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Quartzsite, Arizona

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Installation of traffic counters US 95 south of Quartzsite Sat. & Sun.

Installation of traffic counters scheduled on 
US 95 south of Quartzsite

There will be intermittent lane closures from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday (June 2) and Sunday (June 3), on U.S. 95 south of Quartzsite to install traffic counter loops prior to repaving the roadway.

One lane will be open at all times. Crews and law enforcement will be on site to direct traffic through the area. Drivers should anticipate delays of up to 10 minutes.

The schedule is subject to change due to a variety of reasons, including weather, availability of materials, and mechanical difficulties. ADOT advises drivers to proceed through or near work zones with caution, slow down, and be alert for construction equipment and personnel.

For more information about this project, please visit or contact Yuma District Senior Community Relations Officer Gabriella Kemp at 928.317.2165, or ADOT Community Relations Officer, Paki Rico, at 520.388.4233,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quartzsite citizens seek investigation of Mayor Lizarraga for Civil Rights Violations, Assault, Abuse of Power

Concerned Residents of Quartzsite and the Quartzsite Fire District letter to:

United States Attorney District of Arizona
Two Renaissance Square 40 N Central Ave, Suite 1200, Phoenix, AZ 85004-4408
Special Agent-in-Charge Yuma Field Office
775 E 39th St., Yuma, AZ 85364-8011
Honorable Jan Brewer Governor of Arizona
Executive Tower1700 W Washington St Phoenix, AZ 85007-2812
Honorable Tom Horne Attorney General of Arizona
1275 W Washington StPhoenix, AZ 85007-2926
Director Robert Halliday Arizona Department of Public Safety
2102 W Encanto Blvd Phoenix, AZ 85009-2847

Dear Sirs and Mesdames:
We have remained silent for too long.  Our town has been overrun by miscreants, malcontents and “sovereign citizens” hell-bent on destruction.  We have reason to believe that they have exploited loopholes and outright violated state law to steal an election by influencing non-residents to vote in our local election and that they have engaged in an ongoing effort to intimidate the good and law-abiding citizens of the town of Quartzsite into avoiding any active participation in town government by creating repeated disturbances at town hall, the town police station and at town meetings and by engaging in aggressive behavior toward anyone with a view different from their own.

Things have escalated recently when this “outlaw faction” co-opted the town’s mayor and somehow got him to do their bidding by attempting to force the town to swear their leaders into office before the existing council could properly canvass the election and judge the qualifications of the council members-elect and mayor-elect as is the current council’s right and duty.  This has led to conduct that we have tolerated before but about which we can no longer remain silent.

1.    Civil Rights Violations
We have information and belief to suspect that Quartzsite Fire District Board Member John Prutch used his position as a member to influence Mayor Jose Lizarraga, a fire Captain whom Prutch, though his control of the Fire Board, has the ability to fire, to attempt to coerce the Town Council and the Town Administration into prematurely canvassing an election, foregoing the judgment of qualifications of those who were ostensibly elected and forcing the immediate cessation of terms of office of properly elected council members.  To accomplish this, we have information and belief that Lizarraga first attempted to bully Vice Mayor Cowell and Town Manager Taft into acquiescing to his demand that the canvass and swearing in of new officials be placed on the agenda without a draft resolution.  This bullying consisted of abrasive, abusive and untoward language directed at this female council member and female administrator which  Lizarraga is not known to direct toward male council members or staff.  In fact, we have information and belief that, when he addressed Town Attorney Brannan, who our information indicates was present during much of this brow-beating session, he toned down his commentary after Mr. Brannan did not retreat from his onslaught.  We also have information and belief that  Lizarraga “poked” Mr. Brannan when commenting about Brannan not having a draft ordinance, which  Lizarraga subsequently decided he didn’t want to present after it was created, ready the same day the  Lizarraga asked for it.  Our information and belief is that Mr. Brannan left the Town Manager’s office after this encounter.

Our information and belief indicates that  Lizarraga increased the tone of his invective during the period of time when Mr. Brannan had left the room.  We further have information and belief that Mr. Brannan took a seat further away from  Lizarraga in an apparent effort to avoid being physically contacted by  Lizarraga as the brow-beating continued.
We understand that after  Lizarraga concluded that he would not be getting his way, he left the room saying words to the effect that “after this morning I won’t have any friends.”  This preceded  Lizarraga wholly abandoning his duties as elected mayor and attempting to terminate a lawfully noticed and convened meeting of the Town Council.

We believe that this conduct, which we have information and belief is not an isolated event but rather is a continuation of the verbal abuse and belittling of female council and staff members, created a hostile work environment which infringed on the rights of the female council members and staff of the town of Quartzsite based on their gender.  Sex-based discrimination is intolerable to us.  We recognize that, as a firefighter, Lizarraga is part of a “boys will be boys” culture and may think that such conduct is acceptable because his firefighting subordinates accept it.  We suspect, however, that just as he chooses different words to try to influence other male council and staff members, he chooses to act differently around his male companions.

We are asking that you investigate Jose Lizarraga for violating the civil rights of the female council and staff of the town of Quartzsite.  We are also asking that you investigate Richard Oldham, Ed Foster, Mark Orgeron, Patricia Workman, John Prutch, Tony Carnevale, Jose Lizarraga, Jack Jones, Jennifer Jones, Douglas Gilford, Teri Gilford, Michael Roth and Dana Stadler for violating the civil rights of the citizens of Quartzsite to take part in municipal government by creating a hostile environment in council meetings, engaging in conduct intended to intimidate citizens with differing views – including verbally abusing and physically threatening residents, and for voter fraud through the intimidation of voters, the purchasing of votes for something of value and the encouragement of nonresidents to vote.

Additionally, we ask that you investigate the La Paz County Elections department whom we have information and belief permitted Teri Gilford to be part of the vote collection, collating and counting process even after being advised that Gilford posted a comment advising that those voting by mail need not be bona fide residents of the town and which we have information and belief has been unnecessarily and unreasonably been withholding the names of the voters at the May 15, 2012 election to delay an investigation into voter fraud until after the Council is statutorily required canvass of the vote on June 4, 2012; the La Paz County Attorney and La Paz County Sheriff, whom we have information and belief met with mayor-elect Ed Foster and may have conspired to, or have been solicited to, assist Foster in forcing the premature transfer of authority without a proper canvass or qualification proceeding.

2.    Assault
We have information and belief that Jose Lizarraga maliciously threatened and assaulted Town Attorney Martin Brannan and then made a false report against him with the intent to impede his ability to serve the town of Quartzsite.  On information and belief,  Lizarraga has a reputation as a person who “hates” lawyers and engineers, possibly because they have a command of skills which escape his grasp.  We have information and belief that  Lizarraga has stated this hatred publicly on multiple occasions and that, upon meeting Mr. Brannan in Ms. Taft’s office for the first time told Mr. Brannan that he (Lizarraga) didn’t like Mr. Brannan, but that was okay because he (Lizarraga) hated all lawyers.

We have information and belief that Lizarraga made no secret, following that initial meeting, that he considered Mr. Brannan anything other than an impediment to doing whatever he wanted as mayor.  Mr. Brannan serving as such an impediment apparently continued on the morning of May 22, 2012 when Mr. Brannan repeatedly defended Vice-Mayor Cowell and Ms. Taft from Lizarraga’s verbal abuse.

This appeared to continue after Lizarraga exceeded his authority and prematurely adjourned the May 22, 2012 council meeting when Lizarraga taunted Mr. Brannan by saying words to the effect, “what are you going to do Martin, arrest me?”  On information and belief, Mr. Brannan then left the council chambers to go to his office to research the illegality of Lizarraga’s actions and the Council’s options for proceeding.  As Mr. Brannan passed Lizarraga in the hallway, our information and belief is that Mr. Brannan said, “who the fuck do you think you are, Jose? You’re the mayor not a dictator,” at which time we believe that Lizarraga stepped into Mr. Brannan’s “personal space” causing Mr. Brannan to put his arm out to cease Lizarraga’s ingress.  We believe that this conduct was observed by Council Member Winslow.  We also believe that there is a video of the hallway where the incident took place that supports what we believe Mr. Winslow saw.

We believe that Lizarraga then falsely claimed to have been assaulted by Mr. Brannan and demanded that Quartzsite Police Sergeant Frausto and Quartzsite Police Chief Gilbert arrest Brannan for assault.  We understand that Lizarraga has since decided that there really was no assault and has said “the physical contact was not much and I told LPSO as much.”  If, as it would appear, Lizarraga now admits that he wasn’t assaulted, his statement to law enforcement that he was assaulted is a criminal act.  Further, if, as we believe Mr. Winslow observed, Lizarraga entered into Mr. Brannan’s “personal space” we believe that this is an assault.  Finally, Lizarraga’s claim that being asked “who the fuck [he] thought [he] was?” and being told that he is not a dictator constitutes a threat is ludicrous.  No reasonable person could ever find those statements, especially in light of Lizarraga’s attempt to dictate the actions of a majority of the Council (everyone except him) to be anything other than an inquiry that every member of the Council (and all of us) would like an answer to.

We are asking that you investigate Lizarraga for assault and for false reporting to law enforcement.  We also suspect that Lizarraga’s actions may constitute a crime of bias based on Mr. Brannan’s status as a service-connected disabled American veteran.

3.    Abuse of Power
Finally, we are asking that you investigate the Quartzsite Fire District Board.  On information and belief there has been conduct committed by that Board, including the use of Fire District property and personnel, to influence an election.

The Quartzsite Fire District Board consists of John Prutch and Tony Carnevale.  Prior to May 24, 2012, Larry Ekberg was also a member, but we have information and belief that he resigned in protest to the actions of Prutch and Carnevale.  John Prutch is a recent council candidate who is appealing his loss to the Arizona Court of Appeals.  He and Carnevale are purportedly supporters of Ed Foster, Patricia Workman and Mark Orgeron.  Shortly before May 15, 2012, we believe that Prutch used fire department property, reportedly a swamp cooler and a barbecue grill, to serve potential voters at a “rally” for Foster, Workman and Orgeron.  We further believe that Prutch used fire department personnel to transport the grill and cooler to and from the rally.  We also believe that Prutch has used this and other fire department equipment for his own personal purposes having no nexus to proper fire district business.  We suspect, but do not have substantial information that Carnevale was complicit in these actions.

We have additional information and belief that the fire district was scheduled to have a budget meeting on May 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm.  We believe Mr. Ekberg, who is currently away from Quartzsite drove a substantial distance to attend this meeting only to learn that Prutch and Carnevale, without having a public vote, cancelled the meeting in order to permit Lizarraga to appear at a hastily scheduled Town Council meeting intended to force a canvass of the election and swearing in of new officials against the will of a majority of the Common Council.  We have information and belief that when Mr. Ekberg directly confronted Prutch and Carnevale that they had cancelled the budget meeting without a vote for the purpose of forcing the town to name Ed Foster mayor, Prutch and Carnevale admitted that they had causing Mr. Ekberg to resign from the Board in disgust.

We also have information and belief that Mr. Ekberg was the primary stumbling block between firing current fire chief Kevin Hess and replacing him with Lizarraga.  If this information is accurate, it shows a pattern of abuse of authority which invites the attention of your agencies.  We respectfully request that such an investigation be conducted at the first opportunity.

We, the concerned citizens of Quartzsite, have stood by quietly long enough.  There are many who stand with but are reluctant to sign this letter in fear of retaliation.  Know that there are exponentially more concerned citizens who are unwilling to subject themselves to the wrath of those we ask you to investigate.

With respect and anticipation of your assistance,
Concerned Residents of Quartzsite and the Quartzsite Fire District

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

BLM announced Fire restrictions on Arizona public lands

Fire Restrictions Announced for BLM Kingman Public Lands

Kingman, Ariz - To prevent unwanted human-caused wildfires, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Colorado River District has announced fire restrictions on public lands south and east of the Colorado River in Mohave, La Paz and Yavapai Counties, Arizona. 
Effective Friday, May 25, 2012, fire and smoking restrictions will be enforced on all public lands within the BLM Kingman Field Office boundaries. These restrictions are similar to those already implemented in other areas of the district and state.  
The BLM is asking the public to use extreme caution when visiting public lands this summer. Currently there are no plans to close any areas to public use.
BLM Fire Restrictions prohibit the following acts:
(1)       Open campfires, charcoal grills, and stove fires.  Campfires and charcoal grills are permitted only in developed recreation sites or improved sites where agency-built fire rings or grills are provided.  The use of petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns, or heating devices are allowed provided such devices meet the fire underwriter’s specifications for safety.  Developed sites in the Kingman Field Office include Burro Creek Campground, Wild Cow Campground, Windy Point Campground and Packsaddle Campground.

(2)       Smoking will only be allowed inside buildings, motor vehicles, camp trailers or while stopped in an area at least six feet in diameter that is cleared of all flammable material.

(3)       Use of fireworks, flares, or other incendiary devices.

(4)       Welding or the use of any torch or metal cutting implement.

            The restrictions are necessary due to increasing fire danger from hot and dry weather conditions. The restrictions will continue until conditions warrant rescinding.  Violation of these restrictions is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than 12 months.
Current fire restriction information can also be found online at or call toll free 1-877-864-6985.  To report a wildfire or illegal fire use, please call the Kingman Field Office at (928) 718-3700 or Arizona Interagency Dispatch Center at (800) 309-7081.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bluesman Deacon Jones added to Blythe River Blues Festival lineup

Bluesman Deacon Jones added to 1st Blythe River Blues Festival lineup

BLYTHE - Longtime blues organist Deacon Jones and his band have been added to the lineup of groups scheduled for the 1st Blythe River Blues Festival, to be held on May 26, Memorial Day weekend, at Quechan Park in Blythe. Jones' resume includes 18 years touring with the legendary John Lee Hooker (photo left) and seven years playing with Freddie King. Jones joins Fran Banish, 7th Sons, Bernie Pearl, the South Main Street Blues Band and Paul Winer on the festival bill.

Jones was a rock and roller in the early 1960s, when the hometown Richmond, Ind. band he was in, Baby Huey and the Babysitters, moved to Chicago and hired Elvin Bishop. According to Jones, Bishop kept trying to bring blues songs into the band but was met with resistance. One day Bishop invited Jones to a Chicago blues club and it turned out to be a day that changed his life forever.

"Elvin said, 'I want to take you down to this club' and the reason he wanted me to go was because he knew he would be the only white guy in the club so he wanted to be there with someone he knew," Jones said. "We were having a beer and I'm getting madder than hell looking at all these drunks, wondering why he brought me to watch all these drunks."

The drunks Jones was referring to turned out to be Muddy Waters, James Cotton and Otis Spann, some of the greatest blues musicians of all time.

"I had no idea I was watching a bandstand full of legends - all legends. But in 1964, they didn't know what they were - then they all became very famous."

As time went on, Jones and Baby began to have differences over money and women and he soon left the band. Jones traveled to New York, got in trouble, got out of trouble, and went back to Chicago with his tail tucked between his legs. He then learned that the Chicago-based Impressions were looking for a band so he tried out and got the gig, joining Curtis Mayfield on stage.

It was Mayfield who, back in 1969, gave Jones the moniker, "Deacon."

"He forgot my real name, Melvin Jones," Jones said. "I was wearing a tuxedo and we were opening for Diana Ross when she had first gone solo. While introducing the band, he turned to me on the organ and he said, 'we have... Deacon Jones. The audience erupted into laughter and since then they called me Deacon."

In 1969, the Impressions played the Fillmore West in San Francisco, where they played on a bill with Carlos Santana, Ike and Tina Turner and others. Unfortunately for Jones, when Mayfield left the band, so did the jobs.

Fortune though, shined on Jones when the brother of Freddie King called and said the group needed an organist.

"I did one set with Freddie and he looked at me and said, 'you're hired,'" Jones said. "I have three rules, King said to Jones: Be on time, don't be too high you can't play, and don't carry anything illegal in my vehicles."

After hearing the rules, King asked Jones if he drank. Not wanting to lose the job, Jones wasn't sure if he should say yes or no.

"I said occasionally and he said what's your preference?" Jones said. "By then the dressing room was beginning to fill up and I said it don't matter. He said, 'I better watch Deacon Jones when my bottle's open.'"

Jones stayed with King until his death, three days after Christmas in 1976. King, at the time, was about to record an album with songs written by Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Jones.

"I couldn't believe it," Jones said. "I was just getting ready to make money and then all my dreams turned to a nightmare over night. He was my friend - and even my landlord."

Jones wandered around for a couple of years and then went to club in Dallas with a friend who took him to see John Lee Hooker, who was on stage with a guitar player, bassist and drummer.

"At the end of the night I introduced myself and told him I had played with Freddie King," Jones said. "He said, 'I remember Freddie, he used to sweat when he ate.' I told him I'll play one song with you and if it don't sound right, you won't have to ask me to leave, I'll just go."

Jones ended up playing the entire set with Hooker.

"Afterward he said, 'can you travel?' I said my bags are out in the car."

Jones played with Hooker for 18 years until he had a misunderstanding with his booking agent in 1992 over t-shirt sales.

"I had a choice," Jones said. "I could have shot his agent and gone to San Quentin the rest of my life - or leave the Bay Area and move to LA."

Jones said that in 2001, John Lee Hooker's daughter called and said they wanted him to come back - but three days later he got a call and was told Hooker had died.

"I cried," Jones said. "I was his driver, his security guard, his best friend."

Jones said it's all the hard luck he's had to endure that makes him a bluesman.

"Why do you think they call it the blues?" he asked. "I have had some real funky luck. I know what it feels like to be stabbed in the back, double crossed, to be let down cause I've been through it. When I tell someone something, that's the way it is, even if it comes out of my pocket."

The band Jones is bringing to the Blythe River Blues Festival includes bass player Rick Taub, who has been with Jones since 1993, drummer Craig McMullen, who has jammed with King Solomon and Little Milton, and guitarist Lester Lands.

"He plays just like BB King," Jones said. "He's a church man, which is a good thing to be."

Barbara Ivy will be Jones' front singer.

"She brought the roof down at Universal City when she appeared with BB King," Jones said. "Not only does she have an authentic, genuine blues voice, she puts a good show."

Jones said he couldn't wait to play the 1st Blythe River Blues Festival.

"I'm a bluesman," he said. "I like festivals, the imagery and you know everyone there is there to hear the blues. You don't have to worry about someone coming up and saying, 'do you know blah, blah, blah by Led Zepplin?' We get on the stage and do our thing. We're going to come out like storm troopers."

The Blythe River Blues Festival will be held from 2 p.m. until midnight at the Quechan Marina on the Colorado River in Blythe.

Tickets are $15 and available through the Blythe Area Chamber of Commerce (760-922-8166) or online at You can also watch the show from your own boat for just $25 and the price of ticket for everyone in the boat.

Local hotels will offer discounts to customers who mention the Blythe River Blues Festival when booking a room. A list of hotels and resorts is provided at the There will also be RV parking at the nearby Colorado River Fairgrounds for $10 a night.

Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency will provide bus service from a fixed route and door-to-door. The local Silver Route 5 bus will make two trips from K-Mart along Hobsonway picking up at all eastbound bus stops to Quechan Park at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. for $1.65 per person. Curb-to-Curb service is $5 each way, locally to and from Quechan Park, and is available from 4 p.m. until midnight by calling 760-922-4900.

There will also be pick up service at McIntyre Park at 3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and from Mayflower/Hidden Beaches at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to Quechan Park for $5 a person, one way. There will also be pick up service every hour on the hour from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m., from the KOA campground.

Friday, May 18, 2012

La Paz County Attorney will not prosecute Quartzsite's misdemeanor charges

Clarification regarding Quartzsite felony charges against 
Michael Roth (QPD #12-00291) and 
Dana Stadler (QPD #12-00290) and Quartzsite misdemeanor charges in general

Parker, AZ - (May 18, 2012) - Sam Vederman, La Paz County Attorney, sent the following email to La Paz County Board of Supervisors this morning:


Citizens have gone to the Board of Supervisors meetings, at least two times in the past that I am aware of, to make complaints against myself and / or this office in reference to the prosecution of cases generated by the Quartzsite Police Department.   

The purpose of this e-mail is to clarify the role the La Paz County Attorney’s Office has with the aforementioned cases and Quartzsite Police Department cases in general.

On June 24, 2011, Chief J. Gilbert, QPD, sent me an e-mail with an attached memorandum stating, “All misdemeanor complaints or charges are to be forwarded to the Town Prosecutor only.  If for some reason you are unsure of the charges for a “long form” complaint, then consult with Mr. Brannan first.  If you have any questions, please contact your immediate supervisor.”   Chief Gilbert copied myself and Martin Brannan with the memorandum.

In addition, the memorandum was sent to “All Personnel” at the Quartzsite Police Department.

The e-mail itself which had the attached memorandum, from Chief Gilbert to me, dated June 24, 2011, at 3:16pm, states, “Sam, I have instructed our officers not to forward misdemeanor complaints and charges to your office, that they should be directed to the Town Prosecutor.  If you receive them by error, please let our office know.  Thank you, J. Gilbert, Chief of Police, Quartzsite Police Department”

Therefore, at Chief Gilbert’s request, all misdemeanor complaints / cases generated by the Quartzsite Police Department, including the complaints / cases involving Michael Roth and Dana Stadler from May 4, have been, or will be, dismissed by this office and those misdemeanor complaints / cases will be prosecuted at the discretion of the Quartzsite Town Prosecutor. 

Currently, and at the request of Chief J. Gilbert, this office only reviews cases generated by the Quartzsite Police Department for felony charges.

The cases against Michael Roth and Dana Stadler are still under review for felony charges only.

Samuel E. Vederman
La Paz County Attorney

1320 Kofa Avenue
Parker, Arizona 85344

Fax (928)669-2019
Cell (928)580-7551


Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff Gilbert responds to Vederman in an email yesterday:

Mr. Vederman,

I am well aware of the email sent to your office on June 24, 2011, concerning how our agency files complaints. This was directed to our officers and your office because of a misdemeanor complaint being forwarded to your office in error. This is the same procedure that was practiced when Matt Newman was the prosecutor for the Town of Quartzsite, unless there were misdemeanor and felony violations committed in the same incident. When that occurred, it was the common practice to file all charges with your office, as you had requested in the past, in order to not have the same case presented in separate courts (Magistrate and Justice). You have obviously taken the email out of context as to its true intent of the message. I know that the officers of the Quartzsite Police Department understood the correct intent of the directive.   

This is the same procedure used when other Quartzsite cases have been presented to your office that involved misdemeanors and felonies resulting from the same arrest. I am certain that the Parker Police Department uses this same practice, as your office has utilized during your term, as well as previous County Attorneys. The arrests of Michael Roth and Dana Stadler on 05-04-2012 were presented to your office because the arrests involved both misdemeanor and felony charges. If you choose not to prosecute the misdemeanor charges filed in conjunction with the felony charges, then that is at your discretion.

Your response only further confirms your biased actions when it comes to the prosecution of Quartzsite cases that you do not agree with. Your past correspondence with the Town of Quartzsite elected officials and myself has certainly proven this, starting with your objections to the release of Matt Newman as the Town of Quartzsite Prosecutor, and the hiring of Martin Brannan as such.

However, you have a responsibility to all citizens of La Paz County including the residents of Quartzsite. If you choose not to fulfill your duty to the Town of Quartzsite and this agency, then I will confer with the AZ Attorney General’s Office as to what steps need to take place to ensure that our criminal cases are filed, charged and prosecuted when appropriate.

You continue to display your prejudice toward the Town and myself through your actions. However, I have overlooked your personal attacks against me, including you filing a false and unsubstantiated complaint with the FBI, in order to attempt to keep a working relationship between our agency and your office.

It is obvious that you are unable to do the same, as you continue to allow your personal indifferences with myself and the Town affect your obligations and duties as County Attorney.

Jeff Gilbert
Chief of Police
Quartzsite Police Department

Fran Banish headlines Blythe Blues Festival, May 26th

From Chicago to L.A., Fran Banish may be the baddest blues
guitarist in the land
BLYTHE - Fran Banish, the headliner for the 1st Blythe River Blues Festival to be held at Quechan Marina on May 26, Memorial Day weekend, learned his trade as a teenager with a fake ID, hanging out in the blues clubs of Chicago. Banish was a Beatles fan getting into rock and roll when he started reading about the world famous Chicago blues scene. 

"I was 10 or 12 when I realized it was happening just 10 miles away from where I lived," said Banish, describing his roots. "I started becoming a blues freak, listening to blues and collecting records. I would demand my dad to take me to see Muddy Waters when I was about 12... and he did."

Evading club security, Banish was exposed to some of the great blues and jazz legends of the time, sitting in with the likes of Lefty Dizz and James Cotton's band when they did weeknight gigs without James Cotton. 

Twenty years ago Banish was a member of a Chicago rock band that figured it would have more success by moving to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the band went bust. 

"It was the wrong time for us to move to L.A.," he said. "The Grunge scene was getting huge and we were not playing Grunge so it was back to the blues."

Banish stayed in LA and since then has enjoyed a lot of success as a performer, teacher, and in the studio, where in addition to recording his own material, he co-wrote a pair of songs and played lead guitar on Duncan Sheik's 1996 self-titled CD on Atlantic Records. 

"It was his first record and it went Gold," said Banish, who co-wrote the songs Serena and Little Hands on the CD. 

He's also worked off and on for 10 years with bluesman Keb Mo, who won Grammys in 1997, 1999 and 2005 for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Banish played guitar on Keb Mo's 2006 CD, Suitcase. 

Recently Banish has finished a five-song EP, Chicago To LA, a blues sampler, playing some classic tunes as well as an original. The music ranges from modern Chicago blues to some old time country blues as well as funk blues. You can hear it on the music page at 

The band began promoting the CD at a performance in Cottonwood, Ariz.

"We had the opportunity to see and hear Fran Banish in Cottonwood a few weeks ago and believe it, he is definitely worth the price of admission," said Jim Crawford of the Phoenix, Ariz.-based Phoenix Blues Society. "The guy flat makes his Strat smoke." 

Banish is bringing his band with him to the Blythe River Blues Festival.

"It's a beautiful thing," he said about being the main act. "I've got a great band with me, so it's going to be terrific and fun." 

The band includes Paul Allen, a drummer who, while just a teenager, played with Bo Diddley. Allen recently came off a tour with pop diva Kelly Clarkson.

Dale Jennings, from Detroit, is on bass and he's played the Ann Arbor Blues Festival with Hubert Sumlin, Howling Wolf's guitar player, as well as gigging with Lazy Lester and Rufus Thomas.

On keyboards will be Sasha Smith, a Northern Californian who, at age 11, played for and hung out with Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Berry's former pianist. 

"Sasha's an amazing Chicago Blues and New Orleans style piano player," Banish said.

Banish promised festival attendees were going to get a high energy, Chicago blues band covering a spectrum of blues ranging from funky and rocking to old time. 

"There will be some rock and roll flavor as well as some New Orleans flavor, too," Banish said. "It's what we're doing - Chicago blues influenced by New Orleans, so there is some funk and rock influence to it. I worked in rock and roll but I always come back to the blues. I'm psyched to have this band with me. Everyone is a bit of a prodigy and an MVP in their own right."

The first ever Blythe River Blues Festival is scheduled for May 26 and will benefit the Blythe Area Chamber of Commerce. Other bands scheduled include Bernie Pearl, 7th Sons, the South Main Street Blues Band and Paul Winer. 

The festival will be held from 2 p.m. until midnight at the Quechan Marina on the Colorado River in Blythe. 

Tickets are $15 and available through the Blythe Area Chamber of Commerce (760-922-8166) or online at You can also watch the show from your own boat for just $25 and the price of ticket for everyone in the boat. 

Local hotels will offer discounts to customers who mention the Blythe River Blues Festival when booking a room. A list of hotels and resorts is provided at the There will also be RV parking at the nearby Colorado River Fairgrounds for $10 a night. 

Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency will provide bus service from a fixed route that will be published at a later time. They will also provide home/hotel pickup service to the park and back for a cost of $5 each way. Call 760-922-4900 for more information on bus service.

Quartzsite Town Council agenda for Tues. May 22nd, 2012- 9am

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Weekend road work planned on Hyw 95 south of Quartzsite

Weekend work scheduled on US 95 
south of Quartzsite
Crews working this weekend so highway can be clear for Memorial Day holiday

Crews working on a widening and improvement project on US 95 south of Quartzsite will work daily beginning Friday (May 18) through Thursday (May 24) in an effort to remove all restrictions in time for the busy Memorial Day travel weekend. No work or restrictions are scheduled over Memorial Day weekend.

What to expect between mileposts 96-104 on US 95 during the next week:
  • Work is scheduled to take place daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Lane closures of up to two and a half miles are planned during work hours.
  • Workers will direct traffic through the work zone at times which may result in delays of approximately 15 minutes.
  • The speed limit will be reduced to 25 mph in the construction zone.
  • Law enforcement will be on-site to monitor speeds.
  • Message boards will advise drivers of lane restrictions.
  • After work hours, traffic control devices will remain in place and speed limit will be maintained at 55 mph.

This roadway improvement project consists of repaving an eight-mile stretch of US 95 approximately 15 miles south of Quartzsite between mileposts 96-104. In addition, ADOT will build a northbound left-turn lane at milepost 82 (Cibola Lake Road) and a southbound right-turn lane at milepost 89 (Microwave Telephone Road).

This project is scheduled to be completed by this summer.

ADOT advises drivers to proceed through the work zone with caution, slow down and be alert for construction equipment and personnel.

ADOT works to inform the public about planned highway restrictions, but there is a possibility that unscheduled closures or restrictions may occur. Weather can also affect a project schedule. To stay up-to-date with the latest highway conditions around the state, visit the ADOT Traveler Information Center at or call 5-1-1.

For more information about this project, please visit or contact Yuma District Senior Community Relations Officer Gabriella Kemp at 928.317.2165, or ADOT Community Relations Officer, Paki Rico, at 520-388-4233,

Local media should contact the ADOT Public Information Office at or 1.800.949.8057. or for more information about ADOT. For more information about ADOT projects and programs across Arizona see the agency's latest blog posts at  


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