Shake Your Boogie is still in the top 15 blues cds on roots radio around the world! Roots Music Report

Top 3 on Internet Radio for blues! Roots Music Report

Top selling Chicago Blues CDs at CDBaby (for 5 months) - AND - Top Chicago Style Blues song #1 Stomping and Shouting! CDBaby

"Rev, received the new CD, it's an exciting release. Look forward to your gigs in the Virgin Islands." - Doug Dick/WVGN/Virgin Islands

"This is good time Chicago blues played by some seasoned musicians who know how to play the blues the right way. The clever song selection and the live feel of the album make “Shake Your Boogie” a CD well worth attention" Przemek Draheim/Poland Blues

"Just listened to Shake Your Boogie. Easily in my top ten cd's of the year. I will be playing this cd a lot." - Kevin Hardy, Main Street Blues- Kansas City Online Radio

"Love your new cd. It's killer" - Bob Ancheta Sunday Night Blues Room

"I wanted to let you know I received your latest CD on Saturday. It's smokin" - Hieronymus Muryphy's Blues Podcast

"Our Blues hosts were eager to share and it got some spins last Blues Friday night." - Jeff Dabel/WXPR Radio

"Great show at Blues Saloon on Saturday night! I picked up the new CD "Shake Your Boogie" and it is wonderful. In my opinion, it is the best yet and belongs in every stocking this Christmas." - James Pinckney, Vice President, Greater Twin Cities Blues Music Society

"A formidable and incredibly diverse guitarist...Shake Your Boogie will surely serve to save some souls for the blues". - Geoff Trubow,

""I f$%^ing love it" - Stefan Levy, Blues Foundation

Spectacular new disc has debuted #7 on our brand new Top 30 chart, which we submit monthly to Living Blues Magazine. This is, in my opinion, far and away the best album you have ever good possible for our End Of Year Chart for best cd releases of 2010." - Gary Reinhard, Blues Director and host of Bad Dog Blues on WITR Radio

Reverend Raven And The Smokin’ Altar Boys–Shake Your Boogie
Nevermore Records
13 tracks; 62.04 minutes

The Reverend spent 15 years serving in the Navy where one of his duties was to counsel sailors who found themselves in hot water. His charges gave him the nickname Reverend and it stuck. The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys sounds like it was a natural addition, especially once you hear the hot blues these guys serve up! 

The band began in 1996 and this is their fourth CD. They are a very hard working band whose gig list is already pretty full right through 2011. They are based in Wisconsin, but tour extensively, with Florida, Canada and the Virgin Islands on their gig list for next year. 

The music on this CD is excellent, well played and recorded, with variety but most importantly a fair degree of excitement. The core of the band is Reverend Raven on guitar and vocals, PT Pedersen on bass, Bobby Lee Sellers on drums (and vocals on two cuts) and Big Al Groth on sax. Madison Slim provides harp and vocals on four tracks, where an alternative rhythm section of Andre Maritato on bass and Spencer Panosh on drums sit in and the sax is absent. Piano and organ are provided by either Mickey Larson or Danny Moore on most tracks. Reverend Raven wrote three of the songs, with the sole instrumental being from the pen of the bass player. Gerry Hundt, former member of Nick Moss’ Fliptops is the author of two tracks and covers come from Hound Dog Taylor, Slim Harpo, Little Milton, St Louis Jimmy Oden, Robert Nighthawk and Sonny Boy Williamson. The album was recorded live on stage in Milwaukee, but from the absence of any crowd noise I assume that it was ‘live’ without an audience.

The CD starts off with a strong quartet of songs, two being Reverend Raven originals. Opener “Looking For Love” features Big Al’s sax over a riff not far away from “Checking Up On My Baby”. The Rev’s vocals are clear and well suited to this mid-paced swinger where his lady is encouraged to “put it on a train, put it on a truck, put it on a plane, put it on a bus, first stop Chicago, I need your love”. Second track is Gerry Hundt’s “Stomping And Shouting”, a slide driven tune with powerhouse drumming and classic piano supporting The Rev’s Elmore style playing. Once again, the sax break is right on the money.

Next up is the second Reverend original “You Didn’t Even Say Goodbye” which features some nice sax/guitar ensemble playing and excellent solos from both lead players. Little Milton’s “Just Count The Days” is a slow blues with drummer Bobby Lee Sellers singing, lovely rolling piano from Mickey Larson and a sax solo that builds from a slow, sinuous beginning to a real storming climax.

There is a different feel to the material recorded with Madison Slim. Track 5 is an energetic take on St Louis Jimmy’s “She’s Murder”, with fast paced drumming pushing the beat along. The harp playing is strong here and Madsion Slim’s voice is a little less smooth than The Reverend’s. All these features make it an excellent choice to spread the four tunes recoded with that ensemble through the album as it affords more variety.

Next up is the second track sung by Bobby Lee Sellers, Robert Nighthawk’s “Bricks In My Pillow”, the stop/start rhythm on the drums is assisted by piano and that provides a good cushion for an exuberant guitar break. Track 7 “Like Wolf”, again performed by the alternate group with Madison Slim, is by SBW and the low down harp intro sets the tone for a classic Chicago sound. Hound Dog Taylor’s “The Woman I Love” follows, naturally with plenty of slide but also the sax soaring out of the mix to blend with the guitar, overall making for an exciting ride along the longest track on the CD.

After that we need a change of pace and it is provided by the final original “I Can Do You Right”, a slow blues with a melancholy tale of love gone cold. An elegant and emotional sax solo sonically locates us in the same sad place as the lyric. Instrumental tune “PT’s Home Cooking” follows, offering solo opportunities for everyone which are keenly taken on a tune that is almost rock n’ roll.

The alternate band reappears on a take of Slim Harpo’s “Mailbox Blues” which features The Reverend’s guitar strongly, even including a bit of the “chicken scratch” rhythm. “Walking To Chicago” is the final cut of the main band and the second from the pen of Gerry Hundt. A strong guitar solo and the final appearance of Big Al’s sax make this an enjoyable track. The last track is again from the alternate band, a fast paced romp through Big Joe Williams’ “Shake Your Boogie” which provides the title of the CD. Some nice piano features here, as well as strong harp and guitar.

Overall I really enjoyed this CD and recommend it highly. I see that Reverend Raven And The Smokin’ Altar Boys are playing at the pre-cruise party for the January Blues Cruise in Fort Lauderdale, so I very much look forward to the opportunity of seeing them live. I do not expect to be disappointed 

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He recently attended the Blues Blast Awards in Chicago and had a great time! Back in the USA for the January 2011 Blues Cruise!

This is a must have for your Blues collection

These guys are guaranteed not to disappoint. All these songs present a wonderful medley of instrumentation and vocals, as tight as you can get. Makes you happy, gets your feet movin, makes you want to boogie. Some wonderful hot guitar licks, foot stompin fun , boogie down home soulful harp that wails, mellow subtle sax with all the right tones at the right moments, lifts you up and takes you down slow and funky. Suberb blend of multiple talents. This is a must have for your Blues collection that’s gonna make you feel Good!

We are very pleased to have Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys join the ever growing list of repeat performers here at It's hard to believe that four years have passed since I first worked with the band on the "Big Bee" album. That's when there were just three altar boys. Since then, the group has grown to eight of the chain smokers.

Recorded live, over two sessions, two different ensembles were used on "Shake Your Boogie". With Reverend Raven, on guitar and vocals, as the constant, the CSAB consisted of: Madison Slim on harmonica and vocals; Big Al Groth on saxophone; Bobby Lee Sellers Jr and Spencer Panosh on drums; PT Pederson and Andre Maritato on bass; and Mickey Larson and Danny Moore on piano & organ. Additionally, Benny Rickum and Bill Stace performed background vocals on one track.

"Stomping and Shouting" are just a few of the motions this one will have you doin'. I'm sure tappin' (foot), snappin' (fingers), bobbin' (head) and swayin' (body) will be others. This one's your typical lock all the players into one hell of a hot groove and let your front men loose kind of track. The Reverend and the big guy are masterful on slide guitar and saxophone.

It was only three seconds into this track and I already knew it would make my highlights list. Those opening scorching blues guitar notes immediately had me. Then in came Big Al's deep, sultry sax sound followed by the Reverend belting the hell out some blues and I knew I was listening to an amazingly well done version of Little Milton's "Just Count The Days". This may very well have been the best six minutes of my day today. The blues just doesn't get any better than this.

If low down dirty blues is your blues of choice, then one of several originals - "I Can Do You Right" - will certainly do just that. In between two slow and soulful vocal verses, Big Al - easily at discs best on sax - performs a virtual two and a half minute tutorial on the instrument.

I don't know what the dish is but I promise you that whatever it is "PT's Home Cooking" will be served hot. The ingredients for this instrumentally delicious dish include portions of sizzlin' sax by Big Al, doses of tasty piano by Danny, plenty of smokin' rhythm from Bobby and PT, and finger lickin' guitar leads by the Reverend. You'll definitely want more than one serving of this one - I'm already on my fourth. Phenomenal work right here.

If you're planning on "Walking To Chicago", do it while listening to this track - you'll get there faster. This is one of those hard drivin', keep on truckin' type songs that you just want to move fast to. After all, that's what all the musicians are doing.

"Shake Your Boogie" will surely get your booty shakin'. That will be partly due to the unrestrained rhythm Spencer and Andre are putting out on drums and bass, the frolicsome piano being played by Mickey, the wailful harp blowin' from Madison and the torrid guitar licks from the Reverend. If this one didn't get you moving, call a doctor - quick.

Other tracks on "Shake Your Boogie" include: "Looking For Love", "You Didn't Even Say Goodbye", "She's Murder", "Bricks In My Pillow", "Like Wolf", "The Woman I Love", and "Mailbox Blues".

In a statement I read on the one sheet accompanying the disc, my good friend Bobby "Bluesbobby" Weinberg is quoted as saying the music of Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys is "Blues the way it was meant to be played and blues the way it was meant to be heard". I couldn't agree more.

Shake Your Boogie
Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys
Nevermore Records
13 tracks/1:01:47

Rick (aka The Reverend) Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys may be a regional act out of Milwaukee but they sound as big and solid as anyone else out there on the blues scene. The blistering guitar work, poignant sax and harp, and gritty vocals make these guys one of my favorites to go see when they come to town.

A few years ago when I’d heard Rick Raven had traded in his harp player for a sax player I wondered how it would sound. Between Madison Slim and Benny Rickun as his harp players, the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys sound was a perfect accompaniment to Raven’s solid guitar and vocals. Those concerns dissipated the first time I heard him live with Big Al Groth on sax. For those of you who may not have heard them live together, the first track on this CD will dispel any concerns. “Looking for Love” is burning hot and Groth’s sax work fans the flames oh-so nicely. Rick wrote the song and it is a nice original cut. Groth appears on most of the CD (nine tracks); the songs where Al is not featured on sax feature Madison Slim on harp. Slim’s harp work is exceptional and he provides gritty vocals on those four tracks, too. “She’s Murder”, “Like Wolf”, “Mail Box Blues” and “Shake Your Boogie” are superb covers with the Rev beating out some great blues as Slim wails on harp and vocals.

Track two was penned by another local favorite, the very talented Gerry Hundt. “Stomping and Shouting” feature Raven’s brand of nasal-bluesy, down home vocals and stinging guitar; Groth’s sax solo is really hot about half way through and then Raven takes over the lead on guitar and is equally hot. His solo closes the song and by the end I felt like I needed a bottle of water to cool off. Probably the best track here, but it’s hard to compare because the new and covered stuff is great, too. Hundt also wrote “Walking to Chicago”, a grooving tune that Rick and Al blast away on. Raven’s “You Didn’t Even Say Goodbye” swings and jives with Raven and Groth playing back and forth and together tightly.

This is an excellent CD that both new and old fans will appreciate. We get to hear a few older tracks with Madison Slim and a lot of newer ones with the Big Al Groth; both of these guys are superb in support of the Rev. And one cannot leave out the current or older back line guys. PT Pederson and Bobby Lee Sellers Jr are great on bass and drums, and Sellers sings exceptionally well on a couple of cuts where he is featured. The songs with Slim feature Andre Maritato and Spencer Panosh on bass and drums and also Mickey Larson on keys. Danny Moore provided keyboard support on four of the newer tracks. All in all, this is one heck of a rocking blues CD. Highly recommended!

Reverend Raven & the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys
Shake Your Boogie
Nevermore Records
Run Time: 61:47

Rik Raven has been making music since he left the Armed Forces. He's been one of the well-respected veterans of the blues in the Upper Midwest for nearly three decades now. He's quietly been playing the bars, dives, and blues festivals everywhere in between; mixing old school Chicago with a modern day twist. Known as "Reverend" because of his days as a chaplain in the Armed Forces, Rik's tasteful guitar and solid ensemble of the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys let us all know that the sounds of Chicago's past are still alive and relevant today.

On this thirteen track blues party, Raven intermingles his solid original writing talent with seven well done covers that are often never touched. The one thing that will immediately slap you in the face is the awesome, visceral power of Altar Boy Big Al Groth's sensational sax playing. Blowing like a fierce combo of Eddie Shaw, A.C. Reed, and Lester Young all rolled into one. He slams right along with the Hound Dog Taylor clasic "The Woman I Love" or uses a slow-roasted boil on the 12-bar of Little Milton's "Just Count the Days." The next thing that you should take notice of is Raven's timing, taste, and tone switching between his sharp 6-string fire and the raw, gutbucket slide. Nothing seems to be out of his reach on guitar. He's not flashy. He's not even fast, but he's damn sure tasteful - playing the right notes at the right time. Bobby Sellers, Jr. revives with a soulful croon Little Milton's "Just Count the Days" and Robert Nighthawk's "Bricks In My Pillow." Raven's not scared to draw from contemporaries for source material here - as he uses two Gerry Hundt (that's right mandolinist/Nick Moss & the Flip Tops) songs. The raucus "Stomping and Shouting" and the typical road song to Chicago - "Walking To Chicago" are all great testaments to both Raven's interpretative power and Hundt's steeped tradition. The final salvo on the album is the album's title track - a Big Joe Williams original. The album is a perfect tie-off for both Raven's ties to the Chicago tradition and the fun blues party he created over the previous 12 tracks.

Raven & the Boys aren't flashy players, nor do they want to be. They know the music well. They play it well-informed. These guys are road veterans who've gone under the radar long enough. Their solid mixture of their own little phrases along with the traditional Chicago idiom are a statement that traditionalism isn't a dusty museum piece. It also demonstrates the relevancy of Chicago Blues in today's contemporary scene. In other words, good music is good music and these guys know how to make it.

Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys
Shake Your Boogie (Nevermore)

The blues band with arguably the best name in Milwaukee isn’t out to reinvent or innovate anything on their latest album. That’s perfectly fine, however, as Shake Your Boogie accomplishes its goal of bringing the party with hearty soulfulness. Their sound is drawn from their collection of Chess/Checker, Delmark and Alligator electric blues records, topped with ample dollops of Big Al Groth’s sax, Madison Slim’s harmonica and the contributions of a couple of pianists/organists. Recording before a live audience at the Miramar Theatre may have amped up the band’s energy even more. Remakes of numbers by luminaries such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk and Hound Dog Taylor make up the majority of the set’s 13 tunes, but the Rev and bassist P.T. Pedersen aren’t slouches in the songwriting department.

"Living my whole life on the east coast, to my dismay, I had never heard of Reverand Raven. Sadly, he was not heavily promoted outside of the mid-west. Thankfully, all that changed one fateful night in 2007, when I stumbled into the Back Room in Boca Raton, Florida, a favorite hangout of mine. That evening was magical! What I was treated to was one of those rare instances when you truly reach musical nirvana. Blues the way it was meant to be. The way it was meant to be played, and the way it was meant to be heard. Life didn't get any better than it was right then and there. Well since then I made myself very familiar with Reverand Raven & The Chain Smoking Altar Boys. They're no longer what was once America's best kept Blues secret. If you're like me and like straight ahead, hardcore, unadulterated Blues, then you don't have to go any further than putting on their latest CD, "Shake Your Boogie". With strong musicianship all around, this band has got it all. There's not a bad track on this disc. It captures that same "live" experience, I had that night. It's consistent through and through with intensity and high energy. They'll transport you to a place you want to be, and won't want to leave." 

Reverend Raven throws blues party

Nobody has accused Reverend Raven of rushing to get new product released. Since his "Slow Burn" debut with the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys in 1998, Raven took his time to issue "Live at Blues on Grand" in 2004, while "Big Bee" arrived two years later. Just out, "Shake Your Boogie," Raven's new CD, is well worth the four-year wait. The fresh disc features an hour-long program of well-honed originals and a hot batch of lesser known covers. Raven put the disc together from two live shows--performed years apart-- at Milwaukee's Miramar Theater. The older recordings spotlight Madison Slim (harmonica and vocal), Andre Maritato (bass), Spencer "Kid" Panosh (drums) and the late Mickey Larson (keys) putting their all into four cover songs, including a terrific version of "She's Murder." Current Chain Smokin' Altar Boys, including Big Al Groth (saxophone), P.T. Pedersen (bass) and Bobby Lee Sellers Jr. (drums), demonstrate their powess on the originals, penned by Raven and Chicago-area songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gerry Hundt. Raven opens the disc with his own "Looking For Love," before tackling Hundt's "Stomping And Shouting." The singer and guitarist follows with another original, "You Didn't Even Say Goodbye," with a lyrical surprise and the end. With drummer Sellers taking lead vocals, the band puts an insistent groove on Little Milton Campbell's "Count the Days," augmented by keyboardist Danny Moore. Madison Slim combines harmonica playing with singing on St. Louis Jimmy Oden's "She's Murder," also known as "Murder in the First Degree." Sellers returns to sing Robert Nighthawk's gritty "Bricks In My Pillow." Slim takes on Sonny Boy (Rice Miller) Williamson's "Like Wolf," delivering an awesome vocal along with tasty harp breaks. Raven delivers the vocals for "The Woman I Love," apparently adapted from "She's Gone," the opening track on Hound Dog Taylor's first album. The lead guitarist continues with the original, "I Can Do You Right," pleading: "Honey, you said some man done you wrong, well I can do you right." Next, the band shines on the instrumental work-out "P.T.'s Home Cooking," credited to Pedersen. Then, Madison Slim makes another appearance to lead the band through Slim Harpo's "Mail Box Blues." Midwest bluesman Gerry Hundt also composed "Walking to Chicago," which Raven sings with conviction. Raven's blues get-together concludes with an exhuberant rendition of the title song, "Shake Your Boogie," which starts with Slim's harmonica. The band cooks on this country blues song written and recorded by Big Joe Williams in 1965. The CD runs seamlessly despite alternating between the two different line-ups and three different singers. Raven's flawless Gibson guitar work ties the two shows together in fine fashion. Although Raven shares lead vocals on this album, he's a distinctive blues singer in his own right. Long-time band cohort Bill Stace engineered the sessions for the new CD, which were done without an audience, and with minimal overdubs. If you want a blues party, go to a live Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys show. Or, listen to "Shake Your Boogie." You'll have fun either way.

"Really enjoyed the new CD! Liked everything I heard especially "Looking For Love", "Stomping And Shouting", "She's Murder" & "Bricks In My Pillow". Good to see Madison Slim playing & recording again. Thanks for sending copies to the station and for the one you personally autographed!

The radio show has a segment - "New & Blue" - dedicated to new releases and Shake Your Boogie premiers on "The Clinic..." in that segment Jan. 5th. Once a recent recording premiers it goes into fairly regular rotation with other newer material. Your release is also looking VERY good for my Best of 2010 list!”

Bob "Blues Doctor" Decker, host of "Clinic of Boogie & Blues", WNRB, 93.3 FM, Wausau.

Shake Your Boogie hit #12 on the Roots Music Report of top 100 blues cds for 2011.

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