Bluesapolooza was a benefit for Mark DeForrest, who was stricken with colon cancer four years ago. The blues community of Minneapolis responded by throwing an indoor blues festival which was recorded in October of 2000. The evening was recorded by First Generation Recording. A compilation CD of the evening is being sold. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Mark DeForrest Benefit Fund and the American Cancer Society.
The six artists on this first volume showcases some of the finest blues talent in the Twin Cities. Its an important recording not just because it benefits a worthy cause. It exposes some of the musicians to a wider audience. Some of which do not have major recording on the market. I was only familiar with the excellent Lamont Cranston Band prior to this recording.
While the performances are uniformly excellent, as a newcomer to these artists, I wished there were more details as to who is singing and playing lead guitar on individual songs. The liner notes do list the artists and their instrumentation but itís confounding when there are two vocalists or guitarists listed for the band.
There are a lot of good tracks on this 12 tune disc but my favorites are by the Soulmates, Joe Juliano, and the Keller Brothers. The best cut on this CD is what I gather to be an original. Itís called "Mississippi Soupbone" by the Soulmates. It is one of the few covers on the entire CD and the lyrics are humorous. The song compares how delicious a woman is to a Mississippi Soupbone. The Soulmates have a number of vocalists listed but I have to assume that the soulful vocal is performed by the writer Wilbur Cole. Iíd love to hear more of his deep soul vocals. His voice is deep, rich and very expressive.
Joe Juliano has a reputation in the Twin Cities but after hearing this CD I can understand why. On the song "Cadillac Blues"(written by Detroit blues stalwart Johnny Bassett) he plays the clean, concise, bluesy guitar licks that would make Mr. Bassett proud. The vocals are good but they get even better on the next song, " Sheís Into Something". He not only tackles the lines in a sly, sassy way but contributes a blazing guitar solo that defines his own style.
The Keller Brothers (Mike Keller-guitar, vocals; Corey Keller-drums; Matt Farrell-keyboards, vocals; and Scott Nelson-bass) donít contribute any original tunes but we certainly get the picture that Mike is a bonafide blues guitar hero in Minneapolis. This guy can flat out play! I want to say screaming guitar solos but he can also tone it down and play a nice slow blues groove as Keller does on "I Found Someone Who Loves Me". One this one he employs some tremolo effects to give it a watery, crying blues guitar sound. The aforementioned screaming hot guitar solos come on the Otis Rush burner "It Takes Time". On this song, Keller simply tears it up. Matt Farrell is no slouch either contributing a riveting keyboard solo on this tune.
Other bands included on the CD are The Hillbilly Voodoo Dolls, Big Walter Smith and the Groove Merchants, and Lamont Cranston. Some of these artists donít have big time recording deals but you can find out more info and listen to them at their websites at www.mnblues.com or www.bluesonstage.com After listening to their music on this disc I was aching for more. Iím sure you will too.
Read the Live Review of this show
Recorded live, October 29, 2000
To order this CD and help support the Mark DeForrest benefit:
Cold Wind Records
This review is copyright © 2001 by Putnay Thomas, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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