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TRUE BLUE from Ellis Kell
OCTOBER ’98

Celebration’s Rollin’ On, Right Here in River City…
Hats off this month to Captains Joe, Scott and Jeff and all the fine folks at Celebration River Cruises in Moline, whose grand new Celebration Belle now features Wednesday afternoon jazz cruises . The John O’Meara Big Band lays down the big band favorites, smooth and hot jazz numbers, and features some of the area’s best known players including John O’Meara, Sr., Johnny O, Jr., Manny Lopez, Neal Smith, Tewanta Yerington and other notables on occasion. During the rest of the week, "Banjo Jeff" Smallwood performs a wide variety of river tunes, popular classics, along with some top shelf guitar, banjo and the occasional spoof, tall tale and humorous anecdote. The luncheon buffet is plentiful, there’s always something special for dessert, and the Celebration staff aims to please. I can’t think of a better way to relax than with a lunch or prime rib dinner cruise on the Ol’ Muddy, with good music, good food and some of the best weather yet ahead of us. The Celebration River Cruise season runs through October 31st, and there may be additional dockside special events scheduled throughout the winter months. For more information or reservations on Celebration River Cruises, phone (309) 764-1952.

Finger-Pickin’ Good…
Mike "Wally" Wallace, Quad-Cities’ finger-picker extraordinaire, recently laid down fourteen new original tracks for his upcoming CD, "Wallytunes from the Heart." A few listens through to the advance, pre-mastered tracks had me hooked on this fourth collection of warm and inventive originals from Mr. Wallace. From delta overtones to rich Celtic phrasings and playful dances across the fingerboard, this CD is undoubtedly Wally’s best effort to date. The performances captured are pure Wally live, and his execution on acoustic guitar seems effortless, relaxed, yet right on the mark at each twist and turn. Favorite cuts from the advance tape include a spooky "For the Oracle," an inspired "The Rain Song," the mystic dance of "A Wild Hair," and the Celtic whirlwind of "Roundtable Suite." The tracks close out with a dream-like run through the fields in "Springshine." The new CD should be available sometime before Wallace’s upcoming appearance on KUNI’s ‘Live from Studio One’ on November 2nd. Copies of "Wallytunes from the Heart," as well as his other previous recordings, are available at Wallace Music, 1503 - 15th Street, Moline, Illinois, and more information is available at (309) 797-6990.

Charles Wells & One Voice Gospel Youth Choir…
Old schoolmate and former Rock Island saxman Charles Wells is director of the One Voice Gospel Youth Choir down Peoria, Arizona way. I had the chance to visit with Charles at a recent reunion, and he was gracious enough to front me a copy of his group’s newest CD, "Message to the People." Now there is musical inspiration, and there is MUSICIAL INSPIRATION. This collection falls under the domain of the latter, and features twelve Wells original compositions, performed by a stellar assembly of young choir voices. Wells performs on vocals, keyboards, sax and also programmed the percussion tracks for the collection. Special guests include Martin Murphy on sax, Sheryl Johnson on vocals, and Sarah Gaghagen on trombone. With a nod and a wink to his old comrades here in the Quad Cities, Henry Clash and Kenny Cooper, brother Tommy Wells and Robbie M., Charles Wells gives his "very special thanks to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour." With a team like that, how can you miss? For more information on this fine new recording, and the One Voice Gospel Youth Choir, contact Charles Wells at (602) 933-8942, or e-mail him at cdwells@uswest.net.

Further on Up the Road…
Just a quick reminder…The Mississippi Valley Blues Society will present Rod Piazza and The Mighty Flyers, along with special guest openers the Unidynes, on Friday, October 2 at the Col Ballroom in Davenport. Show starts at 8:00 p.m., and tickets are$12 in advance or $15 at the door. Advance tickets are available at The Col Ballroom or at all Quad City Coop Records. MVBS Membership Tickets are available for $12 at the door or $10 by mailing to Mississippi Valley Blues Society, 318 Brady Street, Davenport, Iowa, 52801-1509. The MVBS will have a FREE 1998 Blues Fest Poster for the first 50 people through door. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Rod Piazza’s recent release on Tone Cool Records, "Rod Piazza - Vintage Live 1975," captures the young blues harp virtuoso in a steamy L.A. nightclub setting of the ’70’s, accompanied by the late Hollywood Fats and George Phelps on guitars, former Canned Heat bassist Larry ‘The Mole’ Taylor, and Richard Innes pounding the skins. This is rough and ready, real-deal stuff in the Chicago blues tradition, from an era when virgin blues fans were first awakening across the country. As the liner notes say, "…the hottest young blues band in the land began to introduce a whole new generation to the power of the blues…and never looked back." Piazza and Company nail one blues classic after another on this live collection, from Little Walter’s "Oh Baby," Big Bill Broonzy’s "Key to the Highway," to Willie Dixon’s classic "Mellow Down Easy," and the Muddy Waters standard "Standing Around Crying." This CD is essential blues for the collector, and a required primer for Blues 101.

‘Get ‘Em While They’re Red Hot’…
Hot new releases on the charts this month include:

  1. "Dark Night," James Armstrong (Hightone Records) Not just ‘yer same old blues, this collection showcases a vital bluesman and survivor. Hot blues with the very distinctive ‘Armstrong edge’.

  2. "Out of the Madness," Derek Trucks Band (House of Blues Records) Molten slide work from this son- -of-an-Allman-Brothers-alumni (Butch Trucks). Warren Haynes, Larry McCray, Matt Tutor and Jimmy Herring guest on Derek’s sizzlin’ debut for the HoB label.

  3. "Red Mud," Chris Thomas King (Black Top Records) Fresh, modern blues with the traditional roots showin’…a new blues voice that echoes the delta masters, while moving ahead on down the road.

  4. "Ride With Me," Long John Hunter (Alligator Records) Pride and joy of the Lone Star state, Hunter continues to take the blues world by storm with this raging new collection. Fans of the Albert Collins Texas-blues-swing tradition will love this new CD!

  5. "Smoke and Steel," The Kinsey Report (Alligator Records) Dangerous funk- ‘n-blues from brothers Donald, Ralph and Kenneth Kinsey. Back to the ‘Gator label and the blues, "where our hearts are." The blue flame doesn’t burn any hotter than this, ladies and gentlemen!

  6. "Jump Children," Finis Tasby (Evidence Music) Powerhouse blues vocals, with special guests Rick Holstrom (Mighty Flyers), Kid Ramos (Fabulous Thunderbirds), and the incomparable Coco Montoya. Jump with this veteran West Coast blues man, of whose stellar blues voice the legendary Lowell Fulson was once quoted as saying, "I’d like to have a voice like that."

  7. "Where the Blues Begins," Deborah Coleman (Blind Pig Records) Backed by the late, great Luther Allison’s touring band, Ms. Coleman is one of the hottest and most popular new artists on the blues scene today. Strong vocals and incendiary guitar work from this proven crowd pleaser.

  8. "Now You Can Talk About Me," George ‘Harmonica’ Smith (Blind Records) This stellar harp-master and former Muddy Waters alumnus delivers the real-deal blues in tracks which include singles from the 60’s and 80’s tracks recorded with backing from Rod Piazza’s Mighty Flyers. Smith has long been the mentor of blues harp stars such as Piazza, Charlie Musselwhite, Kim Wilson and the late William Clarke.

True Blue Salute…
JOHNNY ADAMS
January 5, 1932 - September 14, 1998
Johnny Adams will be remembered by fans, critics and musicians world-wide as one of the finest singers in the history of New Orleans R&B and jazz. Adams ’ most recent release: "Man of My Word," (August ’98 ), a smoldering collection of soulful R&B stylings in the classic tradition, is available on Rounder Records. A great New Orleans voice has been called home to the Master’s choir…

‘I’m booked, an’ I gotta go’…
As ‘Eddie the piano man’ would say, "If things was goin’ any better, I might just have to just pack up and fly on outa’ here..." Such is life here on the Quad Cities music scene, where one minute things are poppin’ and hoppin, ’ and the next week the temperature could be droppin’ and the cards, letters and phone calls be stoppin’. But keep on keepin’ on, blues brothers and sisters, ‘cause you know in your heart…it aint nothin’ but the blues. And, until we meet again at this crossroads…

Blues to ‘ya!


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