Category Archives: Live Event

Blast Furnace Blues Festival Coming This Weekend

Robert Randolph, Charlie Musselwhite, Coco Montoya & More Headline 2016 Blast Furnace Blues Festival at SteelStacks in Bethlehem

Festival, presented by Highmark Blue Shield, set for March 11-13

CharlieMusselwhiteBlastFurnaceBETHLEHEM, PARobert Randolph & the Family Band, GRAMMY winner Charlie Musselwhite, Johnny Winter’s All Star Band, Coco Montoya and the Royal Southern Brotherhood headline the fifth Blast Furnace Blues Festival presented by Highmark Blue Shield March 11-13, 2016 at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. Three-day festival passes and single-day tickets for the event, which features 18 national and local blues artists are available at www.steelstacks.org and 610-332-3378.

On Sat., March 12, Blast Furnace Blues welcomes dynamic funk and soul group Robert Randolph & the Family Band. Named one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” by Rolling Stone, Robert Randolph and his band first gained national attention with the release of the album Live at the Wetlands in 2002. The group has performed at festivals ranging from Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits, to Gathering of the Vibes and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, while Randolph’s guitar work has resulted in collaborations with icons such as Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana.

Prior to Robert Randolph’s set, guests will enjoy a scorchin’ performance by the Royal Southern Brotherhood featuring Cyril Neville of The Neville Brothers. Also performing is Coco Montoya, a former member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers who’s been called “the hottest southpaw in the blues” by Guitar One Magazine.

Headlining the festival on Sun., March 13, is the one and only Charlie Musselwhite. A Blues Hall of Famer and a 2013 GRAMMY winner for Get Up!, his collaboration with Ben Harper, Musselwhite has been recording and performing for more than five decades. During his career, the legendary harmonica player has recorded and shared the stage with a who’s who of the music world including blues legends like Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf, as well as Mick Jagger, INXS, Tom Waits and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Earlier in the day, attendees will also enjoy a special tribute to Johnny Winter as the Johnny Winter All Star Band rocks the ArtsQuest Center. This high-energy ensemble features former Johnny Winter Band members Paul Nelson on guitar and James Montgomery on vocals, performing the music of the late blues-rock guitarist. Among the other artists who will take the stage March 13 is Janiva Magness, the 2009 Blues Foundation B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and 2015 Contemporary Female Artist of the Year.

”Highmark Blue Shield is proud to once again sponsor the Blast Furnace Blues Festival, a wonderful musical event that draws blues-lovers far beyond the Lehigh Valley,” says Susan Hubley, director of community affairs at Highmark. “This year’s lineup of musicians looks as incredible as the setting at SteelStacks. We’re grateful for the opportunity to show our support for this showcase of blues talent.”

The 2016 Blast Furnace Blues Festival kicks off Fri., March 11, with an incredible night of music by some of the region’s top blues acts. Set to take the stage are Friar’s Point, Sarah Ayers Band and the Craig Thatcher Band. The festival will also offer a special blues brunch, with music by the BC Combo, March 13 at 11 a.m.

Looking for the ultimate experience at Blast Furnace Blues? The festival offers three-day VIP Packages, which include admission to the entire festival, as well as a Sunday Blues Brunch ticket, meet & greets with select headliners, commemorative poster, valet parking and more. VIP Packages, which are available in limited quantities, are only $199.

BLAST FURNACE BLUES PRESENTED BY HIGHMARK BLUE SHIELD LINEUP:
March 11
Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling
6:30 p.m. Friar’s Point
8:00 p.m. Sarah Ayers Band
9:45 p.m. Craig Thatcher Band

March 12
Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling
12:30 p.m. Ursula Ricks
1:45 p.m. Darrell Nulisch
3:15 p.m. James Armstrong
5:00 p.m. Coco Montoya
6:45 p.m. Royal Southern Brotherhood
8:30 p.m. Robert Randolph & the Family Band
Fowler Blast Furnace Room Stage
1:00 p.m. Maria Woodford Band
2:30 p.m. Toby Walker
4:15 p.m. Ursula Ricks
6:00 p.m. Darrell Nulisch
7:45 p.m. James Armstrong

March 13
Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling
11:00 a.m. The BC Combo
1:15 p.m. The Revelers
2:30 p.m. Janiva Magness
4:15 p.m. Johnny Winter All Star Band
6:00 p.m. Charlie Musselwhite
Fowler Blast Furnace Room Stage
12:30 p.m. Matt Anderson
2:00 p.m. James Supra
3:45 p.m. Matt Anderson
5:15 p.m. The Revelers

Todd Wolfe Band Live Show Review – 2nd Story Blues

ToddWolfeBand201510022ndStory-1Todd Wolfe is not a household name, except maybe at his house. He’s never sold a million records under his own name, but he’s played on a few million sellers by others including old band mate Sheryl Crow. He’s opened shows for his musical heroes and he’s shared the stage with some as well. He plays the blues, but he likes to rock out. If this was 1972 he’d probably be mentioned in the same breath as many of his heroes like Leslie West and Eric Clapton. His writing and playing are imaginative, dynamic, and underrated. In an age of iPods, BitTorrents, Kimyes, Lady Ga Gas, and radio goo-goos, Todd Wolfe has gone largely un-noticed by the masses. Maybe that’s a good thing. Todd Wolfe continues to put out honest, heartfelt roots and blues music on his own terms. He works hard, traveling the world with his band to spread his self-described “Bluesadelic” musical vision.

Like all blues related music, Todd’s often gives a nod to the past. The overall sound of the band is reminiscent of Cream, Mountain, Rory Gallagher, and even the Son Seals Blues Band of the mid to late 70’s. Todd’s sound is raw, energetic, and pure. His vocals are gritty, gutsy, and occasionally gruff. His lyrics draw on his life experiences and his innate sense of song-craft makes every tune memorable. He is adept at slide guitar, and is as comfortable with only an acoustic guitar as he is at maximum volume fronting his powerhouse band featuring Justine Gardner on bass and Roger Voss on drums.

ToddWolfeBand201510022ndStory-2Last week we had the opportunity to catch Todd Wolfe Band in the initial phase of their tour celebrating the release of their phenomenal new album Long Road Back. The show was presented by 2nd Story Blues Alliance, an organization supporting Blues and musicians in the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania. 2nd Story brings in national blues acts to the Epic Center in Fountain Hill, PA right next door to Bethlehem. Todd Wolfe was a long time fixture of the Lehigh Valley and the local audience was enthusiastic. Todd brought along Hammond B3 and all around keyboard wizard John Ginty, who played on and co-produced Long Road Back, plus local favorite Sarah Ayers to sing on a pair of tunes. The result was two sets of incredibly dynamic music featuring jams that pressed to the edge of the cliff and almost fell off. It was wonderful to hear and mesmerizing to watch.

Armed with a handful of guitars and a single Marshall amp, Todd immediately proved his mastery of classic riff creation leading the band through several new tracks from the new album Long Road Back. The music covered a lot of stylistic ground and John Ginty on keyboard made this formidable trio an even more powerful quartet. One of my favorite moments was the performance of the atmospheric album closer “Hoodoo River.” When I first heard this song, I thought it was missing something but I liked it anyway. The missing piece must have been my fault because it has since become one of my favorite Todd Wolfe Band tunes. It is an instrumental track wherein the second theme never seems to resolve and I have come to believe that is exactly the point of it. The keyboard and guitar jams made this tune levitate and Voss and Gardner formed a well-oiled groove machine. It was perfectly unresolved and exquisitely performed.

ToddWolfeBand201510022ndStory-3Justine Gardner and Roger Voss play telepathically and the petite Gardner makes a rumble exponentially bigger than the figure she cuts. The whole band gets deep into the music and plays toward each other much of the time. You definitely get a bird’s eye view as these talented musicians create music on the fly that they want to make, and would be making whether you were there or not. It is honest and in the moment. Their energy draws you in and the quality of the songs keeps you there. Whether it’s “Miles To Go” or “Day By Day” from the last album, or a new rocker like “One Shot,” the brisk stomp of “Sunnyvale,” the Fusion-Blues of Ginty’s “Peanut Butter,” a primal and thunderous re-imagining of Stephen Stills’ “Black Queen,” or the maximum R&B of Sarah Ayers singing “Mercy” the band went from highlight to highlight. If you miss Todd Wolfe Band live you’re missing some of the best musicians out there making music with integrity and imagination every time they take the stage.

For more pictures from the show, check out our Facebook page.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with Todd’s work, I put together a Todd Wolfe Primer playlist. Remember, Spotify is great to find new music but the artists get very little from any streaming service. If you enjoy what you hear, buy the CD or digital album. Supporting the artists is the only way to ensure you get to hear more from them in the future.

Briggs Farm Blues Festival Info And Playlist

Briggs Farm Concerts is proud to announce another exciting year of Blues at Briggs Farm, Friday July 10th & Saturday July 11th, 2015. Nescopeck, Pennsylvania. 

For the 18th year the Briggs family will transform their tranquil, rural farm into one of the most celebrated & award winning blues festivals nationally, that keeps music lovers and festival goers alike wanting more, from the time the first guitar rings out Friday until the gates close Sunday afternoon. Two stages will host twenty one International, National and Regional acts promising the most exciting lineup to date.

Since its first year in 1998, “Briggs Fest” has been continually captivating and attracting larger audiences with bigger and better acts annually. Along with Mississippi Delta inspired cuisine and “farm fresh roasted sweet corn,” diverse, unique vendors, on-site camping, free parking and free hayrides… This year’s festival is looking to be the best yet.

2015 Briggs Fest is offering a Who’s Who of established & up and coming Blues Artists. Headlining the Main Stage on Friday night is Devon Allman, guitar virtuoso and son of legendary Greg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band. Musically described as Muddy Waters meets Sun Ra, Allman finds inspiration from a wealth of influences; Teeny Tucker, described by James “Skky Dobro” of Blues Blast Magazine as “…the best female Blues vocalist on the scene today; Alexis P. Suter Band is back on the Briggs scene with her commanding bass baritone artfully blending gospel and blues; Butterfield Revisited, lead by Gabriel Butterfield, son of legendary harmonica player, Paul Butterfield, takes the stage with seasoned music veterans to pay their mutual respects to Paul Butterfield, a true pioneer of the blues and 2015 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Saturday night Main Stage performances include Headliner Danielle Nicole, a powerhouse vocalist of the new generation of blues and a 2014 Blues Music Award winner, with the Danielle Nicole Band; white-hot chemistry meets world class material with Mike Zito and the Wheel, ” His music flows into the veins and move the body in ways that can only be described as free and wild, ” says Jazz Review; last of a breed of 60’s high octane rock, the Slam Allen Band is real soul and blues entertainment from the Grammy nominated bandleader, lead guitarist and vocalist with blues legend James Cotton; go back in time with Terry “Harmonica” Bean and the Cornlickers and experience authentic Delta and Hill Country Blues.

The “Delta Style” Back Porch Stage is an intimate setting providing audiences the opportunity to get “up close” with performers from several different bands.It’s here on Friday, July 10th at 4:30, an educational observance of the Blues will take place called the Centennial Blues Celebration. Michael Cloeren, Award winning Founder & Producer of Pocono & PA Blues Festivals, will feature six influential blues artists who were born in 1915: Robert Lockwood Jr., Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Johnny Shines, David “Honeyboy” Edwards and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Cloeren will discuss their life and times, their stories and connections to the Blues, and a sample of their music will be performed by Teeny Tucker, Bobby Kyle and Lonnie Shields. It’s a proud part of the American story and Briggs Farm is thrilled to offer this truly unique event on the Back Porch Stage.

Other Back Porch Stage performers include Lonnie’s Back Porch Party featuring Lonnie Shields, young and talented Jessie Loewy, Ben Singleton, and the soul man Leroy Hawkes. Bobby Kyle, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats, Teddy Young and the Aces, and Hess & Owens, Terry “Harmonica” Bean, Miner Blues, and Symphonic Haze.

Briggs Farm Blues Festival is unique! If you talk to anyone who has been to a “Briggs Fest,” chances are they have not missed a year since their first experience! This is because of the festival’s growing popularity with the international and national acts wanting to play the fest; Mississippi Delta inspired cuisine including farm fresh sweet corn, diverse, unique vendors, on site camping, free parking and free hayrides! Oh, let’s not forget about the great people and good vibes.

Briggs Farm also offers a “quiet camping area” designated for those who want to enjoy a calm relaxing weekend at the Briggs family’s welcoming farm. “The Woods” hosts late night jam sessions for those who are attracted to late night, post festival activities.

Briggs Farm is sure to provide you with a great environment and great friends making your stay at Briggs Farm memorable. When the gates close Sunday afternoon, don’t worry, there is always next year!

On Friday July 10th the camping area will open at 10:30 am, and the concert field will open at 12:30 pm. The following day, Saturday, July 11 the concert field will open at 12:30 pm, and on Sunday the camping area will close at 2:00 pm. The music goes till midnight each night.

For tickets and information please on to www.briggsfarm.com or call Briggs Farm Concerts. Telephone (570) 379-3342

^^^ The above information is from the official press release ^^^

We at Blues Biscuits have been to Briggs Farm about half a dozen times and it is always a highlight of the summer. There is continuous music on two stages which is a bit of a bummer because you will inevitably miss some great performances, but they schedule afternoon and evening sets for many of the second (Back porch) stage performers so you have multiple chances to see them all. The food is outstanding, the friendly laid back atmosphere is fantastic, and the grounds are easy to navigate. There is a short walk between the stages so you don’t lose much time when traveling to the other stage. Parking is easy, the staff is incredibly helpful and friendly, and the Briggs family are true Blues fans which shows in everything they do to ensure your enjoyment of the festival. I cannot recommend Briggs Farm Blues Festival enough. Make the trip, you will not regret it.

To get you familiar with this year’s lineup we put together a playlist featuring many of the artists performing this year. if you do not subscribe to Spotify, you can still listen to this playlist, and all our other Spotify playlists through our website.

Flashback Friday! Happy Birthday To Jimmie Vaughan

JimmieVaughanLincolnCenter7Hey everybody, we haven’t done a Flashback Friday feature before but this Friday happens to be Jimmie Vaughan’s birthday. I thought it would be a great time to revisit a tremendous show Jimmie and his friends put on at Lincoln Center back in 2011. Billed as the Texas Blues Summit, the show featured Lou Ann Barton, W.C. Clark, and Billy Gibbons. A fun time was had by all and the talent was bigger than the republic of Texas itself!

 

Here we go folks, way way back to 2011…

 

TEXAS BLUES SUMMIT

When Jazz At Lincoln Center was planning it’s second annual Blues Summit, legendary guitarist and performer Jimmie Vaughan was chosen bring together a night of Texas Blues. A better choice would be hard to find. Jimmie Vaughan has been a fixture of the Texas blues scene for nearly 40 years. One of his first bands opened for Jimi Hendrix. In the mid-70’s he founded the Fabulous Thunderbirds, a band considered by many to be the most important white blues band of all time. The band became a fixture at the seminal Austin club Antone’s and backed up major figures of the blues like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Albert King, Gatemouth Brown, Albert Collins and countless others. Jimmie learned the blues from the masters and earned their respect in return. Since those days at Antone’s, Jimmie Vaughan has accumulated many devoted fans including some famous ones like Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King. Even Jimmie’s little brother Stevie Ray Vaughan often cited Jimmie as his favorite guitarist and biggest influence.

JimmieVaughanLincolnCenter5BnWJimmie Vaughan has experienced the blues in ways many can only imagine, not the least of which is the death of his younger brother in 1990 after a night of glorious music. He brought all his life experiences and musical influences to the stage of Jazz At Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall Theater on Thursday, June 16, 2011. He also brought some famous friends.

Lou Ann Barton has been a fixture of the Texas Blues scene for almost as long as Jimmie Vaughan. Her inimitable style, laced with a bit of Texas twang is still formidably robust and she wails the blues with the power of a singer half her age.

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Austin native W.C. Clark has been called the Godfather of Austin Blues and has been involved in the city’s music since the late sixties. He originally left Austin. Believing the R&B music scene was dead, he hit the road with the Joe Tex Band. A chance meeting with Jimmie Vaughan and Paul Ray changed his mind. A few weeks later he was back in Austin and has remained ever since. He has served as a mentor to both Vaughan brothers, taught Charlie and Will Sexton how to play guitar, backed up superstars like B.B. and Albert King, played in Triple Threat Revue with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton, co-wrote “Cold Shot” – one of Stevie’s biggest hits – and toured the world with his own band.

JimmieVaughanLincolnCenterBillyGibbonsThe Rev. Billy F. Gibbons is familiar to millions as the guitarist and singer from that little old band from Texas: ZZ Top. Billy and Jimmie have been friends since the early 70’s, sharing many experiences of the Texas music scene over the course of the last 40 years. All three musicians joined Jimmie Vaughan and his Tilt-A-Whirl Band for a salute to Texas Blues.

The night started off with upbeat instrumental “Comin’ And Goin’” from Vaughan’s recent Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites album. It was a great way for the band to pick up a groove and each soloist got their moment in the spotlight, hinting at the level of musicianship and imagination that was to be heard over the next two-plus hours.

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The band, which features tenor saxophonist Greg Piccolo, baritone saxophonist Doug James, guitarist Billy Pitman, bassist Ronnie James, and drummer George Rains launched into Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s classic “Dirty Work At The Crossroads” and continued the nod to their regional partners in Louisiana with Guitar Junior’s (aka Lonnie Brooks) tune “Roll Roll Roll” which Jimmie Vaughan covered on Plays Blues Ballads And Favorites. Vaughan’s mastery of these songs is a heartfelt tribute to his influences and the music of his youth and is a testament to his talent and love of the idiom.

JimmieVaughanLincolnCenterWCClarkJimmie Vaughan is a formidable guitarist and appreciation of his technique and approach to the instrument is greatly enhanced by seeing him live. His fingers work magic as they weave their way around the neck of his variably capoed guitar. His use of open strings, drone notes, and percussive picking attacks all add exponentially to the flavor of his musical gumbo. The guitar jams were a highlight of the show and W.C. Clark came out for a few songs before the end of the first set and kicked things up a notch as he tore through some down home blues and even threw in a vocal tribute to Little Milton with a few snippets of “Blues Is Alright.” W.C. Clark feels at home on the stage and became the de facto band leader almost as soon as he plugged in his guitar. Jimmie shared a story about his first gig with W.C. Clark being held at a converted funeral home. Their mutual admiration is obvious and during some extended jamming, they converse with their guitars like the old friends they are.

JimmieVaughanLouAnnBartonLincolnCenter8BnWLou Ann Barton joined the band at the start of set two. The Texas Blues Summit found the Queen of Austin in fine form as she belted it out gloriously. The Rev. Billy F. Gibbons joined the fray and together with Jimmie Vaughan and The Tilt-A-Whirl Band he barnstormed through two Night Caps tunes, “Thunderbird” and “Wine, Wine, Wine”. Gibbons joked about he and Jimmie having written “At The High School Dance” back in 1962. Billy was having fun and kept begging for Jimmie to play more and then feigned fanning the smoke coming from Vaughan’s guitar.

JimmieVaughanLincolnCenter2The most poignant moment of the evening came when the band left Jimmie Vaughan alone on stage as he performed a stirring tribute to his brother. Jimmie plucked the rhythm with his thumb and the melody with his fingers in a swampy, reverb drenched rendition of “Six Strings Down” from his Strange Pleasure album. The arrangement conjured apparitions from the ether and angels from the heavens as he belted out his salute to Stevie Ray and a host of other Blues Stringers including fellow Texans Freddie King, Albert Collins, Lil’ Son Jackson, and T-Bone Walker to a mesmerized crowd.

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After more songs with Lou Ann Barton including a few from their upcoming Plays More Blues Ballads And Favorites, Billy Gibbons and W.C. Clark came out for a revved up version of “DF/W” from the Family Style album. The three guitarists let loose the blues in New York City and they’re probably still running amuck in the Upper West Side. The spirit of the Texas Blues cannot be confined, reigned in or broken. Jimmie Vaughan, the Tilt-A-Whirl band and their guests were a perfect choice to showcase the history and vitality of the music that has influenced generations of musicians and listeners alike.

Tedeschi Trucks Band At F.M. Kirby Center – Live Show Review

TedeschiTrucksBandStageShot

We caught up with the Tedeschi Trucks Band tour as it rolled into F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA on Sunday February 15, 2015. The band is touring behind their second studio album, Made Up Mind. This eleven piece ensemble includes Derek Trucks on guitar, Susan Tedeschi on guitar and lead vocals, Kofi Burbridge on keyboards and flute, Tim Lefebvre on bass, Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson, both TedeschiTrucksBandMikeMattisonon drums and percussion, with former Derek Trucks Band vocalist Mike Mattison on harmony and lead vocals and acoustic guitar, plus Mark Rivers on harmony vocals and the horn section which includes Kebbi Williams on saxophone, Maurice Brown on trumpet, and Saunders Sermons on trombone. Together they make a joyful noise and it surely warmed up the bitter cold winter night.

TedeschiTrucksBandSusanSingingFor those unfamiliar with the band, Derek Trucks was an integral member of the Allman Brothers Band since 1999, as well as leader of the Derek Trucks Band which dissolved as TTB was being created. Susan Tedeschi was an award winning blues and roots singer and guitarist. The pair met when Susan toured as an opener for the Allman Brothers Band way back in 1999 or so. The two were later married and attempted to raise a family while being on the road in three different bands. Eventually they decided pool their talents and the Tedeschi Trucks Band was born. Their first album, Revelator, garnered TTB a Best Blues Album Grammy and a Blues Music Award for Album of the Year. Their follow-up live album, Everybody’s Talkin’ won the band a Blues Music Award for Best Rock Blues Album plus Susan, Derek and TTB itself won separate Blues Music Awards in 2012.

TedeschiTrucksBandDerekFeelingItAgainI have seen Tedeschi Trucks Band only once before this show and I was not impressed. I thought their debut album was lackluster, melancholy, and 180 degrees away from the triumph that was the final Derek Trucks Band record, Already Free. I felt let down by what I thought would be a powerful and dynamic band and record. The live set I saw previously found the band stumbling to find a pace for their shows and had too many mellow tunes grouped together. They lost me about half way through. Still, I respect these fine musicians and now, four years later, I was ready to give them another try, especially because I love the Made Up Mind album. I never expected the dynamic, expressive, full-bore Blues, Rock, and R&B juggernaut revue that trampled all my reservations and skepticism.

TedeschiTrucksBandKofiAndDerek

Without fanfare, the lights went down and one by one the band members came on stage, took their places, and started into the opening number. By the time they launched into “Made Up Mind” ten minutes later they were firing on all cylinders and ramping it up into overdrive. “Made Up Mind” is a raspy, chugging tune and drew cheers from the crowd seconds after Derek Trucks started scratching out the opening riffs. Susan Tedeschi belted out the chorus defiantly as the crowd sang along and boogied with the strutting rhythm. In the back of the hall, folks gathered to dance as Derek Trucks took everyone on slide guitar excursions into the heavens.

TedeschiTrucksBandKofiBurbridgeWhile Susan Tedeschi’s guitar playing has developed significantly since joining forces with her husband on stage, Kofi Burbridge serves as Derek’s main foil for soloing. Kofi is a maestro on keyboards and flute. He treated the crowd to many fantastic moments on both instruments. When Kofi takes a turn, Derek moves to Kofi’s corner on stage, listens intently, and with barely perceptible head movements spurs his musical partner higher. As for Susan, she played some excellent solos during Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “I Pity The Fool” which she also sang with fervor and authority.

 

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The chemistry of the whole ensemble is undeniable. The horn section adds significantly to the overall sound, the two drummers are in lock step like a drum corps in a marching band, and vocalists Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers add layers of harmony that make the songs soar. Both Mike and Mark took turns on lead vocals. Susan Tedeschi is a formidable singer, but having two additional voices for lead vocals expands the band’s range exponentially. I realized about halfway through the set that this eleven piece band is a Rhythm & Blues orchestra. Each element of the band fills a specific purpose, creating layers of sound, and increasing the overall potency of the music. In a word, it was incredible.

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Among the highlights were back to back acoustic tunes including Elmore James’ “Done Somebody Wrong” which was an electrified favorite of the Allman Brothers Band. Here, Derek and Susan took the song beyond its roots with a sparse arrangement that somehow kept all the intensity intact. “Bound For Glory” and “Midnight In Harlem” are standout tunes from the first album and they have developed into tour de force performance pieces. “Midnight In Harlem” showcases Susan Tedeschi’s command of her voice and the band’s ability to create tension and release. “Bound For Glory” has become an extended instrumental workout and gave me several breaks from reality as I found myself thinking I was in the middle of a full blown Allman Brothers jam. These moments gave me great hope for this extraordinary band, and my listening habits of the future.

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I really can’t say enough about the complete reversal of opinion I experienced during the show. I am pleased to know this band has hit its stride and will hopefully continue to improve. Unfortunately it happens less and less, but it’s a good feeling to sit in a concert hall and be utterly impressed. Over the course of two hours, this well-oiled machine called Tedeschi Trucks Band raised the bar for every working band out there.

 

Shemekia Copeland Coming To F.M. Kirby Center

ShemekiaCopeland_Approved2Vocal powerhouse, Shemekia Copeland, will visit the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, February 20 at 8:00 p.m. as part of the “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” concert series. The Chandelier Lobby provides an intimate setting where the attendees can experience the passion and power of the musicians up close.

While only in her early 30’s, Shemekia Copeland is already a force to be reckoned with in the blues music industry. She has already opened for the Rolling Stones, headlined at the Chicago Blues Festival, scored critics choice awards on both sides of the Atlantic (The New York Times and The Times of London), shared the stage with such luminaries as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Mick Jagger, and Eric Clapton, and has even performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. Heir to the rich tradition of soul-drenched divas like Ruth Brown, Etta James and Koko Taylor, Copeland was presented with Taylor’s crown on June 12, 2011 at the Chicago Blues Festival.

Born in Harlem, New York, in 1979, Copeland is the daughter of the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland. Ms. Copeland has recently re-signed with Alligator Records, the label she called home from 1998 through 2005. Shemekia is working on a new album with producer Oliver Wood and the new music is due in September 2015.

Her passion for singing, matched with her huge, blast-furnace voice, gives her music a timeless power and a heart-pounding urgency. Her music comes from deep within her soul and from the streets where she grew up, surrounded by the everyday sounds of the city – street performers, gospel singers, blasting radios, bands in local parks and so much more.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at the Kirby Center Box Office, by phone at (570) 826-1100 and online at www.kirbycenter.org.

Tickets Prices: $20.00 (advance), $25 (day of show), plus fees

Alexis P. Suter Band Brings Blues Power To The Chandelier Lobby

On Saturday November 15 marked the launch of the second season of the “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” concert series at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The Chandelier Lobby series will feature one performance per month beginning in November and run through April 2015. This year, Michael Cloeren, founder of the Pocono/Pennsylvania Blues Festival and director of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, will serve as emcee for each performance. Michael will be introducing the performers and conducting brief Q&A sessions with the artists. The setting is the intimate Chandelier Lobby of the F.M. Kirby Center, with soft lighting and general admission seating featuring some tables, soft cushioned benches, and other chairs. Every seat gets terrific sound and there are multiple opportunities to meet the artists.

2014-11-15-03NormanTaylorAlexis P. Suter Band and special guest Norman Taylor kicked off the second season with hot sets of blues on a cold November night. Norman Taylor released his CD Blue Soul earlier this year and he performed several tracks from the disc for an appreciative crowd. Taylor later said he received his first standing ovation that night and it was well deserved. His powerful and deep voice resonated throughout the lobby and his intricate guitar picking provided depth for his one-man performance. Taylor is a throwback to the early days of Blues and traveling musicians. He is a lone musician with guitar and voice, using both to great effect as he entertains the crowd with originals, traditionals, spirituals, and popular covers. Mr. Taylor took a few steps out from under the blues umbrella and treated the audience to a plaintive version of Bobby Womack’s tale of urban struggle “Across 110th Street.” Mr. Taylor’s set, however, was the calm before the storm.

2014-11-15-08JohnGintyThe Alexis P. Suter Band is Blues rockin’ force of nature and cannot be denied. Their new album Love The Way You Roll has been on top of the charts since it came out last summer. The band has been touring around the East Coast, building their following one show at a time. Brothers Jimmy and Peter Bennett, on guitar and bass respectively, and drummer Ray Grappone is the power trio at the heart of the band. They work together like a well-oiled machine. A machine that takes full flight once Alexis P. Suter starts to sing. Back-up vocalist Vicki Bell provides the high harmony that keeps the music soaring. On the evening of November 15th, the band was joined by keyboardist extraordinaire John Ginty. Ginty and the band are old friends and he locked right into the APSB groove.

Alexis P. Suter Band covers a lot of ground in their live shows. They will take you up to the mountain top and kick your ass – in the best way possible of course! Alexis’ Gospel roots and message of love permeates the music yet the band still rips it up with Devil’s music riffs flying fast and furious. They presented many tunes from their hot new album Love The Way You Roll but it was the stunning, heart wrenching performance of “Let It Be” that left the crowd slack-jawed and dazed. Alexis’ mother had been ill for a while and concern for her mother came through crystal clear in her impassioned performance. Her voice cracked with emotion as Alexis belted out “Mother Mary comes to me!” toward the end of the songs. With tears in her eyes and love in her heart she took ownership of Sir Paul’s Beatles classic. This is her song now and she shares it, and herself, with the audience every time she sings it.

2014-11-15-18AlexisPSuterThe night ended with the band’s trademark closer of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips.” Showing she is a woman of good humor, Alexis demonstrated the proper way to shake that booty. After an emotionally powerful set, it was a great way to cut loose and send everyone home smiling and in high spirits. The Alexis P. Suter Band is the real deal. Their original songs are compelling, the musicians give everything they have, and the smiles all across the stage let everyone know they’re music is a labor of love. If you love live music with heart, energy, and road-tested grit this is your band. Shake your hips on out to see them as soon as possible.

For more information about “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” concert series at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre, PA visit their website at http://www.kirbycenter.org. The next act on the roster is Cabinet, who will play two nights – December 19th and 20th 2014.

2015 Blast Furnace Blues Festival Line-up Announced

BlastFurnaceBluesFestLogoThe Blast Furnace Blues Festival is an up and coming annual spring festival located in Bethlehem, PA at the Steel Stacks near the old Bethlehem Steel factory that can be seen in the backdrop image of this website. It is a beautiful, easily accessible campus and a great place to see musicians on stage. The festival continues to highlight the treasure trove of talented Blues artists in the Lehigh Valley alongside tremendous national acts. I dare say you may enjoy Friday night’s lineup of local acts as much as, or more than, the national acts. I have seen all these bands live a few times and they are all worthy of your time and attention. Check them out and support local musicians as often as you can no matter where you are!

 

PRESS RELEASE:

Shemekia Copeland, Tommy Castro, Heritage Blues Orchestra & More Headline 2015 Blast Furnace Blues Festival Presented by Highmark Blue Shield
Event, set for March 27-29 in Bethlehem, Pa., will feature 20 national and local blues acts

BETHLEHEM, PA–Two-time GRAMMY nominee Shemekia Copeland, multiple Blues Music Award and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year winner Tommy Castro, the Heritage Blues Orchestra and John Németh & the Bo-Keys headline the 2015 Blast Furnace Blues Festival presented by Highmark Blue Shield March 27-29, 2015 at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.  Three-day festival passes and single-day tickets for the event, which features 20-plus national and local blues artists, go on sale today, noon, at www.artsquest.org and 610-332-3378.

On March 28, Blast Furnace Blues welcomes the one and only Tommy Castro. A two-time winner of the coveted B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award, Castro has captured numerous honors for his music and songwriting including first place in the blues category of the 2012 International Songwriting Competition for “Hard Believer.” He has been touring nationally since the 1980s, first with the Dynatones, and then with The Tommy Castro Band. During his career, Castro has shared the stage with some of the greats in the blues, including legends Albert King and B.B. King.

Following a set by Castro, the Blast Furnace Blues audience will enjoy a scorchin’ set by John Németh & The Bo-Keys. Since 2002, harmonicist and singer-songwriter John Németh has recorded seven albums, earning seven Blues Music Award nominations in 2012 and 2013 alone. At Blast Furnace Blues, he will be joined by Blues Music Award nominees The Bo-Keys, whose music has been featured in multiple films including the Academy Award winner “Hustle & Flow.” The two artists recently joined forces to record “Memphis Grease,” and Blast Furnace Blues offers the unique opportunity to see them perform together on the same stage.

Headlining the festival on March 29 is vocal powerhouse Shemekia Copeland. Since beginning her career at the age of 16, Copeland has released seven albums, which have been nominated for several blues awards. She has shared the stage with artists such as Mick Jagger, B.B. King and Eric Clapton, while also performing at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama.

Also taking the stage March 29 is the GRAMMY-nominated Heritage Blues Orchestra. Based in New York, this group seamlessly blends together blues, gospel, country and jazz to create fierce and inspiring music that’s internationally cherished. Its 2013 album “And Still I Rise” made it onto the Top Blues Albums chart, and individual members have enjoyed their own astonishing successes.  At Blast Furnace Blues, the audience will have the opportunity to experience this incredible nine-piece orchestra, which comes complete with a rippin’ horn section.

Other performers taking the stage during Blast Furnace Blues presented by Highmark Blue Shield include Texas-based blues guitarist Carolyn Wonderland, Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble, Eric Noden and Joe Filisko, Freddie King Reunion Band, and Shawn Holt & the Teardrops, led by the son of blues legend Magic Slim. The festival will kick off March 27 with a night of the blues by local favorites such as the Sarah Ayers Band, James Supra Blues Band, Friar’s Point and Dugan Thomas. On March 29, Blast Furnace Blues attendees can also enjoy a special Blues Brunch featuring music by local blues favorites The BC Combo. Tickets for the brunch, which are $35, are on sale now at www.artsquest.org and 610-332-3378

”Highmark Blue Shield is proud to once again sponsor the Blast Furnace Blues Festival, a wonderful musical event that draws blues-lovers far beyond the Lehigh Valley,” says Susan Hubley, director of community affairs at Highmark. “This year’s lineup of musicians looks as incredible as the setting at SteelStacks. We’re grateful for the opportunity to show our support for this showcase of blues talent.”

Looking for the ultimate experience at Blast Furnace Blues? The festival is offering three-day VIP Packages, which include admission to the entire festival, as well as a Sunday Blues Brunch ticket, meet & greets with select headliners, commemorative poster, valet parking and more. VIP Packages, which are available in limited quantities, are only $199.

BLAST FURNACE BLUES PRESENTED BY HIGHMARK BLUE SHIELD 2015 LINEUP

March 27

Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling

6:15 p.m.:                    Friar’s Point

6:45 p.m.:                    Dugan Thomas

8:30 p.m.:                    James Supra Blues Band

10:30 p.m.:                  Sarah Ayers Band

 

March 28

Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling

1:30 p.m.:                    Ed Anderson

3 p.m.:                         Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble

4:30 p.m.:                    Gaye Adegbalola

6 p.m.:                         Shawn Holt & the Teardrops

7:45 p.m.:                    Tommy Castro

9:30 p.m.:                    John Németh & the Bo-Keys

 

Fowler Blast Furnace Room Stage

2:15 p.m.:                    Shawn Holt & the Teardrops

3:45 p.m.:                    Eric Noden & Joe Filisko

5:30 p.m.:                    Ed Anderson

7 p.m.:                         Carolyn Wonderland

8:45 p.m.:                    Curley Taylor

 

March 29

Musikfest Cafe presented by Yuengling

11 a.m.:                       Blues Brunch with BC Combo (separate ticket required)

1:30 p.m.:                    Carolyn Wonderland

2:45 p.m.:                    Freddie King Reunion Band

4:15 p.m.:                    Chris O’Leary Band

6 p.m.:                         Shemekia Copeland

7:45 p.m.:                    Heritage Blues Orchestra

 

Fowler Blast Furnace Room Stage

1:15 p.m.:                    Mike Mettalia & Midnight Shift

3:15 p.m.:                    Maria Woodford Band

5 p.m.:                         Roddy Barnes

7 p.m.:                         Freddie King Reunion Band

 

For complete information, tickets and festival passes for Blast Furnace Blues presented by Highmark Blue Shield, please visit www.artsquest.org

PA Blues Fest Ticket Winners Announced!

PABluesFestTicketsWinners3

YAY! ANOTHER UPDATE!
Since we have not heard from Patricia Diak, we have chosen another new winner! This contest has gone off without a hitch! The new winner, after an intense game of rock, paper, scissors, three coin flips and an arm wrestling match is Chris Lyon, who was not involved in the any of the aforementioned contests. Congratulations Chris, you are the second, second runner up and you are now victorious.

UPDATE! Bridget Kelly Kathleen Fick cannot attend the show. The new winner is Judy Malin Mangini! Please acknowledge your win by 6 pm ET July 23, 2014. Comment on the Winners post on Facebook or message us on Facebook.

Attention Biscuiteers! The winners of the Pennsylvania Blues Fest tickets have been drawn. Ticket winners are Bridget Kelly Kathleen Fick and Patricia Diak! Congratulations. Please acknowledge your win by 6 pm ET July 23, 2014. Comment on the Winners post on Facebook or message us on Facebook. If you do not, new winners will be chosen! Thanks to everyone who participated and especially Pennsylvania Blues Festival for the tickets.

Michael Cloeren Interview – Pennsylvania Blues Festival

PABluesFestBoardThe Pocono Blues Festival had been a Pennsylvania tradition for 19 years, bringing the best of blues music to the Pocono Mountains and fans from around the globe. In November 2010, it looked like the tradition might be over. Michael Cloeren, the founder and producer of the festival was called into a meeting with the president of Peak Resorts and was told the company was going in a different direction and that the resorts were no longer going to do any summer or fall events. However, Michael did not want to see the tradition of the festival and what he calls a “family reunion” fade gently away.

By the end of 2010, Michael Cloeren met with the administrators at Blue Mountain. Fortunately, their general manager, Jim Daley, had attended Pocono Blues Festival and was familiar with the clientele, acts, vendors, and perhaps most importantly, the popularity. The name Pocono Blues Festival could no longer be used and from the ashes of the Pocono Blues Festival a new festival was born. Michael says Blue Mountain is “a wonderful facility; very user friendly, closer to more people and fully embraced by the staff.” Blue Mountain is indeed closer to the fans, seated 45 minutes south of the original site, it’s closer to Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and Philadelphia which are the core markets for Blues in the Poconos. Plus Blue Mountain is ideal for a festival since it has all the perfect facilities like parking, real restrooms, a natural amphitheater, and camping on site, which the other facility did not. Camping has had an unexpected but very welcome effect on the musical adventures too, “Camping on site is extremely popular and is a direct positive result how the nightly Jams have taken off since year #1 (2011).” You never know who is going to take the stage and it’s easier to stay up late to take it all in if you’re not driving.

Lil' Ed At PA Blues Fest
Lil’ Ed At PA Blues Fest

In just a few short years, Pennsylvania Blues Festival has taken the torch of nineteen years of blues history in the Poconos and run with it, regaining the status of its legendary predecessor. Much of the success is owed to Michael Cloeren and his sterling reputation and track record. According to Michael, “changing locations takes time to get on people’s radar.” He adds, “I feel this year will be very special.” Michael recently told us the transition from Pocono Blues Festival to Pennsylvania Blues Festival has been “a great experience – I feel that the event is growing in momentum and we continue to educate new customers in a positive way.” That positive way is reflected in the lineup of acts Michael brings to the festival, “I feel I program a lineup different than just about anyone in the USA. My programming work for 23 years speaks for itself.” It does indeed. You may see some familiar faces at Pennsylvania Blues Festival but you’re in for a few surprises too. Michael says he likes to schedule “1/3 blues icons, 1/3 strong festival circuit names and 1/3 acts that most people never have seen before.” Michael has a knack for getting acts out of their comfort zone too and gets some amazing performances on the smaller stages. He tells us, “I know every act that I have ever booked (since 1992 around 400 acts) and through experience I know how and where to slot them. That stuff comes easy to me.”

LinseyAlexanderPABluesFestIt may come easy to Michael since he’s been a blues fan and champion of the art form for many years. Michael told us he first met the blues on “March 30,1975 at the age of 18. I went to the Philadelphia Spectrum to see Eric Clapton and the opening act was Muddy Waters. Muddy’s show that night changed my life and I have been a blues addict ever since.” When Michael introduces bands on stage you can hear the love and admiration in his voice. You also get the notion sometimes that he knows he’s about share a secret with you and he can’t wait. Every year you have to get there early because Michael will be sharing some of the Blues best kept secrets all day long. One of my personal favorites was Linsey Alexander’s tent stage performance a few years ago. I had never heard Linsey before and had to go back for his second set later in the day. Linsey outdid just about everyone and it was revelation. You’re going to find the heart of the blues beating under the tent and you’ll get some lasting memories of special performances like the Lonnie, Ronnie and Wayne Baker Brooks performing an acoustic set. The love between father and sons was tangible as was their respect for each other and the good time they had playing together like they would in the living room at home.

LonnieBrooksPABluesFestOver the years Michael had several memorable moments of his own including James Peterson starting his set in 1996 from the chairlift, Eddy Clearwater starting his set in 1998 on a white stallion horse in full headdress, Shemekia Copeland entering the stage in 2002 on a Harley Davidson Motorcycle, and booking Lowell Fulson in 1996, which was his last east coast appearance. His other personal highlights include Ruth Brown in 2005, Luther Allison in 1995, and Otis Rush in 1998. Michael says his initial vision was “a blues festival in a mountain setting” and it has blossomed into a remarkable event hosting music legends every year. Michael says attendees should expect “a weekend of World Class Music, a wonderful facility and a staff that welcomes them with open arms.” He continues “I would suggest that people should attend this and other like-minded events with an open mind and they possibly could have a life changing moment like the one that happened to me on March 30th, 1975 at The Philadelphia Spectrum.”

Michael Cloeren is directly and indirectly involved in several like-minded events including The Philadelphia Folk Festival which he says is “The longest continuous music festival in the USA and Canada at 53 years. It offers eight stages of music, fifty thousand music guests from all over the world, and 2500 volunteers.” If Michael is involved, you can be sure the music with be exceptional and the environment will be fan friendly. A few years ago, at the time of the first Pennsylvania Blues Festival, I spoke to Michael Cloeren and he shared his approach to the booking the artists and it gives great insight to his process and what you’re going to see and hear at his events. “I program differently than a lot of festivals out there. I try to get to the core of the subject matter. To me, the core is the artists that live it, breathe it, and die it. With all respect to classic rock artists who have been in it for 30 years and just discovered the blues or put out a blues record, that’s not what I’m looking for. That’s not what I do. Obviously, the headliners are important, and they’re great acts, but it’s not always about the headliners. It’s about the entire bill. After years of experience, the guests know to get there early because some of the best sets are early in the afternoon. They may not have heard the act before but they know from history that I’ll never book a bad band. And that’s what’s great about this music, as you know, you think you’ve heard or seen a lot and then there’s a band that blows you away that you’ve never seen before. What I try to do is mix them between contemporary and traditional blues, New Orleans music, Sacred Steel, gospel, acoustic, and electric; I try to give the audience the full spectrum of blues music.”

Pennsylvania Blues Festival is taking place July 25-27, 2014. There is an amazing array of talent lined up for the event so make plans to visit the Pocono Mountains for some red hot summer blues. For ticket information and festival information please visit the website. We hope to see you there.

Our thanks go to Michael Cloeren for taking the time from his hectic schedule to answer our questions.

Blues Biscuits will be live tweeting from the festival so be sure to follow us on Twitter @BluesBiscuits and look for #PABluesFest and remember, #thatsahotbiscuit !

Here’s the line-up:

Friday, July 25th 2014 – Friday Night Jam

8pm to Midnight in the Adventure Center – doors open at 7pm.
Cover charge at the door is $10 & Jam Buffet is $8 (food optional).

PA Blues Fest Showcase with The BC COMBO featuring Bev Conklin, Slam Allen, Mikey Junior, Joe Mac & Lonnie Shields – sponsored by WDIY 88.1 fm, Lehigh Valley’s Community NPR Station!

Saturday July 26th 2014 – Gates open at 12pm

MAIN TENT STAGE

1pm to 2:15pm – Tad Robinson
2:45pm to 4pm – Shawn Holt & The Teardrops
4:30pm to 5:45pm – Barbara Carr
6:15pm to 7:30pm – Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters
8pm to 9:30pm – The James Cotton Blues Band

ADVENTURE CENTER STAGE

1:30pm to 2:30pm – Rip Lee Pryor
3pm to 4pm – The Ursula Ricks Band
4:15pm to 5:15pm – Meet The PA Blues Fest Artists!
5:30pm to 6:30pm – Rip Lee Pryor
7pm to 8pm – The Ursula Ricks Band

Saturday Night Jam in the Adventure Center

9:30pm to 1:30am – doors open at 8:30pm.
Cover charge at the door is $10 & Jam Buffett is $8 (food optional).

PA Blues Fest Showcase with Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames sponsored by WDIY 88.1 fm, Lehigh Valley’s Community NPR Station!

Sunday July 27th 2014 – Gates open at 11am

MAIN TENT STAGE

1pm to 2pm – The Como Mamas
2:30 to 3:30pm – The Jarekus Singleton Band
4pm to 5:15pm – Chris Cain Band
5:45pm to 7pm – The Heritage Blues Quintet
7:30pm to 9pm – CJ Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band

SUNDAY VIP BRUNCH

11am to 1pm – NON-VIP ticket price $30 includes Brunch! (included in VIP Package!)
VIP Sunday Brunch with The Murali Coryell Band with Special Guest – Dave Keyes!

ADVENTURE CENTER STAGE

1:30pm to 2:30pm – A Little Bit Of Blues with Warner Williams, Jay Summerour & Eric Selby
3pm to 4pm – Super Chikan (solo)
4:30pm to 5:30pm – A Little Bit Of Blues
6pm to 7pm – Super Chikan (solo)
7:30pm to 9pm – The Jarekus Singleton Band