True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

January 2008

MVBS Welcomes Albert Cummings to Isle of Capri - Jan. 16th...

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society kicks off 2008 with blues guitar wizard Albert Cummings and his band at the Isle of Capri in Bettendorf, Iowa on Wed. Jan 16th. Doors open at 6:30, and show starts at 7:30. Tickets are $10 for MVBS members and $12 for non-members. Advance tickets are available at the Mississippi Valley Blues Society offices, 102 S. Harrison, Davenport, from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm, Mon. through Thurs. For more information, read Steve Pedigo's article online at, or phone MVBS at (563) 322-5837.

2008 MVBS "Blues In the Schools" Artist Residencies...

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society Education Committee is now chaired by Ann Ring, who has also served as a grant writer, as well as on the fundraising and public relations committees at MVBS. 2008 residencies so far include Fruteland Jackson in February, and Guy Davis in April. For more information and other MVBS news, visit online.

24th International Blues Challenge in Memphis - Jan. 31 - Feb. 2, 2008.

(Note: The following excerpt is used courtesy of Jay Sieleman, Executive Director - The Blues Foundation, Memphis, Tennessee)

"For the 24th year, Blues musicians from around the world will compete for cash, prizes, and industry recognition as The Blues Foundation presents the International Blues Challenge beginning January 31 and continuing February 1-2, 2008 in Memphis, TN. The world's largest gathering of Blues acts represents an international search by The Blues Foundation and its affiliated organizations for the Blues band and Blues solo/duo most deserving of taking their act to the international stage. In 2007, over 90 bands and 60 solo/duo acts from 34 states and 8 countries competed. Even greater participation is expected in 2008, as musicians and fans fill the clubs up and down Beale Street beginning at 5:00pm for the semi-finals on Thursday and Friday and at the Band finals (1:00pm) and the Solo/Duo finals (7:30pm) at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday. Advance tickets, host hotel information, merchandise and preliminary event schedule will be available at beginning October 1."

(Jay Sieleman - The Blues Foundation)

New Blues Fer Youz...

"Low On Cash, Rich In Love," Eric Lindell - (Alligator Records) Driving rhythms, soulful vocals and molten tones blend into a new house rockin' R&B stew. Real tasty stuff! For more information visit online.




"Town & Country," John-Alex Mason - (Naked Jaybird Music) John-Alex Mason had discovered the power and synergy of blues and rock music early on in life, but his exposure to the music of the King of the Delta Blues, Robert Johnson, and other solo country blues artists fit his persona best. This is traditional solo roots blues delivered with incredibly authentic style, simplicity and grace. For more on John-Alex Mason, visit on the web.

Further On Up the Road... 2 Folk Blues Legends Visit QC's in February...

Fri., Feb. 1st - John Hammond - Redstone Room @ RME - Next month kicks off with the first of two major folk blues figures. The legendary John Hammond proves himself the ultimate untraditional traditionalist as the dozen stellar songs on his newest CD 'Push Comes To Shove' illustrate. Doors open at 8:00 pm, show starts at 9:00 pm, advance tickets are $15 and $17 at door, evening of the show. Tickets are also available online at For more on John Hammond, visit .

Fri., Feb. 8th - Chris Smither - Redstone Room @ RME - This artist's return to RME (and to the QC area) is long overdue, as Chris Smither was one of the first major concerts featured at the venue - long before the Redstone Room opened its doors. 'Leave the Light On,' Chris Smither's masterful twelfth album - the first he's released on his own Mighty Albert label -stands as the quintessence of his life's work while throwing in some new wrinkles that reflect where he's been and what he's encountered since the last time around. Doors open at 8:00 pm, show starts at 9:00pm, and tickets are $15 in advance, also available at For more on Chris Smither, visit .

Special Thanks to 'Winter Blues @ RME' Volunteer Staff and Supporters...

True Blue would personally like to thank all the folks who volunteered their time and talents - to help make our first 'Winter Blues @ RME a real winner at the River Music Experience. Twenty young players gathered at RME Dec., 26, 27, 28 for workshops on blues music, guitar, bass, blues harmonica, drums, and help in finding that elusive tone - concluding with a blues jam in the Redstone Room on Dec. 29. This new program was very well received by participants and a packed house at the blues jam, and featured musical coaching and workshop presentations by QC bluesman Hal Reed, MVBS President and QC bluesman Ric Burris, student intern & drummer Derek Frank, bassist Dave Cox of 2 Dogs Digital Audio, musician Mark Johnson of Brass Sail Recording, singer/songwriter Tony Hoeppner, blues harpmaster Detroit Larry Davison, Dennis 'Shineboy' Hancq, guitar teacher-tech Travis Williams, drum & percussion teacher Terry Hanson, along with Jim the Mule's Tom Swanson, RME sound tech Justin Farley and yours truly. Thanks most of all to all our young blues players, select members of whom have been invited to sit in with the Creekside All-Stars on Jan. 11, 18 and 25 at the Creekside Inn on Brady St. in Davenport, at the gracious invitation of Hal Reed. We are also very grateful to MVBS for the essential part they played in this exciting new partnership and program at RME. 'Winter Blues @ RME' will no doubt return during winter break 2008!

Until we meet again at this crossroads. peace, love & blessings to all, and Blues to 'ya!

Local musician Ellis Kell writes about blues music both local and national in ‘True Blue’, each month in the Entertainment section of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, online at and . He is Director of Programming & Education for the River Music Experience, a registered nonprofit helping build the Quad Cities music scene - through diverse live music and educational programming. He also hosts ‘Currents at the Crossroads’ musical segment of WQPT’s Life & Times.

Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, Oct. 1, the 274th day of 2014. There are 91 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: It is rumored in the streets that the 13 negroes sent to Quincy on the Moline quota were refused. We think this must be a mistake.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Harvey McKenna, of Detroit, billiard player matched to play Wizard Schafer in New York in January for the world championship, was a professional friend and manager, Billy Catton in Rock Island.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Levi Cralle, former Rock Island county sheriff, had come from his farm near Mitchell, S.D. to visit friends in the city.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Work is being rushed on the new high school building in Orion to replace the one destroyed by fire last winter. Classes are being held in churches.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Rehearsals for the 84th season of the Handel Oratorio Society chorus will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the stage of Centennial Hall, Augustana College.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Rock Island City Council's plan announced this week to have the federal government vacate Valley Homes public housing and move residents to Arsenal Courts to reduce density may not be feasible.

(More History)