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Local and State News

Larry Mc Cray and Tell Yo Mama: Salute to Veterans. "Sisters Who Served"

November 1, 2018 at Tequila Cowboy, Lansing Mall, Lansing, MIchigan

Doors 6 PM, Music 8 PM $10.00 Vets and Students, $15 Advanced and $20 at Door

“Salute To Vets” show on Nov. 1st featuring none other than the Larry Mc Cray Band with special guest Tony Purifoy and the ever-so dynamic Tell Yo Mama.  This year we will be honoring “Sisters Who Served” as this is the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Vietnam Memorial being dedicated in Washington, D.C.
Video used with permission of Nicholas Zabrodsky. Property of Nicholas Zabrodsky

Sunday, October 21st: Morts Fest to benefit the Red Cross in Hurricane Recovery. The 3rd annual Mortsfest benefit is coming right up! We're hosting a night of fun and music to raise money for relief efforts for the areas devastated by Hurricane Florence. We have five incredible bands lined up to perform: 4 – 10 PM Bands Scheduled:
The Jeff Shoup Quarter, The Rotations, Calling Dr. Howard, Velocity Shift, and Kathleen Murray with Spoonful. We'll be doing 50/50 raffles and prize raffles as well.

National News and Beyond

Save the date International Blues Challenge #35: January 22-26, 2019

The International Blues Challenge represents the worldwide search for those Blues Bands and Solo/Duo Blues Acts ready to perform on the international stage, yet just needing that extra big break. Each Affiliate of The Blues Foundation has the right to send a band and a solo/duo act to represent its organization at the IBC.

Peggy Sue Gerron, Who Inspired Buddy Holly Classic," Peggy Sue," Dead at 78

Peggy Sue Gerron, the woman who inspired Buddy Holly’s 1957 hit song “Peggy Sue,” died Monday October 1, 2018 in Lubbock, Texas. She was 78. Gerron met Holly in Lubbock in the mid-Fifties when he was a budding musician and she was still a high school student at Lubbock High (Holly’s alma mater).

As Gerron recalled, their first encounter occurred when Holly, running late for a gig, accidentally knocked her over. “He ran over to me, guitar in one hand, amp in the other, and said, ‘I don’t have time to pick you up, but you sure are pretty’, before he ran off,” Gerron told the BBC in 2013. “So another girl came and helped me pick up my books and she said, ‘Do you know who that was? That was Buddy Holly.'”

Several weeks later, Gerron was on a date with future husband, Crickets drummer Jerry Allison, when they ran into Holly and his date. “[Holly] started laughing, Jerry asked him what was so funny, and he said ‘I’ve already overwhelmed your Peggy Sue,'” Gerron remembered.

As for how Gerron ended up as the namesake of “Peggy Sue,” there are several legendary versions. In one telling, the track was first tiled “Cindy Lou,” after Holly’s niece. However Allison convinced his band mate to change it in order to impress Gerron. In another version, Holly changed the title to placate Allison after their producer, forced him to play in the studio’s reception room because his snare was too loud.

Gerron first heard Holly and the Crickets play “Peggy Sue” at a concert in a packed school auditorium. “I was just delighted, I thought it was a fascinating song,” she told the BBC. “It’s really hard to stand still when you’re listening to ‘Peggy Sue.'”

“Peggy Sue” peaked at Number Three on the Billboard singles chart. Holly even wrote a sequel to the track, “Peggy Sue Got Married,” which was posthumously released in 1959 after the rock legend died in a plane crash.

The real Peggy Sue did marry Allison, and they stayed together through much of the Sixties. Gerron even spent some time on the road with the Crickets as they continued to tour and perform after Holly’s death.

Gerron returned to Lubbock in the mid-Nineties to care for her ailing mother. In later years, Gerron became a devoted ham radio enthusiast, and in 2008 she published a memoir, Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue?

Big Jay McNeely Passes at Age 91

Cecil James McNeely (April 29, 1927 – September 16, 2018) known as Big Jay McNeely, was an American rhythm and blues saxophonist. McNeely died of cancer at age 91 on Sunday.

Inspired by Illinois Jacquet and Lester Young, he teamed with his older brother Robert McNeely, who played baritone saxophone, and made his first recordings with drummer Johnny Otis, who ran the Barrelhouse Club a few blocks from McNeely's home. Shortly after he performed on Otis's "Barrel House Stomp." Ralph Bass, A&R man for Savoy Records, promptly signed him to a recording contract. Bass's boss, Herman Lubinsky, suggested the stage name Big Jay McNeely because Cecil McNeely did not sound commercial. McNeely's first hit was "The Deacon's Hop," an instrumental which topped the Billboard R&B chart in early 1949. The single was his most successful of his three chart entries.

Thanks to his flamboyant playing, called "honking," McNeely remained popular through the 1950s and into the early 1960s, recording for the Exclusive, Aladdin, Imperial, Federal, Vee-Jay, and Swingin' labels. But despite a hit R&B ballad, "There Is Something on Your Mind," (1959) and a 1963 album for Warner Brothers Records, McNeely's music career began to cool off. He quit the music industry in 1971 to become a postman. However, thanks to an R&B revival in the early 1980s, McNeely left the post office and returned to touring and recording full-time, usually overseas. His original tenor sax is enshrined in the Experience Music Project in Seattle, and he was inducted into The Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame.

The press called him "Big Jay McSquealy," "the Go Go Go Man," "the Deacon of Tenor Sax" and "King of the Honkers." The honkers were known for their raucous stage antics and exhibitionist style of playing. They overblew their saxophones and often hit the same note repeatedly until their audiences were mesmerized.

McNeely was credited with being the most flamboyant performer. He wore bright banana- and lime-colored suits, played under blacklights that made his horn glow in the dark, used strobe lights as early as 1952 to create an old-movie effect. The honking style was fading by the early 1950s, but the honkers themselves found themselves providing rousing solos for doo wop groups However, the rise of the electric guitar ended the dominance of the tenor sax in rock and roll by 1956.

Otis Rush, Seminal Chicago Blues Guitarist, Dead at 84

Otis Rush, a pioneering guitarists of the Chicago blues scene, died Saturday September 29, 2018 from complications of a stroke sustained in previous years. He was 84.

Rush’s wife, Masaki Rush, confirmed her husband’s death on his web site. Rush exemplified the modernized minor key urban blues style with his slashing, amplified jazz-influenced guitar playing, high-strained vocals and backing by a full horn section. Rush’s first recording in 1956 on Cobra Records ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ reached Number on the Billboard R&B charts and catapulted him to international acclaim. He went on to record a catalog of music that contains many songs that are now considered blues classics.”

Rush became a staple of the Chicago scene in the late Fifties and early Sixties, partnering first with Cobra Records. Their take on the blues would prove to be a revelation for a generation of artists to follow, while Rush would become a totem for countless rock guitarists. Notably, Rush’s signature style – long, dramatically bent notes – was in part a product of his unique playing approach: A left-handed guitarist who played his guitar upside-down, placing the low E string at the bottom and the high E string on top.

Rush was born in Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1935 and began teaching himself the guitar at age eight. He moved to Chicago in 1949 and was inspired to pursue music full time after seeing Muddy Waters live. In 1956, Rush released his first, and most successful single on Cobra, “I Can’t Quit You Baby.” Along with its chart success, Led Zeppelin famously covered the cut on their 1969 debut.

During his Cobra years, Rush recorded with a revolving cast of musicians including Ike Turner, Big Walter Horton, Little Walter and Little Brother Montgomery. His output also featured classic cuts such as “My Love Will Never Die,” “All Your Love (I Miss Loving)” (later covered by John Mayall) and “Double Trouble” (Stevie Ray Vaughn later named his band after that track).

After Cobra went bankrupt, Rush released a pair of singles on Chess before moving to Duke Records in the early-Sixties. But it wasn’t until 1969 that Rush released what was essentially his first album, Mourning In the Morning, which he recorded at the legendary FAME Studios with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. Rush continued to tour and record during the Sixties and Seventies, though seemed perpetually dogged by label issues.

In 1994, Rush released Ain’t Enough Comin’ In, which at the time marked his first record in 16 years. Two years later, his album, Any Place I’m Goin’ won him the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album. Though that LP would be his last full-length studio effort, Rush contributed to various tribute albums and remained a regular live performer until health issues forced him off the road.

Marty Balkin, Member of Jefferson Starship, Dies At 76

Marty Balin, founder of Jefferson Airplane, longtime member of Jefferson Starship, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, has died at age 76. Balin passed away on September. 27, with his wife, Susan Joy Balin, by his side.

Balin’s cause of death was not disclosed as of press time. However, he had a recent history of serious health problems:

Balin was born Martyn Jerel Buchwald on Jan. 30, 1942, in Cincinnati; he changed his name to Marty Balin in 1962 when he recorded two solo songs for Challenge Records: “Nobody But You” and “I Specialize in Love.” After those singles failed to take off, and after a brief stint in a folk music quartet called the Town Criers, he purchased a San Francisco pizza parlor and converted it into the rock club the Matrix. There he put on shows by such esteemed artists as the Doors, Janis Joplin, and the Velvet Underground.

Jefferson Airplane sprang from the Matrix, and Balin served as the group’s leader and soulful co-vocalist until his departure in 1971. Balin wrote or co-wrote several of the band’s classic songs, including “It’s No Secret,” “Today,” “Comin’ Back to Me,” “Plastic Fantastic Lover,” “Share a Little Joke,” and “Volunteers.” Less than two years before leaving Jefferson Airplane, Balin was knocked unconscious by Hell’s Angels while performing at the infamous Altamont festival in Northern California.

In 1975, Balin reunited with Airplane co-founder Paul Kantner in Jefferson Starship, lending his distinctive high tenor voice to the top 20 hits “Miracles,” “With Your Love,” “Count on Me,” and “Runaway.” Balin left Jefferson Starship in 1978, after which he focused on a solo career that spawned the top 40 hits. In 1985, he teamed with Kantner and Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna bassist Jack Casady in the KBC Band. In 1989 he participated in a reunion album and tour with Jefferson Airplane. He later performed in various incarnations of Jefferson Starship between 1993 and 2008.

Balin is survived by his wife, Susan Joy Balin, daughters Jennifer Edwards and Delaney Balin, and stepdaughters Rebekah Geier and Moriah Geier. He is the third Jefferson Airplane founding member to pass away in recent years, following Kantner and the pre-Grace Slick-era vocalist Signe Toly Anderson, who died on the same day on Jan. 28, 2016.

2018 Blues Blast Music Award Winners Announced

At one of the biggest Blues events of the season on September 29, 2018 night fans and artists celebrated the 11th Annual Blues Blast Music Awards at Tebala Event Center in Rockford, Illinois.

The winners in the fan voting were announced at the show and are listed below. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

The 2018 Blues Blast Music Award Winners:

Contemporary Blues Album
Danielle Nicole - Cry No More

Traditional Blues Album
Kim Wilson - Blues And Boogie Vol 1

Soul Blues Album
Bettye LaVette - Things Have Changed

Rock Blues Album
Walter Trout - We're All In This Together

Acoustic Blues Album
Sonny Landreth - Recorded Live In Lafayette

Live Blues Recording
Muddy Waters - Live At Rockpalast

Historical Or Vintage Recording
Muddy Waters - Live At Rockpalast

New Artist Debut Album
Heather Newman - Burn Me Alive

Blues Band
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats

Male Blues Artist
Walter Trout

Female Blues Artist
Beth Hart

Sean Costello Rising Star Award
Heather Newman