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True Blue from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist


In recognition of The Blues ongoing impact on music and cultural history, both in America and around the world, the United States Congress has proclaimed the year 2003 as the "Year of the Blues". For more information, visit: on the web.



We've come to a fork in the river, not so much for True Blue, but for yours truly. After some serious soul searchin', I've taken some new friends up on their invitation to cross the Big Muddy to a brand new day gig with the River Music Experience. It's the chance of a lifetime to help bring more top quality live music and entertainment to the Quad Cities, in a true blue celebration of our musical heritage up and down the Mississippi River Valley. The icing on the cake is that this venue will also provide plenty of exciting new opportunities for young area musicians to learn, to grow and to perform live - in a classic venue setting at the Redstone Building, downtown Davenport. This unique new venue will feature a variety of performance areas and stages to accommodate soloists, trios, quartets, big bands and ensembles of all shapes and sizes - both inside the Redstone, and outside in the courtyard. Musicians will be able to interact, rehearse, compose, perform, record and even have their performances captured on video and film. Blues, jazz, folk, country, classic, choral, rock, roots and more - it's all about the music. Future plans include the potential for radio and television programming, live from the Redstone, along with workshops and music education programs - supported in part by major musical instrument companies. I believe in this 'mission for the sake of the music' with all my heart and soul, and I hope to see you all there next year at the Redstone. Stay tuned for more on the new River Music Experience - coming right here to these river cities - in June, 2004.

However, before I shove off, I want to take this opportunity to thank all the good people at Quad-Cities Online, The Dispatch, The Rock Island Argus and The Leader for posting this blues banter in years gone by. They have now graciously invited me to keep this column anchored right here, and Lord knows they've put up with me for longer than either of us can remember. If it weren't for them, their friendship and support, this old bluesboy just might well have checked in for good at the Heartbreak Hotel. These past couple of years have brought some real dark days to our family, but these folks have always been there for us - through good times and bad. We can never thank them enough, and I will never forget their kindness and compassion. Just like the man from Sheffield sang in his song, "I get by with a little help from my friends..."

"Exalted Lover" - Duke Robillard Band (Stony Plain Records) - The Duke Robillard Band's new CD "Exalted Lover" features ten new tunes, eight of which are Duke Robillard originals. Pam Tillis and Debbie Davies are special guests on this new disk. The Duke was recently awarded a Handy Award for "Best Guitarist" as well as the Canadian Maple Blues Award for "International Blues Artist of the Year". Get yourself some real soon, to warm those winter nights!

"Another Fine Day," The Ford Blues Band (Blue Rock'It Records) This is the first release where the Ford Blues Band really serves up their own material. Packed with plenty of punch, these new tracks have a hot-rockin' R&B feel. As they tell it themselves, "the blues is the nuts and bolts holding it all together." Fresh new renditions of classics like "Monkey Time" and "Taste & Try" round out this hot new collection.

"Box of the the Blues," Various Artists (Rounder Records) This very special 'Box of the Blues' delivers sixty (count 'em) classics from the Rounder blues catalogue, spanning fifty years of top shelf blues. From down home Delta blues, to contemporary blues, to new young blue-bloods and old soul masters, this new CD covers the spectrum of what the blues was, is and can be.

"Goin' to Kansas City," Jay McShann (Stony Plain Records) This is the Kansas City blues and jazz legend's third album for Stony Plain, and features nineteen tracks, with a wide variety of styles and a host of notable friends. Duke Robillard, Tommy Ruskin, Johnnie Johnson, Milt Able, and Maria Muldaur join McShann for these great new tracks. Don't miss out on this one!

That's all there is, and there aint no more! I'll be rowin' straight across this river, prayin' the currents will be kind. Until we meet again at this crossroads, peace, love and blessings to all and... Blues to 'ya!

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