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TRUE BLUE from Ellis Kell

Here it is hotter than a two-dollar pistol, and the Blues just keep gettin' hotter!  But you know how it is: the recipe for good Blues is one part heart, and one part soul, to 3 parts sweat.  Just duck in your favorite Blues bar here, in Chicago, or Memphis on a steamy August night to see what I mean.  Most likely you'll find some aching Blue soul, dripping wet, bend over some old battered Bluescaster. you get the picture.  But enough trash-talkin' for now, let's get down to the grits of it all.

Blues Be Rainin' Down Like Hail on Court Avenue.

The Central Iowa Blues Society is gearing up for their annual Labor Day Blues extravaganza on Court Ave. in Des Moines.  This year's slate for Sunday, Sept. 5th features the T-Bone Blues Revue with Sarah O'Dell on the patio at Buzzard Billy's, The Soul Providers on the patio and Fat Tuesday & the Grease Fire Horns inside at Big Kahuna's, Blues Bureau in the street, Mark Sailings & the Unknown Blues Band outside, and yours truly and friends with Phyllis Wethington inside at Nacho Mamma's.  Houserockers the J.C. Anderson Band do it at Johnny's Hall of Fame, Patrick Hazell fires up at 308 Court, The Spaghetti Works features Steve Clark with Ivy Sweeney and Scotty & The Wingtips, and Papa's Planet showcases Hopkins and The Buzz on the patio.  Court Ave. Brewing Co. brings in the Don Boyle Band, and Charlie Morgan & The Graveyard Blues Band do their thing at Rock Island.  At the Kirkwood Ballroom, Cotton Candy & So Many Men serve it up hot and blue, and the Pace Band hosts the after hours jam.  On the Heartland Brew Fest stage on 4th street Big Al's Blues Busters, Shane Johnson's Blue Train and The Blue Band keep it cookin' with a blue flame.  It all happens in downtown Des Moines' Court Avenue district, where the party never stops 'til the last one drops!  For more information, contact the Central Iowa Blues Hotline: (515) 830-4213, write the Central Iowa Blues Society at  P.O. Box 13016, Des Moines, IA 50310, or visit their web site at

New Blues Fer Youz.

"Early Hour Blues," Pee Wee Crayton (Blind Pig Records)
One of the foremost Blues voices from the West Coast, the late Pee Wee Crayton's last recordings are showcased in this collection.  Gone but not forgotten from this world since June of 1985, the great Bluesman and protégé of T-Bone Walker shines on through the tracks of this CD.  This collection features the flawless and inspired backing of Rod and Honey Piazza, Dan Fredman, Bill Clark, Marshall Crayton, Jr., Fred Clark, Doug MacLeod, Claude Williams, Soko Richardson, Llew Matthews, Fernando Harkles, Eric Ajaye and Lee Spath.  This is an essential addition for any true Blues collector!

"I Like the Way You Work It!" Mike Morgan & The Crawl, with Lee McBee (Black Top Records)
If you missed them at RIBCO on July 30th, you can still take them home with you.  The newest release from this power-packed blues ensemble showcases their blistering Texas Blues and roadhouse-rockin'. These guys had the crowd standing on their seats at our Blues fest in Davenport a couple years ago!

"Millennium Blues," Louisiana Red (Earwig Music)
Red is back in the USA touring the festival circuit, and is backed on this new release by Chicago legends Willie Kent on bass, Dave Jefferson on drums, Allen Bates on piano, Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith on harmonica and Brian Bisesi on rhythm guitar.  This is serious, socially-conscious, no-nonsense Blues from a true blue legend whose heart is as big as his sound.  Its great to have Red back here at home!

"It's So Nice," Johnny Drummer (Earwig Music)
A debut CD from a veteran Chicago bandleader, keyboard man and vocalist, Drummer's sound is straight out of the south and west blues bars of Chicago. Smooth as silk and funky as it gets, this first outing on disk scores big fo r Johnny Drummer and Company.

"Get Wild!"  Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials (Alligator Records)
Lil' Ed and band slide back in (after their break-up following Alligator's 20th Anniversary Tour) with a hot new serving of their proven recipe for jumping Blues 'n boogie.  Lil' Ed Williams and his trademark molten slide work, is reunited with Mike Garret on guitar, James "Pookie" Young on bass and Kelly Littleton on drums.  The boys are back in town, and nobody's gonna get any sleep 'til the party's over!  Real hot blues!


Further On Up the Road.

We've visited Maxwell Street and made our plea for its plight many times through this column, and we still hope that the powers that be in Chicago will find it in their hearts to help preserve this essential piece of Blues heritage and cultural real estate.  For the most part, it doesn't look too good for the old neighborhood where south Halsted Street crosses Maxwell; the area was denied designation on the National Registry, the official designation that saved a similar historical and cultural Blues area in Memphis known as Beale Street.  The legendary John Lee Hooker said it better than anyone has so far:  "It's a shame.  A lot of big names should protest. These streets should never die."  You got that right, Mr. Hooker. For more information on the web, visit the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition's site at, and, until we meet again at this crossroads.

Blues to ‘ya!

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