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January 8, 2010 Volume # 5  Issue # 2

Special Announcements
CD or DVD Releases
News Flash
Blues Society News
House of Blues Radio Hour
Roots Blues Airplay Charts
Blues Festivals
About Us
Chicago Blues: A LIVING HISTORY is being hailed by music critics, musicians and music historians worldwide as the most important tribute of our time to the Chicago Blues.
CBLH brings together two generations of Chicago's greatest living traditionalists. In an unprecedented Chicago Blues collaboration, the legendary Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell--inheritors of the Chicago Blues tradition--have come together to celebrate and pay tribute to the evolution of the genre from its earliest days through the present.
In April of 2009, these seminal artists released their landmark 2-disc CD. The 21 track, double-CD pays tribute to the genre's creators, its rich history, its current practitioners, and its singular place in the (r)evolution of 20th century American music.
The group has united to give witness to the history of the genre in its most quintessential form as these extraordinary artists are the bridge between the originators of the genre and the Chicago Blues of today--through them the Chicago Blues remains a living tradition.
Most recent awards and nominations:
Grammy nomination:Best Traditional Blues Album 2009
Blues Music Award nomination:Best Album 2009, Best Traditional Album 2009
Blues Blast Award: Winner, Best Traditional Album 2009
L'Académie du Jazz de France: Winner, Best Blues Album 2009
The deluxe 8-panel, 2-disc digipack designed by Larry Kazal comes with a 36-page booklet filled with extensive biographical information and photos from Chicago photographer Mark PoKempner.
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Crime Scene Queen draws liberally from the vintage roots music of forgotten eras, focusing on themes that drive the Informants and their fans to common destinations--celebration, heartache, redemption , and fatalism. .
This twelve song record is a natural diversion for the modern roots pioneers, as it continues their musical trek from the jump blues and R&B stylings that defined 2007's Stiletto Angel , into new territories -- from gospel to rock. Crime Scene Queen was recorded last winter at Denver's Notably Fine Audio marking the return of Stiletto Angel engineer Mario Casillo and producer Jeremy Lawton (Big Head Todd and the Monsters), who further refined the unmistakable roots sound they helped create on The Informants' critically acclaimed debut record.
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Ellen Whyte has just released her fourth album, appropriately titled: Four Way Stop, a soaring achievement from an accomplished singer songwriter. Long time Portland, Oregon KINK FM 102 Blues Show radio personality, Bob Ancheta raved that it gave him “goose bumps!”
Ellen has fronted bands continuously now for 30 years, as she has three critically acclaimed albums in addition to the latest effort. She was captivated by music since she was a child growing up in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Leaving the humidity and the taffeta dresses of her accordion marching band behind, Ellen branched out to blue grass, gospel, rock, blues and jazz. Her eclectic tastes in music include heroes such as Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, and Bonnie Raitt.
Ellen is known for her astonishing vocals, as she gracefully moves among genres from blues to jazz to funk and ballads. Her percussive rhythm guitar work is well suited to her voice, and she plays solo, in duos and trios, up to a full nine piece band complete with a horn section. She’s won numerous awards for her work, including consideration for two Grammy Award nominations in 1999.
Ellen Whte has been crafting this new album for several years, with her artistic insistence on quality versus quantity. Some of Oregons most talented musicians collaborated on this exciting project including guitarist Gary Maziere and songwriter John Mullin. The end result of wide ranging emotions speaks to our experience in those challenging times. This is an "album" in every sense, from the look and feel to the soaring presence of an accomplished singer/songwriter who will touch you with her "heart rocking" sound.
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WHEN Heartbreak Hotel became Elvis Presley’s first No.1 hit in the spring of 1956, the United States was still racially segregated in many areas, and crooner Frank Sinatra was its biggest star.
The huge country was in the midst of a massive postwar boom that put money in children’s pockets to buy records while the spread of television and portable radios was creating a new media age.
Twenty-one years later, when Presley died aged 42 in 1977, he had done as much as anyone to dramatically change the world’s strongest military, economic and cultural superpower.
The rock ’n’ roll music he pioneered smashed racial barriers, and became the soundtrack of the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s, making him one of the most important figures in 20th century pop culture.
Had he lived, Presley would be celebrating his 75th birthday today.
Even decades after his death, his estate earned a total of US$55 million (RM186.6 million) in the past year from all his work, making him the fourth highest-earning deceased celebrity, according to a list by Forbes magazine.
Presley was born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, the only son of a poor white family. He grew up for much of his early life in African American neighbourhoods and is remembered as a shy and lonely child who played guitar, hung around blues record stores when his family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and gazed at the flashy outfits on display at the local costume shops.
He had a breakthrough in 1954, thanks to a fortuitous chain of events that involved an alert receptionist and a relaxed moment during a recording session, when the studio owner heard him singing the blues number, That’s All Right, during a break.
Sam Phillips, the owner who was interested in African-American blues, realised the potential of a good-looking white kid singing upbeat blues. And as soon as Presley’s song hit the airwaves, he became an overnight local star.
After signing for a major record label, he became a national and international sensation in 1956 with hits like Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, and Love Me Tender. Appearing on America’s top television shows, his unique vocal style, his visual swagger and provocative gyrations drove teenagers wild, and conservative critics even wilder.
Presley also reflected the simmering race issues of a time when the civil rights movement was still in its infancy. On the back of his early hits, Presley bought Graceland mansion in Memphis in 1957 at the same time as All Shook Up dominated the charts. But his popularity was not limited to music as he became the first rock star to also be a movie star, making four hit films that year before he was drafted for a two-year army stint in 1958 that took him to Germany.
On his discharge in 1960, his train was mobbed by adoring fans and he was soon back in the studio recording some of his greatest hits such as It’s Now or Never and Are You Lonesome Tonight.
But even as he was joined at Graceland by the teenaged Priscilla Beaulieu, who would eventually become his wife, he also started displaying the insular behaviour that characterised the rest of his life.
By 1968, Presley was deeply unfulfilled over his singing career. But he made a spectacular comeback with a Christmas special that was his first live performance for seven years. Soon his marriage to Priscilla ended, his weight ballooned, he lost his legendary self-confidence and he increasingly sought solace in barbiturates, almost dying from an overdose in November 1973.
By 1977, he had become "a grotesque caricature of his sleek, energetic former self", according to biographer Tony Scherman. On Aug 16, he was found dead on the floor of his Graceland bathroom. The King of Rock ’n’ Roll was dead, but he had left a lasting legacy.
"Elvis was the greatest cultural force in the 20th century," the late classicalestro Leonard Bernstein once said. "He introduced the beat to everything – music, language, clothes, it was a whole new social revolution."

After a two week search, Kevan Carlsen, left, gives homeless blues singer Michael Thompson, who goes by the stage name Black Velvet, the CD he produced for him.Photograph by: Trevor Brown
Victoria,BC - Two local musicians who recorded the music of a homeless blues singer so he could help support himself by selling the CDs have finally found the man, two weeks after they started searching for him.
Kevan Carlsen and Brad Tasker started looking for the blues busker — who goes by the name of Black Velvet but whose real name is Michael Thompson — Dec. 22, hoping to surprise him with the finished product.
Nearly every night for two weeks, Carlsen, 24, and Tasker drove around looking for Black Velvet, staking out the Sticky Wicket and other local haunts to no avail.
“We knew that we’d find him eventually and that it would be glorious when we did,” said Carlsen, who spent much of last year recording and mixing a CD of Black Velvet’s music. “It was a long, hard search.”
It turned out that Thompson’s guitar had been stolen — something Carlsen said happens to him all too frequently — so he wasn’t out playing.
On Sunday night, after being told about a Times Colonist story documenting their search, Thompson knocked on the door of Carlsen’s View Royal home. “He said, ‘Surprise,’” Carlsen recalled yesterday. “I said, ‘Wow you’re like a ghost man. It was impossible to find you.’ ”
Carlsen gave the musician 40 copies of the CD and a portable CD player, while fellow musician Trevor Brown gave Thompson a new acoustic guitar.
Carlsen and Thompson immediately went downtown and started playing together, with the CDs front and centre.
“Everyone was saying, ‘Wow, you have an album? I’ve been waiting years for this,’ ” Carlsen said.
Thompson has been playing music on the streets of Victoria for the last 20 years and Carlsen said local musicians and blues aficionados have come to view him as an institution.
That night alone, they sold about 15 copies for $10 each, although a few people insisted on giving Thompson $20.
Carlsen has sold about 15 copies, and three music stores — the Turntable in Fan Tan Alley, Lyle’s Place on Yates Street and Alloy Music in Langford — are also selling the CD.
Carlsen takes whatever it costs to print the CDs and the rest goes to Thompson, who has found a place to live for the cold month of January.
“The sales from the CDs are helping him pay for that,” he said.
Carlsen said he will keep producing more CDs so Thompson can continue to make money off his throaty lyrics and powerful guitar.
Thompson did not want to be interviewed for the article, saying he wanted to let Carlsen take the spotlight.
“He is very excited about the CDs,” Carlsen said.
“He went as far as to say heaven sent us to him.”

Roots Music Report welcomes 57 newly registered Radio Stations this month. The following radio station professionals are now authorized to begin reporting weekly album airplay spins to Roots Music Report's RADIO AIRPLAY CHARTS.
  • SIRIUS / XM Blues - Bill Wax - Washington, DC
  • KUNR - Roger Slugg - Reno, NV
  • KTUH - Stevre Stoddard - Honolulu, HI
  • WRTB - Rich Gordon - Rockford, IL
  • WDVR - Jeffrey Apoian - Sergeantsville, NJ
  • Ocean Beach Radio - Ernie Hopseker - Newport, OR
  • KNUQ - Shaggy Jenkins - Wailuku, HI
  • WCLM - Preston Brown - Richmond, VA
  • KRBR - LEO ASHCRAFT - Mount Vernon, TX
  • Countrytrack syndicated 23 radio stations - Jac Oerlemans - Netherlands
  • KRAJ - Craig Altman - Quartz Hill, CA
  • House of Mercy - Barry Everitt - London, England
  • Radio MENERGY - Xavier Boulanger - Lescure, France
  • KALH - Ken Bass - La Luz, NM
  • Radio Eagle - Arno Bierings - Belgium
  • Digital Blues Gateway - Ashwyn Smyth - Essex, United Kingdom
  • KPOV - Chuckaroo The Buckaroo - Bend, OR
  • Bluesandbeyond - Ben Sanders - Internet
  • WFPK - Kevin Yazell - Louisville, KY
  • M3Radio - Empress Red - New York, NY
  • NBRN.FM - Mike Bradford - Madison, TN
  • KDHX - Fred Friction - St. Louis, MO
  • Vibes Radio - Renee Trujillo - Belize City, Belize
  • Prescription Bluegrass - Brian McNeal - Kingman, AZ
  • WAIF - Margarette Stewart - Cincinnati, OH
  • Ralphs Back Porch - Ralph Hampton - Bronson, TX
  • Happy FM 90.1 - Robb Tilmouth - Victor Harbor, South Australia
  • KGHP - Michael ONeill - Gig Harbor, WA
  • WAPS 91.3fm - BE Mann - Akron, OH
  • WROX - Roger Stolle - Clarksdale
  • Klbelp-100.7fm - Kurt Chaffee - Bismarck, ND
  • MTA - Jota Mello - Anta Ui, Portugal
  • Brave New Frontiers - Randall Cousins - Brampton, Canada
  • Rangeradionetwork - Bruce Pollock - Carpinteria, CA
  • LYON 1 - Jacques DUFOUR - Lyon, France
  • RPEM-FM / ECMA Radio - Rafel Corbi - Palafrugell, Spain
  • WQJC-LP 107.9 - Stephen Denemark - Quincy, IL
  • KPOV-LPFM - William Johnson - Bend, OR
  • OHR 88.3 FM - Wyn Machon - Oamaru, New Zeland
  • ThomasMillerShow - Thomas Miller - Artesia, CA
  • KOPN - Radio Ranger - Columbia, MO
  • CKWR-FM - Dan Joseph - Waterloo Ontario, Canada
  • KCBX - Neal Losey - San Luis Obispo, CA
  • WIZN - Charlie Frazier - Burlington, VT
  • WPSU - Mel DeYoung - University Park, PA
  • Countrymusic24 - Birgit Walter - Berlin, Germany
  • KPRG - Tom Pearson - Tumon Bay, Guam
  • 2GCR FM103.3 - Griz Kitchener - Goulburn, Australia
  • Hutt Radio 106.1 FM - Eddie O - Lower Hutt, New Zeland
  • FACM - Florent Dufour - Vaugneray, France
  • Radio Primitive 92.4 - Gerald Aubepart - Reims, France
  • QBN-FM96.7 - Beth Brown - Queanbeyan, Australia
  • WYKT - Michael Saracini - Kankakee, IL
  • WAMU HD 88.5-2 105.5FM - Katy Daley - Washington, DC
  • WUMD - Geary Kaczorowski - Dartmouth, MA
  • WTHE - Clara Mack - Mineola, NY
  • EVW 95,6 & 99.1 FM - Bernd Schulte - Lingen, Germany
  • CKNX 920 AM - Dan Bieman - Wingham, Canada
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    Kids' Favorite Sandra Boynton Makes Music Video
    NPR - If you're a parent of a toddler, or if you've been a parent of a toddler sometime over the past 25 years, you're probably familiar with the work of Sandra Boynton.
    She's the illustrator and author of nearly 50 board books filled with colorful barnyard animals, dogs and hippos. In short, she's the queen of silly for the tot set.
    Boynton is also well known for creating about 5,000 greeting cards for the company Recycled Paper. Her best known birthday card is Hippo Birdie Two Ewes, which to date has sold more than 10 million copies. And she's an accomplished songwriter— her 2002 album Philadelphia Chickens was nominated for a Grammy.
    This past year, the 56-year-old illustrator, songwriter and mother of four made her directorial debut. She turned her song One Shoe Blues into a music video starring none other than the King of Blues — B.B. King — and a colorful ensemble of sock puppets.
    The movie short was shot in one day in Las Vegas in July 2008. It was released as a book and DVD last fall. The song was originally released on the 2007 album Blue Moo: 17 Jukebox Hits from Way Back Never.
    The result is sheer fun for all ages. B.B. King sits in an old armchair in a red shack at the end of a gravel road. He strums his guitar Lucille and shakes his head, and with a touch of irony and delight he sings about his missing shoe:
    Yes, I can hear my mama callin.' She says, 'Really, now. It's time to go. And I say, 'Mama, I can't find one of my green shoes.' And she says, 'Oh, no. Not again!' I got the one-shoe blues. It seems they're never gonna stop.
    It's a routine that parent and child alike can relate to. Boynton tells NPR's Michele Norris that when she sits down to write a project, she makes no distinction at all between kids and adults who will enjoy it.
    "I refer to it as the Rocky and Bullwinkle effect," she says. "If something is of value to me, it should be able to be appreciated by different ages on different levels and in different ways."
    Click to see video

    Phoenix Public Library Exhibits "CrossRoads BLUES" Jan. 17 - March 28 Phoenix, AZ. - Burton Barr Central Library will host an exhibit by Michael Allen Engstrom, titled "CrossRoads BLUES," Jan. 17 - March 28 at the library's @Central Gallery, 1221 N. Central Ave.
    Free artist receptions, hosted by the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library, will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. during First Friday art walk on Feb. 5 and March 5.
    Engstrom's oil paintings portray early century delta and piedmont style blues musicians. He surrounds his subjects with vivid color and bits of text that suggest the time and place their music was created. (Click here for high resolution images.)
    Phoenix Public Library is a system of 15 branch libraries and the Burton Barr Central Library. For more information, call 602-262-4636 or visit .

    John Bell, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Set for Hannah’s Buddies Benefit
    John Bell will host his 11th annual Hannah’s Buddies Charity Classic and Concert this February. The two-night event will feature a charity golf tournament in Orlando, FL on February 19 and an all-star concert at Disney World’s House of Blues on February 20.
     In addition to Widespread Panic guitarist, this year’s John Bell and Friends Benefit Bash will feature Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and Nickel & The Bye Polar Bears.
     A dinner and silent auction will also be held at the House of Blues before the all-star performance.
    According to Panic, “It all started in 1999 when John Bell of Widespread Panic decided to do something to help his goddaughter, Hannah, and children like her afflicted with the neuromuscular disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). John and Hannah gathered seventy-five golfers for a day on the greens, a silent auction and a concert at the Orlando, Florida House of Blues. Since then, the Hannah’s Buddies Charity Classic has been held annually in Orlando, Florida to raise funds for SMA research. In its first ten years, nearly $2 million has been raised for SMA research through the event.”

    Blues Legend Nick Gravenites "Bluestar" to See First CD Release
    Philadelphia, PA -- Much sought after out-of-print solo LP by San Francisco/Chicago guitar legend Nick “The Greek" Gravenites, best known for his work with Janis Joplin, The Butterfield Blues Band, Big Brother & Holding Company and Quicksilver, gets its first CD release. Originally released on LP by the Line label in 1980, 'Bluestar' features John Cipollina (Quicksilver) on guitar and Huey Lewis on harmonica. Foremost reissue label Renaissance Records in conjunction with  released the digitally remastered CD on December 8, 2009.
    Nick Gravenites grew up on the southside of Chicago hanging out in the mid-50's with fellow musicians Elvin Bishop, Paul Butterfield, Michael Bloomfield, who went on to form The Butterfield Blues Band. Learning first-hand from the southside blues greats like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Otis Rush, The Butterfield Blues Band burst onto the music scene redefining the blues. From the late 50's through the mid 60's, Gravenites travelled between Chicago and San Francisco, settling in the Bay Area in 1965. In addition to The Butterfield Blues Band, Gravenites has written and worked wth the likes of Janis Joplin (Nick wrote the song “Buried Alive In The Blues", but sadly Janis died the night before her scheduled time in the studio and the song appeared as an instrumental on her album), Michael Bloomfield, the Electric Flag (of which Gravenites was a founding member), Pure Prairie League, Tracy Nelson, Roy Buchanan, Jimmy Witherspoon as well as blues legends Howlin' Wolf, Otis Rush, and James Cotton. He has appeared on over 40 albums as singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer.
    Nick is also responsible for writing the score for the film 'The Trip', and produced the music for the movie 'Steelyard Blues'. He produced the world hit “One Toke Over the Line" for Brewer & Shipley and the album 'Right Place-Wrong Time' for Otis Rush for which he was nominated for a Grammy Award. Nick also worked extensively with John Cipollina after producing the first Quicksilver Messenger Service album. They formed the Nick GravenitesJohn Cipollina Band and completed several tours in Europe. Nick still performs live in northern California today. He was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame in 2003 for his song “Born In Chicago", and most recently toured with the Chicago Blues Reunion, and a new Electric Flag Band.
    Nick Gravenites 'Bluestar' is available from Amazon, iTunes and your local retailer. Other titles scheduled for release by Renaissance Records include Graham Parker & The Rumour 'Live In San Francisco 1979', Network - s/t and 'Nightwork', Duke Jupiter 'White Knuckle Ride', Fran King 'My Sweet Elixir', City Boy 'It's Personal', Phoenix - s/t and 'In Full View' (ex-Argent), Unicorn - 'Blue Pine Trees', 'Too Many Crooks' (prod. by David Gilmour).
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    The recent rise of multicultural, rock and roots children's music isn't news to Music for Little People. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Northern California-based independent label has been committed to bringing alternative music to families since its inception in 1985 as a living room mail order operation in woodsy Humboldt County.
    Hot current favorites Dan Zanes, Laurie Berkner and Milkshake appear in its catalog; so do such blues, world and folk veterans as Taj Mahal, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Pete Seeger and Buckwheat Zydeco. The company's themed compilations feature the songs of artists past and present -- Lena Horne, Judy Garland, B.B. King, James Taylor and Willie Nelson among them.
    With more than 100 releases, a catalog of 500-plus songs and more than 8 million CDs sold, including the platinum-selling "Toddler Favorites," Music for Little People is an improbable survivor in a niche industry that not only presents singular marketing challenges, but also is subject to the ups and downs of the recording industry at large.
    Luck and business savvy have played a part -- the company produces its own recordings and sells music-related and educational products such as instruments, CD and MP3 players, organic toys and child-safe headphones -- but it's the world-as-one vision of company founder Leib Ostrow that has earned respect and a loyal following through good times and bad.
    Ostrow's mission is to celebrate diverse cultures, peaceful coexistence and the universality of family, childhood, play and community. He seeks out artists who share his commitment.
    "The first time I talked to Leib," says Zanes, who sought Ostrow's advice before forming his own family music label, "I thought, man, this guy sounds like he's really enjoying his job. That's what I wanted to hear, somebody who got up in the morning and loved being in this world and was able to realize his musical dreams through making good family music."
    A musician with an eclectic entrepreneurial background in the worlds of organic farming and musical instrument manufacture and retail (including a stint in the 1970s as owner of a Bay Area music store called Chickens That Sing Music), Ostrow became interested in children's music when he and his then-wife, Linda Dillon-Ostrow, moved to Humboldt County to raise their young family.
    Living 40 miles from the nearest traffic light, in a house surrounded by old-growth redwoods, the Ostrows launched a one-page, foldout catalog of eclectic children's recordings, videos and musical instruments. "We used solar energy to run our computers," Ostrow says. "It was the whole hippie thing up in the hills."
    Enthusiastic response to the catalog soon propelled the venture out of Ostrow's living room into a trailer on the property, and then to office space in the Northern California town of Redway.
    In the meantime, Ostrow turned his attention to producing. His first recording was "Shake Sugaree," a collaboration with blues-folk icon Taj Mahal. It set the tone for the ethnic, roots and pop songs that would follow, each release bearing Ostrow's signature touch as producer, often writer and sometime guitarist.
    Los Lobos recorded its first children's album for the company, the Grammy-nominated "Papa's Dream," with rock and folkloric songs hung on an original story framework. Ostrow went to South Africa to record Ladysmith Black Mambazo's debut children's recording, "Gift of the Tortoise," with Zulu lyrics woven into a story narrated by Gcina Mhlophe, former director of Johannesburg's acclaimed Market Theatre.
    He recorded '60s icon Donovan in Ireland and a Jamaican folk music project with Bob Marley's mother, Cedella Marley Booker, in Hawaii. The latter was another collaboration with Taj Mahal, who was also featured on the label's Grammy-nominated mix of blues, doo-wop and rock 'n' roll, "Shakin' a Tailfeather."
    "Choo Choo Boogaloo" spotlighted Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural Jr., "a natural fit" for Ostrow's company, says the zydeco master's manager and collaborator, Ted Fox. "Almost a week doesn't go by when Buck is on tour that somebody doesn't come up and say how that record turned them on to roots music or zydeco, Disney was the primary purveyor of music for children when we got started," Ostrow says. "Then Raffi came along, and there was an openness to trying different things."
    Music for Little People isn't alone in offering culturally diverse music to children, says Regina Kelland, the former director of children's marketing for A&M Records, now an independent consultant for children's music labels and artists. "It's the way they do it and the artists they choose to work with that makes them unique.
    "I was bombarded when I was at A&M -- 'why don't you sign this or that?' And the 'this or that' was garbage. I was looking for things that would honor and support kids. Music for Little People has remained true to that." "The good news," Ostrow says, "is that children are always children and they love music."
    Music for Little People's fortunes skyrocketed for a time when Warner Bros. Records came calling "three years into the business," Ostrow says. With the rise of Raffi as the first children's music superstar and the success of Joanie Bartels, Parachute Express and other independent children's artists, the industry giant was one of several major companies that made a brief attempt to cash in on the trend.
    The joint venture that ensued brought Ostrow's company distribution, funding and access to Warner Bros. artists and recording masters, leading to scores of original and compilation albums. When the partnership ended amicably in 1994, Ostrow bought back full ownership.
    Music for Little People is marking its 25th anniversary with themed compilations throughout this year that reflect the culturally diverse genres the label has explored, beginning late this month with "Pickin' & Grinnin': Great Folk Songs for Kids" and "Love & Peace: Greatest Hits for Kids."
    "They are either artists that I've produced and have been on our recordings, or artists that we've sold and whose songs I love," Ostrow says.
    To devote more time to producing, Ostrow sold the mail order/website portion of his operation in 2007 to Connecticut-based Trudy Corp., although he continues to serve as manager of the division.
    His upcoming projects include an album of songs sung by Israeli and Palestinian children recorded in Israel, a jug band album with Maria Muldaur, a second co-production with Buckwheat Zydeco, a Hawaiian music project with Taj Mahal, and a children's recording in Cuba.
    "You have this idea and this creativity, and you try to manifest it in the world," Ostrow observes. "It's an interesting journey for sure."
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    ArtGuitar Announces the Ultimate Music Gaming Experience - AG RiffMaster
    ArtGuitar announces the ultimate music gaming experience. The award winning AG RiffMaster is the only full size, full weight, wooden guitar to work with both the RockBand and GuitarHero games. Each unit is created using ArtGuitar’s patented technology producing ultra high resolution images on the body of the guitar.
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    BostonHerald - Back in the ’60s, David Maxwell created an after-dark curriculum not available to him at Lexington High School. Call it Advanced Blues and Jazz.
    “I’d go down to the Club 47 (now Club Passim) to hear all of these great blues artists,” said Maxwell, who has been regarded as Boston’s pre-eminent blues piano player for decades. “Son House, Fred McDowell, Skip James, Muddy Waters. They made a really big impression on me.
    “I also used to hang out at the Jazz Workshop in Boston and hear all kinds of great jazz groups there,” said Maxwell, who leads a hard-driving r & b outfit with singer Michelle Willson at the Regattabar on New Year’s Eve. “And I had a buddy, Alan Wilson, who lived in Arlington and went on to Canned Heat fame. We’d get together and jam, do a lot of soul jazz stuff. I was listening to all kinds of music, Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor and North Indian music. I had a lot of eclectic interests.”
    Today the 66-year-old Concord resident’s projects range from improvised and avant-garde jazz to world music. But, he says, the blues remains his bread and butter.
    At the 2009 Boston Music Awards, Maxwell - who was mentored by blues legends Otis Spann and Pinetop Perkins - won top nods in the blues category. His latest album, “You Got to Move,” is a duo session with Louisiana Red. And he was recently nominated for the 2010 Blues Music Awards Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year.
    “None of what I do is going to land me on ‘American Idol,’ or land me all kinds of financial rewards,” Maxwell said. “It’s all about the heart and imparting that to the audience. That’s what moves people. You can be technically overwhelming, but if you don’t convey something it doesn’t really matter.
    “People may have this image of me as this great bluesman or whatever, but it’s more than that. I don’t really put too much importance in the accolades. As far as what I feel or what I believe in, there are no limits.”
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    Bucks County Courier Times - Michael Hudak Jr. was 16 - too young to be in the bar, too musically curious to care - when he first experienced the Bucks County Blues Society's weekly Blue Thursday showcase at A.J.'s Sports Bar in Bristol Township some 13 years ago.
    "I saw my first live blues there - Mike Dugan & The Blues Mission," recalls Hudak, better known today as professional bluesman Mikey Jr. "I put on my 'Blues Brothers' hat, left my tie on from the restaurant where I worked and went with a waitress friend of mine.
    "I wanted to see what live blues was all about. Listening to rap music as a kid, I'd hear these interludes with these blues licks and think, 'What was that?' "
    Truthfully, Hudak would have fallen in love with the blues even if he hadn't snuck into A.J.'s. But the love affair officially began that Thursday night in 1996, and, all these years later, the relationship has lost none of its fire.
    Now, Hudak wants to do his part to ensure others discover a similar romance.
    Blue Thursday is facing an uncertain future as it begins its 15th year, and Hudak is taking an active role in keeping interest strong among young blues fans.
    "These guys set the precedent," Hudak says of the Bucks County Blues Society's commitment to Blue Thursday. "It's really cool when I perform for other blues societies, how impressed they are when they hear I'm from Bucks County.
    "I'm taking a hands-on role in trying to beef up membership and interest and really keep it going."
    Along with the annual R&B Picnic every summer, Blue Thursday is the BCBS's signature event. Save for holidays and a handful of weather-related cancellations, it has been held every Thursday at A.J.'s (now McStew's Irish Sports Pub) since November 1995.
    "The first one we did, with Little Sammy Davis, I think we drew 15 people," says BCBS vice president Bob Settelen, who has produced and hosted the series from the start. "During its heyday, we'd get 150, 175 people a night. There's a lot of history with the night."
    In addition to showcasing top local blues talent, Blue Thursday has featured national acts such as Smokin' Joe Kubek, Big Al and the Heavyweights, Jason Ricci and Big Jack Johnson - all names familiar to blues fans.
    The problem is the age of many of those fans.
    Mike McMaster, who worked at A.J.'s since 1987 as a bartender, manager and co-owner before buying the business in 2008 and changing the name to McStew's, was there for the beginning of Blue Thursday and would love to see the series continue. But it can't, he fears, without an infusion of new blood. "There doesn't seem to be enough young people involved," McMaster says. "You've got grandparents coming out to the bar on Thursday nights, sitting there having one or two beers and going home by 11:30. They come in to listen to the music, then off to bed they go. By 12:30, the place is empty.
     "I don't even mind breaking even, but most of the time, we are taking a loss. We're still putting out the same amount of money for the bands, plus the money for advertising, sound + it all adds up."
    McMaster points out that the BCBS is run by people in their 50s or older. He is hoping that by bringing Mikey Jr., 29, on board, the Blues Society can find new ways to appeal to younger fans.
    Settelen, 56, understands the bar's predicament.
    "Right now, it's probably 50-50," he says of Blue Thursday's survival. "It depends on the fans coming out to support it. I'd like to get at least 100 people out. "I'm not pleading with people to come, but if there are no people in the seats, the bar's got no incentive to continue doing it."
    Langhorne resident Jeff Simon, now in his 36th year as the drummer for George Thorogood and the Destroyers, has been at too many Blue Thursdays to count as both a performer and audience member and says it's always "a good night."
    But he, too, understands the challenge in keeping the event alive.
    "It's hard to keep anything going for that length of time," Simon says. "We're 10, 15 years older now. You've got crowds that went to every Blue Thursday religiously, but eventually that's going to thin out. There's still a core group that's been there since Day 1, but you definitely need new blood."
    McMaster thinks that instead of bringing in traditional blues performers, the Blues Society should focus on booking young, up-and-coming acts that are more likely to attract crowds through word of mouth. He's even suggested turning the R&B Picnic into a two-day event that would feature a day of rock music, along with the day of blues.
    "A lot of kids today think the blues is B.B. King or Ella Fitzgerald," McMaster says. "They don't realize there are a lot of young bands who are jazzing it up, playing a kind of rock blues."
    One such act that figures to appeal to a younger generation is the charismatic swing/jump blues/rock/funk outfit the Gas House Gorillas, who will kick off Blue Thursday's 15th-year celebration this week after tearing it up at the picnic last summer.
    With a $2 admission charge ($5 for some national acts), free pizza after the first set and reasonable drink prices, Blue Thursday is already a bargain.
    If the organizers can just convince patrons that the entertainment isn't "old people's music," maybe the area's longest continual music showcase can go on for another 15 years. "We're all pounding our heads against the wall trying to make things work," McMaster says. "We definitely don't want to lose it."
    Blue Thursday is held at 9 p.m. weekly at McStew's Irish Sports Pub, 5316 New Falls Road in Bristol Township. Admission is 21 and over. For upcoming schedule, visit bucksbluessociety.

    Shreveport's Highland Jazz and Blues Festival Saved
    It won't be curtains for an annual Shreveport cultural celebration thanks to private supporters and government intervention
    The Highland Jazz and Blues Festival, which started in 2004, will play on this year, organizers say. Hat passing collected about $3,000, the Caddo Commission pledged another $5,000 and others helped with grant writing and fundraising for the November event that cost more than $26,000 to produce in 2009.
    "When people learned there was the chance we wouldn't return, they opened their hearts and pockets to us," festival chairman Kenney Koonce said. "What this means is that though times are still tight, we will once again be able to put on a crowd-pleasing show."
    The party also needs corporate support, Koonce said, including a title sponsor. The festival pumps an estimated $75,000 to $200,000 into the local economy.
    Before last year's carnival drew some 10,000 to Columbia Park for five hours of music, food and beer, Highland Area Partnership, which manages the fete, said it could be the last. Like other nonprofits, it fell on hard times as donations dwindled. City funding to pass through organizations also waned.
    This year's theme is "Lucky Seven" to commemorate the event's seventh installment and give a nod to festival's fortune in finding funding.
    "This year's talent mix will be amazing. We are looking at some really big names," talent coordinator Amy Loe said. "We plan to be back with a vengeance."
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    Wadada Leo Smith: Old And New 'Dimensions'
    Wadada Leo Smith & Henry Kaiser
    NPR - Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith's music ranges from solo recitals to works for chamber orchestra, and for various small improvising units. Smith had three albums out this past fall — two reissues and a new set of live concert recordings by two of his bands.
    With his wide leaps between long tones and a sometimes generous use of space, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith nods occasionally to 20th-century European concert music. But he's also one of the modern improvisers most grounded in African-American vernaculars; he's the stepson of Mississippi bluesman Alex Wallace, and he played for a spell in Little Milton's blues band. Smith's projects are all over the map, but often have this much in common with the blues: the byplay between a strong voice — his horn, in this case — and percussive strings. On 1979's newly reissued Spirit Catcher, those strings are three concert harps, played by the simpatico Emanuel sisters in such songs as "The Burning of Stones."
    Smith abstracts from the blues: There are echoes of Japanese kotos and Gambian koras in those harps. But I can't think of any other music that sounds quite like that; Smith makes it all personal. On his other new reissue on the Nessa label, 1985's Procession of the Great Ancestry, he and vibraphonist Bobby Naughton play in a quartet plus guests. In two numbers, they're joined by Chicago blues guitarist Louis Myers. Smith puts down his trumpet to sing "Who Killed David Walker?" in the great tradition of mumbling Mississippi bluesmen.
    In the 20-some years since then, Smith has expanded his audience by reviving electric Miles Davis music with guitarist Henry Kaiser. On half of the new Smith double-disc set, Spiritual Dimensions, he's surrounded by strings: His band Organic has two basses, a cello and a gaggle of electric guitarists, including Wilco's Nels Cline. The band can re-create Miles Davis' '70s funk with eerie fidelity, but it also puts its own spin on the idiom.
    "Organic" features powerhouse drummer and longtime Smith ally Pheeroan akLaff, who also appears on the other half of Smith's Spiritual Dimensions, in his Golden Quintet with Vijay Iyer on piano and John Lindberg on bass. This band can evoke Davis, too, but the reggae beat is its own twist.
    In most of these settings, Smith's trumpet functions as the calm eye of the storm. His sound is raw but lyrical, full of big gestures but intimate somehow. He's not the most technical player, but he's very expressive. In all that, Smith recalls the late Don Cherry. That trumpeter had a very different sound, but was also a musical nomad at home in all sorts of situations. When it comes to making music with the right ideals, Wadada Leo Smith couldn't be in better company.

    The Detroit Blues Society has announced their 2009 Blues Award Nominees. There are 3 award categories and those are THE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, THE BLUES HORIZON AWARD, and THE JAMES S. HENRY AWARD.
    The awards will be presented on Saturday, January 9, 2010 at the Detroit Blues Society Monthly Meeting at Memphis Smoke – 9pm. Memphis Smoke is located at 100 Main Street in Royal Oak, Michigan. Admission is absolutely free.
    Click here for all the nominees and details.

    The Grand County Blues Society has announced that it will be giving away two music scholarships this spring.
    In order to apply, the Grand County students must be going into technical/production, performance (vocal or instrumental) or music education.
    “We are very excited to be able to help the future of these young artists. It's our society's goal to keep music (especially blues) alive in these kids,” says Maria Chavez, Director of the Society's Blues In The School program.
    One $500 scholarship will go to each East and West Grand districts.
    The Blues Society board has earmarked money to give scholarships for the next five years. Students must submit a one page essay or a 10 minute recorded performance by March 15, 2010, to PO Box 1530 Winter Park, CO 80482.
    For more information about the Grand County Blues Society, visit

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    Al Bell was head of Stax Records from 1968 until 1975. He joins Elwood to talk about the golden age of soul music, what it is that makes Memphis a music magnet, and share some memories of Rufus Thomas, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. and the MGs, and other musical giants from STAX Records. Plus: new music from Detroit funk man turned acoustic blues master, Harrison Kennedy.

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    Rogue Valley Blues Festival
    January 15-17, 2010
    Ashland, Oregon, U.S.
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    January 15-17, 2010
    Chicago, IL, U.S.
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    Saturday January 16, 2010
    Chicago, IL, U.S.
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    January 20-23, 2010
    Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
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    Friday, January 22, 2010
    St. Thomas, U.S.
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    Friday, February 5-16, 2010
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    Saturday, February 13, 2010
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    February 11-14, 2010
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    Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia
    +61 2 4823 4492
    21st Annual Riverwalk Blues and Music Festival
    February 12-14, 2010

    Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
    2010 Broadstairs Blues Bash
    February 19-21,
    Broadstairs, Kent, United Kingdom
    The Fish House's 6th Annual Mardi Gras Celebration
    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Miami, Florida, U.S.
    Saskatoon Blues Festival
    February 25-28, 2010

    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    Blues Blast
    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Mesa, Arizona, U.S.
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