new Galaxy Audio TQ6 Portable PA: “Compact and under 10 pounds, Galaxy Audio’s new TQ6 defines “Portable PA”. Its dependable performance and versatile features make it an ideal choice for classroom teachers, sports trainers, corporate presenters and houses of worship. Its ease of use, reliability, and affordable price will appeal to auctioneers, aerobics instructors, and AV rental companies.

With a high-performance 30-watt amplifier, a powerful 6-inch woofer, and wide-dispersion 1-inch HF horn, the TQ6 offers clear voice and great sound. A wired mic input complements a versatile media player with an SD card slot, USB connector, RCA connections, and built-in Bluetooth compatibility for phone or MP3 player.

Individual and master volume controls, a tone control, and an echo feature make it easy to mix and control these sources while adjusting voice clarity and music quality. The TQ6 may be AC powered or operated from its internal battery for up to 15 hours. It includes a convenient carrying handle and standard pole socket.

The TQ6 offers premium performance, an unmatched feature set, and a highly portable package making it the ideal “go anywhere” portable PA.”

This speaker seems to have everything under the sun, and it sells for $100 – I am interested in trying one of these out, so I will see what I can do So you can get the details first hand. Stay tuned!


Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: The Mike Eldred Trio – Baptist Town


This CD review was originally published in the October 20, 2016 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

The Mike Eldred Trio – Baptist Town

Great Western Recording Company

13 tracks / 58:18

Mike Eldred is no stranger to the guitar, as he ran Fender’s Custom Shop for many years, but he is also a masterful musician and songwriter. He has joined up with John Bazz and Jerry Angel of the Southern California’s best band that should have hit the big time, The Blasters, to form the eclectic Mike Eldred Trio. The band has released their fourth album, Baptist Town, and it a refreshing blend of Americana and blues music.

Eldred drew inspiration for this project from Baptist Town, a neighborhood in Greenwood, Mississippi that was home to many blues greats, including Robert Johnson, Honeyboy Edwards, Hubert Sumlin, Hound Dog Taylor, and many more. The poverty of Baptist Town is a stark contrast with the affluent neighborhoods of Greenwood, and this inequality has not changed much for the better since Johnson passed on in 1938.

For Baptist Town, Mike acted as producer, wrote twelve of the thirteen tracks, and provided the much of the vocals and guitars. Bazz laid down the bass parts and Jerry Angel took care of the drums, while a nifty crew of artists contributed their unique skills throughout the album. Many of the sessions took place at the birthplace of rock and roll, the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee (about 125 miles north of Greenwood).

Baptist Town is not exactly the Delta nor is it Memphis, and likewise this is not a rock or a Delta blues album but rather an amalgamation of American styles, set to lyrics that speak to the social issues that are relevant to the neighborhood. There is a lot going on here, as evidenced by the opening track, “Hunder Dollar Bill,” a story of drunken misanthropy set to a driving vintage rock sound with muffled vocals and a wickedly distorted harmonica solo courtesy of Phoenix’s awesome John “Big Nick” Samora.

Three Grammy-winning guest artists each bring their own flavor to this disc, too. David Hidalgo of Los Lobos contributes his distinctive vocals and accordion to “Bess,” and the result is a thumping slice of Louisiana style. John Mayer provides the lap steel and electric guitar parts for “Roadside Shrine,” a very pretty country blues song with restrained vocals from Eldred. Yet another big name was drawn to this project, as Robert Cray brings his guitar to the title track, and his smooth leads mesh well with a slick undercurrent of riffs in this laid-back soul tune.

The songs that connect best to the community of Baptist Town are the ones that feature the Emmanuel Church Inspirational Choir and a local fellow, Jarvis Jernigan, on vocals. “Somebody Been Runnin’” is only a few minutes long, but this a capella gospel tune is powerful with wonderful back and forth between Jarvis and Mike, and the vocal harmonies are beautiful. As an added bonus, it seems to be inspired by the fate of Robert Johnson! “You're Always There” closes out the set, and after a raucous introduction, it settles down to a funky gospel vibe with a healthy serving of Hammond organ courtesy of Papa John DeFrancesco, a true American treasure.

The lone cover is an odd duck that does not exactly fit it with the rest of the material, and there has never been a version of the Beatles’ “Can't Buy Me Love” that is anything like this. This is a timeless story of love with no strings attached, but its heavy tone and six-plus minute running time highlights that there is not much value or variety to the words (sorry, John and Paul). My guess is that Eldred is seeking to contrast lighthearted pop music with the harsh reality of a downtrodden people, but it is a stretch to connect this material with the community or the overall theme of the disc.

Aside from this one tune, the rest of Baptist Town is a sweet set of uniquely American music that draws inspiration from the blues, and the Mike Eldred Trio has shone a light on a community that does not get much attention. Be sure to head over to their website as there is cool media to support this album, including the lyrics, a gallery of quality images from the neighborhood, and videos that show the production process, including an explanation of how it came to be and documentation of how a few of the tracks were recorded.

Matt “Guitar” Murphy: December 29, 1929 to June 15, 2018

Rest in Peace, Matt.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Blues Blast Magazine 2018 BBMA Award Nominees


Here is the info on the 2018 Blues Blast Music Awards Nominees and the awards show:

From Blues Blast Magazine -

Contact Information: Bob Kieser (309) 267-4425 or

In early April, a group of Blues music industry professionals including music critics, journalists, festival promoters, music venue managers, producers, musicians and other Blues music industry professionals nominated the best in Blues music in twelve categories. The complete list of nominees is listed below and is also available at our website at:

Fan voting to determine the winners begins July 1, 2018 and continues until August 31, 2018 on our website at Voting is free and open to anyone who is a Blues Blast Magazine subscriber. Blues Blast Magazine subscriptions are always FREE and you are automatically signed up as part of the voting process on our website.

The Blues Blast Music Awards are presented by Blues Blast Magazine, the largest FREE weekly internet Blues magazine with over 36,000 Blues fan subscribers located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries.

The 2018 Blues Blast Awards ceremonies will be held on September 29th, at Tebala Event Center in Rockford, Illinois. Tickets and complete information on lodging and directions are available at The Blues Blast Music Awards website at

The 2018 Blues Blast Music Award nominees
Contemporary Blues Album

  • Victor Wainwright & The Train - Self Titled
  • Selwyn Birchwood - Pick Your Poison
  • Chris Cain - Self titled
  • Danielle Nicole - Cry No More
  • Bernard Allison - Let It Go
  • Jason Ricci & The Bad Kind - Approved By Snakes

Traditional Blues Album

  • The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling - The High Cost of Low Living
  • Kim Wilson - Blues And Boogie Vol 1
  • Rick Estrin & The Nightcats - Groovin' In Greaseland
  • Oscar Wilson - One Room Blues
  • The Cash Box Kings - Royal Mint
  • Mud Morganfield - They Call Me Mud

Soul Blues Album

  • Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra - After A While
  • Johnny Rawls - Waiting For The Train
  • Bettye LaVette - Things Have Changed
  • Benny Turner - My Brother’s Blues
  • Markey Blues & Ric Latina Project - Raised In Muddy Water
  • Ivy Ford - Time To Shine

Rock Blues Album

  • Walter Trout - We're All In This Together
  • Albert Castiglia - Up All Night
  • Tinsley Ellis - Winning Hand
  • Tommy Castro & The Painkillers - Stompin' Ground
  • Ghost Town Blues Band - Backstage Pass
  • Savoy Brown - Witchy Feelin'

Acoustic Blues Album

  • Curtis Salgado and Alan Hager - Rough Cut
  • Doug MacLeod - Break The Chain
  • Mitch Woods - Friends Along The Way
  • Daniel Eriksen - Narrative Boogie
  • Sonny Landreth - Recorded Live In Lafayette
  • Sunny Lowdown - Down Loaded

Live Blues Recording

  • Sonny Landreth - Recorded Live In Lafayette
  • John Mayall - Three For The Road
  • Ghost Town Blues Band - Backstage Pass
  • Muddy Waters - Live At Rockpalast
  • Nick Schnebelen - Live In Kansas City
  • Casey Hensley - Live Featuring Laura Chavez

Historical Or Vintage Recording

  • Muddy Waters - Live At Rockpalast
  • Luther Allison Box Set
  • Johnny Nicholas - Too Many Bad Habits
  • Paul Delay – Live at Notodden '97
  • Reverend Raven & The CSAB - My Life – Twentieth Anniversary

New Artist Debut Album

  • Patrick Recob - Perpetual Luau
  • Ben Levin - Ben's Blues
  • Heather Newman - Burn Me Alive
  • Casey Hensley - Live Featuring Laura Chavez
  • Orphan Jon - Abandoned No More
  • Ilya Portnov - Strong Brew

Blues Band

  • The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling
  • Rick Estrin & The Nightcats
  • The Cash Box Kings
  • Ghost Town Blues Band
  • Welch Ledbetter Connection
  • Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys featuring Westside Andy

Male Blues Artist

  • Victor Wainwright
  • Chris Cain
  • Walter Trout
  • Oscar Wilson
  • Kid Ramos
  • Benny Turner

Female Blues Artist

  • Danielle Nicole
  • Shaun Murphy
  • Samantha Fish
  • Bettye LaVette
  • Beth Hart
  • Karen Lovely

Sean Costello Rising Star Award

  • Ben Levin
  • Joyann Parker
  • Orphan Jon
  • Ivy Ford
  • Heather Newman


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater: January 10, 1935 to June 1, 2018

Rest in peace, Eddy. You were a sweet man and will be greatly missed.

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: Terrie Odabi – My Blue Soul


This CD review was originally published in the October 13, 2016 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

Terrie Odabi – My Blue Soul

Self Release

13 tracks / 64:50

With its rich cultural history of jazz, rock, and the blues, the San Francisco Bay area launched many artists’ careers and has been a source of so much fantastic music over the years. None other than the late Etta James got her start in the Bay Area, and Oakland’s Terrie Odabi is doing a marvelous job of following in her footsteps. Terrie’s vocal skill and passion translate well to the studio, and her sophomore album, My Blue Soul, has everything going for it.

Terrie worked in the music business for years before releasing her 2014 debut album, Evolution of the Blues. Based on the pure awesomeness of this disc and her amazing performance abiity, Odabi earned the right to be the Bay Area representative at International Blues Competition for 2014 and 2015, and both times she made it to the semi-finals. This lady is the real deal, and has earned all of the respect she gets.

My Blue Soul is a labor of love from Terrie, as she wrote eleven of the thirteen tracks, and she poured her soul into recording the vocals. She made all the right moves to make sure this would be a good album, and the first step was bringing in Kid Anderson as the producer and engineer. Anderson knows how to construct a quality blues album, and it surely made his job easier to have Odabi and a crew of more than a dozen top-shelf Bay Area musicians to work with.

The music is excellent, but Terrie’s lyrics are what really make the songs special. They are honest and relevant, drawing on personal and community experiences. The first track, “Gentrification Blues,” is a pointed social statement about folks who move into a neighborhood and then think they have the right to change the existing cultural norms. This fervent message is set to a hopping mixture of blues, funk, gospel, and rock with smoking organ and guitar from Anderson and thumping bass and drums from Kirk Crumpler and Derrick Martin.

“Born to Die” is a 1970s-issue jangly rock and roll revue with a “Foxy Lady” beat and the finely tuned horn section of Nancy Wright, Manny Angel, and Faris Jarrah - these cats are tight! The message here is that no matter what one’s station in life is, the end result is always the same so we should live accordingly. This track is backed up by the jazzy blues of “Life is so Good,” an autobiographical torch song from a woman whose life is good, so that she can’t believe that she’s singing the blues. This song features Terry Hiatt on lead guitar and cool muted trumpet from Angel.

There are a few songs about the difficulties of relationships, but the most uplifting is “When You Love Me,” a song that Odabi wrote to thank her love for his support during the production of this album. This is a barebones blues track with sexy vocals and the sparse instrumental accompaniment of just a pair of guitars manned by Anderson and AJ Crawdaddy. This is the perfect opportunity for listeners to hear Terrie’s voice, and her personality, inflection, and range are truly amazing.

The cover tunes are both neat songs that have special meaning to Terrie. She loves Big Mama Thornton, so “Ball and Chain” is a logical addition to the mix. This piece of straight-up blues is powerfully sung with sweet guitar leads from Kid and tasteful piano from Ken Cook. The other re-do is the traditional, “Wade in the Water,” reinterpreted as a gloriously soulful rhythm and blues tune. This spiritual is has a powerful place in US history, and the lovely backing vocals of Courtney Knott, Lisa Leuschner Anderson, and Niecey Robinson make this modern take complete.

My Blue Soul is an excellent sophomore effort from Terrie Odabi, and it is a testament to what this woman means for the future of blues. This disc is full of poignant songs that are recorded well and appeal to both traditional and modern blues audiences, making it one of the best releases of 2016. and it will be awesome to see what she comes up with next!