It’s been a long, tough winter for area residents and if ya’ haven’t had a touch of the blues during these frigid months you’re one of the lucky ones. But a few things happen every March, the daylight gets a little longer, the air gets a little warmer and one of the year’s premiere music events occurs. And this Friday night and Saturday there’s no better place to shake those winter blues than at the Hotel Lafayette in Marietta, OH.
The Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society (www.bjfm.org) will once again present one of the year’s most anticipated music events … the 23rd Annual River City Blues Festival. This year’s festival will have a special significance by honoring the late, longtime BJFM President “Cobbler John” Bolen. Bolen was a driving force for several decades, dedicated to bringing unique, authentic and wonderful roots music to the Mid-Ohio Valley. He will be greatly missed but he’ll also be expecting an all out house-rocking celebration of music from the fans!
This year’s festival will certainly follow that great music tradition! Throw away your misconceptions of blues music being a solemn presentation, it is far from it. In fact, it is often the most ass shakin’, party startin’ music to be found. A perfect soundtrack for a spring thaw! The festival is actually so filled with great music it is divided into three events … a Friday night show, a Saturday matinee and a Saturday night finale.
The fun kicks off Friday evening as 2014 BJFM River City Blues Competition winners, The Tee Dee Young Band (www.teedeeyoung.com), take the stage. Young fronts a super tight five piece band from Louisville featuring drums, bass, keyboards, saxophone and guitar, a band more than capable of powerfully presenting a wide range of feel good blues tunes. Young will be representing the BJFM at the 2015 International Blues Competition in Memphis, TN next January … come out and see why! “Young’s playing and singing are authentic to the genre but oblivious to current industry trends. His guitar is a weapon, wielded with total authority, assailing the listener with his sheer virtuosity!” – Tee Dee Young bio page.
Most blues musicians have a family tree that touches back through some very famous blues families and players, but every now and then that lineage runs into some roots rock and roll. Chris O’ Leary (www.thechrisolearyband.com) is one of those unique individuals who has bridged several genres. O’ Leary spent six years touring the world as the leader of the late Levon Helm’s band, The Barnburners, laying down harp and vocals. But now O’ Leary is busy fronting his namesake band and will be headlining on Friday night. The band brings together six talented musicians who have experience excelling in several different musical genres but on Friday night get ready for some harp fueled Chicago-style power blues! “O’Leary … is a more than capable singer and Chicago-style harmonica stylist; the proof comes in the shuffles and jump numbers he handles with suave assurance on his debut recording. It’s really the slow tempo of Blues is a Woman that draws out his best singing, reminiscent of Jimmy Witherspoon. His Hudson Valley-based cohorts stir up the all-original material without faltering. Young guitarist Chris Vitarello merits notice for his technical powers and imagination, his reach extending to rockabilly and swinging jazz.“
– Frank-John Hadley, Downbeat Magazine
Day two of the festival kicks off Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. BJFM volunteer and local musician Mark Doebrich leads area music students in the “Schools That Rock” performance. Elementary, middle and high school age students comprise the group which gives the young, aspiring musicians a chance to not only learn the history of blues and rock and roll, but also chance to perform it live onstage! This performance is free for all to enjoy.
At 1:30 p.m. the Saturday matinee revs up for an afternoon of impromptu blues history. The Hoodoo Men open the show with their Deep South raw and gritty blues sound. Heavy on the Mississippi juke joint sound, the duo of Bill Steber and Sammy Baker rely on a variety of instruments to create a retro mid-1900’s blues vibe … the early howlin’ days of pickups and amplifiers and the new sounds that came with the electricity … but even still, the electric jug is a truly one of a kind party starter! “Cheap-ass vintage Teisco guitars, p90 pickups, over-driven tube amps, groovin’ drum shuffles, dirty concrete floors, butt-shakin’ hoarse-hollerin’ flask-drinkin’ 3am still bumpin’ yes ma’am blues music.” – The Hoodoo Men.
At 3:00 p.m., Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton takes the stage and the blues history lesson continues. Paxton takes elements of ragtime, old time mountain music, early blues and more, melding them together in a glorious presentation which will make the audience forget they’re listening to a young man in his mid-20′s. Paxton uses guitar, banjo, fiddle, vocals and a contagious joy to present what has been called “the next generation of the acoustic blues” by Living Blues magazine. “He’s witty, fast rhyming, poetic, fun, exciting, wonderfully skilled as a musician and a fine singer, he is the continuation of a proud tradition, literally and figuratively. It’s hard to tell at times when Jerron Paxton, a consummate entertainer, is putting on an act, when he takes his act to real life and when life starts and the act ends.” – www.thecountryblues.com
Rounding out the afternoon show at 4:30 p.m. will be Detroit-born blues empress Thornetta Davis (www.thornettadavis.com). Davis rose to acclaim playing in rhythm and blues bands in the Detroit area. But she has also provided backing vocals for some of Detroit’s biggest rock performers like Bob Seger and Kid Rock. But Davis has been infusing the blues into her soulful sounds since the 80’s and has had her songs featured in commercials, movies and even the HBO hit groundbreaking series The Sopranos! Heavy on the soul, her rhythm and blues background with a touch of rock and roll … Davis always provides a great spirited performance! “Thornetta Davis can sing R&B, soul, rock & alternative, but it is the blues Thornetta deals with in this her first live CD. Covered Live is a musical snapshot of the usual high-energy show at the Music Menu Cafe in downtown Detroit. This is lady T’s gift to her many fans, a slice of a live performance with all the favorites like Black Drawers, Muddy Water, & Damn Your Eyes. After over twenty Motor City Music Awards, there is no doubt Thornetta stands today as Detroit’s most loved and respected female vocalist. No one can match the smooth power of her voice or her over all soul.” – RJ Spangler for Big City Blues Magazine.
After a break for dinner from around 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., the Saturday night finale begins. Long Tall Deb (www.longtalldeb.com) takes the stage at 8 p.m. with her band The Werewolves of Alabama. Long Tall Deb is a BJFM favorite, helping with blues competition judging, rocking last years Red, White & Blues festival and forming a strong musical friendship with the MOV! Deb is joined by Colin John on guitar; once described by Guitar Player magazine as “what Jimi Hendrix might have sounded like if he abandoned the rat race, moved to Hawaii, taken up surfing and let the sun and waves bestow their laid-back high.” John Popovich brings his experience on the keys while Melvin Powe and Jan Roll hold down the solid rhythm section on bass and drums. The Werewolves bring the groove to the dance floor while Deb’s powerful yet smooth vocals share the passion to one’s heart! When I heard Long Tall Deb’s recordings, it was easy to know we hoped she’d choose the VizzTone Label Group for her CD. “When I shared the bandstand with her, and watched her perform, I was very impressed with her as a singer and entertainer as well. Her power is friendly and soulful and I recommend her to you enthusiastically!” - Bob Margolin
Closing out the festival will be The Victor Wainwright Band (www.victorwainwright.com). Wainwright is a high energy keyboardist that slams out some mean honky-tonk while moving booties with some hard core boogie. Wainwright’s live performances have been called “beautiful madness.” Wainwright is joined by a true young gun of the Memphis blues scene, Nick Black who provides the incendiary guitar work. And with drummer Billy Dean and bassist Will Hanlon holding down the beat and thump, Wainwright is free to focus 100% on ensuring the crowd gets down to the sound! One of the greatest qualities a band can have is road experience and the Victor Wainwright Band regularly plays over 300 shows a year. It’s no wonder they’ve received high acclaim from industry stalwarts like Billboard, Blues Beat, BMA, Living Blues, House of Blues Radio, Sirius/XM and others. But this band doesn’t just collect awards, they electrify fans with their frolicking, good time sounds! “Wainwright serves as an electrifying guide to a good time-spinning tales, telling his listeners how to beat the blues, and meticulously conjuring raw soul and energy out of his acoustic piano.He displays a sharp sense of humor and a knack for storytelling…. Every track is brilliant.” - Living Blues Magazine
If one is not a member of the BJFM, it is highly recommended to join and support this wonderful, non-profit musical organization. The yearly dues are only $15 and are easily recouped by the reduced ticket prices that members receive at events throughout the year. For example, a weekend pass for the blues festival is only $50 for members, $70 for non-members. Also if a member can only attend one or two shows of the festival, the costs still works out the same $15 for Friday night, $15 for the Saturday matinee and $20 for Saturday night! Non-member individual show pricing is $25 Friday night, $25 Saturday matinee and $30 Saturday night … yes it pays to be a member. And memberships are available the night of the show, so one can start saving instantly!
I can’t recall the exact date or time when I first met “Cobbler” John Bolen but I can pretty accurately detail the circumstances. I’m quite sure there was live music being played, music which was the work of John and his fellow Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society (www.bjfm.org) volunteers. And I’m sure his loving and caring wife, Peggy, was not far from his side. For years he served as the president of the BJFMS and with the help of the organization’s dedicated volunteers helped to present some of the finest and most diverse music the Mid-Ohio Valley has ever had the opportunity to enjoy. I know I was enjoying that music in the early 1990’s when I first met the Cobbler.
Like many folks, I enjoyed the lineups of truly important and legendary blues artists and John’s love of live music. But I also respected his profession, years spent as a craftsman in the lower level of the Dime Bank building in Marietta. He was an artist working an age old trade, breathing life back into a pair of well-worn shoes. He possessed a skilled gift which is sorely missing in much of today’s digital and throwaway world, hence the nickname … The Cobbler.
But it was the John’s personal love of music that will leave an impact on so many folk’s lives. I often reminisce about all the great blues artists that he and the BJFMS brought to our area. Thankfully the organization had a large following of dedicated music lovers who would travel hundreds of miles to attend an event in the Mid-Ohio Valley and that dedication allowed the River Cities Blues Festival and Competitions to grow over the past few decades. Sometimes John and I discussed the challenges of getting local folks engaged with the same level of enthusiasm that the visitors brought to the events. Some shared ideas and some scratching our heads … tempered with a cold beer or two and a “we’ll get ‘em next time” attitude. Always realizing how important all the fans were whether from near or far.
The Cobbler and his team also worked diligently to provide Celtic, Cajun, Americana and other roots based forms of music to area music fans. I can fondly remember sweating it out on the Hotel Lafayette parquet dance floor while the John wore out a spoon on a washboard on a hot August night during the Swamp Stomp several years back! And another time I had the pleasure of helping with an Appalachian flavored night of acoustic roots music, which gave folks a special opportunity to see John’s life long love of folk music and his fine playing skills. John always worked tirelessly to give the fans his very best.
I have been BJFMS member for many years and specifically had the honor helping to judge five of the River Cities Blues Competitions over the years. This year I recently helped to emcee the event and provide some stagehand help for the competing bands. John was too ill to attend, but while I was helping out I could only think of how I could help the fans enjoy the show more, spark their excitement up another level and get them to feel the joy of the music like the Cobbler always did.
We are certainly all saddened by John’s passing and send our condolences to his family. Certainly many deserved thoughts and prayers will be flowing over the next few days but we must also find a way to rejoice in the music he cared so much about. Forgive me if I’m a little off base but somehow I envision a befitting grand farewell … a New Orleans style jazz funeral … somber with respect early and full of spirited music at the end as a celebration of the Cobbler.
Realistically, I think it as my personal duty to step up and help to continue the Cobbler’s legacy of music, and hopefully some other music lovers will come forward to help keep alive the fun, the joy, the importance of the music he loved. It may just be the best tribute of all for our late friend, Cobbler John Bolen. And if I’m smiling, I’ll be listening to that swinging brass section in my head and remembering many good times.
The C&S Railroad boarded in Huntington, WV and headed north to Marietta on Friday night. They didn’t load their boxcars full of lighting fast pseudo blues guitar riffs but instead hauled a dose of blues history north to the River City. As the opener for the Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society’s 22nd Annual River City Blues Competition the band helped to acclimate music fans to the many styles and nuances which make up the blues.
Vocalist/guitarist Chris Sutton took the audience on a blues journey that rubbed shoulders with folk, jammed with some southern rock, picked it with the sound of an Appalachian hollow and brought it all together with a smooth, soulful sound. It was a wonderful way to kick off the two day music event.
With the hardy fans in attendance in the mood, the Sean Carney Band from Columbus, OH took the stage. The trio brought their signature electric sound to the Hotel Lafayette Ballroom and filled the dance floor. Carney certainly displayed the bravado which netted him and his band 1st place at the 2007 International Blues Challenge and the Albert King Best Guitarist award that same year.
Carney and his band provided the up-tempo driving blues sound that helped the crowd melt of the winter chill and shake it dry on the dance floor. But fans were in for an added bonus, as Carney had assembled an “Ohio All Star Blues Line Up” which also featured past RCBC winner Roy Fuller and the young and talented Micah Kesselring.
Kesselring displayed his slide guitar chops on his trusty ’59 Gold Top Reissue, while Fuller bust out his ‘60’s Silvertone and revved up the audience with a dose of Elmore James and Hound Dog Taylor. For the few folks not wanting to dance, it just wasn’t a fair fight … this blues revue brought the lowdown boogie and it all feet on the floor!
As the festivities closed for the eve at the hotel, many blues fans crossed the street and made the short walk down Front St. to the Over The Moon Pizzeria for a late night blues jam.
If you didn’t make it out Friday night, not to worry, the band competition kicks off at 11:30 am on Saturday morning. Thirteen bands, a full day of music and an absolutely great way to spend a chilly Saturday!
If one doesn’t already have those slip sliding, bone chillin’, snow shoveling blues maybe they’ve been wintering in the Caribbean but for the rest of us the harsh realities of a brutal winter continue to slosh onward. But there is light at the end of the tunnel provided by a couple of reliable signs. Spring is just a few weeks away but more immediately it’s time for the 22nd Annual River City Blues Competition!
The event is sponsored by the Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society (www.bjfm.org) and is recognized as the oldest and largest blues competition in Ohio. It will once again be held at the Hotel Lafayette (101 Front St.) in Marietta OH and this year a slightly new format is being implemented which should be exciting for the musicians and the music fans.
On Friday night, February 14th, a pre-competition party will feature 2013 RCBC Winner Chris Sutton and his band C&S Railroad (https://myspace.com/csrailroad). Hailing from Huntington the group will be kicking off the festivities at 8pm. Sutton won last year’s competition with a rootsy, soulful solo acoustic performance but will be joined by his band on Friday night to deliver some Americana inspired Ohio River blues! At 9:30 pm longtime central Ohio favorite, The Sean Carney Band (www.seancarneyblues.com) will take the stage and further intensify the winter thaw with a dose of smoking hot, guitar driven blues. Carney is a former winner of the International Blues Challenge and has performed not only all across the Midwest but internationally as well! And his work with guitar heavyweights like Duke Robillard and Jimmy Thackery continue to draw Carney industry wide attention and acclaim.
On Saturday February 15th the hard yet fun work begins when the competition tips off at 11:30 am with the first of the thirteen competitors hitting the stage. They’ll be vying for the BJFMS sponsorship to the 2015 to the International Blues Challenge (IBC) held in Memphis, TN. The first place winner will receive $1,000 in cash and $500 more when they register for the International Blues Challenge held in early 2015. At the IBC the sponsored performers will gain valuable exposure to record label A&R representatives and blues industry professionals and festival promoters capable of real career advancement for a serious blues musician. Second place with receive $500 and 3rd place $300. If a solo/duo act places within the top three the BJFMS may decide to also sponsor them in the “solo/duo” category and the performers will receive an additional $500 when they register for the Challenge. Over 120 worldwide blues societies and alliances send qualifiers to the IBC each January!
This year’s River City Blues Competition line up once again provides both a regional and international flair! Each performer will have twenty minutes to present their set of music. Set that run longer than twenty minutes will be penalized. The performers will be judged by a panel of local and regional musical insiders. The judges will use a weighted scoring system which will look for the performer’s blues content, instrumental talent, vocal talent, originality and stage presence. The scores will be tabulated and the top six performers will move to the finals. The afternoon lineup is as follows.
Saturday, February 15th Preliminary Competition
11:30-11:50am – Steve Spires (4 pc. Band) Zanesville OH
12:00-12:20pm – The Level Best Blues Band (5 pc. Band) Huntington WV
12:30-12:50pm – Greezy Juke (4 pc. Band) Columbus OH
1:00-1:20pm – Rod Snider (Solo) New Matamoras OH
1:30-1:50pm – Fuzzy Catfish (3 pc. Band) Augusta KY
2:00-2:20pm – Dany Franchi Band (3 pc. Band) Italy
2:30-2:50pm – Blues Chronicles (Duo) Cleveland OH
3:00-3:20pm – Deuce n’a Quarter (5 pc. Band) Columbus OH
3:30-3:50pm – Noah Wotherspoon Band (3 pc. Band) Cincinnati OH
4:00-4:20pm – Luther Trammell (Solo) Elyria OH
4:30-4:50pm – Reverend Sexton’s All Star Blues Review (5 pc. Band) Detroit MI
5:00-5:20pm – Tee Dee Young Band (5 pc. Band) Lexington KY
5:30-5:50pm – Dock Adams and Blues Hammer (4 pc. Band) Columbus OH
At approximately 6 pm the preliminary competition will be complete and the BJFM will break for dinner. At 8 pm the competition will reconvene with the top six finalists going to the stage once again in the championship round for a shot at the RCBC title.
Tickets will be available at the door and are priced as follows. $10/$15 members/non-members for Friday Night, $15/$20 m/nm Saturday Afternoon, $15/$20 m/nm Saturday Night, $40/$55 m/nm Weekend Pass. VISA/MasterCard/Discover accepted. The Lafayette Hotel will also be serving great food and legal beverages adjacent to the event.
If one has regularly attended they are prepared for all the fun and music, but this event also draws a big crowd. The doors will open an hour before show time so it’s a good idea to come early if you want an upfront seat. Of course the entire ballroom is a great atmosphere full of good music whether one chooses to be upfront and feel the beat or watch from the comfort of the back corner!
“Get up … Everybody’s gonna move their feet, Get down … Everybody’s gonna leave their seat … You gotta lose your mind in Detroit Rock City!” Everyone has enjoyed this anthem to the oft beaten and bruised Midwestern rock and roll city, but coming from a Brooklyn based quartet it is a bit of a stretch.
How about letting a Detroit band carry the rock and roll torch for a city known for the historic Motown sound of the 1960’s … Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and The Temptations … great classic rock of the 1970’s … MC5, The Stooges, Rare Earth and Alice Cooper … and more recently the brutally straightforward rhymes of Marshall Bruce Mathers III?
It is true a lot of music royalty has made its way through Michigan’s largest city over the years. But maybe more recognizable than Detroit’s mark on the American music culture, is the mark that its automobile industry has left on virtually everyone’s life over the past 100+ years! And that mark is not just shiny chrome and sleek lines. It is raw steel, crafted by workers who pour their sweat and sometimes blood into their work day, determined to craft the raw materials into a piece of usable art, often back breaking work begetting a hard bargained wage at the end of the day.
So how about picking a band that encompasses many of these attributes? Folks, that band would simply be The Muggs. The three piece power blues rock group which owes as much too tough times once shared by their home city as they do to the inevitable rebirth their hometown will soon enjoy.
The Muggs were formed in 2000 with Danny Methric on guitar & lead vocals, Tony DeNardo on bass guitar & backing vocals and Matt Rost on drums. The band was planting a solid foundation in the Detroit area music scene when Tony DeNardo suffered a nearly fatal stroke at age 28. This is where the comeback story begins. Through classic motor city grit, grind and hard rehab DeNardo was able to rejoin the band, just two years after his stroke. But at this time, he traded his four strings for the 73 keys of a Fender Rhodes piano and began using the venerable keyboard for the low down, groovin’ bass sound.
The Muggs were ready to rock once again and in 2004 signed with Times Beach Records, releasing their self-titled album “The Muggs” in July 2005. And it was time for another symbolic Detroit connection to occur. The Muggs partnered with the folks working on the release of a new version of the classic Dodge Charger and several Mugg’s songs were selected by the automaker for use in the campaign! Since then The Mugg’s music was also featured in a PBS concert documentary, “The Force Among Us” a Star War’s documentary celebrating the film’s 30 year success and even a Fox TV reality show, “The Next Great American Band.”
But rock and roll is about sharing it with people, not just cameras, so the band left the wild and wooly winter of Detroit for a tour of Spain in January 2007. The Muggs were also busy copping local rock radio station awards as they continued to hone their blues rock sound.
Two more releases, “On with the Show” and “Out of Detroit and Into A Dodge”, drew the band more critical acclaim plus launched them back into a Dodge marketing campaign … to the tune of 100,000 CD’s to be distributed by European Dodge dealers! The Mugg’s walked away with the “Outstanding Rock Artist/Group” award at the 2008 Detroit Music Awards and Danny Methric won “Outstanding Rock/Pop Instrumentalist” for his guitar work. The band began receiving invitations to open for established rock acts such as Jack Bruce of Cream, Mountain, Robin Trower, Thin Lizzy, Ten Years After, Johnny Lang, Candlebox, Ian McLagan of the Small Faces & Faces, North Mississippi All Stars, the Verve Pipe, Goober & The Peas and many more.
2009 began with USA Today recognizing their “On with the Show” release as one of the top albums for 2008 and Fox Sports began using The Mugg’s music as part of their NCAA Men’s Final Four Basketball broadcasts. More Detroit Music Awards followed in 2009 and Real Detroit Weekly named them “Best Indie Rock Band.” In October of 2009, original drummer Matt Rost stepped down and highly respected Detroit area percussionist Todd Glass joined the band.
The Muggs were also licensing some of their songs for use in three indie films and another Spanish tour ensued in 2010. One of their songs also made its way onto “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” … talk about the Detroit Rock City irony. The Muggs filmed their first video, “Slow Curve” with internationally acclaimed award winning filmmaker Jeff Schultz and the video brought them home yet another Detroit Rock Award in 2011. The band released their third album, “Born Ugly” in April 2011. And in the spring of 2012, The Muggs embarked on an expanded European tour which would take them to their old stomping grounds in Spain, as well as, stops in Germany, France and Holland.
In 2013 The Muggs worked with Chevrolet providing music for a commercial and unsurprising the band collected more Detroit Music Awards. In April 2013 the band released a double album, “Full Tilt – Live at Cadieux Café” and toured Spain, Germany, Italy, France and Netherlands during the spring. One of their songs, “Slow Curve” was licensed for use in the upcoming Disney film, “Earth to Echo” as well!
And now it’s 2014 and The Muggs are once again returning to the friendly confines of the Court Street Grill (112 Court St.) in Pomeroy OH. The band has been a mainstay at the area’s finest live music venue for several years and has rocked the Big Bend Blues Bash as well! The well-traveled and hardworking trio will be bringing a finely oiled, edgy classic rock sound infused with some powerful blues riffs ala’ the old blues masters who always delivered a good house rocking!
The Muggs will be joined by Parkersburg’s eclectic original rockers, Urban Shocker Duo. Urban Shocker Dou is comprised of vocalist/provocateur Zeroid Hopper and guitarist/programmer Bentuibi Timely. The duo utilizes raw, heavy guitar and intricately programmed backbeats and rhythms to accentuate its aggressive performance art delivery. By drawing influences from Bowie, the Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, Devo, AC/DC, the Psychedelic Furs, Lou Reed, the Stones and more, Urban Shocker Duo presents a raw, honest, stark and entertaining change from pre-processed power pop dominating the airwaves today. The Duo has been leaving the stage sweaty, sometimes bloody, but always 100% all in … to the delight of raucous crowds since 1983 with their former project, Ethiopia!
The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are available by calling 740-992-6524. Don’t miss the night of great rock in a great venue!
There’s no doubt that the holiday season is a very busy time of the year … yeah it’s a cliche that you’ve heard a thousand times but maybe a little blow out would be just what one needs to regroup and reset! And they’ll be no better place to do this than at the Court Street Grill (112 Court St.) in Pomeroy, OH this Friday evening. Juke joint purveyor Jackie Welker along with his friendly staff will be welcoming The Todd Wolfe Band (www.toddwolfe.com) to his quaint music hall.
Just who is Todd Wolfe? To begin with we’ll offer up a simple explanation of what he’s doing in Pomeroy … “one of the best bands I saw all year, they did a great job for us this summer as special guests after Blues Competition,” Welker said.
But who is Todd Wolfe? Wolfe is probably best know for his lead guitar work with Sheryl Crow’s touring band in the 1990′s during which they opened for Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Robert Plant & Jimmy Page … and the list goes on. But before his work with Crow, the New York City native grew up listening to a variety of music. After being blown away, as most of the the youth of the era, by the British Invasion, Wolfe began to gravitate towards American blues guitarist such as BB King, Hubert Sumlin, Freddy King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and so many more began to influence the young guitarist.
Wolfe has also had success as a songwriter with his songs being covered by Stevie Nicks, Faith Hill, Phish and others. The past several years Wolfe has been focusing on his latest project with drummer Roger Voss and bassist Justine Gardner. The accomplished trio has played saloons, festivals, roadhouses and pubs all over North America and Europe … And now The Todd Wolf Band is bringing the experience and their power trio energy to our little ol’ juke joint … the Court Street Grill!
Many folks from our area know about the Grill, but if you’ve never been there I highly recommend this show! Of course, some folks might want to bring a set of earplugs … but the shared energy between the bands and the crowd is well worth a little bit of rock/blues music volume! (Welker mentioned that Wolfe was very good about a sound level befitting the room in his earlier performance. But some bands are certainly louder than others.) The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are only $10 available at the door. For more info go to www.courtstreetgrill.com or call them at 740-992-6524!
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!