Blues hounds, get ready to howl. It’s almost time for the 2012 Lowcountry Blues Bash, now in its twenty-second year. This ten-day celebration of America’s oldest music form is being held in and around Charleston, S.C. from Wednesday, Feb. 8 through Tuesday, Feb. 21.
According organizer Gary Erwin aka Shrimp City Slim, this year’s Bash promises us “insanely eclectic programming.” Not just eclectic, insanely eclectic. Wow! At last count, there will be some 59 blues acts putting on 100 different shows and 25 different venues.
Gary filled me in on a little history about what has become a hugely popular blues club crawl, “Our first year, 1991, was one venue only with four acts. It was my decision in 1992 to take the Blues Bash out into the clubs and other venues around town. This was, in part, a response to complaints I had received from various venues, when I was writing for the Post & Courier [Charleston’s daily], that the City never involved privately-operated small entertainment businesses during its several annual events. My reasoning was that, if we involve all these clubs and other venues in the Blues Bash, perhaps it would lead them to book blues on a more regular basis.”
For blues fans, it’s an opportunity to experience first hand, performers and musicians from not just the Carolinas, but also Chicago, Detroit, New York, Florida, the Mississippi hill country and then some.
For the most part, the shows are low-dough, as Gary calls them, $10 or less. And a good number are completely free.
Maurice John Vaughn’s show is going to be killer. The Chicago giant (sax/guitar/keyboards/vocals) has some special guests on the bill with him: trombonist B.J. Emery, Grammy winner Donald Ray Johnson, Holle Thee Maxwell (Remember “Only When You’re Lonely,” (1965)?
Nick Moss & the Flip Flops are going to be one of the most exciting shows of the whole festival. With the release of Privileged (Blue Bella Records/2010), Moss used his traditional roots blues background as a jumping off point to explore new waters. The result is searing blues-infused rock that ignites the atmosphere and the audience.
Also packing a big Chicago punch, from the Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon bands and Magic Slim & the Teardrops is guitarist John Primer. As the title of his Atlantic Recording says, he’s “The Real Deal.”
Eddie Shaw & the Wolf Gang. Gary Erwin reminds us that “. . . this is one of the last great Chicago blues bands. Eddie Shaw, Howlin’ Wolf’s bandleader, has kept the group together since Wolf’s passing in 1975.” This is a no-brainer.
From Fort Lauderdale, Joey Gilmore brings old school stylings and soulful vocals to the stage. I’ve never seen him before, so you can bet I’ll catch one of his shows.
A new twist for 2012 is the Take You Downtown Blues Series at the Mad River Bar & Grille, a great old brick church that’s a pub now. All shows are $10, cash only and seating is first come, first served. Shows include Bobby Radcliff, Rich DelGrosso & Jonn Del Toro Richardson; Eddie Shaw & the Wolf Gang; Shrimp City Slim & Swamp Pop Shelly; Jarekus Singleton Mississippi Blues Band; John Primer & Shrimp City Slim; Robert Lighthouse and the Blues Buckets; and Daddy Mack Blues Band.
My Gotta Go Picks
The headliners notwithstanding, here are my Gotta Go picks:
• J Edwards Band. Love this guy. He’s representing Lowcountry Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis.
• Sarah Cole & the Hawkes. I saw Sarah at a Women in Blues Festival in Wilmington, N.C. Who says girls can’t play guitar?
• Rickey Godfrey. Another act you have to catch live. Blind from birth, he burns up the keyboard and his Telecaster.
• Gail Storm. A true interpretor of classic blues and jazz, with a little boogie piano thrown in, just for fun.
• Juke Joint Johnny. The lowcountry’s own harmonica wizard. And Drew ain’t bad either!
• Scissormen. Over the top and outta the box! Raw and rockin’. Don’t miss these guys.
To really know which acts will get your mojo working, you want the complete schedule in front of you. So, for venues, times and acts, download your own flyer.
Low Country Blues Bash Feb. 3 – 19, 2011
Blues aficionados from the Carolinas, Georgia and all over the southeastern U.S. will soon be making their way toward Charleston, S.C. for the twenty-first annual Lowcountry Blues Bash, which begins Feb. 3 and rocks on through Feb. 19.
Not officially part of the Blues Bash, but warmly welcomed by the local blues community are two British blues-rock legends – Robert Plant, former frontman for Led Zeppelin and Robin Trower, from the legendary Procul Harum. Plant will appear with his Band of Joy at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Feb. 4. ($55.30 – $76.50 including fees).Trower, also performing on Feb. 4, will be at the Music Farm. ($23 ADV/$25DOS) Wow! Trower for $23. No brainer! Bummer they’re on the same night. Tickets for both are available at the venues.
As in the past, organizer Gary Erwin of Erwin Music and the Lowcountry Blues Society are bringing a mix of
local, regional and national talent to the Palmetto City. The blues-driven frets-n-frenzy takes place over 17 days and features high-end performances by 50 different acts at 25 different locations.
Highlights include guitarist Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones with Dennis Gruenling. Deming’s group alone is a much sought after swing band. Add Gruenling to the lineup and according to Erwin, you get “pure postwar blues bliss.” (www.dougdeming.com/www.dennisgruenling.com)
South Carolina’s favorite son, Drink Small, returns to the Bash, bringing a cure for whatever ails you. The Blues Doctor’s in the house! (www.myspace.com/drinksmallblues)
From Texas comes one of our favorite singing drummers slash harp players, the genre-jumpin’ Randy McAllister.
North Carolina’s King Bees deliver swingin’ blues at every turn. Can’t go wrong here.
Frankie’s Blues Mission from Atlanta dishes up some hot West Side Chicago-style electric blues. Yeah!
Another Atlantan, Lefty Williams is on the roster, too. If you’ve never heard this one-armed guitarist, get you to
Chucktown. It’s worth the price of gasoline.
Ten Foot Polecats are coming all the way from Boston, y’all. For my buck, this punk-edged Mississippi-inspired trio is the act to catch. Jim Chilson’s guitar work is some of the finest you’ll see. They’re at Fiery Ron’s Hometeam BBQ on Sullivan’s Island Feb. 5. I dare you to sit still!
There are so many more topnotch players at this year’s Bash – Mac Arnold & Plate full O’ Blues; acoustic icon
Paul Geremia; Big Bill Morganfield, making his daddy proud; from the Grand Strand, the talented My Buddy Todd; the rockin’Johnny Mac & the Booty Ranch; Charleston’s own Skye Paige bringing rockabilly and blues to the stage.
There’s a special dedication to Lil Dave Thompson, who tragically died in an automobile crash while returning home after last year’s Blues Bash. The event will take place at Fiery Ron’s Hometeam BBQ on Sullivan’s Island on Sunday evening, Feb. 13.
Most ticket prices will be less than $15 and many are free. Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina at Patriot’s Point in Mt. Pleasant is offering preferred rates for festival goers. Call 843 856 0028 and mention the Blues Bash.
To see the entire lineup, venue listing and schedule, visit http://www.bluesbash.com and download your very own
brochure in PDF format.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 .
The 10 day extravaganza known as the
18th annual SOUTHERN COMFORT LOWCOUNTRY BLUES BASH February 8-17, 2008
Historic metro Charleston, South Carolina
10 days, 23 venues, 48 acts, 90+ shows
continues this week through Sunday. We just had three epic days with mind-blowing performances from the likes of
STUDEBAKER JOHN & THE HAWKS
One of the best slide guitarists in the blues…doubles on fiery harp as well.
CREOLE ZYDECO FARMERS
Strictly ‘real deal’ traditional zydeco…joyous!
RICKEY GODFREY BLUES BAND with ANGEL RISSOFF
A revelation … Rickey is the best blues guitarist you’ve never heard of and Angel sings his ass off
The Blues Doctor shows everyone how it’s done
SHARRIE WILLIAMS & THE WISE GUYS
Ultimate blues/gospel show-woman with incredible band…remarkable James Owens on guitar
ROBERT PAIGE & THE HOLY CITY SINNERS
Local band makes for a booty-shakin’ blues party
With partner Matt Hill, surprised a packed house at the Isle of Palms with heartfelt gutbucket blues
Great harp-in-the-rack and droning guitar…the ghost of Dr. Ross
lives through him and so many more. THIS WAS A GREAT START. But the BASH CONTINUES
THIS WEEK ALL OVER CHARLESTON.
Please come down.
(Photos: Top right, Blues guitarist Rickey Godfrey; middle left, Gary Erwin a.k.a. Shrimp City Slim sits in with the Rickey Godfrey Blues Band at J.B. Pivots on Feb. 8, 2008; bottom right, Angel Rissoff “sings his ass off.”)
The weather toward weekend should be 66-70 degrees F. and partly
sunny. Print your own brochure & check your choices at
WANDA JOHNSON & SHRIMP CITY SLIM this week
at the SOUTHERN COMFORT LOWCOUNTRY BLUES BASH
The first overseas review of the new CD is in (Blues & Rhythm,
UK)…Norman Darwen writes:
“The material is all original…all worthy of note, but most particularly the multi-layered lyrics of the different and broodingly intense blues “Riding Out This Love”. Wanda’s straight ahead blues singing is something of a rarity these days, as too is the band’s generally piano-led sound. This is another winner from this distinctive and individual singer!”
CASHBOX MAGAZINE REVIEW
Ben Franklin has also posted a nice review at
SEE WANDA & SCS at these BLUES BASH gigs:
Tues Feb 12, 6-9 pm:
SHRIMP CITY SLIM solo at Mimi’s Creekside
(1241 Harborview Rd., Charleston, SC 29412)
Wed Feb 13, 6-9 pm:
WANDA JOHNSON & SCS duo at Mimi’s Creekside
Thurs Feb 14, noon-1 pm:
WANDA JOHNSON & SCS at the Public Library
(68 Calhoun St., Charleston, SC 29401) (with JEROME GRIFFIN,
bass/vocals; LAMONT GARNER, drums/vocals)
Thurs Feb 14, 4:45-5:15 pm:
WANDA on The Bridge 105.5 FM interview/music
Fri Feb 15, 10-11 am:
WANDA & SCS duo on “Lowcountry Live” TV
ABC News 4, Charleston
Fri Feb 15, 1-4 pm and 5-7 pm:
WANDA & SCS at the Mills House Hotel
(115 Meeting St., Charleston, SC 29401)
(with JEROME GRIFFIN, bass/vocals, LAMONT GARNER, drums/vocals, MIKE
“MR. BIG” KINCAID, sax)
Sat Feb 16, 1-5 pm:
WANDA & SCS at the Mills House Hotel
(same as above PLUS SILENT EDDIE PHILLIPS joins on guitar/vocals)
See you at the BLUES BASH!
Gary Erwin Organizer, SoCo LOWCOUNTRY BLUES BASH Founder, Lowcountry Blues Society (est. 1986) Charleston, South Carolina USA
The Rickey Godfrey Blues Band will be bringing its brand of hot rockin’ blues and hip-shakin’ soul to the 2008 Southern Comfort Lowcountry Blues Bash at J.B. Pivots on Friday, February 8, at Budiroe’s on Saturday, February 9 and again at J.B. Pivots on Sunday, February 10.
The band features Nashville-based Rickey Godfrey on lead vocals, guitar and keyboard. Godfrey, who has been blind since birth, is considered to be one of Nashville’s premier blues guitarists. He began studying at the age of seven, while attending the South Carolina School for the Blind. He studied classical piano and voice, and later added guitar to his long list of musical accomplishments. At 16, he joined his first band, the Fresh Licks, a rock band that won the 1972 South Carolina Battle of the Bands. In 1974, Godfrey and his brother Ronnie Godfrey, formed their own band, Garfeel Ruff, along with Frank Wilkie, Buddy Strong and the late Allen Pearson on drums, and were signed to Capitol Records in 1978. While with Capitol, Garfeel Ruff scored and performed most of the soundtrack for the movie, “The Hitter.” In 2006 Godfrey received the CBMA Award for Blues Album of the Year for his “Once In a Lifetime Love” CD.
Since moving to Nashville in 1993, Godfrey has worked with artists such as Toy Caldwell, Donna Fargo, Rufus Thomas, Junior Walker, Lloyd Price, Warren Haynes, Billy Preston, E. G. Kight, Don Wise and Clifford Curry. He has toured the U.S., Nova Scotia and Europe, including a stint in Paris, playing the Lionel Hampton Jazz Club with Sam Moore.
From New York, Angel Rissoff – known principally as a blues and soul singer/songwriter, but who is also a powerful bass guitarist – will be performing all three nights with Rickey Godfrey Blues Band during the Blues Bash. He was Little Leopold and sang the lead on “Harlem Hit Parade” for Little Isadore and the Inquisitors and later on “Jitterbop.” His “Where Have You Been?” CD was selected as one of Soul Patrol.com’s Best of 2006.
Clifford Curry will also join the group on Sunday night. He is known for his national hit, “She Shot a Hole in My Soul” and is one of the Southeast’s best-loved singers of R&B, blues, gospel and shag music.
The Rickey Godfrey Blues Band includes Ed Schneider on drums and Joe Harris on guitar. Nashville artist Schneider has played with Rufus Thomas; Marion James, Nashville’s own “Queen of the Blues;” Wig Walker; Tommy Womack and Johnny Jones, known as a big influence on Jim Hendrix’s guitar playing. Harris was a regular member of Nashville recording artist Hal Newman’s band and currently plays guitar with Nashville blues artists, Johnny Jones and Marion James.
Pivots is located at 1662 Savannah Hwy in West Ashley. Show times for both Friday, Feb. 8th and Sunday, Feb. 10th are 9 p.m. For more information, call 843-571-3668. Budiroe’s is in Isle of Palms. Show time is 9 p.m. For more information, call 843-886-8288. Contact Rickey Godfrey via email at email@example.com .