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True Blue from Ellis Kell

Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

MARCH 2004

MVBS presents Alabama Blues Project with Willie King…

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society Artist-in-Residency program welcomes The Alabama Blues Project with Willie King, March 1–6. Workshops will be conducted at the East Moline Correctional Center, along with appearances at nine Quad Cities’ area schools, as well as performances open to the public at Scott Community College and Quad City Arts.

Formed in 1995, The Alabama Blues Project was created by singer/guitarist Debbie Bond and guitarist Mike McCracken. The group has spotlighted and featured blues artists such as Willie King, Little Jimmy Reed, Little Whitt Wells, Big Bo McGhee, and Jerry "Boogie" McCain. The Alabama Blues Project was presented with the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award for Education for 2003.

Public performances include Wed., Mar. 3rd, 7 p.m. at Scott Community College in Bettendorf, and Fri., Mar. 5, 7 p.m. at Quad City Arts in Rock Island. For more information on the MVBS Artist-in-Residency program, this year’s Blues festival schedule and much, much more - visit on the web.

Special Note: The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival requires loads of volunteer help. There’s only a handful of dedicated folks who work the fest weekend year after year, and I know they would really appreciate some help. If you’ve enjoyed the festival in years gone by, maybe this year is your chance to put something back - by pitching in. To find out what you can do this 4th of July weekend to ‘help keep the Blues alive’, contact: the Mississippi Valley Blues Society, by phone (563) 32-BLUES, or by email: .

Litte Charlie and the Nightcats to RIBCO... The Mississippi Valley Blues Society and RIBCO welcome back Little Charlie and the Nightcats on Wednesday, April 7th, for one show starting at 8:00. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door, $2 off for MVBS members, and available at MVBS, 102 S. Harrison St., or at RIBCO, 1815 – 2nd Avenue, Rock Island. Don't miss the return of these legendary San Francisco bluesters - 'cause they put the rock in houserockin'!

New tracks for the road…

Bar Room Blues: A 12-Track Program - Various Artists (Telarc) Out of the bowels of the blues tradition crawl some dark and mysterious elements, along with lusty shadows that lurk in smoke-filled hallways. Most frequently the smell of stale eer (or loud-mouth hooch) hangs the air. You get the picture. This special new Telarc collection serves up some serious Blues boiler-makers from Tommy Castro, Charlie Musselwhite, Tab Benoit, Jimmy Thackery, Bob Margolin and more. This collection is a 'Big Book' on how the Blues fuse with booze, when you're down and out and feelin' used. Hey, bartender... draw another round for the house, and turn this one up!

Blind Pig Records has just issued a series of compilation CD’s that serve up some intersting tracks. Entitled “Bare Blues,” “White Line Flyers” and “If This Is Love… I’d Rather Have the Blues,” these collections offer a variety of artists at a price you can afford. “Bare Blues” is all instrumental blues from the Blind Pig archives, while “White Line Flyers” delivers some brand new travelin’ music for the long hauls. “If This Is Love…” showcases the humorous side of romance, through the good, the bad, and sometimes ugly misfortunes of love. For more on this collection, and other offerings from Blind Pig, visit on the web.

“Smarten Up” - Taxi Chain (Northern Blues Music) I’ve got to say this CD showcases one of the most interesting ensembles and musical sounds I’ve heard in many, many moons. The band’s name is the perfect label for what they do, denoting a motorized vehicle that links events, objects or actions, while delivering it’s passengers from one destination to another. Taxi Chain is truly an original, blending bagpipes, tenor guitar, tin whistle, sax, flutes, blues harp, guitar, mandolin, earthy vocals, bass and drums. The blend is soulful, sexy, bluesy, bawdy, funky and folky all at one time. Once you hear it, Taxi Chain will just keep on rollin’ through your mind. For more information on this unique new release, visit on the web.

Further on up the road…

That should be more than plenty for you all to chew on for a while. Delbert’s rollin’ back into town real soon - March 26th to be exact - so I gots to get busy polishin’ my dancin’ shoes! 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’, running the first Sunday of each month in Entertainment. He is also on the staff of River Music Experience, a not-for-profit museum and center dedicated to preservation, education and celebration of American Roots music.

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