Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys Nail It On ‘My Life’

'My Life' is an album that’s ahead of its time by staying behind the times.

The blues took an interesting leap in the 1960s, quickly going from traditional black American artists to the Rolling Stones and their straight blues covers, to The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, who moved the blues needle right into Cream, who used the blues to segue into manic jams.

Before the 1960s ended, Led Zeppelin would release its debut album, and the blues was officially something almost completely different than it had been at the start of the decade. In the span of a decade, the blues became completely reinvented, its limits pushed to something very different from its origins. Those 1960s bands had the swagger of the blues, but it’s questionable to what extent Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, or any of the Kings might have recognized their music. Boundaries had been pushed and the blues exploded into something completely new and different from what it had been.

But what if it hadn’t changed? That question is answered by Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys. My Life is a blues album that sounds like it could have come out of the mid-1960s. It’s what the blues might have been had it not have become a departure point for acrobatic musicianship, breakneck tempos, and often-ridiculous lyrics.

My Life is a band revisiting its catalog. Reverend Raven takes original songs from his band’s four studio albums and uses various lineups to reinterpret the tracks. If you’re not familiar with Reverend Raven’s work, it’s a great and fun way to easily cover a lot of ground. The album plays like a live show. Reverend Raven is the common thread, providing guitar and laid-back vocals.

The laid-back vibe is what separates the album from so much of that later 60s blues rock. The sound is reminiscent of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, with lots of impressive harmonica work and guitar solos that show flash, but that don’t overpower the songs.

The songs represent a survey of the blues. “Handyman,” the lead-off track is jazzy, featuring lots of impossibly clean guitar. “Creature of Habit” is a bluesier rockabilly take on “Stray Cat Strut.” “I Can Do You Right” is a slow blues with a huge organ sound that will make you feel like it’s Sunday. “My Life” is pure Elmore James. But where The Paul Butterfield Blues Band pushed that classic riff to its limits on “Look Over Yonder Wall,” Reverend Raven lets it breathe.

Lots of incredible music came out of the 1960s blues revival. But the time was so fertile, and creativity was so strong, that no one really dwelt in the sounds. Instead, artists built and built and built. My Life captures a moment that never was, or at least wasn’t long enough, in a fun, interesting way. It’s an album that’s ahead of its time by staying behind the times.

My Life – Twentieth Anniversary – Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys
Label:                  Nevermore Records
Tracks:                16
Running Time:     65 Minutes


New Stuff

We got a couple nice reviews for our new cd that I posted earlier, and on the "My Life" page, (The American Blues Scene review is very gracious), picked up another Best of Milwaukee Award for Best Blues Band in 2017 and have been nominated for another Wisconsin Area Music Award (WAMI) for Best Blues Band.  We're very honored and big congrats to all the nominees this year.

Barbarian Invasion of  St Croix 2018

Craig and I will continue our barbaric invasion of St Croix with Madison/Clyde Stubblefield expatriate Gary Zappa for two weeks of feasting, drinking and pillaging.  Join us if you can.  Here's our schedule:

MAR 21 Eat at Cane Bay, Frederiksted, U.S. Virgin Islands
MAR 22 Sunset Sail, Frederiksted, VI
MAR 23 American Cheeseburgers in Paradise, Christiansted, VI
MAR 24 Blues & BBQ, Christiansted, VI
We return March 27th and will join PT and Westside Andy at Becket's Restaurant in Oshkosh, WI at 8:30pm on Friday, March 31st.

April 2018

We head up north to play our annual show in Gladstone for a show at the Terrace Bay Inn on Friday, April 6th at 7pm and the Fox & Hound Restaurant in Hubertus, WI on Saturday, April 7th at 7:30pm.

Southern CD Release Tour

We're headed south for a CD Release Tour to promote our new CD "My Life" and to see and hang out with old friends along the way.

April 11th we start out Florida Tour with our first stop at Stevie Ray's in Louisville, KY. at 8:30pm 

April 12th ISIS Music Hall, Asheville, NC 8:30pm

April 13th High Cotton Music Hall, Hartwell, GA 8pm

April 14th Bradfordville Blues Club, Tallahassee, FL 9pm

April 15th Capitol Oyster Bar, Montgomery, AL 5pm

April 16th Private Party, Gainesville, FL

April 17th Englewood's On Dearborn, Englewood, FL 7pm

April 18th The Little Bar, Goodland, FL 8pm

April 19th The Blue Rooster, Sarasota, FL 7:30pm

April 20th The Barrel Room, Fort Myers, FL 9pm

April 21st The Coral Gables Blues Festival, Coral Gables Fl 7:30pm

April 22nd Rock N' Riverwalk, Stuart, FL 1pm

April 23rd Seville Quarter, Pensacola, FL 8pm

April 24th Darwin's, Sandy Springs, GA 8pm

April 25th OFF (finally lol)

April 26th Blue Note Bistro, Miamisburg, OH 8pm

April 27th Slippery Noodle Inn, Indianapolis, IN 8:30pm

April 28th Slippery Noodle Inn, Indianapolis, IN 8:30pm

April 29th The Midway Tavern, Mishawaka, IN 7:30pm


Our new cd "My Life" was released on February 9th and the reviews are coming in from around the worlds  It contains 16 originals from our previous cds that have been remixed or recorded with a new lineup of musicians that includes, Westside Andy, Madison Slim, Cadillac Pete Rahn, Benny Rickun, Big Al Groth, Jimmy Voegeli, Mickey Larson, Danny Moore, Ron Kovach, Andre Maritato, PT Pedersen SC, Brad Bill, Jeff Roberts, Spencer and Craig Panosh and Victor Span.  Recorded at Making Sausage Studios in Milwaukee and engineered by Steve Hamilton. 


It has debuted at # 9 on the Living Blues Magazine Radio Chart for March 2018.  It's number # 2 on the Roots Music Radio Chicago Blues Charts for the third week in a row and #17 on the Top 30 Blues CDs for the week of 3/5/18.  Seven of our songs are in the top 20 for the Chicago Radio Blues Charts too.  You can help out by calling your local blues radio station and asking them to play My Life by Reverend Raven & the Chain Smoking Altar Boys.  Go to for the nearest radio station.




"Top 30 CD for Dec/Jan/Feb" Blues Power

"Your new CD is great" Gil Anthony/Blues Power

"Top Ten Pick" Smokestack Lightning 

"Sounds excellent" Mark Thompson/Suncoast Blues Society


"Here Comes My Baby" collectively account for nearly three minutes (4:16 total time) of the track and from what I just heard, I want them spliced  2-3 times. WOW! Reverend's at disc's best with some all out rippin' guitar licks;"together, quadrupled in length and played over


"We are in the presence of a Chicago-born artist, currently based in Milwaukee who has scoured the Midwest and Florida up and down with a dream line up to perfectly perform a most traditional blues..."  - Cesar, Blues Again (Mar 01, 2018).


"Tasty stuff from some of the hardest working blues road warriors out there, it’s time for them to be less of local Milwaukee treat and let the word get out.  Hot stuff." - Midwest Record Review, Midwest Record Review (Feb 02, 2018).


"This is an album I would suggest getting several copies of...that first copy is sure to wear out quickly. "  - Bill Wilson, Reflections in Blue (Feb 01, 2018).


"Every aspect of the album is everything you could ever wish for from a Blues album so my recommendation is that this is the album you have to have in your collection and there is no better way to kick off 2018. Blues can be interpreted in many ways but then again we want it to remain Blues not some shallow imitation. Trust me this truly is the skinny." - Peter Merrett, PBS 106.7FM Melbourne, Australia (Jan 29, 2018).


"Reverend Raven “My Life”! Twenty years of the best of the best. Just ace top drawer! Better check it out." - Blue Barry, Smokey Mountain Blues Society (Jan 18, 2018).


"What can I say? This is some great stuff to commemorate 20 years of some of the blues worlds best music from one of my all time favorite artists and his band. As I said earlier, this is blues the way blues were meant to be played. Run do not walk, and go buy this one NOW! You will not regret it!"


"Picking only sixteen cuts was arguably tough to do, but Reverend Raven And The Chain Smoking Altar Boys and “My Life” effectively traces the history of one of the Midwest’s , er, “smokin-est” blues bands ever to lay down a groove! Roll back the rug, and dance your ass off until….next time! Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society." - Sheryl & Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society (Feb 23, 2018).


"Reverend Raven & the Altar Boys have been playing originals for over twenty years with a nod to Slim Harpo, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Junior Wells & the three Kings. They are still working on their mission today: "to spread the gospel of the Blues ...". 'My Life' is an excellent compilation album that, in view of the line-up, cannot be missed by any blues enthusiast!"  - Eric Schuurmans, Rootstime (Belgium) (Feb 17, 2018).


“Recommendation: " This amazing collection belongs in your library, regardless of your musical tastes. Get it before it’s gone."”


"This eighth album from our pastor is a compilation album with old songs in a new mix and in some cases re-recorded. It is mainly Chicago blues that hits the clock here. In the style of, for example, Little Charlie & The Nightcats or The Fabulous Thunderbirds." - Peter Marinus, Blues Magazine (Feb 14, 2018).


"As their name implies these guys are smokin’ hot. This is highly recommended Chicago blues".  - Richard Ludmerer, Making a Scene (Feb 14, 2018).


Get your copy by sending $17.50 to Nevermore Records, 3851 E. Holmes Avenue, Cudahy, WI 53110



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