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True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist



Mercury Brothers (11K)The Iowa Blues Challenge for this year concluded on May 20th in Des Moines, and ‘True Blue’would like to take this opportunity to extend our belated congratulations and kudos to the Quad Cities own Mercury Brothers for taking a well-deserved brass ring statewide. Frontman Ric Burris and his band are one of the tightest QC blues ensembles to come out of this area in a long time, and we know they are going to do us all proud when they hit Memphis for the International Blues Challenge in January of 2006. The Mercury Brothers band features Ric Burris on vocals and blues harp, Daniel Rangel on drums, Wade Braggs on guitar, and Mark Avey on bass. Each member of this group is a seasoned veteran of the QC music scene, and the potent blues mix they concoct burns with a solid blue flame. Watch your local entertainment listings for this band’s upcoming gigs, and please get out and support the Mercury Brothers - as well as your other favorite area bands. Live music will 'put some heart in your soul' - as Joe Cocker would say.


Minus Six (102K)On Friday, July 15th, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing one of the most exciting and talented young bands to ever come out of this area – Minus Six. Formed in 2003, and comprised of Kevin Carton (lead vocals and piano), Kameron Rummans (vocals and bass), Matt Sivertsen (saxophones), and Tyler Kaschke (drums), this unique ensemble proves that you can rock on very well without a single six-string guitar on stage. Minus Six delivered a very impressive debut performance at RMX Live on the plaza at River Music Experience. The band is due to release their second CD soon, which is entitled “Some Things Change”. The new CD was recorded in Nashville, as a follow up to the band’s initial 2004 release, “Overdue”. An advance sampling of the new CD reverberated with the same level of energy the band delivers through their original songs on the live stage. These are solid, inspired compositions, performed with passion and a musical prowess beyond the band’s years - considering three of the band members are 17 years old, and the band’s eldest is in his mid-twenties. Do yourself a big favor - check this band out when you get a chance, and I guarantee you will be amazed at their talent and the level of energy they put out at their live performances. For more information on Minus Six, visit their web site at www.minussix.com .


Pieta Brown (47K)Pieta Brown has a brand new CD due for release in mid-September, and old friend Bo Ramsey joins her on guitar (and as co-producer) for this new collection. Pieta’s powerful vocals and sweet, soulful sounds permeate great new tracks such as "Precious Game", "This Old Dress", "807" and the title track, "In the Cool". Introspective, passionate and intriguing, these are song poems deep from the heart and soul of Pieta Brown. Pieta and Bo are joined by a stellar line-up of backing musicians including Hutch Hutchinson (bass), Dave Jacques (bass), Kevin McKendree (keyboards) and Bryan Owings (drums). For more information on this new release and Pieta Brown, visit www.pietabrown.com on the web. FURTHER ON UP THE ROAD…

The first annual River Roots Live Music Festival steams into Davenport’s LeClaire Park on August 19 and 20th. For complete information on this exciting new festival, visit www.riverrootslive.com on the web. The Quad Cities’ newest and most unique music festival, River Roots Live will feature a dynamic festival slate of veteran roots rockers along with some of the most vital roots music performers on the circuit today, as well as after-fest shows on both sides of the Big Muddy, and festival camping available on the levee for the first time - adjacent to the festival grounds. Single day fest tickets and weekend passes are available now online at www.rivermusicexperience.org, and at the River Music Experience customer service desk. Don’t miss the heartland's brand new roots music fest, on the banks of the Mississippi!

I just can’t be hangin’ round here no more, ‘cause I got a gig, and I got to go. 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 center dedicated to preservation, education and celebration of American Roots music.


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