Crossroads

Fridays at 10pm, Sundays at 7pm

Crossroads is KMUW’s contemporary blues and soul show. Hosted by Chris Heim, the program highlights blues, R&B and soul from the post-war era to the present, from classic recordings to new releases, and from mainstream sounds to a diverse and wide-ranging collection of artists and recordings with roots in the blues and branches in nearly every other musical genre.

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Friday, December 18 and Sunday, December 20

Crossroads highlights music from December featured artist Odetta, including holiday music she recorded, and a special in hour two from a memorial event that took place after Odetta passed away. Also, new and classic blues, and birthday salutes to Lonnie Brooks, Pee Wee Crayton, Rod Piazza, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson, and Keith Richards.

It pretty much goes without saying that if Shemekia Copeland has an album out, it will be on Best of the Year lists, though credit too to Will Kimbrough who co-wrote most of the songs, played guitar, and produced her latest album. We also couldn’t stop playing the 2020 release from soul blues veteran Frank Bey.

There were lots of fine classic and Chicago blues releases in 2020, including sets from Alex Dixon (Willie’s grandson), John Primer & Bob Corritore, Kim Wilson, and, happily back again, Nora Jean Wallace (Brusco).

Another great soul singer, Sonny Green, got his first full album after a decades-long career, while Maceo Parker returned with his first new release, a set of fun and funky favorites, in eight years.

Local favorites Dustin Arbuckle & the Damnations, and Mike Finnigan (with the Phantom Blues Band) did the town proud with their 2020 releases, while Quad Cities favorites, and 2020 International Blues Challenge Semi-Finalists, the Avey Grouws Band showed great promise with their debut release.

Among the acoustic blues offerings of the year were fine sets from Rory Block and Blind Lemon Pledge (who we would include if only for the name). Peter Parcek continues to prove he is among the most inventive of the blues guitarists on the scene today.

Speaking of inventive guitarists, Cindy Cashdollar — who has worked with Asleep at the Wheel, Paul Butterfield, Bob Dylan, Sonny Landreth, Marcia Ball and scores more —released a star-studded set of her own, not strictly blues, but too good not to include.

The cigar box guitar and earth-shaking vocals of Gina Coleman made the Misty Blues Band release a stand out. Solid stuff too this year from veterans Robert Cray, Ronnie Earl, Sugar Ray, and Lloyd Jones. And Savoy Brown, around now for 55 years (!) just keeps on keepin’ on – no surprises, but it’s hard not to like their trademark British blues rock sound.

Here are the Crossroads Top 25 Favorites of 2020 in alphabetical order:

1. Dustin Arbuckle & the Damnations – My Getaway (Dustin Arbuckle)
2. Avey Grouws Band – Devil May Care (Avey Grouws)
3. Frank Bey – All My Dues Are Paid (NOLA Blue)
4. Blind Lemon Pledge – Goin’ Home (Blind Lemon Pledge)
5. Rory Block – Prove It On Me (Stony Plain)
6. Cindy Cashdollar – Waltz for Abilene (Silver Shot)
7. Chickenbone Slim – Sleeper (Lo Fi Mob)
8. Shemekia Copeland – Uncivil War (Alligator)
9. Robert Cray – That’s What I Heard (Nozzle)
10. Alex Dixon – The Real McCoy (Dixon Landing)
11. Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters – Rise Up (Stony Plain)
12. Sonny Green – Found! One Soul Singer (Little Village Foundation)
13. Jimmy Johnson – Every Day of Your Life (Delmark)
14. Lloyd Jones – Tennessee Run (Vizztone)
15. Lisa Mills – The Triangle (BMG)
16. Misty Blues Band – Weed ‘Em & Reap (Misty Blues)
17. New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers – Vol. 1 (Stony Plain)
18. Peter Parcek – Mississippi Suitcase (Lightnin’)
19. Maceo Parker – Soul Food: Cooking with Maceo (The Funk Garage)
20. Phantom Blues Band – Still Cookin’ (Vizztone)
21. John Primer & Bob Corritore – The Gypsy Woman Told Me (Vizztone)
22. Savoy Brown – Ain’t Done Yet (Quarto Valley)
23. Sugar Ray and the Bluetones – Too Far from the Bar (Severn)
24. Nora Jean Wallace – Blues Woman (Severn)
25. Kim Wilson – Take Me Back (M.C. Records)

Friday, December 11 and Sunday, December 13

Crossroads kicks off the December feature marking the 90th birthday of legendary singer and activist Odetta with music from her debut album and from a guest appearance she made with blues harp great James Cotton.
The show also marks birthdays of Lurrie Bell, Lucky Peterson, and Big Mama Thornton (including a special featuring her hour two of the show).
New music this time includes Kim Wilson, Kid Ramos with Bob Corritore, the Nighthawks, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Walter Trout, and Duke Robillard.

1. Shemekia Copeland – Uncivil War (Alligator)
2. Kim Wilson – Take Me Back (MC Records)
3. Lloyd Jones – Tennessee Run (Vizztone)
4. Dave Riley & Bob Corritore – Travelin’ the Dirt Road (VizzTone)
5. Maceo Parker – Soul Food (Funk Garage)
6. Kevin Burt – Stone Crazy (Gulf Coast)
7. Sonny Green – Found! One Soul Singer (Little Village Foundation)
8. Peter Parcek – Mississippi Suitcase (Lightnin’)
9. Nora Jean Wallace – Blues Woman (Severn)
10. Misty Blues – Weed ‘Em And Reap (Misty Blues)

New Month, New Music

Nov 30, 2020

Friday, December 4, and Sunday, December 6

It’s “New Month/New Music” time as Crossroads teams up with Global Village and Strange Currency at the beginning of every month to feature the best in new blues releases.

Among the highlights this time:

  • New titles from Duke Robillard and Kenny Wayne Shepherd
  • The latest in Bob Corritore’s From the Vault series – this time with Henry Gray.
  • Crossroads also highlights new holiday release from Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram, the Wildroots, Hamilton Loomis, and the Gulf Coast Christmas compilation.

Frday, November 27 and Sunday, 29
Crossroads wraps up a month-long salute to Booker T & the MGs in honor of the November birthdays of band members Booker T. Jones, Duck Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr. We’ll hear them in various combinations with Al Green, Bill Withers, Muddy Waters, and Poncho Sanchez – along with music from the last MGs album for Stax, and their recording of “Time is Tight” that was originally done for a 1968 film.
Also this time, music from John Mayall for his birthday, including Mayall with the Bluesbreakers doing a Mose Allison classic (the November featured artist on Night Train) and a concert special with Mayall in hour two of the show.
New music on Crossroads this time includes selections from Kim Wilson, Dave Riley with Bob Corritore. Kevin Burt, Lloyd Jones, and Maceo Parker.

Friday, November 20 and Sunday, November 22

Crossroads continues this month’s feature marking November birthdays of Booker T., Duck Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr. – all members of Booker T. & the MGs and famed also as the studio band for the legendary Memphis soul label, Stax Records. We’ll hear the group covering the Isley Brothers and backing Otis Redding, along with Koko Taylor’s version of “Born Under a Bad Sign,” a blues classic Booker T. co-wrote with Stax star William Bell.

November 20th is also the birthday of Duane Allman (here with Boz Scaggs on “Loan Me a Dime”) and of Dr. John (saluted on the new album from Shemekia Copeland and featured in a special in hour two).

And there’s new music from Cary Morin, Maceo Parker, and Bette Smith.

Friday, November 13 and Sunday, November 15

Crossroads kicks off the November feature celebrating birthdays of Booker T. Jones and Donald “Duck” Dunn, with music from throughout their long careers, as leaders, session men, together in Booker T. & the MGs, and as the studio band for the legendary Stax Records.

This time we’ll hear a young Booker T. on sax on the first hit from Stax with Rufus and Carla Thomas, the MGs on their own and backing Sam & Dave, and Dunn’s early work with the Mar-Keys and later with blues legend Freddie King.

Also on tap new music from soul discovery Sonny Green, LA bluesman AJ Crawdaddy, Chicago blues veteran Linsey Alexander, and singer, songwriter and saxophonist Vanessa Collier.

Friday, November 6 and Sunday, November 8

It’s “New Month/New Music” time as Crossroads teams up with Global Village and Strange Currency at the beginning of every month to feature the best in new blues releases.

Among the highlights this time:

  • Another powerful new album from singer Shemekia Copeland
  • The return of veteran Chicago blues singer Nora Jean Wallace
  • Singer, harmonica player, former member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and much in demand session player Kim Wilson is back with a roots blues set for his first solo album in three years
  • Blues guitarist, singer and former member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Mannish Boys, Kirk Fletcher releases his sixth album and first in two years
  • Soulful Iowa blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist Kevin Burt is back with his second album his first was a Crossroads Top Five pick for Best of the Year and Blues Music Award nominee for Best Debut Album
  • Chicago blues harmonica man Bob Corritore digs into the vaults to reissue a 2008 set with Mississippi blues guitarist Dave Riley with previously unreleased tracks – and for another release in his “From the Vaults series featuring previously unavailable and unreleased tunes done in four sessions with guitarist Kid Ramos in Phoenix from the late 1990s to early 2000s.

  1. Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters - Rise Up (Stony Plain)
  2. Sugar Ray & the Bluetones – Too Far from the Bar (Severn)
  3. New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers – Vol. 1 (Stony Plain)
  4. Sonny Green – Found! One Soul Singer (Little Village Foundation)
  5. Johnny Iguana – Chicago Spectacular (Delmark)
  6. Crooked Eye Tommy – Hot Coffee and Pain (Blue Heart)
  7. Kirsten Thien – Two Sides (Screen Door)
  8. Lucky Losers – Godless Land (Vizztone)
  9. Alex Dixon – The Real McCoy (Dixon Landing)
  10. Peter Parcek – Mississippi Suitcase (Lightnin’)

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