Blue LightningBlue Lightning

traditional delta & hill country blues

(featuring Mad Dog Friedman & Louisiana Sam Gillis)

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Click on the image to download our full-sized promo photo.

Click on the photo to download our full-sized promo photo.

Mad Dog Friedman & Louisiana Sam Gillis at the Colorado Blues Challenge Finals in 2017.

(Photo by Michael Mark)

Blue Lightning’s on a mission to create in-the-moment, rural blues. The traditions and spontaneous energy of Southern country blues masters, like Mississippi Fred McDowell, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Joe Williams and Sonny Terry, come alive in their music. Original song writing and arrangements keep it fresh. Blue Lightning is made up of Sam Gillis, hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana, on Dobro and acoustic guitar and Mad Dog Friedman, originally from the St. Louis area, on blues harp. Representing two generations of Colorado blues men, Sam Gillis & Mad Dog Friedman, seamlessly combine the new and the old with a passion that is all their own.


"This duet kicks it so hard I juss wanna lay down and die!" — master jazz Sufi poet, Wayne Gilbert


1st Strike

a new live CD from Louisiana Sam Gillis & Mad Dog Friedman

This album bristles with spontaneity. A couple of the songs featured here were being played for the first time by either Louisiana Sam or Mad Dog as they were being recorded live. One was actually composed on the spot from a phrase from the audience, and the arrangements of all the songs were unique to the moment. From the heart-felt rendition of Robert Johnson's delta blues classic, "Come On in My Kitchen," to the playful creativity of the original spontaneous composition, "It's Raining on My Chickens," 1st Strike is deep Southern country blues at it's best -- live, raw and aching for deliverance. Availble on iTunes, Spodify and BandCamp.

Check out these amazing reviews of our 1st Strike CD:

  • “Friedman and Gillis complement each other perfectly throughout. Their technical abilities are beyond question. Most of these tracks were recorded live, meaning the listener gets a sense of the passion and fire that these two artists bring to their music. It’s the easiest thing in the world to lean back and get lost in the blues here, which makes it a blistering success in my book. ...First Strike belongs in any blues collection and deserves to heard over and over again."

    ~by Wolf, "Wolf's Territory", Blue Monday Monthly, Issue168, May 2018

    Click to read or download the full review.

  • "Several things make this a one-of-a-kind recording more so than just a harmonica- guitar affair. Not only is it 15 tracks of pure country blues with time-honored selections from Robert Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Big Joe Williams but it also features nine authentic originals written in that idiom. ...And instead of straight 12 bar solos dominated by a single soloist, country blues features lots of licketysplit fill-ins and call-and-response riffs while the other leads the melody. That’s something that Friedman and Gillis do naturally, leveraging their uncanny but telepathic interplay. ... Though the dynamic duo have performed these songs multiple times, they’ve never been played the same way twice, indicating there’s always something new being invented. Like a lot of great musical moments, this project represented a short passage of time that may not ever be replicated."

~by Dan Willging, Colorado Blues Society, The Holler, April - May 2018

Click to read or download the full review.


The original version of "Holding the Bag Blues" recorded as we made up it on the spot at our first gig and is now available for free download.

Please see Mad Dog's & Louisiana Sam's websites for more tunes & videos:

www.maddogharp.com & soundcloud.com/sam-gillis-3.


(Video by Julie Blair Gillis.  Recorded May 7, 2017, at the Colorado Blues Challenge Finals.)


Please click on this image for a full-sized aniamtion.

(Please click on this image for a full-sized animation.

Photos by Tarry Underwoood.)


for bookings please contact Mad Dog Friedman

at maddog AT poetscoop DOT org

or 303-926-9626


Graphic & Web Design by M. D. Friedman

#bluelightning