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TRUE BLUE from Ellis Kell
NOVEMBER ’98

TRUE BLUE COLLAR MUSIC…

Blue Collar Band It's that time of year when all you ‘turkeys’ in town ought to have the blues for sure, if you know what I mean. True Blue will be ‘dressing’ in style for the occasion, and from here on in its all ‘gravy.’ I better get on with this month’s news and reviews, ‘cause I’m makin’ myself hungry! You can hold the ‘cold duck’ though, ‘cause we’ve got vintage ‘Champagne’ coming from the Quad Cities’ Own Blue Collar Band…

The Blue Collar Band is gearing up for the release of their new CD ROM "Champagne," which will include band interviews, video clips, animation, lyrics, player profiles and more. The group’s CD release party for "Champagne" will be held November 14, 7:30 at Gatsby’s in Moline, and the band will perform songs from the new album and also feature clips from the CD ROM. The album contains ten original songs, nine penned by BCB lead vocalist, keyboard, guitar and harmonica man Tony Hoeppner, and one song by bass player Steve Svec. These new originals, arranged with more than a little help from his friends in the BCB of course, were recorded and mastered by Mark Johnson at Brass Sail Studio in Moline. Programming for the interactive side of the project was crafted by BCB drummer Jim Vanacker, and digital video camera work was courtesy of Bob Maddelein. Brother Rick Maddelein also contributed his signature slide guitar work to the effort.

True Blue got a sneak preview and listen to a few tracks off the new CD ROM, and we guarantee it’s worth the price of admission. Tony Hoeppner’s "Rebel Blues" is a kicker that chronicles the actual failed escape attempt of a confederate civil war prisoner from the Rock Island Arsenal, and the historical and educational video and narrative on the CD brings all the background together well. This is the first actual CD ROM from a Quad Cities band, and no doubt will help set the pace for new releases from our homeboys and girls. True Blue kudos to the Blue Collar Band on their first CD outing; it was long overdue, but well worth the wait. One last BCB tid-bit before we move on: guitarist Buddy Olson will be be moving on down the road to new pursuits, and Jim Papenhausen (from Pappy and What’s Cookin’ Band) will take over his spot on guitar and vocal duties. Best to both Buddy and Pappy from True Blue.

BRYCE JANEY IS BACK WITH A 2-PACK…
Iowa’s son-of-the-true-blue-attack, Bryce Janey, is back in the saddle with two new CD releases. This multi-talented guitarist and vocalist from Iowa’s renowned Janey family scores with an electrified collection entitled "Sweet Baby Jane," and also with a live ‘unplugged’ duo outing that features harpman Merrill J. Miller. The live album is rightly labeled "LIVE at Checker’s Tavern."

From the git-go with "You Got to Tell Me," Bryce Janey’s "Sweet Baby Jane" jumps, cooks and burns through hot new tunes and smolderin’ guitar work. Janey brings the best of his mentors, his family’s soul and his own magic all together on this collection. Blues Revue Magazine aptly describes this Bryce Janey CD as "…a raw-boned Texas guitar sound coupled with a biting harp." The title cut "Sweet Baby Jane" is a funky number that you just can’ t sit still too, and Bryces’s soulful cover of the Robert Johnson classic "Love in Vain" by a vital young blues guitarist and vocalist.

"LIVE at Checker’s Tavern" showcases the duo efforts of Bryce Janey and blue-blood-brother Merrill J. Miller on harmonica, vocals and guitar. This is real-deal, spontaneous live blues from ‘Blue Sunday’ at Checker’s Tavern in Cedar Rapids, and includes signature Janey and Miller originals as well as blues standards such as "Terraplane Blues," "Built for Comfort," "Walkin ’ Blues," "Make Love to You." Janey and Merrill even brew up a jumping, unplugged rendition of the Hendrix anthem "Purple Haze." Its live, its real, and its what the blues is all about. ‘Nuff said…you’ll have to get your own from here.

NEW BLUES YOU CAN USE…

  1. "The Secret Handshake," Geoff Muldaur (Hightone Records) Did you ever hear someone new and wish you could have discovered them much earlier? This collection from Geoff Muldaur gave me that very feeling, and Mr. Muldaur has a brand new fan here at True Blue. Richard Thompson summed it up as "There are only three white blues singers - Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them." Muldaur’s devout admirers also included such notables as John Cale, Bob Dylan, ex-Mrs. Maria Muldaur, John Sebastian, Martin Mull and many others. Muldaur’s magical offerings on this CD include Leadbelly’s "Alberta," Sleepy John Estes "Someday Baby," but the ‘True Blue tracks’ on this one are both Muldaur originals. "Got to Find Blind Lemon-Part One" and "I Believe I’ll Go Back Home" have the same brand of New Orleans, blue-tinted magic that originally won me over when I first heard Randy Newman. Muldaur is a unique and refreshing voice, and ‘aint just no nuther blues singer.’ An original - accept no subsitutes.

  2. "Servin’ It Up," Benjie Porecki (Severn Records) Swing is hip now, you know - like someone needed to remind us of that. If you’re really in the mood to swing, tie into this new instrumental release from keyboard wizard Benjie Porecki. Lyrics would simply get in the way here, ladies and gentlemen. Hoppin’ and boppin’ right out of the gate with the title cut "Servin’ It Up (Breakfast)," Porecki scores big for soulful presentation, delivering shades of Booker T. on Hammond B-3. Smooth piano on selections such as "Beautiful Love" and "Blue in Green" is contemplative and inspired, and great medicine for the soul. Porecki’s keyboard interpretation of the Paul Simon classic "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" brings it all home to the heart, and is our ‘True Blue track’ from this collection.

  3. "Smoke and Steel," Kinsey Report (Alligator Records) (Yes, I know this one got a brief mention last month, but I didn’t feel we had space or time to do it justice then…so here’s a reprise.) The brothers Kinsey are back to burn down the house with this molten new assortment, which comes as the Kinsey’s first installment since their return to the Alligator label from Pointblank. No doubt Alligator is happy to have these gentlemen back home where they belong, and the new CD shows that the brothers are layin’ it down as hot as ever. No one out there today blends hot rockin’, funk and blue soul better than these three brothers do. "Dead in Your Tracks" will show you why it’s better to get out of the road when this band is coming down the street! It’s not all ‘warp-speed-and-burn’ with these guys either, because you can also find and feel the true Kinsey soul in passionate blue ballads such as "Loved Ones." ‘True Blue track’ from this Kinsey installment can be no other than "When the Church Burned Down," which captures how both heart and soul come together in the social conscience of the Kinsey brotherhood.

  4. "Happier Blue," Chris Smither (HighTone Records) Chris Smither has come into his own in the past several years, and this CD was a landmark in his career. Originally released in 1993 on the Flying Fish label, this album won the NAIRD award for Best Folk Recording. From Smither’s own "Mail Order Mystics" (most recently covered by John Mayall), to the traditional blue lament of "No More Cane on the Brazos," and a sizzling cover of Lowell George’s "Rock & Roll Doctor," this CD showcases the versatility and soulful interpretation of a stellar picker and blues voice. ‘True Blue Track’ on this one: Smither’s rendition of John Hiatt’s "Memphis in the Meantime" hums along like a Silver Eagle on Tennessee two-lane blacktop.

H.O.B. HOTEL NO. 1 OPEN FOR BIZ IN CHICAGO…
House of Blues Hospitality and Loews Hotels opened the world’s first House of Blues Hotel in Chicago on October 1st, and True Blue will be traveling there for more on this soon. Jeff Lapin, president of House of Blues Hospitality, Inc. says "Guided by Isaac’s vision (H.O.B. founder Isaac Tigrett), we’ve fashioned one of the most fun, friendly and interesting decors of any hotel in America." All rooms are ‘technology friendly,’ with stereo-CD, VCR and direct Internet access. The hotel is the first of it’s kind anywhere, and will be followed by similar House of Blues Hotel developments planned for Las Vegas, West Hollywood, New Orleans, New York, Tokyo, Sydney, London and San Francisco. As True Blue learns more, we’ll pass it on. In the meantime, for what’s happening at House of Blues, visit www.hob.com on the web.

Buddy Guy The House of Blues will also trace the roots and development of the blues in "The Highway 61 Tour," featuring emcee Buddy Guy and performances by Guy and his band, the gospel-belting Blind Boys of Alabama and harmonica ace Billy Boy Arnold, at 8 p.m., Friday, November 20, in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

LAST CALL, AND YOU CAN’T SLEEP HERE…
They say you can sleep in your car, but you can’t drive your house - though many a bluesman will argue that one with you. Some true blue soul also once said, "The blues aint nothin’ but a good man feelin’ bad." Consider it a token of me splittin’ the tip jar with ‘ya, and until we meet again at this crossroads…

Blues to ‘ya!


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