True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

October/November 2009

John Hartford – "Good'le Days: Essential Recordings," Rounder Records ( -Hats off to Rounder Records for re-releasing "John Hartford: Good'le Days: Essential Recordings. John was America's consummate riverboat minstrel, river historian, and a licensed riverboat pilot. He never lost his love for the river, and visited LeClaire, Iowa on many occasions – to pilot the Julia Belle Swain, and later on the Twilight boat that remains there today. From his early days on the Smothers Brothers Show to the Glenn Campbell Good Time Hour and beyond, John stayed true to his bluegrass, country and folk traditions, while always taking the music his own direction. Essential tracks include Hartford classics "Skippin' in the Mississippi Dew," "Gum Tree Canoe," "Gentle On My Mind," "In Tall Buildings," "Wrong Road Again," "Take Me Back to My Mississippi River Home," "Old Time River Man," and others.

His mega-country hit "Gentle On My Mind" became the signature song for Glenn Campbell, and was later recorded by everyone from Elvis to Aretha. John Hartford passed on in 2001, but the indelible mark he left on the music world will never, ever be forgotten. I had the pleasure of working with John on two occasions when he performed here years ago, once at the RI District's Back Alley Music Festival, and again at the Iowa Soybean Association convention at the Radisson in Davenport. Those times we spent together during his visits to the QC's are among my favorite musical memories. John Hartford did it all – played, sang, danced – all with effortless grace. For a taste of true blue American roots music tradition and genius, it just don't come any better than John Hartford. For more on his legacy, visit, and if you're a newbie to JH's music – this collection from Rounder Records is a great place to start!

Mike Zito – "Pearl River," Electo Groove Records (

"His bluesy Americana vibe finds an impressively restrained balance between melody and musicianship." – Blues Revue

This new collection from singer-songwriter-guitarist Mike Zito tells tales of life's times and tribulations with soul and conviction. Mike Zito is the commensurate songster, singer and guitar-slinger. Special guests include Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, Reese Wynans (of SRV's Double Trouble fame), Susan Cowsill, Lynwood Slim and Jumpin' Johnny Sansone. The result is true blue Americana, part New Orleans funk, part down home blues, and reelin' rock 'n' roll. Zito's "Pearl River" was co-produced by David Z. along with Electro Groove CEO Randy Chortkoff, who also guests on harmonica on the track "Born Blind." For more on this exciting new roots rocker, visit

Joe Filisko & Eric Noden – "I. C. Special," Independent Release ( or

Harmonica master Joe Filisko and guitarist Eric Noden have long been a staple on the Midwestern traditional folk blues circuit. This new collection features fifteen new originals, and was recorded, mixed and mastered by Blaise Barton at Chicago's Joyride Studios. Paying homage to the tradition in all respects, Filisko & Noden always breathe new life, heart and soul into the genre. The pair will roll into the River Music Experience for a concert performance in the Redstone Room on Friday, Dec. 4th, followed by an afternoon workshop on Saturday, Dec. 5 in the RME Performance Hall. For more details, visit

Further on up the road...

RIBCO welcomes Ernie Hendrickson for a CD release party on Thursday, October 29. Rock River Times says... "Surely a cutting-edge singer/songwriter of tomorrow, Ernie Hendrickson lives enough in the past to keep what Bob Dylan, James Taylor and Kris Kristofferson have done alive and thriving for generations." For more on this vital purveyor of Americana with an edge, visit The new and highly anticipated CD "Walking With Angels" features Bo Ramsey, Steve Hayes and Jon Penner, and is due for release on October 13.

That should be more than a plenty to whet your appetite for some new true tunes, and I just can't be hangin' around no more. 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.

CIBS Press Release

Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, Oct. 21, the 294th day of 2014. There are 71 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The weather is discouraging for our great Democratic rally tomorrow, but never mind that. Let our Rock Island people show they can make a big procession themselves, rain or shine.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Apparatus arrived for drilling an artesian well on the premises of George Warner's Atlantic Brewery.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The German army continued its attacks on the allies line near the Belgian coast.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Gus Zachert northwest of Buffalo Prairie, burned to the ground.
1964 -- 50 years ago: WVIK-FM, noncommercial educational radio station at Augustana College, will return to the air tomorrow. The station operates at a power of 10 watts at 90.9 megacycles on the frequency modulation band. The station is operated with a staff of 92 students.
1989 -- 25 years ago: An avenue of lights, 13 Christmas trees strung with more than 44,000 sparkling lights, will expand the Festival of Trees beyond the walls of RiverCenter in downtown Davenport in mid-November.

(More History)