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Monday, July 30, 2007

In memory of Bill Perry RIP

I was quite shocked to receive the sad news last week of Bill Perry's passing on July 17th, 2007 - he died of an apparent heart attack at age 49,
a bit young for any active human being, and certainly an early age by Blues standards.
About eight years ago, I was given the pleasurable task of writing a promotional review for a one week stand at Tel Aviv's Camelot club.
I was given a preview copy of his 1999 CD, recorded live at Manny's Car Wash in NYC ( I highly recommend this CD!!!).
When Bill Perry got onto the stage at Camelot, I was a bit shocked at his diminutive size - the power and energy of his playing on the live CD, and the cover photo, had me expecting a much taller man, with a bigger physique.
Nonetheless, Bill Perry was a big man, in more ways than one. A powerful Blues guitarist and a singer with an unusual voice.
By all accounts from friends and musicians who worked with him, Bill was a very warm, genuine, and a funny man.
SInger Ritchie Havens considered him not just an excellent band member, but a soulmate, a close friend.
Bill, you left us much too soon, you will be sorely missed.

Sunday at the Toronto Beaches Jazz fest

I had a great day yesterday in the artistic village area called the Toronto Beaches where the Beaches Jazz Festival is held -
a totally free festival in its 19th year -
they have sponsorships from Subaru to the provincial Lottery to food vendors...
I made contact with Brian Blane, the head of the Toronto Blues Society, and he directed me to the Media Tent so that I could sign in as a Radio Journalist, and get backstage access and meet all the other organizers and folks in the biz.
I met the mother of a new 16 year old Blues/Jazz diva Sophie Berkal Sarbit
- the mother heard I was from Israel, and spoke to me in Hebrew - she is the daughter of a Rabbi from Winnipeg - the Jewish connections in the music scene never cease to amaze and surprise me.
So I got to hear 2 blues shows of the Saturday Night Fish Fry
headed up by singer, organist and piano player Bill King, who is also the Beaches Jazz festival organizer and the creator of the JazzReport and the sites

next up was an amazing guitarist and solid singer named Kal David in a trio with Hammond organ and drums, later accompanied by his partner, singer Lauri Bono:

of course, I distributed copies of the book (Touched By The Blues) to Jazz radio people, local organizers, etc. let's hope we get some reviews...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Belkin and Jutas - Blues from Lithuania

In the beginning of April 2007, two Blues performers from Lithuania arrived in Israel for a 10 day tour of local clubs. On many of the gigs, they were joined by local Bluesman and Blues-harp master Dov Hammer.

The Belkin-Jutas Duo are an acoustic Blues duo made up of guitarist and singer Aleksandr Belkin and guitarist and singer Virgilius Jutas. Each of these guys has his own electric Blues band back in Lithuania, but for the sake of travel, they formed this compact duo.

Belkin and Jutas are both fine guitarists, with Jutas playing acoustic guitar rhythm and some soloing on this tour, and Belkin playing acoustic rhythm and also some very nice slide guitar. Aleksandr Belkin also accompanies himself on harmonica part of the time. Both artists provided us with various renditions of Blues standards, and even a couple of original songs, although their English is far from perfect, the feeling was there, and they sure can "belt out" a few...

The 10 day tour was a success, thanks to local Blues promoter Alex Shain, and the duo is considering coming back to Israel again in the coming year.