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True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

April 2007

TRUE BLUE from Ellis Kell

NEW KOKO TAYLOR RELEASE DUE OUT APRIL 3 - The legendary Queen of the Chicago blues, Koko Taylor, will celebrate the release of her first new CD in seven years the first week of April. The venerable Ms. Taylor goes back to the early roots of her sound from the 1950’s blues scene in Chicago. With five new originals penned by the Queen herself, and select covers of classics from Willie Dixon, Magic Sam and Lefty Dizz, the title "Old School" sums it all up. Koko Taylor suffered health problems back in 2003, and was forced to have emergency surgery for gastrointestinal problems with complications. Ms. Taylor is a survivor, though, and battled her way back to health - no doubt on the pure blues power of her desire to return to performing and recording. As she herself says, "Blues is my life." These are powerful blues tracks that stir the soul - the same vital blues that made Koko Taylor a Chess Records staple in the early days of her career in Chicago. Produced by Taylor, guitarist Criss Johnson and Alligator’s own Bruce Iglauer, these new tracks rock, roll, laugh and cry, in a celebration of the real deal Chicago blues. Ms. Taylor’s blues are grounded in a career that included performance stints with all the greats - Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, B. B. King, Buddy Guy, and many more. Her accolades are many, including numerous Grammy nominations, a Grammy win in 1984, a National Heritage Fellowship Award, and twenty-five Blues Music Awards. In 1993, Mayor Daley declared March 3rd "Koko Taylor Day" in Chicago. She is also a member of the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame, and has been named ‘Chicagoan of the Year’ by Chicago Magazine. Get yourself some of the real-deal, no nonsense blues from Koko Taylor. You’ll find out quick why "The Old School" still has so much to offer today’s new blues fans. (For more on this and other fine Alligator Records releases, visit www.alligator.com on the web.)

ROCK CAMP USA ‘STILL ALIVE AND WELL’ AT RME - Rock Camp USA returns to the Quad Cities this year for three sessions, beginning June 18th. The highly successful youth music program, offered in the Quad Cities through the River Music Experience, is a national affiliate of the original Rock Camp USA based at the Austin School of Music in Austin, Texas. The school and music camp was founded twelve years ago in Austin by noted guitarist Dave Sebree. The summer music camp has now expanded to included franchises in Forth Worth, Davenport, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami. Having served as director of Rock Camp, during it’s inaugural year here in the Quad Cities in 2006, I can tell you that it was an extremely rewarding experience for everyone involved - participants, instructors, and all those who attended the final Rock Camp concerts. The participants learned how to express themselves musically in a group - where cooperation, mutual respect, and teamwork are key to a successful performance. The rehearsals helped the Rock campers develop their skills, taught them to listen, and work towards a common goal. These are invaluable life lessons, and ones Rock Camp participants will carry with them into everything they do in the future. Each of the three Rock Camp concerts in the Redstone Room last year was jam-packed with family and friends, supporting their favorite band, and enjoying the performances of all the young musicians. Larry Tierney, Educational Program Coordinator for RME, has also taken over the reins as director of Rock Camp in the Quad Cities. For more information on registration for this year’s Rock Camp USA sessions, phone 563-326-1333, ext. 103, or email: ltierney at rivermusicexperience.org. For more information on the camp, visit the national web site at www.rockcampusa.com. True Blue kudos and thanks in advance to the folks at West Music Co. for again sponsoring the rehearsal sound systems for Rock Camp in the Quad Cities, and to the folks at OnMedia/Mediacom for their sponsorship of the recording and airing of the Rock Camp concerts again this year.

That’s a plenty to chew on for now, and I’ve got to be movin’ on down the line. 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 also serves as a consultant for River Music Experience, a not-for-profit center dedicated to preservation, education and celebration of American Roots music.


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