The Blues Broads

Four of the Greatest Female Blues Artists Join Forces on Stage as "The Blues Broads”

Reviews & Articles

Chip Eagle | Oct 18, 2012
Blues Broads
Delta Groove
BluesWax Rating: 10 out of 10
A Perfect Debut

The Blues Broads self-titled debut CD, recorded in November 2011 at the Throckmorton Theatre in Marin County, California, finds these gals in fine form, rollicking and frolicking, seeming to be having a good ‘ol time, as they mix and match on lead and backing vocals.
Tracy Nelson and Angela Strehli share the lead on the upbeat opener, “Livin’ the Blues,” a feelin’ bad, don’t wanna feel better blues number. This leads to visiting “the funkiest bar on the funkiest street” –  drinking doubles, while repeatedly playing the saddest song on the jukebox. Like many blues songs, the lyrics on this one belie the party atmosphere. Deanna Bogart andMike Emerson join the fun on keyboards.
Strehli again shares the vocals with Nelson on “Blue Highway,” a drawly, loping tune about the tough life on the road where, Strehli sings, “from New York City to New Orleans, can’t tell you all of the things I’ve seen, from the Jack of Diamonds to the voodoo man, from Muddy Waters to Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland,” giving the listener a tempting peek into her world.. Guitarist Gary Vogensen takes her out, riding off into the sunset.
Strehli, raised in Texas, takes a solo on “a true story,” she says, with her original, “Two Bit Texas Town,” about first hearing the classic blues greats, “back when radio could turn your life around” and how that “made us want to learn what they weren’t teaching in school.” “It scared me death,” she sings, before closing with a polite howl.
Nelson recorded her first album with Charlie Musselwhite in Chicago, in the mid-1960s, before moving on to the band Mother Earth in California, then relocating to Nashville, where she received two Grammy nominations. Here, she shows her voice has lost nothing, with a slow blues about the heartache and pain of a three-way love affair. “Day after day is getting so hard to bear,” she sings, and even crying doesn’t help, but the listener will enjoy her emotive phrasings, underscored by the work of  Vogensen and Emerson. Steve Ehrmann and Paul Revellicomplete the lineup on bass and drums respectively.
Deanna Bogart, an Honorary Broad,  is dominant on  boogie-woogie piano and vocals, as the ladies rock out on the frenetic “It Won’t Be Long,” about a woman who refers to herself as “a lonesome hen,” and is waiting at the railroad tracks for the arrival of her man on the 5:03.
Annie Sampson’s man is “out there having too much fun” without her, on the retro-soul number “Bring Me Your Love.” Her background includes playing one of the leads in the original San Francisco production of Hair, and co-founding the band Stoneground.  Dorothy Morrison leads on a track in a similar musical vein, this time about the ongoing search for a “Mighty Love.”
Morrison, lead singer on the Edwin Hawkins Singers recording, “Oh Happy Day,” the biggest selling gospel song ever, reprises that for this CD’s finale.
There’s not a weak link in this chain of songs. A powerful Sampson solo on Bob Dylan’s chillingly apocalyptic, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” with outstanding saxophone work by Bogart, is unfortunately available on the included DVD only.
Robert Feuer is a contributing writer at BluesWax and Blues Revue.
Texas Platters
The Blues BroadsBlue JBeautiful Light, and Ten Foot Twins
Texas Platters
Any grass growing under ex-Austinite Angela Strehli’s feet gets stomped the moment she opens her mouth to sing. And in the company of Dorothy Morrison, Tracy Nelson, and Annie Sampson, the four Blues Broads are an army of powerhouse voices. The quartet’s lifted up to heaven (“Oh, Happy Day,” “Mighty Love”) and anywhere else within earshot (“Two Bit Texas Town,” “River Deep Mountain High”) on its self-titled CD/DVD package. With Emmy-winning director John Korty at the helm, the visuals are as righteous as the harmonies. The brassy sound of the Jackie Myers Band on Ten Foot Twins relies on Memphis-style funk for some of its touchstones (“Bad Bad Things,” “Too Close”), but there’s more here than simple retro love. Myers has a good ear, bringing in Ephraim Owens on trumpet as the songs take right turns with a jazzier edge. Thankfully, she avoids breathy jazz vocals, using instead her earthy lungs (“Pushin’ It,” “All She Wrote”). The four-song sampler Bree Bruns released last year teased us into thinking she resides in jazz. Nyet! Fronting the eponymous Blue J, the local songbird brought new originals by producer Josh Espinoza to the table, 10 tasty treats from bossa nova (“Never Fade Away”) to Latin dance numbers (“I Want To Take You There”) and snappy high-hat instrumentals (“Austin Renaissance”). Tonya Tyner‘s Beautiful Light rose quietly this year, bright country rock balanced with spiritually thoughtful lyrics (“Mariana”) and the fine hand of Stephen Doster producing. Tyner’s lengthy history on the West Coast brings a natural, Southern California familiarity to her melodies (“Get On Out,” “I Keep Trying”), wrapped as they are around story-songs of a life that steers her in unexpected directions (“On Your Wall”). Offhand good humor (“Uh Huh”) keeps the de rigueur introspection from slowing the album’s pace and delivers the right punch when needed.
By Michelle Gomes
What do you get when you put four incredibly talented women together (collectively comprising over two centuries of experience in music), add an award-winning vocalist/keyboard/sax player and a backup band of equal abilities and histories? The result is the Bay Area-based supergroup known as The Blues Broads.
The Blues Broads are vocalists Angela Strehli, Tracy Nelson, Annie Sampson, and Dorothy Morrison. They are joined, whenever possible, by Deanna Bogart, whose skill on keyboards, saxophone, and vocals makes her an “Honorary Broad.” The band features Petaluma native Gary Vogensen on guitar (Boz Scaggs, Etta James), Bay Area local Steve Ehrmann on bass (John Lee Hooker, Roy Rogers), S.F. Bay’s Paul Revelli on drums (Charlie Musselwhite, Bo Diddley), and the North Bay’s Mike Emerson on a second keyboard. Each of these nine fantastic players have had careers most musicians would die for, playing with legends from Charlie Musselwhite and B.B. King to Boz ScaggsSammy Hagar and even Simon & Garfunkel. This powerhouse of talent combines to become something even more than the sum of its parts.

The histories of The Blues Broads tell a story of the evolution of rock & roll, its roots in blues and gospel, weaving through San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury music scene, picking up bits and pieces in Austin, Chicago, Nashville, and many places in-between. Having recently been introduced to the band, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to their CD/DVD release party at Mill Valley’s 
Throckmorton Theatre on Sept. 20. What I got was easily one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. It was definitely the most fun I’ve had at a live show in… I don’t even know how long! If their stories aren’t enough to convince you to get to know them, check out the video clips below and let your ears make up your mind for you. Then head to a show near you! (Santa Rosa on 10/12 and San Francisco on 10/15 – details below!)
Don’t let the name fool you, though. These ladies don’t sing only the blues. They come from different backgrounds, each lending a bit of her own style and influences to the band. In a recent interview with Angela Strehli, I asked her about the group and their music.
“We obviously don’t do just blues,” she told me.  “I–probably of the four people–do the most blues usually, but we all love all kinds of ‘roots music.’ Each of us has a different style of singing. We get to show off our choice of what we want to represent ourselves. But then we get to work with each and every one of the singers in different ways, backing each other up, and so forth. So it’s not just us singing together all the time, or just one person singing. It’s different combinations, and it makes it fun and exciting! We’re really sort of loose and, I think, really genuine on stage. It gets to people because we are having a great time!”Angela continued her thoughts on the individuals who make up The Blues Broads: “Tracy Nelson had a really popular band here in the Bay Area during the ’60s called Mother Earth, but she’s done everything from folk to blues to rhythm & blues, and has had a long career in music. And she’s just an astounding vocalist!” Tracy recorded her first album in 1964, hiring Charlie Musselwhite to play harmonica. He took her to the South Side clubs of Chicago, introducing her to other iconic bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. In 1966, she moved to San Francisco, where she founded Mother Earthsharing the stage with the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix, and becoming one of the era’s greatest female vocalists. It was here that Tracy wrote her signature song, “Down So Low,” which has since been recorded by Etta James, Linda Ronstadt, and Cyndi Lauper, among others. After relocating to Nashville in the late ’60s, she received her first Grammy nomination for “After the Fire Is Gone,” a hit duet with Willie Nelson (no relation to Tracy, although he has said they just might be “the illegitimate children of Ozzie and Harriet”!)

“Annie Sampson was a long-time friend of my husband’s family,” said Angela. “She had the great rock & roll band, Stoneground,” whose members included Cory Lerios, Steve Price,and David Jenkins (who all went on to become Pablo Cruise).  In the late ’60s, Annie was in the San Francisco stage production of the musical Hair, “so she brings those influences. She does a Bob Dylan song that gets standing ovations routinely. It just kills–you never can tell what we’re gonna come up with! So there’s Annie’s influence. Everybody’s really strong–I would consider myself the least strong of all of the vocals….” Annie has recorded with the likes of Elvin Bishop, Taj Mahal, Buddy Miles, Maria Muldaur, Eddie Money, and Country Joe McDonald. On stage, she has performed with local legends Bonnie Raitt, Journey, Boz Scaggs, Sammy Hagar and Jerry Garcia, among others.

“Dorothy just has the biggest voice, and the biggest personality,” Angela said. “She does a Tina Turner song, a Spinners song. We end our show with ‘Oh Happy Day,’ which Dorothy Morrison made famous across the world! [That song, recorded by Dorothy with the Edwin Hawkins Singers, became the all-time best-selling gospel recording.] She wrote the verse on what was a traditional song, at least the chorus was, and she never got credit for writing the only verses that there are; we are just thrilled for her to get that credit. She’s just an irresistible presence on stage, and all her songs are outstanding!” Dorothy has been a force in gospel since the late 1960s, and she is very prominent in East Bay church circles as “Sister Pastor” with her brother, Rev. Bill Combs, at their late father’s Green Pastures Church in North Richmond. She, her brother, and nephew Levi Seacar, Jr. (onetime Prince guitarist) recently formed a band that mixes gospel and secular material. She has also worked with Van MorrisonBoz Scaggs, and Rita Coolidge; and she’s heard on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” “We were just fooling around, doing an occasional gig at Ranch Nicasio,” added Angela, “but when Dorothy joined up, we just melded musically and personally, and we got a little more serious.”

As for Angela herself, she has quite a story, too. Born to a musical family in Lubbock, Texas, it wasn’t until she moved to Austin that her illustrious career in music began. She met up with legendary promoter Clifford Antone and became an instrumental part of making Antone’s Nightclub the blues mecca it is today. During her time at Antone’s, Angela started in the back office, booking acts, running the sound board, and doing whatever else was needed. She was mentored and encouraged to get out on stage by Muddy Waters and B.B. King, going on to support emerging artist Stevie Ray Vaughan, and helping him to find his own voice. Eventually she became one of Austin’s most highly regarded female vocalists and has been called the “First Lady of Texas Blues.” Antone’s, with the indispensable help of Angela herself, is undeniably a major reason that Austin, Texas, is considered “The Live Music Capitol of the World.” She has been spreading her roots and sharing her Texas influences with the Bay Area since the early ’90s, when she moved here with her husband Bob Brown (former manager of Huey Lewis & the News). Settling in the tiny village of Nicasio, they now own and operate historic Rancho Nicasio, a little musical oasis right in the center of Marin County.

And then there is Deanna Bogart… “She is an incredible artist in every way,” Angela said, “completely well-rounded–singing, playing, writing, arranging–all of that stuff. She has so much to offer! So whenever she wants to be with us and we can get her here, that’s it, she’s on! She can’t always join us, being based out of Baltimore. Of course, this run of gigs is very important, being our CD/DVD release and everything, so we are thrilled that Deanna can be with us. She’s another one who could just take over the stage at any given moment! It’s wonderful. We just enjoy each other so much; we’re just as entertained as everybody else!” In her own right, Deanna is an award-winning and multi-faceted bandleader, singer, songwriter, producer, pianist, and sax-player. She has developed her own sound, which she has dubbed “blusion”: a combination of boogie-woogie, contemporary blues, country, and jazz. She has played with Jimmy Buffett, The Moody Blues, Paul Reed Smith, B.B. King, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Buddy Guy, James Brown, and Ray Charles. She is an integral part of the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue, along with with Tommy Castro and Magic Dick (founding member of the J. Geils Band).
“We do an a cappella gospel song, ‘Jesus, I’ll Never Forget,’ that was originally done by the Soul Stirrers,” said Angela, “and that’s one of our favorites. For the band to just drop out, and have [only] the vocals–I don’t know, it puts us in a different experience–it makes us have something to offer. We do have our own material in there, of course. That’s something we’re gonna be working on in the future…Annie has a great original song; Tracy and I do, too. So that’s our goal: to try to expand into contributing our own music, as well as covering things. It’s fun to cover things. People in the audience are comfortable when they hear something they are familiar with, so that’s fine for now. It’s a lot of fun for us. But everybody has killer material, and we just get a huge kick out of each other.”When all five of these ladies get together, get ready for a rollicking good time! They cover some of the best songs from blues, gospel, country, and rock, from Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” to Mavis Staples‘ “Respect Yourself” and Jackie Wilson’s “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher.” They also perform their own original songs: Annie Sampson’s “Bring Me Your Love”; Tracy Nelson’s “Livin’ the Blues”; “Two Bit Texas Town” and “Blue Highway” by Angela Strehli and guitarist Gary Vogensen (who also lends his voice to Deanna Bogart’s song, “They Said it Wouldn’t Rain”). These ladies show the younger generation of musicians how it’s done!
Annie’s voice can fill a room all on its own, even without a microphone, as she did during their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Baby Blue,” highlighted by Deanna’s saxophone notes as they traded off riffs. Dorothy’s gospel roots shone through with her soaring voice and animated movements, recalling a great Southern Baptist church service, with the love and joy just too much to contain. As the evening wound to a close, Dorothy belted out the Spinners classic, “Mighty Love,” after which she said, “I have to talk for a minute to catch my breath…We’re Blues Broads, not teenagers!” For their final song, Tracy took over Deanna’s keyboard, giving us one more sample of the power and passion her voice possesses. “Something Is Wrong With My Baby,” the Sam & Dave hit, brought to a close the nearly two-hour feast of music, passion and humor that is The Blues Broads at their best!And then there’s the whole “Broad” terminology. In some circles, it seems, the moniker has garnered a negative connotation, which is unfortunate. It’s really a great word, with a very cool original vibe! Just watch an old Frank Sinatra movie, and you’ll get the right idea… In the meantime, here’s the last bit of my conversation with Angela, including what she had to say on the term.

: It doesn’t mean we do bawdy material. It means that we have experience; we know what we’re doing; we have a sense of humor about it; we’re confident… And because we’re confident, we’re just more playful. We’re not so serious about ourselves, you know… We’re not divas, we’re Broads! We’ve got it, and we know it, and we have fun presenting it, and we’re not too serious about ourselves.I mean, isn’t it better than “chicks”? It just sounds better to say “The Blues Broads”!
BAM: Broads are all good in my book, Angela!
Angela: Thank you! And congratulations that BAM is back in the game! That is so neat! That was something I learned about as soon as I got here… I was actually on a couple of Bammie Awards shows, one with Bonnie Raitt…what a great tradition!
BAM: Thank you, Angela. We look forward to seeing you very soon.

Fri., Oct. 12, 2012 – Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa – tickets and info
Mon., Oct. 15, 2012 – Rrazz Room in San Francisco – tickets and info – ***this is their FIRST S.F. Show!***
Do yourself a favor, and go check them out!
And make sure you pick up a copy of their CD/DVD set here.  (DVD – preview video)
Live at 142 Throckmorton Theater – extended play DVD sampler (13+ mins.)

Sunday September 30th 2012
Review: A Hot Night With the Blues Broads

You don’t get much more authentic than this. Four veteran blues, R&B and gospel artists getting up on stage and doing what they do best, singing like every note is the very essence of life.The Blues Broads are four great ladies of roots music that blend together like they have been performing as a group their whole careers. Tracy Nelson has been performing since the 60’s, starting out in folk-blues, forming the classic band Mother Earth and now recording across a variety of genres. Dorothy Morrison has been singing gospel and R&B since the age of 13 and is best known as the lead vocalist for the Edwin Hawkins Singers on the classic Oh Happy DayAnnie Sampson was a member of the 70’s California rock band Stoneground and has worked with such artists as Taj Mahal, Elvin Bishop and Eddie Money. Angela Strehli is a veteran of the Texas blues and rock scene and is not only a great singer but also an expert on the history of the blues. Finally, honorary member Deanna Bogart plays with the band and joins the group for two songs.The amazing thing about the quartet is that, while each have different backgrounds both geographically and in genre, they come together and blend like a well oiled machine and there is no sense of ego on the stage as each is given their chance out front with the balance of the group taking over the backup work.Picking out highlights from the set is next to impossible. Morrison knocks it out of the park on probably the three best known songs, Ike & Tina’s River Deep, Mountain High, the Spinner’s Mighty Love and her own Oh Happy Day. Nelson shows off her powerful blues voice on Walk Away while Annie Sampson throws it down on Bring Me Your Love and Dylan’s It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (the only song to appear only on the DVD). Angela Strehli blasts probably my favorite on the release, her own Two Bit Texas Town, about learning the blues from the late night radio.The CD and DVD contain the same songs, save for the previously mentioned DVD only track, but in a slightly altered running order. Video quality is good on what appears to be a two or possibly three camera shoot.

For those who love roots music in the form of the blues, R&B and gospel, these four ladies are the real thing and this album is not to be missed.

Tracy Nelson talks about blues, broads
Burns singer releasing new CD this month
4:02 PM, Sep 27, 2012 
Burns resident and nationally recognized blues singer Tracy Nelson goes her own way artistically and this month is releasing a new CD. Photo from
Burns resident and nationally recognized blues singer Tracy Nelson goes her own way artistically and this month is releasing a new CD. Photo from
Written by
Colleen Creamer
The Dickson Herald
Title: Country Music
Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series about Dickson County artists: musicians, craft artisans, painters or songwriters.
Dickson County is home to one of the best blues singers in the country. The gifted, and to many music critics enormously underrated, Tracy Nelson has now lived in Dickson County for decades and is releasing a new CD this month with her buddies The Blues Broads: Nelson, Dorothy Morrison, Angela Strehli and Annie Sampson. The CD is titled “The Blues Broads Live.”
The Blues Broads grew out of casual performances with Strehli and Nelson about a decade ago at Rancho Nicasio, a restaurant and nightclub in the town of Nicasio in Marin County, California.
“It started with me and Angela and then Annie Sampson was doing most of the shows. Annie had a group called Stoneground in the Sixties,” says Nelson. “I think we were both on Warner Brothers. So Angela and me and Annie were kind of the core. Generally these gigs were on Memorial Day weekend, and if Maria (Muldaur) was in town, she’d come and sing with us. Carlene Carter was living up there for a while, so she came in for a few of the gigs. It was just a bunch of girls getting together and jamming together. Then we got the current unit and it because serious.”
For perspective, Dorothy Morrison sang lead vocals on “Oh, Happy Day,” Angela Strehli helped build the Austin, Texas Blues scene and Annie Sampson had recorded with Taj Mahal, Buddy Miles, Eddie Money Bonnie Raitt and Boz Scaggs,
“I mean all of us are good strong singers, so we just get these wonderful harmony things going. It’s so much fun, I can hardly stand it,” Nelson says.
And Nelson has had a lot of fun. In the late Sixties she formed the country/rock band Mother Earth in San Francisco, and the band shared the stage with the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Her fans are loyal and long-term. Her more recent fans happen to just stumble across her in her abject refusal to be pigeonholed. She’s been quoted as saying she’s successfully avoided fame.
“I just did what I wanted to do, realizing that a lot of choices I made would not have necessarily translated into big money,” Nelson says. “Some of the things I was supposed to do, according to managers or record labels, would have made me very unhappy.”
Still, she’s not gone without industry recognition. In 1974, Nelson’s duet with Willie Nelson, “After the Fire is Gone,” was nominated for a Grammy. She was nominated for another in 1998 for her collaboration with singers Irma Thomas and Marcia Ball.
To hear Nelson sing her blues classic “Down so Low,” which she wrote with Mother Earth, is to be drop-kicked into heartbreak, the vibrato in her voice so muscular it’s shocking. She vacillates between Blues and Country, but it’s Blues more than not even though her most recent Country album, “You’ll Never Be a Stranger at My Door,” was released in 2007. Some dub her genre Americana because it embraces not just Blues and Country but also Folk and Roots Music. The Sacramento Bee once dubbed her “The Queen of Americana Music.”
After Linda Ronstadt and Etta James recorded “Down So Low” Nelson was financially set up. She bought a farm in Vanleer and took a hiatus from recording during the 1980’s. She now lives with her boyfriend and producer Mike Dysinger on his family farm in Burns. She and Dysinger made national news when his 1910 house, along with belongings and memorabilia from Nelson’s over-40-year career, went up in flames. The insurance covered a lot but not everything. Nashville countered with a benefit concert that included Delbert McClinton, Steve Cropper, Lee Roy Parnell, Jimmy Hall and Kentucky Thunder.
She thanks the Burns Fire Department for saving her studio and what would become her latest solo CD ironically entitled “Victim of the Blues.”
“They were here in seconds,” Nelson says. “They came in and they said, ‘If there’s one room that we need to concentrate on to save what would it be?’ The room I would have chosen was already totally burned up, and that’s where I had all of my memorabilia. So, we took the studio. The first thanks we put on the new record is to the Burns Fire Department.”
The collaborative album is “a little bit of everything,” says Nelson.
“None of us except Angela are strictly Blues. We do some Gospel; we do a lot of R&B. It’s a pretty broad spectrum,” says Nelson noticing the pun and adds laughing, “That went right by me.”

“The Blues Broads Live,” a wall of sound, is now available through Delta Groove Music.

Review: The Blues Broads – Recorded Live from the Throckmorton Theatre
Posted on: Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012
The Blues Broads – Recorded Live at the Throckmorton Theatre: November 4, 2011
(Delta Groove Music: DGPCD154)
The Blues Broads are Dorothy Morrison, Angela Strehli, Annie Sampson and Tracy Nelson: a quartet of highly experienced and widely acclaimed singers. Dorothy Morrison is a gospel singer, who rose to international renown as the lead singer on the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ hit “Oh, Happy Day”. Angela Strehli was for many years a popular fixture at Antone’s in Austin, Texas. Her collaborations with Lou Ann Barton and Marcia Ball were forerunners of her Blues Broads commitment. Annie Sampson is a rock and gospel singer, who was a lead performer in the original San Francisco production of Hair in the late 1960s. Tracy Nelson began her career in the mid 1960s when she recorded an acoustic blues album with the backing of Charlie Musselwhite.
This recording comprises both a CD and a DVD. The CD contains ten tracks, three of which are original numbers. The compilation shuffles into action with “Livin’ The Blues”, with Tracy Nelson and Annie Sampson on lead vocals. “Bring Me Your Love” is an Annie Sampson/Mike Duke composition and features Sampson and Dorothy Morrison in the forefront. Angela Strehli sings her own composition, the Texas shuffle “Two Bit Texas Town”, which includes a tasty guitar solo from Gary Vogensen. A fine version of “River Deep, Mountain High” is led by Dorothy Morrision before Angela Strehli takes over the mantle on her own “Blue Highway”, a slow shuffle that she wrote with bass guitarist Steve Ehrmann.
Some rippling piano work from honorary Broad, Deanna Bogart, provides a lovely introduction to the upbeat rocker, “It Won’t Be Long”. She also joins in very effectively on the vocals. Tracy Nelson delivers the goods on the slow blues, “Walk Away”, which also features another excellent guitar solo from Gary Vogensen. The medium-paced ballad, “Mighty Love”, puts Dorothy Morrison back in control while lead vocals are shared around on a superb a capella airing of “Jesus, I’ll Never Forget”. The final offering on the CD is a substantially extended version of “Oh, Happy Day”, with Dorothy Morrison demonstrating that she has lost none of her power as she leads the party in grand style.
The DVD comprises those ten tracks plus a bonus rendition of Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over, Baby Blue”, with Annie Sampson on impassioned vocals and Deanna Bogart delivering a splendid solo on tenor sax. The project is a credit to the Blues Broads, who exude talent, experience, professionalism and, very significantly, enjoyment.

By Lionel Ross
CD/DVD Review: The Blues Broads; Dorothy Morrison, Tracy Nelson, Angela Strehli, and Annie Sampson
The Blues Broads (Delta Groove)
 By Devon Wendell
In a world where the blues is dominated by male, six stringing show offs, four reigning queens of blues (Dorothy Morrison, Tracy Nelson, Angela Stehli, and Annie Sampson) have joined forces to celebrate the soulful joy and rich harmonies of not only the blues but also gospel, rock n’ roll, and R&B.
The Blues Broads
Backed by a no-frills, no-nonsense blues band (Steve Ehrmann: bass, Paul Revelli: drums, Gary Vogensen: guitar, and Mike Emerson on keyboards. with special guest Deanna Bogart on vocals and keyboards.), these four legendary ladies perform a live set of originals and covers recorded live at The Throckmorton Theater in Mill Valley California, on November 4th, 2011. The CD also comes with a DVD of the show which includes a few extra highlights.
Tracy Nelson
Former Mother Earth front-woman Tracy Nelson leads the band through the Texas shuffle of “Livin’ The Blues.”  Although Nelson is a more than competent vocalist, her voice is often flat throughout this number; but the backing vocals of Strehli, Morrison, and Sampson make up for this distraction.  Nelson’s vibrato is rich, even, and totally original.
Annie Sampson
Forming member of Stoneground and longtime session giant Annie Sampson performs her original composition “Bring Me Your Love.”  Sampson’s confidence and vocal control make her one of the standout members of the “Broads” from her very first phrase. Sampson brings her unique blend of rock and gospel to this fiery number.
Angeli Strehli
Angela Strehli’s name has been synonymous with Texas blues for decades. She sings about discovering the blues of Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, and Eddie Taylor on the radio and how it transformed her life in her autobiographical song, “Two Bit Texas Town.” The band’s groove here is similar to Koko Taylor’s arrangement of Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” and Strehli’s vocals share some similarities to that of Taylor’s, especially when she growls.
Most of the set consists of covers which are easily the highlights of the album.  Nelson’s greatest vocal performance is on the Anne Peebles’ classic slow blues “Walk Away” which is stunning in its intensity, with a tasty Chicago blues lead guitar solo by Gary Vogensen. What’s more powerful even than the lead vocals are the collective gospel background harmonies created by the ladies.  It’s true of this song and most of the material such as “Blue Highway” (lead by Dorothy Morrison) and J. Leslie McFarland’s gospel anthem “It Won’t Be Long.” The latter features special guest Deanna Bogart playing some jaw-dropping syncopated boogie-woogie piano and swapping vocals with Nelson.
The finest cover is a slow Memphis, churchified ballad rendition of Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now /Baby Blue” by Annie Sampson alone with the rhythm section. Sampson’s phrasing is perfect and she creates and even darker mood than on the original. This performance is only on the DVD but is easily one of the standout moments of the show.
Dorothy Morrison
The wonderful Dorothy Morrison (the legendary lead vocalist for The Edwin Hawkins Singers) sounds younger and stronger than ever on the Spinners’ “Mighty Love.”  Though the rhythm arrangement is the same as the original recording, Morrison owns this soul classic with her tough tenor voice and sassy, boundless confidence.
It just wouldn’t be right to feature Dorothy Morrison and not have her perform the song that she made a hit all over the world with the Edwin Hawkins Singers, “Oh Happy Day.”
On this night, it feels as if her electrifying power is challenging the other band members and each of them rise to that challenge, belting out their best gospel chops. This joyful performance is the perfect way to end the set.

The ladies also did an acapella performance of the gospel standard “Jesus, I’ll Never Forget.” Each member gives every drawn out-phrase everything they’ve got as they all share the spotlight.
“The Blues Broads” act isn’t overproduced and doesn’t feature celebrity guests to win over a pop-oriented audience. These are four ladies who don’t need any of that. Throughout this recording, it sounds like these women have been singing together all of their lives, especially in the backing harmonies. Hopefully this is only one of many projects by the “Broads.”
To read an iRoM review of the Blues Broads’ performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival click HERE.
The Blues Broads Debut CD/DVD Project Out September 18

By Joe Ross 
September 19, 2012
Dorothy Morrison, Tracy Nelson, Annie Sampson and Angela Strehli, all highly regarded vocalists in their own rights, have joined forces as The Blues Broads. Reflecting more than two centuries of collective experience in blues, country, gospel and rock, the awesome aggregation is nothing less than a roots music “super group” of the first order. The Blues Broads, the group’s recording debut is a CD/DVD combination set, recorded live, that will be released by Delta Groove on September 18th.
Delta Groove Music president Randy Chortkoff stated, “I’m overjoyed to have these fabulously talented women join the Delta Groove family. They bring a history and commitment to the music I love, and I know they’re a perfect fit for our label.”
The Blues Broads CD/DVD includes both familiar songs associated with their respective august careers as well as newly written material that underscores the creative might of these four remarkable women. Each brings a unique perspective and history to the group that coalesced earlier this year under the aegis of Bob Brown, the album’s executive producer and whose Rancho Nicasio venue in Marin County serves as the Blues Broads’ unofficial home base.
The DVD was directed by John Korty, the noted filmmaker, awarded both an Oscar and Directors Guild Award for the documentary Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids? and an Emmy for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. He called the Blues Broads “living testimony to the persistence and longevity of musical talent, proving the value of life experience in making art.” He added, “It was an honor to work with them.”
The start of Tracy Nelson’s career in music dates back to the mid-1960s when she recorded an album of acoustic blues songs with Charlie Musselwhite’s backing for the Prestige label. After moving to San Francisco, she founded Mother Earth and rose to the front ranks of the era’s great female singers, sharing stages with the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and many more. She relocated to the outskirts of Nashville where her talents addressed country music in a most resonant way. She recorded with Willie Nelson and turned out a steady stream of blues and country-rooted albums into the new century. In 2011, Nelson signed on with Delta Groove Music and released the critically-acclaimed album Victim Of The Blues which received a Blues Music Award nomination for Traditional Blues Album of the Year.
Dorothy Morrison who rose to international renown as the lead vocalist on the Edwin Hawkins Singers hit “Oh, Happy Day,” the biggest selling gospel recording of all time, is now a Blues Broad in good standing. A member of the singing Combs Family, she rose to prominence in East Bay church circles and has been a force in gospel since the late 1960s. There is also a significant secular side to her career as she has worked with such notable artists as Van Morrison, Boz Scaggs, Delaney & Bonnie, Rita Coolidge, Merry Clayton and even Simon & Garfunkel — she’s heard on “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Angela Strehli whose lone star state roots are explored in a song she wrote for the group entitled “Two Bit Texas Town” had been one of Austin’s most highly regarded female vocalists prior to her move to the Bay Area in the 1990s. She was a fixture at Antone’s in Austin where she initially played a key role in that legendary club’s development. At Antone’s she was mentored and encouraged by many of the artists she booked including Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins and her love for the blues literally found a voice as she transitioned from the back office to the stage. Her collaborations with Lou Ann Barton and Marcia Ball were, in some way, a template for the Blues Broads concept.
Annie Sampson is a triple threat, bringing a rock, gospel and theater background to the Blues Broads. She played one of the leads in the original San Francisco production of Hair in the late 1960s and would go on to be a founder of Stoneground, the communal rock band that included Sal Valentino of the Beau Brummels in its line up as well as Cory Lerios, Steve Price and David Jenkins who would go on to form Pablo Cruise. Annie, like Dorothy, comes from a church background, has been part of recordings and performances by a host of notables including Taj Mahal, Maria Muldaur, Journey, Eddie Money, Elvin Bishop, Johnnie Johnson, Jerry Garcia, Elvis Costello, Sammy Hagar and others.
Tracks on the new CD/DVD project, which was recorded live at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley, Ca., include:


1. Livin’ The Blues

2. Bring Me Your Love

3. Two Bit Texas Town

4. River Deep Mountain High

5. Blue Highway

6. It Won’t Be Long

7. Walk Away

8. Mighty Love

9. Jesus, I’ll Never Forget

10. Oh, Happy Day


1. Livin’ The Blues

2. Bring Me Your Love

3. River Deep Mountain High

4. Walk Away

5. Two Bit Texas Town

6. Blue Highway

7. It Won’t Be Long

8. It’s All Over Now Baby Blue

9. Mighty Love

10. Jesus, I’ll Never Forget

11. Oh, Happy Day

Besides the four vocalists, the instrumentalists on the CD/DVD inlcude Steve Ehrmann (bass), Paul Revelli (drums), Gary Vogensen (guitar) and Mike Emerson (keyboards). Deanna Bogart appears as a special guest (and honorary Broad) providing keyboards, vocals, tenor sax. She appears courtesy of Blind Pig Records.
The Blues Broads recently completed a tour that took them to festivals and clubs in Texas and California and plan on more extensive touring in support of the release of The Blues BroadsCD/DVD set. They are confirmed for upcoming dates below:9/20/12: Mill Valley, CA 142 Throckmorton Theatre (release party)
9/21/12: Berkeley, CA Freight & Salvage

9/22/12: Monterey, CA Monterey Jazz Festival

9/23/12: Guerneville, CA Russian River Blues Festival

ICON Magazine

The Blues Broads make music as memorable as their name.A distaff version of the Traveling Wilburys, the group is made up of Dorothy Morrison, Tracy Nelson, Angela Strehli, and Annie Sampson. A combination CD and DVD, the recordings showcase their talents individually and collectively in a November 2011 concert. Nelson kicks off the show with a lively recording of her own “Livin’ the Blues.” Sampson delivers an impassioned “Bring Me Your Love,” which sets off some indoor fireworks. Strehli revs up some Lone Star State blues with her “Two Bit Texas Town,” a litany of her musical influences, including Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Morrison and the ensemble bring a gospel fervor to Edwin Hawkins’ “Oh Happy Day” and a soulful a cappella performance of “Jesus, I’ll Never Forget.” Versions of “River Deep Mountain High” and Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” show the group’s versatility goes beyond the blues. Augmented by a strong backing band and honorary Broad Deanna Bogart on keyboards, the Blues Broads demonstrate that in music the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. – Tom Wilk
Sunday Sep 16, 2012 5:18 PM PT
Blues Broads return to Bay Area
Lee Hildebrand
Updated 3:03 a.m., Sunday, September 16, 2012
“When I get to heaven, I’m gonna wear my shoes,” Dorothy Morrison sings, raising her leg above the stage monitors to show a bare foot during a performance of her signature song, “Oh Happy Day,” on a new CD/DVD set by the Blues Broads.
The Longview, Texas-born, Richmond-reared vocalist has delivered the song thousands of times since she first recorded it 44 years ago with the Northern California State Youth Choir, soon to be rechristened the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Even though she was the lead singer on the biggest gospel hit of all time, her career languished in relative obscurity after she quit the choir in a contractual dispute with Hawkins – she says he offered her a 1/40th share of the royalties, the same as the other 40 members – just as the record was climbing the pop charts.

Running a salon
She subsequently sang in Top 40 bands and various gospel groups but made her main living for many years running Dorothy Morrison’s Oh Happy Day Beauty Salon in downtown Richmond.
The other members of the singing group – Angela Strehli, Tracy Nelson and Annie Sampson – and “honorary broad” Deanna Bogart keep their shoes on as Morrison paces the stage at 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, where the CD and DVD were recorded during a concert in November. The five women and their four-man backup band will return to the theater on Thursday evening, followed by performances Friday night at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, Saturday afternoon at the Monterey Jazz Festival and Sunday morning at the Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival.
Group leader Strehli and her husband, former Huey Lewis and the News manager Bob Brown, are in the process of putting the spotlight back on Morrison, whose deep, throaty contralto voice draws favorable comparison to that of Mavis Staples. Two years ago, Brown took her to Memphis to record a duet version with Lewis of the Staple Singers’ hit “Respect Yourself” for Lewis’ album “Soulsville.” It was her first recording in 35 years. The Blues Broads’ just-released debut album, on which she is also featured leading the Tina Turner classic “River Deep Mountain High” and the Spinners’ “Mighty Love,” is her second.

“I’m not a blues singer, and I don’t like the word ‘broad,’ ” Morrison recalls telling Strehli when approached four years ago about joining the group. “In my circle of girls, to be called a broad is a putdown. She explained to me that Bob got that word from New York. In New York that means you’re ‘bad,’ you’re really good, you’re out of sight.”

Informal performances
The Blues Broads grew out of informal performances by Strehli and Nelson 11 years ago at Rancho Nicasio, a large restaurant and nightclub run by Strehli and Brown in the remote, slimly populated Marin County town of Nicasio. Strehli, a native of Lubbock, Texas, launched her career in the 1970s at Antone’s, the now-legendary Austin blues club. Nelson, who was born in French Camp (San Joaquin County) but raised in Madison, Wis., was leader of the popular San Francisco band Mother Earth in the late ’60s before moving to Nashville and going solo.
“I’ve certainly been called much worse than a broad,” Nelson quips about the group name.
The Blues Broads performed only once or twice a year at Rancho Nicasio during their early stages. Various singers, including Maria Muldaur, Linda Tillery and Carlene Carter, passed through the ranks before the personnel solidified three years ago around Strehli, Nelson, Morrison and Sampson, a Shreveport, La.-born, Berkeley-bred singer best known for her 13 years as one of several leads with the San Francisco rock band Stoneground.

Honorary member
The Maryland-based Bogart, who sings and plays both piano and tenor saxophone, is only an honorary member because she’s not available for every gig and, at 53,” is not old enough to be a broad,” according to Strehli. The four official members are all in their 60s.
Working out harmony parts for the singers to do behind each other’s rotating leads hasn’t been easy because Strehli, Nelson, Morrison and Sampson are all contraltos.
“Whenever I’m singing harmony,” Nelson says, “I always sing low, but Annie and Angela always sing low, too, so there’s a lot of battling over who’s gonna do the high part. I get stuck on it more than I want to be.”
Backup-band guitarist Gary Vogensen, keyboardist Mike Emerson and, when she’s on hand, Bogart sometimes contribute to the harmonies. “Gary probably has the highest voice of all of us, so he gets stuck on those high castrati parts,” Nelson notes. She adds that Vogensen also sings the bass parts on the group’s a cappella rendition of “Jesus, I’ll Never Forget,” a song popularized by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers in the mid-1950s.
Morrison says she can handle any harmony part, from second soprano to bass. She currently serves as “sister pastor” – a play on the term “assistant pastor” – to her brother, the Rev. Bill Combs, at their late father’s Green Pastures Church in North Richmond. She, her brother and a nephew, onetime Prince guitarist Levi Seacar Jr., recently formed a band that mixes gospel and secular material, but she says the Blues Broads are her first musical priority.

Sang with family
“The Blues Broads have brought me back out and introduced me back to the public,” she says while sitting on a couch with her husband, onetime KSOL disc jockey Herman Henry, in her daughter’s living room in Elk Grove (Sacramento County). “Everybody said, ‘What happened to Dorothy?’ I just kind of stayed around the church with Bill and sang with my family at church gigs. Now I’m with the Blues Broads, and I’m ready to give it my all. I’m back!” {sbox}
The Blues Broads: 8 p.m. Thursday. 142 Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley. $25-$35. (415) 383-9600. 8 p.m. Friday. Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley. $22.50-$24.50. (510) 644-2070. 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairgrounds Road. Monterey. $50. (888) 248-6499. 11 a.m. next Sunday. Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival, Johnson’s Beach & Resort, 16241 1st St., Guerneville. $50. (707) 869-1595.
To hear the Blues Broads, go to

Lee Hildebrand is a freelance writer. E-mail:

The Blues Braods–Great New CD From a Fine Little Supergroup

Tuesday, 18 September 2012 00:00
Written by Jim White

A new week of CD releases has brought a handful of fine new blues CDs to my attention, and it promises to be a fun week talking about them.

The first is probably my favorite, since it puts together four very talented singers to form a little supergroup that’s calling itself The Blues Broads. Their first and self-titled album, from Delta Groove Music, is actually a double treat — a live CD and DVD recorded at a California concert in 2011.

The singers: Dorothy Morrison, Tracy Nelson, Annie Sampson and Angela Strehli, with honorary Broad Deanna Bogart.
They are all great vocalists, each with great credentials and individual strengths. Just a couple little factotums: Sampson was a lead singer in the original San Francisco production of “Hair” in the late 1960s; Morrison was the lead singer on the gospel hit “Oh, Happy Day,” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers.

Put them together with the often under-appreciated and always soulful Tracy Nelson, and criminally under-recorded former Texas blueslady Angela Strehli, and you’ve got enough musical talent to make you quiver just a little before the music actually begins.

And once the CD does kick in, with Nelson leading on the opening “Livin’ the Blues,” the quivering quickly turns to pure pleasure. These women can sing. They take turns, each shining. Sampson is powerfully soulful on “Bring Me Your Love,” Nelson reaches deep for “Walk Away,” Strehli is tough and bluesy on “Two Bit Texas Town,”  and Bogart leads off on a romping “It Won’t Be Long.”

The DVD adds one song to the mix — Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” with Sampson giving it a gospel-flavored passion that makes it an even more powerful song.
The set closes with a pair of gospel songs, including a spirited acapella “Jesus, I’ll Never Forget,” and then winding up with a rousing version of “Oh, Happy Day.”All in all, a package of great music performed by a four fine singers. Listen to it. Go see them if they come to your town. Your soul will be happy that you did.

The Blues Broads Are Four Ladies Who Can Really Sing The Blues
Thursday, September 13, 2012
By: Phillip SayblackGood morning, everyone.  I’ve got one more brand new review to share with you today.  In the last of the day’s new reviews, I’ve got some more brand new music courtesy of Delta Groove Productions and the Reel Reviews Music Department.  If you’re a blues fan or know any blues fans, you’ll want to check it out and have those individuals check this out.  This morning, I’ve got the brand new upcoming live CD/DVD from The Blues Broads.  There’s no title.  It’s just, The Blues Broads, as you can see from the cover art included here.  The cover art and the show are simple.  But the show rocks, plain and simple.  These are four ladies who really can sing the blues (get it?).  that’s a Billy Holiday reference for those who might not have known.  So enough of my rambling.  Without further ado, I offer for your consideration, The Blues Broads Live!
Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, Koko Taylor.  All three of these women are among the most famous names in the world of the blues.  But how many audiences out there have ever heard of a female fronted four-piece known as The Blues Broads?  This four-piece is made up of some of music’s greatest female names.  The group is comprised of Mother Earth singer Tracy Nelson, Stoneground founding member Annie Sampson, Dorothy Morrison (of the Edward Hawkins Singers), and Angela Strehli.  Strehli has sung with some of the blues most famed names such as:  Muddy Waters, Albert King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  The combination of these four women has led to what is one heck of a group.  And now thanks to the group’s new live CD/DVD release, odds are that the name of The Blues Broads may  become as well known as its members other projects, if not more so.

The Blues Broads’ live CD/DVD release was recorded at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, California.  This double disc set shows just how talented these women are.  The CD and DVD set lists aren’t exactly the same.  But that’s beside the point.  Every song in this performance makes for a great time for any blues lover and music lover.  There’s the up-tempo rocking cover of, ‘River Deep’, the easy going country/blues style of ‘Blue Highway’, and what has to be the absolute standout song from this performance in ‘Walk Away.’  This Stevie Ray Vaughan style song is classic twelve bar blues in every sense.  And while it was performed in a nice club (as is seen in the DVD portion of the performance), this is one of those songs that immediately conjures images of a smoky, dimly lit bar.

The Broads are extremely talented singers.  There is no doubt at all about that.  The ladies’ backing musicians—Steve Ehrmann (bass), Paul Revelli (drums), Gary Vogensen (guitar), Mike Emerson (keyboards), and Deanna Bogart (keyboards, vocals, tenor sax)—add their own flair to each song.  All together, they add so much to the song that helped make Dorothy Morrison famous in ‘Oh Happy Day.’  Gary Vogensen plays as well as Stevie Ray Vaughan on ‘Walk Away.’  There is so much more that could be said and written of what makes this such an enjoyable live recording.  But audiences would do best to experience it for themselves.  It hits store shelves next Tuesday, September 18th.

“This lively crew of Clean-Up Women called the Blues Broads are four female singers that have every single style you need to make your monkey-nerve well-satisfied for the foreseeable future. Dorothy Morrison, Tracy Nelson, Annie Sampson and Angela Strehli have been there, sung that and now come together to bring the big spirit in the sky right down to earth. Hearing is believing.”–Bill Bentley, The Morton Report
“I’ve been listening to all of these girls for a long time and always loved them for their soulful honesty.  Angela Strehli especially just knocks me out.  The power of the combination is awesome, more than the sum of its parts.”   –– Elvin Bishop
“I don’t think I’ve ever been witness to such an amazing performance by four female vocalists.
It left me speechless.” — Ronnie Narmour Island Moon/Corpus Christi Magazine, June 14, 2012

The Blues Broads
Live CD & DVD

(Delta Groove)

The Blues Broads are non-stop excitement.  There, I said it. I could very easily end my review right here, but I’m not going to. What we have here, is a consortium of women, four seasoned blue artists, each one a headliner in her own right, taking the stage by storm together. They perform songs as a group as well as spotlight each individual. And as much as I love the CD, I have already watched the DVD half a dozen times. They are giving it 110 percent, and having so much fun, it just sucks you in and there is no escape – not that you’ll want to. I love watching them play off of one another, laugh and cheer each other on. Just a stone cold blast.

Individually the Broads are Tracy Nelson,  the founder of the group Mother Earth, whose signature composition “Down So Low”, has been recorded by the late great Etta James, Linda Rondstadt, and Cyndi Lauper, among others.

Angela Strehli has devoted her life and career to the heroes of the “Blues” is the organizer of The Blues Broads. Angela has worked with everyone from Muddy Waters to Albert King to Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Dorothy Morrison is the singer and co-author of the classic “Oh Happy Day”, recorded with The Edwin Hawkins Singers. It has sold over 7 million copies internationally.

Annie Sampson was a former longtime cast member of “Hair” and the groundbreaking group Stoneground.

The show kicks off in high gear with “Livin’ the Blues,” giving each singer a chance to solo, and it doesn’t let up. “Bring Me Your Love” gets down and funky with Annie Sampson belting out the vocal. Dorothy Morrison leads the group in a power packed cover of Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep Mountain High,” and Tracy Nelson steps into the spotlight to perform her song “Walk Away.”

Angela Strehli goes back to her Texas roots to sing her own song “Two Bit Texas Town,” and all four of the Broads tell it like it is on “Blue Highway.” While the playlist is the same on the CD and the DVD other than the order of the songs, there is one priceless gem on the DVD not found on the CD, and its a tune that just wore me out – Annie Sampson’s absolutely passionate rendition of Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.” Deanna Bogart underscores the song with an outstanding sax solo.

Speaking of Deanna, the “honorary” Blues Broad wears out the piano, and kicks out some lead vocals on “It Won’t Be Long.” Good stuff.

The triple punch at the end of the set begins with Dorothy singing the melodic r&b classic “Mighty Love,” just before taking us all to church with “Jesus I’ll Never Forget.” Then comes the roof-raising hit “Oh Happy Day,” bringing it all back home.

Backed by a mighty powerful band, The Blues Broads can do no wrong in my book. This is the real deal kids, all the way around. Blues you can use from four ladies who are, and have been, livin’ the blues.

-Michael Buffalo Smith

 In a Blue Mood
[A semi-regular collection of observations, reviews and more about blues, jazz and other matters informed by the blues tradition.]
The Blues Broads is a musical revue that brings together four strong voices together with a tight backing band that began as a collaboration between Tracy Nelson who would join Angela Strehli on West Coast gigs. Later they added various vocalists for an annual BBQ event, “The Blues Broads” before Dorothy Morrison (best known for “Oh Happy Day” as part of the Edwin Hawkins Singers) and Annie Sampson (of a Bay area band Stoneground) became part of what was now a regular group that took the name of the BBQ Event.Delta Groove has just issued a eponymously titled CD/DVD package of The Blues Broads, recorded and filmed live at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley California. They are backed by a band that includes Steve Ehrmann on bass, Paul Revelli on drums, Gary Vogensen on drums and Mike Emerson on keyboards. Deanna Bogart is a special guest on keyboards, saxophone and vocals. The CD has ten songs which are all on the DVD along with Annie Sampson singing Bob Dylan’s It’s All Over Now/ Baby Blue. The sequencing of the songs differs on the DVD from the CD.There are some singing marvelous singing to be heard and seen here. Several songs allow the ladies to share verses such as the Tracy Nelson and Gary Nicholson penned Livin’ The Blues,’ which opens both the performances up. The material mixes blues, classic R&B, and some contemporary blues-rooted roots. Tracy Nelson’s vocal on Oliver Sain’s Walk Away, is simply a great performance full of both with subtlety and power. Annie Sampson certainly has people take notice of her on Bring Me Your Love, but even more so on her fervent re-imagination of Dylan’s It’s All Over Now/ Baby Blue.Strehli’s Two Bit Texas Town, is a tough performance that has remember how she used to listen to Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters and more growing up in her two-bit Texas town. Deanna Bogart gets showcased on It Won’t Be Long, which is a centerpiece of her live shows. Its brave of Dorothy Morrison to cover Tina Turner on River Deep, Mountain High, and its an enjoyable performance but doesn’t really grab the listener or viewer as does the closing gospel numbers Jesus, I’ll Never Forget, and Oh Happy Day, with her taking everyone to the Church on this closing performance.This must have been quite an event for those who attended the performance where this was recorded/filmed. The filming is pretty straight-forward with little if any of distracting gimmicks some others might have inserted. While there perhaps only are a few exceptional performances, the level of the performances still is quite high and certainly this will rightfully appeal to a wide range of listeners who simply enjoy good music.I received a review copy from the record label.  One can see a clip of The Blues Broads in performance at

Wealth of blues history in the dynamic women of The Blues Broads playing at the Monterey Bay Blues Festival:

Over the course of three days and nights at the Monterey Fairgrounds during the 26th annual Monterey Bay Blues Festival this weekend there will be music galore, not to mention festival sights and sounds that never fail to delight the stalwart regulars and newcomers alike.

Headliners include Mavis Staples, The Barkays, Bobby Rush, Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Millie Jackson, Ruthie Foster, Lester Chambers’ Blues Revue, and Men of Soul: Howard Hewett, Freddie Jackson, Peabo Bryson & Jeffrey Osborne.

While there is a tendency for this venerable local institution to dwell heavily on R&B and soul acts, plus oldies but goodies, there is one group, The Blues Broads, that will seem new to most at first glance.

But once you take a closer look, you’ll realize there is a wealth of blues history in this group that is spread across the lives of five amazing women.

On the Presidents Stage Friday night at 8:20, The Blues Broads will not rely on sexy maneuvers, black leather or chantilly lace corsets to hold your attention.

Tracy Nelson, Annie Sampson, Angela Strehli, Dorothy Morrison and Deanna Bogart will instead wow you with their unique blues and gospel styles, heavenly vocal harmonies, and an honest, no-nonsense approach to their craft.

Each has a story to tell through her music, but the surprise will be how this tour de force ensemble will gel their disparate talents into one big, beautiful illustration of “woman power.”

“Originally it was kind of a revue that got started probably six or seven years ago,” Nelson said in a phone interview from her home west of Nashville. “Bob Brown and Angela Strehli do these barbecues at Rancho Nicasio. They own that place out in West Marin. They decided to throw together a whole bunch of different women in blues, kind of do what they were loosely calling at that point the Blues Broads. I think originally Maria Muldaur was there. Dorothy wasn’t there yet. Carlene Carter has done a couple of them. It would be who was available and throw them into this big revue.

“After a few years, it became Annie Sampson, Angela and I, plus there was loosely other people coming and going. Essentially when Dorothy Morrison agreed to be part of this, that solidified the unit, and then it just became us. I remember when they called me and said Dorothy Morrison was going to do the show that year, I just about died. We get to sing this gospel choir every time we do ‘Oh Happy Day’ in the show. And that’s just the best. With this particular group of women, that song works! And so we just went on from there.”

Joining the core four who all have at one time or another called the San Francisco Bay Area home, will be the Baltimore-based pianist/saxophonist/vocalist Deanna Bogart.

Her boogie piano will be just one part she plays in the mix, keeping one foot in the band context as well as joining the women in vocals, either front-and-center or background. Nelson explained that each “broad” will take a turn performing material from their own catalogue, with the others usually providing harmony and backing vocals.

“We’ve got some original stuff,” Nelson explained, “and we do a song that Annie wrote. We do a song that Angela wrote, a song I wrote, and ‘Oh Happy Day’ that Dorothy wrote. We pull things from our old records. I’m doing mostly stuff from my new record ‘Victim of the Blues.’ And we all pull in stuff from our shows. The group stuff is the most fun. We do an old Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers song, ‘Jesus I’ll Never Forget.’ We do ‘River Deep, Mountain High,’ and we do ‘Higher and Higher.’ For the group’s effort, we seem to fall into a really gospel bag. Even though they’re secular tunes, they have that feel.”

Nelson is originally from Wisconsin, but she garnered a loyal following in the Bay Area back in the ’60s with the band Mother Earth.

Her signature composition “Down So Low” has been recorded by Etta James, Linda Rondstat and Cyndi Lauper. After her second album, she moved to Nashville in 1969.

Sampson was raised in rural Louisiana, and her style exemplifies those deeply soulful roots, whether she’s singing blues, rock, a country ballad or a modern folk classic.

When she came to the Bay Area she enjoyed a long run with the musical “Hair” and then fronted the popular group Stoneground. They recorded four albums and toured internationally.

Morrison was lead singer and co-author for the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ recording of “Oh Happy Day,” which became an international hit, selling 7million copies. It is still the “national anthem” for American gospel groups.

Strehli is probably the most truly “blue” of the Blues Broads. She devoted her life and career to the heroes of the genre, knowing and singing with so many of the greats, from Muddy Waters to Albert King to Stevie Ray Vaughan.

She supported the legends through helping establish the Austin music venue Antone’s, known worldwide as a blues mecca.

She moved to Marin County 20 years ago, and with her husband, Bob Brown, has run the food and music venue Rancho Nicasio, where the Blues Broads originated.

After interning in western swing and R&B with Cowboy Jazz and Root Boy Slim, Bogart has fronted her own tight ensemble for more than 15 years.

Playing dazzling piano and soulful saxophone, she’s added the energy of boogie-woogie, contemporary blues, country, and jazz to create a unique fusion of musical styles. Her vocals and songwriting are full of vitality, as much as her playing is savvy, sensuous and deep.

“It’s so cool,” Nelson said about how the five women sound together. “My favorite thing to do on this Earth is to sing backup. I’d rather sing backup than sing leads. I love harmonies. I’ve always had gospel harmony singers on my records. To me, to have three- and four-part harmony behind a song is just thrilling. It’s just thrilling. And the voices in this group are all so damn good. And you know, there’s nothing that works as well as people in the same family singing together. There’s some kind of Zen magical thing that happens. I can’t really claim that with us, but it’s damn near. We just all have the same ear, the same tonality and it really works well.”

Whether you make it the whole weekend or can just come out for the day, the 26th annual Monterey Bay Blues Festival will be a feast for the ears. For the complete schedule, visit the festival’s website at

Beth Peerless can be reached at GO!