Long Island's own Hitman Blues Band has returned to Long Island after a successful tour of the U.K. in support of their new release "Not My Circus."
The band reports that all but one show was sold out and packed. And the one that wasn't was blamed more on Covid fears than any other reason.
"The tour was wonderful - challenging, exciting, as they always are, and mostly a testament to the people in the band who made everything work under often less-than-ideal conditions," said guitarist/singer Russell "Hitman" Alexander. "There were no roadies, no tour support, no tour buses, but they were completely dedicated to putting on the best possible show every time."
Joining Alexander on the tour were Mike Porter on bass and backup vocals; Mike Katzman on keyboards; UK residents Ian Salisbury on Piano and Chris Sharley on drums; Tom Mineo on tenor sax; Eric Altarac on trumpet; Al Alpert on trombone; and Nancy Hampton and Joanne Alexander on backup vocals.
The tour kicked off at St. Harmonicas Blues Club, London, followed by a private gig in Tring.
The troubadours followed that up with a show at the Riverside Rhythm Club in Gillingham, Kent. This was a university. Another packed house with great reception.
Stops also included Farnum Maltings, where the crowd was thinner due to Covid fear, a sellout at Blues at the Tropic, in Ruislip, up north to Birmingham, and Henry’s Blues House, -- where Ozzy Osbourne played his first gig with a blues band. The owner of Henry's, Ozzy's former manager, wants the Hitman Blues Band to return as a featured act for the Birmingham Jazz Festival in 2022.
Also on the tour was the The Eel Pie Club and a trip to Scotland for a show at the Cathcart Castle Golf Club among other stops.
"I consider myself very fortunate to be able to work with people like this, and I’m hoping to be able to continue to do so here at home," Alexander said. "The audience in the UK was fantastic, and it was particularly gratifying that we played to a large number of new people as well as our previous fans, all of whom were very kind and extremely enthusiastic. For an original band, that is what we strive for!"
Just ask Kerry Kearney.
"I don’t understand why people don’t think that there’s a blues scene here in Long Island.
"Today at Katie's of Smithtown, you couldn’t fit any more people in the room for the (Long Island) Blues Society's Memphis Send Off Benefit.
"There are many radio shows here on Long Island and in the tri-state area that cater just to blues and we have a great Blues Society that does a lot of work for this.
"So how is there no scene? The KKB has been together for 25 years now and I’ve seen things go up and down but I’ve always seen a good scene going on. And today was a perfect example.
"I have to give it to Katie's of Smithtown for putting on the show and showing that there is an audience for this music. I’m all for tribute bands and I think they’re great, but there is also an audience for what we do in more of an original vein.
"In the future, I'd love see more of these shows happening and I hope to see you all there sometime! Keep on Rockin (and Bluesin')! "
We agree. The blues society is dedicated to helping preserve the Blues and live music here on Long Island. Click on "Join the LIBS" over there on the left and help us in our mission.
September has been a big month for the Long Island Blues Society. Please join me in welcoming RED EYE as our Long Island Blues Challenge band champion and ROB EUROPE as our solo/duo champion and in cheering them on as they compete in the 2022 International Blues Challenge.
Wait, you say, I thought Felix Slim won the solo/duo category? As it turns out, he did, and he didn’t. Let me explain… Earlier this month, Felix Slim won the solo/duo portion of our Long Island Blues Challenge. It was a very tight contest, and the judges did not have an easy job that day. All our solo/duo contestants made great music, and any one of them would have been a worthy champion to represent the LIBS in the 2022 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
Entering Felix in the IBC, however, was a problem. The Blues Foundation informed us that Felix was ineligible to compete because he had already competed in the IBC three times. IBC rules implemented in 2017 set three as the maximum number of times a contestant can compete. Felix has actually competed four times: three times for different blues societies in Spain and once for the Long Island Blues Society. Because Felix was ruled ineligible to compete, Rob Europe (the second-place competitor) is our LIBS solos/duo category champion and will compete in the 2022 International Blues Challenge.
The core of the issue is when Felix competed in the past. His participation in 2014 predated the establishment of the “three times only” rule, and he believed that his 2017 entry (because he qualified in 2016 on the local level) would also not count toward his three appearances. Felix Slim did nothing wrong, and he entered our Challenge ethically and fairly – I want to be very clear about that. The Blues Foundation explained that while not counting participation prior to the new rule going into effect might have originally been the board’s intent, as the rule is now stated in its official documents there is no “start date” and so the rule is absolute – meaning it applies to all participations in the IBC, even those who competed prior to 2017. I failed to research this issue properly before accepting Felix’s entry into the 2021 Long Island Blues Challenge and I was wrong to accept his entry.
As President of the Long Island Blues Society, the ultimate responsibility for properly determining a contestant's eligibility to compete in our Long Island Blues Challenge is mine and I accept full responsibility for this error. I feel terrible that there has been this confusion and the delay in formally announcing the winners. I sincerely apologize to Felix Slim, to Rob Europe, to their supporters, families, and fans, and to our LIBS members and blues fans who came down to support live blues at the Challenge.
Should the rules change or be clarified, Felix Slim would be welcome compete in our Challenge again – he’s a great musician and performer and he has represented the LIBS well. After all, he’s our friend and nothing changes that. But now we need to come together as The Long Island Blues Society and support our champions, Rob Europe and Red Eye, as they prepare to show Memphis that Long Island has absolutely amazing blues talent!
Red Eye celebrated the release of its first studio album, Cool Blues, at Charlotte's Speakeasy in Farmingdale on July 3.
You like blues? It's on there. Jump blues, they got you. Ever heard surf blues? Neither did I, but they do it. (And it's pretty cool)
Folks can stream or purchase the album on Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify and YouTube, by typing in Red Eye Cool Blues. If anyone wants a CD, they can reach the band through its Facebook page
Shameka Copeland is voted BB King Entertainer of the Year and Rick Estrin and the Nightcats are chosen as best band. Click here to see all the winners.
The Long Island Blues Challenge is scheduled on Sept. 19, so mark your calendars for a day of live blues beginning at 1 p.m. at the Warehouse in Amityville.
More details will be released when we get them, but what do you really need to know? Live blues? Check. Nice venue? Check. Good food? Check. Great vibe? check. You're good.
The local challenge will be judged according to criteria set by the Blues Foundation. You can read all about it, including judging criteria and all the rules, here.
Long Island acts have a strong history in the event, held yearly on the world-famous Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn. Most recently, L.I.'s solo/duo winner, Felix Slim, placed second overall and won the Lee Oskar Harmonica award in 2020.
Attention all bands and solo/duo acts. The cloud is lifting, soon we 'll be playing (carefully) in joints across the region. Blow the dust off those guitars and get to rehearsing. The 37th International Blues Challenge is scheduled Jan. 18-22 in Memphis, Tenn., on the blues holy ground called Beale Street.
We are working out details on the local challenge, like where and when, but should have them soon. Watch this space (and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and your e-mails if you're on our mailing list) and we' ll post as soon as we firm it up.
The International Challenge is a blast. Bands from all over the world descend on Memphis for the week. The nights are filled with live Blues from clubs up and down the strip and hordes of people that dig the blues as much as you do roaming the streets and making new friends from all over. If you go once you'll want to go back every year. During the day you ask? Visit Graceland, the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, go to Sun Studios, see STAX records, take a day-trip to the Crossroads, yep THE Crossroads, and try to flag a ride. Eat fried catfish, hot chicken, bbq. Its a little slice of heaven.
So musicians, pull together that blues set and let us know you're interested.
For details e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, we'll be glad to have you take your shot
Shoutout from the Blues Foundation
The Blues Foundation, hosts of the yearly International Blues Challenge, gave the LIBS and the Hudson Valley Blues Society a nice plug in its recent newsletter, mentioning the inaugural Downstate Bluesfest.
The show was what we hope will be the first of many partnerships with our neighbors in the northern suburbs.
We not only raised some dough, but brought together members and fans from both regions to enjoy some much-needed live music.
Missed the Downstate Virtual Bluesfest? Watch it here.
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