SUGAR RAY & THE BLUETONES, ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD TO HEADLINE 3 DAYS OF THE BLUES IN KALAMAZOO!
Just ask yourself: where else are you going to get the chance to hear 22 great blues acts playing nonstop on two stages, take in free music workshops, hang out with fellow music lovers, and enjoy one of the best 3-day weekend parties of the summer, all for less than the cost of a couple of movie tickets and some popcorn? Downtown Kalamazoo’s Arcadia Festival Site on July 7, 8, and 9, that’s where, when the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association presents its 23rd Annual Kalamazoo Blues Festival.
The Kalamazoo Blues Festival has seen some of the greatest names in the blues, as well as some of the hottest new talents appearing each year, perform on its stages since that first festival in 1994. This year’s event features an outstanding lineup of local, regional, and national blues acts, including Laura Rain, Groove Council, the Paul DesLauriers Band, Karen Lovely, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Bex Marshall, The Jimmys, the Cash Box Kings, and Royal Southern Brotherhood. The music starts at 5:00 on Thursday, July 7, continues Friday night, and picks up again at noon on Saturday. From the stunning vocal talents of Laura Rain to the powerhouse extravaganza of the Royal Southern Brotherhood, this year’s Kalamazoo Blues Festival has something for everyone from start to finish.
One popular feature of the Festival is the variety of free workshops presented on Friday and Saturday night, featuring local musicians offering tips on subjects like guitar and harmonica techniques and slide guitar secrets, as well as blues history presentations covering topics such as women in the blues and antique and home-made instruments. There’s also a large children’s activity area filled with fun things to do on Saturday, a great selection of blues-related merchandise available at all times, a shade tent for those hot July days, and a wide variety of food and drink vendors. With all these options, the challenge at the Kalamazoo Blues Festival may just be picking what to do first!
As an added bonus, the price of an advance weekend pass includes entrance into the very popular All Star Blues Jam to be held Thursday night after the festival at Shakespeare’s Lower Level. Starting time is 10:30 pm, and it’s not uncommon for local jammers to be joined by performers from the festival for a great party—one you won’t want to miss!
And back by popular demand, the Imperial Beverage Blues Beer Garden will offer the full-bodied tastes and aromas of craft beers brewed from Arcadia Ales, Boatyard Brewing, Gonzo’s BiggDogg , Founders and Short’s. A popular addition to the familiar festival beverage pavilion, the Blues Beer Garden is a pleasant, relaxing place to kick back, savor fine local craft brews, and enjoy the music!
As always, the two stages at the Kalamazoo Blues Festival ensure that the music never stops. As former Festival-goers know well, as the applause from one band is still filling the air, the next act is stepping up to begin its set—no waiting for the blues at the 23rd Annual Kalamazoo Blues Festival!
Advance sales of weekend passes will begin June 1, online at the Kalamazoo Blues Festival Website, and at various retailers around the region, including all ECCU branches, Kalamazoo State Theatre, Marshall Music, the Union Bar and Grill, and Green Light Music. An updated list of retailers will be available on the Blues Festival website.
The cost of an advance weekend pass will be $20.00, which represents a $12.00 savings over the total price of daily tickets for all events! The weekend pass is $25.00 at the gate, while daily festival ticket prices will be $5.00 for Thursday night, $10.00 for Friday night, and $12.00 for Saturday; the Thursday night jam will be $5.00 at the door.
Watch the Festival website regularly for the latest updates in Festival developments.
The level of talent among the acts scheduled for the 2016 Kalamazoo Blues Festival will have to be seen (and heard) to be believed. This year’s lineup (in order of appearance) includes:
23rd Annual Kalamazoo Blues Festival – Music Lineup
Thursday July 7th
5:00 – 5:45 Jake Kershaw
5:50 – 6:35 The Snyders
6:40 – 7:50 Laura Rain & The Caesars
7:55 – 9:10 Monkey Junk
9:15 – 10:30 Groove Council
10:30 All Star Blues Review
Friday July 8th
5:00 – 5:45 SWB
5:55 – 6:40 Marci Linn Band
6:50 – 8:20 Paul DesLauriers Band
8:30 – 9:50 Karen Lovely
10:00 – 11:30 Sugar Ray & The Bluetones
11:35 – 12:30 The Hoopties
Saturday July 9th
12:05 – 12:50 Blue Veins
1:00 – 1:45 Amaze & Blue
1:55 – 2:40 Barrelhouse Catts
2:50 – 3:35 Steve Hilger Band
3:45 – 4:30 James Reeser
4:40 – 5:25 Kev Nichols & Blue Tuesday
5:35 – 6:45 Bex Marshall
6:55 – 8:15 The Jimmys
8:25 – 9:55 Cash Box Kings
10:05 – 11:35 Royal Southern Brotherhood
11:45 – 12:30 Big Trouble
Jake Kershaw Band: The front man of the band, Jake Kershaw, may only be 15 years old but is already “SCALDING” a path to greatness. With just 6 years of guitar experience, Jake has already risen to a skill level that only a small percentage of guitarists will ever reach. He has joined the stage with international blues greats such as Jonny Lang and Larry McCray. Bassist Terry Oosterhart boasts 43+ years’ experience performing in front of audiences, both with a band and as a solo act. Drummer Ryan McFadden drives the supercharged rhythm section, and 21 years old, his style has added a completely new dynamic to the band’s performances. What other band can you name featuring a 15-year-old front man that brings audiences to their feet by pure talent alone?
Let The Jake Kershaw Band “bring it” to you!!!
The Snyders: Originally from South Bend, Indiana, this family relocated to Montréal, Québec in 2007 and formed a blues/roots band in 2011. The Snyders are comprised of father Denny Snyder (aka Southside Denny) on guitar and vocals, his 20 year old daughter Lorrie Snyder on bass and vocals, and 16 year old son Philip Snyder on the drums. A musically diverse group, The Snyders bring something for everybody – strong vocals, virtuoso guitar and serious groove music for all ages; a unique mixture of youth and experience. They’ve performed numerous concerts and blues festivals in Indiana, Michigan, Ontario and Québec, and continue to expand ther territory. This summer’s appearance will be their first at the Kalamazoo Blues Festival.
Laura Rain & The Caesars: Laura Rain and her group of Motor City mercenaries known as The Caesars have been knocking crowds out at festivals all over the country this summer. Her last CD “Closer” got her signed on the line and out on the road. For her new CD “Gold”, posters featuring the vivacious Miss Rain in a skin-tight gold lame jumpsuit reminiscent of James Bond films assure some real action. Baby, with a voice and music like this, that’s all you’ll need; everything else is just pleasant window dressing. The Bond analogy is fitting for the big bold soundtrack-like sound of Miss Rain’s dramatic near-operatic vocals, while The Caesars have a gritty groove hitting closer to “Trouble Man” or “Shaft.” So slap on these twelve all-original tracks of “Gold,” get on the floor, and be ready to party!
Monkey Junk: MonkeyJunk has won a collective 20 Maple Blues Awards, two Canadian Independent Music Awards, a Blues Music Award (USA), and has been nominated twice for a JUNO Award, taking home the coveted hardware in 2012. As one of Canada’s heaviest bands since Big Sugar, its music is passionate and edgy, with unfettered delivery. Established in 2008, MonkeyJunk quickly became one of the most popular new bands on the scene, performing at festivals and packed venues across the country, amassing a large audience of devoted fans, affectionately called “MonkeyJunkies”. The members of MonkeyJunk are not a fluke, one-off collective or “ordinary Joes” who decided to start a band. These are three musicians who individually had established careers prior to forming MonkeyJunk. The trio of long-time friends and colleagues just seems to click in a way that is at once natural and otherworldly. Their passion, conviction and dedication to their music is evident with every lick, every beat and every lyric. MonkeyJunk is a reminder to listeners that musicianship, ability and strong songwriting always triumph.
Groove Council: Big Band: 10-piece, big sound, and big talent! The Groove Council held its first session in 2006, but the band pulls together musicians with assorted backgrounds from all around the Detroit area (and even Canada!) to make up an impressive musical resume that spans decades. In just a short time, the band earned a local reputation for delivering dance-inducing soul music with an infectious groove.
When you put Kathleen’s powerful vocals over a cookin’ rhythm section and layer on those tasty horns, you get a delicious blend of soul, R&B, and funk that keeps audiences coming back for more. There’s a genuine excitement that radiates from the stage and embraces the crowd. It’s all part of what makes the band a favorite at area festivals and keeps it in demand at local clubs.
The band was awarded the 2011 Detroit Music Award for Outstanding R&B Artist/Group and was nominated again in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Even though this is the first band she’s been in, singer Kathleen Murray has earned Detroit Music Award nominations for Outstanding Blues/R&B Vocalist in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
SWB (Sabin Williams Band): Kalamazoo’s SWB (Sabin Williams Band) plays a mix of classic and contemporary blues and blues rock. Dave and Tim, formerly of BluesTime, have been performing together for 7 years. Dave Sabin (guitar and vocals) is a veteran player with 10 years touring with the band Radioactive. After retiring from the road, Dave attended local jams, playing with many area bands and musicians. Originally from Jackson, Dave now resides in the Kalamazoo area. Tim Williams (drums & vocals) was raised in Marshall and has been playing drums since age 10. He studied Music Education at Central Michigan University, and played in CMU’s Percussion Ensemble. He has performed in various groups and DJ’d since college. Jason Barber (bass & vocals) is a student in Kalamazoo, and has been playing bass since age 13. He’s played with various groups including Toddzilla and Hot Pot of Coffee. Together they make a very unique band, appealing to all ages.
Marci Linn Band: Hailing from Kalamazoo, the Marci Linn Band is a soulful and funky powerhouse that covers a large variety of music in its own trademark style. The key ingredients are that of spontaneous communication and collaboration paired with passion. No two Marci Linn band shows have ever been the same, but all possess what so many bands search for, a sturdy balance of unity and variety. The band is made up of Marci Linn, a powerful singer with an exceptional command over both her voice and the listener: Jim Beebe, an earthy, passionate yet informed blues/soul guitarist; Geoff Stockton, a multi-genre guitarist influenced by the studio guitar greats of the 1970s; Greg Orr, a flawless bassist with an exceptional balance of foundational and ornamental elements (who played previously with Jim Beebe backing up Robert Ward on tour); and Mike Curtis, a drummer both intricate in vocabulary and rock-solid in meter and feel.
Paul DesLauriers Band: 2nd Place winner of 2016 International Blues Challenge!
Sometimes you just have to do what you love, and The Paul DesLauriers Band has been very busy doing just that. The Montreal trio is made up of virtuoso guitarist and singer Paul DesLauriers and a masterful rhythm section including Greg Morency on bass and Sam Harrisson on drums. The current self-titled electric album from these three pillars of the Quebec blues scene has captured the subtlety and intensity, the unique interplay and excitement they are so well known for. Undeniably part of Canada’s musical elite, all three members are regular nominees and winners at the Maple Blues Awards and Quebec Lys Blues Awards. Paul DesLauriers is the Winner of 2 Maple Blues Awards in 2014, including Guitarist of the Year and winner of 5 Lys Blues Awards in Quebec. Greg Morency won the Maple Blues Award for Bassist of the Year in January 2015. Sam Harrisson is a three-time Maple Blues Award Drummer of the Year nominee and winner of record-holding 9 Lys Blues Awards in Quebec for Musical Performance.
Karen Lovely: Karen Lovely shot onto the blues scene out of the Pacific Northwest like Stack O’ Lee’s .44, placing 2nd at the 2010 International Blues Challenge, followed by three 2011 Blues Music Award nominations for Best Contemporary Blues Female Artist, Best Contemporary Blues Album, and Best Song for her sophomore release “Still The Rain”. With the release of her newest album “Ten Miles Of Bad Road” (released 10/13/15), Lovely has established herself as a singer/songwriter with a style uniquely her own. She’s been nominated for a prestigious 2016 Blues Music Award for “Best Contemporary Blues Female Artist” and in December won a 2015 Blues411 “Jimi” Award for “Best Contemporary Blues Female Artist.” Lovely is a two-time “#1 Pick to Click” artist on XM Radio Bluesville, and was selected as a 2014 Featured Blues Artist of the Year by KJZZ FM in Los Angeles. Known for her passionate, driven performances, this powerhouse vocalist delivers a blistering mix of contemporary & old- school blues. Lovely’s standout performances have garnered awards and critical acclaim at festivals and venues throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
Sugar Ray & The Bluetones: Sugar Ray and the Bluetones is a five-piece Chicago-style blues band performing internationally at clubs and festivals. In 2012 the band received five Blues Music Awards from the Blues Foundation in Memphis. This band of 35-year veterans of the road has been playing its unique style of blues the world over for almost forty years. They aren’t limited to one style, but able to play Chicago blues in the style of Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Billy Boy Arnold; Kansas City swing in the style of “Big” Joe Turner; Texas blues like “T” Bone Walker and Freddie King; and the swampy Louisiana sounds of “Lazy” Lester, all played with the distinctive originality of band leader Sugar Ray Norcia, vocals and harmonica; guitarist “Monster” Mike Welch; Anthony Geraci at the piano and Hammond organ; Michael “Mudcat” Ward playing acoustic and electric bass; and drummer Neil Gouvin. All of the members of Sugar Ray and the Bluetones have been featured on other artists’ recordings, including Hubert Sumlin, John Hammond, Johnny Winter, Otis Grand, Pinetop Perkins, The Mannish Boys, Sugaray Rayford, Debbie Davies, Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl and many more.
The Hoopties: The Hoopties perform a blend of American roots music ranging from soulful blues to heart-wrenching honkytonk to raging rock and roll. Often led by Lansing’s Twyla Birdsong, The Hoopties features Aaron Holland on guitar, Eric Payne on drums, Andy Callis on keyboard, Farfiza on accordion, and Jason Strotheide on bass and vocals, with frequent appearances on saxophone by a number of outstanding players including James “Mocha” Waller, Will “Supersize” Bement and more. The band blends an array of timeless covers with a solid collection of self-penned numbers, including the tracks included on its first recording effort “It Ain’t Never Been Easy”. You can find more information about the group and listen to samples of their music by visiting http://www.thehooptiesband.com or find them on CDBaby, Reverb Nation and iTunes!
Blue Veins: Although they only formed in March of 2016, with a combined total of nearly 100 years of playing, the members of Blue Veins are not new to music. You may have seen different members performing at previous Blues Fests in various bands, or running sound for the downtown festivals, or on occasion playing with the band mates of such notable artists as Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Carlos Santana, and Aretha Franklin. With Marisa Aguirre on guitar and vocals, Bob Dullam on guitar, Sean Duross on bass, and Erik Sebastian on drums, the group really enjoys playing music together, and having fun while doing it. As the host band for the local Kalamazoo Wednesday night blues jams, they continue the tradition set forth by their friends at the former 411 club and Wonderful’s blues jams of years past.
Amays and Blue: “Amays and Blue” is a first-time pairing of Alex Mays and Eddie “Blue” Lester, two experienced musicians who team up to meld their personal styles into a unique sound that pleases the ear and covers the spectrum of blues music, from its earliest roots to its later incarnations. The smooth blend of Eddie’s sax and Alex’s acoustic guitar creates a warmth and energy as these two experienced performers explore the blues in its many forms. Amays and Blues’ sound is a blend of original and tasteful covers of roots, delta-style, jump, and smooth jazzy blues music molded by the personalities and expressions of the two players. Alex and Eddie bring their individual voices and musical sensibilities to the table in an intriguing, perfectly-blended performance. The show picks you up and moves you through the various moods and colors of the blues with seamless ease. It’s truly something for everyone to enjoy!
Barrelhouse Catts: Blues, rock, and r & b blues are staples for the Barrelhouse Catts of Grand Rapids! There’s a funky kind of blues fusion going on here you don’t want to miss. Winning the crowd on lead vocals is Ms. Donna Cattenhead, born in Chicago and raised in Michigan, who actually got her start playing local bars in California. Patrick Mohr, also lead vocals and harmonica, adds his ‘rock out loud’ touch blues style. New to the Catts is Alex Austin playing those sweet blues guitar sounds, while Russell “Tazz” Bullen on the bass, and Tim Cowart, one of Grand Rapids top drummers, hold down the rhythm!
Steve Hilger Band: The Steve Hilger Band is a high energy house-rockin’ electric blues band consisting of hand-picked top-shelf professional and semiprofessional musicians from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Michigan. SHB has delighted audiences from Chicago to Alpena in many festivals, shows and club gigs over the last ten years. They play a mixture of soul-crunching original tunes as well as their own versions of tunes everyone has come to know and love. SHB has been nominated for five “Jammie” awards from WYCE in Grand Rapids and will also be featured as the last act before the headliner at the Grand Jazz Festival in Grand Rapids this summer.
James Reeser & The Backseat Drivers: Having started out as a lead guitarist, James went on to become a master of the “fat-toned harp” sound and is exceptionally adept at playing chromatic harps. He has also honed his skills in the lead vocal category by performing many gigs around the US and Canada. He got started playing the blues in the early 80’s while living in New England very close to many blues-based clubs, where he spent much time developing a love for the music. James has recently returned to performing live after taking a brief sabbatical for nearly 2 years. His band James Reeser& The Backseat Drivers has been slowly working back into the blues scene in West Michigan. The Backseat Drivers are: up-and-coming blues guitarist Marcus Giddings; drummer Bob Overholt, a force on the Grand Rapids Blues Scene for many years; and bass player Robby Jewett, who has toured and performed with a long list of blues greats.
Kev Nichols & Blue Tuesday: Kev Nichols & Blue Tuesday have been bringing their exciting brand of blues to Michigan stages for the past 5 years. The rock-solid rhythm section of Heather Kulaga on bass and Rex Hambone on drums sets the steady groove that lets guitarist Kev Nichols and multi-instrumentalist Mike Crupi (guitar, harp, sax, lap steel and keys) make music that will boil right over the top of any pot of your favorite blues gumbo. From the first note to the last, this band will take you to a party that you’ll never want to leave.
Bex Marshall: UK British Blues Award winner Bex Marshall’s unique style of guitar playing is a combined technique of slide, blues rock, ragtime and roots pickin’. She always had a passion for traveling; it’s in her blood, and, trained as a croupier at 18, she began her travels around the world working gaming tables on cruise liners to Park Lane, even dealing illegal poker games in Amsterdam. She hitchhiked the coast of Australia on cattle trains, always with a guitar on her back, living and storing tales. She is a musical adventuress, described in the world press with comparisons to Memphis Minnie, Joan Armatrading, JJ Cale, Derek Trucks and “Bonnie Raitt and Led Zep jamming in an everglades moonshine joint”. Her voice is a powerful melting pot of old black woman’s heartache and rock diva soul. Bex is a writer of distinction and notability who pushes the boundaries of blues. Her songs have been called “timeless” and “touches of genius”, and now with anything up to a 7 piece band, she is literally a musical tornado. Bex Marshall was nominated to the top three in Best Solo/Acoustic Artist 2015 in the European Blues Awards and won an award at the UK’s Blues Awards 2013 for Best British Blues Vocalist and album.
The Jimmys: You may remember these guys from a few years back…fun, fun band. Named one of the Top 10 festival acts of 2015, members of The Jimmys have performed with notable artists such as The Georgia Satellites, Hubert Sumlin, Clyde Stubblefield, Davina and the Vagabonds, and many others. The Jimmys bring the party wherever they go and leave an infectious trail of fans. “The Jimmys are one hard act to follow at a blues festival. They are truly a wall of rhythm and blues sound. They’ve got it all: songs, musicianship and showmanship. Great guys. Great sounds”–Tinsley Ellis, recording artist. The Jimmys have been tearing up stages with their blend of blues, soul, funk and
r & b for nearly 10 years. Award-winning keyboardist/singer/songwriter Jimmy Voegeli has assembled an all-star lineup: Perry Weber, veteran guitarist/singer/songwriter with an authentic blues sound; Mauro Magellan, of the Georgia Satellites, who drives the band with some mighty drumming; and John Wartenweiler, tying it together with thumping bass lines and a deep groove. The Amateur Horn Stars – Pete Ross, saxophone; Darren Sterud, trombone; and Mike Boman, trumpet combine 50+ years’ experience touring the world, playing with Clyde Stubblefield, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Davina and the Vagabonds, Youngblood Brass Band, B.B. King and his All Stars, and many others.
Cash Box Kings: Hailing from the ‘Windy City,’ Blind Pig recording artists Cash Box Kings are keeping REAL DEAL, old-school Chicago blues alive and thriving. The band is dedicated to carrying on the spirit of the 1940’s and 50’s post-war Chicago blues sound as well as the Delta blues music of the 20’s and 30’s. But these illustrious torch bearers also add a bravado, energy and freshness to the mix that results in a distinctive musical experience and a high-energy stage show. With a focus on the raw, stripped-down, ensemble playing that was the hallmark of the post-war sound, the band showcases the music of Chess Records and Sun Records, while adding a healthy dose of original music that captures the essence of the Memphis and Chicago blues sounds of the 40’s and 50’s.
The Cash Box Kings are fronted by Joe Nosek, who writes and arranges songs, sings, and channels the spirits of Little Walter and Slim Harpo on harmonica; and singer and songwriter Oscar Wilson, a 6’3”, 300 hundred-pound Muddy Waters-type throwback to the heyday of the Chicago blues scene. The group is rounded out by Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith (drums), and Joel Paterson (guitar, vocals).
Royal Southern Brotherhood: There have been several incarnations of this band, which is grounded in the talents of Cyril Neville and the powerhouse rhythm section of Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooton. For this go-around, RSB brought in two new fiery guitar slingers, Bart Walker and Tyrone Vaughan, who have been added to breathe new energy into Royal Southern Brotherhood’s sound. The new blood is there to help ‘up the funk’ while maintaining the blues and rock edge that has brought Royal Southern Brotherhood a growing, worldwide audience. “They are not a band – they are an extravaganza” – John Hiatt. Once the voice behind the Meters and world-famous Neville Brothers, Cyril Neville felt his way his way through the new tunes and members, as his one-of-a-kind soulful singing energized the recording studio. Although this past year has been filled with many personal and professional events, all he could do was smile at the journey he was to continue, making good music, and sharing it with the world. Cyril Neville’s experience and talent, combined with these energetic players, creates a new sound that remains reverent to the blues traditions. “Amplified soul for a new generation.”
Big Trouble: Formed in 2009, Kalamazoo band Big Trouble has been playing to diverse audiences in S.W. Michigan. We’ve performed at many festivals, clubs, fundraisers and special events, including the Kalamazoo State Theater and last year’s Rib Fest, where we won the “Rock the Vote” competition to open the show for Blue Oyster Cult. Currently we are the host band for two local blues jams. Our six-piece band specializes in “up on your feet”, rockin’ blues, funk and soul covers. Big Trouble is Dana Scott, lead vocals & guitar; Mike Barker, bass guitar; Jay Hunt, sax; Jeff Rust, drums; John Hodgekinson, guitar; and Mike Muszynski, guitar.