10th Anniversary Camping With the Blues October 20-22, 2023

10th Anniversary Camping With the Blues October 20-22, 2023

10th Anniversary Camping With the Blues October 20-22, 2023

10th Anniversary Camping With the Blues
October 20-22, 2023

The venue is now the Florida Sand Music Ranch managed by the Will McLean Foundation.  It was previously the Sertoma Youth Ranch, and its emphasis on music is now even stronger.

Day 1 Friday –

  1. Soulful Femme hit the stage at 5:20pm. Lead singer Stevee Wellons announced she has been working with SBS favorite Kevin Burt and that her new CD contains a duo with her and Kevin. She and guitarist Cheryl Rinovato traveled from Pennsylvania. Great vocals – big sound. Very soulful.
  2. Street Preacher. Very ethnically diverse group. They competed at the IBC last year but were too busy this year, a good thing. They rocked the stage.
  3. Sister Lucille hit the stage at 8pm. Sister puts it all out there, from her head down to her red shoes – even had a song about her shoes. Sister started her career doing country at an early age and played Grand Ole Opry at age 19. They received a Blues Blast Award in 2020. Ended their set with a killer rendition of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Out On The Killing Floor.”
  4. Ray Fuller closed the night with his Texas style country blues that had everyone up rockin’ and dancing.

Day 2 Saturday –

  1. Dockta D and the Powers That Be hit the stage at 12:20pm. Dockta plays that harp and directs his band like a great showman. Always enjoyable. And what a great surprise when “Magic Dick” , famous harp player from the J Geils Band, joined them on stage. Big bonus!
  2. Alex Lopez was next doing what Alex does best – steady rockin’ blues with a purpose.
  3. Billy the Kid & the Regulators. Billy came with a great band. Billy gained fame being the guy that led the jams at Bruce Wheeler’s great Heritage Music Blues Festival in Wheeling, W.V. Good to see Billy. Gets down and dances with the crowd.
  4. David Julia came on at 4:20pm. Appropriate. It’s great to see how David has progressed since we (SBS) sent him to the IBC when he was 18 years old. Covered a favorite Damon Fowler song. Great set – great young man.
  5. Shaw Davis & the Black Ties. There is no doubt about Shaw’s ability to rock a stage.
  6. Joey Gilmore. Joey was like a breath of fresh air. Everyone was starving for some real Blues. Joey delivered. Rich golden voice supreme. Joey, among others, was very appreciative of our crowd that really knows when something is real. Joey got cheered like no one else.
  7. Slim and the Perkolators! While introducing the band Slim ends by saying, “and I’m Slim and I play a child’s toy.” Their music and Slim’s antics on stage have a childlike innocence. It all works and the fun they have on stage draws the crowd in.

Day 3 Sunday –

  1. Kurt Allen. This great band traveled from Kansas City to show their skills. Soulful, driving blues. Good bass lines – good vocals. Hope to see more of these guys in Florida.
  2. Eric Demmer. There was a lot of buzz about this band before their arrival. Rumors had it that Eric had just signed with Mike Zito’s Gulf Coast Records. They traveled from Houston and they did not disappoint. Hugo, their very demonstrative lead guitar, was very entertaining. Eric sings and plays a mean saxophone. Their bass player, “Double D,” is a Florida native and will help get this band back to Florida soon to perform. It’s in the works – stay tuned. Very entertaining!
  3. Frank Bang. Local favorite Frank gained notoriety while working at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago. Always a favorite.
  4. The Jimmys. Wisconsin band making their much anticipated return to Florida after playing the Bradenton Blues Fest 2 years ago and the SBS 25th Anniversary Party at Skipper’s last year. Great lyrics are often humorous. These guys have fun on stage and it transmits to the crowd. Very talented musicians.

Lafayette Reid


TGRN True Grit Roots Network, LLC. Launches TGRN BLUES

TGRN True Grit Roots Network, LLC. Launches TGRN BLUES

TGRN True Grit Roots Network, LLC. Launches TGRN BLUES

TGRN True Grit Roots Network, LLC. Launches TGRN BLUES

Austin, TX, September 1, 2023 – TGRN True Grit Roots Network (TGRN), a Digital Radio Network dedicated to roots music, is pleased to announce the launch of TGRN BLUES, a 24×7, Digital Radio Channel dedicated to keeping the Blues alive and thriving as of September 5, 2023. TGRN BLUES is readily available through any streaming device in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom through our Mobile App, Live365 Player, Alexa, Roku, Samsung TV, Apple TV, and other popular streaming platforms. We are a FREE, non-subscription-based service for all Blues music fans to enjoy.

Led by Founder and CEO, Jonathan Richards, “TGRN BLUES fills a widening void of quality, original programming with educated and passionate Blues Personalities.” Vinny Marini, a veteran radio personality, and newly named Program Director of TGRN BLUES, feels the same, “It has been a dream to put together a group of Blues lovers & educators, to allow them to share their passion for this genre, and we are just beginning.”

Eleven radio personalities will bring a diverse mix of Blues along with R&B, Zydeco and Gospel programming from across North America. Radio Personalities include: The Real Lady A, Gina Coleman, Ray Brown, Angela Easley, Holly Harris, Jeff Hayes, “Big Daddy” Ray Hansen, Amber Hill, “Memphis” Mark Sonnemann, Vinny Marini, and Jonathan “Oogie” Richards.  

More information for show schedules and station news is available at TGRN.net  (info@tgrn.net  TGRN True Grit Roots Network – Austin, TX


Book Review: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson

Book Review: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson

Book Review: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson

Book Review: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson

Every popular music genre has its stories, legends, and famous characters. For the Blues, no legend is bigger than the story of Robert Johnson. As the tale goes, on a clear Mississippi night, Robert went down to the crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49 and struck a deal with the Devil, selling his soul for the ability to play guitar better than any man alive.

The story of Robert Johnson and the Devil has been around for almost 90 years. While it lurked in Mississippi for its first few decades, when the Blues gained popularity through Rock and Roll in the 1960s, Robert’s legend grew. Although there are many other stories of musicians dealing with the Devil, Robert Johnson’s is perhaps the most popular.

But is it true?

If you go to Clarksdale, Mississippi, home of the famous Crossroads sign, locals will be quick to tell you that Highway 61 isn’t where it used to be, and that the real crossroads is up the road, north of Clarksdale. There isn’t much at the old intersection of Highway 61 and Highway 49. There isn’t much to prove Robert Johnson was or wasn’t there.

Proof has been difficult to come by for Blues researchers. Fortunately for those of us who value the truth and who are curious what the real story is, writers Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow published Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson in 2019. As a fellow writer who used the crossroads, Robert Johnson, and the Devil in my own novel Curveball at the Crossroads, I found Up Jumped the Devil incredible.

Up Jumped the Devil is the product of 50 years of research. Conforth and Wardlow conducted interviews with people throughout Mississippi for decades. They combed county and state census records, filings, and licenses. They dug through the archives and annals to find whatever they could about Robert Johnson.

It is hard to believe given today’s omnipotent media and communications that 100 years ago someone could disappear and reappear at whim, especially in the rural areas of the United States. At the time, most of Mississippi was rural and especially in the Black community, records were often sparse or done haphazardly. This makes retracing the steps of a wandering musician very difficult. And most Bluesmen were itinerant wanderers. They would travel from town to town, play different juke joints, rest with family or friends or new found lover, and take the train, hitch a ride, or walk to the next town for the next night’s gig. Although it is romanticized now, there was nothing glorious about the life of a Bluesman in the early 20th century.

There was one big way a wandering Bluesman in the 1930s could increase his value on the road and put money in his pocket – recording an album. Conforth and Wardlow go into detail about Johnson’s two recording sessions. They discuss the songs, the order in which they were recorded, and the technology used. They also detail the environment around Johnson and what Johnson might have been doing during his time in Dallas and San Antonio. Although electric Blues was starting to make inroads, and acoustic Blues was already losing favor in popular audiences when Johnson recorded, the record companies thought they had something in Johnson’s talent and unique style. Generations of musicians have Vocalion Records to thank.

Although I gave Up Jumped the Devil a 5-star rating on Goodreads.com, I have two critiques with the book. The first is that the legend of the deal at the crossroads is glossed over. I would like to have read a chapter on how the legend grew and how it has been displayed in media. Conforth and Wardlow’s premise is that they debunk the myth, but they give little background on how it has grown to its current stature. I guess for that I will have to read Adam Gussow’s Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (2017).

My second critique is the need to separate the art from the artist. Not of Robert Johnson, who while a guitar genius was also a heavy drinker and womanizer, but of writer Bruce Conforth. A highly recognized name in music history and former curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Conforth’s reputation took a huge blow when he was accused of sexually harassing and stalking students while working as a professor at University of Michigan. He was recommended to resign after over ten years of accusations. Take knowledge from the book without praising the author.

Did Robert Johnson go to the crossroads and make a deal with the Devil? Some of his lyrics say he might have. If he didn’t, how did he learn a technique that has influenced the Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll for decades?  To find out, you will have to read Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson.

Bio:  Michael Lortz is a music and sports writer from Tampa. He has been a Blues fan for decades and has twice visited the Crossroads tourist marker in Clarksdale. He is the author of the Blues-baseball novel Curveball at the Crossroads.

EG Kight “Sticks & Strings” – CD Review

EG Kight “Sticks & Strings” – CD Review

EG Kight “Sticks & Strings” – CD Review

Sticks & Strings

In September 2023, Kight released her 10th blues album, STICKS & STRINGS which again features the EG Kight Trio in a simple, acoustic setting. EG and her “boys,” as she affectionately calls them – Gary Porter and Ken Wynn – offer a wide variety of blues/roots music with these songs, nine of which were written or co-written by Kight. EG and the “boys” put on a great show for your Suncoast Blues Society at the Palladium Side Door in June – after listening to her new CD (several times!), we hope to have them back for a CD release party. One of our members, Gary Weeks, wrote a review for us.



Dublin, Georgia artist EG Kight has been a road warrior for many years. At the clubs, festivals, ans WRFG Blues Barbeques in Atlanta, GA, her style of Southern blues always goes over well with the audiences who wish to lie back and let the music wash over them.


The acoustic harp driven “Talk to Me” kicks off the album and its front porch ambience conveys the down-home vibe Kight brings to her music. No blues rock here folks. Just sweet Southern Soul that is a gulp of fresh air carrying into album cut, “If You Have No Reservations,” which could have been recorded in Muscle Shoals Studio.


The big surprise is Kight’s rendering of the Allman Brothers classic, “Come and Go Blues.” In EG’s hands, the tune is an acoustic laid-back gem that the late Gregg Allman would have admired.


“Already Gone,” with its snaky slide lines, sounds like it was conceived in the Mississippi mud well after midnight.  The introspective “All Things Considered” sees Kight climbing out of the well of despair to reach for the light. The pace heats a tad bit in “God, Goats and Guitars” and really warms up in “My Baby’s Hiding Something,” with harp and acoustic guitar playing pushing this number on a delicious groove. 


Kight’s percussive acoustic attack pushes “Two Sides To Every Story” into defiant ground until “Changes Coming Down” trots out to the Western Plains with its country blues lines.  And EG Kight has no problems switching into victory mode with “I Won’t Ever Give Up.”


Kight’s acoustic guitar stands at the forefront of the CD which goes to show heavy amplification and loud guitars don’t need to make the music. This philosophy has served Kight well. No need to change anything.

Gary Weeks


DOUG DEMING & THE JEWEL TONES  Groovin’ At Groove Now! – CD Review

DOUG DEMING & THE JEWEL TONES Groovin’ At Groove Now! – CD Review

DOUG DEMING & THE JEWEL TONES Groovin’ At Groove Now! – CD Review


Groovin’ At Groove Now!

Endless Blues Records

On so many levels, this live recording was a long time in the making. First of all, Doug Deming and his Jewel Tones is perhaps the genre’s hardest working band. For more than a decade, he and the band have regular Thursday through Sunday gigs at a variety of venues in his Florida stomping grounds. So one would think that a live recording could have been released years ago.

Enter the Basel, Switzerland’s The Groove Now! concert. Deming was hired to play the event in 2020. Guess what happened next: COVID. So the gig was postponed until Europe opened in 2021. Deming added a roster of guest artists to regulars Andrew Gohman skilled in subtlety and energy on bass and Zack Pomerleau on drums and harmonica. By adding Terry Hanck and Sax Gordon (saxophones) and Bill Heid (keyboard), Deming and the Jewel Tones morphed into a diamond-studded Basel blues performance.

The set was recorded and, upon further review, deemed perfectly suitable for a live CD release. Veteran Deming show goers will recognize the four+ minute format of these 11 tunes. High energy start, dense and complicated instrumental solos, followed by an over the top climactic ending, all held nicely together by Deming’s expansive guitar knowledge of blues, R&B, jazz, jump, and early ‘50s R&R. His opener, “East Side Hop” starts the show with a call to the dance floor. Each artist’s solo weaves in and out with Deming’s delightful chording as the constant. (Follow that chording throughout.) The set follows with the bluesy “Only Time Will Tell,” featuring Pomerleau’s unique drum and Chicago-styled harmonica. Also Pomerleau’s double reeds and skins duty is featured on Willie Dixon’s “Oh Baby.” Tell me the last time you’ve seen a drummer who can expertly handle an in-the-pocket shuffle and Chicago blues harmonica at the same time!

Every Deming show features the band’s ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll energy on the Fats Domino classic, “I’m Ready.” Here, the spirited reed work of Sax Gordon drives the engine. The frantic Jewel Tone pace slows with the dreamy, R&B ballad, “Every Night When I Get Home.” Pay close attention to the warm tones Deming coaxes from his archtop and how the piano and saxophones reinforce the mood.

Two other Deming set list regulars, “Bloodshot Eyes” and “Mamma Didn’t Raise No Fool,” come with all the muscle the band brings every week to its Florida regulars. “An Eye For An Eye” is the band’s deepest blues, with Pomerleau’s harp in a starring role again, sounding like any Muddy Waters’ 1950s style Chess recording.

For years, every blues fan living in the Sunshine State has followed this inspired trio at its weekly gigs. This live outing is the perfect way to either take the show home with you or experience a Sunday afternoon show at the Cortez Kitchen eating a grouper sandwich with a cold, long neck.

– Art Tipaldi 


Album review originally appeared in Blues Music Magazine


Joanna Connor  – “Best Of Me” CD Review

Joanna Connor – “Best Of Me” CD Review

Joanna Connor – “Best Of Me” CD Review


Best Of Me

Gulf Coast Records

Despite releases on several major labels earlier in her career, Joanna Connor never quite captured the attention of the wider blues audience. Acquiring two weekly gigs in several well-known Chicago clubs allowed her to stay close to home while raising her two children. Her 2021 release, 4801 South Indiana Avenue on Joe Bonammasa’s Keeping The Blues Alive Records, made it clear that her guitar work is as captivating as ever.

Her new album finds her on Gulf Coast Records, run by Mike Zito and Guy Hale. They wisely had Connor record with her band, giving the proceedings several extra layers of tightness that comes from deep familiarity with the ten originals and one cover. Her songwriting partner on most tracks is Shaun Gotti Calloway, who consistently lays down some deep grooves on his bass guitar. Jason J Roc Edwards is the other half of the crack rhythm section, adding taut accents with his expert stick work. Dan Souvigny handles the rhythm guitar duties, and plays keyboards on three tracks, while Curtis Moore Jr. plays a variety of keyboards throughout the project.

The opening declaration from Frank Pellegrino, of Kingston Mines fame, reminds listeners that Connor embodies funk, soul, and blues, with plenty of love in her heart. Once the band kicks in on “House Rules,” Connor immediately proves the accuracy of his assessment. The Grooveline Horns spice up the arrangement, with guest Eric Demmer contributing some hearty saxophone solos. “Pain And Pleasure” glides along with a soulful strut, giving Connor and guest Josh Smith space for a dynamic guitar dialogue. The title track wraps a sorrowful Connor vocal into a swirling musical landscape that forces listeners to feel every bit of her despair.

The horns return on “Two Of A Kind,” a funky rocker complete with one of Connor’s red-hot guitar soliloquies. The lone cover, the classic “Mercury Blues,” is a feature for Connor’s blazing slide guitar skills while the jaunty “Highway Child” finds her sharing the spotlight with Bonamassa for another guitar rave-up. Zito makes an appearance on guitar on “Shadow Lover,” as Connor pleads for some loving caresses.

The closer, “Shine On,” is a hard rocking tune with key contributions from Gary Hoey on guitar and Jason Ricci on harmonica. But it is the six-string magic from Connor that leaves a lasting impression, just as she does throughout this fine album that showcases her many talents in fine fashion.

– Mark Thompson     

Album review originally appeared in Blues Music Magazine