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TRUE BLUE from Ellis Kell


Moving on down the blues highway, to the eve of the new millennium, a fitting soundtrack for this river valley can be found in the tracks of ‘Iowa Blues 5.’ That’s right blues fans, the fifth installment of the Iowa Blues Compilation from the folks at Hot Fudge Music showcases the rich, midwestern Blues talent pool better than ever. From key Blues alumni such as Patrick Hazell, Billy Lee Janey, Bryce Janey, Craig Erickson and the incomparable Blue Band, to new blue-bloods and houserockers J. C. Anderson Band, Don Boyle Band, powerhouse Blues songstress Effie Burt, and the Gary Gibson Band (just to name a few!) this collection bumps, jumps, reels, rocks and oozes the Blues and its full palette of stylings.

True Blue kudos and salutations to Iowa’s own Blues ‘n boogie entrepreneurs Bob Dorr and co-producer Eric Marck. Hats off as well to Jon Chamberlain at Tom Tatman’s Catamount Studios for their signature, top shelf studio mastering of the project. Aint no need to walk to Memphis, or hitch a ride to Chicago, when we got it right here at home in these River Cities - a true blue scene and wealth of musical talent. Don’t it make you proud to be alive and blue in the Mississippi Valley? Hot stuff for those cold, cold nights you know are right around the corner…

Bob Dorr, Molly Nova and the Blue Band have lead the way in many respects for blues and houserockin’ music across the Midwest. For over twenty years Bob & Molly have trekked back and forth across Iowa, Illinois and beyond, on their never-ending tour of one-nighters and packed houses. This dynamic duo of Midwestern blues ‘n boogie have paid their dues a hundred times over, and are now touring nationally in support of "Just A Dream," the Blue Band’s newest offering on Hot Fudge Music discs and tapes. The collection opens with the Billy Lee Janey’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors,’ a driving blues funk, punctuated with Heath Pattschull’s sax, and laced with Molly Nova’s fiery electric violin. If you’ve never heard Molly’s violin before, imagine a Stradivarius with glass-packs, strapped to a chain-saw and run through one of Jimi’s old Marshalls. Molly’s stellar, smokey vocals also shine on the next track, "Cut You Loose."

Although Blue Band helmsman Bob Dorr is multi-talented on various instruments, including harmonica and percussion, his Blues voice is still his best instrument. Bob’s seasoned voice is at home on a golden rock oldie from yesteryear, a searing soul number, a furious funk in the Blue Band tradition, or a slow blues ballad moan. Equal parts Tom Waits, ‘The Boss,’ with the spirit of ‘The Wolf’ thrown in for good measure, it remains all Bob Dorr - a true blues voice, and showman extraordinaire. Just give a listen to the track "3 A.M. Backdoor Lady," and you’ll hear it all!

Blend in the impeccable guitar stylings of Jeff Peterson, the rock-solid rhythm section of drummer Turk "WildTurkeyHawk" Krause, Dan "D. J." Johnson on bass (and occasional rhythm guitar), and the vintage Hammond B-3 organ stylings of Sam Salamone, and you’ve got the recipe for hot-n-spicy, home-cooked houserockin’ - served up Blue Band style. Accept no substitute - ‘cause it don’t get no better than this!

Also coming out of the Catamount Studio in the near future will be the newest collection of original blues from the Quad Cities’ own Pena Bros. Pena’s bassist John O’Meara treated us to an advance listening of the pre-pressing tracks, and the new material is packed with the brothers John & Joe’s signature guitar power and solid bedrock of rhythm. Joe Pena serves up a couple tasty numbers that showcase his inspired forays into jazz technique, and John O’Meara adds to the vocal mix. Drummer Lyle Pena contributes an excellent vocal performance, and Pena fans are most definitely in for a treat soon. The new CD is the Penas’ second, following up on their earlier "Runs In the Blood" album, and True Blue will have more to come as the new album is released.

Rock Island Brewing Co. welcomes Webb Wilder on January 9th, with special guests Shane Johnson’s Blue Train. Duke Tumatoe & the Power Trio returns on January 22nd, with guest openers A. J. Stell & The Rhythm Invasion. Jimmie Lee Adams & The Steady Rollin’ Blues Band can be found every Tuesday night at Maxie’s in Iowa City from 8 p.m. to Midnight, and at Private Eyes Lounge in Rock Island on Sundays 9 - 12:30 p.m.

If you haven’t heard "Hey, Hey Mardi Gras" from Big Al & The Heavyweights yet you are missing out on one of the hottest new blues and houserockin’ CD’ s on the market. This new collection from Big Al and the gang has recently been nominated by the Nashville Entertainment Association for "Blues Album of the Year," in the company of fellow nominees Delbert McClinton, Johnny Jones (formerly with Bobby Blue Bland) and Rick Vito (of Bonnie Raitt’s band). This is strong stuff and serious houserockin’ from some real blues heavyweights - Big Al & the Heavyweights. Ask your local music stop to order release # 2664464 from Bluziana Music.


  • "She Got A Thing Goin’ On," Sunnyland Slim with Bonnie Lee, Big Time Sarah & Zora Young (Earwig - #CD4942)
  • "Let It Shine," Roscoe Shelton (BlackTop Records - # BT-1149)
  • "Everything’s Gonna Be Alright," (BlackTop Records - # BT-1150)
  • "Restless Feeling," Carl Weathersby (Evidence - # ECD 26099-2)
  • "Cool Blues Walk," Eddy ‘The Chief’ Clearwater (Bullseye - # 11661-9614-2)
  • "Long Time Waiting," J. C. Anderson Band (Hot Fudge Music - Bar Code # 0092-40072-2)
  • "Who’s Been Talking," Lil Ed Williams & Willie Kent (Earwig - CD 4941)
  • "Shake Your Boogie Leg," Rock Bottom & The Cutaways (New Moon Blues - NMC 9821)

    The Bluefins Blues Band opens the new year in true blue style, with heart and soul, and a portion of the proceeds from their New Years Eve performance going to benefit The Children’s Miracle Network. The price is a paltry $7.50 per person (or $10 per couple) and includes: party favors, finger food, 2 free drinks, champagne at midnight, breakfast at 1 a.m., and great blues rockin’ all night. The Bluefins serve it up pipin’ hot from 9 p.m. - 3 a.m. at the Fraternal Order of Eagles #956, 3030 - 7th Avenue, Rock Island.

    "…one night as the bus sweeps up Interstate 55 towards Chicago… ‘I want the audience to feel like they’re at a homecoming. But can I make the people out there feel like family? Can I make ‘em feel how much I love the blues? Can I make ‘em feel that the blues loves them? If the answer is yes, I’ve done my job. But if not, I’m out there the next night, trying a little harder.’"

    B. B. KING
    from "Blues All Around Me"
    (Avon Books - 1996)

    Drive wide open, blues fans and, until we meet again at this crossroads,

    Blues to ya!

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