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True Blue from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist


A Very Special Concert, A Very Special Cause...

While it's coolin' off outside, the Blues are heatin' up inside - as local, regional and national acts keep the Quad Cities' Blues scene jumpin'! As we near the year's rollover into 2000, its crucial to remember (and support) the efforts of those who are striving to perpetuate the Blues tradition into the new millenium. One of the essential programs in our area dedicated to that very task is the "Blues in The Schools" program of our own Mississippi Valley Blues Society. Granted, the Blues now enjoys increased popularity and even limited exposure through its contemporary artists on today's mainstream radio playlists. But that's just not enough to carry the message. The grassroots level of the educational programming of Blues as a cultural art form in our schools is the first step to planting the Blues in the new age. These programs are most commonly funded and produced by the volunteers of the local Blues societies across the country, just as they are here in the Mississippi Valley. For this very reason, True Blue is proud to be a part of a very special charity raffle to be held in conjunction with the House of Blues Lonestar Tour stop at the MARK of the Quad Cities on November 17th.

The concert event itself will feature a stellar line-up of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown and Gates Express, along with C. J. Chenier and the Red Hots. The charity raffle will be held that evening, where charity raffle tickets will be available for a $5 donation each, or two raffle tickets will be given as a bonus to those who choose to sign-up for a $20 single year's membership in the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. One lucky winner will receive a brand new Fender Lonestar Stratocaster and case from Griggs Music in Davenport and Fender Musical Instruments, and another lucky winner will receive a weekend get-a-way package for a Friday-Saturday nights stay at the House of Blues Hotel in Chicago, along with two tickets to a concert event at the House of Blues venue there! The winners will be drawn at random and the evening of the concert at the MARK, and announced at the show. The best part: every single dollar raised will go directly into the "Blues in the Schools" account of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society, for specific use in educational Blues programming.

This charity raffle for Blues in the Schools is made possible by the good people at Fender Musical Instruments & Griggs Music in Davenport, The House of Blues of Chicago. The Dispatch, Rock Island Argus and Leader, The River Cities Reader, and Quad-Cities Online are all pitchin' in together to help promote the cause, in association with the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. Our special thanks also to the folks at the MARK of the Quad Cities for bringing this fine Blues concert event to town, and making this charity raffle possible. Don't miss this chance to do your part to help "keep the Blues alive," and maybe you'll be the one to win the new Lonestar Strat or the weekend get-a-way to House of Blues in Chicago! Anyway you cut it, you'll know you did your thang for the Blues!

Just What IS Happenin' 'Round Here'?

In addition to the House of Blues Lonestar tour, the local scene is smoulderin' with good Blues and houserockin' as well. Planted Earth Café, in John Deere Commons, October 1, 8, 15 & 22 will be percolatin' with the Blues of Harmonica Slim & The Steady Rollin' Blues Band. Mississippi Voodoo casts their spell at O'Meara's in Bettendorf on October 2, and Big Al & The Heavyweights roll into O'Meara's on October 6. The Downtown Davenport Fall Pub Crawl is back on October 7th, and this edition of the Pub Crawl features Shane Johnsons's Blue Train, Twin Towers Blues Band, Gypsy Blue, Patrick Hazell (along with yours truly), Gary Gibson, Steve Price, Charlie Hayes, The Unidynes, Harmonica Slim & The Steady Rollin' Blues Band, Pappy & What's Cookin', Douglas & Tucker and the Fry Daddies. At long last, Robert Cray and the Memphis Horns return to the Quad Cities, with special guest opener Tommy Castro, for one show at Adler Theatre on October 10.

New Blues Fer Youz!

"Live in Chicago," Luther Allison (Alligator Records) Hats off to Alligator for bringing this collection to disk, live from 1995 Chicago Blues Festival. This CD chronicles the late Luther Allison's triumphant return to the US from Europe, and showcases one of the greatest Bluesmen that ever walked the earth. Chicago must have thought it was the first hurricane to ever come across Lake Michigan when Luther hit the stage that night! Absolutely burning with a passionate Blue flame!

"It's Harder Now," Wilson Pickett (Bullseye Blues & Jazz) The all-time No.1 bad boy of soul is back, and bad as ever on this new CD. Some thirty years after his initial landmark recordings, Wilson Pickett has returned to the scene of the crime, backed by producer, bandleader/guitarist John Tiven and company. Recorded at Studio 900 in New York, by Joe Johnson, this collection has that signature grit and grind of the original Stax recordings. Welcome back, 'Wicked One' - and long live the 'Prince of Soul'.

(Of Special Note: you can also hear some exceptionally hot tracks from producer John Tiven's own funky ensemble, The John Tiven Group, on his newest release "Yes I Ram," on the New West Records label. Seriously Blue-funk-n-rockin'!)

"Livin' Every Day," Walter Trout (Ruf Records) Hopefully you were fortunate enough to hear Walter Trout at the blues festival earlier this year, or are planning to attend his September 26th show at the Pig Pen in Clinton. If not, this newest release from Mr. Trout and company will give you a good taste of his powerhouse vocals and blistering guitar work. Rated among the twenty all-time greatest guitarists by the BBC pollsters, his new CD with longstanding Free Radicals lineup of James Trapp (bass), Paul Kallestad (Hammond B-3 and keys), and Bernie Pershey (drums), is molten stuff. "Livin
' Every Day" was produced by former SRV and Steve Miller Band producer Jim Gaines.

"Living Country Blues - An Anthology," (Evidence Music) This very special 3-CD set showcases twenty-five true blue, real deal Blues artists in the roadside shacks, front porches and backwoods haunts of the American South. Recorded 'in the field' on reel-to-reel in 1980 by two European Blues enthusiasts, Siegfried Christmann and Axel Kustner, "Living Country Blues" features tracks by Cephas & Wiggins, CeDell Davis, James "Son" Thomas, Lonnie Pitchford, Othar Turner, Sam Chatmon, Eddie Cusic, Hammie Nixon and many more. The 48-page booklet contains excellent liner notes and thirty-five great photos of the artists in the south. This is essential listening for Blues 101.

Our special thanks to everyone who turned out in support of the first annual River Rockin' Ribfest event in Davenport's LeClaire Park in August. We're also happy to tell you that the Downtown Davenport Association and City of Davenport plan on bringing it all home again next year, for more great barbecue, houserockin' music, and good times. Remember, get out and support your favorite local, regional or national Blues artist and, until we meet
again at this crossroads...

Blues to ' ya!

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