Once again, the Lowcountry Blues Bash is combining a lineup of stellar out-of-town talent with a crew of topnotch local area performers to give blues lovers one sizzling show after another. According to organizer Gary Erwin, the event, which is in its twentieth year, is offering 53 different acts performing 90 shows at 24 venues throughout the Charleston, S.C. area during the 12-day blues crawl.
I’ll give you some highlights here, but the best way to figure out which shows you gotta see is to mark your calendar for Feb. 5 – 16 and download your own brochure at http://www.bluesbash.com.
Headliners for 2010 include Charlie Sayles & the Blues Disciples; Paul Geremia; blues legend Eddy Kirkland; blues mama Beverly Guitar Watkins; and Bryan Lee & the Blues Power Band.
Harp man Charlie Sayles picked up his first harmonica during a stint in Vietnam. He’s known as much for his authentic song- writing as for his soulful harmonica sound. Add to that, the smokin’ guitar of Tony Fazio and this band is a Gotta See in my book.
Traditional bluesman Paul Geremia is considered to be one of the best country blues hand pickers in the country. He paid his dues playing with legends such as Yank Rachell and Howlin’ Wolf; today he’s a jazz and blues scholar, an esteemed songwriter and a legend in his own right.
Born in Jamaica and raised in Alabama until he went off with the Sugar Girls Medicine Show at the ripe old age of 12, Eddie Kirkland is truly the “Gypsy of the Blues.” He toured and recorded with John Lee Hooker; he was a bandleader for Otis Redding; he still tours over 40 weeks out of the year. Eddie Kirkland & the Energy Band will perform two shows on opening weekend.
It makes me feel good just knowing that Beverly Guitar Watson is still out there kickin’ and pickin’. She growls originals and classics into the mic while she ignites her guitar.
If you haven’t heard of Bryan Lee, he’s nothing less than a bona fide New Orleans blues institution. Eric Clapton calls him “… one of the best bluesmen I have ever heard…” Blues Revue magazine says “… Lee’s fiery Telecaster is unstoppable …” You’ve got three chances to catch him at the Lowcountry Blues Bash.
Daddy Mack Blues Band is back by popular demand bringing their downhome, funky Beale Street sound to town during the second weekend of the crawl.
Shemekia Copeland will be at the blues bash that weekend, too. Still in her twenties, the daughter of blues legend Johnny Copeland has opened for the Rolling Stones, headlined the Chicago Blues Festival and shared the stage with Buddy Guy, B.B. King and Taj Mahal. Mark my words, it won’t be long before Shemekia is going to own the stage! Gotta See!
I’m excited to report that Delta Highway is on the roster for this year’s Bash in Charleston. I saw this rockin’ group in 2008 at the Cape Fear Blues Festival. Led by founders Brandon Santini on harp and guitarist Justin Sulek, their sound has traditional roots, but definitely takes you for a ride through some uncharted territory. If this is the future of the blues, count me in!
Now you may know Col. Bruce Hampton & the Quark Alliance, but for this gig, the Col. Bruce Hampton Blues Trio will be front and center, exploring their blues roots. Another rare opportunity for lovers of the genre!
Guitar wizard Rickey Godfrey is bringing his Telecaster to town for one show only. If you’ve never experienced his unique brand of soulful blues and the utterly raw power of his vocals, make sure you’re in the neighborhood of the Hometeam BBQ on Sunday, Feb. 7. It’s not just the barbecue that will be smokin’
Another hot rockin’ show in the lineup is Johnny Mac & Booty Ranch. Charleston locals love the raunchy blues of this exciting bar band. But it’s the musicianship of these guys that keeps packing the room.
Atlanta’s Big Bill Morganfield is sure to pull a crowd. Son of the legendary Muddy Waters, Big Bill is on his own blues journey and making his daddy proud. He has been named Best New Blues Artist at the W.C. Handy Awards. The Chicago Tribute has said, “… it’s eerie, as if his father and Howlin’ Wolf had never left…”
There are so many more to mention: singer/songwriter Davis Coen; my favorite lowcountry bard, Jeff Norwood (whose latest CD, Awendaw, I love!); Drink Small, the blues doctor; Wanda Johnson, another S.C. gem; the King Bees from N.C.; the one- man blues band of Robert Lighthouse; Cole Train, which is the new group led by the amazing young guitarist Sarah Cole (Stone Cold Sarah); Lil Dave Thompson and his Mississippi brand of electric juke joint blues; and The Scissormen from Nashville. I have to say, I don’t know this group, but I love Gary Erwin’s description of them: “Blues/rock mayhem and wild slide guitar.” Gary’s alter ego, Shrimp City Slim will be performing throughout the festival, too. This is going to be another great Lowcountry Blues Bash. Hope to see you there!
Discount lodging is available at the Rodeway Inn at River Crossing at the foot of Ravenel Bridge in Mt. Pleasant. Be sure to mention the Blues Bash to get the special rate. Call 843-884-5853 or visit http://www.theinnatrivercrossing.com.