True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

September/October 2010


Blues harp master Charlie Musselwhite is riding high on the crest of his induction this year into the Blues Hall of Fame, and his recent release of "The Well". Charlie's newest recording is proof positive that his success and recognition and well deserved and hard earned.

Born in the Mississippi Hill Country, Charlie has consistently delivered the real thing for the last fifty years, but "The Well" reaffirms him as a songwriter with the gift to translate his personal trials and tribulations into top shelf blues and life stories for the world to share. The new CD also marks a return to the Alligator Records label, where Musselwhite released three of his best releases in the 1990's. Outside of one co-authored tune, "The Well" is pure Charlie Musselwhite. It's not easy to tell stories like these without going too far and too deep, while still sharing the joy and pain of the lessons learned. Charlie hits the mark without fail, as composer and performer.

In addition to the common demons associated with drink, Charlie delivers the rare glimpse into the personal tragedy of his 93-old mother's murder - "Sad and Beautiful World". Mavis Staples joins Charlie on this unforgettable number. "The Well" is indelible blues power, but with such gentle finesse. For more information on Charlie Musselwhite, visit or .


One of the true blue icons, James Cotton returns to the Alligator label with his new release 'Giant'. A veteran of sixty-six years in the blues, Cotton's impeccable technique and style incorporates the best of the Delta and urban blues. He is without a doubt the standard and style that so many aspiring blues harmonica players have tried to emulate. While leaving the vocal duties to his band members, James Cotton proves on 'Giant', beyond any shadow of doubt, that he is still the definitive blues harp master. This new collection includes nods to Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers and Ivory Joe Hunter, but also features brand new funky and boogie-fied originals, as well as a passionate instrumental tribute to a longtime friend, the late Koko Taylor. Rolling Stone places James Cotton "Among the greats of all time. He blazes on harp with brilliant virtuosity." For more on the man they call "Mr. Superharp," visit .


Chris O'Leary, best known from his stint at the mic with Levon Helms Barn Burners, leads the charge as singer, songwriter and harp player – backed by a rock solid band and special guests Bruce Katz and Bob Margolin. The diverse mix of blues, R&B and rockabilly show that O’Leary is quite capable of delivering the goods on all levels, and in a variety of styles.

Griel Marcus says "Front man Chris O'Leary carries the group… with a huge shout and force of nature harmonica sound… he generates authority." For more on Chris O’Leary, visit .


Matt Hill’s debut on the Vizztone Label Group echoes the fiery R&B and houserockin’ energy of a young Jerry Lee Lewis, with a dash of Howlin’ Wolf and Nappy Brown. This hybrid brand of blues is best witnessed in the flesh, but ‘On the Floor’ brings it on home to you from one of today’s most energetic showmen. The boy just can’t sit still, and ‘On the Floor’ will keep you jumpin’ from the first to last track. More information on this vibrant performer is also available at .


'FOUR ACES AND A HARP' - CHRIS HARPER This collection features signature Chicago blues from Chris Harper, Jimmy Burns, John Primer, Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith, Robert Stroger and friends. For more information, visit: .

'LIVE AT LEGENDS' - PEACHES STATEN Born in Doddsville, Mississippi and raised up on Chicago blues, soul, gospel and R&B, this is LIVE blues. As a matter of fact, it's the last live album recorded at the original Legends club in Chicago. Turn it up, sit back, and you'll swear you was there!

'BIG OTIS BLUES' - ROB BLAINE This blues guitarist's attack is proof that you can take the boy out of Chicago, but you can't take Chicago out of the boy. With family roots in Chi-town, guitarist Rob Blaine returned from Michigan, and currently gigs with the Chicago R&B Kings. Taking front and center on this collection, Rob Blaine shows that his brand of blues is not one to be trifled with. Big, bold blues tone and chunky chops from a fine blues player. For more on Rob Blaine, visit .

Special note: Swississippi Records is a brand new blues label celebrating their arrival on the scene this month. For more information, visit their page on Facebook for more to come.

That should be plenty for y'all to chew on for now. I'm headed down to the levee to see what's bitin' on what. Until we meet again at this crossroads, peace, love & blessings to all, and…

Blues to 'ya!

Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, Oct. 2, the 275th day of 2014. There are 90 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The ladies have adopted the fashion of wearing representations of insects in the flowers on their bonnets. Some look very natural.
1889 -- 125 years ago: T.F. Cary, former Rock Island alderman, has accepted a position as salesman for a Chicago wallpaper house and plans to move to that city.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Work on the new telephone building on 18th Street between 6th and 7th avenues is progressing rapidly.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Rock Island's new theater at 3rd Avenue and 19th Street will have a name significant of its location. The "Rocket" is scheduled to open Thanksgiving Day.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Two of Rock Island's newest water towers were vandalized last night, including the one at 38th Street and 31st Avenue, where police took five Moline boys into custody about 9 p.m..
1989 -- 25 years ago: Some of us who live in the Quad-Cities take the Mississippi River for granted, or at least we used to. But the river is not taken for granted by our visitors. And most Quad-Citians are realizing the importance of the river to this area as increased emphasis is placed on tourism.

(More History)