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TRUE BLUE from Ellis Kell
March 1999

HELLHOUNDS (MIGHT BE) ON HIS TRAIL…

The ‘ol groundhog just about has to be blue over this manic weather we’re havin’ here in the upper Mississippi Valley. One minute I’m sittin’ on the front porch pickin’, and the next minute I’m gettin’ the snow shovel back out…I’m more confused than Congress! Its a good thing there’s plenty of good Blues and houserockin’ goin’ on, or I’d be a goner for sure. In and out of stormy weather, the Blues just keep fallin’ down like hail, to borrow a line or two from the ‘King of the Delta Blues’ himself.

Eric Sardinas’ new collection entitled "Treat Me Right," his debut CD for the Evidence label, showcases the searing slide and molten bedrock of a mean six-stringer and blues voice. Layin’ it all down on his trusty electrified Dobro, Sardinas is a true slide virtuoso, in the tradition of the legendary Johnny Winter - who, by the way, guests on the reprisal of his classic "Tired of Tryin’". The great Hubert Sumlin also appears on the Willie Dixon classic "Down In the Bottom." With homage paid to Charlie Patton, Bukka White, Big Bill Broonzy, Elmore James and Muddy Waters, Sardinas and band are locked up as solid as concrete. The group played nearly 300 shows a year as favorites on the L.A. scene and throughout the top blues ‘n rock venues of Southern California, and have ridden the rave reviews and endorsements across the big water to concerts in England and Germany.

Sardinas says, "I love traditional blues, but that’s not what I do. I play more agressively; that’s just the way it comes out." No need for apology, rather we second the emotion of John Hammond’s assessment: "Check out Eric Sardinas. He is here and he is happening! Here is another infusion of life into the blues." Its straight, 150 proof houserockin’ without a chaser, like blue lava rollin’ over everything that gets in its way. Run for the house! Dangerous Blues!

  • Eric Sardinas' website: http://Sardinas.BluesGuitar.com

    One last note…Jonny Lang/Tina and the B-Sides at the Adler:

    While some might say that the Adler Theatre house might have been rockin’ a bit more than it was singin’ the Blues on Sunday, Feb. 6th, you’ll find no complaints here. Young Mr. Lang showed a matured confidence in his playing and his material, a confidence that comes from doing what you do best the way you choose to do it. New friends and their influences are interwoven into Jonny Lang’s repertoire and material, and yes, he still plays and loves those ‘old Blues roots’ that first ignited the passion in him.

    I would also be remiss in these writings if I did not acknowledge one of the hottest opening sets I have ever witnessed at any concert or event, from none other than Tina and the B-Sides. Tina (Christina Schlieske) and her Minneapolis houserockers, The B-Sides, almost burnt down the house before Young Jonny ever set foot on stage! If you missed the concert, you can still hear them via their latest CD, "Its All Just the Same," on the Sire label. For more on Tina and the B-Sides, visit their web site at www.tinabsides.com. I can only hope they steer their bus back our way soon!

    More new True Blue releases for ‘ya…
    "Drive You Home Again," Chris Smither (HighTone Records) This one won’t be out until March 16th, but you’re gonna want to get yours when it does hit the stores. Recorded in Austin in 1998, this collection finds Smither returning with producer Stephen Bruton for a more introspective look at life through the innovative stylings of an extraordinary guitarist and performer. Its life through Smithers eyes, fingers, and ‘that blue guitar’ - as only he can lay it down. Put this release date on your calendar for sure.

    "Right As Rain," Tommy Castro (Blind Pig Records) Tommy Castro and company lock it up with a new batch of hot Texas boogie, Memphis soul, and southern-fried bluesrockin’. Delbert McClinton guests on "Don’t Turn Your Heater Down," Dr. John caresses the keys on "I’ve Got to Love Somebody’s Baby" and "Don’t Turn Your Heater Down." Jimmy Pugh also sits it on organ and the Wurlitzer piano. For more on Tommy Castro and the gang, visit www.tcband.com on the web.

    "Frank Frost & Sam Carr - The Jelly Roll Kings," (self-titled on HMG Records) You talk about your real-deal blues, friends and neighbors. I’ve come to hate it when they use these words to sell whatever it is they’re trying to sell, but seriously ladies and gentlemen, "it don’t get no better than this." Recorded at the Sonny Boy Williamson Memorial Music Hall in Helena, Arkansas, the honorable Mr. Frost and Mr. Carr are joined by none other than Mr. Fred James on guitar and bass. We can only go so far, and then its best to look and listen to where it all really comes from. Add to ‘essential Blues list,’ with a capital ‘B’.

    "Shake My Hand," Snooky Pryor (Blind Pig Records) He is a true Blues original, an icon and innovator of the style that is known as ‘the Chicago Blues.’ He doesn’t just sing about Maxwell Street in the tribute to good ‘ol days - he lived them. He didn’t ‘get himself a microphone and amplifier for his harmonica, too’ - he invented the idea, playin’ with Moody Jones on Maxwell Street. Accompanied by Billy Flynn on guitar, Robert Stroger on bass, and Jimmy Tilman on drums, Mr. James ‘Snooky’ Pryor brings it all on back home again. His inspiration is Sonny Boy Williamson II, a.k.a. Rice Miller - but the heart and soul of the sound is all Snooky Pryor. Accept no substitute -‘cause there aint none anyway.

    "All In Time," Preston Shannon, (Bullseye Blues & Jazz Records) Direct from Memphis’ famed Beale Street, Preston Shannon delivers the Blues and more on this collection. Shannon lays down the ground rules out front, when he says "I was raised on Blues, but just playing straight Blues doesn’t work for me. I love the Blues, but it’s when I deviate from pure Blues that people really start partyin’." Backed by premier Memphis talent, Shannon takes the Blues where he wants it to go, when he wants it go to there. This collection also features the inspired rendition of ‘The Artist’s’ mega-hit "Purple Rain." What was it that ol’ rascal Jono Manson once said?… "it’s the singer, not the song." Yep, sure ‘nuff.

    Further on down the road…
    The Bluefins Blues Band returns to rock the Rock Island Rapids, in the District, on Saturday, March 6th, starting at 10 p.m. Mojo Risin’ hits O’ Meara’s Pub in Bettendorf on March 6th as well. Mr. "Sweet Home Chicago," Lonnie Brooks, returns to RIBCO on Friday, March 12th, with special guest openers Shane Johnson’s Blue Train. Show starts at 10 p.m., and admission is $7 in advance - $10 at the door.

    Ruth Brown, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin, Elvin Bishop, Preston Love, Shemekia Copeland, Howard Armstrong, Johnny Bassett & The Blues Insurgents, Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan are booked for the 15th Anniversary of the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, July 2-4, 1999. For more on the Quad Cities’ own world-class blues fest, visit www.mvbs.org on the web.

    Mississippi Voodoo will be layin' down the Blues at Martini's in Iowa City, March 13th & May 1st.

    Don’t forget to tell ‘em where you got it, and remember to e-mail us your own tid-bits of Blues news at trueblue@qconline.com, or you can also ‘snail-mail’ ‘em to us at: True Blue, c/o Quad-Cities Online, 1720 - 5th Avenue, Moline, Illinois, 61265. We always love to hear from you, and until we meet again at this crossroads…

    Blues to ‘ya!


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