Rockin’ Dopsie Jr & The Zydeco Twisters – Rockin Zydeco

Rockin’ Dopsie Jr & The Zydeco Twisters are one of the most requested bands for Corporate Events, Casinos, Fairs and Festivals. Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. (pronounced Doopsie) is considered the ultimate entertainer bringing a high energy stage show that has led to him being called the James Brown of Zydeco, but that’s not all – throw in some New Orleans Funkiness with a Gumbo of Soul, R N B and the Dopsie brothers Anthony on accordian and Tiger on drums plus the top notch musicianship of The Zydeco Twisters and you have the best high energy show around.


“When Rockin’ Dopsie, Sr. unexpectedly passed away in 1993, the Dopsie family vowed to keep his memory alive, mainly in the incarnation of this band, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters. In doing so, it’s become its own phenomenon. No other zydeco band has ever been fronted by a washboard player. It’s usually the accordionist, and it’s also a safe bet that there’s never been such a flamboyant personality as Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr., who can turn a house upside down on a moment’s notice.”The word zydeco is derived from the French les haricots (which translated means string beans), and which is pronounced “lay zah ree’ co.” One supposes that this music must have been played during the harvesting of the bean crop. Little by little, “zah ree’ co” evolved into zydeco.

Zydeco music is a bubbling, melodic gumbo concocted from Cajun/Acadian music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms and melodies, and blues. Over the past few years, this funky and highly danceable music has broken out of its Southern Louisiana breeding ground to enjoy widespread popularity throughout the world.

Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. (pronounced Doop’ see) & The Zydeco Twisters are the greatest living practitioners of this music. Dopsie, Jr. presents zydeco with the conviction and authenticity of its rich heritage. His earliest musical memories are of his father’s accordion playing. Dopsie, Jr. was given a basic accordion by his father at the age of nine. He taught himself to play, as had his father, by listening to and playing along with the radio.

“I really loved that sound, but I needed more mobility so I could jump up and down and do my splits, you know. I must’ve inherited my love for the blues from my father ’cause I still listen to BB King, Jimmy Reed, the Vaughn Brothers and Bobby Bland, but when I was growing up, the Jackson Five, Sly Stone and James Brown were really happening.” Both genres are evident in Dopsie, Jr.’s performances.

He played in several bands in his early teens, but at age 21 was given his first rub board, a must for the authentic presentation of zydeco. The rub board was his ticket to joining his father’s band, in which he became an official member in 1982. Dopsie, Jr. was then able to play the music that he loved, while dancing like the psychedelic stars of the time.

The team of father and son netted the band international notoriety. Today the Zydeco Twisters’ sole leader is Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. His brother, Tiger Dopsie, is the band’s drum virtuoso and maintains the highly danceable beat. Anthony Dopsie, a great accordion player, replaced his father in the band playing the button accordion in a manner similar to his father’s, but with the fervor of youth.

Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. and The Zydeco Twisters have continued to develop in their own right. The junior Dopsie is considered to be the best rub board player in the world, and is a charismatic and electrifying stage performer. His dancing, splits, and audience participation antics make the band’s performances exciting and keep listeners involved and dancing.

Besides having performed extensively on their own tours, the band has shared the stage with Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt, BB King, The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, and Jimmy Buffet. In 1978 they performed on the song That Was Your Mother (Standing On The Corner In Lafayette, Louisiana), which was released on Paul Simon’s multi-platinum Grammy award-winning album Graceland. The band has also recorded with Cindy Lauper and Bob Dylan (Oh, Mercy&emdash;1989.)

In 1994, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters performed at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, on the occasion of the presentation of the late Rockin’ Dopsie’s crown (he was indeed “the King of Zydeco”) for permanent exhibit. Rockin’ Dopsie, his band, and zydeco music were honored by this historic event as they had never been honored before.

Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters, still referred to as “Zydeco’s Royal Family,” have performed in Australia, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, and many other countries as well as throughout the United States. They have appeared at the most prestigious music festivals and fairs at home and abroad.

The band has made television commercials for Burger King, the Louisiana Lottery, Close-Up toothpaste, Community coffee, Maalox, Danny and Clyde’s and Popeye’s Fried Chicken. They also appeared in the movie Delta Heat which featured several tracks from their Atlantic album.

They were the house band for the Gayle King Show in January of 1998, the house band on Live With Regis And Kathie Lee in January 1999, house band for a week on Wheel Of Fortune in January 2000, played with Harry Connick, Jr. at the Orpheus Ball in New Orleans during Mardi Gras ’98,’99 and ’01, entertained President Clinton and the White House press corps on the White House lawn in September 1999, and danced and sang at the Chicago House of Blues with Dan Aykroyd in May 2000. In February of 2002, Dopsie and his brothers performed with Britney Spears and Mystikal on MTV’s two-hour Mardi Gras special.

Dopsie really heats things up whenever he and the band perform. Above all else, they create a high-energy, audience participation, dance ’til you drop, dynamic show. It all begins when you hear, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters!”

The Band…

Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr.
(David Rubin)
Rub Board and Vocals

Tiger Dopsie
(Alton Rubin, Jr.)
Drums and Vocals

Anthony Dopsie
(Anthony Rubin)

BB Factory – First World Blues

A cracking live band with seasoned international musos oozing from their ranks, playing original contemporary & progressive blues/roots

BB Factory released their debut full length all original album “First World Blues” in May 2018 with every single released so far peaking at #1 on the iTunes Blues/Roots charts.


Harold Jackson – Vocals, Harmonica [USA]

Jackson’s musical history starts in 1975 when he moved to Red Oak, North Carolina to live with his aunt. In a true rite of passage he picked cotton and tobacco, and used backboards driven by mules. He sung in the fields and absorbed the sound of the blues harp being played there.  And so Jackson began to sing his own blues with family and friends.

Upon moving back to New York, his father placed Jackson behind the congas in his band. Although it was a Salsa band, they often played the blues for his son. It was during this time that Jackson picked up saxophone, guitar and keyboard, but singing the blues remained his first love.

When Pedro invited Jackson over for a jam at his studio after having met each other at a blues jam, they instantly recognised that he had finally found a front man to be reckoned with.

Thereafter known as BB Factory’s “Toastmaster General”, Jackson is a natural singer able to transpose his voice from the soulful clean to the downright dirty blues shouting from the yesteryear.

Pedro Verhoeven – Guitar [NLD]

Also known as the “Professor” because of his work behind the studio console and perhaps for his experimental approach to improvised solos, Pedro found a musical partner in crime when he crossed paths with Jackson.

Born and raised in Holland until age 14, Pedro has been in several original blues/rock bands since arriving in Australia in the early 80’s.

Like his bandmates, it’s always been the Blues that Pedro has gravitated towards and enjoyed performing the most. It was a hidden track on his all original album ‘Being’ (1999) that showcased his love for improvised blues guitar.

As a regular at blues jams in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Pedro was able to discover the bandmates that would eventually complete BB Factory.

Cvitan Barac – Drums

Since graduating from SCU in 1999 (BContempMus), Cvitan has established himself as a veteran of the blues scene, having been a member of Blind Lemon for 11+ years he has played all the major blues festivals including Byron Blues &Roots and festival, Blues onBroadbeach, the Gympie Muster and many more.

As a sideman, Cvitan has played drums with the likes of Ray Beadle Band, Phil Emmanuel, Phil Manning, Vasti Jackson, Geoff Achison, Lazy Eye, Ross Ward (Wards Express Band Blues Band), Mick Reid Boogie Band, Andrew Baxter Band, BrodieGrahamBand, Wiley Reed Band, Dee Dee Lavell Band to mention just a few.

Affectionately known ashe “Human Metronome” or the “Manchine”, it was actually Cvitan’s ability to authentically play the full gamut of rolling, Texas, cross stick shuffles & swings that stood him out from the rest of the pack when Pedro was looking for BB Factory’s man behind the skins.

Bruce Crouch – Keys [AUS]

Bruce’s keyboard skills provide complementary tones and then some. A self taught talent from an early age, Bruce is originally from the Brisbane area and now resides in Northern NSW. With influences from Blues, Jazz, Rock and Country, Bruce brings a unique smooth style to the ebony and ivory.  Smoky Hammond organ and classic pianos are at the heart of his performances. Some of the bands Bruce has been associated with include Brisbane’s favourite powerhouse party band The Massive Fergusons, The Blue Lanes, Mark Ds Big Three, and Free Soul Collective.

Craig Hamilton – Bass [AUS]

Bass player Craig is originally from the Sunshine Coast and has played with a diverse cross section of bands over the years. One of the highlights was recording the Dave Hole produced Stones And Colours album (1995) and touring the UK and Europe throughout 1997 with the renowned international blues artist Rob Tognoni. He has lived in Brisbane for the last 15 years and made his mark with a number of blues bands including Howlin Time and Whiskey & Rye and various cover bands such as Rockbreaker, Down Under, Just Like That, A Noble Few, The Selfies, Flat Chat, We’re No Angels, Harro’s Party, Rastafarian Stagedivers, Space Cadet and Engineroom.



“Slow and sultry vibe intro that leads into silky-smooth blues vocals. Completely got into this as if I was a fish captured in a net. Perfectly matched vocals, lyrics and music. Loved this song and this artist knows what he’s doing. Thanks for this listening enjoyment. Amazing work! Keep it up!

— Reverbnation Crowd Review

“Nice. Very groovy very bluesy. The singer has some serious soul too. I like the guitar and piano voicings. The over all sound is just superb. Everything is balanced very well and the sound quality is awesome. The singer is definitely singing from the heart and I can tell that every word was thought out and has a good story to it

— Reverbnation Crowd Review

“Oh man I love it. Old school blues done right! Love the classic intro and the greasy guitar licks. Nice tinkling of the ivories in the second verse too. This singer has a great voice for the blues. Sings with real conviction. The guitar is hitting all the accents just right. This is an artist I’d love to see perform live. I’m happy this old genre is still getting new songs recorded and new artists are still playing it. I will always be a blues fan and we are legion.

— Reverbnation Crowd Review

“Amazing. Loved the lyrics and the perfect pitch voice of this artist. I loved the introduction right to the end. Very similar to the type of music i listen to. I thought the lyrics to this song was tastefully done. I felt the pitch in this artist voice was powerful and classy.

— Reverbnation Crowd Review

“This is really good blues. it reminds me of one of the kings of blues BB king my favorite blues artist. nice guitar and vocals I recommend it for the people who love old fashion american blues and other music of the sort. love passion and good music are what keeps people going.

— Reverbnation Crowd Review

“Amazing artist. The band played so well you can hear the jazz musicians play with their heart . This is the type of quality music that needs to be played every where! I felt that the artist and the band were very authentic with their music and sound. I I could hear the passion come come the lyrics! I really think this was a master at hand.

— Reverbnation Crowd Review

Smoke Wagon Blues Band – Cigar Store

Smoke Wagon’s critically-acclaimed album CIGAR STORE has won three 2017 Independent Blues Awards:

  • Best Modern Roots Album 
  • Best R&B Soul Song
  • Best New Artist


Discover what all the buzz is about – LISTEN NOW:


Music Charts:

Album Charts – Roots Music Report:

In less than 2 months, Cigar Store reached #42 on the US Roots Music Report’s Top 100 Blues Rock Albums for all of 2016

In 2017 the album hit #2 on the Canadian Blues and Roots Charts, #6 on the US Blues Rock Charts and #16 on the Australian Roots and Blues Charts.

Singles Charts – Roots Music Report:  

Every track from Cigar Store has appeared on the US Top 50 Blues Rock Single Charts – for 47 consecutive weeks…

Singles Charts – Stingray Music:

Cigar Store has been in the top 10 Canadian Stingray Blues Charts for 10 months straight...

Independent Blues Awards:

The band is humbled to be recognized along such greats as Colin James, Bobby Rush, Joe Bonnamassa, John Mayall, Ben Harper, etc… “We are ecstatic that “Cigar Store” has been so well received. Thanks so much to all our fans who voted and to all our favourite DJ’s. It means the world to us that folks are listing…”


Cigar Store:

The Smoke Wagon Blues Band’s latest studio release features 50 minutes of new blues classics. Interpreting historic tales from the Yukon, the underground railroad, and bootlegging, combined with old school R&B, stomping swamp boogies, and new edge barn burners, Cigar Store will get you on your feet and remind you of a time when storytelling and music were at the forefront.

Recorded and Produced by Steve Sherman Productions and mastered by the Legendary Nick Blagona, you’re going want this gem in your audio collection.

Crow Quill Night Owls – Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams

This tremendously authentic core trio are supplemented by various other musicians on an album that is rooted in not only raw old time string band music but also what at that time was referred to as race music and even a little jazz. Whilst they are no respecters of generic boundaries there is obviously a huge amount of respect for the music of the best part of a century ago. They have the feel of a jug band wrapped up in a little vaudeville and a large dose of hillbilly that ensures they are blended into a pretty much unique and highly skilled band. You can t really take such diverse musical styles and make them fit your aims unless you have a love and a natural feel for those old styles.

This is the third album by the band and whilst it s always nice to report a musical progression in any artists subsequent releases this one is not a huge improvement, simply because the first two, which I only aquired recently, were so impressive that I couldn t see how they could be improved upon. This new recording does up the quality by a small notch and whilst I will probably play it on and off till doomsday the same applies to those previous two, with all three being so good that if you enjoy one you really need to get the other two as well!
The song writing credits range from traditional to the Memphis Jug Band, also including Georgia Tom/Tampa Red, Jelly Roll Morton, Hammie Nixon and plenty of old string band input from the likes of the Dallas String Band. As I said earlier, plenty of diversity!
The core band consists of Kit “Stymee” Stovepipe on lead vocals, national resophonic guitar, harmonica, washboard, kazoo, wash tub bass, tenor banjo and jug! He is more than ably assisted by Windy City Alex who plays tenor banjo, banjo-lele and kazoo as well as vocals and Baylin Adaheer is on wash tub bass, vocal, kazoo and banjo-lele. Quite a mix of instruments but one that is played with huge skill and feeling, something that can be applied to everything on their albums, almost as if they have never heard any other music. Added to these three are Too Tight Devin Champlin on mandolinetto, fiddle and backing vocals, Lucas Hicks, suitcase percussion, washboard, spoons and bones, Itchy Ribs Robinson, Washboard Syncopations and Jerron Paxton plays piano and pants! As you can see from that little lot, a mix of instruments that we are quite unfamiliar with in this 21st century but played and arranged with a mastery that enables them to perform convincingly within any of the old generic styles they choose. There is no holding back on this album, everything is played with total commitment and the often casual atmosphere they generate just adds to the authority and no small amount of originality that they bring to these old
There are twenty four tracks on this album that I seem to have on repeat play most of the time, but of those twenty four, nine are short between song links, some of which are humourous. I don t usually like to hear this in an
album and whilst this recording doesn t actually benefit from them it certainly does no harm to the ages old atmosphere. Stymee s vocals are raw and untutored but also expressive as well as essential to this musical blend,
with the female harmonies bringing even more atmosphere to the songs, in much the same way as the blend of Travis and Alison Ward s harmonies do in Hillfolk Noir. There are other similarities between the two trio s, although Crow Quill Night Owls have an added rawness that really is an evocation of the old time string bands.
Whilst this is certainly not a comedy record, humour is never too far away from this bands music as evidenced by All Gone Now, a darkly humourous tale with Stymee s lead vocal aided by a slightly discordant female harmony that gives the song even more of an old timey atmosphere, supported by fiddle, banjo, resonator guitar and bass.Sugar Babe I m Leaving has a nice banjo, resonator guitar, bass and harmonica start before Stymee s raw untutored vocals come in, with the two women on harmonies and the addition of kazoo amongst other things on this old string band song written by Sunny Clapp and Sol Lewis. On The Road Again is probably the rawest most fiery version of this classic song I ve ever heard, contrasting nicely with the following, I Used To Call Her Baby, an authentic sounding old Dallas String Band song that blends a vaudevillian atmosphere into the mix! New Lina Blues is a hard driving up tempo song with some unusual sounds and instrumental blends on a tale that has a light hearted early trad jazz feel that harks back to the 1920s, whilst Caveman Blues is a kazoo and harmonica propelled Memphis Jug Band song with a strong female lead vocal, barrel house piano sound and strong bass. The closing song is Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams an album highlight and title track on this old jazz song written by Errol Garner and Lionel Hampton bringing this hugely entertaining album to a natural conclusion.
If you have any feeling for roots musical tradition you really should give this band a listen. Whilst they play within the old time tradition they do actually bring an excellent level of originality to not only hillbilly music but also to the blues, jazz and vaudevillian branches, but always with their own individuality shining through and thus blending these disparate elements into a unique genre of their own making.

Broom Closet Ramblers – Lazy Manifesto

Traditional country, folk and blues are the influences – modern songs with lyrics and melodies built to last is the result in this second album by BCR.

Tommy DarDar – Big Daddy Gumbo

Like so many albums I receive I’d not heard of Tommy Dardar before receiving this album; but why would I? He played in and fronted bands in and around South Louisiana for aeons but sadly died in 2017 before these tracks originally recorded in 2001 would ever be released.
But after reading the accompanying Press Release and listening to the loving way his friends and family have re-worked and polished those recordings I really wish I could have not just seen him playing live; but even met the guy as he sounds a fascinating character.
I’m pretty sure the album artwork would have caught my eye in a record shop and if the man behind the counter played track #1 It’s Good To Be King I would gratefully have shelled out the £10 or so to buy whatever came next.

That song is an absolute doozy; opening with some stinging guitar from Johnny Lee Schell and when Tommy’s rich voice and most blues-wailin’ harmonica come in I knew instantly that this was music I would absolutely luuurve.
Oh boy, oh boy….oh boy songs like Baby I Can Tell and Shake a Leg are the type of Rocking Blues music fans like me fantasise about hearing coming from a downtown club somewhere South of the Mason-Dixon line while on holiday.
Then there is Dangerous Woman and C’mon Second Line; oohheee……are these cool or what? Dardar and friends produce the musical sounds that Van Morrison must hear in his head before he goes into a studio; but has failed to reproduce for 30+ years #fact.
Favourite track? How am I supposed to choose only one from this parcel of musical gems; but choose I must.
Perhaps the Honky-Tonk of Let’s Go Back to New Orleans; featuring the legendary Jon Cleary on piano and Tommy Dardar at his crooning best or will it be the funklicious Big Daddy Gumbo which closes the proceeding with even more sizzling guitar and saxophone than a man my age can handle; and don’t get me started on those sexy backing singers!
But I’m going for In My Mind; a slow burning sensual ballad that will bring tears to a glass eye and a song Tommy Dardar can proudly leave as his finest legacy, as is the record itself.

The California Honeydrops – Call It Home Vol. 1 & 2

This album, like this band and its members, cannot be put in a box. Though very much ‘of this time’, the music and stories on this album take you through many eras, places and points of view. Some songs might find you reminiscing, cruising your old neighborhood a sunny day with a full orchestra pouring out of the stereo. Then suddenly you hear tambourines and voices pouring out of a storefront church. You may find yourself sweating out a weeks work on the dance floor at a house party or just singing round a campfire with a guitar and washboard. You might find yourself taken from a street parade surrounded by mournful horns, to gazing up at the starry sky contemplating your place in the universe, all in a single song. There are many journeys and emotions awaiting the listener on Call it Home. You never know where the Honeydrops will take you, but where ever you end up, you’ll want to dance.

This album is the work of people that spend their whole lives on the road playing music. They play in all sorts of music in all sorts of places for all kinds of people, from big cities to small towns, from barns to theaters for audiences young and old, hip and unhip. They love all kinds of music and don’t feel the need to package a particular sound for the radio. Sometimes they dress up sharp, sometimes they perform naked. Clothed or unclothed they always love to make people dance. They believe the purpose of music is celebration, healing, and spreading love and joy.

How is Call It Home: Vol 1 & 2 different from prior albums?
Lech: It’s our first double album. In a way it’s our first concept album.

The concept being the idea of home?
Lech: That’s a subject that’s been on my mind since I was a kid. I was born in Warsaw, Poland. My parents brought me here as a kid and we moved around a lot. They were always talking about missing where they were from and I was always wondering who I was in that way; the question of whether I was Polish or American or both. I didn’t set out to make an album about that, but these songs were coming out that way. Also, the place I’ve been living here in Oakland has changed so much since I’ve lived here. It was a place I felt really comfortable in when I came, but I don’t feel comfortable anymore; it’s a place I can’t really afford to live in anymore.

Being called a party band is and always has been perceived as a compliment. How much of a task has it been getting that same atmosphere in the studio?
Lech: We did a little bit of both. There are certain tracks where we were just seriously partying as we’re recording the album. We had to bring the same vibe as we do on stage, otherwise it’s not going to feel right. Then, there are certain tracks that are more painstakingly focused in a way that we aren’t usually onstage.

Call It Home started with Lech’s growing catalog of original material, followed by demos recorded at the band’s home base—“The Blues Cave”—and finally tracking in Bay Area facilities such as Decibel Recording, Tiny Telephone and New and Improved studios.
Lech: 16 songs made the album. We went through 25 or 30 songs that we demoed. Once we were in the studio we wanted to be ready and happy and comfortable—in a creative place musically to flow with it and get that on the wax. The setup for each song was completely different, which made things take a long time. We were trying to capture a lot of different eras on this record.

Recording took a year and a half, with studio time divided by touring—including opening for legendary singer and guitarist Bonnie Raitt on her extended U.S. tour. What effect did touring with Raitt have beyond her appearance on the record?
Lech: The band ebbs and flows. I think we got better at playing a song. That helped us immensely in the studio. We definitely are more comfortable now just knocking out some songs, having fun with them. To me, Bonnie is a person that’s really focused on the meaning and emotion of each song. She’s kind of a master at communicating that. The main thing that has stuck with me is putting that intention behind each song, and knowing emotionally where I’m going and finding ways to communicate that with people.

In an age when albums have become, once again, secondary to singles, and in an
industry that has tacitly branded music, with its delivery system of downloads and streams, as disposable as ever, along comes this wildly diverse album from The California Honeydrops—to be issued on vinyl as well, no less. Why make an album like this now?
Lech: There are a lot of different reasons. One main thing I wanted to do is paint a picture of who we are as a band. We’ve had many albums come out in the past. I wanted to have something that encapsulated the 10 years of grind that we put in; all the different styles we’ve gone through in that time; all the different aspects of our lives that those 10 years have contained. This was a breakthrough year for the band. I wanted something that captured the totality instead of doing something small. That’s why you’ve got the whole cosmos on the album cover. This is my life. This band has never been for sale. This band has been everything for us. It’s something that we do for the love. I’m proud of that.

And a double-album, at that.
Lech: We just had so many songs. I’ve been writing tons and tons of songs. We had this material and it didn’t really seem to go on just one album. So, it became two volumes. These days everyone wants you to put everything into a neat package. That’s not the way this band is. This band has consumed our entire lives over the last 10 years. This album includes everything—all sorts of music that don’t all go together on a record in a certain way, don’t all fit the same genre. I felt no pressure to do that. We as people, we’re infinite, manifold, all kinds of things. In this world of selling yourself, of branding yourself, you try to pigeon-hole yourself so that it’s clear to the consumer what they are consuming. But, that’s a disservice to yourself. Why would you want to limit yourself? You have to express all parts of you so that you can stay sane.

And for those that prefer downloads or streams?
Lech: You can cherry-pick. All the songs are good. But I do think it’s put together so that it flows well. We did certain things to make the songs like one long loop. It’s a lot of music, but it also works really well as two short albums.

It took two volumes this time to convey the diversity and dazzle of The California Honeydrops. Does that mean you have a better understanding of what makes a Honeydrops song?
Lech: I think there is something that makes a Honeydrops song, but we don’t know what that is. For me, thematically, I’m very cautious of things I want to put out there; the types of messages I want to put out and hold myself to playing night after night. I want it to be something that it helps for me to feel day after day. Something that uplifts, and maybe it’s sad, but it has to have some kind of positive function. I’m kind of a believer in that.

Bishop Briggs – Church Of Scars

British singer-songwriter Bishop Briggs’s    River,    however, is the kind of song you might have heard sandwiched between Paula Cole’s    Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?    and the Spice Girls’s    Wannabe    on the radio in the late ’90s. The track’s mix of blues-rock and more contemporary elements   like handclaps that morph into trap snares   feels like a throwback to the alternative-pop bands that infiltrated Top 40 stations just before the turn of the century. And Briggs’s debut, Church of Scars, delivers in kind, with a series of gothic-soul dirges and blues-inflected pop.

The looped refrain on    River    sounds like it was lifted from Adele’s 25, an album that could have, in turn, used some of Briggs’s trip-hop edge. Church of Scars harnesses the soulful blues-pop that Adele has so deftly deployed on hits like    Rolling in the Deep.    Standouts    Wild Horses    and    Hallowed Ground    are defined by canned horns and reverb-drenched vocals, while the classic R&B tropes of    Lyin’    and    Hi-Lo (Hollow)    are juxtaposed by pitched-down and diced-up vocals, respectively.

Spread across 10 tracks, though, Briggs’s formula ultimately reveals itself to be one-note. The incessant box-stomping and earnest belting on    Dream    obliterates the subtlety of the song’s pensive acoustic guitar strains and gospel humming. For all its sermonizing and church-y fundamentals, the album is largely joyless.    Why can’t I let my demons lie?/Keep screaming into the pillow,    Briggs laments on    Wild Horses.    When, two-thirds of the way through Church of Scars, the singer cynically bemoans that    there’s more pain in love than we can find in hate,    her dour disposition has grown exhausting.

Ally Venable – Band Puppet Show

East Texas has produced yet another formidable young guitar player with award-winning, Ally Venable on her newest Connor Ray Music release, Puppet Show, due out April 13th. Powerhouse singer and guitar player, Ally Venable was the 2014 and 2015 East Texas Female Guitarist of the Year, and the Ally Venable Band won 2015, 2016, and 2017 honors as East Texas Blues Band of the Year.

Ably backed by drummer Elijah Owings and Bobby Wallace on bass, along with some thrilling and enthusiastic guest appearances by guitarists Gary Hoey and Lance Lopez, and Eric Steckel on keys, Puppet Show features eight originals and two covers. It is another solid step forward in the early stages of what will likely be a long and interesting career for the still teenage blues sensation, Ally Venable Band.

The collection starts with the powerful, riff-driven “Devil’s Son.” The impressive guest guitar work from Gary Hoey is almost beside the point as we’re introduced to Venable’s powerful vocal belts and confident guitar-handling.

Two more scorchers follow with “Bridges to Burn” and “Cast Their Stones” both raising the stakes with sharp vocals, tight and more-complicated-than-they-might-sound rhythms and the kind of guitar work you’ve already come to expect from Ally, even if all you’ve ever heard before is the opening track of this album. “Bridges to Burn” also features guitar slinger, Lance Lopez.

“Back Water Blues” gives the listener a bit of breather, taking you back to the front porch at twilight with some sweet vocals, harmonica and unadorned guitar – for the first minute. Of course, the intro interlude soon gives way to a beer-soaked Texas-blues style rave-up. This is the tune that could go very long in a live set and no one would probably complain. Next up, we hear Ally’s unique take on Taj Mahal’s “She Caught The Katy.” Though not quite as gritty as the well-known Blues Brothers cover, her powerhouse vocals will still definitely hold your interest.

Landing near the middle of the collection, the title track “Puppet Show” gives us a hint at the decades of solid songwriting and lyrical soul-baring we are all hoping lies ahead for Venable and her band. She also demonstrates some adult touches in the tender vocals of torch song-y “Comfort in My Sorrows” that still leave room for her equally expressive and atmospheric guitar break.

A warbling and insistent organ sound drives “Survive” giving the tune that big ol’ Blues Hall weight and groove that you can feel the entire band leaning into with gusto. The additional organ sound also gives Ally something new for her guitar to play off of, raising the intensity for everyone. In fifteen or so years “Waste It On You” will be a classic song about no-good men. For now, it is a good song about clueless boys, but I have a feeling this tune will age well and take on new meaning for Venable – and for her many fans.

The album closer “Sleeping Through The Storm” rolls in a more bouncy style than most of the tracks on the album, but it gives Venable’s lead guitar one last spotlight while it manages to touch on the central themes that played out in the nine songs before it: Ally is sharing her message of hope and perseverance in the face of the struggles and battles that everyone is going to have to face sooner or later, and isn’t that usually the whole point of singin’ (and listening to) the blues?

For more information on Puppet Show and Ally Venable:



Trixie and The Trainwrecks – 3 Cheers To Nothing


Wild child, Trixie Trainwreck aka Trinity Sarratt was born in San Francisco and moved to Berlin on a whim when she was 18. She started her musical endeavors in the underground trains back in 1999 and went on to make a name for herself working in and promoting shows in almost every bar in town as well as touring the EU and the USA with a handful of bands (Kamikaze Queens, Cry Babies, Runaway Brides) and most recently with her one woman show as Trixie Trainwreck No Man Band. She’s probably the hardest working girl in showbiz…and a mother, too!!

Trixie Trainwreck: vocals & rhythm guitar
Charlie Hangdog : blues harp
Paul Seacroft: lapsteel & lead guitar
Bruce Brand: drums & percussion


When Dylan Walshe introduced Trixie Trainwreck to Charlie Hangdog on the premise of playing around London, no one could have predicted what would happen next. After a handful of shows and what may have been a one- off session with Bruce Brand (Thee Headcoats, Milkshakes, Holly Golightly, Hipbone Slim) and Paul Seacroft (The Selector, played with members of Jim Jones Revue, Urban Voodoo Machine, Prince Buster) they would end up recording a whole album with Ed Deegan at the amazing Gizzard Studios for Voodoo Rhythm Records! Well, that’s just what happened and this is what we got just 3 action packed days later! Recorded 99% live and analogue, here comes 13 overdriven-long-gone-broken-hearted-country-blues-trash numbers from the wrong side of the tracks. And it feels so right. “3 Cheers to Nothing” sums up the last 18 years of the San Francisco born, Berlin based Trixie Trainwreck in exile, taking you along on her personal adventures and inner struggles with the ghosts of yesterdays past, angels, demons, and everything in between. The sound is just as unexpected as the rest. We call it Trainwreck Blues!