DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Mama Rue’s Has Tasty Lineup For November

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on November 2, 2011

Mama Rue’s Blues Garden, the juke joint/Jamaican restaurant in Pawleys Island, S.C. has announced its November lineup of

Mama Rue - MIstress of the Bar!

entertainment. Anticipating a chilly month, Marrue Bleau – who owns the club along with chef Eric Sutherland – says the acts will be playing their original music indoors on the dining room stage.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, Jeff Liberty, blues guitarist and vocalist from Columbia, S.C. will take the stage at 7:30 p.m.  Liberty’s scorching guitar and vocals have earned him numerous awards and fans from New Orleans to Columbia.

Thursday night, Nov. 3 is open mic blues jam at Mama Rue’s. Singer/songwriter Jennifer Price will be bringing her outlaw blues to town for the event.

Husband and wife duo Pastor Pastor are on the roster for Friday, Nov. 4. They start at 8 p.m.  Their religion is the blues.

Popular local guitarist and vocalist George Davis is booked for Wed. Nov. 9. Start time is 7:30 p.m.

On Friday night, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m., it’s piano man Shrimp City Slim. AKA Gary Erwin, he’s known throughout the Carolinas for his lowcountry blues and original tunes. His latest recording (August 2011) is Highway 77: Lowcountry Blues Live (Vol. 2).

Jazz jam band Spontaneous Combustion will be firing up Mama Rue’s on Saturday, Nov. 12. They start at 8 p.m.

Back by popular demand on Wednesday, Nov. 16 will be singer/songwriter Drew Baldwinwith his 100-year-old Larson made Dyer

Juke Joint Johnny on harp. (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

harp guitar and Juke Joint Johnny on blues harp. They start at 7:30 p.m.

Guitarist Jeff Liberty is set to be back at Mama Rue’s again on Friday, Nov. 18 starting at 8 p.m. If you missed him earlier in the month, you have another chance to hear this Columbia boy.

If rockin’ blues is your thing, mark your calendar for Saturday, Nov. 19 when The Strays hit the stage at 8 p.m.

On Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 7:30 p.m. Jerry “Cool” Edwards is back at Mama Rue’s for a night of sweet and jazzy blues.

For the day after Thanksgiving, on Friday, Nov. 25, entertainment will be provided by Pawleys own My Buddy Todd. Blues, blues and more blues. Start time is 8 p.m.

On Saturday, Nov. 26, Spontaneous Combustion once again lights up the night, starting at 8 p.m. and on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7:30 p.m. diners will be treated to the sounds of blues guitarist and vocalist George Davis.

J Edwards has a voice that you have to hear to believe. (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

The month of Dec. will bring some new excitement to Pawleys Island with Columbia, S.C.-based J Edwards at Mama Rue’s on Friday, Dec.2, along with Brian “Husky” Burnette  on Saturday, Dec.3.  Matt Walsh is scheduled for Feb. 17.

Mama Rue’s is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays, 4 to 12:30 Friday nights, and 4 to midnight on Saturdays. Times are approximate. They serve authentic Jamaican dishes along with a full selection of cocktails. Make sure you try the Howlin’ Wolf! Mama Rue’s Blues Garden is located at 9737 Ocean Hwy. in Pawleys Island. For information, call 843-235-3853. Website: www.mamarues.com. For daily updates, “like” Mama Rue’s on Facebook.






Brits & Blues In Charleston

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on January 26, 2011

Robin Trower (photo Neil Calandra)

Low Country Blues Bash Feb. 3 – 19, 2011

Blues aficionados from the Carolinas, Georgia and all over the southeastern U.S. will soon be making their way toward Charleston, S.C. for the twenty-first annual Lowcountry Blues Bash, which begins Feb. 3 and rocks on through Feb. 19.

Not officially part of the Blues Bash, but warmly welcomed by the local blues community are two British blues-rock legends – Robert Plant, former frontman for Led Zeppelin and Robin Trower, from the legendary Procul Harum. Plant will appear with his Band of Joy at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Feb. 4. ($55.30 – $76.50 including fees).Trower, also performing on Feb. 4, will be at the Music Farm. ($23 ADV/$25DOS) Wow! Trower for $23. No brainer! Bummer they’re on the same night. Tickets for both are available at the venues.

As in the past, organizer Gary Erwin of Erwin Music and the Lowcountry Blues Society are bringing a mix of

Keyboard player Gary Erwin aka Shrimp City Slim organizes the Lowcountry Blues Bash every year. (courtesy photo)

local, regional and national talent to the Palmetto City. The blues-driven frets-n-frenzy takes place over 17 days and features high-end performances by 50 different acts at 25 different locations.

Highlights include guitarist Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones with Dennis Gruenling. Deming’s group alone is a much sought after swing band. Add Gruenling to the lineup and according to Erwin, you get “pure postwar blues bliss.”  (www.dougdeming.com/www.dennisgruenling.com)

South Carolina’s favorite son, Drink Small, returns to the Bash, bringing a cure for whatever ails you. The Blues Doctor’s in the house! (www.myspace.com/drinksmallblues)

From Texas comes one of our favorite singing drummers slash harp players, the genre-jumpin’ Randy McAllister.

Hip-swingin’ blues mama DieDra, all the way from Alabama, will get you out of your chairs. Bring yo’ dancin’ shoes! (Click here for CD review.)

North Carolina’s King Bees deliver swingin’ blues at every turn. Can’t go wrong here.

Frankie’s Blues Mission from Atlanta dishes up some hot West Side Chicago-style electric blues. Yeah!

Another Atlantan, Lefty Williams is on the roster, too. If you’ve never heard this one-armed guitarist, get you to

Penny Zamagni of the King Bees brings take-your-breath-away vocals and solid songwriting to each performance. (courtesy photo)

Chucktown. It’s worth the price of gasoline.

Ten Foot Polecats are coming all the way from Boston,  y’all. For my buck, this punk-edged Mississippi-inspired trio is the act to catch. Jim Chilson’s guitar work is some of the finest you’ll see. They’re at Fiery Ron’s Hometeam BBQ on Sullivan’s Island Feb. 5. I dare you to sit still!

There are so many more topnotch players at this year’s Bash – Mac Arnold & Plate full O’ Blues; acoustic icon

Paul Geremia; Big Bill Morganfield, making his daddy proud; from the Grand Strand, the talented My Buddy Todd; the rockin’Johnny Mac & the Booty Ranch; Charleston’s own Skye Paige bringing rockabilly and blues to the stage.

There’s a special dedication to Lil Dave Thompson, who tragically died in an automobile crash while returning home after last year’s Blues Bash. The event will take place at Fiery Ron’s Hometeam BBQ on Sullivan’s Island  on Sunday evening, Feb. 13.

Most ticket prices will be less than $15 and many are free. Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina at Patriot’s Point in Mt. Pleasant is offering preferred rates for festival goers. Call 843 856 0028 and mention the Blues Bash.

To see the entire lineup, venue listing and schedule, visit http://www.bluesbash.com and download your very own

From the S.C. Upstate come harpman Freddie Vanderford (shown) and guitarist Brandon Turner. (courtesy photo)

brochure in PDF format.

Pimpin’ for the Pee Dee

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on April 21, 2010

Pee Dee Blues Bash • April 23 – 24

Music promoter Gary Erwin brings us several S.C. blues festivals every year. Each February, the ten-day-plus Lowcountry Blues Bash showcases some 50 blues-driven acts in about 25 different venues in Charleston, S.C. The smaller Carolina Down home Blues Festival in Camden, S.C. takes place the first weekend in October. May brings us Blues by the Sea on Kiawah Island, S.C. The annual Greenwood Blues Cruise (yes, it’s four-wheel cruising) delivers our blues fix in July. And now there’s the Pee Dee Blues Bash in April.

Introduced last year, the second annual Pee Dee Blues Bash takes place April 23 – 24 in Florence, S.C. As always, Erwin presents a mixed bag of varying rhythms from local musicians to international touring acts. Headliners include old school bluesman Mac Arnold & Plate Full o’ Blues (S.C.); roots-blues band Bradley’s Circus (The Netherlands); genre-jumping harmonica wizard, Harper (Australia); and traditional blues preservationists Asamu Johnson Project (Michigan).

Mac Arnold (Photo Stephen Stinson)

Mac Arnold & Plate Full o’ Blues. Even in high school Mac Arnold had a happenin’ band. James Brown often sat in on piano. At 24 he had the opportunity to join the Muddy Waters Band. With the band, he shared the stage with Howlin’ Wolfe, Elmore James, Jimmy Reed, Junior Wells, Big Joe Williams, and Big Mama Thornton.  Mac played on John Lee Hooker’s live album, Live at the Café Au Go-Go, as well as Otis Spann’s classic recording “The Blues is Where It’s At.”

He later formed the Soul Invaders, a band that backed up the Temptations, B.B. King and other big name groups. Mac Arnold & Plate Full o’ Blues includes Danny Keylon on bass and vocals; Austin Brashier on guitar and vocals; Max Hightower on keyboards, harmonica, guitar, and vocals; Mike Whitt on drums, and; of course, Mac Arnold on vocals, bass and Gas Can Guitars.

Matanja Bradley of Bradley's Circus

Bradley’s Circus. Fronting this contemporary group are two rockin’ ladies: Mattanja Joy Bradley on vocals and Lidewij Veenhuis on vocals and harp. Bradley’s husky blues voice is a powerful instrument and Veenhuis’ harp is legendary in the Netherlands. On guitar is Jimmy The Lounge and backing them are the spinning upright bass of Toine Stout and rolling drums of  BeeWee Nederkoorn. This is not your father’s blues band.


Harper. Think of this as world blues.  Harper combines roots, jam, blues and world music to create a style all his own. From his website, Harper has been described as “a singer with the deep soul of Motown, a harmonica player who can graft Sonny Boy II and Little Walter with John Popper, a songwriter who tells his own compelling stories in an unhurried, J.J. Cale-like manner, and a musical visionary who is unafraid to mix the didgeridoo, an important part of his Australian indigenous culture, with infectious modern percussive rhythms.”

Asamu Johnson Project

Asamu Johnson Project. Asamu Johnson is a bluesman through and through. His bio says, “He doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel, he is the wheel,” and that says it all. Johnson’s lyrics come from life. “Devil Wind” is about  destruction from a tornado. “Turnips and Greens” is just that: his love of good down home cooking. Give him a listen. You’ll hear some authentic blues.

And there’s more! Other artists at the Pee Dee Blues Bash include Robert Lighthouse, originally from Sweden and now living in the Washington D.C. area. Playing guitar and harp as he handles vocals, too, Lighthouse is the definitive one-man band. Listen to him play the old Mississippi Delta blues; you’ll hear Robert Johnson whispering in his ear.

Local boys Juke Joint Johnny and Drew Baldwin, the wildly popular acoustic harmonica and harp-guitar duo, will blow you away as they blend country blues, swing and jazz.

Also from the southernmost Carolina are Naz & the Falsehoods. If you’ve ever enjoyed the sounds of Elliott & the Untouchables and Delta Swagger, you’ve probably heard Mike “Naz” Nazarenko blowing the harp. His music was also featured in the 1999 indie film My Drug Dealer.

Texan Randy McAllister brings his Lone Star trio to the Pee Dee. This multi-talented Grammy nominee (drummer/harp man/ vocalist/songwriter) says he can be found where modern blues meets Americana, ranch rock and swamp pop. He’ll do fine in S.C.

If you ask what sort of music Tampa Blue plays, the short answer is that it’s based on Alabama blues and spirituals. The long answer is, “Traditional, acoustic, Delta, slide, Piedmont, finger-style, Southern rural, pre-war, country, pre-electric with a touch of spirituals, hollers, rags and American finger-style guitar seasoning.” I love a picker!

Florence is barely a stone’s throw from the beach, so if blues is your bag, the Pee Dee Blues Bash is the place to be. Log onto www.peedeebluesbash.com for more information and links to the artists’ websites. There’s also a downloadable .pdf file of the flyer that you can print out for yourself.


Florence, S.C.

• International Stage at Arts International – Francis Marion University

• Blues Stage at Arts International Festival – Francis Marion University

• The Cottage – Francis Marion University

• Creek Ratz – 2001 W. Cashua Dr., Florence, 29501, 843-661-5100

• Florence County Main Library – 509 S. Dargan St., Florence, 29506,  843-662-8424

• Indigo Joe’s – 3410 W. Radio Dr., Florence, 29501, 843-667-3888

• Red Bone Alley – 1903 W. Palmetto St., Florence, 29501, 843-673-0035

• Victor’s Bistro & Garden – 1247 S. Irby St., Florence, 29505, 843-665-0846

Bennettsville, S.C.

• Bennettsville Visitor Center – 304 W. Main St., Bennettsville, 29512, 843-479-3941

Hartsville, S.C.

• Bizzell’s Food & Spirits – 137 E. Carolina Ave., Hartsville, 29550, 843-857-9080

Lake City, S.C.

• National Bean Market Museum (outdoor stage) – 111 Henry St., Lake City, 29560, 843-374-8611


Friday, April 23

Bennettsville Visitor Center: 5-8 p.m.:  Juke Joint Johnny & Drew Baldwin

Florence County Main Library: 6-8 p.m.:  Mac Arnold & Plate Full o’ Blues

The Cottage at Francis Marion University: 7-9 p.m.:  Bradley’s Circus

Red Bone Alley: 7-10 p.m.:  Robert Lighthouse

National Bean Market Museum: 7 – 10 p.m.: Randy McAllister

Bizzell’s: 9 p.m. – midnight:  Asamu Johnson Project

Creek Ratz: 9 p.m. – midnight:  Harper

Indigo Joe’s: 9 p.m. – midnight: Naz & the Falsehoods

Victor’s: 9 – 11:30 p.m.:  Tampa Blue

Saturday, April 24

• Blues Stage at Arts Int’l (FMU): 11 a.m. – noon:  Robert Lighthouse; 12:15-1:15 p.m.:  Mac Arnold & Plate Full o’ Blues; 1:30-2:30 p.m.:  Randy McAllister; 2:45-3:45:  Asamu Johnson Project Blues; 4 – 5 p.m.:  Harper

• Main Stage at Arts Int’l (FMU): 4-5 p.m.:  Bradley’s Circus

• Red Bone Alley:  p.m.: Bradley’s Circus

• National Bean Market Museum (outdoor) stage:  7 – 10 p.m.:  Robert Lighthouse

• Bizzell’s: 9-midnight:  Asamu Johnson Project

• Creek Ratz: 9 p.m. – midnight: Harper

• Indigo Joe’s: 9 p.m. – midnight: Randy McAllister

• Victor’s: 9 – 11:30 p.m.: Juke Joint Johnny & Drew Baldwin

Lowcountry Blues Bash 2009

Posted in Music Stories by darielb on January 29, 2009

Gary Erwin aka Shrimp City Slim is pretty excited about the lineup for his 19th annual Lowcountry Blues Bash taking place in Charleston from Feb. 6 – 16. And no wonder.
His headliners are Lil’ Dave Thompson; Big Bill Morganfield, who happens to be Muddy Waters’ son; Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones; and Beverly “Guitar” Watkins.

We gonna have some fun.

If you’ve never been, the Lowcountry Blues Bash is a blast. This year, it’s been scaled back a bit, but there are still 44 different live acts performing in 19 different venues over 11 days throughout downtown Charleston, East Cooper, North Charleston, and the West Ashley/James Island/Folly Beach area.

Lil’ Dave Thompson. Born in 1971, Thompson was encouraged by his father, also a musician, to play the guitar. Consequently, by the time he was a teenager, Lil’ Dave Thompson was playing the local blues circuit. This third generation Mississippi Delta bluesman will intoxicate you with his unique brand of visceral soul-blues. Expect to hear some great shuffles, slow blues, junk or even a little jazz with a Latin sound. Lil’ Dave is known for his dynamic live performance, so his should be one of the most popular shows at the Blues Bash.

Be sure to bring some extra cash, because you’ll want to pick up a copy of his 2008 CD, Deep In the Night. Find out for yourself, why this guy has been nominated for two Handy awards and is considered to be one of the top under 40 blues guitarists in Mississippi today.
Big Bill Morganfield. Born in Chicago in 1956, the son of Muddy Waters wears his pedigree proudly, but has really come into his own in recent years. Once heard, it’s clear that Big Bill Morganfield stands firmly on his own talent.

The singer/songwriter/guitarist reportedly never picked up a guitar until his father’s death in 1983. At that time he embarked on a mission to study the roots of Delta blues music. Eventually, he would join forces with harmonica man Paul Oscher and guitarist Bob Margolin, both of whom had played with his father. In 1999, they recorded Morganfield’s debut album, aptly titled Rising Son (Blind Pig Records). The album was received warmly, both for its nod to Muddy Waters and for Morganfield’s original songwriting. A bit of trivia for you here: the title cut from Rising Son, was included in the film A Love Song for Bobby Long, starring John Travolta. The Blind Pig label would go on to record Morganfield’s Ramblin’ Mind (2001) and Blues In the Blood (2003).

Big Bill has just finished recording a new CD titled Born Lover, which was produced by Bob Margolin and Brian Bisesi. This is one to watch for.
Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones. Dallas born in 1950, this is one of the Lone Star State’s favorite sons. Jr. Boy was playing guitar professionally by the time he was 16, working with the likes of the legendary Freddie Kings’ Thunderbirds, Bobby Patterson’s Mustangs, Johnnie Taylor, R.L. Griffin and Charlie Robertson. He also worked with the Swamp Boogie Queen herself, Katie Webster on her Swamp Boogie Queen CD. While working as a session player in San Francisco, he signed on with Charlie Musselwhite for a number of years, appearing on Ace of Harps (1990), Signature (1991) and In My Time (1993)– all on the Alligator label.
Be sure to check out one of his performances and find out what folks in Texas have known for years.

Beverly “Guitar” Watkins. Born in 1939 in Atlanta this rockin’ blues mama is probably best known for her work with Piano Red (who later became known as Dr. Feelgood). If lowdown, foot stompin’ blues is your thing, you’re gonna want to run, not walk to one of her shows during the Blues Bash. As you’ll find out, she plays a mean guitar, often duckwalking or playing with her teeth, and her voice … well, her voice is the blues, plain and simple.

She’s got several shows lined up – Sticky Fingers, the Isle of Palms Recreation Center, the Charleston County Library. Make sure you get to at least one of them. You’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t.

The list goes on. Other notable performers include local faves, King Tyrone & the Graveyard Ramblers. If you’ve never experienced swamp blues à la front maniac Jim Quick and the guys, check out their show at J.B. Pivots. You won’t be disappointed. Pivots is also bringing back Johnny Rawls and his topnotch band. Davis Coen is another act to catch. In fact, I’ll be writing a piece on his new CD, Blues Lights, in the next issue. Daddy Mack Blues Band, out of Memphis, is back by popular demand. Blues bard Jeff Norwood is another great show. If you haven’t seen Stone Cold Sarah Cole before, do it now! I’ve seen this teen guitarist at the last two National Women In Blues Festivals in Wilmington, N.C. and she rocks! Sharrie Williams & the Wise Guys … She’s dynamite. Juke Joint Johnny on harp, another must-see. Maurice John Vaughn and the BJ Emery Band mix some classic Chicago blues with soul and south side funk. Wanda JohnsonPaul GeremiaDr. Pickup (all the way from France) … If you’re any kind of a blues fan, you’ll want to be at the Blues Bash.

Tickets to the individual shows are super reasonable. Sometimes admission is free and the rest of the time prices range from $3 to $15. For more information and a full schedule, visit http://www.bluesbash.com, send an email to mail@bluesbash.com or call 843-762-9125. If you’re looking for accommodations, stay where the artists stay: the Inn at River Crossing in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. Mention the Blues Bash and get a special rate. Call 843-884-5853 or visit the website at http://www.theinnattherivercrossing.com .

From Gary Erwin-2008 Lowcountry Blues Bash

Posted in Music Stories by darielb on February 11, 2008

Blues fans:

The 10 day extravaganza known as the
18th annual SOUTHERN COMFORT LOWCOUNTRY BLUES BASH February 8-17, 2008
Historic metro Charleston, South Carolina
10 days, 23 venues, 48 acts, 90+ shows
continues this week through Sunday. We just had three epic days with mind-blowing performances from the likes of
One of the best slide guitarists in the blues…doubles on fiery harp as well.
Strictly ‘real deal’ traditional zydeco…joyous!
A revelation … Rickey is the best blues guitarist you’ve never heard of and Angel sings his ass off
The Blues Doctor shows everyone how it’s done
Ultimate blues/gospel show-woman with incredible band…remarkable James Owens on guitar
Local band makes for a booty-shakin’ blues party
With partner Matt Hill, surprised a packed house at the Isle of Palms with heartfelt gutbucket blues
Great harp-in-the-rack and droning guitar…the ghost of Dr. Ross
lives through him and so many more. THIS WAS A GREAT START. But the BASH CONTINUES
Please come down.

(Photos: Top right, Blues guitarist Rickey Godfrey; middle left, Gary Erwin a.k.a. Shrimp City Slim sits in with the Rickey Godfrey Blues Band at J.B. Pivots on Feb. 8, 2008; bottom right, Angel Rissoff “sings his ass off.”)

The weather toward weekend should be 66-70 degrees F. and partly
sunny. Print your own brochure & check your choices at

New CD from Wanda: “Hold What You Got”
Listen & securely purchase: http://www.cdbaby.com/wandaj3

The first overseas review of the new CD is in (Blues & Rhythm,
UK)…Norman Darwen writes:
“The material is all original…all worthy of note, but most particularly the multi-layered lyrics of the different and broodingly intense blues “Riding Out This Love”. Wanda’s straight ahead blues singing is something of a rarity these days, as too is the band’s generally piano-led sound. This is another winner from this distinctive and individual singer!”

Ben Franklin has also posted a nice review at

SEE WANDA & SCS at these BLUES BASH gigs:

Tues Feb 12, 6-9 pm:
SHRIMP CITY SLIM solo at Mimi’s Creekside
(1241 Harborview Rd., Charleston, SC 29412)

Wed Feb 13, 6-9 pm:
WANDA JOHNSON & SCS duo at Mimi’s Creekside

Thurs Feb 14, noon-1 pm:
WANDA JOHNSON & SCS at the Public Library
(68 Calhoun St., Charleston, SC 29401) (with JEROME GRIFFIN,
bass/vocals; LAMONT GARNER, drums/vocals)

Thurs Feb 14, 4:45-5:15 pm:
WANDA on The Bridge 105.5 FM interview/music

Fri Feb 15, 10-11 am:
WANDA & SCS duo on “Lowcountry Live” TV
ABC News 4, Charleston

Fri Feb 15, 1-4 pm and 5-7 pm:
WANDA & SCS at the Mills House Hotel
(115 Meeting St., Charleston, SC 29401)
(with JEROME GRIFFIN, bass/vocals, LAMONT GARNER, drums/vocals, MIKE

Sat Feb 16, 1-5 pm:
WANDA & SCS at the Mills House Hotel
(same as above PLUS SILENT EDDIE PHILLIPS joins on guitar/vocals)

See you at the BLUES BASH!

Gary Erwin Organizer, SoCo LOWCOUNTRY BLUES BASH Founder, Lowcountry Blues Society (est. 1986) Charleston, South Carolina USA