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True Blue from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist


True Blue invites all Blues fans near and far to come out in support of a great cause, where they can also enjoy seven (count 'em) hours of great Blues and houserockin' music at "A Blue Zoo Christmas." The RiverCenter/Adler Theatre folks, in association with our own Mississippi Valley Blues Society, will present this very special fundraising concert event on Saturday, Dec. 16th. "A Blue Zoo Christmas" will benefit the Fejervary Zoological Society and their ongoing efforts to create and develop a new children's zoo in Davenport's Fejervary Park - one we can all be proud of.

The event will feature that red-hot houserocker Anthony Gomes, along with area favorites Shane Johnson's Blue Train (see new CD review below), The Bluefins, The Unidynes (see new CD review below) and, I'm proud to say, my own band with some of our special friends and guests. This mega-Blues event will be held in the Great Hall at the RiverCenter complex, and the music is slated to kick in at 5 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will also go to benefit 'In from the Cold of the Quad Cities, Inc.', a very worthy organization dedicated to the support of the local agencies serving the poor and hungry in our area. Advance tickets are $10 per person through Dec. 1st, and will go on sale Oct. 27, 10 a.m. at the RiverCenter/Adler Theatre box office in Davenport. Tickets will also be available at all Ticketmaster outlets, or charge by phone at (309)326-1111. Admission after Dec. 1st will be $12.50 per person, either in advance or at the door. This is one big party you're not going to want to miss, and you'll be supporting two very deserving causes with your paid admission. Please come join us Dec. 16, and party for the cause! Media co-sponsors for 'A Blue Zoo Christmas' include Quad-Cities Online, The Leader, KWQC-TV 6, and WXLP 97X FM. River Cities Sound & Lights will be providing production services for the event.


"From Richmond to Atlanta," Cephas and Wiggins (Bullseye Blues Basics 116 619 633-2) Piedmont-style blues masters John Cephas and Phil Wiggins revisit the best tracks from their Flying Fish releases (1984 - 1992). These world-class blues ambassadors encompass the full spectrum of blues emotions in their live performances and it carries over to these tracks. As blue as it gets - so 'ya better get yourself some soon!

"Password," Geoff Muldaur (Hightone Records HCD8125) Geoff Muldaur's music is always fresh, always unique. From a Tennessee William's poem set to music on "Kitchen Door Blues," to a powerful rendition of Sleepy John Estes' "Drop Down Mama," this new collection mixess jug band stylings, homespun harmonies, blue ballads and the gospel hymn. It is always a maiden voyage, with Geoff Muldaur at the helm.

"Big Legged Women," Shane Johnson's Blue Train (Independent Release) The Blue Train just keeps right on a rollin' - on hot new tracks which celebrate the band's achievements over the last couple of years on both the regional and national scene. Blue Train's signature stylings are locked-up grooves, pure guitar wizardry, soulful vocals and hot blues harp. These elements are

showcased well on drivin' blues numbers like "Pork Chop" and "Hot Sauce," as well as on the trademark back-porch anthem and title cut, "Big Legged Women." Smooth Blues grooves like "All That Jazz," and the social statement found in the funky "What's Goin' On" prove that Blue Train is very capable of reaching unlimited new horizons. Make sure you catch 'em before this train leaves the station on the last run! One whistle-stop they'll be makin' for sure is 'A Blue Zoo Christmas' on Dec. 16 at the RiverCenter, where they will be donating their performance to the cause.

"Smoke," The Unidynes (Junior's Motel Records JM1250) This is authentic, road-tested, no-nonsense houserockin' from another longtime area favorite. I been knowin' these boys since they was knee-high to a muskrat, and they just keep on getting more soulful and funky as they go. The Unidynes have undeniably found their own voice on this CD, and their character and style come alive on tracks such as the Harley-rider's anthem "Hog Ridin' Fool." Likewise, the good ol' boys' ballad "Once Again" just about had me sheddin' a True Blue tear in my (root) beer. This is another homegrown ensemble you simply have to check out live, although this CD does a good job of capturing the spontaneity and spirited delivery of The Unidynes. This group will also graciously be donating their time and talents in performance at 'A Blue Zoo Christmas' on Dec. 16 in Davenport.

"Walking in Golden Sunshine," Ryan Reardon and the Levee Breakers (Sundown Records #1002) Pure guitar tone, smooth, straight ahead Blues grooves, and tasty harmonica stylings blend into a fine Blues-stew and make for a guaranteed good time. These Blues-boys hail from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and were voted 'Best Blues Band in Birmingham' in October of 1999. You might see this group visiting our area in early December, and it's rumored that they are also under consideration for Mississippi Valley Blues Fest 2001. For more on Ryan Reardon and the Levee Breakers, visit their web site at


John Gere and Friends celebrate the release of their new CD, "On the Fly," with a special performance Sunday, November 5th, 7:30 - 10:30 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church in Davenport. This innovative ensemble consists of pianist John Gere, along with the QC's sultan-of-sax Neal Smith and his former bandmate in the Kabalas, Joel Dick, on drums. "On the Fly" is a fresh and vital new quest for Gere and Friends, featuring a spectrum of contemplative melodies, blue moods and driving jazz improvisation. Gere composed fourteen new pieces for this collection, and each selection is a distinct portrait with a unique theme. My favorite track off this one has to be "The Gospel According to John," a colorful tapestry Gere weaves from strands of the Gospel and the Gaelic. Neal Smith's sax effortlessly soars, and the solid pace Joel Dick sets on percussion is always a fitting embellishment - ever lively, yet never a distraction. The new CD was recorded, mixed and engineered at Real Trax Studios in Davenport, and mastered by 2 Dogs Digital Audio in Moline. Those who purchase the CD at the Nov. 5th event may designate the $15 proceeds as a donation to the charity of their choice. The group will perform material from the new CD, as well as selections from their previous recordings. First Presbyterian Church is located at Kirkwood Boulevard and Iowa Street in Davenport. FURTHER ON UP THE ROAD...

Right about now you're probably thinkin' to yourself, "ya' know, he has devoted just about enough space to this 'A Blue Zoo Christmas' thing to last a lifetime." That's right, but just stop and think a little bit further on up the road... and imagine that lifetime without ol' Mother Goose greetin' the kids as they come into Fejervary Park Zoo. You sure wouldn't want the tale to end that way, would 'ya? Even worse than that, just try to imagine the all-too-real tale of a lifetime of sittin' around an empty holiday dinner table... wonderin' how on earth you're ever gonna be able to feed your family, or your ownself - for that matter. Getting together to try and do something about that, while enjoying a big serving of live Blues, sounds pretty good now, doesn't it? That's why we'll continue to carry on about it for a lifetime, if need be, and why we sure hope we can count on seeing all of you there.

You could win 2 tickets to see B. B. King in concert with Bernard Allison, at the Adler Theatre on November 27. Just email and include your name, age, email address and phone number. We'll draw at random on Friday, Nov. 24, and some lucky winner and a guest will be going to see The King of the Blues!

Peace and blessings, and until we meet again at this crossroads...Blues to 'ya!

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