Arkansas Blues

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January 2009
Deep underground, street level blues guitar fanatics and blues guitar players welcomed here
Read by 30,000 worldwide blues minded folks - From the Arkansas Delta, USA since 1988
I've had this conversation more than once, and that is; A Fender Twin
is too big and a Fender Deluxe Reverb is too small.  Both are icon
amps used by guitar professionals all over the world for decades.  
Both are bench marks by which virtually all other amps are judged.  
Leo Fender, in the beginning, back in the 40's adapted Western
Electric technology into usable formats for guitarists.  He didn't invent
vacuum tube amps, but merely capitalized on Western Electric's
release of patents for audio amplification, tube circuits to public
domain in the late 30's.  Fifteen years later, Leo and Doc Kauffman,
known as the K & F Electronic Repair, started tweaking amps to the
taste of local Los Angeles guitar players.  Most of K & F designs
focused on and varied from the original Western Electric schematics
in the pre-amp stages. Previous amplifier makers viewed an input
voltage stage as signal to the power amp section, and featured a
couple of inputs, volume and one tone knob.   Leo provided a
broader range of passive tone by separating treble and bass, then
eventually midrange as a separate control to provide the guitarist a
larger pallet to season to taste.
  Later models featured a presence
knob, which dulled or sharpened the overall out put to style.
Price being a major factor in the fifties, Champs, Princeton's, Harvard's and
Deluxe amps were mass produced.  Twins, Bandmasters, Bassman and
Vibrolux were larger amps, and the price matched their size.  Before
piggy-back amps became vogue in the 60's, the Fender Concert amp in
Brown Tolex, and Oxblood grill was a favorite stage amp.  Four tens, and
two 6L6 tubes provided all the head room needed then.  The lessor known
Super amp also hosted two 6L6's, but with only two tens.   The two ten amp
was the bridge back then between the larger Concert and Twin amps, and
the smaller Deluxe and Princeton amps.   The Concert amp eventually
became the well known Super Reverb, and the Super became the Vibrolux
Unfortunately piggy back
amps were the rage in the
mid to late 60's, and the
Vibrolux got lost in the shuffle.   
As the 65 Super Reverb is a
vintage guitar show star, the
same era Vibrolux has become
a highly sought out amp.  The
60 & 70 models command a
high vintage price these days.  
Some 60 black faces had 1-12, and      
            Vintage Vibrolux
the silver faces had 2-10 speakers.       
The new Fender Vibrolux is becoming a favorite with blues players
worldwide.  We all know that the Super Reverb with a 335 Gibson was a
mainstay Blues Rig, for generations.  The Vibrolux in guitar circles are
calling it a Half Super Reverb.  A SR, can get loud on you in a heartbeat.  
The Vibrolux is pushing less air with two ten inch Jensen blue back P10R's,
and is perfect for smaller rooms and clubs.  For larger venues, just put a
SM57 on it, and you are ready to
boogie.  The new version of the
Fender Vibrolux has a hefty
list price, but most new dealers
are sitting on about a grand.  
You can find them used and on
eBay from around $500 on a
good day, to upwards of $700.
The book lists them around $750.  
This is a pure tone machine, and
when you first plug in, you will
instantly feel the speaker and          
96 to 2008 version with white knobs
tube compression.   Set it to
about 3 to 5 on volume, and it is as Fender clean as you can get.  Bite
your strings, this amp will bark back at you.  Turn a Humbucker up on it,
and you will get tone galore purring like you could never imagine.  
Looks like a smaller sized twin, and weighs in just a little more than a
Deluxe Reverb.  I just finished reading an article on Elvin Bishop, and
guess what kind of amp he uses now?  Yeah, Vibrolux.   This work horse
Fender amp is the gap between the big heavy Twin and Super Reverb,
and the small venue Deluxes. Lately they are catching on, and look for
them more and more as you visit live blues bands.  Want more spec details
just Google in Vibrolux, and you'll have days of sites to visit and get the
rest of the story.  Mike  

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Featuring modern influential blues & jazz artists of all times.
Charlie Christian
Over the years I've been asked who some of my favorite musicians are.  Below is a good starting cross section of who influenced me
over the decades, and who I still listen to today.   Also some new comers to the list.  You may have heard of some of these musicians, and
then you just might discover some new ones you've not heard before.   Most of these folks are legendary with miles of biography on the
Internet to google their names and find out more info.   
Mouse click photos and graphics to visit their corresponding web sites.  
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Get heard with a Geezer
guitar or bass cabinet.

Welcome and thank you
for checking us out!!
please email us at: with
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To: The Crew at Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Newspaper

From: Mike Dollins – Whisker Fish in Blues Circles

Subject:  Musical Mishmash – Sunday December 21st, 2008 – Styles Section

Date: December 23, 2008
I had to wait a couple of days before I got into writing y’all down at the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.  In your rendition and interpretation about
the state of music in Arkansas, and then music nationally in general I have to say . . . . . ugh, thank you.   Thank you from the prospective that you
do make the attempt to keep a dab of Arkansas music alive and well in your publications.  Because my mamma taught me if I couldn’t say anything
nice, then don’t say anything at all, I can’t get into my real deep thoughts I pondered regarding the piece.   Due to my lengthy career as a music
journalist I did however learn to dazzle them with my footwork.   Goes with the job I guess.           Here goes nothing.
To start off let me thank Peter Read of Nightflying Entertainment Guide, and Dottie Oliver at Free Press for keeping us street level Arkansas blues
musicians mentioned and journalized in their publications.  Arkansas Times does a little of that too.  I do have to thank Jack Hill at ADG, for
keeping some of our local blues musicians posted.  Heck, even a few of the ADG employees come out and see some of our blues shows. What I
didn’t like about your Musical Mishmash article, is us underground local blues folks didn’t even get an honorable mention. Hey, we’re use to it, so
don’t fret about the obvious oversight.   No slam on you folks, being a 50-year blues guitar veteran, slammed doors is par on the musical course in
life.  We just pack it up, and move to the next gig.
I will do an Arkansas Blues Musician page at my on-line blues ezine Blues Guitar News in the first of the year.  It does
have a worldwide following of about 30,000 - plus thousands of hits on our MySpace site.  There is a worldwide underground blues cult that is
totally amazing, but you have to be a street level musician to understand it, and have any knowledge regarding the far-reaching popularity blues is
attaining very rapidly.  The world is starting to learn that Arkansas shares the Mighty Muddy River with Mississippi, and we have a long heritage of
blues only matched by Mississippi.  
First off, the obvious two oversights in your Arkansas Music assessment were Michael Burks and Joe Pitts.   Michael, is on a major top blues label,
and the word in the street level blues circles is he is the next BB, Albert or Freddy King, real deal blues guitarist; Winner of every kind of blues
award with the Blues Foundation, and up for a blues Grammy.  Thing is Arkansas clams Albert King as one of our own, and Michael is the next
generation blues guitarist following in Albert’s footsteps filling Mr. King’s shoes rather nicely, and is the real deal.  Joe Pitts, another major label and
international touring band has just returned from an extensive tour in Europe, and is planning another Euro jaunt in February with other major
headliners.   Outside of local blues circles here at home, he is not known by y’all here in Arkansas much, but a star in Europe, and a guitar icon in
Italy who highly revere him on the level of Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Trucks and Dwayne Allman.  Thanks
Peter Read, for the nice article on Joe.  He deserves the recognition, along with his wife Rhonda Pitts, and her highly acclaimed Nashville trained
Lonesome Oak recording studio.  
Secondly, the Blues Societies here in Arkansas work their tail ends off, keeping the Arkansas blues heritage alive and well.  Presidents; Barbara
“Bab's” Bearden and VP Jeff Weeden of the Arkansas River Blues Society, Liz Lottmann of the Ozark Blues Society and Leadra LeNea of the
Spa City Blues Society in Hot Springs, are the behind the scenes labor of love folks keeping the blues alive and well.  You missed Jeff and these
three wonderful ladies that deserve a little respect in the media from time-to-time for their untiring devotion to Arkansas Blues.   You can add in Deb
Moser, to this list too.  She can be heard on KABF 88.3 FM, and has one of the longest running blues shows in Arkansas, “Debs Blues House
More . . . Thank you for the articles you’ve done on Essie “The Blues Lady” Neal, as she is the sweetheart of Arkansas blues, and if you don’t
know it, she is well known on an international stage and a member of the Blues Hall of Fame.  You also did a very nice piece on Al Bell, of Stax
Records.  But, how about John Craig, the local living blues legend?  He has a new blues CD out.  Mr. Craig is well known worldwide in deep blues
circles.  He is the real deal, and recorded with major artists on ABC Paramount Records, and toured with Ike Turner.  You would think at 63 years
old, and a lifetime dedicated to the blues we could get John in Arkansas Media a little.   
Hey, how about the winners from Arkansas in the International Blues Challenge at Memphis, slated for February 9th, 2009.  This is an international
event.  I don’t think I read about this in your Arkansas Mishmash article either.   From Hot Springs we have Unseen Eye, and Ben “Swamp
Donkey” Brenner, from Little Rock we have “Gil Franklin & Port Arthur” and “Blues Boy Jag” and from Fayetteville we have Gary Hucthison and
Oreo Blue all traveling to Memphis, and I am sure the Tennessee media will take note of the Arkansas participants.   Talking Mr. Hucthison, I bet y’
all down at the ADG, didn’t know that Gary hosts the blues jam session at the International Arlington, Texas Vintage Guitar Show, and has done so
for over a decade in the swank Sheridan Hotel.  But, Texas embraces blues pickers.  This is a major underground guitar extravaganza, with tens of
thousands of folks traveling in from the four corners of the world to attend this three-day event.  Gary is known worldwide for his stage guitar
prowess, and for those of us that have shared the stage with him know his Arkansas blues band is a solid act waiting on a major blues label.   
Runner up to this whole major blues event is little old me, and my band that got mentioned as the best self produced blues CD from Little Rock, for
the IBC in Memphis.  That’s cool; Linda Cailloutet missed all of us in Paper Trails too.  We do want to thank Steve and the great folks at Good
Morning Arkansas, KATV ABC ch 7, for having us on their show this month to talk about some of the blues items I am listing.  Super great support
team at KATV for local Little Rock blues musicians.  We would like to also thank Pat Lynch, who occasionally has local blues talent on his radio
talk show.  Mr. Lynch, although a super political satire and analysis expert, has a great depth of understanding on music and the blues.   We thank
Pat from the bottom of our hearts for inviting us on his radio show, to talk Arkansas Blues on a down to earth level.
I need to tell you about another living Arkansas Blues Legend, Eb Davis.  Mr. Davis lives most of his time in Europe now, like so many blues
artists.  You see they respect and honor blues folks in the old country, and Eb is a blues icon all over the European continent.  Eb’s bio reads like a
who’s who of blues and R&B, and he is personal friends with BB king and Bobby Bland, who he has toured with in years past.  Jefferson Blues, the
oldest worldwide renowned blues magazine in Europe has just featured a full-length article on Eb Davis, and they do make mention of his Arkansas
roots.  Congratulations Eb, long time coming.
Other tid-bits of Arkansas blues talent could include Charlotte Taylor and Gypsy Rain, Brethren, Cosmic Biscuit, Joe Marks & NTO, Max Taylor,
Charles Woods, Artis Bivens, Billy Jones, Danny & the Shuffle Kings, Brethren, and The Tablerockers etcetera, who are a just a few of the
Arkansas blues folks that deserve a little respect and recognition occasionally.   When you talk about Arkansas blues history and legends, you can
either see our web page on the matter, or take our word that the following blues or R&B legends all have some sort of Arkansas link or roots:
Albert King, raised in Osceola, Arkansas
Roosevelt Sykes, born in Elmar, Arkansas
Big Bill Broonzy, raised in Pine Bluff, AR 1898
Luther Allison, born in Widener, AR in 1939
Chester Burnett (Howlin’ Wolf) lived in West Memphis, Arkansas from 1930 to 1951
Robert Lockwood Jr., born in Turkey Scratch, AR 1908
Robert Nighthawk, born in Helena, AR 1909
Junior Walker, born in Blythesville,  AR 1931
Junior Wells, born in West Memphis, AR 1934
Louis Jordan, was born in Brinkley, AR 1908
Al Bell, Stax Records, raised in Little Rock, AR
Jimmy Witherspoon, born in Gruden, AR 1921
Arkansas Larry Davis, grew up in Little Rock, AR
Al Greene, born in Forrest City, AR 1946
Casey Bill Weldon, Memphis Minnie's Husband, born in Pine Bluff, AR in 1909
Johnnie Taylor, born in Crawford AR 1938
Guitar Mac, born in Cotton Plant,  AR
Roy Buchanan, born in Ozark, AR in 1939
Hubert Slumlin, raised in Hughes, AR
Al Hibler, born in Little Rock, AR in 1915
Frank Frost, born in Augusta, AR 1936
Levon Helm, born in Elaine, AR 1940
Sonny Boy Williamson, lived in Twist, AR with Howlin' Wolf's Sister Mary Burnett.
Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, born in Helena, AR 1936
Son Seals, born in Osceola, AR 1942
Robert Johnson, lived in Helena, AR
Little Willie John, born in Cullendale, AR in 1937
Scott Joplin, raised in Texarkana, AR 1868
Hollis Gillmore, born in Magnolia, AR
Timothy "Little" Cooper, Prattsville, AR
Sam Carr, born in Marvell, AR 1926
Robert Lee McCoy, Born in Helena AR 1926
WDIA USA's first Blues Radio featuring BB King, Howlin' Wolf and Sonny Boy WilliamsonIn in West Memphis, Arkansas
Sonny “Sunshine” Payne King Biscuit Blues Radio Show on KFFA Radio, in Helena, AR. Sonny Payne, one of the first ever all Blues DJ’s.
BB King named his guitar “Lucille” in Twist, Arkansas

Well, I just went and blew my socks off on all of this, and y’all probably think I’m just a big sour grapes kind of guy now.  I am sorry for coming off
so abruptly, but I had to get it off my chest.  I am just totally frustrated that I can get Arkansas blues on the international map, and then have to fight
tooth and toenail to get a “blip” in local Arkansas media.  I am thankful for folks like Peter Read, Dottie Oliver and Hairy Larry of Delta Boogie that respect us working blues musicians, and go out of their way to support and encourage us.  This isn’t a personal
solicitation for me.  I’ve had interviews and reviews in most music publications and newspapers in major cities from Los Angeles to New York, and
all across Europe, and featured on over 200 blues radio stations worldwide.  That isn’t what this is all about.  Blues doesn’t share the pop music
culture of, “Its all about me.”   We do what we call “sharing the hog,” and “shouting out,” about others.  Blues folks is family.  I will until I finally
succumb to all my various disabling infirmities someday, keep on tooting and shouting out about Arkansas blues on the worldwide blues stage to let
‘em know in the streets, “Blues is Alive & Well in Arkansas.”  We have blues history, and we are just as much proud of our bluesmen and women
as; Memphis, Clarksdale, Chicago and New Orleans, cities that brag about their blues music heritage, and keep them in the forefront in all their local

Thank you for your time, and if I offended you in any way, forgive my rudeness.  That is not the intended message.  I subscribe to you paper, and
read Pat Lynch and Paul Greenberg every chance I get.  Also, thank you for printing my non-music articles in “Voices.”  Someday, I hope you
accept one of my music articles, as they do pop up frequently in publications all over the world.  


Mike Dollins
Blues Guitar since 1958
POB 2077
Benton, AR 72018        

Arkansas Democrat Gazette Link, if you want to put in your two cents too. If not, I'll be the lone wolf in the desert shouting out about it all.

Web Link:
Phone:  (501) 378-3400
Address: Arkansas Democrat Gazette
P.O. Box 2221
Little Rock, AR 72203   
Click photo, and join us on MySpace
Texas Jake
Eb Davis,
Arkansas Bluesman
Mouse click photos and graphics to visit their corresponding blues web sites.
We did a face-lift on Blues Guitar News, and you can find a few new tabs above that will take you on a worldwide blues journey lasting for
years, if you really get into blues networking.  Way below you will find a long list of Blues Contacts, a Letter to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
management, as they did a year end article on music in Arkansas, and not one mention of any working blues musicians.  Par for the course,
like most main stream news media, the blues is a bad word that doesn't sell newspapers.   Anyway, you can read that and the link to put in your
two cents worth.  Omission is a subliminal admonishment, and the lack of acknowledgment very condescending to the artistic brain.  Makes
your whole blues music life seem worthless and insignificant when acts like this appear.  I gotta' get this out of my system on our next gig, and
plan on melting my 6L6's into little puddles of glass this New Years.   But, it hurts when your own home town paper can't even find one word to
say about Arkansas Blues in a full six page section on music in Arkansas, and the whole USA.  I guess we are none existent relics of a bygone
era.  Hey y'all, don't get down for 2009, and keep on jammin' them blues.  I have had so many folks get on my band wagon of holding a
worldwide blues jam session for peace, that it was an echo heard around the planet last year.  We all should pick a date, and everyone do a
blues shuffle, Freddy King Cincinnati style, In "A" at noon central time.   The Fourth of July would be a target date.   At least it was fun talking
about it. Check out some of our Arkansas bluesmen above, and Len Rainey who has Arkansas roots, and now lives in California.   Check out
the long list of blues links below, and read the Jefferson article on my good friend Eb Davis above.  I added Len Rainey, who is now on the
West Coast, his Arkansas roots run deep and long with lots of family in Pine Bluff.         God bless, and talk to you soon.
Blues Organizations To Visit
Blues Hall of Fame:
Blues Art Journal:
Arkansas River Blues Society:
Spa City Blues Society:
Ozark Blues Society:
Arkansas Blues & Heritage:
Delta Cultural Center:
Unknown Legends:   
Blues Radio:
If you like these contacts, then you will like the miles and acres of blues links, and networking at
Blues Guitar News, since 1988 we've been jounalizing about blues.  You can find all our on-line
back issues with hours of blues information and contacts.  Visit our Arkansas Blues pages too.
Some More Arkansas Blues Links:
Babs Bearden
Big Red & The Soul Benders
Bill Lusk
Billy Jones    
Blue Boy Jag    
Charlotte Taylor   
Cosmic Biscuit
Cruize Brothers
Deb's Blues House Party KABF  
Eb Davis
Essie "The Blues Lady" Neal:
Gary Lee Hutchison    
G-Funk the Tree Trunk
Hairy Larry   
Hot Springs Music  
Jawbone & Jolene   
Jeff Weeden   
Joe Pitts Band
John Craig   
Liz Lottmann  
Mark Stallings  
Michael Burks - Iron Man
Mike Shipp     
Oreo Blue   
Port Arthur
Roy & Sandy McCann
Sonny "Sunshine" Payne King Biscuit   
Swamp Donkey
The Fabulous Hightops
Unseen Eye
Zack's Place  

New Years Celebration: For all y'all here in Arkansas; If you need a New Years place to
celebrate, come on out to Boss Hogs with the Cruize Brothers. Details at   
Boss Hogs,  is located in Hot Springs, on beautiful Lake Cathrine: 198 Irwin Pt, Hot Springs.
(501) 262-0682

THANK YOU to the all the kind folks all over the world that pass our blues info on down their
blues information highways.  You are appreciated.  
Hey, maybe our home town Arkansas Newspaper missed all us blues folks like we don't live in the same state or
something, or gigged all year long in Arkansas, but below is a good starting point on some great blues
organizations that always list Arkansas Blues, and then some great Arkansas Blues Musicians.  
For you folks around the world that don't know much about Arkansas, and what role we played in historical blues development please see the
tab above on our Arkansas Blues Legends.  The Mighty Muddy River is the border between Mississippi and Arkansas.  It is called the
Mississippi River Delta Plane.   The famousBlues Highway 49 starts in Mississippi, but then crosses the Big Muddy, and into Helena,
Arkansas. Historically before the Interstate freeway system, bluesmen traveled trough Arkansas, and crossed over into Missouri where 49
eventually meet Route 66.  West Memphis, Arkansas was the crossroads; East to Memphis, North to Chicago or St. Louis, or out West to
Los Angeles or Oakland. Also a major railroad junction for hopping a freight car too.  In the beginning of blues migration northward toward
industrialized northern cities, bluesmen traveled Highway 49 through Arkansas, and many settled down here.  So grab a plate of Turnip
Greens,Black Eyed Peas, Fat Back and Cornbread, sit back with a big glass of sweet tea, and check out our local Arkansas Blues.  
By Mike Dollins; Musician & Journalist
Benton, Arkansas USA
I got ticked off, and ripped the below letter off to the all the editors and publishers, plus a few
writers down at my local Little Rock, Arkansas newspaper.  I travel all over the United
States, and for decades I have picked up all the local news print publications.   Most major
metropolitan cities always have an entertainment section, and then I notice how much blues I
can find.  It is always a constant search, and as you all know blues is so far underground, and
not in mainstream at all, but many journalists dig jazz and blues, so they keep a generous
amount of ink on blues folks.  This month my local paper that covers the whole state of
Arkansas and then some did an article on the state of the union of music in Arkansas called
Music Mishmash.  Guess what, not one single blues person was mention in a six section
special.   Hmmm, I smoked my keyboard.  This is December 31st, and most of all the letters
I sent off should be getting in all their in baskets, hopefully, but I don't expect much of a
response, if at all.   You can look above and see how proud I am of Arkansas Blues, and
then check out the tab on top for Arkansas Legends.  Then tonight Jo Ann calls me in the
studio, as the Kennedy Center Awards were on.  First of was Morgan Freeman, a Blues
supporter, and honoring his lifetime achievement in film, was Ko Ko Taylor, and with an all
star old school blues band that was the real deal.  Then BB King wrapped up Mr. Freeman's
tribute.  I saw the president, his wife and a host of dignitaries, celebrities and distinguished
guests rock out in their seats to "The Blues"   But, in Washington DC the blues is alive and
well, and has a very active blues society.   Here in Arkansas we can't get a
break.  MIKE
Kennedy Center Bio
Morgan Feeman's Blues Interview
The Fender is a 2007 TELE (pick of the litter) w/Texas specials . No I
didn't name it "Blackie"   The Lester is  a 1977 DELUXE LES PAUL
AMPS POUR OUT BUCKETS OF TONE.  Maple 5 piece jazz neck, and
plays like butter.  AMPS; 1965 R.I. SUPER REVERB,  1996 VIBROLUX,
BACKS IN THEM.   Besides my family, and Tracker Bass Boat, I can't
get enough of these two guitars.