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An affinity for the blues

John Nelson says the blues can be used for a lot of things. One is to expunge yourself of bad feelings. "It's really party music," he says. "Definitely, party music."

Nelson and his band, the Bluesdusters, will help partygoers slough off those negative vibes with original blues and blues standards at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at Roscoe's BBQ, 117 S. Main St., Phoenix.

In addition to Nelson on slide guitar, the Bluesdusters features Leonard Griffie on lead guitar, Dave Clayton on bass, Keith Harrison on drums and Michael Vannice on keyboards.

"Hopefully," says Nelson. "Vannice plays when he is available."

Nelson and Griffie share an interest in contemporary and classic blues artists such as Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

"We've played with many of the artists that created electric and acoustic blues," Nelson says. "Along with our original songs, we play our own interpretations of blues tunes."

Nelson and Griffie met in 2002 at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Nelson sat in with Griffie and a band called the Blue Devils at a club called the Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street. The blues clubs and restaurants on Beale Street are a big attraction in Memphis. Festivals and outdoor concerts bring large crowds to the area.

"It's (the Blues Challenge) is a big party," Nelson says. "The street is closed to traffic during the evenings and people wander from club to club.

"Grif and I discovered each other's affinity for the early blues players," Nelson says. "So we decided to form the Bluesdusters."

The name of the group was taken from blues guitarist Elmore James' song titled "Dust My Blues," Nelson says.

"The line goes 'I'm gonna get up in the mornin', I believe I'll dust my blues.' It's written because he just lost his woman."

Nelson says that the band wanted to stay with a retro sound and used an upright bass player at first, then later changed the lineup to include an electric bass.

Nelson and Griffie wrote 14 original songs for the Bluesdusters' debut CD, released in 2005 on their own label, Rootstone Productions.

Nelson's songs are penned under his real name, which is Hauschild. He uses Nelson, his middle name, as a stage name.

The Bluesdusters spent most of 2007 performing at various clubs in the Northwest, and Nelson and Griffie are working on new songs for the band's next CD.

"The first CD got lots of air play on blues format stations in the southern United States and in Europe," Nelson says. "It's also played on Internet radio. We want to keep the ball rollin' and produce another one."

The Bluesdusters' self-titled CD, along with MP3s and music reviews, are available at bluesdusters.com.

The Bluesdusters are slated to perform on the first Friday of every month at Roscoe's BBQ in Phoenix.

"What could be better than some lively blues music and some barbecue," Nelson asks. "The sound is good there, too. The place has a nice roadhouse feel to it."

Cover for the Bluesdusters' show at Roscoe's is free.

Call 512-1046.

John Nelson and Leonard Griffie of The Bluesdusters share an affinity for early blues players. - Jim Craven