Blues Festival Guide

Date November 25, 2011

Volume 6/Issue 47


Special Announcements

Record Label News

Buddy and Hopkins

Festival Calendar

News Flash

Blues Society News

House of Blues Radio Hour

About Us

Special Announcements


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News Flash

Playing the blues in black AND white

Chicago's club scene breaks down into two worlds, both struggling to stay true to the music.



Miguel Nunez of Chicago dances as Chicago bluesman Eddie Shaw performs with his band The Wolf Gang at Buddy Guy's Legends blues club in Chicago. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune)






On a recent Wednesday night at Blue Chicago, a long-running club downtown, you had to elbow your way forward just to get past the doorman. Men and women in business suits — collars loosened, beers in hand — packed the place, barely leaving room for the waitress to make her way to the bar and back.



"Anyone drunk yet?" roared the bandleader, standing in front of about 100 revelers and behind a large tip jar placed prominently onstage. Blue Chicago jackets ($75), sweatshirts ($20) and T-shirts ($15) hung prominentlyfrom the walls, offering tourists — and anyone else — a piece of Chicago blues to take home as a souvenir.


Two nights later at the Water Hole, a long-running bar on the West Side, the band outnumbered the audience. Septuagenarian blues belter Mary Lane sang for all she was worth, but not more than 15 people, if that, wandered into the place all evening.


"It's been steady going downhill," Lane said later. "I always had a crowd. I ain't never had no six or seven people."


Two clubs, two worlds, one music: the blues. That's how it goes in Chicago, a blues nexus crisply divided into separate, unequal halves. A sharp racial divide cuts through the blues landscape in Chicago, just as it does through so many other facets of life here, diminishing the music on either side of it.


The official Chicago blues scene — a magnet for tourists from around the globe — prospers downtown and on the North Side, catering to a predominantly white audience in a homogenized, unabashedly commercial setting. The unofficial scene — drawing mostly locals and a few foreign cognoscenti — barely flickers on the South and West sides, attracting a mostly black, older crowd to more homespun, decidedly less profitable locales.

Not all the grass-roots places are dying as quickly as the music room at the Water Hole. Some, such as Lee's Unleaded Blues, on the South Side, attract a small but steady crowd on the three nights it's open each week.


But how long can this go on? How long can a music that long flourished on the South and West sides — where the blues originators lived their lives and performed their songs — stay viable when most of the neighborhood clubs have expired? How long can a black musical art form remain dynamic when presented to a largely white audience in settings designed to replicate and merchandise the real thing?


At stake is a music that gave rise to jazz, gospel, pop, rock, rap and hip-hop — the pillars, really, of the American sound.


If the blues subsists in a few saloons on the South and West sides, if a generic version proffers T-shirts and such in rooms downtown and on the North Side, you have to wonder how the music stays connected to the community that created it.


The clubs, after all, always have been the lifeblood of Chicago blues. And in more ways than one, they're failing.



Article Link

Turkey Testicle Festival an acquired taste, And yeah, they taste like chicken .... mushy, mushroomy chicken

State Rep. Mike Tryon may have the stomach for politics, but apparently that's where it ends.


The Crystal Lake Republican was at Huntley's Parkside Pub Wednesday afternoon for the annual Turkey Testicle Festival, as he has been each year since 2004 as a way to meet constituents and have fun before celebrating Thanksgiving with his wife and 20 members of his family.

But one sample was enough.


“I had three in 2004 and they were very good and that was enough to last me a lifetime,” said Tryon, who has not eaten any since.



Tryon was one of 4,000 people expected to descend on the pub, which was holding the 29th annual, one-day event that also featured music and beer and, for the less stout of heart, pizza, Italian sausage and Italian beef.

Mark Weishaar, who with his business partner Jeff Lovell has owned the pub for three years, said it was important to keep the festival going, because it helped put Huntley on the map and draws visitors from across the country.

“I think it's just a unique festival, it's not like a blues festival,” Weishaar said. “People are intrigued. The product that we sell is unique.”


This particular part of the turkey is deep fried, breaded and prepared with four secret seasonings in a recipe that has been passed down among the pub's owners. They have a mushy texture and taste like a cross between mushrooms and fried chicken. Or, depending on whom you ask, chicken liver and gizzards.



Article Link












































Sunday, December 18th, 2011@ Grand Sierra ResortReno, NV

Doors –; 7:00 pm Show – 8:00 pm

Tickets On-Sale Friday 10/14/11

Tickets available at:

Grand Sierra Box Office (with no fees)

by phone at


& online at

Tickets: $27.50-39.50 advance,

General Admission / All Ages


Much in the world has changed since the original version of the Blind Boys of Alabama first raised their voices together. That was in 1939, when the members were just kids at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in Talladega, Ala. Today, more than 70 years later, founding member Jimmy Carter can look back on a career far beyond what he and his colleagues couldimagine at that time. The group has won a long list of awards, including Lifetime Achievement honors from the Grammys and the National Endowment for the Arts, entertained around the world, been profiled on 60 Minutes, sung for two Presidents at the White House and been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Yet throughout this long adventure, they kept one secret to themselves.


All my life, I’ve loved country music,” confesses Carter. “I was raised up around it. Back in the 1940s, I remember listening to Hank Williams and so many others. Their voices were great. The writers were great. And every song had a meaning. I still have loads of country music in my home and I play it all the time. As a matter fact, I’ve got it on XM radio as we speak.”


Though the group has recorded and performed with a few country artists, along with others as diverse as Ben Harper, Tom Petty, Peter Gabriel and Prince, they never crossed the line and committed to doing a project inspired by the country genre until now, with the release of Take The High Road on Saguaro Road Records. This landmark recording draws from modern and traditional country to enrich the group’s gospel-rooted sound with fresh and illuminating insight.


For years the Blind Boys had imagined such a project. But it wasn’t until they were voted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2010 that their plans began to coalesce. The catalyst was their meeting rising country music star Jamey Johnson, who sang “Down by the Riverside” with them at the induction ceremony in Montgomery. Johnson, whose gifts as a songwriter and performer match his fierce commitment to country music’s history and tradition, is a longtime admirer of the Blind Boys. The experience of sharing the stage with him prompted the Blind Boys to seek his services to help bring their dream of doing a country gospel album to life. 




Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival launched

[AUSTRALIA] Blues and roots music fans will have no shortage of entertainment this weekend with the first Bendigo Blues and Roots festival launched last night.

Chief co-ordinator Colin Thompson got the festival going at Gold Dust Lounge in Williamson Street last night but the festival proper begins tonight.


Under way: Peter Gavin, Penelope Sommerville, Sue Webb, Marc Leon and Roy Webb of the Old Buzzard Medicine Show perform at the Gold Dust Lounge.


Tasmanian blues band Pete Cornelius and the DeVilles kicks off the festival at the Metro/Puggs from 6pm while central Victorian legend Archer is on stage at Gold Dust Lounge at the same time.


Mr Thompson said he was excited to see a lot of acts after so many months of organising the gigs.


“I could start naming individual acts I’m particularly excited to see again, but I really do respect, admire and enjoy the talents of absolutely every act on this program,” he said.


“We’re co-operating with 15 plus venues, we’re running the big all-day concert in Rosalind Park and we have more than 60 acts performing over the course of the weekend.


“It’s been a huge juggling act and, a big part of me will be relieved when the weekend’s over and we’ve managed to get through it all.”


Mr Thompson said he couldn’t positively say how many volunteers are helping out but the crew were vital to many aspects of the shows as well as the support of the council.


Article Link

Kenny Neal Stages Benefit for Living Blues Co-founder Jim O'Neal at Buddy Guy's

Kenny Neal 


Louisiana blues star Kenny Neal, who was won awards from Living Blues Magazine, as well as the Blues Foundation, Jus' Blues, and many other organizations, is bringing together a cast of Chicago blues veterans in a benefit show at Buddy Guy's Legends on Nov. 30 to assist Living Blues co-founder Jim O'Neal, who was recently diagnosed with lymph cancer. Neal also organized and headlined a benefit for O'Neal at Knucklehead's in Kansas City on Oct. 28. Washington, D.C., guitarist Memphis Gold put together another benefit on Oct. 20 in Hyattsville, Maryland, and plans to fly to Chicago for the Legends gathering, which will feature the Wayne Baker Brooks band backing Neal and a number of other performers who received their first magazine coverage in the early years of Living Blues. The magazine published an interview with Buddy Guy  by O'Neal and Tim Zorn in its second issue in 1970 and has featured him several times since.


Both Neal and Memphis Gold have dealt with their own serious health issues -- Neal had to take a year off from performing to be treated for hepatitis and Memphis Gold suffered a fall that left him partially paralyzed; he still performs with the aid of a wheelchair and a walker. Jim O'Neal, a former Chicago and Mississippi resident who has been in Kansas City since 1998, had no health insurance in June when he learned that his back pains were due to lymphoma and spinal tumors. Following back surgery, he is now undergoing chemotherapy and continuing to work at home when possible writing texts for the Mississippi Blues Trail historical marker project. O'Neal, who was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2002, co-founded Living Blues, America's first blues magazine, in Chicago in 1970. 


When Kenny Neal's Hooked On Your Love CD won an award in the 2011 Living Blues Critics' Poll, Neal recalled: "I can't believe it's been 31 years since I picked up my first Living Blues magazine and opened it up and read an article on myself entitled "Kenny Neal and the Neal Brothers."  I can't describe the feeling that I got when I first saw the article; it wasn't because I was in the article but because someone cared about the blues.  I was so excited I caught a flight to Chicago from Toronto and found the Headquarters of Living Blues magazine.  Knocked on the door and there were Jim and Amy O'Neal inviting me into their house.  They took me on a grand tour down into the basement and showed me where Living Blues was being printed.  And this is at a time when we needed someone to help keep the blues alive and they did just that.  Now today here in 2011, the blues is alive and well as ever before.  I'm honored to receive the 2011 Critics Poll Living Blues Award for Contemporary Blues Album of the Year.  Keep on living the blues, Living Blues!" 


A fund has been set up at Commerce Bank in Kansas City to receive donations, which may be sent to: Jim O'Neal Blues Fund, P.O. Box 10334, Kansas City, MO 64171, or by PayPal to



Blues Video of The Week - Dr. John


Dr. John is one of the greatest Blues piano players ever to live and has done so much for the city of New Orleans in every way he could.


In honor of the Dr. we bring you several hours of Live Video of John performing his music.


I hope you enjoy!


Video Link on Classic Blues 

Record Label News


Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like a We Juke Up In Here

pre-order!  So... from November 25th through December 16th, 2011, when you place a gift pre-order for our forthcoming DVD/CD set the web site below, we'll mail your gift recipient a post card announcing your pre-order gift.  Just tell us who the gift is FOR and FROM in the PayPal comments / notes section when you process your order.  You may also add a brief message (up to 25 characters), and we will do our best to include it in genuine handwritten scrawl.  ALSO remember to provide the mailing address for the post card announcement in December (and the glorious DVD/CD set in April).


Blues Society News

Get the Blues!


Shakura S’Aida says come on down to the 25th annual Women’s Blues Revue



TORONTO - Soul shouter Shakura S’Aida made my mission to convince you to check out the 25th annual Women’s Blues Revue so much easier.


I asked her what we can expect from her at tomorrow’s show at Massey Hall and she shot back, “I hope people are ready to hear some tear jerkin’, hip shakin’, slow shufflin’, dirty, down and nasty blues. And if they don’t know what any of those things are, then they need to come on down for darn sure!”


Joining S’Aida will be Kat Danser, Ada Lee, Emma-Lee, Treasa Levasseur and Suzie Vinnick. And the band features guitarist Donna Grantis, Lily Sazz on keys, bassist Brandi Disterheft, drummer Lindsay Beaver and a horn section comprising saxophonists Colleen Allen and Carrie Chesnutt and trumpeter Rebecca Hennessy.


Derek Andrews, who founded the Toronto Blues Society with David Barnard and John Valentyn, explained why the organization established the Revue 25 years back.


“We saw the same music industry bias that didn’t support women performers showing up in the blues concert and club scene,” he says. “We felt that by putting a spotlight on women, it could advance their careers and this has proven to be the case.”


Since its inception, Holly Cole, Amanda Marshall and Serena Ryder have all sung at the event and went on to become household names.


Article Link

Buddy and Hopkins

Did you know that I do Custom Comic Strips and Comic Pages as gifts?

House of Blues Radio Hour





More on our radio and video streams can be found here.


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Festival Calendar
To view our entire calendar of more than 500 festivals, click here!

Moinho da


Blues Festival


November 24-26

Caxias do Sul,

Rio Grande do Sul,


More Info

22nd Annual


Blues Bash


February 10-21

Charleston, SC, U.S.

More Info

23 Annual


Blues &

Music Festival


February 18-19

Fort Lauderdale,

Florida, U.S.

More Info

Boquete Jazz

& Blues Festival


March 1-4


Chiriqui, U.S.

More Info



April 5-9

Byron Bay,

New South Wales,


More Info

Cairns Blues


Saturday, May 12

Cairns, Queensland,


More Info

River & Brews

Blues Fest


June 8-9

Red River,

New Mexico, U.S.

More Info



Saturday, June 30


Northern Territory,


More Info



Saturday, Jul 7


Massachusetts, U.S.

More Info

Your Festival


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About Us

RBA Publishing Inc is based in Reno, NV with a satellite office in Beverly Hills, Florida. We are woman owned and operated.


We produce the annual Blues Festival Guide magazine (now approaching our 10th year), the top-ranking website:, and this weekly blues newsletter: The Blues Festival E-Guide with approximately 28,000 weekly subscribers.


We look forward to your suggestions, critiques and questions!


Reach the E-Guide editor, Yvonne Varner,


Contact our home office to find out how to advertise on this newsletter 775-337-8626.


Information - both editorial and advertising - in the Blues Festival E-Guide - is believed to be correct but not guaranteed - so check it carefully before you attend any event or send money for anything. We do not write the news... just report it.

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