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True Blue from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist



April 2000

TRUE BLUE from Ellis Kell

I wish this weather would get finally get itself straightened out, so we can get on to some Blues under the stars, if 'ya know what I'm saying. The greens and blossoms are so confused they don't know whether to wither or sprout. Here I am sittin' out on the porch pickin' the guitar, and down comes the snow, meltin' as quick as it come, and then here it comes all over again. Even my 'ol Lucky dog is confused, and is howlin' at the shadows. Somebody needs to get with the program here, meteorologically speaking.

One thing is for sure, though - the opening act for young Mr. Jonny Lang's recent Adler Theater concert,

The Keller Brothers Band, is the hottest bunch of young blues-bloods I've heard in a long time. While Jonny Lang just keeps gettin' stronger and better, these guys come out of the gate loaded for bear, and plum knocked the socks off the crowd with their no-nonsense delivery of Blues-'n-boogie-rock. If you weren't there to hear them, check them out on their web site at www.kellerbrothersband.com, and order their new CD "Live at Antone's" as well. They were completely sold out of product before they ever hit the Adler gig, and I can understand why. They now hail from Minneapolis, via Austin, Texas, and originally come from North Dakota - the same territory as their pal, young Mr. Lang. I hope we can get these young Bluesrockers back here real soon! Just a thought in passing...if they ever commence to castin' a lead for the SRV story, I know someone who just might fit the bill - Mike Keller is one bad boy on the Stratocaster, and shows some of that same raw passion in his playing!

New Blues for Youz...

"Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout Miss Thing," Lavay Smith & The Red Hot Skillet Lickers (Fat Note Records)

Everybody is talkin' 'bout this diva and her red hot, 10-piece ensemble - from Downbeat Magazine to the White House! Swinging the sultry blues in the old tradition of the big bands of yesteryear, Lavay and boys serve up everything from hot swing, jump blues and New Orleans R&B to bebop. Accept no substitute, ladies and gentlemen - this is the real deal. Check out their web site at www.lavaysmith.com .

"Soft Place to Fall," Deborah Coleman (Blind Pig Records) This new CD will undoubtedly be the effort that will catapult Deborah Coleman into the big arena. A proven, road-tested veteran, with a sensuous voice and molten guitar attack, she has the tools to deliver the total package - and takes it all to a bold new level on this new collection. True Blue Choice Cut - "The Day It Comes"... the Blues world don't have to wait for this super-charged lady no mo! Quad Cities blues fans don't have to wait much longer either, because Ms. Coleman will be performing at this year's Mississippi Valley Blues Festival! See more on Deborah Coleman on the web at www.blindpigrecords.com .

"Snakebite," Magic Slim and the Teardrops (Blind Pig Records) Rooted in the tradition of the Blues that took the hard road from Mississippi to Chicago, Magic Slim has always served up down home blues with a big city bite. The title cut "Snakebite" echoes the tradition of Hound Dog Taylor, with pedal-to-the-metal

drive and urgency. "Key To Your Door" is reminiscent of the charged delivery of the late Iceman, Albert Collins. The burnin' closer of this collection, "Mind Your Own Business," is pure Magic Slim. Keep this one in the cooler with the brews - its so hot, you just might burn your fingers! Check 'em out as well on the www.blindpigrecords.com site.

Congrats to the Mississippi Valley Blues Society on their new digs over at Union Station in Davenport, and thanks a million to the fine folks at Davenport Printing for all the years that they provided office space and volunteer support to our local blues organization. One of the nation's finest blues festivals, this year's event will feature Snooky Pryor, Chicago R&B King with Ernie Peniston and Cash McCall, Roomful of Blues, John Sebastian, Ruth Brown, Boozoo Chavis, Bobby Blue Bland, Matt Guitar Murphy, Henry Gray and much, much more. Get all the lowdown about Bluesfest 2000 on the web at www.mvbs.org .


"Bang That Bell," Melvin Taylor & The Slack Band (Evidence Music) This hot new release, due out April 4, comes from one of Chicago's most vital guitar players and Blues voices. Melvin Taylor has been the staple of Rosa's Lounge on the West side of the Windy City for many, many moons. Taylor carries with him the authentic Mississippi Blues roots and soul of his youth, but is also well seasoned by early jazz influences such as Wes Montgomery, the innovation and inspiration of Hendrix, and a European outing with Pinetop Perkins and the Legendary Blues Band in the early 1980's. Taylor puts it all into play on this new collection, which also features guest performances by Blues harp wizard Sugar Blue and Eric Gales on guitar. The Slack Band is sort of a misnomer, as Matt Tutor (rhythm guitar), Norris Johnson (keyboards), Dave Smith (bass), and Steve Potts (drums) are as tight as rusted nut, and purely locked up in the funky and
soulful grooves of these tunes. Bet 'ya can't sit still with this one playin'!

That's about plenty 'nuff for now from this old corner stand, and the wind is picking up again. I'm gone on down the road for another day, and until we meet again at this crossroads....

Blues to 'ya!


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