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True Blue from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

December 2002

I would like to start off this month's rambling with an apology to those faithful readers who may have noticed and/or wondered why there was no November column. As many of you do already know, we lost our 17 yr. old daughter Karli Rose in a tragic auto accident on October 19th. I think Joe Pena probably said it the best, "We're not supposed to have to bury our babies." I just wouldn't have known what to say to you all a few weeks ago, but I think I've got a little better handle on things now.

I have always loved the Blues (that right, Mr. Editor - the Blues with a capital 'B'), and today I know why better than at any time in my life. The Blues have given me so many good times, and always gotten me through the tough times, like back when I lost my father to prostate cancer just over eight years ago. The Blues was always there, along with my fellow Blues musicians - when I needed so to laugh, but all I felt like doing was crying. It's God's gift of music, and the fine people I've met along the 'Blues Highway', that have always kept it all together for me. This time, with the loss of our daughter, so many of those fine folks came to our rescue - with the 'Moondance' event in Karli's memory, to benefit the Rock Island Music Association. It would take this column and most of another to thank everyone, but Jack Seales, Terry Hanson and John O'Meara head the list of the 'usual suspects' who organized the caper. They will no doubt be back at it again soon, for someone else in need - for another worthy cause. They are what music, and especially the Blues, is all about - sharing in all those facets of this human experience, the good and the bad. Like the Bob Dylan song says, "You gotta serve somebody." If you're blessed with even a little bit of musical or artistic talent - and in some way we all are - you simply HAVE TO put something back. Stevie Ray Vaughan once said, "Just as soon as I think this is all my doing, it will be my undoing." SRV knew full well where the gift of his talent and his inspiration came from and, once upon a time, it saved him from throwing it all away.

The Blues is a universal language, due in large part to the basic musical form, but even moreover due to the common threads that run through our humanity. We laugh and cry together, celebrate and mourn together. 'Walking through this world all alone' - to borrow a line from "Desperado"- is just not a good place to be. The Quad Cities has always been blessed with a caring entertainment community, and we never needed it more than we do today. We share our stories, through good times and bad, and the power of the Blues is what comes out in the mix. The Blues can be happy, the Blues can be sad - and the Blues is what keeps it from hurting so bad.

One of my favorite photos of Karli is one where she's wearing an old t-shirt of mine that says, "Support Your Local Blues Band." I'm sure she never knew how much those folks would be there to support her mother, little sister and I, when her time to go home came far too soon. This month, True Blue sends out a personal salute and heartfelt thanks to all those good people in the Quad Cities who were there for our family during these sad and trying times. We love you all.

Highly Recommended New Blues Fer Youz.

"Pasa Tiempo," Joe Louis Walker (Evidence Music) this consummate bluesman shows that he is capable of a much cutting a much broader swath, something that Joe Louis Walker fans have known all along. Fresh, unique, innovative and challenging - Mr. Walker takes it all up another notch with this new collection.

"From Matrimony To Alimony," Various Artists (Telarc) A stellar cast including Kenny Neal, Charlie Musselwhite, Sugar Ray Norcia, Jimmy Thackery, Junior Wells, Eddie Kirkland, Sam Lay, Tab Benoit, Joe Louis Walker, Luther 'Guitar Junior' Johnson, Debbie Davies and Sam McCain deliver this serving of wedding bell blues. McCain's "Battlefield of Love" is destined to be a Blues classic.

"Crazy Kind Of Life," Bill Perry (Blind Pig Records) this is no-nonsense, straight-up Blues rockin' here, folks. Richie Havens joins Mr. Perry on a fabulous cover of the Rolling Stones "No Expectations." Get yourself some of this soon!

"Soul Be It," Deborah Coleman (Blind Pig Records) just having been here with the 'Front Porch Blues' concert, the fiery Ms. Coleman serves up a potent new brew of live tracks. Not for the faint of heart!

"In Memory of Michael Bloomfield," The Ford Blues Band, with Robben Ford and Chris Cain (Blue Rock 'It Records) Part two, as a follow up to the "Tribute to Paul Butterfield" CD, brings Robben Ford together with brother Patrick Ford and Chris Cain, to pay tribute to Butterfield's fellow alumnus and legendary guitarist Michael Bloomfield. This CD also features segments from an actual radio interview with the premier guitarist, who also performed with Bob Dylan and Electric Flag, in addition to The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. A superb and fitting tribute.

"Going Down - The Songs of Don Nix," Don Nix & Friends (Evidence Music) Rockand blues hit writer Don Nix is joined by a stellar cast, which includes old friend Steve Cropper, Audley Freed, Brian May, Bobby Manuel, Leslie West, Bonnie Bramlett, John Mayall, Max Middleton, Dan Penn, Billy Lee Riley, Tony Joe White and Bobby Whitlock. (A noted producer for Freddie King, Jeff Beck, Albert King and others, Don Nix also served as the choir-master for the late George Harrison's famed "Concert for Bangladesh.") Great tracks reprised by a great songwriter.

"Under the Stone," Jono Manson (Club de Musique - Italy) this collection has yet to be released on a U. S. label, but is most definitely worth latching on to. His third album on the Italian record label, "Under the Stone" brings it all together in one package - soul, country-rock, and funky R&B. This artist know no boundaries, and will not be contained by genres or convenient labels. This is fine roots music, ladies and gentlemen, and Mr. Manson serves it up straight-up - no chaser. Two versions of the title cut "Under the Stone" are featured, the first an addictive country-rock version,and the closing cut a classic, down-home, folk-blues interpretation - the contrast of the two versions illustrate Jono Manson's versatility. To order this one, visit on the web.

I'm out of time, out of space, and out of here. Karli Rose let me know that I have been leaving the most important word out of my signature closing, so we'll add it starting right now. Peace, LOVE, and blessings to all and, until we meet again at this crossroads...

Blues to 'ya!

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