by Jim Swanson
Blues Boulevard

A sad day in the music world with the announcement of the Legendary George Duke passing away at age 67.

In 2008, we interviewed Mr. Duke for our previous website Progressive News Daily (which no longer exists).
It was a true delight to speak with George about all aspects of his career and his music.

You can hear the interview by clicking on the podcast link above. The interview lasts about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

For more on George’s passing, you can read the story from the L.A. Times HERE.

Posted by Jim, filed under Interview, Music, Music Special, News, Podcast. Date: August 6, 2013, 11:46 am | No Comments »

One of The All-Time Greastest!

Fast Tube

Fast Tube by Casper

Posted by Jim, filed under Uncategorized. Date: March 21, 2013, 2:38 pm | No Comments »

by Jim Swanson
Blues Boulevard

J. Backlund Design Guitars has been the newest and strongest kid on the block with their complete series of totally awesome, great playing and head turning guitars.

We reviewed one of their higher end models a while back (which you can read about HERE).

But now, J. Backlund Design has begun a brand new project to make their stellar guitars more affordable to “the masses”.

Their top of the line guitars remain the same. But J. Backlund has started the “Retronix Series Project” a Kickstarter guitar project where you can get involved as a contributor to get the ball rolling. But the time to get that ball rolling on these new guitars is limited. J. Backlund needs $75,000 by September 1, 2012. YOU can get involved by contributing to the cause with a package that you choose for your donation as a reward for your help. (See the list HERE)


Retronix is a new line of affordable instruments from J Backlund Design Guitars. The R-800 is our first great design for a new market.

The Retronix R-800 is the new offering from J. Backlund Design Guitars. It will be available in Tremolo, Hard-Tail and Bass models.

Since (the) early days, the response to our guitars has been overwhelmingly positive. However, we hear over and over again that our designs are cool; people simply can’t afford them. Our custom, hand made guitars range from $3500 to $7000. Some one-off models are even more. They are truly playable works of art. So, with your help and the through the magic of Kickstarter, we are going to make our guitars more accessible to working musicians and the musical world under the Retronix brand name.

For the last three years we have been diligently working on research and development and making our designs more repeatable and less costly to produce. However, it just not possible for us to produce the hand-made US products at a price point where we can compete with the import products. In order to bring these instruments to you at the suggested price points, we will have to outsource our manufacturing. Fortunately, during this development time we have made several industry connections that will make this process doable. We are in the unique position of having sourcing relationships with Korean manufacturers that produce many of the high quality instruments for brand names that you have know for years. All of our prototypes and programming has been completed and we are ready for production. This is where you come in. We are asking for $75,000 for manufacturing ramp up and production of the first run of Retronix guitars. We will have eight color choices and bass and six string models will be available. For the six-string model, you will also be able to choose between hard tail and tremolo models. Retail prices for these guitars will be between $1000 and $1250, depending on color and options. But, for the next 60 days we will be selling them to the Kickstarter community for significantly less than that, in order to generate enough orders to meet our initial minimum production requirements. Over on the right side of the page, you will see several packages. There are pledge levels for everyone that include: guitar picks, t-shirts, prints, and guitars, as well as actual one of a kind original artwork by John Backlund himself. Thanks to John, we already have several designs to launch and there are more to come.

This Kickstarter project is our first attempt at bringing an affordable model to the players. Visit our website to see some of our other great designs. Please pledge generously and help us bring the art of John Backlund and the vision of Bruce Bennett to the rest of the world. Be a part of history. Your pledges will help change the guitar world forever.


As for their other guitars, people all over the spectrum of the music business are taking notice and playing these great guitars.
Such as Mark Wills in his video “Looking For America”.


As for the prototypes, take a look at the Retronix R-800 and The Retronix R-800b (Bass guitar) below.

Get your pledge in TODAY before time runs out. Get all the information HERE.

Posted by Jim, filed under Guitar/Gear article, News, Special Feature. Date: July 25, 2012, 8:04 pm | No Comments »

by Jim Swanson
Blues Boulevard

I’ve been extremely fortunate throughout my life to not just love music, but have the opportunity to play.

“Back in the day” in my home town of Chicago, my band “Clark and Addison” were fortunate to play with some great artists, open for some terrific headliners and play a plethora of guitars and basses.

I’ve had Fender, Epiphone, Gibson, Hagstrom, Rickenbacker and many more in my hands that are now forgotten. But I’ve never, in my 40+ years of playing, had a more incredible experience than I’ve had with my most recent purchase: A new J. Backlund Design JBD100. (Photo #1 above center)

To simply say that J. Backlund Design Guitars “ups the Wow Factor” another notch is a gross understatement. These guitars blow the “Wow Factor” off the charts.

To write a review of this guitar is nearly impossible without a huge grasp of the English language and a Roget’s Thesaurus in hand. But I promise not to use any far-fetched adjectives.

I purchased J. Backlund Design’s JBD-100 series model with a color scheme of red and ivory (more pictures below).

Out of the box, I was speechless…and that’s just the guitar case, a G&G snakeskin custom case. It’s extremely heavy, but I consider that a major plus because this allows you to make sure there will never be a single ding on the guitar’s finish. The empty case weighs in at 19.2 pounds, the guitar 8 pounds.
But that eight pounds feels much lighter wearing a strap, as the balance is so good, I could play several sets without any fatigue.

My first “hands on” look at the guitar itself showed the dedication, extremely hard work and perfection in the design.Everything on the guitar was literally perfect. Not a single flaw in the paint or finish showed me that there is absolutely no assembly line production here. All fret ends were smooth with absolutely no jagged edges.

The “birdseye” maple fingerboard is pure astonishing luxury. Couple that with the “fang” fret markers and that alone will get plenty of good looks your way.

The body shape is incredible and very unique. J. Backlund Design calls it “retro-futuristic”, but I’d have to throw “art-deco” into the mix. The JBD100 series is almost impossible to describe in words. It has to be seen to truly appreciate John Backlund’s brilliance.

The uber-talented head-luthier Bruce Bennett really knows his art and talent as a “hands on” builder.

But, as I’m sure most, if not all players know, a cool looking guitar is not going to mean it plays great.

All of the electronics are made in the USA (Good for you, Backlund). No skimping or shortcuts here.The Bridge pickup is a first class Seymour Duncan, while the neck pickup is made by Custom Vintage Vibe.

As for the sound test, I ran the JBD100 through a Fender Hot Rod De Ville tube amp at 80 watts with four 10″ inch speakers.It matters not what type of music you play, you can coax virtually any sound you’re looking for out of this gem. I ran some scales and a few riffs plus a couple of songs with some friends and found screaming overdriven Blues, hard core rock and roll, shred, coax a Telecaster-like “spanky quack”, and also dialed down the the volume & tone knobs just a hair to run some jazz chords and be reminded of Wes Montgomery.

It plays like a dream. And speaking of dream, I had to pinch myself a few times to make sure I was in the present moment and not on some outer-celestial experience.

The best way to describe the playability of the JBD100, is smooth, like a combination of silk and butter. (Yes, that smooth).

You can literally choose anything and everything about your guitar, when you order it.

Scale length: 24.75 inches
Frets: 25 medium-jumbo nickel-silver (4 partial)
Set Mahogany neck with Rosewood or Maple fingerboard
Seymour Duncan (Bridge) / Custom Vintage Vibe (neck)
Hipshot® locking tuning machines
Hipshot Baby Grand® Bridge
Steel pickguard in high-luster chrome finish
Recessed Electrosocket®
All US-made electronics
Two tone metallic paint finish
Pearl dot inlay and pearl side dots
Bone nut
Dual-action truss rod

Those are not your usual standard features. Optional and much more expensive would be the order of the day for other guitar builders.

As for the OPTIONAL FEATURES, you can choose these:
Body woods: Mahogany, Korina, Alder
Neck woods: Mahogany, Maple, Korina
Fingerboard Option: Figured Maple, Ebony
Inlay: Fang inlays and side-markers in Pearl or Ebony
Single- or multi-stage high-quality paint finishes
Hipshot® vibrato
Pickguard Finishes: call for availability
N-Tune® onboard chromatic tuner
G&G® snakeskin custom case
Ultimate Support® GS-100 guitar stand

All in all, the JBD100 may be pricey to some, but if you’re of the ilk that really appreciates perfection in design, sound and quality, you are not, by any means, paying too much for this guitar.

If I were to rank the JBD100 on a scale of 1 to 10, this guitar goes to 11 with a respectful nod to “Spinal Tap”.

Superb playing, great balance and heart stopping good looks is what this guitar and J. Backlund Design guitars are all about.

Purchase one and you’ll have a guitar that’s going to last a very long time and still look retro-futuristic well beyond the 21st century.

Contact J. Backlund Design at 423.643.4999 and be sure to check out all their models at

Jim Swanson

Posted by Jim, filed under Uncategorized. Date: May 16, 2012, 8:51 pm | No Comments »

many thanks to The Blues Blogger
You can check out his site HERE

It was around this time 42 years ago that Muddy Waters started working on his double vinyl release Fathers and Sons… And since today would’ve been Muddy’s 96th birthday, I want to briefly commemorate not only the album, but the man they called “Father of The Chicago Blues” on this special day.

By the time Muddy Waters’ Fathers and Sons was released in the summer of 1969, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, Woodstock took place and I was still entranced with Elizabeth Montgomery’s role as Samantha in Bewitched… On a sadder note, that was the year I lost my grandfather and almost lost my father when he had a heart attack.

Whenever I drift back to those days, I realize just how remarkable those times really were. But because I was so young, it took a while to fully comprehend its meaning and effect on me. I would later discover that through heartache came new found inspiration. The events and music of the time influenced my interest in writing. And it was albums such as Fathers and Sons that helped generate a personal soundtrack to my past. (MORE)

Posted by Jim, filed under Artist Spotlight, News. Date: November 7, 2011, 10:43 pm | No Comments »

A Letter From The Recording Academy

It has come to our attention that satellite broadcaster Sirius/XM is seeking to bypass the standard system of paying royalties. If they are allowed to do so, it will likely result in substantially reduced payments to artists and producers, a lowering of the value of performance royalties, and unnecessary conflict between artists and their labels.

What’s the issue:
Currently, satellite radio pays sound recording performance royalties to the nonprofit collective SoundExchange, which in turn pays 50% to the artists on the recording and 50% to the copyright owner (usually a record label). SoundExchange pays the artists the full 50%, even if the artist has unrecouped royalty balances, and also pays producers their share as directed by the artist. The system has resulted in an important new income stream for creators.

Sirius is now seeking to use the option of direct licensing with certain independent labels instead of using the system created by Congress that ensures fair payment to all parties. Artists should be concerned about direct licensing; 100% of the royalties would be paid to the record label which in turn may pay artists at a lower rate, subject to recoupment. And labels should be concerned as well; the lower rate being offered could have the effect of lowering the value of performance royalties to all parties.

What you can do:
If you are an artist signed to the independent label…
You can call your label today and request that it not direct license your recordings. In the interest of fairness and transparency, your label should continue to license through SoundExchange.

If you own or manage an independent label…
It is in your interest to refrain from direct licensing. While Sirius may be offering positive terms, the long-term effect of accepting a rate lower than the compulsory rate could be to reduce rates overall in the future. Creating downward pressure on the value of music may be good for Sirius/XM, but it’s bad for artists and labels. Please see the following statement from the American Association of Independent Music:

Thank you for considering this important matter to further our goals of ensuring creators are compensated fairly and the value of music is protected.

Kind regards,

Neil Portnow
The Recording Academy

Posted by Jim, filed under Music, News, Special Feature. Date: November 7, 2011, 10:30 pm | No Comments »

posted by Jim Swanson
Blues Boulevard

The Blues Foundation will honor 17 individuals and organizations with its 2012 Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) Award during a recognition brunch Saturday, February 4, 2012, in Memphis, Tennessee. Each year, The Blues Foundation presents the KBA Awards to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to blues music. The KBA ceremony will be held in conjunction with the 28th International Blues Challenge (IBC), which begins January 31 and features the final rounds of the world’s largest and most prestigious blues music competition, as well as seminars, showcases, and receptions for blues societies, fans, and professionals.

The KBAs are awarded on the basis of merit by a select panel of blues professionals to those working to actively promote and document the music.

The 2012 Keeping the Blues Alive Awards recipients are:

Agent: Rodgers Redding – Macon, Georgia
Club: Red’s Lounge – Clarksdale, Mississippi
Education: Dan Treanor – Arvada, Colorado
Festival-US: White Mountain Boogie ‘N Blues Festival – North Thornton, New Hampshire
Festival-International: Rawa Blues Festival – Katowice, Poland
Film, Television and Video: Treme, David Simon and Eric Overmyer, Executive Producers – New Orleans, Louisiana
International: Mike Lecuyer – Saint Michel de Montaigne, France
Journalism: Scott Barretta – Oxford, Mississippi
Literature: Life by Keith Richards – New York, New York
Manager: Toni Ann Mamary – Totowa, New Jersey
Organization: Blues Society of Western New York – Buffalo, New York
Photography: Aigars Lapsa – Riga, Latvia
Print Media: Soul Bag – Clichy, France
Promoter: George Wein -New York, New York
Radio: Commercial: Ted Todd–KKZX-FM – Spokane, Washington
Radio: Public: Harvey Stauffer–WVPE-FM – Elkhart, Indiana
Record Label: Severn Records – Annapolis, Maryland

Tickets to the KBA ceremony are sold only as part of the IBC Big Blue ticket package, available online at or by calling 901.527.2583.

Posted by Jim, filed under Music, News. Date: November 7, 2011, 10:23 pm | No Comments »

by Jim Swanson
Blues Boulevard

Hello, Blueslovers!

It’s been awhile since we last posted, but now things are somewhat straightened out in our lives, so we’re ready to bring you some great podcasts and keep you informed of what’s going on with artists, labels, new releases, concert and club appearances by some of your favorite Blues singers and six string slingers.

Let’s start off with a little BLUES NEWS:

2011 Blues Blast Music Award Winners

This year’s winners were announced at the awards ceremonies at Buddy Guy’s Legends, Chicago on October 27. Winners were chosen by more than 6,500 Blues Blast Magazine readers voting online.

Contemporary Blues CD
Buddy Guy – Living Proof

Traditional Blues CD
Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith – Joined At The Hip

Song Of The Year
Living Proof – Tom Hambridge & Buddy Guy

New Artist Debut Release
Chris O’Leary Band – Mr. Used to Be

Female Blues Artist
Robin Rogers

Male Blues Artist
Buddy Guy

Blues Band Of The Year
Trampled Under Foot

Sean Costello Rising Star Award
Trampled Under Foot


Posted by Jim, filed under Music, Music Video, News, Special Feature. Date: November 7, 2011, 10:13 pm | No Comments »

by Jim Swanson
Blues Boulevard

We’d like you to know that Blues Boulevard will be back very soon with new podcasts, interviews, Blues news, video and much more!

We’ve had to spend quite a bit of downtime with health matters and computer issues. But hopefully all of those things have now been resolved and we can get back to the business at hand…LOVING THE BLUES!

So please keep checking back or get on our email list so we can let you know when an interview or a new podcast is added to the site.

Simply send us an email HERE and put “subscribe” in the subject line.

We promise we will never sell or give your email address to ANYONE!

Hope to hear from you soon!

Keepin’ it blues,

Posted by Jim, filed under Blues News. Date: May 18, 2011, 11:40 am | No Comments »

from You Tube

One of the all-time greats of the Blues.
T-Bone Walker and the iconic “Stormy Monday“.

Fast Tube

Fast Tube by Casper

Posted by Jim, filed under Artist Spotlight, Music Video. Date: February 28, 2011, 9:53 pm | No Comments »

from The Blues Blogger

Be sure to check out The Blues Blogger website and subscribe to their news letter HERE.

Fast Tube

Fast Tube by Casper

Early Sunday Morning

The alarm accidentally went off at 5:00 am, the same time it usually does every weekday morning. Reaching quickly to stop the shrilling sound, I felt a cool sense of ease knowing I didn’t have to get up if I didn’t want to. Of course Lucille, my golden retriever was now sitting beside the bed panting and looking at me with that hopeful gaze. She had different ideas, and preferred I didn’t sleep in on my birthday.

Getting up, I carefully shut the bedroom door trying not to wake my wife TBBW. I went outside onto the deck and collected my thoughts. It was still too early for some of the projects that needed to be done, and the cool summer breeze wasn’t going to last too long today… So I loaded some tunes on my MP3 player from two of Carolyn Wonderland’s CD’s; Miss Understood from 2008 and an earlier one entitled Bloodless Revolution. I grabbed Lucille’s leash and we headed out on our morning jaunt. (more)

Posted by Jim, filed under Artist Spotlight, Music Video. Date: August 16, 2010, 1:23 pm | No Comments »

from an email from
TV Jones

All of the TV Jones guitars and pickups that were displayed at the Musikmesse trade show in Franfurt, Germany were stolen after the show Saturday March 27, 2010.

When our transport company arrived to stand J40 in hall 4.0, the stand was completely empty. Many of the items are one-of-a-kind prototypes and would be easy to identify. Here is a partial list of the stolen items:

-Model 10 Prototype in tobacco sunburst w/P90 pickups
-Model 10 Prototype in natural toffee w/ T-Armond pickups
in P90 mount
-Model 10 in Ice Blue w/single bridge pickup
-Model 10 in Crimson Red w/single bridge pickup
-Model 10 in BLACK w/ 2 pickups

We are asking all of our friends to spread the word far and wide via blogs, forums, any means possible. In the hope that we can retrieve these rare stolen instruments.

Click here to see a full list and photos of all the stolen gear.

Posted by Jim, filed under News. Date: April 11, 2010, 12:39 pm | No Comments »

by Jim Swanson
Blues Boulevard

Have a listen to a sampling of Joe Bonamassa’s New CD “Black Rock” below. Song Clip Order is as follows: “”Steal Your Heart Away“, “I Know A Place“, “Quarryman’s Lament“, “Three Times A Fool“, “Night Life” (with B.B. King), “Blue and Evil“.

Aside from being one of the nicest, most approachable and caring musicians in today’s music world, guitarist extraordinaire, Joe Bonamassa continues his growth in creativity and pushing the envelope for his fans.

His latest CD release is “Black Rock”, an eclectic album of Blues/Rock recorded at Black Rock Studios (hence the CD’s title) on a tiny island about 200 miles Southeast of Athina, Greece. But don’t let the word eclectic scare you away.

Utilizing Greek musical instruments as well as Greek musicians, Joe pulls off every single cut with loud reckless abandon but very a organized sound.

Teamed once again with Producer Kevin Shirley, Bonamassa stretches both his creativity in his writing (five of the songs are penned by Joe) and his six string prowess to deliver a set that, from beginning to end, stands out as one of the finest albums of the year in any genre.

Plenty of Joe’s brand of Blues and Blues/Rock are there with the Otis Rush classic Three Times a Fool”; “Night Life”, where he shares both vocals and guitar licks with old pal and living legend, B.B. King; and Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On A Wire”, where Bonamassa makes this classic song his very own. He also winds up owning Jeff Beck’s “Spanish Boots” as well as John Hiatt’s I Know A Place”.

Bonamassa is also one of the last true artists who put together “an album”. Not just four or five songs that could be singles followed by several “filler songs” just to make the CD length worth the price.

His philosophy on making “albums” was explained to me by Joe during a September 2009 interview I conducted for Blues Boulevard:

“I’m really not a huge fan of listening to a CD that’s kind of put together with maybe three or four really good song and a bunch of filler”, states Joe. “I like to challenge the audience. There’s plenty of room on a CD for a little experimentation and a little self-reflection. (i.e. “Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter” from “The Ballad of John Henry”) If people don’t dig that particular track, I think there’s enough other good tracks that they can latch on to. And that’s always how I’ve made my records. There’s always a track that’s a little bit outside the box for them, but ultimately you kind of swing for the fences. Sometimes you hit a home run and sometimes you say ‘Uh, we shouldn’t have put that on there.'”

Every cut belongs on this album that flows incredibly well. Fans of Joe’s, as well as new listeners of Bonamassa’s music would do themselves a favor by sitting down and listening to this set from beginning to end. As for sequencing the songs to be entertaining, Joe told me in that same interview that,

“We recorded “The Ballad of John Henry” (title song from his previous album) first, to set the tone for the record. We didn’t just pull songs out of a hat. Hey, ya know what? I don’t care how they listen to it just as long as they dig it. But if I had my choice, I’d prefer they listened to it in the order of which we intended.”

The opening track shows what Bonamassa is about. He hits you first with the Bobby Parker penned Steal Your Heart Away”, an in-your-face powerhouse tune that, as Joe mentioned, sets the tone for the album.

Later on in the set “Quarryman’s Lament”, one of the five Bonamassa written songs, shows off Joe’s creativity as the song opens with Greek musician Thanasis Vasilopoulos on the nei, a Greek flute-like instrument that is quite reminiscent of Ian Anderson’s (Jethro Tull) playing.

The album’s ebb and flow hits hard with another Bonamassa written song “Blue and Evil” as the opening has Joe on acoustic guitar trading licks with Manolis Karadinis playing bouzouki (think mandolin or Indian instrument sarod), before that traded lick changes to Joe’s trademark Les Paul sound as all hell breaks loose. You can almost visualize Bonamassa playing and sing standing at the gates of Hell with an invitation to “come on in”.

Ending the CD and setting you down easy is a great, joyous and lilting cover of Blind Boy Fuller’s “Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind”.

As for the other musicians on the set, the usual suspects (Joe’s touring band) lend incredible creative cohesion. Carmine Rojas on Bass, Rick Melick on keyboards and Bogie Bowles on drums with appearances by “Late Night with David Letterman” and session ace drummer Anton Fig and, of course, B.B. King.

A strong suggestion for any listener who purchases a copy of “Black Rock” is to buy TWO copies. I guarantee that when you lend one out to a friend, you’ll never see it again.

Jim Swanson is a guitarist and 22 year veteran of radio.

Posted by Jim, filed under Artist Spotlight, CD Review, Music. Date: March 31, 2010, 9:21 am | No Comments »

The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. – The mystery surrounding bluesman Robert Johnson’s life and death feeds the lingering fascination with his work.

There’s the myth he sold his soul to the devil to create his haunting guitar intonations. There’s the dispute over where he died after his alleged poisoning by a jealous man in 1938. Three different markers claim to be the site of his demise.

His birthplace, however, has been verified. The seminal bluesman came into the world in 1911 in a well-crafted home built by his stepfather in the Mississippi town of Hazlehurst.

Now, 71 years after his death, local officials want to restore the home in hopes of drawing Johnson fans and their tourism dollars to Copiah County, about 100 miles from the Delta region that most bluesmen called home.

Johnson’s life and music have been the subject of multiple books. And producers are shopping a script in Hollywood about him penned by Jimmy White, the screenwriter for the Academy Award-winning film, “Ray.”

“It’s amazing that after all these years, people still talk about Robert Johnson on the level that they do,” said the bluesman’s grandson, Steven Johnson.

Johnson’s influence can be heard in the works of numerous artists, from Muddy Waters to Eric Clapton, who covered 14 of the bluesman’s songs on his 2004 album, “Me and Mr. Johnson.” (more)

Posted by Jim, filed under Blues News. Date: November 12, 2009, 7:19 pm | No Comments »

by Jim
Blues Boulevard

Welcome to the brand new website for Blues podcasts, BLUES BOULEVARD!

To launch our new website, our first podcast is a very special audio documentary on Blues-Rock guitarist, singer and songwriter, Joe Bonamassa.

Joe was kind enough this past summer to lend some time to have a talk with us about his life and music, which to us sounds “so far, so good”.

Below you can hear the special presentation as part one. Then part two is the uninterrupted interview with Joe.

Thanks for checking us out and be sure to stop by often. Also…if you’d like to subscribe to  Blues Boulevard’s email list and get a reminder when new programs are posted, just e-mail HERE and put “Subscribe” in the subject line!

Be sure to click the mp3 player twice..slowly.

Player #1 (below) – “Joe Bonamassa – So Far, So Good” (audio documentary)
Player #2 – Joe Bonamassa interview (interview only)

Be sure to check out Joe’s website at

Eric Clapton & Joe Bonamassa at Royal Albert Hall - May 2009

Eric Clapton & Joe Bonamassa at Royal Albert Hall - May 2009

Posted by Jim, filed under Artist Spotlight, Audio documentary, Interview, Music Special, Podcast. Date: October 13, 2009, 12:24 pm | No Comments »