Monday, March 19, 2012


Tuesday, August 9, 2011


“Big Dog” with Big Heart to release second CD on Electro Glide Records

On Saturday, September 10th 2011, at Heroes West at 1530 Commerce Lane, Joliet, IL 60431
eroes WestBlues artist Marty “Big Dog” Mercer will be celebrating the release of his latest cd titled “Big Dog Mercer” The event is open to the public and starts at 9:30pm with a performance including original music from the CD.  There is a $5.00 admission. There will also be special musical guests, raffles, etc.

Mercer has been playing guitar for over 20 years and has been a part of the Chicago Blues Scene for more than 10. In October 2010 he was signed by Electro Glide records, and has recently put the finishing touches on his latest album. With his passion for the blues and his experience with a variety of musical styles he has taken the true spirit of this time-honored tradition and put his own unique spin on it.  Among his many musical achievements to date Mercer was awarded the “Best Blues Band” in SuburbaNite magazine’s “Best of the Burbs” Contest (2011), placed second in the Muddy Waters Chicago Blues Slide Guitar Contest (2010) and has been crowned Joliet’s “King of the Blues” from the area’s Guitar Center. (2007)

In addition to his musical achievements the “Big Dog” is also known for having a big heart. The Joliet resident has consistently lent his time and talent to several charitable organizations including Big brothers/Big Sisters Foundation, Guardian Angel Home, Heal with Love Foundation, and several area Animal shelters.”Whenever we can, we do our part in giving back to the community that has been so supportive to us over the years. I like to say if it weren’t for people like you, there would be no need for people like me. And I mean that”.

The CD boasts 10 original songs. The music demonstrates Mercer’s depth in a variety of genres, such as Blues, Rock, Gospel and Jazz, combined with soulful vocals that sometimes growl, aggressive slide playing and heartfelt string bends creating a truly unique experience with a sound unlike that of any other bluesman around. “I’ve been infatuated with music all my life - I got my first guitar when I was 17 and I learned that I had to work at it. I practice every day with the goal of becoming a better musician and a better person each and everyday.” Mercer said.

A mainstay in the Chicago Suburban music scene, Mercer has performed with Kim Wilson and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Billy Branch, L.V. Banks, Lonnie Brooks, Larry McCray, Chris Beard, Ronnie Baker Brooks , Mud Morganfield (Muddy Waters Jr.) and Eddie C Campbell. Mercer also supports local charities by donating his talent to fundraisers & benefits.

The CD will be available at, digital download media sites, and at Big Dog’s performances.

For more about Big Dog Mercer, a schedule of performances or booking information please visit

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mavis should be one of your musical staples

Mavis Staples
You Are Not Alone
(Anti-, 2010)
by Steve “Fly” Klein

Chicagoan Mavis Staples started singing as a teenager with her family’s group, The Staple Singers in 1950. After success with the group, she began a solo career in the 1980s. Her father was the legendary Roebuck “Pops” Staples who was born in Mississippi in 1914 and played with such legends as Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, and Son House.

While Mavis Staples and her latest touring band have been performing regularly for 3 years, this is their first studio album together. The band breathes with Staples’ performance and producer, Jeff Tweedy (of the band Wilco) is wise enough to understand that relationship. Mavis' voice is mixed up front and center on this CD.

The musicians are Rick Holmstrom (or “Pops Jr.” as Staples has called him, guitar and vocals), Jeff Turmes (bass and vocals), Stephen Hodges (drums) and Donny Gerrard (background vocals.) Additional background vocals are by Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor (frequent Neko Case collaborators) and Richard Parenti. Tweedy and members of Wilco make appearances on some cuts.

The first number sets the tone with Pops Staples’ "Don't Knock." Holmstrom has the chops and the tremolo drenched sound of Pops, yet he expands that style and drives this gospel song into one of the best on the CD. Mavis’ smooth vocal is punchy and gravelly at the right times and glides over the accompaniment with power and grace.

“You Are Not Alone” is the first of two songs written by Tweedy on the album. It features additional instruments by Tweedy on acoustic guitar and Wilco members, Patrick Sansone, keys and vibes, and Mark Greenberg on celeste. This song serves as a good contrast to the first, as it presents a contemporary vibe with its pop hook.

The traditional “Creep Along Moses” is a Tweedy-arranged gospel classic that features warm harmonies and Holmstrom's weaponized guitar lead. Another standout is “Wonderful Savior” done a ccapella. Surprisingly the lead vocal was recorded by Staples in the unheated stairwell at Wilco’s Loft Studio in cap, gloves, and coat during the middle of December.

Closing out is “Too Close”/”On My Way To Heaven.” Gerrard does a powerful job singing “Too Close” while Staples is raw, raise-the-roof preachin’ on “On My Way To Heaven.” Holmstrom lays down some impressive, twangy riffs that feel as if John Lee Hooker is testifying alongside the vocalists.

Staples adds her special touch to covers by Little Milton (“We’re Gonna Make It”), Reverend Gary Davis (“I Belong To The Band”), Allen Toussaint (“Last Train”), John Fogerty (“Wrote A Song For Everyone”) and Randy Newman (“Losing You”).

On You Are Not Alone Mavis Staples is sounding better than ever. Of the many collaborators Staples has worked with over the years, Jeff Tweedy's role as producer has proven to be the catalyst in creating one of her best solo albums to date.

Originally published in Chicago Blues Guide,

Staples performing at Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Chicago, August 6, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

DANNY BARON "Rocking Blues Man'

Danny Baron hails from the south-side of Chicago and now resides in a far north-west Chicago suburb.  He is self taught guitarist, songwriter and vocalist that has toured and or worked with some top name national and regional talent. Top name talent you ask? How about Brian Wilson, yes that Brian of the "Beach Boys". He did one tour with Mr. Wilson. He also played and recorded with Chicago radio hosts Steve Dahl, Donny Bonaduce and Kevin Matthews.

In my capacity as a pseudo journalist and a die hard to my grave blues fan, I see and hear a lot of blues rockers. I can honestly say Danny is one of the best. He has it all, song writing, vocals, stage presence and oh, by the way this guy can play a guitar. I mean really play a guitar. He can go toe to toe with Joe B., Eric C, Jimi and dare I say it,,,,,,the "Guitar God Stevie Ray" Amen brother and hallelujah be his name. (No disrespect)  

I first heard/saw Danny perform at an Electro Glide Records showcase. Within that first millisecond of sound, he exploded. I was riveted to his pure emotional filled performance. Some of the pickers get it and some don't; If you can't feel the music why do it? 
Danny feels it, uses it, chews it up and spits it out. His song "Jealously"on his self produced CD "Danny and The Devils" is exactly what I am referring to. It's like he is in a trance and all those great guitarists before him are manipulating his fingers. Almost ZEN Like.

There are far too many talented musicians whom never get the recognition they deserve.  I refuse to let this talented man be one. There is nothing to stop him on his journey to the top. He has it, no doubt in my head. 
One special note;  Danny is a real straight shooter and all around great person. In other words he's not a jerk. 
Danny's CD

November 16, 2010 at 11:30 am to 2:00pm. Danny will be playing live in WEFT studios. "Daves Blues Show" That night he will be playing in Pekin , Illinois at "Goodfella's" for The River Blues Society.  Facebook him @ Danny Baron

Blues Me Or Lose Me,
Terry Lape Aka "Gatorman"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

80 Miles south of Chicago with Ana Popovic

80 Miles south of Chicago with Ana Popovic

I have been fortunate enough to see Ana Popovic perform in a small venue located in Bradley, Illinois. It was then and still is struggling to survive. The club contains two main bars, one in the front and one in the back. The back bar is where they have live music and that area seats about 75 people.

I first heard of Ana in Vintage Guitar magazine. My friend Ricky directed me to the article. Rocking Rick, as I call him, is a walking encyclopedia of musical trivia. Ricky served as “Question Mark and the Mysterions” road manager for three years (96 Tears). When Rick tells me about an artist I have a tendency to listen. The man knows what he’s talking about and I thank him for leading me to Ana.

I walked into that Bradley club and paid the $5 cover. You are reading that correctly 5 bucks. The stage was set with all the equipment and the blues were pounding through the sound system. The show was sponsored by a local blues organization called “The Friends of The Blues”. The only requirement for membership is to attend the gigs. Kind of a loose knit bunch of blues fanatics very weird, but fun. They book bands that are in between gigs. They offer the visiting groups food and lodging and some spending money.

Ana’s band opened up with a couple of numbers. They were quite good. Then it was Ana’s turn. You know how a picture sometimes does not capture the essence of its subject. I had seen her photo in Vintage guitar magazine, but was not prepared for the person. Ana is HOT!!!!!!!!!!

Every head in the club turned and every eye fixated on her pure beauty. She slowly walked from the back of the room towards the front like a Queen. She climbed the four steps that led up to the stage as if she was Queen Cleopatra and Queen for the night she was. Over her shoulder carried a royal scepter. It was her Fender Stratocaster. She carried that guitar like a mother carries a newborn child. She hooked it up counted 1,,2,,3,,4,, and she took us into a steamy den of iniquity. She caressed that strat with such pure innocent sexuality that half, no three quarters, of our jaws dropped. I overheard one woman tell her boyfriend that all the men in the place wanted to make love to her and some of the women too. At that point in time every mothers son was love smitten. Her love flowed through the crowd like fog rolls into a seaside town and we breathed deep, very deep. You know the old adage if you look up a certain word you will find a picture of someone next to it. Go ahead and look up the word sexuality Ana Popovic's picture is next to it. She handles a guitar like an exotic dancer handles a pole. I wish I could be her Stratocaster for just one gig.

Once you get past her unusual beauty and extreme sexuality, you find a very accomplished talented guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, a woman after my own heart. Her musicality is way beyond most current artists. In short she has SOUL and knows how to use it. Her playing comes from a much deeper place then few have ever been.

She was raised in war torn Serbia and lived there during the horrid years of the Milosovic regime (1990-1996). Milosovic was a tyrants’ tyrant. He was directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. Can you imagine walking down the street to get basic necessities while snipers try to kill you? Crime was rampant and unemployment was at a record 80%. That is a form of the blues that few people have ever experienced.

Out of tragedy comes goodness and that goodness is Ana Popovic. She is a blues angel sent to us from a very special place and no one can deny her right to play the blues. Thank you Ana , thank you.

I have to admit I am in love with Ana and I would gladly string her guitar anytime, anywhere, any place.

Terrance “Gatorman” Lape
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Del Morroco II", just another Sunday evening In Chicago.

Del Morroco II Sunday in THE City of Chicago

Not actual DM II, but similar. 
During the years 1980-1982, I played at a club called Del Morocco II. it was every Sunday from 6pm until 12am The joint was actually located on the corner (crossroads) of Lake and Halsted in an industrial area of Chicago. Smilin Bobby was gracious enough to let me sit in, as long as I bought my P.A. speakers. Bob would bring his mixing board. I do not recall what it was. I also lugged along a Pioneer Reel to reel tape recorder and a stereo microphone. 

This one particular Sunday I took my wife, her work supervisor Bill, his two sisters and another friend. We met at a restaurant in Oak Park, grabbed a bite to eat, and off we went in two separate cars.

I arrived about 5 minutes before the others. I drove the Dan Ryan expressway north and exited at Lake Street. You had to go up a slight rise that traveled back over the Ryan. I stopped at a stoplight at the end of the exit ramp and gazed slowly over my left shoulder towards the club Del Morocco. I saw a bunch of flashing lights as if someone had been pulled over by Chicago's finest. (Police) I drove very slowly up to the club and parked. There were about 12 squad cars and emergency vehicles located in front and behind the DEL. The front door was at a right angle to that corner. On the sidewalk was an unmarked squad car. Its front lights shone on the front door.

I looked on the side of the building and there was Jeff's 1976 Caddy with all the doors, trunk and hood open. In the trunk was Jeff's brand new Slingerland Drum kit.

I parked, grabbed my guitar, my small amp and headed towards the front door. Standing there was a big burly patrolman.

In a very matter of fact voice he asked, “What the hell are you doing here”.

I just looked him square in the eyes and said the ultimate statement,

“I'm with the band’.

“Wait a minute partner. Stop right there”.

He looked inside and inquired, “Hey Charlie you want to come here”.

Charlie was from the homicide division and was a short little guy who was smoking a cigar; a stogy cigar and it reeked. I was now face to face staring at two officers of the law.

The patrolman asked Charlie, “What should we do with him?” whilst pointing at me with an outstretched thumb.

The detective said biting down on that cigar “

“Let him in he's the wrong color.”

The patrolman waved his arms, as a matador would taunt a bull with a bright red cape. I walked through the doorway and past the open door. Spread eagle, against the bar was every black man that had the misfortune of being in the club that night. There were about two dozen guys being frisked, At the end of the b

ar were the guys in the band, drummer Jeff, bass man Hicks, Sax man Bill and of course Smiling Bobby. They arrested Jeff and impounded his car, because he had some wacky tabacky. I believe the car was a1976 Caddy. I asked the detective if we could get the drums out of his trunk and he snapped back they stay they're evidence.

What caused the commotion was a murder just two doors down and in the back alley. It seems a fight broke out during a drug deal that went south. (bad) This one guy pulls a knife and stabs the drug dealer to death. The only lead the police had was that someone saw a black man exit the alley.

The cops knew about the bar because it was the only one around and they knew it was a predominantly black club. It was the first place they looked.

I looked at Bob and he was smiling like nothing happened.

I asked him, “Hey Bob. We still Playing?”

The band in unison shouted, “NO”.

I walked out the door just as the other car pulled up.

Bill with all sincerity stated the obvious, “Somebody Die?”

My wife got out of his car and jumped in mine and I replied back,

“Yes, as a matter of fact someone did.”

(The story above has been embellished for entertainment purposes only)
Terrance "Gatorman" Lape Copyright by Terrance B. Lape
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Billy Branch's Birthday party was last night. I'm posting two previous articles about the experience of attending Artis' lounge on a Monday night. All I can say is "BLUES ME OR LOSE ME" and last night I closed the place.