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True Blue from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist


September 2000

TRUE BLUE SURVIVOR

James Armstrong is back with "Got It Goin' On" a hot new release on the Hightone Records label. A victim of a viscous home invasion and stabbing attack in early 1997, Armstrong has undergone extensive rehabilitation and was, for a time, left unable to play lead guitar. He has since regained the use of some - but not all - finger strength in his left (fretting) hand. He's back in the pocket on lead guitar now, and has worked hard to develop a hot new slide guitar technique as well. He's emerged stronger than ever before, and "Got It Goin' On" is proof this California bluesman is as tough 'n tempered as they come.

Armstrong is backed by his regular touring band on this release, with a little help from the great Joe Louis Walker's rhythm section, and keyboardist Jimmy Pugh from Robert Cray's band. From soulful ballad to funky jump blues, this new collection reels, rocks, rolls, simmers and serves up a fine mess of blue-stew. For more on James Armstrong, visit his web site at www.jarmblues.com . True Blue Track: "Mr. B's"... its a real slice of New Orleans funk 'n blues!

HER HEARTS IN MEMPHIS...

Irma Thomas is a true blue diva and her new CD "My Heart's in Memphis," on the Rounder label, showcases the sweet, passion and power of the "soul queen of New Orleans." Always identified with the City of New Orleans, Ms. Thomas delivers passionate interpretations of the songs of Dan Penn with a signature Memphis studio sound. Penn is best known as an original architect of the soul music that came out of the legendary Fame studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The new CD was recorded in Memphis, and includes backing from several veteran Stax, Hi and American recording studio bands.

This is a landmark recording for Ms. Thomas, and a superb showcase for the new and classic Dan Penn compositions. For more on Irma Thomas' new release, visit the Rounder web site at www.rounder.com .

ON THE LOCAL SCENE...

Greg Krogman and company are busy working on the new Blackthorn Pub, in the former Sydney's Bar & Restaurant location on downtown Moline's 5th Avenue. A veteran of the acoustic music scene for more years than either of us can remember, Mr. Krogman plans to create the authentic Irish pub atmosphere, complete with Celtic music and fare. Keep your eyes open for further opening announcements and entertainment to be featured at the Blackthorn.

John O'Meara, Sr. and Johnny O (Jr.) are working together on a CD project featuring the classic vocals of Poppa O, along with stellar backing from Jr., 'Mahvehlos' Matt Podschweit on keyboards, 'Detroit' Larry Davison on harmonica, and 'Nervous' Neal Smith on the sax. Stay tuned for more to come on this one.

Remember, you are always welcome to ask us (or to help keep us in the know) about what's happening on the local QC music scene, and we always appreciate hearing from you. E-mail trueblue@qconline.com , or snail mail us at True Blue, c/o Quad-Cities Online, 1720 - 5th Avenue, Moline, Illinois, 61265.

One final note...my special personal thanks to Phyllis & The Sharks for a fabulous warm-up set at the Gore-Lieberman mega-rally, which was held Sunday, August 20 on the grounds of John Deere Commons. It was truly an honor to be involved with the event, and it is always a pleasure to be identified with your level of talent.

Until we meet again at this crossroads...

Blues to 'ya!

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