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Local and State News

Red Bell Blues Band Debut in Old Town

Friday, March 22, 2019 at 8 PM – 12 AM at UrbanBeat Event Center, Lansing, Michigan. This night will be rockin’ as the Red Bell Blues Band mines the deep veins of classical horn driven blues. Members bring along with them the experience of the top bands of the Lansing club scene. Red Bell Blues Band members are: Dennis Cullinan, Paul Rashid,  Dominick Piacenti, Mocha Man, Brian Little, and Richard Wolfolk.

Capital Area Blues Society

Calling all Blues bands and solo/duo acts in the mid-Michigan area – The Capital Area Blues Society (CABS) is accepting applications for their 2019 Blues Brawl Competition to send bands to the 2020 International Blues Challenge

Deadline to enter your act into the 2019 Blues Brawl is May 1 at 5 p.m. The competition will take place Sunday, May 19, at the Green Door Blues Bar and Grille, 2005 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing, Michigan. www.greendoorlive.com

Entrants can apply to compete in the band category or as a solo/duo act. Winning acts will receive the title of 2019 Blues Brawl Winner, performance slots at the 2019 Michigan Blues Fest in Old Town Lansing, and will represent Lansing and the Capital Area Blues Society at the 2020 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, Tennessee. Visit the Blues Foundation website at http://www.blues.org/ibc for details on the IBC.

For complete rules and application, go to https://www.facebook.com/CABSblues/notes OR www.capitalareablues.org.
For questions email cabsblues@gmail.com and include 2019 BLUES BRAWL in the subject line.  DO NOT email personnel at the this web site.

CALL FOR BANDS: West Michigan International Blues Challenge May 19, 2019

One West Michigan blues band will be going to Memphis in January 2020, to represent the West Michigan Blues Society Region in the largest battle of the bands event held in the world. The WMBS winner will be part of a three-day-fandango featuring 380 blues bands from around the world, along with 190 solo/duo combos that will be rocking Beale Street night and day. Local and national judging will be conducted by a juried panel of judges focusing on blues content, originality in composition, stage presence, vocals instrumentation and showmanship.

The local competition will adhere to IBC sanctioned rules set forth by the Blues Foundation. Locally, bands will play a 27-30 minute set of original material, covers are discouraged or must have a unique arrangement quality. A panel of judges from around the state will be handling the judging. The West Michigan Blues Society is looking for six qualified bands to compete in the event. Bands with CD releases are preferred, but we will consider those who have releases pending.

Contact WMBS president, Felix Ybarra at 616-340-0240 for an initial screening. Before calling please take time to read the IBC rules and regulations found on the Blues Foundation web site. https://blues.org/programs/

The site of this year's challenge will be at Billy's Lounge in Grand Rapids on Sunday, May 19th from 2-6:30pm. We will provide a drum kit and bass rig. A subsequent fundraising event will be held to to help the band defray some of the costs while in Memphis. Deadline is April 7, 2019

National News and Beyond

Hal Blaine, Wrecking Crew Drummer and Rock Hall of Fame Member, Dies at 90

Drummer Hal Blaine, who propelled dozens of major hit records during the ‘60s and ‘70s as a member of the “Wrecking Crew,” Hollywood’s elite, died Monday March 11, 2019. He was 90.

He was featured on the majority of Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” productions, including the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” which featured perhaps the most indelible drum introduction in rock ‘n’ roll history. He also appeared on many of the Beach Boys’ best-known records including the classic 1966 album “Pet Sounds” and the experimental single from that same year, “Good Vibrations.”

Blaine appeared on such No. 1 hits as the Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel,” the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” the Carpenters’ “Close to You” and Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were.”

Blaine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a sideman in 2000 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy in 2018.

He was born Harold Simon Belsky in Holyoke, MA, on February 5, 1929. His family moved to California in 1943. He was active as a working musician for years, playing with Count Basie’s big band and behind such pop talents as vocalists Patti Page and Tommy Sands, before breaking into session work.

Blaine eventually became an entrenched session animal, playing as many as three AFM studio dates a day and sometimes sleeping in the studio if he had an early morning gig at the same facility.

He issued four albums of instrumentals under his own name between the years 1963-68.

Blaine would emerge to play the occasional live gig at the height of his Hollywood popularity. In June 1967, he served as the “house drummer” at the Monterey Pop Festival, backing acts that didn’t feature a self-contained band; there.

The rock session work largely dried up, and Blaine and some of his contemporaries gravitated more and more to film and TV work. His drumming can be heard on the themes of such sitcoms as “Three’s Company” and “The Brady Bunch.”

In February 2019, he played at his own 90th birthday party at Don Randi’s Studio City club, the Baked Potato; the event’s guests included Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones and Denny Seiwell of Wings.

Blaine was married and divorced five times. His survivors include daughter Michelle.

Singer Scott Walker Dies at 76

Scott Walker, the American singer who attained massive success as a pop star in England before veering off into innovative music, has died. He was 76; no cause or date of death was immediately announced.

With a deep and resonant voice, Walker first rose to game as the front man of the Walker Brothers with hits like “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine.” He began releasing solo albums in 1967 in a baroque, orchestral style that has influenced countless artists in the years since, ranging from David Bowie and Radiohead. While his increasingly challenging music cost him many fans, apart from a Walker Brothers reunion in the mid-1970s the singer never looked back, releasing albums that were individual and esoteric by any standard.

Born Noel Scott Engel in Ohio in 1943, Walker showed talent as a child actor and singer by the late 1950s and received his first major exposure on the television show of American singer Eddie Fisher. Already showing an interest in jazz and beat poetry by his late teens, Walker moved to Los Angeles and began working as a session musician. By the early 1960s he’d joined forces with John Maus, who was already performing as John Walker, and the pair formed the Walker Brothers in 1964, soon teaming up with drummer Gary Leeds; all three lead members took the last name Walker. The group’s second single, “Love Her,” featured Scott on lead vocal and became a minor hit, and a cover of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Make It Easy on Yourself” topped the British charts and reached No. 16 in the U.S. The group became massive stars in mid-1960s England, with “My Ship Is Coming In” and their defining song, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” also reaching No. 1.

Walker soon launched a solo career, with a series of albums in his baroque style called “Scott,” “Scott 2,” “Scott 3” and a compilation of songs from his British TV series all charting high in the U.K. His music grew increasingly avant-garde and during this period showed the influence of Belgian singer Jacques Brel; Walker’s arrangement of Brel’s song “My Death” was later revived by David Bowie.

With his challenging and self-penned “Scott 4” album in 1969, Walker turned his back on fame and pop music almost entirely. Yet after that album’s commercial failure, he struggled creatively in the early 1970s before reuniting the Walker Brothers in 1975 for three albums, one of which produced the U.K. top 10 hit “No Regrets.” Scott Walker’s work on the last of those albums, 1978’s “Nite Flights,” was dark and experimental and pointed in the direction his later work would take.

The reunion faltered, but in the 1980s retrospective interest in his work arose, and in 1984 he released his first solo album in 10 years, “Climate of Hunter,” which continued in the vein of his work on “Nite Flights.” He worked sporadically but consistently over the following decades, with years passing between albums but occasional appearances as collaborations or one-offs for soundtracks.

In 2000, he curated the London South Bank Centre’s annual summer live music festival, Meltdown, where he wrote the music for a performance by the Richard Alston Dance Project. The following year he produced Pulp’s album “We Love Life.” In 2004 he signed with 4AD and released “The Drift” two years later.

According to his label, Walker is survived by partner Beverly, daughter Lee and granddaughter Emmi-Lee.


Dick Dale, "King of the Surf Guitar," Dead at 81

Dick Dale renown as the legendary, often overlooked guitarist who virtually single handedly invented surf-rock and influenced everyone from The Beach Boys to Eddie Van Halen has passed. Dale died of heart failure on March 16, 2019, at the age of 81.

Dale is credited as one of the first electric guitarists to employ non-Western scales in his playing. His sound derives from Gene Krupa's jungle drum rhythms and wild animals' roars and other sounds, as well as from indigenous peoples' dance rhythms. Dale was among the first guitarists to use reverb—which gave the guitar a "wet" sound that has become a staple of surf music. His monosyllabic picking, however, is his trademark. Being left-handed, he initially had to play a right-handed guitar, but then changed to a left handed model.  However, he did so without re stringing the guitar, leading him to effectively play the guitar upside-down, often playing by reaching over the fret board rather than wrapping his fingers up from underneath. Dale is also noted for playing his percussive, heavy bending style, using what most guitarists consider very heavy gauge strings (16p, 18p, 20p. 38w, 48w, 58w.  Guitar string manufacturers do not make string sets for standard tuned electric guitars heavier than 13 to 56).

Born Richard Monsour in Boston in 1937 to a Lebanese father and Polish mother, Dale grew up listening to both Middle Eastern and Eastern European folk music, both of which had a tremendous impact on his eventual playing style.

After moving with his family to Southern California in 1954, Dale developed a passion for both surfing and playing the guitar. His twin hobbies culminated in regular, well-attended performances at the Rendezvous Ballroom and the recording—in 1961—of "Let's Go Trippin,'" generally regarded to be the first-ever surf-rock instrumental.

With his blistering take on the traditional Middle Eastern song, "Miserlou," and his 1962 debut album, Surfers’ Choice, Dale laid the instrumental groundwork that groups like—most prominently—The Beach Boys would use to anchor their own surf-influenced pop, and turn the initially local fad into a national one.

Though Dale was dropped by Capitol in 1965 following the British Invasion, he remained a huge influence in the development of the electric guitar through his close relationship with Leo Fender, who engineered progressively louder and higher-powered amplifiers to satisfy Dale's needs.

Though he retired from music in the Seventies and engaged in a low-key comeback in the Eighties, Dale returned to the spotlight when, in 1994, Quentin Tarantino chose "Miserlou" as the theme music for his iconic film, Pulp Fiction.

Dale previously survived two battles with rectal cancer, and a surfing-related puncture wound that became infected, and nearly ended up costing Dale his leg. 

Surf rock's national popularity was somewhat brief, as the British Invasion began to overtake the American charts in 1964. Though he continued performing live, Dale was soon set back by rectal cancer. In the liner notes of Better Shred Than Dead: Though he recovered, he retired from music for several years. In 1979, he almost lost a leg after being injured while swimming and a pollution-related infection made the mild injury much worse. As a result, Dale became an environmental activist and soon began performing again. He recorded a new album in 1986 and was nominated for a Grammy. In 1987 he appeared in the movie Back to the Beach, playing surf music and performing "Pipeline" with Stevie Ray Vaughan. In 1993, he recorded a guitar solo on the track "Should Have Known" on a vinyl single by a Southern California indie band, The Pagodas. The use of "Misirlou" in the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction gained him a new audience.

In 2009, Dale was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.  Dale is also a 2011 inductee into the Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, California, in the Surf Culture category.
Personal life

Dale was married at least twice. In the early 1970s, his wife Jeannie Monsour was a Las Vegas dancer who worked in a revue with Dale. Their son James was 20 years old in 2012, Dale said that same year he had not spoken to Jeannie in over a decade and rarely saw James.  As of 2015, his wife Lana was his manager.