True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

August 2008


"Orange Blossoms," J. J. Grey & Mofro (Alligator Records) - Pure southern soul through story and song, this is the gospel truth - from hot rockin' to ballads cookin' with a blue flame. You can now pre-order this new southern roots release, which is not due in your record shops until August 26. Visit for more information. The New York Times describes this new release as "Rich, funky swamp grooves...celebrat(ing) life's most fundamental joys with unforced talent and deep feeling."

"Full Tilt," Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials (Alligator Records) - Never meant for the meek and mild, Lil' Ed's blues have always been the raw and real deal, and this new collection is no exception. Big, fat 'n nasty horns and barrelhouse piano set the tone, and this new collection showcases Lil' Ed at the top of his form. Guitar Player Magazine says, "They blow down the walls. Dim the lights, turn up the stereo, and let the house party begin." This new release is also available from for pre-release sale, but should be on the racks around August 26.

"Gateway to the Blues," Deak Harp (Independent Release) - I had the pleasure of meeting this true blues brother at this year's Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, where he performed outside the RiverCenter. A true one-man band, Deak is an inspired and passionate bluesman. He first picked up the harmonica at the age of 12, and his first exposure to the genre was via British blues. Deak's brother Bob then turned him on to blues harpmaster James Cotton, and Deak would never be the same. This collection showcases his classic harp stylings on a diverse selection of tunes. Visit for more information on this fine blues harp player and musician.

"Sum 'Mo' Chikan," James 'Super Chikan' Johnson (VizzTone Label Group) - A true contemporary Delta bluesman, hailing from the true blues mecca of Clarksdale, Mississippi, Super Chikan's blues is steeped in tradition, yet brewed with signature style and southern spice. These are knock-down, drag-out, roadhouse party blues, and a good time is guaranteed for all when Super Chikan takes the bandstand. This brand new collection was recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis, and is Super Chikan's best work to date. For more information, visit

"Live from Bluesville," Fiona Boyes - Mookie Brill - Rich DelGrosso (VizzTone) - These three stellar players got together after a session on Beale St. in Memphis, following the 2007 Blues Music Awards. Recorded in August 2007 at XM Studios in Washington, DC, with little forethought to exactly what they would do, the trio emerged four hours later with a classic, traditional live recording - and some very unique combinations. This is acoustic blues like you've never heard it before, and a guarantee that the blues will continue to thrive and survive into the future. For more on this release, see

"Gaye Without Shame," Gaye Adegbalola (VizzTone) - A founding member of Saffire - The Uppity BluesWomen - Gaye Adegbalola crossed over beyond Blues some time ago with her solo CD efforts. This brings it all together from deep inside her own life experiences, with Gaye's powerful vocals, acoustic slide guitar work, and full blues band tracks. Bob Margolin guest on bass, and served as co-producer on this project. Bonus tracks include Gaye's "Civil Rights vs. Queer Rights" speech and closes with the Fredericksburg Freedom Singers' "I Ain't Ashamed." This is a message of affirmation, with love from the heart of a proud and passionate lady of the blues. For more on this release, see


At the risk of sounding like a broken (blues) record, I would again encourage all you blues fans out there to come to the aid of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. Ol' Man River was rough on this year's fest, and you can help this true blue cause. Next year marks the 25th anniversary of our beloved ol' blues festival, and we want to make sure it's the biggest and best blues party yet. All that said, we encourage you to support the MVBS and the 2009 festival effort by becoming a member now. For more information on how to join up, please visit

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, online at and . He is Director of Programming & Education for the River Music Experience, a registered nonprofit helping build the Quad Cities music scene - through diverse live music and educational programming. He also hosts 'Currents at the Crossroads' musical segment of WQPT's Life & Times.

Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.

(More History)