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True Blue from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist


With most of the annual big outdoor events out of the way for this year, it won't be too long before the live music scene moves back into the clubs and concert halls for the winter. While there may still be a few decent nights left for outdoor shows in the District, and the Fall Pub Crawl returns to downtown Davenport October 3rd, the big fests are just about over and done with for this year. True Blue salutes all the volunteers and good folks who annually dedicate their efforts to bring us the Blues Fest, Bix Fest, Ribfest and Celtic Highland Games on the 'north bank' - and Taste of Quad Cities, VIVA Quad Cities, East Moline Fun Fest, Blues in the Hood, and the host of annual fest events (Hornucopia, QC Criterium, Gumbo Ya Ya, Summerfest, Ya Maka My Weekend, Gran Prix and Erin Feis) in Rock Island's Arts & Entertainment District here on the 'south bank'. We are very fortunate to have such a diverse calendar of top quality annual music fests and family events here in the Quad Cities, and it takes a lot of planning and hard work to make them all possible. To those of you whose volunteer efforts make possible these fine summer events we all enjoy - we salute you!

While we're on the subject of enjoyable summer activities, I've got to give the folks a nod at Celebration River Cruises - home of the Celebration Belle. Whether it's their regular dinner cruise, big band cruise, or the 100-mile cruise up to Dubuque, the experience is a classic taste of the leisurely life on the Mississippi. John O'Meara, Sr. and Jr. are at the musical helm of the jazz cruises, and deliver the classic jazz, standards and favorites of yesteryear. The big band cruises also feature more of the area's top jazz performers, such as Manny Lopez, Tewanta Yerington, Jerry Maas and Neal Smith. You won't find any slot machines, blackjack or craps tables on this here riverboat, but you will find a most relaxing and entertaining way to experience the Big Muddy. It's just plain, good food and fun for the family. Being 'up the lazy river' at sundown is magical, and at times almost hypnotic. For more information, visit Celebration River Cruises' web site at: .

Blues on the Tracks.

"Roots of Our Nature," Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo (Blind Pig Records) The longtime dynamic (blues) duo of Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo returns with a brand new collection of fine pickin' and harp playin'. Roy's impeccable slide guitar, blended with the signature harmonica stylings of Norton Buffalo, make for a fine folk blues stew. Visit for more on this fine new release (and others) from the 'Pig Pen'.

"The Phillip Walker Big Band Live at Biscuits and Blues," Phillip Walker (MC Records) In his first ever live CD debut, Phillip Walker and his band are joined by blues harp masters Charlie Musselwhite and Rick Estrin (of Little Charlie & the Nightcats), and Austin, Texas' own Queen of the Blues, Angela Strehli. With a band that features former alumni of Ray Charles and Louis Jordan's bands, you better get ready for one powerful mess of blues! Great new live stuff from a true blue legend - Phillip Walker.

"Hey Bo Diddley - A Tribute," Various Artists (Evidence Records) Some tribute albums come off as pretty lame excuses to cover songs better off left undone, or done by the originals. However, this new tribute to the "Originator" himself, Bo Diddley, is real strong stuff from some of the best players in the blues biz today. Bo's classics are delivered with passion and power by Taj Mahal, Joe Louis Walker, Walter Trout, Tommy Castro, Eric Sardinas, Corey Harris, Coco Montoya, Sugar Blue, Otis Rush, Guitar Shorty, Charlie Musselwhite, Kris Wiley, Son Seals, Michael Burks and Roy Gaines. There aint one weak link in this chain of contempory takes on Bo's classics. Get yourself some real soon!

"Whiskey Store," Tab Benoit and Jimmy Thackery (Telarc) This one almost sounds like it could be a horror flick classic from the 50's. 'Swampmaster of the Telecaster Tab Benoit meets Strat Monster Jimmy Thackery'- but there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The two axe-masters are joined by Charlie Musselwhite and non other than SRV's legendary rhythm section "Double Trouble" - featuring Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon and Reese Wynans. The end result is houserockin' fusion that won't be denied. If you're just buyin' one new one this month, I'd be hard pressed to find a better choice for your blues rack. For this and more great blues and jazz from Telarc, check out their web site at: .

"Rendevous With The Blues," Melvin Taylor and the Slack Band (Evidence Records) Lucky Peterson and Mato Nanji join Melvin Taylor and his band for a fresh new collection on the Evidence label. Melvin Taylor blends the best of his blues, jazz, rock and funk seasonings into a sumptuous blue stew. From diverse covers of tunes from Wet Willie to Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker to Prince, and ZZ Top to Steve Stills - each selection is pure Melvin Taylor, and the sky's the limit. No holds barred here, folks. Fabulous new stuff from Melvin Taylor, his stellar band, special guests and friends.

I just dialed my trusty Gibson in to that funky ol' slide tuning I exchanged with Bo Diddley one evening at RIBCO a few years back. And, just like the "Originator" himself told me that night, "You better watch out for me now!" Until we meet again at this crossroads, peace and blessings to all and.

Blues to 'ya!

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