This Year’s Line-Up
Jack is a great Canadian guitarist making his Edmonton Blues Festival debut. Along with his two Juno Awards and 7 Maple Blues Awards for his recorded works, Jack is a master of live performance…His music nails the rocking blues style squarely on the head and will be a great way to kick things off on a Friday evening. Joining Jack for this performance will be his All Star Western Canadian band featuring Dave Babcock on tenor, drummer Bill Hobson and B3 organ impresario Bruce Mohacsy.
Shemekia Copeland sounds like nobody else – whether she’s belting out a raucous blues-rocker, firing up a blistering soul-shouter, bringing the spirit to a gospel-fueled R&B rave up or digging deep down into a subtle country-tinged blues ballad, she brings her unique voice to bear…sultry, assertive, or roaring, she brings it all to every performance and leaves it all on the stage. When Shemekia last appeared at the Edmonton Blues Festival in 2000, she left the assembled Blues Hounds in awe, and it’s been far too long since she has graced our stage. This year she is in the running for not one, but two blues Grammy’s…Her own recording “Outskirts of Love” is nominated and she is also on the “Muddy Waters 100” album, that sees John Primer and select group of special guests gaining a Grammy nod. Shemekia is also up for “Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year” and “Entertainer of the Year” at the 37th annual Blues Music Awards and you can bet that this daughter of bona-fide blues legend Johnny Clyde Copeland is sure to put on a show none of us will forget…be there!
Paul and Fred first played together on the Little Feat recording Dixie Chicken some 35 + years ago and since then have worked on numerous Little Feat albums and countless others including recordings with Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. Paul provided the unmistakable slide guitar along with lead and background vocals for Little Feat while Fred played guitar, trumpet and mandolin. The pair have toured extensively as an acoustic duo, but for this special show they have teamed with The New Orleans Suspects – a group that first got together to play dates at the famous Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans. Comprised of some of the most seasoned, highly respected players in NOLA, the group called themselves The Unusual Suspects. The chemistry was undeniable and starting in 2011 they started touring under the name The New Orleans Suspects. In five short years they have put out 3 critically acclaimed CD’s, toured extensively and established themselves as one of New Orleans best “Supergroups”. The combination of Paul Barrere, Fred Tackett and The New Orleans Suspects will fill the dance floor with grooving rhythms and plenty of classic Little Feat songs. If you’re “Willin”, “Join The Band” for a “Triple Face Boogie” … It’ll be “All That You Dream” ….
Multiple Blues Music Award winner Paul Oscher first came to international attention as a member of the Muddy Waters band, blowing harp in the band from 1967 to 1972. Later, he toured Europe with Louisiana Red, and continued fronting his own band in New York City, as well as backing Big Joe Turner, Doc Pomus, Johnny Copeland and Victoria Spivey amongst others. In the 80’s Paul quit music for a while…but the blues pulled him back in before long. He hooked up with piano players Dave Maxwell and Bob Gaddy and started playing again. His career took off. He found himself touring widely with Jimmy Rogers in the Muddy Waters Tribute Band and started putting out discs under his own name in 1995 while touring as both a solo performer or in a trio setting. Paul performed at the Edmonton Blues Festival in 2001 as a solo act; doing his “Alone with The Blues” show. A resident of the Austin for a number of years now, he has tapped into the deep blues roots of that area and performs regularly with his Austin Blues All Stars, made up of some of the best blues players in Austin including bassist, writer and vocalist Sarah Brown. After seeing their show a few of times over the past couple of years, festival producer Cam Hayden knew that the time was right for Paul and his Austin All Stars, to get back to Edmonton.
Australian Fiona Boyes is no stranger to the Edmonton Blues Festival, having appeared here twice…with an acoustic trio featuring mandolinist Rich del Grosso and bassist Mookie Brill (2009) and with her own electric band (2007). Singer, songwriter and guitarist Fiona has been variously described by reviewers as “a musical anomaly”, “Bonnie Raitt’s evil twin” or simply as “scaring the hell out of me”. She was the first woman, and first non-American to win the International Blues Challenge and Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins both described her as “one of the best women guitar players they had ever heard”. Her writing infuses passion and authenticity with humour and tradition… Her new recording, Box and Dice, has her exploring the intricacies of the cigar box guitar and has garnered incredible reviews and a 2016 Blues Music Award nomination for the Koko Taylor Award as the best Traditional Female Blues Artist. Her trio will feature one of the best blues drummers in the world today, Jimi Bott, who is nominated as the best drummer at the 2016 Blues Music Awards, making it 17 times he has been so honoured.
The future of the blues is here, and Mississippi’s Jarekus Singleton is it. USA today says “Stinging blues guitar and potent, original songs herald the emergence of a major new talent.” At just 30 years of age Jarekus is a trailblazer with a bold vision for the future of the blues and he wants to share that vision with the world. After competing at the International Blues Challenge in 2013, Alligator Records head honcho Bruce Iglauer was so impressed he signed the young man to his label that weekend. “Refuse To Lose” was released not too long afterwards, and the critically acclaimed disc started Jarekus on a nearly non-stop road trip that brings him to Edmonton for the first time Saturday August 20. Don’t miss him.
Dwayne Dopsie, 36, grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, and he has created the perfect band of handpicked musicians. The washboard player, Paul Lafleur, possesses skill and timing that are unmatched, making him a true musician, not just a marvel holding a washboard. The band also features guitarist Brandon David and bassist Dion Pierre, along with Saxophonist Cedric Wiley and Kevin Minor on drums. Combined, the band has over 100 years of experience playing Zydeco music and it shows in every performance. The energy, true talent, and exuberance that Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers emit from stage make it obvious that there is no competition for this band.
Not only has Dwayne’s band mastered zydeco music, they also add a bit of rhythm and blues, funk, rock and roll, reggae and pop to their performances. Dwayne was named “The Hottest Accordionist” in America for his ability to both work the crowd and pump out musical harmony in grandiose fashion. Dwayne doesn’t confine himself to the stage; he interacts with the crowd, blurring the barrier between performer and audience. Audiences jump to their feet energized by Dwayne’s musical innovation, charismatic performance and sheer, raw talent. His ability to capture the imagination, heart and soul of his audience makes Dwayne one of today’s most dynamic performers.
Dwayne and his band were a huge hit at the 2014 Edmonton Blues Festival and we couldn’t wait any longer to have him back… Put on your dancin’ shoes and hit the dance floor smilin’ Saturday night, with Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers
During his long career, Paul James has received a Juno, multiple Toronto Music Awards, Maple Blues Awards including a “Lifetime Achievement in Blues Music in Canada Award” and others too numerous to mention.
It all started back in 1973, when a young Paul James began working with Bo Diddley. After opening a show for Bo, Paul backed him on over 100 shows between 1972 and 2007…Bo Diddley was such a fan that he wrote the liner notes for Paul’s second album, saying “from the beginning of his young career, I predicted that Paul James would be a big star one day and that time is now. The man is a true professional and dynamic.”
He’s worked with Bob Dylan and for a lengthy time played in John Hammond’s band. He’s also played with Lightnin Hopkins, Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Johnson and Dr. John.
For close to 5 decades Paul’s talents as a guitarist, vocalist, band leader, stage acrobat, producer and songwriter have made him a Canadian cultural icon. Paul will pull out all the stops and put on a Wang Dang Doodle of a blues show at his Edmonton Blues Festival debut Saturday August 20.
A relative newcomer to the Canadian blues scene, Sugar Brown was born Ken Kawashima to a Japanese father and Korean mother in Bowling Green Ohio. Now a permanent resident of Toronto, he has become known as a modern blues musician, but one with a love of pre-war blues; he melds the two into a unique brand of blues that at once sounds vintage and modern. While studying history and philosophy at the University of Chicago, he became immersed in the blues. He had the opportunity to learn the blues from some of the legends of the West Side blues scene: Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Dave Myers and Taildragger. In fact, his stage name, Sugar Brown, was bestowed upon him by Taildragger, who said, “You ain’t black…you sure ain’t white…You’re Sugar Brown.”
Upon his return to Toronto to teach at U T, he spent his days teaching and his nights playing the blues. He won the 2013 Toronto Blues Society talent search and quickly received invitations to play the Kitchener Blues Festival and the Mariposa Folk Festival.
After seeing Sugar Brown perform a showcase at the 2015 Blues Summit in Toronto, Edmonton Blues Festival producer Cam Hayden was sold. Sugar Brown had to come west. For his performance at the Edmonton Blues Festival, Sugar Brown will be joined by Canadian musical heavyweights Victor Bateman on bass and Michel Josef (drummer in the Edmonton Folk Festival house band) along with guitarist Adam Beer-Colacino.
Detroit based Blues and R&B dynamos Laura Rain and the Caesars are the real deal…Echoes of Motown, Stax, Royal and Muscle Shoals permeate the all original music produced by this powerhouse quartet, driven by superb original songs. Song, emotion and performance come first for Laura Rain and the Caesars and every time they hit the stage it shows…With 3 CD’s to their credit the band has been touring relentlessly, honing their stage show and musical chops. While the band has never performed at the Edmonton Blues Festival, guitarist and Laura’s co-writer, George Friend has…as a member of the Janiva Magness band that wowed audiences here on her first show in Canada in 2001. Get set to experience Laura Rain and The Caesars, Sunday August 21!
Memphis based vocalist and harmonica player extraordinaire Brandon Santini is one of the young blues artists that are going to leave their footprints on blues history. He combines a love and respect for traditional blues with a present, colourful style of playing that is often compared to James Cotton or Paul Butterfield. Raised in the Piedmont area of North Carolina he got his first harmonica in 1997 at the age of 15. He founded the band Delta Highway in 2003 and relocated to Memphis, where he has lived ever since, absorbing the sounds and culture of the Mississippi Delta and the North Mississippi Hill Country. The critics and fans are taking note…Delta Highway was nominated for a Blues Music Award in 2009 as “Best New Artist”, he received 2 Blues Music Award nominations in 2014 as “Contemporary Blues- Male Artist of the Year” and “Harmonica Player” and in 2015 he received 2 Blues Blast Music award nominations as “Male Blues Artist” and for his excellent live album made in Quebec that year. At this year’s Blues Music Awards, he is again nominated in 2 categories, “Contemporary Blues-Male artist” and as “Harmonica Player of the Year”. Check out this dynamic young, and rising, blues star as he makes his Edmonton debut.
Born Leon Atkins in 1930 in Hardwood Louisiana, just outside of Baton Rouge, Lil’ Jimmy Reed is steeped in old school blues. Growing up poor and black in the deep south, he adopted a love for music, particularly the blues and developed his skills on harmonica and guitar from an early age. He lived across the street from a nightclub and dreamed of becoming a famous musician and traveling the world. After being given a guitar by his father he found he was a natural, playing by ear within weeks and was playing like he had been practicing for years, without ever having taken a lesson. He moved to Little Rock to attend Barber College and advance his music career at the same time, playing in local juke joints and blues alleys. His break came one night when the legendary Jimmy Reed was set to play an upscale blues club. Leon knew Jimmy’s music from hearing it on jukeboxes and had always wanted to see him live. That evening though, Jimmy Reed had gotten drunk and was unable to perform and Leon was asked to take his place. The crowd couldn’t tell the difference, and the show was a huge hit as Leon gave a show stopping performance…thus he was re born as Lil’ Jimmy Reed. Over the years he performed with Bobby Blue Bland, Ike Turner, Little Milton, Otis Grand, Clarence Carter and many more. In 1995, the Alabama Blues society presented Leon with the “Alabama Blues Treasure Award.” After 2 highly successful tours of Europe in 2013 and 2014, Lil’ Jimmy Reed is firmly established on the European blues scene and it’s also where he met boogie woogie pianist Bob Hall.
Bob Hall, critically acknowledged as Britain’s finest blues and boogie pianist, has influenced generations of piano players from the UK and beyond. He first came to fame in the R&B explosion of the 60’s as a founding member of both the Groundhogs and Savoy Brown. He also recorded and played with Peter Green, Alexis Korner and Spencer Davis during that time. While many of his peers went on to international fame, Bob preferred to stay in London pursing his passion for the blues there, and acting as accompanist to John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Jimmy Witherspoon, Lightnin’ Slim, Chuck Berry, Snooky Pryor, JB Hutto and many others when they toured Europe. In 1991 and 1993 he won the British Blues Connection “Instrumentalist of the Year Award”. Along with his long- time partner and bass player Hilary Blythe, Bob Hall has excelled on the European blues scene with concerts and self-penned musical shows that have played to critical acclaim.
A true international meeting of the blues, debuting in Canada at the Edmonton Blues Festival this summer…don’t miss the Lil’ Jimmy Reed and Bob Hall band.
2016 marks the 50th year of operation for the longest continuously running British blues rock band, Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown. In 1965, Kim Simmonds was the lynchpin of perhaps the most exciting scene in music history, establishing Savoy Brown in the first wave of British Blues boomers, signing to Decca, opening for Cream’s first London show, and having his name dropped with such peers as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix (with whom he jammed). Even then, the guitarist was emerging as the band’s driving force. “I had a vision, he says, “And the exciting thing now is, that vision is still alive.”
Savoy Brown achieved what most British bands never had – success in the United States. Through hard work and adhering to Kim’s vision, they toured relentlessly and put out a string of successful albums. But times changed, and by 1979 Kim had moved from London to settle permanently in New York. While band members changed and so did the times, Kim stuck with his vision, put out more than 30 albums, performed in Carnegie Hall and the Fillmore (East and West) and was inducted into Hollywood’s Rock Walk of Fame.
Their most recent recording “The Devil To Pay” was released to critical acclaim last year on the RUF Record label and the Edmonton Blues Festival is pleased and proud to present Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown to close our 2016 festival.
Originally from Detroit, where he was weaned on the music of Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino amongst others, Morgan Davis has been a Canadian blues troubadour since 1968, performing across this country, the United States and Europe. With a Juno, 7 Maple blues Awards, A Blues Artist of the Year award from “Jazz Report” Morgan has received accolades everywhere he performs. His writing is filled with humour, insightful observations of the human condition and moving rhythm. It’s a pleasure to welcome Morgan back to the stage of the Edmonton Blues Festival. His last appearance here was memorable…he opened the festival in 2004 and halfway through his set the skies opened and it rained the entire weekend. Look for Morgan as a special guest on festival weekend with 4 “mini –shows”.
Bobby Cameron is no stranger to Edmonton audiences, having lived here for decades, but his roots run back to Cape Breton Island. Known as a powerful songwriter, his material ranges from folk and roots, right up to blues and rock. He is the recipient of Toronto Exclusive Magazine “Best Blues Artist” and “Best Blues Song” awards, and had one of his songs featured on Jully Black’s 2008 Juno winning album. He worked and with Long John Baldry from 2002 to 2004 and over the years has collaborated with Jeff Healy, Chris de burg, Chuck Levall, Blue Rodeo and The Kentucky Headhunters amongst many others. Bobby makes his Edmonton Blues Festival debut with a pair of “mini-shows” on Sunday August 21.