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Local and State News

The Gem Theater 2018 Winter Blues Series Opening With Jake Kershaw

The Gem Theater will be starting up the 2018 Winter Blues Series beginning January 20 with Jake Kershaw..
Other acts are being negotiated, but so far they have a few others, including:
March 3: Jim McCarthy & Mystery Train with special guest, Pat Smillie.
March 31: Michigan Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Donny Hartman and the Donny Hartman Band.
April 21, Hank Mowery
For tickets, using your debit or credit card and PayPal visit the Gem web site,www.centerstage.bz 
Show times have been changed to 7:00 pm.

Center Stage at the Gem, 200 North Mill Street, St Louis, MI.

SAVE THE DATE!
The 34th International Blues Challenge is scheduled for January 16 - 20, 2018

 

Mark your calendars:The 25th Anniversary 2018 Kalamazoo Blues Festival will be held July 12 - July 14 !  
It will be held in downtown Kalamazoo. Festival details are coming out in an official press release later this month! (January)

 

National News and Beyond

Raymond Thomas of the Moody Blues Passes at Age 76

Raymond Thomas (29 December 1941 – 4 January 2018) was an English musician, flautist, singer and composer in the UK rock band The Moody Blues.

Thomas was born in Stourport-on-Severn, England, of Welsh descent.

In the 1960s Thomas joined the Birmingham Youth Choir then began singing with various Birmingham blues and soul groups. Taking up the harmonica he started a band, El Riot and the Rebels, with bass guitarist John Lodge. After a couple of years their friend Mike Pinder joined as keyboardist. El Riot and the Rebels once opened for The Beatles.

Thomas and Pinder then recruited guitarist Denny Laine, drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist Clint Warwick to form a new, blues-based band, The Moody Blues. Their first album yielded a No. 1 UK hit (No. 10 in the US) with "Go Now".

When Warwick left the band (followed by Laine a few months later) he was briefly replaced by Rod Clark. Thomas then suggested his and Pinder's old band mate John Lodge as a permanent replacement and also recruited Justin Hayward to replace Laine. With this line-up the band released seven successful albums between 1967 and 1972 and became known for their pioneering orchestral sound.

The Moody Blues formed their own record label Threshold Records, distributed by Decca in the UK and London in the US, and their first album on the Threshold imprint was To Our Children's Children's Children.

When the band began to realize that their method of heavy overdubbing in the studio made most of the songs very difficult to reproduce in concert, they decided to use a more stripped-down sound on their next album A Question of Balance.

The Moodies went back to their symphonic sound and heavy overdubbing with Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, their third UK No. 1 album.

The final album of the 'core seven' was Seventh Sojourn, their first album to reach No. 1 in the USA. By this time, Pinder had replaced his mellotron with the chamberlin, which produced orchestral sounds more realistically and easily than the mellotron. Thomas wrote and sang "For My Lady".

During the group's synthpop era, Thomas's role in the recording studio began increasingly to diminish, partially due to the band's synthpop music being unsuitable for his flute and partially because he was also unwell during this period.

On The Moody Blues' 1991 release Keys of the Kingdom, Thomas played a substantial role in the studio for the first time since 1983, writing "Celtic Sonant" and co-writing "Never Blame the Rainbows for the Rain" with Justin Hayward. He contributed his first ambient flute piece in eight years; however, his health declined and his last album with the group was Strange Times to which he contributed his final compositions for the group.

Thomas permanently retired at the end of 2002. In a 2014 interview with Pollstar.com, drummer Graeme Edge stated that Thomas had retired due to illness. The Moody Blues–consisted only of Hayward, Lodge and Edge (Edge being the only remaining original member) plus four long-serving touring band members.

In 2014 Thomas revealed on his web site that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He said he had received his diagnosis in 2013.

Thomas died on 4 January 2018 of prostate cancer, at his home in Surrey, at the age of 76.

Roe "Rick" Hall of FAME Studios Passes at Age 85

Roe Erister "Rick" Hall (January 31, 1932 – January 2, 2018) was an American record producer, songwriter, music publisher, and musician best known as the owner and proprietor of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and "Father of Muscle Shoals Music". Hall was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1985 and received the John Herbert Orr Pioneer Award. In 2014, he won the Grammy Trustees Award in recognition of his lengthy career. Hall remained active in the music industry with FAME Studios, FAME Records, and FAME Publishing.

Hall was born to a family of sharecroppers in Mississippi, and was raised in Alabama. He moved to Rockford, Illinois, as a teenager and began playing in local bar bands. When he was drafted for the Korean War, he declared himself a conscientious objector, joined the honor guard of the Fourth United States Army.  

When Hall returned to Alabama he resumed factory life, working for Reynolds Aluminum.  But when both his new bride and his father died within a two-week period, he lost all interest in a regular job, deciding instead to drift around the area playing guitar, mandolin, and fiddle with Carmol Taylor and the Country Pals.

Hall had his first songwriting successes in the late 1950s, when George Jones recorded his song "Achin', Breakin' Heart", Brenda Lee recorded "She'll Never Know", and Roy Orbison recorded "Sweet and Innocent". In 1959, Hall and Sherrill accepted an offer from Tom Stafford to help set up a new music publishing company to be known as Florence Alabama Music Enterprises, or FAME. However, in 1960, Sherrill and Stafford dissolved the partnership, leaving Hall with rights to the studio name. Hall then set up FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  

Hall's successes continued after the Atlanta-based agent Bill Lowery brought him acts to record, and the studio produced hits for Tommy Roe, Joe Tex, the Tams, and Jimmy Hughes.

In 1966, he helped license Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman" to Atlantic Records leading to a regular arrangement under which Atlantic would send musicians to Hall's Muscle Shoals studio to record. The studio produced further hit records for Wilson Pickett, James and Bobby Purify, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Otis Redding, and Arthur Conley. This enhanced Hall's reputation as a white Southern producer who could produce and engineer hits for black Southern soul singers

In 1969, FAME Records, with artists including Candi Staton, Clarence Carter and Arthur Conley, established a distribution deal with Capitol Records.  Hall then turned his attention away from soul music towards mainstream pop, producing hits for the Osmonds, Paul Anka, Tom Jones, and Donny Osmond.

Hall's FAME studio prospered through the 1970s. In 1971, Hall was named Producer of the Year by Billboard magazine, a year after having been nominated for a Grammy in the same category. Later in the decade, Hall moved back towards country music, producing hits for Mac Davis, Bobbie Gentry, Jerry Reed, and the Gatlin Brothers.

In 2007, Hall reactivated the FAME Records label through a distribution deal with EMI.

In 2014, Hall was awarded the Grammy Trustees Award.

He died on January 2, 2018, aged 85, at his home in Muscle Shoals after returning from a stay in a local nursing home shortly before Christmas.

Ora Denise Allen Known by the Stage Name Denise LaSalle Passes

Ora Denise Allen (July 16, 1939 - January 8, 2018), known by the stage name Denise LaSalle, is an American blues and R&B/soul singer, songwriter, and record producer. Since the death of Koko Taylor she was recognized as the "Queen of the Blues".

Born and raised in Mississippi, she sang in church choirs before moving to Chicago in the early 1960s. She sat in with R&B musicians and wrote songs, influenced by country music as well as the blues, before winning a recording contract with Chess Records in 1967. Her first single, "A Love Reputation" was a modest regional hit.

She established an independent production company, Crajon, with her then husband Bill Jones. Her song "Trapped By A Thing Called Love" (1971) was released on Detroit-based Westbound Records. This reached #1 on the national R&B chart and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song ranked at #85 on the 1971 year-end chart.

She also wrote successful follow-ups, "Now Run And Tell That" and "Man Sized Job.” Her early hits were recorded at the Hi recording studios in Memphis using the cream of southern session players. She continued to have hits on Westbound and on ABC Records through the mid-1970s, including "Love Me Right" (#10 R&B, #80 pop) She continued to produce and perform live.

In the early 1980s, she signed as a singer and songwriter with Malaco Records, for whom she released a string of critically acclaimed albums over more than 20 years, starting with Lady in the Street (1983) and Right Place, Right Time (1984). In 1985, she enjoyed her only recognition in the UK Singles Chart, when her cover version of Rockin' Sidney's, "My Toot Toot", reached #6.

LaSalle appeared at the 1984 and 1993 versions of the Long Beach Blues Festival, and also in 1993, she performed at the San Francisco Blues Festival. Her album Smokin' In Bed (1997) sold well. After more than a decade away, when she recorded three albums with small Memphis-based soul-blues label, Ecko, she returned to Malaco for her 2010 outing called "24 Hour Woman". She continued to work as a live performer, particularly at festivals, and recently had branched out into the gospel genre. In 2011, she was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

In 2013 and 2014, LaSalle was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the 'Soul Blues Female Artist' category.  On June 6, 2015, LaSalle was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame.

2018 Blues Music Award Nominees Announced.

The nominees for the 39th Annual Blues Music Awards represent a significant collection of acclaimed performers and rising stars reflecting the range and diversity of today’s blues music scene. The Blues Music Awards, which is universally recognized as the top accolade afforded blues musicians, upholds blues’ rich cultural traditions while every year honoring the exceptional achievements in performances, recordings and songwriting.

The Blues Foundation will present the 39th Annual Blues Music Awards on Thursday, May 10th at 7 p.m. at The Memphis Cook Convention Center. The Awards show is a premier event for blues musicians, professionals, and fans around the globe almost all the nominees attend the ceremony and typically perform.

39th Blues Music Award Nominees:

Acoustic Album of the Year
Catfish Keith – Mississippi River Blues
Doug MacLeod – Break the Chain
Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi – Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train
Harrison Kennedy – Who U Tellin’?
Mitch Woods – Friends Along The Way
Rory Block – Keepin’ Outta Trouble

Acoustic Artist
Doug McLeod
Guy Davis
Harrison Kennedy
Rory Block
Taj Mahal

Album of the Year
Don Bryant – Don’t Give Up on Love
Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter –
Right Place, Right Time
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats –
Groovin’ In Greaseland
TajMo – TajMo
Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
After a While

Band of the Year
The Cash Box Kings
Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter
Nick Moss Band
North Mississippi Allstars
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats

 B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
Bobby Rush
Michael Ledbetter
Rick Estrin
Sugaray Rayford
Taj Mahal

Best Emerging Artist Album
Altered Five Blues Band – Charmed & Dangerous
Larkin Poe – Peach
Miss Freddye – Lady of the Blues
R.L. Boyce – Roll and Tumble
Southern Avenue – Southern Avenue
Tas Cru – Simmered & Stewed

Contemporary Blues Album of the Year
Beth Hart – Fire on the Floor
Corey Dennison Band – Night After Night
Ronnie Baker Brooks – Times Have Changed
Selwyn Birchwood – Pick Your Poison
TajMo – TajMo

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Beth Hart
Karen Lovely
Samantha Fish
Shemekia Copeland
Vanessa Collier

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Keb’ Mo’
Michael Ledbetter
Ronnie Baker Brooks
Selwyn Birchwood
Toronzo Cannon

 Historical Album of the Year
Jimmy Reed, Mr. Luck: The Complete Vee-Jay Singles –
Craft Recordings
John Lee Hooker, King of the Boogie – Craft Recordings
Luther Allison, A Legend Never Dies – Ruf Records
The Paul deLay Band, Live at Notodden ’97 –
Little Village Foundation
Various, American Epic: The Collection – Sony Legacy

Instrumental-Bass
Benny Turner
Bob Stroger
Larry Fulcher
Michael “Mudcat” Ward
Patrick Rynn

Instrumentalist-Drums
Jimi Bott
June Core
Kenny Smith
Tom Hambridge
Tony Braunagel

 Instrumentalist-Guitar
Anson Funderburgh
Chris Cain
Christoffer “Kid” Andersen
Monster Mike Welch
Ronnie Ear

lnstrumentalist-Harmonica
Billy Branch
Dennis Gruenling
Jason Ricci
Kim Wilson
Rick Estrin

Instrumentalist-Horn
Al Basile
Jimmy Carpenter
Nancy Wright
Trombone Shorty
Vanessa Collier

 Instrumentalist- Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Anthony Geraci
Henry Gray
Jim Pugh
Mitch Woods
Victor Wainwright

 Instrumentalist – Vocals
Beth Hart
Don Bryant
John Németh
Michael Ledbetter
Sugaray Rayford
Wee Willie Walker

Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female)
Annika Chambers
Diunna Greenleaf
Janiva Magness
Miss Freddye
Ruthie Foster

Rock Blues Album of the Year
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band – Lay It On Down
Mike Zito – Make Blues Not War
North Mississippi Allstars – Prayer for Peace
Savoy Brown – Witchy Feelin’
Walter Trout – We’re All In This Together

Rock Blues Artist
Eric Gales
Jason Ricci
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Mike Zito
Walter Trout

Song of the Year
“The Blues Ain’t Going Nowhere” – written by Rick Estrin
“Don’t Give Up On Love” – written by Scott Bomar and Don Bryant
“Don’t Leave Me Here” – written by Kevin R. Moore, Taj Mahal, and Gary Nicholson
“Hate Take a Holiday” – written by Willie Walker, Anthony Paule, and Ernie Williams
“Prayer for Peace” – written by Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson, and Oteil Burbridge

Soul Blues Album of the Year
Don Bryant – Don’t Give Up on Love
Johnny Rawls – Waiting for the Train
Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm – Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
Sugaray Rayford – The World That We Live In
Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra – After a While

Soul Blues Female Artist
Bettye LaVette
Denise LaSalle
Mavis Staples
Trudy Lynn
Vaneese Thomas

Soul Blues Male Artist
Curtis Salgado
Don Bryant
Johnny Rawls
Sugaray Rayford
William Bell
Wee Willie Walker

 Traditional Blues Album of the Year
The Cash Box Kings – Royal Mint
Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio – Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio
Kim Wilson – Blues and Boogie Vol. 1
Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter – Right Place, Right Time
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats – Groovin’ In Greaseland
Various Artists – Howlin’ At Greaseland

Traditional Blues Female Artist
Annika Chambers
Diunna Greenleaf
Janiva Magness
Miss Freddye
Ruthie Foster

 Traditional Blues Male Artist
John Primer
Kim Wilson
Lurrie Bell
R.L. Boyce
Rick Estrin