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!
Steve Tuck is a music lover and a lover of good times in general. Some of you know Tuck from his son’s band, The Greens. Others know him from his day job and his tireless efforts for the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Luckily sometimes business and pleasure can be mixed as Tuck has illustrated by the numerous music fundraisers he has held for the Society.
This Thursday evening will mark another such event. On November 7th, Tuck will be welcoming Irene Kelley to a fundraiser at the Worthington Ballroom (3414 Roseland Ave.) in Parkersburg. The music will start early at 7 p.m. and feature Kelley’s mix of country, bluegrass and Americana music used to accentuate her heartfelt and homey lyrics.
Like many aspiring songwriters, Kelley left her hometown of Latrobe, PA and headed south to Nashville. Actually first she had to get the country music bug, and that was provided by a chance viewing of a Dolly Parton television performance. Kelley was inspired to learn guitar and begin writing her own songs. She had written a song, “Pennsylvania Is My Home”, which was used in a 1982 PBS documentary … and also mounted a personal grass roots campaign to have it adopted as a “state song.” The leaders of Pennsylvania ultimately opted not to select an official “state song” at that time, but Kelley had sent several copies of her music to some Nashville music publishers. It was now time to make that trip down south.
Kelley made some recordings for CBS Records and then MCA Records. But she also found herself with two daughters to raise, and found herself moving from a troubadour to a stay at home mom/songwriter. Loretta Lynn, Trisha Yearwood, Brother Phelps, Rhonda Vincent, Claire Lynch, the Osborne Brothers, The Whites, Ricky Skaggs, Carl Jackson and others are just a few of the iconic Nashville singers to feature songs written by Irene Kelley on their albums.
But as her children grew, Kelley retained her performers desire and once again was writing songs for Irene Kelley to sing. In 1999, Kelley found herself with a new album Simple Path and that led to a performance at the Grand Ole Opry … and a call from Alan Jackson who had heard her perform her song “I’m A Little Bluer Than That.” Jackson ended up including the song on his 5-time platinum selling & Billboard #1 album Drive.
In 2004, Kelley released her follow-up album Thunderbird. It was a personal and spiritual extension of her previous release Simple Path, more songs from a genuinely private person existing in the soul bearing world of songwriting. And early next year Kelley will be releasing a new album, Pennsylvania Coal, a bluegrass flavored release produced by longtime collaborator Mark Fain.
Albums and recordings are great but if one wants to capture the full character of a performer they must see them live. Often there are some very interesting insights into the meaning or origins of some songs. To look a person in the eye as they deliver their musical creation is a connection which cannot be downloaded or YouTubed.
Kelley is slated to be joined by longtime Nashville session artist Gary Talley. Talley has played with a veritable who’s who of country music legends. And was also a founder of the Box Tops … who just happened to have a #1 hit in 1967 with “The Letter”! After his Box Top days, Talley found himself appearing on recordings with Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings … you get the picture, legendary!
This will be a night of great music for a great cause! A $10 donation is recommended and food and beverages will be available. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with music beginning at 7 p.m. … an early evening of great entertainment!
“A Little Bluer Than That” by Irene Kelley
Music, bright lights and big cities across America have long been associated with one another. Chicago and the blues, Seattle and grunge rock, the arena rock band spawning ground of L.A.’s Sunset Strip, the show tunes and glam rock pioneers of N.Y.C. … and of course there’s country music and Nashville, arguably the strongest of all these metro-music relationships.
But Nashville is much more than the heavily orchestrated slick country rock sounds of platinum award winning albums. More precisely, East Nashville is the anti-thesis of the glamor, gloss and often superficiality of its huge neighbor. The area is characterized by quaint neighborhoods and an outdoorsy, artsy, working class style. And East Nashville also is home to some of the hottest alternative/folk/country/rockers creating music these days.
Kevin Gordon just so happens to be one of those alt folk rockers who has long been receiving critical acclaim from music industry insiders, while at the same time trying to pay the bills and raise a family in his little slice of East Nashville. Gordon routinely tours the Midwest and Southeast with an occasional foray into the Northeast; mostly as a solo performer driving many a mile in his trusty minivan.
Maybe the best barometer of Gordon’s down to earth journeyman musician story is the fact that he’s already played in Parkersburg, WV two times and on Sunday October 6th he’ll chalk up number three. Gordon, bassist Ron Eoff and a drummer TBA will be appearing the Worthington Ballroom located at 3414 Roseland Ave ., Parkersburg, WV 26104. Even though his solo shows are certainly lively, it’s a bit of a rare treat to catch Gordon in “small combo” mode. It’s gonna rock!
From a great review in Rolling Stone magazine of his recent release Gloryland to an early Sunday evening show in Wood County working to make a living is a solid testament to Gordon’s love of music and performing it live! (Check out the Gloryland review here! Gordon’s 3 ½ star rating was second only to The Boss’s 5 star rating for Wrecking Ball which was reviewed in the same print issue. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/gloryland-20120314)
The doors will open at 6 p.m. and Andy Tuck, from one of WV’s hardest working and most beloved bands The Greens, will kick the music off at 7 pm. Tuck will be acoustically performing tunes from his huge library of original songs, but if one knows Andy they understand that there will be no lack of the energy and inspiration which drives his live shows.
Tickets are only $10 and will be available at the door the night of the show. To learn more about Kevin Gordon and his music visit http://kg.kevingordon.net/ . For more on Andy Tuck and The Greens visit http://www.reverbnation.com/thegreens.
For more information on this show, or on hosting a live music event at your home or venue, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Parkersburg, WV – Acclaimed songwriter Tommy Womack will be returning to Parkersburg as part of the PM Beat Music 2013 Concert Series. The show will be held Thursday, May 9, 2013 on the Worthington Golf Course patio at 7pm, weather permitting. In the case of inclement weather the performance will be held in the historic Worthington Ballroom. Tickets are only $10 and will be available the evening of the show.
Womack, a resident of Nashville, TN, via his Kentucky upbringing has received much praise for his latest album release 2012’s “Now What!” The album was reviewed in of The New Yorker magazine. “The singer, songwriter, and author Tommy Womack, a fixture on the Nashville music scene, mixes country, blues, and rock like a fast-fingered bartender on his new album, “Now What!,” said reviewer John Donohue. “The heart of “Now What!” is its subject matter: instead of typical roadhouse hell-raising fare, it addresses middle age. But the album’s not a downer – Womack never takes himself, or anything else, too seriously, and he’s is not above rapping on one track and quoting Cheap Trick on another.”
“Now What!” has also received high praise from American songwriter magazine who simply defines Womack’s unique style as “…This is rock ‘n’ roll, or Americana, or whatever you want to call it, that’s AS PURE AND HONEST AS IT GET.”
Womack is no stranger to the Parkersburg area and has invested himself in the community by participating in two charitable concerts for the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia over the past few years. Folk singer, humorist, entertainer … Tommy Womack is one great time.
Parkersburg’s own Nick Barry will also be performing his original brand of Americana folk rock. Barry brings a classic 60’s style protest singers delivery but with a twist. His songs tell the stories or misadventures of young adult decision making revolving around employment, love, politics and the right to party.
Area fans have become forever connected to the witty lyrics and the “can’t help to sing along” choruses of Barry’s original tunes. Whether you’re going to Columbus or just going to let your dog out, a set of music with Nick Barry is always an adventurous and fun time!
Blues Hippy and the Soul Underground featuring Willie Phoenix, The Jimmy Clinton Band, The Remnants and a special solo appearance by Michael Lutz are scheduled for the second show of the PM Beat Music 2013 Concert Series. The concert will be held Saturday, March 23, 2013 at the historic Worthington Ballroom in Parkersburg.
Starting back in Camden, Alabama as a youth brought up around the famous blues musicians his father performed with, Willie Phoenix was immersed in great music but it still played second fiddle to his dreams of playing second base in the big leagues. His love of classic British Invasion rock and roll, a solid reggae groove and a touch of soul all add flavor the Blues Hippy groove.
While others may more clearly recollect his more recent Parkersburg shows at The Front Row throughout the 2000′s. Those performances reintroduced area music fans to Phoenix after to long of a hiatus. The Front Row shows were still just has energetic with Phoenix often bringing varied lineups of the band under the Willie Phoenix band name. There was always Phoenix on guitar, a bass player and a drummer but sometimes there was a percussionist playing an array of Latin flavored instrument to keyboards with that big sound.
However one of the more memorable performances by Phoenix took place on a wintry December just before Christmas back in the 2000′s. Due to the holiday grind some of Phoenix’s band mates were unable to commit to the Friday night show due to expanded work obligations. “Willie called me and explained some of his band members were tied up at work and with the bad winter weather being forecast for the area weren’t going to be comfortable with making the trip to Parkersburg either,” Front Row owner Bill Poole said. “But Willie offered me the option of just coming down and playing solo for a reduced price and I said sure,” Poole said. Phoenix took the stage and what happened next was pure magic. The prolific songwriter took the nice sized crowd on a musical history lesson of Willie Phoenix original songs as well as many of the songs that influenced him to become a musician. All told Willie Phoenix played a non-stop three and a half hour set of music … on an acoustic guitar! Guitar players will understand the sheer brutality that something like that can entail.
Moments like this were exactly why the music business had taken note so many years before. Phoenix’s great songwriting and energetic performances helped garner a major record label deal with A&M Records in 1982. It was a wonderful collection of straight ahead rock and roll songs in an era when rude showmanship and illegal off stage activities where often the keys to success for major rock bands. Even though A&M Records are long gone, Phoenix is still busy writing great music as evidenced by his thirteen+ albums, but more importantly his love and respect of music and his fans. No gimmicks, no drama, just a musician giving his all.
Another wonderful facet of Phoenix has always been his readiness to try new musical projects featuring interesting lineups and instrumentation. His current band, Blues Hippy and the Soul Underground, features longtime collaborator from the Shadowlord days Jim Johnson on drums, Myke Rock on bass and backing vocals and Dan-Ro James on guitar and backing vocals. Together they create an eclectic mix of danceable rock and roll which combines musical elements of Phoenix’s journey. There’s nothing like a reggae groove to get folks on the dance floor.
The Jimmy Clinton Band will also be performing their original brand of Americana flavored, danceable rock and roll sound. Clinton brings some great original songs from days gone past, a love of blues and roots music and mixes it with some classic 80’s cool which area music fans have been enjoying since his days in The Larries and later with Jimmy Clinton and the Mean Red Spiders.
Clinton is backed by the super solid and often funky rhythm section of Vincenzo Mele on the electric bass guitar and Jeremy Harman on drums. The trio of accomplished area musicians share their excitement of live performance with the crowd as well as a joke or two along the way!
The Remnants are straight ahead rock and roll at its finest. The four piece group features Bob Hall on vocals and guitar, Kevin McGinnis on lead guitar, Jeff Kidwiler on bass and Randy McClung on drums.
The trio of Hall, McGinnis and Kidwiler has been playing together for over thirty years and McClung has been contributing for the past five years. This allows The Remnants to craft great pop rock songs with clockwork perfection. Touches of 60’s classic rock, 70’s punk, 80’s power blues and 90’s alternative all blend together for a great sound.
Parkersburg native Michael Lutz will bring his energetic roots blues acoustic performance to the show. Lutz’s love of all types of music is evident as he mixes powerful acoustic guitar playing and lyrics for some foot stomping musical bliss. Lutz has been entertaining throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley both as a solo artist and as a member of his latest band Nemean Lion.
Doors will open at 7pm with music beginning around 8pm with The Remnants taking the stage. Tickets are available at the door and are only $10 for this great night full of energetic original rock and roll. There will be over three and a half hours of truly wonderful music. Plus this lineup of musicians is sure to span a extra wide swath of musical influences from blues to reggae, folk to punk, soul to British invasion, all part of the melting pot of styles called rock and roll! This show is 21 and Up with domestic canned beer and some great local microbrews from the North End Tavern being on tap.