Every once and awhile a true guitar virtuoso travels through the Mid-Ohio Valley. Over the past few years lucky area music fans have watched Junior Brown rock the old Front Row, Reverend Horton Heat create a mosh pit at the Adelphia and Joe Bonamassa display his outstanding skills at the Court Street Grill.
Well folks one of those times is upon us once again. This Friday evening, May 24th, the Court Street Grill (112 Court Street, Pomeroy, OH) will welcome the Simo Band which features rising guitar phenom JD Simo. Simo was born and raised just down the street from Wrigley Field and cites Chicago’s musical diversity as a large influence on his playing. Interestingly Simo was not only influenced by many Chicago blues legends such as Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson, but Elvis Presley as well.
Simo would find himself living in San Francisco and Phoenix, and left home at the age of 15 chasing the desires only a guitar prodigy can envision at that young age. He would essentially be schooled in the music business by Don Kelley as he traveled with his Nashville based band. Simo would hone his skills and refine his technique under Kelley, whom Simo sometimes refers to as “a good high school football coach” pushing him to work harder than anyone could imagine.
As Simo grew in musical stature he became in demand for session gigs throughout Nashville music circles, all the while beginning to put the pieces together for the Simo Band. With the help of bassist Frank Swart and drummer Adam Abrashoff, Simo has laid the foundation for an opportunity to truly be expressive and creative with his musical gifts.
But don’t expect your traditional and predictable blues from Simo. From 70’s rock power chords, to intricate flowing solo’s, to licks so catchy you’ll be infected with a boogie groove, the Simo Band brings a unique, energetic sound … and when Joe Bonamassa refers to Simo as “the greatest out there right now” … it’s simply not to be missed!
For more info contact the Court Street Grill at 740-992-6524 or go to www.courtstreetgrill.com.
(On this rainy Wednesday, I decided to reprint a story I had posted about a couple years ago on Facebook. Myself and several Willie Phoenix fans who were there at the start attended the show and had a great time. It’s also a little bit of an original Parkersburg rock and roll history lesson over the past 30 years. Enjoy!)
It was almost 28 years ago when I first saw Willie Phoenix perform live…way back in the “Shadowlords” days. The venue was the old Sly Fox…and I mean…OLD…Sly Fox. The year was 1983 and the late Fred Starkey was having a few small music shows in the bar, with performers tucked in the corner of the room. I recall Mike Morningstar, Liz Pennock and some other long forgotten performers (sorry…we had too much fun sometimes), playing some great solo gigs. The small shows were pretty well recieved and Fred decided to open a music room in a vacant building next door to the bar (up Market St).( Unfortunately the venue burned down in fall of 1984, and the bar moved into the building on the corner of 13th and Market Street until another untimely fire occured in spring of 2009.)
But when the music room opened, that’s when things really started rocking! At the time, there weren’t a lot of venues committed to having live music (yes…just like today!), but Fred was committed to havin a good time, and the Sly Fox shows were definitely a good time! A few blocks up the street, Dan Kucera and Brad Upchurch were running Current Records and Tapes, plus Brad was singing in a band called The Waves. The Waves were comprised of Brad on vocals, Kevin McGinnis and Bob Hall on guitar, Jeff Kidwiler on bass, and Stew Shaw on drums. They played 3 to 4 minute little blasts of refreshing, original rock n’ roll, dare I say with a lil’ prog punk influence. Current Records became the impromtu stomping ground for live music info in the area, and many area musicians could be found buying a LP(they were made out of vinyl, and played on a turn….table…) ”on sale” for $4.99, and bullshitting about local shows and concerts.
Parkersburg was beginning to grow a nice little “underground” music scene. Several area bands were beginning to spring up and make a statement. The aforementioned Waves, The Planetonics, The Larries, Smut…and last but not least, Ethiopia. They were tired of being subjected to the worn out musical ideals that plagued the few, available Parkersburg area music venues…”play 4 sets with a 15 minute break”…”play a lot of country music”…”play songs that people know”…”don’t play any of that weird shit”, were some of the favorite phrases used by area bar owners back in those days. Well the bands of Underground Parkersburg, said what the hell, and started doing things their way! The old Sly fox was instrumental in providing a venue for these bands to perform. Thank you Fred!
Willie Phoenix and the Shadowlords were instrumental in helping to bring out huge crowds to those early shows. Just how Willie ended up in Parkersburg is a little hazy, but I believe it was through a former Parkersburg resident, who was active in the Columbus area music scene, and told Brad about this performer he had to see…Willie Phoenix! Next thing you know Willie is in town, fresh off his 1982 national release on A&M Records, but now out backing the independently released Willie Phoenix and the Shadowlords LP “We Love Noise”. (The Waves competently held down opening act duties.) Willie brought the hard blues to Parkerburg…(sure we all knew that Led Zeppelin were some English dudes cranking up old blues riff’s through Marshall stacks, and we loved it)…but here was Willie, with a long family history in the blues music scene, playing it loud and proud, directly from the heart! The energy level was off the charts, and Willie was off the stage and onto the tables…the chairs…the floor…all over the house!(Think of Prince in Purple Rain, but Willie was doin’ it before the movie was ever made…)
Well folks I know it all sounds like ancient history…but you’re in luck…Willie is still jammin! And Saturday night you can see this man lay down the gospel about love, peace, and rock and roll blues at the Marietta Brewing Company! The show starts at 10pm (dinners over it’s time to rock) and there is NO COVER. If you’re feelin’ cold and got the winter blues…this show is exactly the remedy you need!
When one thinks of Chicago several thoughts immediately come to mind … Cubs, Bears and Bulls … “the Windy City” … Sears Tower … and the epicenter of much of America’s great blues music history. And on Friday evening a true living blues legend will visit the Court Street Grill in Pomeroy, OH.
Possibly no other scene has quite a historic family tree like the blues and John Primer occupies several branches. Primer was born in Camden, MS in 1945 and the aspiring guitarist made his way to Chicago in the early 1960’s, answering to the call of the great bluesmen of the day. Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, B.B. King, Albert King and Elmore James would all be major influences to the young Primer.
At the age of 18, Primer began seriously paying his dues in the Chicago blues scene. He found a gig in the house band at the legendary Southside blues venue, Theresa’s Lounge, and his nine-year run allowed him to meet and play with many blues greats.
In 1979, Primer joined the Willie Dixon All-Stars but soon left to join Muddy Water’s band. Primer was with Water’s until his death in 1983. Primer’s talents were no longer a secret and he was soon hired by Magic Slim to become one of the Teardrops. Primer and Slim formed a daunting guitar partnership which lasted until the early 1990’s when Primer began to move from sideman to main event.
Primer would return to the roots of the classic ’50s Chicago blues sound. Primer’s precise guitar work and husky vocals would soon be backed by The Real Deal, an all-star backing band featuring harpist Billy Branch, pianist David Maxwell, and bassist Johnny B. Gayden. When not fronting the Real Deal, Primer also keeps himself busy performing with the critically acclaimed Chicago Blues: A Living History Band with many of his contemporaries.
So know that one knows some blues history, the next step is to see Primer live, and frankly there is no better venue that I know of (literally speaking) than the Court Street Grill to witness a true blues legend at work. The show starts at 8pm and promises to be one of the hottest tickets of the year! For more info visit www.courtstreetgrill.com or call 740-992-6524 … or else you’ll be dealing with your own blues.
David Olney’s official occupation may read as “singer/songwriter” but maybe better fitting is the byline title at www.davidolney.com. It explains in no uncertain terms that Olney is the “Pioneer of the Americana music scene.” Intrigued yet?
Born in the late 1940’s in Providence, Rhode Island, Olney found his way to Nashville in the early 1970’s following a stint studying at the University of North Carolina. It was there that Olney would blend various musical genres and themes while honing his skills in a city famous for songs and songwriters.
Olney crafted folk influenced songs, which would be covered by some of Nashville’s biggest stars including Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Linda Ronstadt and the legendary Johnny Cash just to name a few. So one can see where the tag “singer/songwriter” could be generically applied to Olney’s career.
But those days reside quite a while ago and in this “what have you done for me lately” era in which we live, quite possibly Olney’s most interesting material is yet to come. And this Saturday the musical world of David Olney will stop in Parkersburg for part of the Coffeehouse Series presented by the Children’s Home Society of WV.
Olney will be appearing with his talented guitarist/collaborator Sergio Webb at 8pm on Saturday May 5that 1739 St. Mary’s Avenue. One must be advised however merely stating that the two Nashville icons are “appearing” easily qualifies as an understatement.
The Nashville Scene recently heaped high praise on Olney’s skills as the following quote illustrates, “If FILM NOIR established Olney’s affinities with, say, Tom Waits, his new EP The STONE ought to put Olney up there with Bob Frank or Dylan: When Olney essays the anti-sedition Jesus-blues-rock of the new record’s ‘Brains,’ he’s talking about the modern world. This is how a literate, blues-loving Nashville songwriter with a philosophical bent interprets the last couple of millennia.”
As if this testament wasn’t enough to Olney’s talents, once one adds to this Olney’s intense and imaginative live performances with Webb by his side, Saturday evening becomes a can’t miss show. Of course the night is also supporting a great cause if one needs any further prompting. Fellow entertainer Tommy Womack recently chronicled his chat with Olney in which he relayed to Womack, ““To me, it’s bogus that art can only be in museums. The real art is what goes on when people don’t expect it. My idea of a good time is getting in front of an audience and giving them more than they expected. That makes it a worthwhile, fulfilling thing to me.”
So here’s a perfect chance for Parkersburg to break out of its musical cocoon and begin truly supporting great causes and musicians. This show is an excellent opportunity for music lovers or all ages to truly experience a one of a kind performance. For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 304-541-7463.
And don’t worry; they’ll be time for your faux Cinco de Mayo celebration after your ears have enjoyed a musical fiesta!
Party! It’s the only word needed to summarize Friday night’s activity at the 21st Annual Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society’s (www.bjfm.org) Blues Festival. And if you don’t believe me, just ask one of the other several hundred music fans in attendance at Marietta’s Hotel Lafayette ballroom.
For the uninitiated, the word “blues” often conjures up the misconception of down trodden woe-is-me roots music. Sure there is a family tree which encompasses a wide spectrum of feelings and attitudes within the “blues music” family, but when it comes to the BJFM Blues Festival it’s all about the boogie!
Friday night was no exception to this rule as New Jersey’s Mikey Jr. & the Stone Cold Band kicked off the weekend long festivities. Originally billed as a four piece band, Mikey Jr. had a little trick up his sleeve with the addition of guitarist Dean Shot. This set up a powerful three way dynamic between Mikey Jr.’s harmonica, Matt Daniels lead guitar and Shot’s fiery guitar interplay as the three tossed the energy around like the old comical ticking bomb ready to explode.
Well folks something did explode, and it was the wall of sound from the stage. Not only does Mikey Jr. blow a mean harp but he also understands the important fundamental that it’s not his party, it’s everybody’s party! As Mikey Jr. wandered into the crowd to weave a steamy story or two, drummer Adam Strasberg and bassist Jimmy Pritchard provided the groove that made it clear that everyone was going to have fun together and Mikey Jr. let it be well known that he was right there with them.
But the party was just getting started, and next up was the Lionel Young Band. Now many of the fans might have been commenting, “I’ve never seen a blues band with an electric violin”, they soon found out just how Young could make it wail. With Andre Mali providing punctuation marks and riffs on trumpet, Young played his violin in every conceivable way. Fiddle, mandolin, electric guitar leads were all emanating from the four strings of the sleek black instrument. The boogie was indeed on!
At the end of Young’s set the crowd was still up and ready to boogie. After a sheepish grin towards Mali, Young began strumming the familiar high notes of Prince’s hit song “Kiss” and the dance floor erupted again. As the band grooved through the extended dance version of the song, everyone grinned from ear to ear after being ordained “sexxxxxy motherfuckers” by the man with the funky violin in his hand!
If you’re kicking yourself for missing what is the best guaranteed party of the year in the Mid-Ohio Valley, don’t despair. You have all day Saturday to enjoy the festival. At 12:15 p.m., Mark Doebrich leads area high school music students through traditional & contemporary blues selections as part of the Blues in the Schools “High Schools That Rock” project.
At 2:15 veteran solo/acoustic performer Doug MacLeod brings his songwriting expertise, guitar mastery and soulful vocals to the stage. Appearing on 18 albums as well as writing a column for Blues Review magazine, MacLeod has not only lived the life from a musical viewpoint but also documented the history of this prolific genre.
Gospel inspired blues singer CeCe Teneal will take the stage at 3:45 p.m. Teneal’s silky smooth vocals provide an appealing mask for the true power and passion within her heart. With interesting originals and adaptations of some time-tested standards, Teneal’s songs are bound to please the vocal enthusiast as well as the fan of pure gospel based blues.
“If blues, soul, and rock can be said to form a triangle, you’ll find Hamilton Loomis right in the center of it”, says Guitar Player Magazine. At 8 p.m. Loomis and his five piece band get ready to tear the roof off the sucker. The Texas native and his band recently were labeled “a blues-rock-funk-groove-soul band,” by the Houston Chronicle.
What this means for the festival goer? A second night of high energy music which touches the total spectrum of American music in general, or otherwise, something for everybody to dig! But Loomis is more than just industry magazine or newspaper quotes, as a youngster at age 16 he was able to jam with his idol turned mentor Bo Diddley. But don’t just take it from me, the late great Diddley summed up Loomis’ talents as follows, ““You got to put some seasonin’ in what you’re doin’, and this boy’s got the whole salt shaker!”
As if the place won’t be already rocking enough, the finishing roundhouse blow to this undisputed heavyweight blues rockin’ festival will be the unique collaboration of musicians known as Southern Hospitality, which take the stage at 10 p.m. This six piece band from Florida features three versatile and dynamic modern blues performers … all in one band!
Members include Blind Pig recording artist Damon Fowler, fellow guitarist/vocalist JP Soars and piano player extraordinaire/vocalist Victor Wainwright, who came together for an impromptu finale jam one evening after a festival performance, which featured each of their individual bands in the lineup, and the rest is history.
Interestingly Southern Hospitality’s first official show was opening for Buddy Guy at the Heritage Music Blues Fest in Wheeling, WV. From there the group has entertained crowds with rockin’ boogie-woogie blues; with each of the three bluesmen getting to showcase their skillset in the blues genre while a top notch rhythm section holds down the groove. Folks here’s your chance to remove “Damn I wish I would’ve gone” from your next week’s vocabulary!
But there have been a few musical events stand the test of time in our region in recent years. Tonight area music fans will have the opportunity to enjoy one such event. The 21st Annual Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society’s Blues Festival kicks off this evening at the historic Hotel Lafayette in downtown Marietta. Tonight’s 8 p.m. show will feature two high energy bands guaranteed to get your feet moving.
Mikey Jr. & the Stone Cold Blues will get the party started Friday evening with their brand of high energy blues. Hailing from the greater Philadelphia region, Mikey Jr. has built a reputation has one of the hottest harp players around. Mikey Jr. has been drawing comparisons to some legendary harp masters such a Little Walter and Sonny Boy and when teamed with guitar, bass and drums is sure to provide a rollicking even of contemporary blues fun.
Headlining the Friday evening show will be the Lionel Young Band, winners of the 2011 International Blues Competition Band category. Like most great blues bands, the Lionel Young Band has roots which extend throughout the legendary blues family tree. Young, winner of the 2008 International Blues Challenge Solo/Duo competition has jammed with the likes of Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Elvin Bishop, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Tab Benoit, Chris Cain and Bob Margolin just to name a few.
Young is backed by Andre Mali on trumpet, Dexter Payne on sax, clarinet and harp, Ricardo Pena on piano, organ and vocals, Kim Stone on bass and Jay Forrest on drums. Collectively this band is ready for any style of blues anytime anyplace. The bands resume would fill up another page of music who’s who’s!
But ones ears and eyes are the best judges of all and the Lionel young Band has been winning people over whether it’s crisscrossing the U.S. or hitting the high seas as part of a Blues Cruise. With smooth vocals and a powerful sound the Lionel Young Band will impress and still have room to through in a few tricks for the party!
Its Friday night ya’ll know you deserve a good time and there’s no better place to start than the BJFMs Blues Festival baby!
“No matter what your talent level, there has to be something a little unsettling about presenting your skills onstage and being judged among your peers. And when one looks at the scope of performances at the recent 20th Annual Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society’s Blues Competition, it would appear that solo performers have a daunting task indeed. Gary Applegate (www.garyapplegate.com) of Indianapolis, IN met that challenge head on during his performances last Saturday.
While bands competing in the contest certainly have an advantage of a fuller sound and a livelier stage, Applegate utilized a few talents of his own as well. The competition witnessed four solo acts over its two day run with two of those performers advancing to the final round on Saturday evening and a third just barely missing out.
What is it that gave Applegate and Elyria, OH’s Luther “LT” Trammell a ticket to the finals? Several factors come into play for the solo contestant, with two obviously enormous ones being instrumental and vocal talent. When the solo performer walks onto the stage, they are essentially walking on to a blank canvas ready to be painted by their musical talents. Sure full bands will paint their own portrait as well, but often times the same full sound that bands attempt to achieve may also create a less defined vision of the combined talents being presented.
In the competition, blues content is the heaviest weighted scoring category, meaning that all the contestants are assessed a number between one and ten by the judges and then their score is multiplied by a value of four to achieve an acts “blues content” score. While bands may sometimes have the tendency to stray into other musical genres during their performances, the solo artist can strip their presentation down to the essential old school fundamentals of the blues themselves.
While just literally singing the blues may be grandfather of all blues music, one can easily imagine that an acoustic guitar and a harmonica are not too far down that family tree. But while Trammell presented a more traditional performance, Applegate wowed the fans and judges with a little bit of technical know-how to go along with his obvious talent.
“I’ll be playing all the sounds you hear live,” Applegate said to the standing room only crowd before beginning his twenty minute set. Armed not only the traditional acoustic guitar and harmonica instrumentation, Applegate also uses a unique style which allows him to incorporate a bass line and a kick drum sound … all being played by him live!
Through a little modern technology (no more than your average electric or bass guitar player uses in foot pedals or amplifiers), Applegate transforms his two lower strings in the E and A positions, into the bass line and splits the signal to a bass amp onstage. On the floor, Applegate’s right foot becomes a metronome/kick drum which is amplified as well. So far there are two tracks being played … are you following?
The other four guitar strings are played as rhythm and lead during the performance … now there’s three tracks. Next throw in vocals or an occasional blast of harmonica, and yes that right, Applegate is essentially keeping four separate tracks under control at one time! All of which are being played live.
Now it is easy to discuss Applegate’s interesting set up, but ultimately it still boils down to the performer being able to exude the power and emotion on which the blues have relied for hundreds of years. There has to be a felt personal connection between the crowd and the performer, with the artist holding the keys to unlock those emotions.
In a bittersweet manor, Applegate explained the story behind his original song, “Damn It! I’m Lonely” and that sometimes elusive connection was established. It was inspired by his loss of a loved to cancer at far too early of an age.
In years past the BJFMS would award a sponsorship to both a band category and a solo performer, but that was changed a few years back. Luckily for Applegate, the BJFMS came up with an interesting guideline concerning sponsorships of solo performers.
Within the finals of the blues competition, if a solo performer places in the top three spots, he or she will be awarded a sponsorship by the society to the International Blues Challenge. Applegate will be busy in home state of Indiana, before returning on July 6th for the 18th Annual Red, White & Blues Festival in Marietta.
From the opening blast of “I Got to Move,” blues fans knew the party was on! As The Tee Dee Young Band launched into the last set of the Saturday evening finals round, the capacity crowd at the 20th Annual Blues, Jazz, Folk Music Society’s Blues Competition was only left to wonder who would place second and third. With the win, The Tee Dee Young Band will represent the BJFMS at the International Blues Challenge (www.blues.org) held in Memphis, TN.
Young took control of the stage with his incendiary guitar playing, as his four piece band created a wall of sound as wide as the mighty Ohio River. The Lexington, KY based guitar slinger gave the audience a full helping of both hot and mild guitar licks from his trusty Parker Fly.
When the stage wasn’t smoking from Young’s guitar work, saxophonist Dan Jackson helped keep the groove smoldering with his down and dirty baritone sound. Along with keyboardist Bruce Smith, the two created some monster tones, allowing Young to concentrate on delivering his powerful blues vocals when not tearing up a guitar solo.
Bassist Billy Linton and drummer Gus Johnson provided an absolutely rock solid foundation for the bands five original songs. The band transitioned flawlessly from one song to another, as the audience tried to find an opening for applause during their clockwork set.
The Tee Dee Young Band will make a return trip to Marietta on March 17th to play at 1 p.m. during the afternoon session of the BJFM Blues Festival. The festival promises to be yet another sell out at the Hotel Lafayette, and one of the biggest days of music in the Mid Ohio Valley. For more info go to www.bjfm.org.
Columbus, Ohio’s Mojo Theory placed second in the competition. The five piece hard rockin’ blues group powered through five original compositions on Friday and Saturday evening. Vocalist Mark Richards kept the crowd enthralled as he wove his lyrical stories.
Guitarist David Wamock offered up some red hot guitar playing while Richards spurred him on from a few feet away. Keyboardist Jeff Morris, bassist Curt CJ Justus and hard hitting drummer Todd Mollette helped conjure up some huge mojo sound.
The 20th annual BJFMS blues competition will kick off Friday night at 8 p.m. at the Hotel Lafayette ballroom in Marietta. The Friday evening preliminary round will feature five performances from regional contestants. At the end of this round, two winners will move on to the Saturday night finals.
This event is always one of the busiest events of the year, and fans are advised to get to the ballroom an hour early for good seats. The list of contestants performing on Friday evening is as follows.
Friday, February 17 First Preliminary
8-8:20 pm Silverhorse (4 pc. Band) Marietta OH
8:30-8:50 Chaz Humley and the Effects (4 pc. Band) Teays Valley WV
9-9:20 Big Al & The Capital City Players (4 pc. Band) Columbus OH
9:30-9:50 Scott Horn (Solo) Akron OH
10-10:20 Mojo Theory (5 pc. Band) Columbus OH
While some folks may be experiencing the dismal mid-winter blues, area music fans are getting ready to welcome the blues. On Friday evening the 20th Annual Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society’s (bjfm.org) blues competition will kick off at the Hotel Lafayette in downtown Marietta.
The competition originally began as part of the Saturday afternoon entertainment of the BJFMS’s blues festival, which is held annually in March. Organizers of the festival soon found out that one afternoon was not sufficient based upon the number of quality band entries and the competition was moved to February and expanded to two days.
This year’s competition will feature five bands competing for two final’s spots on Friday evening and ten bands vying for four final’s slots on Saturday afternoon. During the Saturday night session, the six finalist bands will duke it out in hopes of representing the BJFMS in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.
This year’s BJFM competition will feature eleven bands and four solo performers, which hail from Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana. The great music starts at 8 p.m. on Friday evening, 12:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon and the finals will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.