Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beldon's Blues Points June 30, 2011

Steve Simon is known for an annual blues festival in the Virgin Islands; the “Bluzapalooza” tours bringing live blues to troops and other U.S. personnel in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Egypt; as well as the upcoming “Bluestock” festival in New York State.
For twenty years, Michael Cloeren organized the Pocono Blues Festival. This summer he too will start a new venture, The Pennsylvania Blues Festival in Palmerton, Pennsylvania.
Now the two prominent blues promoters have joined forces. Cloeren has joined Simon’s company, Steve and Jeff Simon Presents, as Vice President of Artist Relations.
“Michael is an award-winning concert producer and promoter who founded the Pocono Blues Festival 20 years ago,” e-mailed Simon, whose Bluzapalooza shows have featured Michael Burks, Shemekia Copeland, Deanna Bogart, Zac Harmon, Janiva Magness and others. “He is one of the true ‘gems’ in our business and when he informed me that he had the time to devote to more Blues events I immediately reached out and offered him an opportunity to join our organization…He is now responsible for all artist relations during each of our concerts and festivals.”
Cloeren founded the Pocono Festival in 1992 at Jack Frost/Big Boulder Ski Area in Pennsylvania and in 2009 started a second festival in Vermont. Last year, Jack Frost Big Boulder discontinued the festival citing economic concerns and let Cloeren go. He then started his own production company.
Scheduled for July 30-31 at the Blue Mountain Ski Festival, the Pennsylvania Blues Festival will feature Shemekia Copeland, Bettye Lavette, Kenny Neal, the Lee Boys, Big Daddy Stallings and Magic Slim and the Tear Drops, among others.
Describing the music community as “close-knit,,” Cloeren emailed he knew Simon through “mutual friends.” “My goal will be to make the artists feel at home,” he wrote. “And the better they feel, the better performances we usually witness.”
Cloeren will play a big part in Simon’s Bluestock, which will feature Buddy Guy, Elvin Bishop, Tab Benoit, Ronnie Baker Brooks and others in a festival scheduled for August 26-28 at New York State’s Hunter Mountain—about twenty minutes from the site of Woodstock, the famed 1969 rock concert.
“At Bluestock 2011, Michael will be the point person to work with all of the bands, from transportation to housing to meals to performance” wrote Simon.
Simon will not be involved in the Pennsylvania Blues Festival--at least this year. “But who knows what the future will bring?” he wrote.

We’ve also had music sent by readers. "Yoga Girl,” is from Scott Wilson and the Contradictions, a band based in San Diego:

“We've been playing at Claire de Lune in San Diego every two weeks for five months and we're doing mostly electric gigs right now,” Wilson wrote. “We recently played the San Diego County Fair on opening night, and we're looking for gigs in LA.”

He described how his group recorded “Yoga Girl:”

"The song was recorded in six different home studios in San Diego (3), Portland, L.A., and Pennsylvania. The parts were all transferred by FTP and mixed in a home studio in San Diego. It was a collaboration done by email and FTP sharing programs. At least two of the solos were recorded directly into the computer and then re-amped in another studio and mic'ed back into the computer. Most of it was recorded in Digital Performer but one of the solos was recorded direct through ProTools LE. So the tools were simple but the process was not. This sort of process is becoming increasingly common but I'm not sure how much of it is going on at an independent level. I'm sure it's becoming extremely commonplace, but it's a recent innovation for making music."
He added he is looking for a yoga studio to help him shoot a video.

We also heard from bassist Freddy Valeriani, who sent his MySpace page containing some of his songs. His website is in Spanish, which I was able to read somewhat with help from a BIG English-Spanish dictionary. From what I could hear, his sound is what could be described more as jazz than blues, but I'm not trying to be a traditionalist with this. I'll feature stuff if it sounds good, and his does. Besides, it all goes back to the blues anyway, right?

As for upcoming events, we heard this from the BluesAholics
of Southern California:

Hello fellow BluesAholics... are we just the luckiest bunch of BluesAholics in the whole of Southern California! It just goes on & on... with our fabulous local talent! As promised, the BluesAholics have put together an incredible awesome foot stompin and major groove list of some of our favorite Blues Artist Shows from all over. So.. if you live there or over here or down the road... you'll have a fabulous time representin' and testifin' to da Blues! Go out there & get ya some! And be sure to make some noise... :>)

They listed the following up coming shows. If you are out that way, check them out:

7.8.11 The 44's @ Gallagher's Huntington Beach Contact: (also playing in Fullerton, Reseda, Fresno etc)
7.7.11 Tom Ball @ Savoy Santa Barbara Contact:
7.8.11 Rob Rio @ Yolie's Ventura Contact:
7.9.11 White Boy James @ Regal Inn Lakewood CA Contact:
7.9.11 2000 Lbs of Blues @ Renaissance Dana Point Contact:
7.21.11 Johnny Mastro @ Savoy Santa Barbara Contact:
7.14.11 Jimmy Claire @ Savoy Santa Barbara Contact:
7.23.11 R & B Bombers @ Nick's Taste of Texas Contact:
7.29.11 Gary Allegretto @ Harvelle's Santa Monica Contact:
7.29.11 Dona Oxford @ Yolies Ventura Contact:

And Scott Robertson contacted us about a special event in Nashville for bass players. Here are the basics:

Wanna Play Music Day at 2011 Summer NAMM
Saturday, July 23
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Nashville Convention Center, Nashville, TN
Tickets: $15, $20 after July 8

And here is a link:

Keep letting us know what y'all are doing out there. We have readers in other countries, so this means you too. Contact us at and we'll do our best to put it out there....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Beldon's Blues Points June 20, 2011

We've gotten some communications from readers and we'd like to share some of them.

Vernon Tart of the group Southern Yankee sent this song:

Tart wrote: "As an artist it is hard to get reviews and at this time I am seeking writers to review the new Southern Yankee release
The Re Unification of Rock N' Roll, music with melodies you can remember, that make you smile and have a good time.
I can email the entire release with cover art and bio or can mail finished cd."

This song was recorded by the Broomdusters, a group based in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

On the festival/concert scene, singer Nadine Rae and her Allstars will perform at Proud Mary's Restaurant in Ft. Washington, MD on Wednesday, June 29. The All-Stars feature Barry Brady on keyboards, John Bell on guitar, SOL on guitar, Charles "Reds" Adkins on bass and Andy Hamburger on drums. The restaurant is located at 13600 King Charles Terrace in Ft. Washington. The event will run from 7-10 p.m. It is free, so you have no excuse not to come out.

We found what sounds like a great daylong blues festival in California. This ad provides the details far better than we ever could:

This news from Bob Corritore:
• Chicago Blues: A Living History Volume 2 to be released in mid June! In 2009 Raisin Music records released a concept CD that won the hearts of many a blues fan. It was called Chicago Blues: A Living History, and it presented a program that exemplified the development of Chicago Blues, featuring many of the Windy City's top blues performers; Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch, Lurrie Bell, Carlos Johnson, Matthew Skoller, Billy Flynn, Johnny Iguanna, Felton Crews, and Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith. This CD earned Grammy, and Blues Music Award nominations, and won a Blues Blast Music Award. This group toured and made numerous high profile appearances to great fanfare. A 2nd installment of this concept album will soon be released with all of the same musicians from the first CD plus special guests Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Zora Young, Magic Slim, Ronnie Baker Brooks, and Billy Dickens. Matthew Skoller reports that volume 2 will be released by Raisin Music in mid June of 2011 (not quite in time for the Chicago Blues Festival), and will be aptly titled Chicago Blues: A Living History, The (R)Evolution Continues
• Diunna Greenleaf CD cover! In our last email the link to Diunna Greenleaf's CD album art did not connect. To see the cover of her new CD go to We look forward to seeing how the world embraces Diunna's new CD as it is her masterpiece.
• RIP Benny Spellman - December 11, 1931 to June 3, 2011. Benny Spellman was an amazing singer whose hits "Fortune Teller" and "Lipstick Traces" helped to define the sound of 1960s New Orleans R & B. He passed away in Florida on Friday, June 3 at age 79. Spellman was also a member of Huey "Piano" Smith & the Clowns, and was the low voice of Ernie K-Doe's smash hit "Mother In Law". In 2009, He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
• Delta Groove to release album by youthful Dutch harmonica player Big Pete! Not to be confused with veteran blues shouter Big Pete Pearson, this Big Pete stands 6' 2", has reddish-blond hair and rosy cheeks and is in his early 30s (Big Pete's last name is actually Van der Pluijm). His dynamic performances last weeked at the Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival showed the harmonica influences of William Clarke, Al Blake, and Lester Butler, and a sweet, full-toned natural voice. Delta Groove chief Randy Chortkoff reports: "I'm now in the middle of this massive Big Pete recording. We have a huge list of special guests on it. Jimi Bott and Willie J. Campbell, Alex Schultz, Kirk Fletcher, Kid Ramos, Shawn Pittman, Kim Wilson, Johnny Dyer, Rob Rio, Al Blake, Paul Oscher, Rusty Zinn, Mojo Mark, etc., etc... I must be totally CRAZY. An album on Big Pete who nobody knows and is from another country! But Pete is sOOOOOO good and I can't help myself!" We look forward to the resulting album.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Donald Kinsey Interview

Had some real fun yesterday. Interviewed guitarist Donald Kinsey of the Kinsey Report, who talked about the band, his family and his time with Bob Marley, among other things. Caught him just before the Kinseys played the D.C. Blues Society's Third Annual Silver Spring Blues Festival. We started by talking about the band's plans for the future:

Donald then talked about his time with Bob Marley:

Later, Donald talked about why he took up the guitar as an instrument and what side projects he has going now:

What follows is a Kinsey Report mini-concert. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hot Biscuit

Growing up in Southside Chicago, bluesman Dave “Biscuit” Miller received two things from his grandmother. One was his nickname, given to him because he was always in the kitchen when she was trying to cook. The other was a love of music, developed as he absorbed the gospel and soul music she played regularly.
At age 11, a visit to his friend Datrick’s house turned him from a music lover to a music maker. There, he picked up a four string bass owned by Datrick’s brother Darnell and started playing around with it. After Darnell taught him a couple of songs, a new Chicago bluesman was born.
Miller formed his first band, Clever, with another childhood friend, Ivan Wallace, who moved with him to Indianapolis in 1982. There Miller met Sonny Rogers, who taught him a lot about playing basic blues. With Rogers, Miller and Wallace recorded “They Call Me the Cat Daddy,” which netted Rogers a Handy Award for Best New Artist. Unfortunately, he died before he could accept it.
Miller started working with other blues artists: among them former Muddy Waters sideman Mojo Buford and Lady Blue, a back-up vocalist for Ike and Tina Turner.
Then, one day he was called back to Chicago—by none other than legendary bluesman Lonnie Brooks, who needed a bass player one night.
Miller ended up playing with Brooks for ten years. When things slowed down with Brooks during the winters, Miller sat in with other musicians. In 2000, he formed his own band, Biscuit In the Mix and recorded a CD, “Come Together.”
Miller also started playing with the Anthony Gomes band, an up-and-coming group he had once sat in with. Gomes’ band recorded five CD’s during the five years Miller played with him.
Beldon’s Blues Point caught up with Miller after a concert he and his band performed in Bladensburg, Maryland for the D.C. Blues Society:
BBP: Chicago blues, what’s that all about?

Biscuit: Well, it’s about your feelings. It’s all about what’s inside. Being in Chicago, you get a mix of everything: blues, soul, rock and roll, it’s all about the new and the old. Fixing it together.
BBP: What was it like playing with the Brooks family?
Biscuit: That was the most wonderful experience I could ever have in blues, because with Lonnie, Lonnie Brooks is a very family-oriented person. So I got a chance to be around a family and learn about the business and also learn about being on the road as a family. So now that I have my own band I’m able to treat it as a family and listen to all of things that may go wrong or may go right and just be on the road as a blues guy that’s bringing it in and keeping it going. Bringing in the new and the old, that’s how I like to mix mine up. So it was a wonderful thing to be with Mr. Lonnie Brooks and his family.
BBP: What’s it like leading a band as a bass player? Many consider that a background instrument. Is it difficult? I mean are there challenges to that?
Biscuit: Yeah, that’s very challenging because it’s a guitar-dominated field. And that’s why I have two wonderful guitar players. The thing about being a bass player up front is it’s very difficult sometimes because you have to concentrate on the words and entertain and play the bass line. Very, very hard thing to do sometimes because I like to focus on entertaining and sometimes it’s very hard to entertain people. I got to think about my bass line too and the words to the song, so…it’s challenging, but life is challenging. You know what I mean? You have to keep a positive attitude, get up there and work on it day by day. And I really enjoy that. You know it’s a challenge.
BBP: Is it hard to compose a song off of the bass?
Biscuit: Sometimes. Because you got to either think of the story or you got to think of what will feel good, because I love music…my music, I like more happy kind of things. I do my blues with a smile. So I try to come up with a bass line sometimes. Or I just try to get a story, somebody might say something and I’ll try to make it a fun story. And fun for me because I like to have fun on stage so it’s not always an easy thing to do, you know. But it’s fun because it challenges you, and it challenges you being a writer and trying to find new stories, you know. So I enjoy the challenge.
BBP: What kind of stories get you going, what kind of stories turn you on?
Biscuit: Like butter my biscuits and sleeping in the doghouse, walking in the park, sitting in the park, and I just said “everyone is so happy” sitting in the grass. And I just started writing a song in the park one day. So, black-eyed peas and cornbread, let’s go fishing, I was in Minnesota fishing one day, I just added the hook line and uh, (sings) “Let’s go fishing baby!” I just try to find happiness in my songs so I hope I’m answering the question correctly…
BBP: No, you’re good. You’re good.
Biscuit: But I’m trying to do my music and (to someone passing him complimenting him on his performance) thank you very much. And I’m just trying to—so I can make people feel good.
BBP: Some people when they think of blues they think of sad and hardship and all of that…
Biscuit: Well, there’s a mixture of that too. It’s a mixture of sad, it’s about what’s going on inside you. But the younger generation, when you say blues, they right away, they think sad. And that’s it. You know. So you have to be able to catch their attention and bring them into what we’re doing, and that’s what’s keeping the blues alive. So in the newer generation it’s a different thing for them. So it’s just something that for me, I try to mix my blues and try to grab the young and the middle and the old..and hope I can touch someone’s heart to be happy and touch someone with a story. The blues is an American music and it was—we look at it as sad, but they were singing songs and they were working, so that’s what kept them up, that kept them going as they were singing songs (sings), “Ohhh, I’m going in the morning.” Kept them alive, you know. So…
BBP: It’s not all sad.
Miller: No, it’s not all sad. No way.
BBP: How did you find the bass as an instrument as opposed to the guitar? How did you first start playing the bass?
Biscuit: I started school, I was going to school in Chicago on the South Side and Willie Dixon came to my school with Lucky Peterson. And Lucky Peterson was a young prodigy at the time and he was playing piano and he came to my school and did an afternoon show. And when I seen that, I wanted to play music. But I didn’t know it was bass. I happened to be over a friend’s house and he had a bass in the corner. I just picked it up and after that, I was over at a friend’s house and his name was Datrick Dinsdale and his brother had a bass guitar sitting off in the corner and I picked the bass up and his brother showed me some licks. After that I went home and asked my mom could she buy me a bass. I would say Willie Dixon –with Lucky Peterson—inspired my career.
BBP: I heard later you played with Anthony Gomes?
Biscuit: Yes, I played for him, I recorded on his records, and I played for him on the road for five, and I recorded probably eight years.
BBP: What did you take from that experience?
Biscuit: Well, we tapped into a more younger audience with the rock. More of the upbeat rock and roll stuff. So I think that that was a different experience for me. And I was very happy to be a part of Anthony’s band because we touched a different audience. Good experience.
BBP: I also heard you spent some time down in Clarkesdale where you had some experience with Rufus Thomas?
Biscuit: One of my moments playing with a famous person, that was my first gig at school, I played a show with Rufus. I was going to school to get a trade. My grandmother taught school at Coahoma Junior College and I was going there to take up carpentry and also I was going to finish my education and it didn’t happen. I played that one show and I was talking to Rufus and he said “Man you came from Chicago.” He said “when you finish school you should go back to Chicago.” Well, I thought about that and I said “Man I’d better go now.” I was 19 or 20 years old and I was trying to find myself and that’s when I went back to Chicago. My grandmother didn’t like it, but I started a good career here after that.
BBP: Who are some of your favorite artists overall?
Biscuit: It’s hard to say. Starting out with Willie Dixon and I had a chance to play with Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor and Lonnie Brooks, all the years I got a chance to meet a lot of people and go on tour with them…The Blues Brothers..I don’t really have a favorite, I kind of like them all. I got a chance to meet Albert Collins on a tour that I was with, before he passed. Luther Allison. That list could go on and on and on. It’s hard for me to pick one person out of that whole list. But the people that are on the list have inspired me as a musician. Because I love bass players and guitar players. Bob Stroger, he’s a bass player out of Chicago, Willie Kent, you know I used to go see them all. I wasn’t prejudiced about no instrument. I just wanted to see them all. Each one has a different talent to bring that is inside me, so…
BBP: Is there an experience you had with a musician that kind of opened your eyes?
Biscuit: That’s a hard one…
BBP: Probably a lot of them, huh (both laugh)
Biscuit: It’s hard for me to pinpoint just one person to actually say that….
BBP: One experience you had playing?
Biscuit: Yeah, I got a lot of experience from playing with Lonnie, but as far as just one person I would have to really sit down and think about that one. I’m sorry about that…
BBP: Just got a lot from different people.
Biscuit: Yeah, But Lonnie was probably on top of the list of that when I started touring ten years with him. I would say Lonnie Brooks.
BBP: Where do you want to take your band now?
Biscuit: I want to just enjoy music, have fun and just try to touch as many hearts as I can and play as many gigs as I can. I used to do 250 a year, but as of now I want to get back to that. And keep putting records out!