Gary Erwin aka Shrimp City Slim is pretty excited about the lineup for his 19th annual Lowcountry Blues Bash taking place in Charleston from Feb. 6 – 16. And no wonder.
His headliners are Lil’ Dave Thompson; Big Bill Morganfield, who happens to be Muddy Waters’ son; Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones; and Beverly “Guitar” Watkins.
We gonna have some fun.
If you’ve never been, the Lowcountry Blues Bash is a blast. This year, it’s been scaled back a bit, but there are still 44 different live acts performing in 19 different venues over 11 days throughout downtown Charleston, East Cooper, North Charleston, and the West Ashley/James Island/Folly Beach area.
Lil’ Dave Thompson. Born in 1971, Thompson was encouraged by his father, also a musician, to play the guitar. Consequently, by the time he was a teenager, Lil’ Dave Thompson was playing the local blues circuit. This third generation Mississippi Delta bluesman will intoxicate you with his unique brand of visceral soul-blues. Expect to hear some great shuffles, slow blues, junk or even a little jazz with a Latin sound. Lil’ Dave is known for his dynamic live performance, so his should be one of the most popular shows at the Blues Bash.
Be sure to bring some extra cash, because you’ll want to pick up a copy of his 2008 CD, Deep In the Night. Find out for yourself, why this guy has been nominated for two Handy awards and is considered to be one of the top under 40 blues guitarists in Mississippi today.
Big Bill Morganfield. Born in Chicago in 1956, the son of Muddy Waters wears his pedigree proudly, but has really come into his own in recent years. Once heard, it’s clear that Big Bill Morganfield stands firmly on his own talent.
The singer/songwriter/guitarist reportedly never picked up a guitar until his father’s death in 1983. At that time he embarked on a mission to study the roots of Delta blues music. Eventually, he would join forces with harmonica man Paul Oscher and guitarist Bob Margolin, both of whom had played with his father. In 1999, they recorded Morganfield’s debut album, aptly titled Rising Son (Blind Pig Records). The album was received warmly, both for its nod to Muddy Waters and for Morganfield’s original songwriting. A bit of trivia for you here: the title cut from Rising Son, was included in the film A Love Song for Bobby Long, starring John Travolta. The Blind Pig label would go on to record Morganfield’s Ramblin’ Mind (2001) and Blues In the Blood (2003).
Big Bill has just finished recording a new CD titled Born Lover, which was produced by Bob Margolin and Brian Bisesi. This is one to watch for.
Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones. Dallas born in 1950, this is one of the Lone Star State’s favorite sons. Jr. Boy was playing guitar professionally by the time he was 16, working with the likes of the legendary Freddie Kings’ Thunderbirds, Bobby Patterson’s Mustangs, Johnnie Taylor, R.L. Griffin and Charlie Robertson. He also worked with the Swamp Boogie Queen herself, Katie Webster on her Swamp Boogie Queen CD. While working as a session player in San Francisco, he signed on with Charlie Musselwhite for a number of years, appearing on Ace of Harps (1990), Signature (1991) and In My Time (1993)– all on the Alligator label.
Be sure to check out one of his performances and find out what folks in Texas have known for years.
Beverly “Guitar” Watkins. Born in 1939 in Atlanta this rockin’ blues mama is probably best known for her work with Piano Red (who later became known as Dr. Feelgood). If lowdown, foot stompin’ blues is your thing, you’re gonna want to run, not walk to one of her shows during the Blues Bash. As you’ll find out, she plays a mean guitar, often duckwalking or playing with her teeth, and her voice … well, her voice is the blues, plain and simple.
She’s got several shows lined up – Sticky Fingers, the Isle of Palms Recreation Center, the Charleston County Library. Make sure you get to at least one of them. You’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t.
The list goes on. Other notable performers include local faves, King Tyrone & the Graveyard Ramblers. If you’ve never experienced swamp blues à la front maniac Jim Quick and the guys, check out their show at J.B. Pivots. You won’t be disappointed. Pivots is also bringing back Johnny Rawls and his topnotch band. Davis Coen is another act to catch. In fact, I’ll be writing a piece on his new CD, Blues Lights, in the next issue. Daddy Mack Blues Band, out of Memphis, is back by popular demand. Blues bard Jeff Norwood is another great show. If you haven’t seen Stone Cold Sarah Cole before, do it now! I’ve seen this teen guitarist at the last two National Women In Blues Festivals in Wilmington, N.C. and she rocks! Sharrie Williams & the Wise Guys … She’s dynamite. Juke Joint Johnny on harp, another must-see. Maurice John Vaughn and the BJ Emery Band mix some classic Chicago blues with soul and south side funk. Wanda Johnson … Paul Geremia … Dr. Pickup (all the way from France) … If you’re any kind of a blues fan, you’ll want to be at the Blues Bash.
Tickets to the individual shows are super reasonable. Sometimes admission is free and the rest of the time prices range from $3 to $15. For more information and a full schedule, visit http://www.bluesbash.com, send an email to email@example.com or call 843-762-9125. If you’re looking for accommodations, stay where the artists stay: the Inn at River Crossing in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. Mention the Blues Bash and get a special rate. Call 843-884-5853 or visit the website at http://www.theinnattherivercrossing.com .