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Slam and Ellen
Frightfully Cool Blues
Story by Kevin Robinson
Pictures by Ellie Apuzzo

Saturday. In the park. No way it was the 4th of July.

It was Halloween, however. October 31, 1998. And Anders Thueson and the Hudson Valley Blues Society were throwing another party. The sun was shining bright on the band shell at James Baird State Park, Autumn leaves were blowing in the cool afternoon breeze, and there was great blues in the air.

Fresh back from a tour de force in Memphis which included a performance at B.B. King’s joint, the Slam Allen Band opened the show as only they can. By now, I hope that everybody in the Hudson Valley who loves live music knows about Slam Allen. The young musician hails from Monticello, where he grew up in a musical family and played drums in his dad’s band, the Allen Brothers. Slam always knew he wanted to entertain people, but his path to becoming one of the area’s top blues guitar player/vocalists had a twist or two along the way. Rumor has it (from a very reliable source), that the young Allen came by his stage name after a brief stint training to become a professional wrestler. Well, make no mistake, the WWF’s loss is our gain!
Eric, Mike, and Slam

Like every band, the Slam Allen Band has undergone some changes over time. Musicians (and their dreams) come and go, and with a talent like Slam up front, any good group of back-up players will get the job done. But this band doesn’t settle for getting the job done. There’s a new chemistry that shines through right now, and when that happens, it can be the first sign that good career things are about to happen. Mike Chido on trumpet and Rich Maraday on tenor sax make up the horn section, and they work together well to create the kind of fill one usually expects with a “big band.” They’re no Tower of Power (Who is?), but they’re the next best thing. Erik Perez is a young drummer with style. Whether he’s shuffling through the blues, bouncing in the funk, or rockin’ with the rhythm and blues, his playing has a smooth and commanding flow that is both appropriate and original.
Anders Thueson

Eric Winter anchors Slam’s band in more ways than one. Yes, his bass playing is top notch, even rich and creative at times, but it is his careful attention to what’s happening on stage and his subtle but enthusiastic communication techniques that go a long way toward keeping everyone on the same musical page. Mike Quick is a guitar slinger to

watch. . .and Slam has obviously been watching. Quick loves to play the blues. And he loves playing in this band. His talent is impressive, but it is his infectious enthusiasm that makes him an important asset to a band on the way up. Whether they realize it or not, audiences pick up on that kind of enthusiasm. When they see that the band members are having fun, they are far more apt to have fun themselves.

Slam and company played a great set, as they always do, and then turned the stage over briefly to an act called “Buffy, Fluffy & Scruffy.” I wasn’t expecting this folk-bluesy trio, and never did find out who they really are, but with guitar, bass, harmonica and washboard, they gave new meaning to the term “alternative.” They were definitely “something else!”
Ellen Whyte

When the Slam Allen Band returned to the stage to back the headliner, Ellen Whyte, the cool Autumn afternoon really warmed up. Whyte is a rising star on the west coast, where she and her band, Blue Reflex, have been charming audiences and winning awards. One of the greatest benefits President Anders Thueson and the Hudson Valley Blues Society provides to area music lovers is the opportunity to see and hear exceptional talent from the far corners of the musical world. It is no small matter, bringing in a recording artist the caliber of Ellen Whyte, but it is obviously a labor of love for Thueson. He has an eye and an ear for the real thing, and if there’s a way he can bring it to the Hudson Valley, he and his loyal “family” of blues enthusiasts will make it happen. Ellen Whyte is a wonderful example of this.
Joanne and Matthew

I first heard Ellen Whyte on one of Kansas City’s great blues radio shows. I think it might have been Lindsey Shannon’s Sunday night show, but then it could also have been Bill Haddock’s “Saturday Night Fish Fry.” My memory’s not what it used to be, but I’ll never forget Whyte’s voice. She has the kind of a voice that melds heart, soul and blues in a way that gets and keeps your attention. Live, Whyte is also playful. She and Slam played off each other throughout the set, and the highlight of the show came when they improvised a Halloween slow blues duet, and then jumped it right into a rousing version of “Let the Good Times Roll.”

Like our own Slam Allen, the name “Ellen Whyte” will soon become far more familiar to a broader audience... and for good reason. To learn more about Whyte and her music, check out her website at:

Kevin Robinson is a freelance writer/photographer, and the author of three "Stick Foster" hardback mystery novels. A former syndicated columnist for the Detroit Free Press, his byline has appeared over 100 times in national and regional periodicals. Kevin is a partner at No Bull Productions, and his PR credits include promotion and booking work for several of Kansas City's top blues bands. Kevin can be reached at Ellie Apuzzo owns and operates Ellie's Consider It Done. She provides "on-site oversight for absentee owners" here in the Florida Keys; and so far, this lifelong New Yorker just can't seem to get into "Keys time!" Ellie can be reached at

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