Mystic Blues Festival Lineup, June 26-27-28, 2015
Friday, June 26th
Members: Toby Kniffin – Guitar & Vocals Jamie Conroy – Guitar Amie Coffey – Vocals Michael Chicoria – Keys Marty Moroney – Bass Jay Hartley – Drums Gino Maiorano – Percussion.
Green Tea was formed in 2001 when members of Third Stone & Beggars Bash got together to make some music, jam and share some ideas. Twelve years later Green Tea is going strong with a wealth of original material, a third studio CD under way and momentum that is contagious.
The seven-piece line up consists of two guitars, bass, keys, drums, percussion and the dynamic Amie Coffey on vocals. Amie shares the lead vocal duties and plays percussion and saxophone as well. This variety gives the band a depth not often found on today’s jam band scene. Melody lines and groove work in and out with guitar lines and harmonies that define the sound of Green Tea.
The songs are the driving force and that is what we are selling. Toby Kniffin is the primary songwriter and his well-crafted compositions work. He has been playing and writing for nearly twenty-five years, has performed up and down the East Coast and has learned how to harness emotion and craft a song that can be delivered by a live band. He spent the late 80’s and most of the 90’s fronting the very successful group Third Stone. Since then he has been a leading force in the bands Liquid Dead, based out of Burlington, VT and The Desolation Angels form New York. Liquid Dead created a vibe with their outstanding musicianship & loyal following of deadheads and music lovers. What also developed was a devoted fan-base for Toby and the energy and soul he brings to the music.
Rounding out the line-up for Green Tea is Jamie Conroy on guitar, Marty Moroney on bass, Michael Chicoria on Keys, Jason Hartley on the drum kit and Gino Maiorano on percussion. The music that has influenced the sound of Green Tea ranges from the melody and magic of Garcia/Hunter, to the driving rock n roll and melody work of the Allman Brothers. Mix that with a Dylanesque writing approach that focuses on the lost art of “the song”….you get Green Tea, a unique and rich sound that is chock full of our forefathers, yet pushes all corners of the proverbial envelope.
Green Tea released its debut CD in October 2005 titled The Healing and then followed up in 2008 with “Steep”. The band is very excited and proud of these two studio works. Break or Bend, the bands 3rd studio effort is in the final stages as Green Tea is gearing up for a 4th trip to the studio.
Saturday, June 27th
Although born and raised as Hugh Holmes of Boston, Mass., the emanations from his harmonica and vocals make it clear that Professor Harp has the blues of Texas and the whole wide Delta coursing through his veins.
The Professor was a rock ‘n’ roll drummer until ’69, when the Boston blues revival and a sterling performance he caught of blues harmonica great George Allen ‘Harmonica’ Smith, combined to lure him away from drums and into a full court press on the blues harp. “Undaunted!” he brags, by the vicissitudes of his life as blues man, front man, every kind of man, Professor Harp puts forth his commanding presence and exceptional talent, night after night.
Primarily playing a sparse, yet full-sounding brand of no-nonsense, no-frills Texas style blues, Professor Harp specializes in what he calls, ‘roots music’. “It’s whatever makes me feel good and moves me, so to speak.” Indeed it has evolved while continuing to move audiences for decades.
Under the influence of many diverse blues greats, Professor Harp has developed a robust playing style. He often utilizes the Leslie rotating-speaker sound system to give his harp a Hammond organ timbre, while he alternately and simultaneously employs the standard or traditional ‘electrified’ blues harp. The Professor tops this off by singing the blues with an infectious fervor, supported at his strictest insistence by only top-flight musicians on guitar, bass, and drums.
Professor Harp performed with various bands throughout the Northeast including legends Solomon Burke and Luther ‘Guitar Jr.’ Johnson and played live on NBC’s Today Show. Among the legions of hot performances at rocking blues clubs, the memories that often stand out for The Professor are the nights his harp helped to swell the room, in a spontaneous jam with his old mentor, the inimitable bluesman Muddy Waters.
Muddy Waters and Professor HarpIt was the spring of ’75 when a friend first introduced Hugh to Muddy Waters. Following his friend backstage at Boston’s Paul’s Mall, he found Muddy immersed in a game of Casino with bassist Calvin Jones. Muddy was unresponsive when it was suggested that Hughie Holmes should sit in on a few numbers. Holmes and his friend backed off.
Yet, halfway through his show Muddy stopped and asked where that harp player was. The Professor was ready. Overcoming the sudden burning in his ears, Harp climbed on stage and miraculously grabbed exactly the right harmonica from his disorganized bag of harps. As usual he took the time to grease it up with Vaseline, and still jumped in without slowing down the show for a moment. From that day on Harp had a standing invitation to join in whenever Muddy took the stage.
Harp says every show with Muddy was a learning experience and he cites Muddy as his greatest teacher. Muddy, in turn, called Hugh the professional of the Harp. Solomon Burke called him Professor Harmonica Holmes. After two greats anointed him with sobriquets, Hugh Holmes decided it was time to split the difference and became Professor Harp.
Bad News Barnes & The Brethren of Blues Band
Chris Barnes became a regular opening act at The Legendary NYC Blues Bar, “Tramps”, where he would improvise original blues tunes based on audience suggestion, with his blues harmonica keeping the rhythm. Barnes opened for and preformed with Legendary Blues Greats, Koko Taylor, Hound Dog Taylor, Pinetop Perkins and became a protégé of Harmonica Legend; Big Eyes Willie Smith. Barnes became very tight with Rock N Roll Hall of Famer; Otis Blackwell (Elvis & Jerry Lee Lewis) and was signed to his FEVER records label, (located in the legendary Brill Building), recording Original Hokum Blues parodies and even Mr. Blackwell’s last documented song #1 King of Rock N Roll. Barnes went on to write three short films for Saturday Night Live and wrote James Belushi’s highest Q-rated piece, “Rappin Jimmy B”, with the original score written by Tom “Bones” Malone. He also became a weekly apprentice writer/ performer at Saturday Night Live. While a member of Chicago’s Famed Second City Comedy Troupe, Barnes recorded “The Prez” with Dave Mason (Traffic), a rap parody of the 1984 presidential elections which became a hit novelty single. In Santa Monica, CA at The West Coast Second City Theatre Barnes Directed & Performed The Mock Rock Comedy, Lemmings 2, with fellow cast members Ryan Stiles, Joel Murray, Mark Beltzman, Dave Pasquesi and Clint Smith.
Barnes directed & performed two stage shows for Comedy Central, “Lalapalooka”, the mock rock comedy concert, which toured both coasts and “Lemmings” starring the late Chris Farley, Andy Richter and Tim Meadows, Barnes enlisted Jimmy Vivino (Conan O’Brien Show) as Musical Director and Crispin Cioe (Uptown Horns) as Brass director, the one night special, which was performed at New York City’s Bottom Line, was awarded rave reviews.
Badnews Barnes & The Blues Brethren are currently recording a Hokum Blues Album and collaborating with Pianist, Bette Sussman, (Whitney Houston, Bette Midler, Cyndi Lauper) as Musical Director, & Ann Klein (Guitar) with special guest players such as Blues Brothers Alumnist, Blue Lou Marini and Tom Bones Malone.
Greg Sherrod Blues Band
The Mystic Blues Festival is very proud to present Greg Sherrod – and his brilliant Blues Band on stage at the Legendary Knickerbocker Cafe.
One of the most powerful and passionate Blues Vocalists and interpreters of true Blues on the scene today.
Greg Sherrod has been entertaining audiences in the New England region for 22 years, playing music in the best venues in the area. He spent many years involved in musical theater starring in many productions like Jesus Christ Superstar (Judas), Nunsence (Sister Hubert), and being involved in Dandelion Children’s Theater, He has taken the stage with bands like The Clarke Brothers, Powerhouse, Sugar Daddy and, The Highrollers He also supported or played with acts like Tower of Power, John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band, King’s X, Deep Banana Blackout, E.C. Scott, K.D. Bell, and James Motgomery. Greg also led the house band at The Newport Blues Cafe.
Neal Vitullo and the Vipers
As orginator and name sake of Young Neal And The Vipers, Guitarist /Frontman Neal Vitullo has honed his craft through 30 years of countless club dates and concerts. That conviction and tradition continues with all Neal And The Vipers shows.
Neal has furthered his reputation by playing with and sharing the stage with such greats as. Roy Buchanan, B.B. King, Albert Collins, Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Dixon, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Plant, Johnny Copeland, ……………
By Don Sikorski
Dave Howard is happily retired. But that doesn’t mean his working days have come to and end. In fact, the 51 year-old blues singer from Warwick, Rhode Island is thoroughly enjoying his new job, lead vocalist of the legendary band Roomful of Blues. In the fall of 2006, Howard landed a role he was ideally sculpted for, teaming up with Rhode Island’s premier rhythm and blues act, to tour the country. Behind him are the days of hammering out two jobs, rising early in the morning to work his day job, rushing home, and then heading out to the bars for a late evening. “I worked two jobs all my life,” reflects Howard of his 30+ years as a City of Warwick employee. “It got to be tiring”.
If anyone deserves to have “made it” to the next level in the music world, it’s Dave Howard. An integral part of the New England blues scene for years, Howard’s gritty, baritone voice arrived on the music scene in the mid 1970’s with the band Old No.7, covering everything from folk to rock to country music. Howard eventually teamed up with 18 year-old guitar wizard and fellow Rhode Islander Neal Vitullo, who had been playing in a band with Howard’s friend Stovall Brown, and co-founded Young Neal & the Vipers. The Vipers rose to prominence in the New England and New York bar scene, working over 250 nights per year, and eventually caught the eye of the mighty Atlantic Records. But the Atlantic deal never materialized, and Howard stepped aside in October 1989 to form his own roots-rock blues band Dave Howard and The High Rollers with guitarist Tommy Ferraro. After a brief return to the Vipers in 1991 (recording “Hooloovoo”, the Vipers debut effort, which sold well regionally), Howard and the High Rollers again teamed up, recorded three CD’s, and continued to “slug it out in the bars for 13 or 14 years,” as Howard describes it. With the High Rollers, Howard was able to carve out a second living and return to the music he loved most, unlike the direction that Atlantic wanted to send his previous band. “It was an ill-fated deal,” said Howard of the whole ordeal. “Atlantic was in real turmoil at the time.”
Flash forward to 2006. Howard had just landed what he would consider to be a dream job, replacing Mark Dufresne as the lead vocalist in Roomful of Blues. “I first saw them (Roomful) in the Spring of 1971 at Roger Williams Park when Duke Robillard was fronting the band, way back when I was in high school,” Howard recalls. “I’ve always loved the band”. In between gigs with the band, Howard has also managed to put out his own CD, an all-original progressive country record titled “I Tried To Tell You”. His ability as a vocalist to cross over from blues to country is a result of his diverse musical background, and Howard belts out the material on “I Tried To Tell You” in fine fashion, especially evident on standout tracks like the steel guitar driven honky-tonk “Somebody Gets Hurt”, the slow hurtful “Look of Lifelong Sorrow”, or the driving uptempo rhythms of “I Don’t Want to Hear It”. It was this same musical diversity that made Dave Howard such an ideal candidate for the Roomful job. And while it was a difficult decision to leave the High Rollers, Howard feels blessed with the opportunity to move forward in his musical career.
Howard hit the stage for his first gig with the band on October 12th, 2006. The evening went really well, and he hasn’t looked back since. “I love it,” says Howard of being on stage with Roomful. “They’re a great bunch of people and a talented group of musicians. Roomful of Blues has lined up a tour beginning in early March that will travel the East Coast, playing a lot of small theatres along the way. Howard has made the successful transformation and is growing more comfortable in his new role. Yet, he remains modest and relishes his opportunity to play music at the next level. “I’m a blues singer,” says Howard when asked to describe himself as a musician. “I guess that’s the nicest thing anyone could call me.”
Jay Stollman has achieved unparalleled success as one of the most popular vocalists on the East Coast. He has performed around the world to rave reviews, sharing the stage with musical legends such as James Brown, Wilson Pickett, The Temptations, Four Tops, Jose Feliciano, Blues Traveler, Joan Osborne, Johnny Winter, Peter Frampton, Bo Diddley, Ronnie Spector, Felix Cavaliere, Tower of Power and Elton John, to name a few.
Jay’s vocals are a dynamic fusion of Blue Eyed Soul and Rock and Roll. Along with great performance ability and stage presence, a Jay Stollman show is always guaranteed to rock the house.
Jay Stollman is currently appearing with The Johnny Winter Band as the front man and lead vocalist for the Johnny Winter Remembrance Shows, honoring the legendary bluesman, as well as performing with The Jay Stollman Blues Band. He is a standout performer and always a crowd favorite.
“One of today’s most soulful and powerful blues singers. The real deal!”
“She wields an electric guitar as if it were a wand.” – LOS ANGELES TIMES
Debbie Davies is an award-winning singer, songwriter, guitar player of extraordinary talent. A professional musician since the early 1980s, Debbie ranks among the top blues artists in the country. She has received ten nominations for Blues Music Awards, and in 1997 and 2010 won the award for Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist. A thirty-year veteran of the road, this latest recording leaves no doubt that Debbie Davies is truly one of the leading lights on the contemporary blues music scene today.
“Davies playing is extraordinary – full of propulsion and energy and melodic invention.” – PEOPLE MAGAZINE
“Davies exhibits guitar playing virtuosity with the likes of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.” – MUSIC CONNECTION
“She pulls out all the stops. She can play it all: seductive, soulful material, down-home delta blues, or humorous tales of life on the road.” – BLUES REVIEW MAGAZINE
“Debbie is one of the direct links to the originators of this music. She knows what the blues is all about and you can hear it in the passion of her playing.” – COCO MONTOYA
“Debbie is an incredible guitarist who plays with great taste and can cook like mad. Debbie plays from the heart and her heart has a lot to say. She inspires me. Besides being a fine musician she’s also an outstanding person that I am very glad to call a friend of mine.” – CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE
“I don’t often give endorsements or references, but once in a rare while I hear a musician of such talent that I want people to know. I believe my reputation backs up my ability to recognize exceptional blues guitarists. Such a one is Debbie Davies. Hear her now.” – JOHN MAYALL
Replicating the music of The Band is a tall order. But interpreting the music of The Band is an art. Songs that have reverberated across history for decades continue to speak to millions of us. And The Weight, a five-piece ensemble featuring Jim Weider and Randy Ciarlante from The Band, Brian Mitchell and Byron Isaacs of the Levon Helm Band and Marty Grebb, who worked with Rick Danko and Richard Manuel of The Band, remains a vehicle through which we can continue to share those stories and dance to those back beats. Come and take a load off.
Sunday, June 28th
Muzz Horn with Wooly Mammoth
Over the past 15 years, Geezer Young has become a cult figure in the Belgian underground blues scene. Born in Pennsylvania, Muzz Horn (aka “Geezer Young”), delivers a unique Mississippi Delta blues performed on an 8-string resonator guitar.
From playing at the CBGB in New York, to jamming with Buddy Miles at the Blues Corner in Brussels, Horn’s trademark sound has charmed a lot of people leading him to open for John Mayall in 2010. His recent work with Nico Backton and Doublewood has earned Geezer even more appreciation.
Wooly Mammoth: Gray Hallberg: Lead Guitar & Vocals; Toby Halsey: Rhythm Guitar; Dan Jacobson: Bass & Vocals; Erik Laisi: Drums
Paul Gabriel is an Electric Blues guitarist, Singer/Songwriter and a recording session musician. His professional career began in 1969 and has spanned forty-six years as a working artist.
Early in his career Paul Gabriel appeared on three albums by singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, played slide guitar on Rory Block’s Grammy nominated “Mama’s Blues”, toured with Michael Bolotin (a.k.a. Michael Bolton) and eventually formed a number of his own groups;
most notably The Paul Gabriel Band and Blue In The Face. Blue In The Face recorded three highly acclaimed albums, the first receiving a four star review from DOWNBEAT Magazine. Prior to the formation of Blue In The Face, Paul was starting to incorporate some of the influences he had obtained from listening to Duke Robillard, a major influence on him, along with T-Bone Walker and Mike Bloomfield, since the mid to late sixties.
In 2001 Paul Gabriel released his first solo album entitled FATE. This album is a transition recording in the sense that it is the first release featuring Paul Gabriel as a vocalist. In September of 2006 Paul Gabriel and his Blues Band was formed further transforming Paul into a complete artist. In 2007 Smoke Ring Records released two new CD’s featuring Paul Gabriel as a mature songwriter, vocalist and life-long artist. During 2008 -2013 the new CD’s garnered excellent reviews world wide as Paul Gabriel continued to perform his own brand of Blues, Jazz and American Music into 2014.
Greg Piccolo & Heavy Juice
“Piccolo wails with wild abandon, resurrecting the sound and spirit of the legendary R&B sax heroes.”
– Michael Point, Austin American Statesman
Over his long career, Greg has played with scores of the legendary heroes of American music, and although he will emphatically deny it, he now has his own place in that pantheon.
Music with a feeling indeed.
- Bob Bell
The Knickerbocker All Stars
Featuring: Sugar Ray Norcia, Al Copley, Fran Christina, Bob Christina, Rich Lataille, Brian Templeton, Willie J. Laws, Bob Worthington, Cliff Goodwin and more!
The Knickerbocker All Stars are a group of extremely talented blues musicians who have been in the business for decades. Members of the band have played with such notable performers as Freddie King, Robert Cray, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Roomful of Blues as well as their own bands.
Sunday night at the Knickerbocker Café in Westerly, RI featured the Roomful of Blues in the 1970’s and early 80’s. It quickly became the hottest social event in the area. Duke Robillard, the legendary blues guitarist and leader of the Roomful, would invite many up and coming musicians on stage to get their licks in as well as featured artists, the list of which is too long to mention.
Every song on the CD was carefully selected to emulate the great blues front-men, backed by a full horn section with bluesy and boogie woogie piano. Bob Christina was working as the drummer in the blues band Ricky King Russell and the Cadillac Horns. With Bob’s efforts we were able to bring together the Knickerbocker All Stars.
If you play their songs loud enough and close your eyes you can envision the band blasting away while dancers on the floor twist, swing, jitterbug and slow dance real tight. All of this is what was and still is the hallmark of the Knickerbocker Café.
One of the greatest blues harp players and stirring performers in music today. James has had the brilliance of James Cotton and Jr. Wells – his masters – handed right down and he’s performed live with everyone from his buddy Johnny Winter to Mick Jagger.
Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez
The critically acclaimed “Beehive Queen has never sounded better” writes Andrew Loog Oldham – producer/manager of the Rolling Stones for 25 years Christine has been the vocalist for the “Saturday Night Live Band” since 1991 and so much more. Her electrifying live performances led to her amazing list of singing/recording credits with The Rolling Stones, Reverend Al Green, Donovan and Ian Hunter, just to mention a few. Christine will set your soul on fire.
TOP-10 RANKING FOR CHRISTINE OHLMAN – March 5, 2013; Christine Ohlman (The “Beehive Queen” who leads Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez) is ranked #7 “TOP 30 FEMALE VOCALISTS – RIGHT NOW” by The AlternateRoot.com ~ Ohlman got the news while in Muscle Shoals, Alabama last week co-headlining the post-premier concert for the Sundance-honored documentary “Muscle Shoals” with Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes) and John Paul White (The Civil Wars).