Mystic Blues Festival Lineup, June 27-28-29, 2014
James Cotton Superharp
The musical pedigree of Grammy Award winner James “Superharp” Cotton consists of a veritable who’s who in the world of the Blues. Inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006, the Smithsonian Institute in 1991, and winner of countless W.C. Handy Blues Awards, he has shared the stage with B.B. King, Johnny Winter, the Allman Brothers, Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Sam and Dave, The Grateful Dead among many others.
Johnny Winter has been a guitar hero without equal. Signing to Columbia records in 1969, Johnny immediately laid out the blueprint for a fresh take on classic blues. Shifting between simple country blues to all-out electric slide guitar blues-rock – he is one of the most respected singers and guitar players in rock and the clear link between British blues-rock and American Southern rock.
Growing up in a rough-and-tumble Texas town populated by oilfield wildcatters and shipyard workers, he formed his first band in 1959 at the age of 15, with his 12-year-old brother Edgar on keyboards. Racial tensions in Beaumont were still high in those days. There’s a famous story from 1962 when Johnny and his brother went to see B.B. King at a Beaumont club called the Raven. The only whites in the crowd, they no doubt stood out. But Johnny already had his chops down and wanted to play with the revered B.B. “I was about 17,” Johnny remembers, “and B.B. didn’t want to let me on stage at first. He asked me for a union card, and I had one. Also, I kept sending people over to ask him to let me play. Finally, he decided that there enough people who wanted to hear me that, no matter if I was good or not, it would be worth it to let me on stage. He gave me his guitar and let me play. I got a standing ovation, and he took his guitar back!”
Johnny joined Alligator Records in 1984. He released Guitar Slinger later that year, it was widely hailed as his best (and bluesiest) album; it charted in both Billboard and Cashbox as well as earning a Grammy nomination. The next year, Johnny followed up Guitar Slinger with Serious Business. The powerhouse album won Johnny his second Grammy nomination with Alligator Records. Third Degree, his final Alligator release, came out in 1986. The album featured several special guests and an array of blues styles. Original blues cohorts, Tommy Shannon and Uncle John “Red” Turner, as well as Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack, all made guest appearances. Johnny also played two solo acoustic cuts on the National Steel guitar (the first time he’d played the National in the studio since 1977).
Today he is enjoying an unparalleled resurgence performing to sold out shows worldwide even after a long life full of honors and accomplishments such as a triumphant appearance at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival with Derek Trucks, Buddy Guy and Clapton that has been immortalized on the Emmy award winning DVD. Plus, Winter has been headlining such prestigious events as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and Chicago Blues Festival. His recent Grammy nominated “I’m A Bluesman” disc on Virgin/EMI, has only added to his Texas-sized reputation. Joining him on this CD are guitarist Paul Nelson, bassist Scott Spray, 2 members of his current scorching road-tested touring band also consisting of drummer Vito Liuzzi.
Joe Louis Walker
Award-winning blues master, Blues Hall Of Fame member and Alligator recording artist Joe Louis Walker Walker is among the greatest bluesmen of his generation. He is known worldwide as one of the genre’s top musical trailblazers — a mesmerizing guitarist and soul-testifying vocalist. NPR Music describes him as ”powerful, soul-stirring, fierce and gritty…a legendary boundary-pushing icon of modern blues.”
On his dynamic new CD, HORNET’S NEST, Walker’s music is equal parts rock ‘n’ roll fire and blistering, passionate blues.
In 2013 The Blues Foundation inducted Walker into The Blues Hall Of Fame. ”I am honored to be in the company of the great artists already inducted,” Walker said. ”I hope to live up to the honor.” Joining the ranks of previous while still at the peak of his musical powers, is, as Walker says, ”a dream come true.”
If The River Was Whiskey
Released April 30th, 2013 on Ruf Records
You think you know the Spin Doctors. Think again. When the legendary New York quartet release If The River Was Whiskey on May 14th through Ruf Records, casual fans will discover the secret past the hardcore have never forgotten. To the wider world, the Doctors might be the multi-million-selling icons behind hits like Two Princes and Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, not to mention the classic Pocket Full Of Kryptonite. But in 2013, Chris Barron (vocals), Aaron Comess (drums), Eric Schenkman (guitar) and Mark White (bass) are reconnecting with the flat-broke twenty-somethings who scraped for dollars at the sharp end of the Big Apple blues circuit. The Spin Doctors have come full-circle.
“We were four guys in our twenties,” remembers Aaron of early days in the late-’80s, “and our goal was to write our own songs and make a living doing it. The blues is such a big part of our roots, but one of the reasons we came up with such a big catalogue of blues songs back then is that we’d play these downtown blues bars in New York. You were supposed to play blues covers… but we were actually playing our own songs!”
We all know what happened next: the hits, the hysteria, the fame and the money (“When were selling 50,000 records a week,” remembers Chris of the band’s explosion circa 1992, “I’d walk into a mall to buy underwear and 300 kids would surround me!”). If The River Was Whiskey hits rewind. It’s the deep-blues album the Spin Doctors almost made before megastardom came knocking. It finally bottles those near-mythical songs from that sweatbox circuit. It’s simultaneously a tipped hat to the band’s lost past and the freshest record you’ll hear all year. “Every note feels dangerous,” smiles Chris. “It’s just like this ramshackle, broken carriage running down a cobblestone hill, with pots and pans, and a screaming baby…”
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Alexis P. Suter Band
International Recording Artist Alexis P Suter is a powerful and unique vocalist who transcends styles and genres. When the great Bluesman B.B. King first heard Alexis P. Suter sing, he was visibly impressed and said so after her opening set for him at BB Kings NYC. Shaking his head in wonder in his characteristic way, he remarked: “It’s a rare thing to share the stage with great talent like that young lady.”
The Alexis P. Suter Band have earned similar accolades from other well-known musicians and performers, including Dan Aykroyd and Levon Helm of The Band.
A true vocal phenomenon, bass/baritone powerhouse Suter and her band began wowing audiences in the northeast as regular performers at Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Sessions in Woodstock, NY. “She is one of those wonderful spirits, she’s got her arms around you; you can feel that,” Helm has said.
Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band
From the Allman Brothers Band, Founding member and drummer Jaimoe Johanson, brings his acclaimed band. They are currently burning up the stage at festivals from coast to coast with amazing live performances of material from their hit CD “Renaissance Man.”
Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez with special guests The Sin Sisters
Christine Ohlman is fresh from an incredible year that has included appearances on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon”, at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, at the WC Handy Festival in Muscle Shoals and on concert stages with Brian Wilson, Bruce Springsteen, Bill Medley, Bonnie Bramlett, Elvis Costello, Widespread Panic, and a host of others.
Ohlman was recently awarded with “Top Female Americana Vocalist” honors on The Alternate Root’s International Readers’ Poll (sharing top slots with Paul Thorn, The Mavericks, and Rodney Crowell) and appears as Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame 2014 Inductee Andrew Loog Oldham’s special guest on his “ALO Orchestra Sings The Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 2.” Her Grammy-nominated recordings include slots with Charlie Musselwhite and the late Hubert Sumlin. She is, of course, the current and long-time lead vocalist with NBC’s Saturday Night Live Band.
CHRISTINE OHLMAN & REBEL MONTEZ will bring songs from their six CDs including the latest (“The Deep End”) featuring guest artists Ian Hunter, Marshall Crenshaw, Dion, Big Al Anderson, the late Levon Helm and others. It was included on several national Top Ten Albums of the Year lists. Join “The Beehive Queen” as she presents Cliff Goodwin on guitars (legendary long-time member of Joe Cocker’s band), Michael Colbath on bass and Larry Donahue on drums with special guests blues/gospel vocal section The Sin Sisters.
“I’ve come here to set your souls on fire,” she tells her audiences. And she will.
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.
Ricky “King” Russell and the Cadillac Horns w/ Matt “Guitar” Murphy
Harvard made Ricky a Dr. of The Blues, a Blues Guitar Genius – with a list of credits too long to enumerate – one of the most loved and highly regarded blues guitarists, singers, band leaders and performers in the world.
Matt “Guitar” Murphy
Probably best known for playing behind the Blues Brothers (and appearing prominently in their 1980 hit movie), Matt “Guitar” Murphy deserves enshrinement in the blues-guitar hall of fame. His jazz-tinged, stunningly advanced riffing behind Memphis Slim elevated the towering pianist’s output for United and Vee-Jay Records to new heights.
Grammy winning Harpist James Cotton was also the beneficiary of Murphy’s prowess during much of the 1970s. Murphy’s crisp picking matched Cotton’s high-energy blowing on the harpist’s 1974 Buddah album 100% Cotton (the guitarist penned a non-stop “Boogie Thing” for the set). From there, it was on to aiding and abetting John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s antic mugging, both on stage and in the Blues Brothers flick (where he played Aretha Franklin’s guitarist hubby, convinced to come out of retirement by the boys in black).
Murphy has toured as a guitarist and bandleader in recent years, his repertoire encompasses blues, funk, jazz, R&B, and even a few of those Blues Brothers chestnuts (he usually carries someone in the entourage to sing ‘em, Belushi-style).
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.
Sugar Ray & The Bluetones
The Mystic Blues Festival is proud to bring home a world renowned local treasure to perform for us at the famed “Knickerbocker Cafe” where it all started for Sugar Ray Norcia, during his legendary decade long run as front man for Roomful of Blues. Ray is a RI Music hall of Fame Inductee, and the accolades for this Blues Harp Legend, band leader, and thrilling vocalist along with his incredible band of blues masters, have never slowed down. His latest CD release has been nominated as Best Blues Album of the Year, while Ray was nominated as Best Instrumentalist.
“Sugar Ray’s voice combines the roadhouse grit of Muddy Waters with a lonesome desperation all his own. Sugar Ray gets so down and out that he makes your skin crawl. He has an ability to convey pain as few bluesmen of his generation can.”
– Steve Morse (The Boston Globe)
David Foster & the Mohegan Sun Allstars
Audiences looking for a rocking good time can always count on David Foster & The Mohegan Sun All-Stars. A long-established force in the southeastern Connecticut music scene, Foster has assembled a team of top-notch musicians who provide a solid night of entertainment. All music performed by David Foster and the Mohegan Sun All Stars: David Foster – Vocals, Cliff Goodwin – Guitar & Vocals, Mitch Chakour – Keyboards & Vocals, Wolf Ginandes – Bass, Floyd Murphy Jr. – Drums, Matt “Guitar” Murphy – Guitar, Jeff Pevar – Guitar & Vocals, Mike Finnigan – Keyboards & Vocals, Bob Leinbach – Keyboards & Vocals, Jimmy “B” Biggins – Sax, Baron Raymonde – Sax, Andrew Lipman – Trombone, Curt Ramm – Trumpet, & Don Harris – Trumpet.
Eight To The Bar
Drawing its musical influences from American roots music – swing, boogie woogie, rhythm & blues, soul, Motown, – Eight to the Bar is known for its outstanding instrumentalists and sophisticated musical and vocal arrangements, highlighted by female vocals.
With the support of independently-produced albums and videos, Eight to the Bar has cultivated a large, enthusiastic following that has put them in clubs from Disneyland to Disney World as well as Europe and the Carribean. Their rigorous performing schedule (approximately 200 dates per year), has included opening spots for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Manhattan Transfer, Robert Cray, Neil Young, Roy Orbison, and Ray Charles.
“Listening to Eight to the Bar is a lot like driving along a time-warped highway precisely halfway between Count Basie’s Kansas City and the Supremes’ Detroit, where the car radio picks up everything from “Take the A Train” to “I heard it Through the Grapevine.” Their material, like their outlandish wardrobes and onstage choreo, is a colorful mixture of forties jive, fifties melodrama and sixties Motown.”
Tom Smith, New Haven Advocate
Ryan Hartt And The Blue Hearts
“With this latest release, Ryan Hartt & the Blue Hearts will become established amongst the best American blues bands. The Connecticut-based combo has to be regarded as a serious competitor to established bands like the Mighty Flyers. Hartt and Ducoff (who also produced) are excellent, tasteful musicians. A superb album.” – Detlev Hoegen, Crosscut Records, Germany.
Greg Sherrod Blues Band
The Mystic Blues Festival is very proud to present Greg Sherrod. 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.
The Franklin Brothers Band
“Sophisticated, polished, intelligent pop music. If you were separating the genetic twine of their music, you’d find cellular imprints of Steely Dan, Toy Matinee, Atlanta Rhythm Section and Toto – along with a sneaky, evocative dash of New Orleans seasoning.”
– Rick Koster, Peter Huoppi. The New London Day
“The Franklin Brothers blend big production pop; ala Billy Joel’s piano soaked soul, with the rootsy rock n’ roll sounds of bands like The Eagles. The songs are clean, crisp and clear and completely inoffensive to the ears. This is an exercise in song craft and musicianship not of pushing sonic boundaries.”
– Adam Wujtewicz. Wailing City
Jacob Graham (drums) has been surrounded from an early age by such classics as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin – thanks to his parents. Whether it be on pots and pans, a school drum set, or his very own kit, he has been playing percussion his whole life. At age 11, he won the first full scholarship to the String Theory School of Music for drums, and it was String Theory that invited him to the Mystic Blues Festival in 2013. It didn’t take long for the blues to take hold of him and inspire him to branch out further into guitar as well. He’s had the honor of playing with Chris Leigh, Josi Davis, Jeff Pevar, Kal David, Ms. Marci and even Matt “Guitar” Murphy along with a number of local bands of his own creation. Jacob is thrilled to be back at the Mystic Blues Festival as both a musician and a volunteer.
Nolan Leite (guitar, vocals) is honored to play at the Mystic Blues Festival for a second time. Nolan has been playing guitar since he was 4 1/2 years old, and playing at open mics since he was 8. Now 11 yrs old now, Nolan just graduated 5th grade and has been on TV, been featured in the Providence Journal, and writes his own music. Nolan has had the honor of playing with Buddy Guy, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Fran & Bobby Christina, Gary Hoey, and has met Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Vaughn, and Shamika Copeland. Nolan also enjoys Little League baseball, XBox 360, and his new thing is playing drums!
Zeb Mrowka (bass guitar) came to the bass guitar about 3 years ago after a lifetime of exploring other instruments. Under the guidance of his music teacher Tom Green, Zeb has flourished on the bass and is often a featured soloists for the Jazz Band at Ledyard High School. Zeb names the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus and Beck as some of his favorite musical influences. He considers it an honor to play with other great student musicians at the Mystic Blues Festival.
Jessica Oddi (vocals) is a thirteen year old singer/songwriter from Niantic, Connecticut. Surrounded by many musical influences her whole life, Jessica recognized her love of music at an early age. From age three to age eight, she pursued dance and vocal instruction under the direction of the late Louise Neistat. At age eight, Jessica focused her efforts on her vocal and songwriting abilities, turning to the String Theory School of Music, guided by her teacher and mentor, Josi Davis. She never looked back! Her appreciation for different musical genres and the many musicians she is honored to know and work with, continually motivate and inspire her to write and perform. Jessica feels priviledged to share the Mystic Blues Festival stage with this group of talented and accomplished student players. Enjoy the festival!
Many, Many, More…