Farewell to James Wheeler . . .

Posted on: Saturday, Dec 27, 2014

Sad to report the death on Christmas Day of Georgia-born, Chicago-based bluesman James Wheeler, at the age of 77.

James Wheeler played the Dragon Blues Festival in 2003 at Wrexham Rugby Club, backed by Manchester band, The Harpbreakers, and also toured the UK backed by Big Blue House.


Pick of the Year: Brian Harman

Posted on: Saturday, Dec 27, 2014


Our Croydon-based reviewer, Brian Harman, has kindly sent ten CDs he has really enjoyed this year. One ‘off topic’, but that’s fine with us!

From Brian:

As requested, this is a selection of albums I have enjoyed this year, I know Ronnie Lane is not a true blues artist but he and his music continues to be particularly inspiring to me; In fact The Small Faces have been my all time favourite band since I first heard them at the age of ten.

Here is an eclectic collection of albums, I found highly enjoyable this year, and of course they are not in any particular order.

Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance: Ooh La La, An Island Harvest.

The Balham Alligators: Bayou Degradable.

Vaneese Thomas: Blues For My Father.

David Vest: Roadhouse Revelation.

Magic Slim & The Teardrops: Pure Magic.

Jeff Dale and The South Woodlawners.

Wilko Johnson / Roger Daltrey: Going Back Home.

Missy Anderson: In The Moment.

B.B. & The Blues Shacks: Businessmen.

Hurricane Ruth: Born On The River.

Wishing Brian all the best for 2015 and a very Merry Christmas . . . and thanks for his contributions to Blues In The North West this year.

Best of the year…..

Posted on: Friday, Dec 26, 2014

Ken here…

It’s that time when we ask you all what your best bluesy events were in 2014.  Here are mine.

For me, it hasn’t been a strong year for blues. I haven’t been to many shows, haven’t listened to that many CDs and did not go to The Mississippi Delta this year on my annual pilgrimage.

So from a limited sample here are my bluesy highlights.

The highest blues tune on my play count is Little Milton – That’s What Love Will Make You Do.


I think that my favourite album is probably Lightnin’ Malcolm – Rough Out There. It’s dated 2013 but I didn’t hear it until 2014.



I simply love the hour long show that’s on YouTube from San Francisco when he opened for The North Mississippi Allstars.


I really enjoyed the varied and 100% excellent lineup of the Bangor on Dee Blues Festival held back in May.

My favourite live show wasn’t blues. I am a huge convert to the rocking rootsy country of Cadillac Three. I saw them in the Live Rooms, Chester and was blown away. Their CD “Tennessee Mojo” is very high in my playlist for the year.


My other highlight was getting back out there and playing again.  This year I joined my old sparring partners Neil Partington and Lance Donnelly in the band 3Kings.

So over to you…. what did you dig?


YouTube: Detroit Junior

Posted on: Thursday, Dec 25, 2014


Merry Christmas to all

Posted on: Thursday, Dec 25, 2014

It’s been an up and down year for bluesinthenorthwest.com. However we are hanging in here after nine years.

Many thanks from both Grahame and myself to all the readers and contributors.

Have a great break



Review: Hurricane Ruth – Born On The River

Posted on: Tuesday, Dec 23, 2014


Hurricane Ruth – Born On The River

(Self Produced)

This is the second album from Ruth LaMaster and her band (their debut album, which was released in 2012, is entitled ‘The Power of The Blues…..Feels Like A Hurricane’) Ruth handles lead vocals while Dave Lumsden is on guitar, Gary Davies provides bass and Jim Engel is on drums, their sound is hot, heavy and very bluesy.

Her parents owned a tavern along the Illinois River in the town of Beardstown, throughout her life Ruth was surrounded by the uplifting sound of music and the clinking of glasses, both during the good and the bad times and also let’s not forget the lively crowds. Ruth happily absorbed all these influences that prepared her for her future life in music on and off the road. After leaving home to finish her education at Springfield College, Illinois, she was accompanied by her childhood friend Christy Bly, she continued to pursue her musical interests while at college by entering into the company of like minded people such as; Bill Jansen, Doug Rapier and John Sluzalis.

After a while Ruth began to perform in public with Dick Garretson, who also passed on to her invaluable information regarding how to confidently perform onstage and how to interpret the moods of and audience. When asked how she gained such an interesting name she explained that a friend commented to her that it was very surprising to hear that such an enormous sound could emanate from such a small lady, this opinion was later validated by one Willie Dixon when he told her that “You’re the only hurricane I can appreciate”.

Ruth turned fully professional in 1979e and over the years she has worked with Maynard Ferguson and his orchestra, Adrian Belew, and Louis Belson. Ruth has also opened for John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Taj Mahal, The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Sam & Dave, Fenton Robinson, and most surprisingly she has also embraced the dark side as in Judas Priest and Joan Jet and The Blackhearts.

After years of nudging towards the big time Ruth took a rest and joined the management at U.P.S. but has now retired after twenty three years of paper shuffling and is now back on the scene stronger than ever!  As Ruth says herself, “I look at this as a second chance to do what I really love,” she says. “It’s truly a blessing to be singing again and working with such wonderful musicians. I just want to give back to the community all that I can.”

The eleven numbers are all band originals and they simply sear themselves into not only your brain but your sensitive eardrums as well; on the first number “Born on the River,” a tale of the highs, lows and enticing attractions of  a life lived by a great river, Ruth lets rip from the very beginning,  her raw and tender voice is very much, a volatile mixture of Janis Joplin and Maggie Bell, Ruth hollers the lyrics out, as the irresistible rip-roaring re-sawing guitar sprays out its fire while the almost military bass and drums engine room marshals the music on.

“Make Love to Me,” is a tale of the ending of an almost a rough and rough love affair, while their engines still burn the bodies twist and turn, as they do, the scarring left by Ruth’s vocals and Dave’s grinding guitar leave welts you can almost see. The demonic entwining guitar work is presented at a much, much slower pace on the aptly titled “Slowburn,” as Ruth belts out her passionate love of music and how it can also seductively set the mood, vocals and guitar are set at a very mellow and inviting edge, slow burning and bristling with enticement all the way through.

“Dance, Dance Norma Jean,” is not only a rocket fuelled barnstorming rockabilly blaster paying tribute to the fifties but, it is also a tribute to her parents and the life they enjoyed. The darkly, sweet bass rolling and guitar rumbling “Big Helen,” is a tribute to an almost treasured brothel madam and the fine ladies she employed, who was not only as sharp as a razor but, also knew exactly how to use one. “Real Good Woman,” is a rumbustious rocking description of an ideal woman that no man can argue with.

Highly Recommended!



Lancashire Blues Archive’s 2014 festival round-up

Posted on: Tuesday, Dec 23, 2014

Lancashire Blues Archive’s Festival round-up for 2014 from Rosy Greer

It’s been a busy festival year with many that were not sampled!


Our first festival of the year here in the North West, was ‘Bowness Bay Blues’ in April. A well organised festival, with total commitment throughout the town. Although with no specific main stage, the Wheelhouse, as one of the biggest venues, housed the headline acts. A great atmosphere at all the venues with a plethora of excellent music with the highlights for me of ‘Brothers Groove’, ‘The Blues Duo’, ‘Blue Swamp Band’, ‘Dan Burnett’, ‘Marcus Bonfanti Band’ and the ‘Sean Webster Band’. http://www.bluesinthenorthwest.com/index.php/2014/04/19/review-bowness-bay-blues-bowness-on-windermere-cumbria-april-2014/

‘Burnley Rock & Blues Festival’ was next on the calendar in early May. Although we only managed the Saturday evening at the Mechanics to see the amazing ‘Hoax’ – who took the place by storm – we had a ‘taster’ of a young and talented band from Clitheroe, ‘Good Foxy’ who were in support. The festival spirit continued over the weekend throughout the town, with many of the pubs being part of the Trail. http://www.bluesinthenorthwest.com/index.php/2014/05/05/review-the-hoax-the-mechanics-burnley-rock-blues-festival-saturday-3rd-may-2014/

Heading off to the Black Country in mid May, to the one day ‘Stourbridge Blues Festival’, the highlight acts were ‘Brothers Groove’, ‘Tom Walker Band’ and ‘Big Wolf Band’. A fabulous bluesy day at a local rugby club.

Towards the end of May we hit the fourth and final award winning ‘Hebden Bridge Blues Festival’ in West Yorkshire. Another great success with a fabulous line up over three days, including highlights for me, of ‘David Migden and the Twisted Roots’ and from the north west, ‘MaKuini and The Hoo Doo Men’ and Liverpool based ‘Forty4′. The ‘Blues Boy Kings’ did a fabulous set with Jon Amor taking a guest spot. ‘Tom Attah’ and his Band played some astounding blues. The fabulous ‘Russ Tippins Electric Band’ blew the house down yet again, with ‘Jenna Hooson’ joining the band for a guest spot. One has to mention the famous ‘Paddy Maguire Midnight Jams’ which were synonymous of the festival. Sad it was the last.

A new local festival at the end of May, the one day, ‘Preston Blues Festival’ at the Live Lounge of the Bears Paw in Preston town centre. A choice line up with ‘David Migden and the Twisted Roots’, ‘The Stumble’, ‘TC and the Money Makers’, ‘Tipitina’ and the ‘Special Agents’, proved a great success. It will be back in 2015. http://www.bluesinthenorthwest.com/index.php/2014/06/08/review-1st-annual-preston-rockin-blues-festival-saturday-31st-may/

I didn’t manage ‘Upton Blues Festiva’l this year, but went instead to the small music festival, Thamesfest, near Oxford. It was great to meet ‘Debbie Bond’ and Band from Texas, along with the excellent ‘Backbone Blues Band’ and the local band ‘The Missing Persians’. A great little festival over three days with a good mixed genre line up.


A quiet June, but plenty to look forward to with the ‘Maryport Blues Festival’ towards the end of July. They provided a class line up on the main stage and out on the trail, with headliners over the three days of ‘Eric Sardinas’, ‘Coco Montoya’ and ‘Danny Bryant’. For me, it was a treat to catch the young, acoustic blues man, ‘Blues Boy Dan Owen’ from Shrewsbury. Also ‘The Deluxe’, from Carlisle. We also saw a return of the reincarnation of Hokie Joint in the form of ‘LaVendore Rogue’, they rocked the place with their own, totally individual style. From Harrogate, the ‘Dan Burnett Band’ played a captivating performance, playing a mix of blues, soul, funk and rock ‘n roll. Out on the trail ‘The Hexmen’ from Liverpool played great harmonica driven, high octane rhythm and blues, interspersed with humour. A Maryport favourite! http://www.bluesinthenorthwest.com/index.php/2014/07/31/review-maryport-blues-festival-2014/

Towards the end of August, the best in the North West with the ‘Great British R & B Festival’ in Colne What a great four days with an amazing line up on the International Stage, British Stage, Acoustic Stage, Outside Stage and the many Road Houses throughout the town. Highlights for me were ‘Kyla Brox’, a blues soul jazz diva and the guest appearance of her dad ‘Victor Brox’. The British Blues Awards were held again here again this year and I was honoured to be asked to present an award to Victor Brox for ‘Lifetime Achievement’.

On the British Stage were the high class ‘Stumble’, a powerful six piece band from Preston, followed by a favourite of mine ‘Cold Flame’ from Derbyshire, with some honest blues rock. ‘Chris Bevington and Friends’ from Stoke, were sensational with a great big band sound giving us blues with a funky edge. Another treat, from Liverpool ‘The Midnight Ramble’, as a six piece they gave a great performance with a big band sound leaning towards Southern rock, soul and blues. A favourite at Colne, ‘The Franny Eubank Band with Tom Attah’ played a great set.


On the last day of this great festival, one of the best bands on the circuit at this time, ‘Brothers Groove’ from Birmingham opened on the British Stage, They also did a brilliant set on the Acoustic Stage. Rockin’ the British Stage, the excellent ‘Legendary Slack Alice’ from the North West. Our Lancashire lass, singer songwriter, ‘Lucy Zirins’ gave us great arrangements of traditional blues songs and her own tunes on the Acoustic Stage. A truly talented young lady. http://www.bluesinthenorthwest.com/index.php/2014/08/30/review-the-great-british-rb-festival-a-trail-viewpoint/

The last festival for us this year was ‘Carlisle Blues and Rock Festival’, with a cracking new venue and an excellent line up. With magic moments for me from ‘The Little Devils’, ‘Marcus Malone’, ‘Blues Boy Dan Owen’, ‘Sean Webster’, ‘Climax Blues Band’, ‘Connie Lush & Blues Shouter’, ‘Rosco Levee & The Southern Slide’, ‘Matt Woosey’, ‘TC & The Money Makers’ and the amazing ‘Boom Band’. What a weekend! http://www.bluesinthenorthwest.com/index.php/2014/11/15/review-carlisle-blues-rock-festival-the-venue-november-2014/

ROSY GREER – Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer


(Pics courtesy of Jan Fialkowski and Rosy Greer)










Review: No Refund Band – Current State Of Blue

Posted on: Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

No Refund Band logo.jpg

No Refund Band – Current State Of Blue


This CD opens with a strong, Albert King styled modern blues, and then there are a couple of mellow jazz-tinged numbers sandwiching the sprightly blues grinder of ‘St. Louis Bound’, followed by a funk outing in ‘Love Unmade’, but all showcasing leader Ricky Jackson’s fine soulful vocals.

Elsewhere there is a lovely, romping mid-tempo blues shuffle in ’I Gotta Play’ written by one of the band’s two horn men, Jim Brady, the cool funkified blues of ‘Bought & Sold’, and the easy shuffling ‘Blues Man Dying’ and the album closes out with an accomplished blues band’s take on out-and-out floor-filling funk with ‘She Take Me’.

This is the second album from this five-piece Texas outfit, recorded at the famed Sugar Hill Studios in Austin. They are obviously happy to cast an eye further than their native state, as the inclusion of Eric Clapton’s ‘Bell Bottom Blues’, Mountain’s heavy rocker ‘Mississippi Queen’ and Gary Moore’s ‘Still Got The Blues’ indicates – these are all fine performances, though I do admit I have never been a fan of Old Slowhand’s pop-blues number.

But overall, this is a very satisfying album – a little different to the average blues band, but that is no bad thing!




Live Gig Review for ‘THE JON CASEY BLUES BAND’ @ The Broadfield Arms, Leyland – 19/12/14  nwb.co/joncaseybluesband 

This was a first time visit to the Broadfield Arms in Leyland and I think they have some great things going on into 2015 on the music front, ‘Keeping Live Music Alive’. Tonight was no exception, with the excellent ‘Jon Casey Blues Band’ from the Liverpool area.

The three piece are a high calibre blues rock band playing classic covers. Fronting the band on exceptional guitar and vocals was Jon Casey, with support from Steve Faulkner on pounding bass and Jimmy Mack the master of the skins on drums.

A great opener with the classic Willie Dixon standard, ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’. Following this, a Clapton style ‘Cocaine’, brilliantly sung by Jon with seamless guitar work. Some Cream, Hendrix and even a touch of Paul Carrick and Bill Withers within the first set. A great take of the John Mayall classic ‘All Your Love’ and to finish the first set, a compilation of ‘Voodoo Child’, ‘Roadhouse Blues’ and ‘Oh Well’

The second set was equally varied with Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’, leading into a bit of Free. A great take of ‘Crossroads’ and upping the tempo with Gary Moore’s ‘Red House’ and Free’s ‘The Hunter’. Some more classic Hendrix and Rory Gallagher and a cracking version of Gary Moore’s ‘Walking’. To complete the set and get the dancers dancing, a great take of ‘Route 66′, followed by the classic Gallagher ‘Bullfrog Blues’. A well deserved encore gave us a stomping version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll’. So there ended a great evening with a great band.

Having played at Chorley Live this year, The Jon Casey Blues are a definite ‘watch out’ for band. Jon, as a young performer, has a superb voice and is up there with the best of the guitar players. The rhythm section of Steve and Jimmy add to the professionalism of the band, as both are experienced and well seasoned musicians. Catch them if you can, at one of their gigs in and around the North West.

Rosy Greer – Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive

Yesterday was the birthday of Keith Richards

Posted on: Saturday, Dec 20, 2014

The NME ran a picture special that is really really good.

Check it out. It´s fab!

Keith Richards’ Incredible Career In Pictures | NME.COM.

From Brooks Williams:

“Shaking These Christmas Blues,” from the EP Christmas 2014. Filmed in HD by my son, Lee Williams, in Cambridge and Northampton Massachusetts USA a couple weeks ago, the weather and holiday lights played their parts perfectly. If I look cold in the video, that’s not acting. It was cold and I was freezing! Lee was steady as a rock and had nerves of steel as he orchestrated the film shoot.

Can you recognize where we are? These are some of my favorite haunts! Notice the legendary Club Passim early on in the video. That’s one of the club’s where it all began for me many years ago. Thanks to Lee for making such a beautiful film and thanks to everyone who purchased the EP. Your generosity is much appreciated and proceeds will be delivered to East Anglia Children’s Hospice in the new year.

Meanwhile, this video is our little gift to you and yours for the holidays. ‘Tis the season for sharing so please share it with friends and colleagues. We will be ever so grateful! Jo & I hope you get some time to catch your breath and get some good face-time with loved ones. We’ll do the same and look forward to seeing you in 2015!


Review: Colosseum – Time On Our Side

Posted on: Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

Colosseum CD 2.jpg

Review for ‘COLOSSEUM’ – CD – ‘Time On Our Side’ – November 2014 http://www.temple-music.com/colosseum-tour-2014-2015/Ruf 1209

Reflecting on the past achievements of ‘Colosseum’ from the late 60’s until now, it is a great pleasure to review their new album ‘Time On Our Side’. You can’t pigeon hole the music and in Jon Hiseman’s words they create “rocky, jazzy rhythms, vocals with intelligent words and improvised solos”.

The band, as it stands, consists of Jon Hiseman on drums, Dave Greenslade on Hammond and keys, Clem Clempson on guitars, vocals and keys, Mark Clarke on bass and vocals, Chris Farlowe on vocals with the amazing Barbara Thompson on saxes.

With a wealth of new material the story starts with a Santana like track, ‘Safe As Houses’. Great sax input from Barbara and compelling vocals, finishing off with a revelling on the skins. Next a lilting bluesy number, ‘Blues To Music’, with female vocal input along with Chris Farlowe.

With a touch of rock, funk and jazz, ‘The Way You Waved Goodbye’ gave us plenty of blending rhythms and some great vocals, also a superb guitar solo from Clem. Slowing the tempo with ‘Dick’s Licks’, a track reminiscent of days gone by, with a slow jazzy feel and some haunting sax.

‘City Of Love’ begins with some pure jazz, but leads into a rocky build up with some gritty guitar. Chris’s singing is at his best, with great backing vocals, excellent. Dropping the pace right down with terrific piano and vocals on ‘Nowhere To Be Found’, brings in acoustic guitar and magic keys. With a touch of that Hammond, it all added to the ambiance of the track, with a finishing flourish on the electric guitar.

Love the funky intro on ‘You Don’t Get It’, with Jon on drums taking a focal role. Super sax and Hammond input with some great rhythms, with a bit of slide guitar to add to the flavour. ‘New Day’ is more of a ‘classic’ track and a bit more predictable, but a great sound.

The penultimate number on this excellent album is ‘Anno Domini’, bringing the sax into its own. With piano and Hammond input and the big brass sound, it is an iconic track. The final and bonus ‘live’ track, ‘Morning Story’, was written by the late, great Jack Bruce. This puts the jazz influences firmly in place and also gives a taster of what a live experience of the band can be. Just superb!

A class CD from a class band who are, after almost half a century, still presenting something fresh on the table. In Jon Hiseman’s words “I know that when we get together we feel like we are coming home.” this is evident in camaraderie of the band and the musical expertise throughout this excellent album.

Rosy Greer – Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive

News: David Philips – next release in March 2015

Posted on: Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

More David Philips . . . sorry guys . . . he’s great!!

News from Black & Tan regarding the excellent David Philips, who we are huge fans of here at BITNW. He’s not strictly blues, but a very fine musician, writer and singer:

We started preparing our next release; a new David Philips CD. David finished recording and mixing and at the moment the recordings are being mastered. Not only did David write and play all the music of this release, we will also use his drawings for the cover. Ten brand new songs and the release is scheduled for March 2015.

David Philips will be back on the road in the Benelux in April – May 2015 and in Austria, Germany and Switzerland in July 2015.

Check out the video for “Everyday Theatre” from his first release back in 2010, featuring a walk around his adopted home of Barcelona.

YouTube: Freddie King – Christmas Tears

Posted on: Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014

Some Christmas blues from the master, Freddie King, on lovely crackly vinyl . . . “Christmas Tears”.

Review: Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion – Exposed

Posted on: Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

Zoe Schwarz CD exposed.jpg

Review for ZOE SCHWARZ BLUE COMMOTION – CD – ‘Exposed’ – 2014 http://www.bluecommotion.com/ – 33WM150

This is the third and an interesting album by Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion. With a definite leaning towards the sounds of Billie Holiday, – even though all the tracks on the album, ‘Exposed’ are self penned – the flavour is there.

Fronting the band on lead vocals is Zoe Schwarz, with Rob Koral on guitars, Pete Whittaker on Hammond, St Genaro on harmonica and backing vocals with Paul Robinson on drums and percussion. Guesting were Ian Ellis on sax, Andy Urquhart on trumpet and Carl Chamberlin on backing vocals.

The first track, ‘Angel Of Mercy’ has a sultry rock feel and is beautifully sung with great lyrics. ‘Smile’ dives into the realms of rock with jazz overtones. Raising the tempo with ‘Let Me Sing The Blues’ a tongue in cheek rhythm & blues with some great Hammond input, reminiscent of ’60s classics bringing in harmonica and some basic raw guitar.

‘Let’s Explain’ (Blues For Billie) is sultry blues with jazz overtones – an ode to Billie Holiday. Nice harp intro with some great brass input on ‘You Knock Me Out’. Then a slow rocky anthem, ‘Heroes’ with Zoe giving a great vocal performance.

‘If I Had Wings’ is a standard bluesy take with super vocals. Funkin’ it up with ‘I No Longer Feel Blue’ a funky blues, then bringing the pace right down with the haunting ‘You’re Not Alone’, which I would put firmly in the realms of jazz. A class take.

‘I’m Glad’ is an up tempo rock and roll. Lots of brass, Hammond and harmonica input with 50’s/60’s style guitar playing. Continuing the rock and roll feel with ‘I Wonder Who My Next Man Will Be’ an upbeat 12 bar with harmonica and brass input.

The penultimate track ‘Fifteen Days’, slows the pace right down and shows Zoe at her best. To finish off the album a great ‘live’ take of ‘Broken Heart Blues’, an up tempo rhythm and blues with some superb Hammond and harmonica input with jazzy guitar overtones, probably one of my favourites on the album.

A pleasing album with superb vocals from Zoe. A great band for a live performance, to get the true taste of the music.

Rosy Greer – Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive

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