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Back in the Taverns: The Fat Babies, July 31 through August 3 at the Bix Fest PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 24 July 2014 05:45

Beau Sample, the bassist and bandleader of the Fat Babies, has said he doesn’t want his Chicago-based septet to present the jazz of the 1920s as either a caricature or museum piece.

By all accounts, Sample and his bandmates have succeeded wildly – almost certainly a result of the Fat Babies balancing its performance schedule between bars and festivals.

The group has regular gigs at the Windy City’s Green Mill lounge and Honky Tonk BBQ – places where the nuances are less important than the swing. “The people who come to see us are really there to dance and drink and have fun,” Sample said in a phone interview last week. “A lot of the bands playing this stuff [early jazz] don’t have the opportunity to play for those crowds. ... The dancers are a big influence on what we do.”

The Fat Babies, he noted, are “trying to put it [old-time jazz] back in the taverns, where it came from. ... Basically, we’re doing what people have always done – which is just playing in bars for people drinking and having a good time.”

 
2014 Blues Fest: Schedule, Ticket Info, Interviews, and Biographies PDF Print E-mail
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:19

The River Cities’ Reader is proud to present the official guide to the 2014 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, taking place July 3 through 5 on Second Street between Main and Ripley streets in downtown Davenport.

Here you’ll find the complete festival schedule, new interviews with six of the performers, older interviews with four additional artists, biographies (from the Mississippi Valley Blues Society) of all 27 acts, and more: ticket and general information, a letter from the Mississippi Valley Blues Society president, and biographies of workshop and BlueSKool presenters who won’t be performing on the Tent or Bandshell stages. You can also pick up a copy of the official blues-festival guide in the June 26 issue of River Cities’ Reader.

More information and tickets are available at the Mississippi Valley Blues Society Web site.

 
An Excellent Foundation: The River Monks, July 2 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:18

The River Monks. Photo by Bruce Bales.

The band’s moniker comes from the likely source of the Des Moines River’s name (the French Rivière des Moines – “river of the monks”), and TinyMixTapes.com declared that “the River Monks might just be Iowa. The five-part vocal harmonies swirl outward like wind across the fields, while the band’s traditional folk instrumentation is given Iowa’s unexpectedly progressive touch, leaving you with something entirely recognizable, yet completely new.”

Its new album is titled Home Is the House, invoking a sense of physical place.

And many thousands of people in Iowa know the band – even if they don’t realize it. The River Monks composed the theme music for Iowa Public Radio’s two talk shows.

The irony is that the band – playing Rozz-Tox on July 2 – no longer has a home. While the group originated in Des Moines, some of the sextet’s members have been scattered about – to Nashville, to Omaha, Nebraska, and soon to California.

So the River Monks’ seven-week summer tour, singer/songwriter Ryan Stier said in a phone interview last week, is a bid for longevity. “We’ve been really forced to figure out: If the band’s going to continue, then we need to set some groundwork.”

 
2014 Blues Fest: Breaking “Bad” – George Thorogood & The Destroyers (Friday, July 4, 11 p.m., Bandshell) PDF Print E-mail
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:17

George Thorogood’s parents encouraged him to pursue a music career, but to hear the guitarist/singer/songwriter tell it, they didn’t have much choice. They didn’t see any more-conventional options to point him toward – and they were just glad he wasn’t following in the tracks of his brothers.

“My older brothers, they were real terrors,” Thorogood said in a recent phone interview. “They were like the Dennis Hoppers and the James Deans of the Delaware area on their motorcycles. ... My parents almost wept when I told them I wanted a guitar for a Christmas present. They were so pleased they couldn’t see straight. And once they saw me perform once or twice, they said, ‘This is what he’s destined to do. All he has to do is stay with it long enough to get good at it.’ And they also said this to me: ‘George, you can’t work.’ That’s true. I can’t. I’m not good at it. Could you imagine Tom Petty working in an accountant firm? ... Some people are cut out to do what it is they do.”

And, Thorogood added, it wasn’t merely a hunch his parents had about him being a natural performer: “They didn’t think it. They knew it. ... You know your own children.”

Of course, 40 years into the career of George Thorogood & The Destroyers, it’s more than clear Thorogood’s parents were right about their son.

 
2014 Blues Fest: Blues Brother – Curtis Salgado (Saturday, July 5, 9 p.m., Bandshell) PDF Print E-mail
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:16

If you’re of my generation – the generation that, as grade-schoolers, used to stay up long after bedtime to watch the early years of Saturday Night Live – there may be two names you most associate with your early exposure to blues music: Jake and Elwood.

Yet if you, too, became a fan of John Belushi’s and Dan Aykroyd’s famed Blues Brothers act through the duo’s SNL appearances, their 1978 album Briefcase Full of Blues, and their 1980 feature film, the one to thank for your youthful blues immersion shouldn’t be Jake or Elwood (or John or Dan). It should be Curtis.

Described by Blues Revue magazine as “one of the most down-to-earth, soulful, honest singers ever,” and a harmonica player who is “rollicking, funky, and electrifying,” Curtis Salgado has been at the forefront of the blues scene for decades. Included among Salgado’s considerable credits are his many years of professional partnership alongside five-time Grammy-winner Robert Cray, his headlining of blues festivals from San Francisco to Thailand, and his 2010 and 2013 Blues Music Awards for Soul Blues Male Artist of the Yearthe latter of which Salgado received after successfully battling lung cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2012.

Check out the liner notes for Briefcase Full of Blues, though, and you’ll see that Salgado is also the man that the album is dedicated to, making him the de facto reason many of us knew the lyrics to “Soul Man” before entering high school. (Also check out the name of Cab Calloway’s character in 1980’s The Blues Brothers movie. It’s Curtis.)

“Belushi told me that Aykroyd was trying to get him into the blues, but he wasn’t biting,” says Salgado during our recent phone interview. “And then when he saw me, he got it.”

 
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