There is a bad-news-and-fantastic-news situation happening on WFPL 89.3 FM for blues fans. "Blues Stage," which was hosted by Melvin Van Peebles, is being dropped nationally because of the lack of network funding. Scott Mullins' "Saturday Night Blues Party" will fill the void and be expanded from two to three hours, starting Saturday, September 2.
Scott's show will begin at 9 p.m. and continue to midnight. With this additional time he plans to explore a greater variety of blues styles rather than concentrating on the latest CDs that have arrived at the station. He is asking for suggestions regarding the program from the listeners.
It is hard to believe it has been nine years since the Saturday Night Blues Party started out as an hour show.
If three hours of blues won't cure you, then keep your dial on WFPL for they will be also picking up a nationally syndicated show called "Blues Before Sunrise." This six-hour program will follow Scott's show from midnight to 6 a.m. each Sunday morning.
The show originates from the studios of WBEZ in Chicago. WBEZ is the station that broadcasts the Chicago Blues Festival each year. Thanks to some last-minute funding from Alligator Records, the festival was able to be carried nationwide again this year.
Steve Cushing, who is a knowledgeable expert on the blues, has been hosting the show for the past six years. Steve will provide enlightening commentary on the history and inﬂuence of the blues, R&B and gospel, similar to Bob Porter's program "Portraits In Blue" which WFPL used to carry. The music will be grouped by topic for each hour.
Get ready for nine straight hours of the blues and join the ranks of the insomniacs.
Stevie Ray's is starting to book more regional and national acts now that they are rolling in the dough from all the huge weekend crowds. Mike Morgan and The Crawl crept in from Dallas, Texas, on July 26. There are so many Texas bands out on the road and this group has been around awhile for they have five CDs that have been released on the Black Top label. Mike is a good solid guitarist who is versatile in many blues styles.
The band's music was mostly originals, with their sax player, Chris, doing most of the vocals. Midway in the first set they tore into a long instrumental called "Big D Shuffle." Mike walked to the front of Stevie Ray's and, using his remote pickup, got up on the bar without missing a note.
Other standout tunes included "Frankie's Blues," "Stop Cheatin' & Lyin"' and "I Cried a Million Tears," which featured a great guitar solo by Mike.
Thanks to Mary, Mike and Fred for taking the big step in bringing us more outof-town talent.
Probably the best known blues musician living in Louisville is Duke Robillard. Since he spends so much time traveling on the road with his new trio (Marty Ballou on bass and Marty Richards or Jeff McAlllster on drums), it is a rare treat to see and hear him perform when he is in town. Duke is a blues guitarist's guitarist.
During his two long sets at the Backstage Cafe on August 18 he used four different guitars to suit the sound he needed. A full, rich jazz swing blues came from his black hollow-body instrument, while the others were used for many of his earlier hits like "Just Kiss Me Baby," which was on his first solo record, to "Life's Funny, But I'm Not Laughin'" that is on his latest release. Duke paid homage to some earlier blues greats by playing Brownie McGhee's "I've Been Living With the Blues" and Pee Wee Crayton's nice instrumental "Texas Hop." "I'l1 Never Let You Go" carries on the spirit of Magic Sam.
Duke's wife, Susan Forrest, joined Duke on stage during the second set and they sang a duet, "This Is Love," and did a tune from 1987 called "Turn Around."
If I ever wanted to learn blues guitar from one of the best it would be at the Robillard School of Blues.
(Keith Clements is president of the KYANA Blues Society.)