Blues | WGLT

Blues

Adia Victoria headlines the GLT Summer Concert June 8
Red Light Management

South Carolina native Adia Victoria is often described as a blue woman with elements of punk, gospel, and goth. Not unlike Flannery O’Connor, one of her favorite authors.

Promotional poster for Kool Ray & the Polaroidz, circa 1980s
Tracy Pitts / Stormbrew Music

Members of the 1980s central Illinois band Kool Ray & the Polaroidz reunite Sunday evening at Daddios in downtown Bloomington for a musical celebration of life for the man who managed them.

Anthony Gomes
Stephen Jensen

Blues-rocker Anthony Gomes says he's donating a portion of the proceeds of his Friday show at the Castle Theatre to the Twin Cities-based HEAL Foundation, which supports autism acceptance.

Neal Francis playing keyboard on his new single "These Are The Days"
Neal Francis / YouTube

Chicago keyboard player Neal Francis said he was knocked out by rootsy New Orleans and Chicago music at a very young age.

C.J. Chenier
Karen Murphy / Chicago Blues News

CJ Chenier is known as “The Crown Prince of Zydeco.” But the son of the man known as “The King of Zydeco” said the music he plays isn’t technically zydeco.

Matthew Curry performing at the 7th annual Ride Festival in Telluride, Colorado.
Maryelle St. Clare

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Matthew Curry is tweaking his sound as he opens up to new styles on his listening reportoire.

The Smokers Blues Band at Buddy Guy's Legends
The Smokers Blues Band

Peoria's The Smokers Blues Band hopes its blues-rock music can be part of a broader scene helping unite deep political divisions among Central Illinois music fans.

Fantastic Negrito performing at the Ohana Festival on Sept. 30, 2018, in Dana Point, CA.
AP / AP

We think of GLT Blues Radio as the Best Blues Station on Planet Earth because that's what you tell us.

Billy Branch
Melodie Strowbridge

Billy Branch is a Chicago bluesman through and through. But he says many bands we now call classic rock had as much an influence on his sound as did the blues legends that became his mentors.

Samantha Fish returns to the Castle Theatre in Bloomington on Thursday, May 17.
BackstageFlash.net

Kansas City native Samantha Fish said her hometown was a great playground for learning her craft.

“There’s such a steep tradition there. It’s a great jazz and blues town, and a jam scene,” said Fish. “You could go out every night and play with some incredible, top-notch blues players.”

Maryelle St. Clare

Away from stage lights and adoring fans, life as a touring musician can be challenging. The stress of being away from family for weeks or months at a time and dealing with long rides between gigs can fray the nerves of the closest of friends.

Shervin Lainez

Black Crowes founding member Rich Robinson said his new band doesn't feel like the Black Crowes.

Victoria Smith

Tommy Castro has incorporated soul and rock into his blues from nearly the time he began playing music. On his new album “Stompin’ Ground,” he overtly tips his hat to the soul and “hippie-rock” he assimilated while musically coming of age in San Jose, California, in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"Hard Rockin’ Woman" is the second song on “Hurricane” Ruth LeMaster’s latest album “Ain’t Ready for the Grave.” It’s an apt description for the Beardstown native.

Mike McMillen / Front Row Perspective

Peoria’s Bret Bunton remembers listening to GLT Blues when he was 6 or 7 years old.

The Ronnie Baker Brooks 2017 release “Times Have Changed” is aptly titled. For one, he altered his guitar sound, leaving his coveted guitar pedals at home during the recording of the album.

“I plugged straight into the amp through a Gibson guitar,” said Brooks. “That was an adjustment for me at first, mentally.”

Mdou Moctar and his band
Jerome Fino

The thriving Desert Blues sound of the Saharan peoples of North Africa is the spiritual homeland of the blues. Mdou Moctar is a Niger-based disciple of that sound. He's about to embark on a short American tour that kicks off at Reverberation Vinyl in Bloomington.

Brian Rozman

Samantha Fish can shred her blues guitar with the best. So a new album with a dual focus on her voice and hits from the 1950s and 60s is a bit of a curve-ball. Fish calls it freeing.

Kathy Boyle

2017 has been the year of musical reunions in Bloomington-Normal.

In April, The Something Brothers, Mojo Stew, and The Mechanics convened at the Castle Theater in an encore for the ages. Marc Boon’s R&B big band Hip Pocket followed suit a few weeks later. And on Aug. 27, the four-member straight-up blues band The Blue Aces join the reunion tour.

Peggy DeRose

The music world has had many romantic couples; the most famous include Sonny & Cher and Ike & Tina Turner. It’s probably not the best comparison to San Francisco based blues artists Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz. Not that they’re not making great music, but the chemistry isn’t, well, tempestuous.

David Dobson

George Thorogood & the Destroyers have been ripping through blues classics for four decades. Their ferocious recorded takes on "Move It On Over," "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," and of course "Bad To The Bone" are classic rock radio staples.

Phil Brisse / Courtesy

Joel Da Silva came to blues in the Chicago bars he worked in as a teenage bar-back. That’s where he bumped into legends including Junior Wells, Magic Slim, A.C. Reed and Rod Piazza. Well, he didn’t just “bump” into the them; he would pick them up at the airport and deliver them to their hotel.

“Or I would get them barbeque or whatever they wanted,” said Da Silva.

David Carroll / Flickr

Thornetta Davis is known as "Detroit's Queen of the Blues." Her childhood was anything but royal.

"My mom raised four girls with the help of my grandmother," said Davis. "It was an upbringing of turmoil .... my father was an alcoholic and quite violent. When my mother got out of that situation, that's when I feel I started to live."

Charles Osgood Photography

Renee Rosen's new historical novel "Windy City Blues" uses Chicago and its storied blues history as a backdrop to a story about perseverance and coming of age.

"I sort of see it as the story of three people who come to Chicago seeking a better life," said Rosen via Skype from her Chicago home.

Tyler Zoller

The line "I just want to make music and friends/Been that way since I was 12 years old" is from "Music and Friends" off Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band's recent "So Delicious" album. Hearing the words fed back to Josh"Reverend" Peyton elicits a smile from the trio's founder.

Nicole Weingart

As a teen phenom growing up in a city many consider the Mecca of blues and soul music, Eric Gales didn't quite understand what he was absorbing.

"Growing up in Memphis had an impact on me in ways I didn't realize until later in life," said Gales.  "It was a big part of growing up there.  A lot of blues and other styles were there.  And now it's grown into a whole lot of other styles.  I am very proud to have come from Memphis, but there are many other styles attributed to the city."

Jon Norton / WGLT

WGLT picked up a coveted "Keeping The Blues Alive" award presented by the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee.  GLT Morning Edition host and Music Director Jon Norton accepted the award for the station during the KBA awards luncheon February 3 at the Doubletree Hotel in Memphis. The ceremony coincided with the annual week-long "International Blues Challenge," where musicians from around the world compete for cash, prizes, and industry recognition.

hurricaneruth.com

"Hurricane" Ruth LeMaster came to music through her parents. Her father was a trumpet player who fell under the spell of all kinds of music, including Dixieland, blues, jazz, big band, R&B and bluegrass.  As a young girl she absorbed that music, as well as the different sounds from the Friday night jam sessions along the Illinois river during the summers in her hometown of Beardstown, Illinois.

Daniel Hartwig / Flickr

When Chess Records co-founder Phil Chess died October 18 at age 95, it was another opportunity to wax nostalgic about a fertile era of independent U.S. record companies.  From the early 1950’s through the late 1960’s, the Chicago based blues label and its peer independents Atlantic, Sun, and Stax Records, produced and sold millions of recordings of some of America’s greatest roots music.

Dave Weld is one of the founding members of the Chicago Blues Band Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials.  But his Chicago Blues history dates back to his time with Ed's uncle, the now legendary bluesman J.B. Hutto.  On this edition of GLT's Talkin Blues, Weld talks to Jon Norton about meeting Hutto and other blues artists when he ventured from white clubs on Chicago's north side to the black clubs on the city's "grittier" west side. 

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