"Blues Explosion" - what is that? Feelin' Good Productions' head man Tano Ro explains: "The Blues Explosion package will be touring in the Summer period 2012, from late June to the middle of August. I will offer a full package of Blues with different styles; people can find a new Texan guitar hero, a new queen of Chicago blues and soul, and a veteran West Coast harmonica player. A full bag of blues!" Tano knows what the Blues is all about: "I'm an old cat, 58 years old, I have been operating in this business for the past 37 years now. I contributed in the past to many magazines (Blues Unlimited, Blues & Rhythm, Juke Blues, Soul Bag, Living Blues etc.) with photos, articles and reviews and I knew almost everybody around. I started to work with Sonny Rhodes in March 1980 and we are still very good friends. This kind of relationship is something I have with almost all the artists I work with, whether I have exclusive representation for them in Europe or with people I work with only occasionally. We are working on the same side for the same goal, we respect each other for what we do for each other, and in this way we win together." "I choose the artists from my experience and vision of the blues, on the basis of their music and personality. I like fresh music - many talented artists don't get enough support if they don't have a big label or a big agency in the USA." The package has been running for a long while: "The first edition of 'Blues Explosion' started as 'Blues Train' in 1994. In 2009 I built up the 'Blues Explosion' with Texas Slim, R.J. Mischo, E.C. Scott and Sonny Rhodes, and it was extremely successful for everybody: for the artists, for the promoters, for the crowds". Who are these artists? • "A new Texan guitar hero"? We all know that blueswise, "new" never quite means that. Texas Slim began playing in earnest in the 70s, and early on teamed up with the legendary pianist Alex Moore, who taught him a lot about the music. Slim was also inspired by Johnny Winter (take a listen to Texas classic 'Boot Hill'), local artists such as Pops Carter, and Dallas blues regulars such as Little Joe Blue and Andrew 'Jr. Boy' Jones - and his tracks here reveal his ease with a wide range of influences. Slim says the blues is "about everyday life, about working class people letting go of their worries, frustrations and anxieties through music. Blues is the music of spontaneous expressions of pure emotion". As he proves time and time again - and on the cooking tracks here - Slim is a man who has the Texas Blues in his DNA... • "A new Queen of Chicago Blues and Soul", Vivian Vance Kelly does literally have the music in her DNA. Her father, with whom she honed her stage-craft, is Windy City blues guitarist Vance Kelly, a grandfather sang R&B, a grandmother recorded gospel way back, and she herself was brought up in church. She flirted with hip-hop as a youngster, but soon turned to the blues - which she defines as "an expression of life experiences of all mankind comforted in songs". Listen to her tracks here and you will agree with the strap-line she uses: "Sweet soul 'n' groovy blues". • "Veteran West Coast harmonica player" Andy Just needs no introduction. Since he first recorded with Hi-Tide Harris back in 1976, he has appeared on dozens of blues albums, both in his own right and behind many legendary names, and he has become one of California's best-known blues exports (and experts). Andy's take on the blues is "Truth, hope, honesty and love through an American music art form. He offers hard-blowing harp-led blues at it's best (listen to him close out this album) - "smokin' " as one Feelin' Good album puts it... and there's no smoke without fire! Downloads, international recession, unemployment, and money worries have all taken their toll on the blues. "The market changes every day, and you need to understand well what's goin' on to find new strategies to continue to support music and musicians (what a mission...). This new package, I hope, will be a tempting offer to all the promoters and audiences around Europe, and good promotion for the artists on my label and my agency". So, thanks, Tano, Slim, Vivian and Andy, you keep on trying and we will keep on supporting the blues and Feelin' Good. A strong album! Norman Darwen (contributor: Blues & Rhythm, Blues Matters!, R2 (Rock 'N' Reel), Blues In Britain, Blues In The South, and others) This new release is from Feelin' Good Productions, a company created for the promotion of blues music across Europe by the Italian promoter Tano Ro, an avid blues fan himself, who turned his love of the blues into a vocation, in nineteen seventy-six; based in Milan he started promoting up and coming blues artists who might not get the exposure or opportunities that they clearly deserve in their native countries. Thirty years later he formed his own record label, now, twenty albums later we have the great opportunity to listen to these artists. First up is a taster for the forthcoming Blues Explosion Summer Tour which will take place in 2012. The three mesmerising artists playing on this album are Texas Slim a Texan guitar player in a similar mould to that of one his heroes the legendary Johnny Winter who, after playing and paying his dues in the clubs and bars of Texas, finally achieves the recognition his invigorating and exciting playing deserves. Also, Chicago born blues singer Vivian Vance Kelly, who has been singing since her infancy, the daughter of famed guitarist Vance Kelly it can be safely stated that the blues is well and truly in her blood; a vibrant, confidant and sassy performer she sings with the fervour of a true believer. Last but certainly not least is the world famous harmonica player Andy Just, a man who not only fronts the Robben Ford Band but, is a blistering solo artist whose performances on a good number of blues albums have captivated all. Recommended! Brian Harman.