New Membership Benefit! The Phoenix Radio

New Membership Benefit! The Phoenix Radio

Your Suncoast Blues Society proudly announces a members-only benefit from The Phoenix Radio internet radio.

The Phoenix Radio shows provide a 15% discount to Suncoast Blues Society members!

Log onto and enter code SBS at checkout.

Be sure to bring your membership card to the show to guarantee the discount.

The Phoenix Radio live stream broadcast can be heard at

Big Al and the Heavyweights Interview

Big Al and the Heavyweights Interview

Big Al and the Heavyweights Interview

Big Al and the Heavyweights
By Blues Stalker

Blues Artist Al Lauro

Al Lauro was born and grew up in the Crescent City and as a percussionist. Al’s musical influences include the rhythms and grooves that only a city like New Orleans can produce. Al spend his early years touring in Europe and the United States as the drummer for David Allan Coe where he shared the stage with many of the greats in the outlaw country music scene.

In 1993 he fortuitously met guitarist Warren Haynes and discovered their mutual love of blues and Southern rock. In 1996 they formed the Unknown Blues Band with Rick Gergen and opened for many stellar acts in Nashville as well as performing at festivals throughout the U.S. Warren went on to play with the Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule and Al founded Big Al and the Heavyweights.

The recently toured Florida hitting all the major venues promoting their 7th CD entitled World Full of Trouble featuring guitarists Bob Margolin and John Lisi, and harmonica ace and former Heavyweight band member Jason Ricci. Their set list includes a mixture of zydeco, blues, funk, rock, with something to please everyone. Gumbo Heads should be ready to party another quarter century with these guys once the virus clears.  Get ready to boogie!

David Allan Coe

BS:  Al, what was it like to tour back in the 80’s with David Allan Coe?

AL: It was a BLAST! A rolling circus full of drugs, sex, and Outlaw Country!  I could write a great book. I appeared on Austin City Limits, The Grand Old Opry and numerous TV shows with him. We toured all over Europe in 1983. David was then based in Big Key, FL. This is near Key West which was then still full of hippies and smugglers (not so many t-shirt shops). David did a free street concert there and we backed up his special guests Greg Allman and Bertie Higgins. David is one of the most underrated true country artist and songwriters. Hopefully one day he will be in the Country Music Hall of Fame


Warren Haynes

BS: How did you meet Warren Haynes and discover your mutual musical tastes?

AL: We met in Baton Rouge. David’s then girlfriend Meme Broussard’s family was from Gonzales, LA. She and David were there to spend Christmas with her family. David had shows scheduled on Christmas Eve and Christmas night. Wendel Atkins band was from Texas and they were David’s backing band. They wanted to be home during Christmas, so they left in the middle of the night before the shows. David had to put a band together.

Meanwhile, Meme and I had a mutual friend Harold Mator who drove one of David’s semi-trucks. Mator called me and said David needed a drummer and would I be interested so I auditioned and joined up. I was wondering who the guitar player was going to be and they said he is flying in from Asheville, NC and that was Warren Haynes!

Most important, through spending countless hours on the bus together listening to music, Warren and I discovered a mutual love for roots music especially blues, southern rock, and soul. We had both moved to Nashville so we formed a band the Unknown Blues Band and we performed when David would take some time off from the road.

Big Al and The Heavyweights

BS: Who currently makes up the Heavyweights when touring?

AL: Currently, Wayne Lohr who has been with me for 10 plus years and is in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame plays keys.  Mark Parsons on Bass guitar, and Marcel Anton on guitar. Sometimes my long-time friend and harmonica player, “Roguie” Ray Lamontagne (Ray Lamontagne’s Dad) joins us on the road. It is hard to make money as a 5-piece band so unfortunately; I do not always have a harp player.

BS: Not too many bands have a drummer as a band leader. You perform with many exceptionally talented guitar and harp players who are front and center in talent and ego and command a lot of attention. Is that ever a problem for you as a bandleader?

AL:Not really. I am blunt and make sure everyone understands their role. We are a band FIRST!

Above all, we are not about one guy and his ego so one guy does not make or break Big Al & the Heavyweights. I have has blessed to play with some incredible harp players.  Roguie Ray who I mentioned before who is in his seventies and he will still play with me. Harmonica Red who also played with David Allan Coe and is freaking amazingly talented. He is on several of my CDs including Nothin’ But Good Lovin which Bruce Iglauer, president of Alligator Records, produced for me.

Presently, Red now lives in Kentucky. William Howse from Nashville one of my favorites. Of course, my long-time friend and a guy who has been in the band twice the incredible Jason Ricci. I am so proud of him.

Blues Touring Florida

BS:  You recently toured Florida before the music scene shut down due to the corona virus. I was fortunate enough to see you perform at Skipper’s. Care to share your thoughts and memories of that last touring adventure? Let us pray that those venues that have been loyal supporters of live music for years can survive this economic fiasco.

AL: Well I have been playing Skipper’s for over 10 years. The late great Rock Bottom got me in there. Tom White the owner of Skipper’s has been a supporter of the band and a forever friend. We just played there with Unknown Hinson.

It was a great Florida tour, as always. We played the Villages for the first time. Marcia and Mark are great hosts and it is an incredible gig. We also played The Barrel House in Ft Myers for the first time and for my great friend Vince at the Double Roads in Jupiter. We had a tour coming that way the 2nd week of May, but that did not happen. I have never been home this long, and I am so ready to get back on the road. That is what we LOVE and what we DO. I do not get how they can just shut it all down.

World Full of Trouble

BS:The title of your latest release, World Full of Trouble now seems very prophetic. Your home, New Orleans, is a city that thrives on its music and entertainment as well as its culinary reputation and eating establishments. What is it like now living there and how are artists such as yourself coping and surviving?

AL:It is like a ghost town. Like Florida, all the restaurants and bars shut down and lots of people are out of work. I keep hearing about this virus all over ‘Nola but it’s actually confined to a certain very unfortunate segment of the population. It is obviously very contagious especially to the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions. I live 60 miles North of ‘Nola in Hammond, LA. I work on the side for a storage container company and have now for many years. Consequently, old guys like me must have health insurance plus I am a single parent with a 16 yr. old son. I am not coping well at all. I am very restless, but I farm and raise chickens, so it keeps me occupied.

Keeping the Blues Alive

BS:  When this pandemic is all over, life as well as the music scene will certainly change. Any thoughts of what may emerge as a result?

AL: Jesus, hopefully people will not be scared to get out and there will be some venues left. I mean how long can these places hang on. I think people will realize and hopefully appreciate life much more because you can see how quick they can take it all away from us. Pretty freaking scary to me. Do not even get me going.

BS:  How can we as fans best help keep alive the music we love?

AL: Come to live music shows, support the venues, bands, buy a CD, T-shirt, put something in the tip bucket, tip the bartenders and waitresses. Do not complain about a 5-dollar cover. People spend 5 dollars eating at McDonalds or in a Walmart, but heaven forbid a venue is charging 5 dollars to see a band. Pay it and smile!

BS: In isolation, can you tell us what you have been working on? Have you taken this opportunity to write new material?

AL: Yes. Specifically, we have been working on songs for a new CD that Luther Dickinson from the North Mississippi Allstars will be producing for us. Always something to look forward to in the Heavyweight World!

Thanks, Al, for touring in Florida and sharing your talents with us. Wishing you and your band the best and hope to see you back on the road soon.


For more information on artists and venues mentioned within this interview please click the link

Big Al and The Heavyweights

Video: Big Al – Key to The Highway

David Allan Coe

Warren Haynes

Jason Ricci

Skipper’s Smokehouse



Inn Between Goodwill Blues Show

Inn Between Goodwill Blues Show

Inn Between Goodwill Blues Show

This is part 5 of our 6 part series bringing you the community outreach performance put on by Ronnie Earl, Sue Foley, Dave Clark & Chris ‘Kid’ Royal, with the help of The Utah Blues Society to entertain the residents and staff of The Inn-Between Hospice in Salt Lake City. Part 5 features some nice guitar work between Ronnie and Chris. For more info on the fine work this hospice does to help the homeless who are mostly terminal with no one to care for or about them, visit – or their social media pages

My Babe Interview with Tom TBone Hamilton and Mike Shivvers

My Babe Interview with Tom TBone Hamilton and Mike Shivvers

My Babe Interview with Tom TBone Hamilton and Mike Shivvers

Scott Morris’ Interview bass-man Tom “T-Bone” Hamilton and videographer Mike Shivvers about their “My Babe” Video

On January 8, 2020
, Tampa Bay blues bass-man Tom “T-Bone” Hamilton premiered a video to support his version of the Willie Dixon classic, “My Babe”. Tom made this video in collaboration with Tampa Bay area videographer Mike Shivvers, owner and curator of the blues web site Blues & Roots Digital Archive

This interview began during a conversation between Tom, Mike, and Scott during Anika Chambers’ show at Bradenton Women’s Club

“My Babe” Interview
Scott: Tom, tell us a bit about yourself, and your recent project that celebrates the music of Willie Dixon

Tom: People know me around the Tampa Bay area as T-Bone Hamilton. I have been a Blues bass player in this community for over 30 years. One of the music projects that I currently lead is T-Bone Hamilton & the Blues All Stars. I started the band in 2013 to work with my friends who are also fantastic Blues musicians.

From that start I decided that I wanted to record these excellent musicians. After I gave it some thought, I felt the music of Willie Dixon would be the perfect vehicle for accomplishing this goal. Willie is one of my bass heroes, who also is arguably one of the best post World War II blues songwriters. This led to the release of my 2019 EP T-Bone Hamilton & the Blues All Stars: A Tribute to Willie Dixon. The EP consists of live concert recordings and in studio. It is my fourth as a Producer.

Scott: How did you acquire the nickname “T-Bone”?

Tom: I gave myself the stage name T-Bone. As a kid, my friends would refer to me as hambone. When I started playing Blues, I wanted to have a nickname that stood out. Since I was a fan of Aaron “T-Bone” Walker, I thought T-Bone would be cool since my first name is Tom. The nickname stuck and is my stage name.

Scott: I’ve been a fan of your videography work for some time. Mike, tell us about your site Blues & Roots Digital Archive

Mike: The idea is to have a permanent online archive for Blues preservation. It began almost 7 years ago when I went to see John Mayall’s 80th birthday concert in Sarasota. Since I considered this to be a significant musical milestone, I brought a single camera with me to capture some the show. As there were no objections to the use of cameras, I shot most of the show and offered it to John’s people. Consequently, this began a relationship that continues to this day!

Besides, I became turned off by all the cell phone video that was becoming more and more common. Between shaky video and lousy sound, I didn’t feel it did these bands justice. Furthermore, that is not how I’d want my legacy preserved. I’m also somewhat of a history person and felt there were so many great and untold stories to go with the music.

Scott: Every video tells a story?

Mike: This was so evident to me when seeing John Hammond perform that it really hit home. Hearing him talk about opening for Howlin’ Wolf in 1964 or deciding to finally play ‘My Time Awhile’ at a festival. John introduced it as a Buddy Guy tune. In the audience was Robert Geddins, the song’s real author, who promptly corrected John! These moments are as special as the songs themselves.

To hear him tell these stories with really the passion of a fan, makes you want to hear and learn more. Preserving these types of stories and memories of our blues artists became another facet of what I envision for the Archive. There’s quite a bit more to it, and it’s still in the early stages of development. But I see it becoming a very useful resource for blues fans worldwide over the next several years.

Scott: How did you come together to collaborate the video shoot for “My Babe”?

Tom: I met Mike Shivvers when my band opened for “Braille Blues Daddy” Bryan Lee at Skipper’s Smokehouse. Mike videotaped the whole show and we became friends that night. From that time, we decided to work together to promote Blues nationally. Mike spends a lot of time on the road videotaping modern touring Blues musicians. My web Company West Bay Media Group developed Mike’s current website “Blues”. The website is dedicated to preserving the performances of the modern blues artists. Since I wanted to do a standalone music video, I thought the song “My Babe”, which I recorded in studio for my EP would be the perfect soundtrack.

Scott: Why did you choose downtown St Petersburg as the location for the video?

Tom: St Pete was chosen since I have played a lot of music in the city, and because of the cool landmarks. I was kicking around the idea of recording my band on video at a set location in St Pete. Once that fell through, I thought of the idea of rolling the bass past different well-known landmarks in St Petersburg Florida. Mike and I picked the day, which of course turned out to be super-hot, and we shot on location in St Petersburg.

Scott: What are some of those “cool spots” in St. Petersburg where the video was shot?

Tom: The video includes spots such as The Princess Martha Hotel, St. Petersburg’s Historic Open Air Post Office, and Williams Park. Al Capone’s underground Tunnel was an experience. Also we shot at Snell Arcade, Crislip’s Arcade and Central Avenue. The Vinoy Hotel and Vinoy Park, “Brew D Licious” Coffee Shop, Tropicana Field, Ferg’s, and Billy’s Corner Barber Shop.

Scott: Al Capone’s Tunnel? What an interesting fact about St. Petersburg

Tom: In the video I’m walking through this little tunnel in the video. That tunnel is under a sidewalk on Central Avenue. Legend is that Al Capone used that tunnel during the prohibition era.

Scott: Tell us about the challenges with shooting video’s Mike.

Mike: I use between 3 and 5 cameras for a shoot. Each video shoot is different. The biggest challenge is getting good angles and location without interfering with the patrons. Fans are paying to be there and support the venue, the staff, and especially the artist.

For the most part the house lighting is adequate. If I’m doing a specific project for someone rather than only for the Archive, the artists and I might address a lighting issue if it’s bad. My job is to capture the performance as accurately possible, not to be a part of it or in everyone’s way.

I always have the permission of the artist. And with the venue, in case there are certain restrictions on where and how to set up. If I haven’t had a chance to get the artists approval, I’ll still shoot it. However, only after I’ve spoken with them will I post the video. It’s just common courtesy and respectful of the artists, promoter, and venues.

Scott: How about post-production. After the film shoot what happens?

Mike: A 90-minute show might take 8 to 10 hours to edit. I use 3 to 5 cameras depending on the logistics of the shooting location. A 5-camera shoot with soundboard audio can take several days to a week to properly put together, that’s with no distractions.

Scott: Talk about “Our Babe” in the “My Babe” video, who long time Tampa Bay residence will recognize as Nancy Alexander. How did Nancy come to appear in the video?

Tom: That was totally by accident. I was stopping by “Brew D Licious” coffee shop to get a coffee and this blond lady came up to me and stated, “An upright bass, that’s something you don’t see every day”. Since I am a longtime radio fan geek, I asked: “Are you Nancy Alexander?” She replied: “Yes”. I retorted something to effect of – “The fact you know to call this thing an “Upright” and not a cello – makes me even more of fan than I already am!” She replies: “I’m a music chick”.

When we explained what we are doing, Mike asked her if she wanted to be in the video. Nancy enthusiastically said “Yes!”. When we were setting up the shot, she told me not to worry as she is known as “one take Nancy”. We shot the video in one take and gained a new friend! Without her being there in the right place at the right time – I don’t think we would have had such a nice close!!!

Scott: Mike and Tom, thank you for your time and for producing a video that highlights St Petersburg and the blues standard My Babe. Where can readers find out more about T-Bone Hamilton and your projects?

Tom: They can go to my website I also have two Facebook pages that also provide information on my projects.

Scott: What is coming next to Blues and Roots Digital Archive, and how can readers find out more about your work?

Mike: Now I am taking advantage of the unexpected down time to catch up on a backlog of editing. Presently Tom and I are working on a documentary about blues legend AND local resident Bryan Lee. I’m also working on adding content and building both the Archive web site and our social media outlets. These include The Blues & Roots Digital Archive Facebook page and our YouTube channel. Tom and I are also constantly working on new ideas to further promote the blues.

My Babe Video Link: My Babe Video

Mike Shivvers Archive YouTube: Blues Archive Video’s

Blues & Roots Digital Archive:

Blues and Roots Facebook Page: Blues Roots Archive Facebook

Tom Hamilton website: T-Bone Hamilton Website

T-Bone Hamilton Facebook Page: T-Bone Hamilton Music Facebook

T-Bone Hamilton’s Big Easy Review: T-Bone Hamiltons Big Easy Revue

Greetings to the best blues fans in the world!

Greetings to the best blues fans in the world!

Greetings to the best blues fans in the world!

As we all continue to struggle through this current healthcare crisis, your Suncoast Blues Society (SBS) is facing some tough decisions. Due to COVID-19 your society lost several of our income producing events. Consequently, the cost of printing and mailing our next issue of the Twelve Bar Rag is not in the budget. As an alternative, we are using our weekly email blasts to post content. Typically, if you renew your membership at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival, please consider going to our website to renew.

Regarding budgets, our very capable fundraiser James Randolph has once again enrolled the Suncoast Blues Society into the “Giving Challenge”. This event takes place from noon April 28th to noon April 29th – 24 hours total. Donations from $25 (minimum) up to $100 will be matched dollar for dollar by the Giving Challenge benefactor. Your donation must come through our website ( We will have a link set up that will ensure SBS gets credit for your donation. Additional Giving Challenge info will be forthcoming.

So please mark your calendar, set you reminder, and consider investing in your Blues Society.

On an optimistic note, our Community Outreach Program board member James Randolph, and new Board member Scott Morris, are busy working with the Manatee Film Society and the State College of Florida (SCF). Planned is a multi-media event that will include a film presentation of Side Men: Long Road to Glory, live music, and a photographic display of Blues Artists from our local photographers. This exciting event will occur at the SCF campus in Bradenton as soon as it is safe to schedule.

The most important message that I can send out today is that we need everyone reading this note to take every precaution to stay safe and healthy during one of the most difficult times that many of us have faced.

Thanks – we love you and remember the Blues can be healing for your spirit.

Lafayette Reid