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 Monday, Sept. 1, the 244th day of 2014. There are 121 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We are informed by J.H. Hull that the reason the street sprinkler was not at work yesterday settling the dust on the streets, was because one of his horses was injured.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Bonnie McGregor, a fleet-footed stallion owned by S.W. Wheelock of this community, covered himself with glory at Lexington, Ky, when he ran a mile in 2:13 1/2. The horse's value was estimated as at least $50,000.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Troops are pouring into Paris to prepare for defense of the city. The German army is reported to be only 60 miles from the capital of France.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The German army has invaded Poland in undeclared warfare. Poland has appealed to Great Britain and France for aid.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Publication of a plant newspaper, the Farmall Works News, has been launched at the Rock Island IHC factory and replaces a managerial newsletter.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Officials predict Monday's Rock Island Labor Parade will be the biggest and best ever. Last minute work continues on floats and costumes for the parade, which steps off a 9:30 a.m.

(More History)