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True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

August 2007

"Down to the River - Portraits of Iowa Musicians," by Sandra Louise Dyas

Sandra Dyas' collection of photos in "Down to the River" features Iowa's best known pickers and crooners, from back roads to barrooms, and from prairies and fields to smoky stages and festivals throughout the midwest. Her "Portraits of Iowa Musicians" is a visual treasure of the heart and soul of the cream of the crop from the Iowa music scene, including Greg and Pieta Brown, Joe & Vicki Price, Bo Ramsey, Dave Zollo, Rick Cicalo, Dave Moore, Steve Hayes, Radoslav Lorkovic, The Pines, Mike & Amy Finders, Kevin Gordon, and more.

Sandra Dyas has been photographing the Iowa City and regional music scene since 1987, and her book includes sixty photos collected over the past twenty years. These black and white images capture Iowa's own homegrown, and its characters emerge as earthy and honest as the music born and bred in and around this river valley. You can almost feel the blues, boogie, folk and country strains in the characters' faces on these pages, and an accompanying CD completes the package with tracks from the musicians featured in this collection. For information on Sandra Dyas' new book, visit www.uiowapress.org.

The author will be signing copies of her book on Friday, Aug. 24 at the River Roots Live Fest in LeClaire Park, Davenport, and a special exhibit of the photos is scheduled for display at River Music Experience (RME) beginning in late September. A reception and book-signing is also scheduled for October 20th at RME, including a concert in the Redstone Room with some of the artists featured in the book. For more on this and other upcoming events at RME, visit www.rivermusicexperience.org.

River Roots Live - Just Around the Bend...

This year's River Roots Live Fest, Aug. 24-25 in Davenport's LeClaire Park, will feature headliners America, Reel Big Fish, Tea Leaf Green, The Headhunters with Leo Nocentelli, Kevin Gordon, as well as top regional acts like Joe Price, The Pines, William Elliot Whitmore, the Andrew Landers Project, and more. River Roots Live joins forces with the annual Ribfest event this year, for one mega-fest of music, food and fun for all. Advance 2-day passes are available now online at www.riverrootslive.com, and single day passes will be $10 each day of show. Children 12 years of age and under are free with accompanying parent or legal guardian. This year's fest features the main stage as well as the "West Music Jr. Jam" tent, with educational programs and activities throughout the day on Saturday. River Music Experience, Living Lands & Waters and the Downtown Partnership are partnering on the festival this year, and supporting sponsors include: Rhythm City Casino, Posh Medical Spa, U. S. Cellular, West Music Co., Cumulus Radio, Mediacom Communications, Guitar Center, Alcoa, Hy-Vee, Sears Manufacturing, Pepsi, Jim Hawk Truck Trailers, Iowa American Water Company, Deere & Company, and Altorfer.

New True Blue Tracks Fer Youz…

"Electric Chubbyland," Popa Chubby (Blind Pig Records) Popa is back with a big 2-vol. CD set that includes molten covers of Hendrix favorites like Foxy Lady, Red House, Purple Haze, Little Wing, Fire, Bold As Love and more. Popa Chubby does himself real proud in tribute to the great Jimi on these fiery tracks. Though Hendrix has been covered by others, Popa rekindles the purple flame anew. For more on this and other Blind Pig artist releases, visit www.blindpigrecords.com on the web.

"Take the Gamble," Dave Gross (VizzTone Label Group) This is Dave Gross' second CD, and he brings it altogether on this new disk. Gross combines a variety of influences ranging from the sweet jazz tones of Charlie Christian, to the razor edge Telecaster of "The Iceman" Albert Collins. None the less, Dave Gross' voice and guitar stylings are his own, and we look forward to hearing much more from this new artist. For more information on this artist, visit www.DaveGrossBand.com and the Swing Nation Records site at www.swingnationrecords.com.

Further on up the road…

"There Is More to Life - It Is Love and I Will Find It" is the theme of a very special Child Abuse Awareness Concert scheduled for Sept. 15th at River Music Experience. This event will feature photography, art and music from area artists, contributors and performers, in a collaborative effort to highlight the problems that chronic child abuse and neglect create. Grandparents & Others United for Positive Changes and RME are co-presenters of this event. For more details, visit www.rivermusicexperience.org - or phone 563-326-1333.

That should give you all more than plenty to chew on for a while. 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’, each month in the Entertainment section of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. He is also Director of Programming & Education for River Music Experience, a not-for-profit center dedicated to preservation, education and celebration of American Roots music, and hosts ‘Currents at the Crossroads’ music segment of WQPT’s Life & Times.


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