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True Blue from Ellis Kell

Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

JUNE 2005

Don Baker Launches New Single to Benefit Irish – Sri Lanka Tsunami Trust…

Don Baker (11K)Don Baker, acclaimed Irish blues musician and actor, has released a single entitled ‘Sea of Heartbreak’, to benefit the tsunami appeal. All revenue from the sale of the CD will go to the Irish-Sri Lanka Trust Fund to build new and re-build damaged homes, schools, orphanages, and to help fisherman secure boats and resume the business of fishing. “Like everyone who watched events unfold that day I was deeply moved by the amount of pain and suffering this tsunami caused. I hope that by recording and releasing this single that I can in some way contribute to people getting their lives back on track in that country,” Baker was quoted as saying. The Irish - Sri Lanka Trust Fund was founded in response to the devastation caused by the tsunami that hit Sri Lanka on Dec. 26th, 2004. Baker joins Irish citizens and Sri Lankans living in Ireland, to help Sri Lankan survivors of the tsunami reclaim their futures. For information on Don Baker’s music, writings, and other projects, see on the web.

New Blues Fer Youz…

“Twenty,” Robert Cray (Sanctuary Records)

Robert Cray (35K)The Robert Cray Band’s forthcoming album Twenty is scheduled for release on May 24th, which just happens to coincide with Bob Dylan’s birthday. It is also close to Memorial Day, when we recognize those who have died in the line of duty. As Cray explains the title track, “The song is about an innocent young guy, who, after the events of 9/11, wants to do his part for his country. He doesn’t know he’s going to end up in Iraq, watching the horror that’s going on there…and he ends up losing his life. It’s a subject that needs to be spoken about and is in some ways, a continuation of one of the songs we did on the last album.” Young Bob grew up on military bases here and abroad. His father was a Vietnam vet, so he knows all too well what it’s like to have a family member away at war. To coincide with the May 24th release date, will also feature the song online via streaming audio. services a community of 575,000 Americans who are committed to getting the government to reflect our values of justice, compassion and sustainability. One passage from Robert Cray’s “Twenty” seems to say it all… “Was supposed to leave last week…Promises they don’t keep anymore…Got to fight the rich man’s war…”

For more on Robert Cray, visit online.

“Live Wire,” Chris Beard (NorthernBlues Music)

Chris Beard (7K)In you face vocals and a fiery guitar head up this high energy brand of blues, reminiscent of Albert King. Chris Beard wrote eight out of ten cuts on this new release, and utilized his regular touring band – rather than bringing in studio musicians.

Covers of songs by Dennis Walker, Chris Cain, and Luther Allison round out this hot new disk. The son of Beale Street guitarist Joe Beard, young Chris Beard was exposed to (and influenced by) such legendary blues players as Matt ‘Guitar' Murphy and Buddy Guy. As Chris says himself, “These live songs are just like being there. People who see me always like what they've just seen. There is so much more feeling and spontaneity in a high energy, live CD.” That pretty much sums it up – live and with a feeling. Add this one to your blues-cruisin’ selection for this summer! For more on Chris Beard, visit: .

“Big Man – Big Guitar – Popa Chubby Live,” Popa Chubby (Blind Pig Records)

PopaChubby (8K)Popa Chubby's brand of blues is tough stuff, with a New York City edge. The stylings of Freddie King left quite an indelible mark on Popa Chubby, but contemporary urban influences are also closely woven throughout the tracks. Hip hop, punk, rock, R&B, all blend together into a new and vibrant brand of blues. This new collection brings it all together, with the vitality of Popa Chubby live – the way you need to hear him. Popa Chubby never holds back, isn’t afraid to blend the old with the new, cross lines and genres, and come out blazing with something fresh and hot. If this is your first Popa Chubby CD, get ready for a big, blast furnance batch of contemporary blues. For more on Popa Chubby and his music, visit: online.

Further on up the road…

I’m very excited to be hosting a brand new weekly jam session, True Blue Tuesday @ RME, which will kick off on May 31st. The session will run from 5-7 pm every Tuesday in Mojo’s @ RME, and will feature a host band of friends from the local and regional music community. These sessions are not restricted to blues music, but as a crossroads of American roots music traditions – blues, jazz, country, funk and folk – we’ll go wherever the journey takes us. There is no cover charge, but we will pass the hat each week on behalf of the host band members, and in support of free live music in at RME. This is not an open mic night, rather the host band will invite guest players up to perform from around the area. You never know who might stop by to sit in! This new jam session is co-sponsored by The Dispatch, The Rock Island Argus, The Leader, Quad-Cities Online, River Cities Sound, Murphy’s Guitar Exchange, Sheldon Amplifiers, and The Mississippi Valley Blues Society. Refreshments will be available from Mojo’s, as well as pizza and your favorite brews from Centro. We hope you’ll stop by on a True Blue Tuesday, and help us kick out the jams!

That’s all there is for now, and more than plenty. 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’, running the first Sunday of each month in Entertainment. He is also on the staff of River Music Experience, a not-for-profit center dedicated to preservation, education and celebration of American Roots music.

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