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2009 Performer: Joe Price

Joe Price

Joe Price, an alumni of our first-ever blues festival, returns to provide another great set of foot stomping, good times blues. He’ll perform both solo and with his wife Vicki, shredding his guitar, stomping the floorboards of the Rivoli and delivering music that will challenge you to sit still.

Joe has the stories to back up his music’s soul. To hear the slide guitarist talk about his life – learning to play by watching Chicago blues guitarist, Earl Hooker; falling in love with his wife, Vicki, after she played music with him in a bar; nearly severing his left hand in high school and taking five years to learn to play again – is like listening to a fairy tale. Joe Price was born to play the blues.

Joe has now been performing professionally for 35 years. He was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in 2002. He has also received the honor of appearing in the last two National Guitar Catalogues playing the “National ResoLectric Guitar”. Joe was a finalist in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge 2006, held in Memphis, TN. Joe has 3 single CD’s released at this time, featuring his stunning slide work and original songs.

Joe’s music is flavored more to the juke joint end of the blues: a bit rough and tons of fun. He is a great example of how one learns to do stuff right – slide technique, study of the masters – and then learns to break all the rules to make his music truly unique and all his own.

Visit Joe’s website:

2009 Performer: Hayes and Fleming

Hayes & Fleming

Charlie Hayes and Joel Fleming have been fixtures on the local music scene for decades. Together, they make a powerful blues duet, sensing each other’s musical energy and crafting brilliant blues improvisations.

Charlie’s acoustic blues range from the classic sounds of Robert Johnson to the contemporary picking of Keb Mo. Charlie is known for his rock-solid back beat (both mono and alternating bass) and multi-string leads, coupled with searing vocals and the ability to either play dead-on “in the pocket” or mix it up with some rough and savage playing.

Joel performed in the mid-1980s with the Air Force Tops in Blue, a musical showcase, touring overseas. In the 1985 Hohner Harmonica contest he placed second in the nation. He is an accomplished harmonica player on both diatonic and chromatic. Joel plays with a unique, jazzy style, employing subtle tones, phrasing and echo effects to create a compelling, mesmerizing counterpoint to Charlie’s guitar.

Joel has been playing harp for over 40 years and Charlie has been playing professionally for over 30 years. On October 24th, they’ll take those 70+ years of combined experience to deliver an amazing opening act for this year’s Deep Blue Innovators festival, plus they’ll also manage and run the after-show jam and open mic.

2009 Amazon Artist Stores

Amazon store has a pretty nifty way to display a “store” for a specific musical artist, often allowing previews of music, CDs for purchase and MP3s.

I’ve put together links to the stores of the 2009 Deep Blue Innovators national artists, so you can check out their music and perhaps pick up a CD or two to prepare for the festival.

Bernie Pearl Returns to Long Beach

Blues legend Bernie Pearl will be returning to play at the Long Beach Blues Festival, an event he founded. The Long Beach Gazette has a great article on the festival as well as Bernie Pearl. For fans of the Deep Blue Innovators Blues festival, it’s a must read.

To read the article, click here.

Bernie Pearl Workshop

Bernie Pearl

This year, we’ll be launching our Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival day with a wonderful opportunity. Blues guitar legend Bernie Pearl will host a 90 minute blues guitar workshop at the Buchanan Center for the Arts (just a half block from the historic Rivoli Theatre) on the morning of Saturday, October 24th (start time: 10:30am).

Bernie has been playing the blues for over fifty years, and took his first lessons from blues legend Brownie McGee (with Sonny Terry in attendance). He’s played with the giants of country blues, including Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mississippi Fred MacDowell.

This workshop is free an open to the public, but seating is limited, so be sure to RSVP via email if you’d like to be sure to have a spot at this once-in-a-lifetime workshop.

Bernie suggests attendees bring an acoustic guitar (or unplugged electric), thumb pick and slide. It’s open to all levels, but attendees should know basic guitar chords.

Some words from Bernie about the workshop:

I think what I have to say would benefit anyone interested in acoustic/country blues guitar. I emphasize right hand position and picking techniques, rather than scales or specific song arrangements – although I do have specific ideas on how to make soloing easier and more idiomatic. My real offering is how to make your playing sound like the blues.

Announcing the 2009 Festival Line-Up!

Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival

Well friends, the wait is finally over! We started working to put together the lineup for the 2009 festival late last fall, moments after the 2008 festival wrapped up, and now we’re ready to let you know. We’ve stepped up the ante this year, with more national musicians. You’ll be able to experience some of the hottest blues musicians anywhere at our little festival.

As you know, the theme for this year’s festival is Deep Blue Innovators. We are bringing you artists that have their souls firmly set in the blues, but are doing interesting, innovative and amazing things to push the genre forward. Here is your 2009 lineup:

Charlie Hayes and Joel Fleming
Joe Price
Bernie Pearl
Shawn Kellerman
Watermelon Slim

The festival will be at the historic Rivoli Theatre on October 24th, 2009. Tickets are available now online, and will be available locally in late August. Doors will open at 2pm with the first act starting around 2:30pm. Of course, we’ll also tempt your taste buds with rib dinners from the famous Eddie B!

We’ll also be doing something special this year: blues master Bernie Pearl will be hosting a free blues guitar workshop on the morning of the festival, at the Buchanan Center for the Arts. We’ll have more information on this exciting opportunity soon!

Check back here often–over the coming weeks, we’ll run features on each of these amazing musicians. Mark your calendar and we’ll see you at the show!

2009 Blues Festival Poster

Festival Poster

Les Paul

This week, guitar great Les Paul died. To tell the truth, I was never a huge fan of the Les Paul guitar (I love Telecasters), though my one electric guitar, called a “The Paul”, is a solid mahogany Les Paul with enough heft to stop a crack-crazed sumo wrestler with one baseball-bat-like swing.

But I do love tipping points… I love the decade-long, Gordian-knot like tipping point of Charlie Patton/Son House and Robert Johnson… the Velvet Underground, the Beatles, Hendrix… those musicians crafted a moment or series of moments that carved a deep path for others to follow.

Les Paul was one of those tipping points. In the throws of the Depression, he was an innovator, not only in playing guitar, but in amplifying and electrifying that guitar. He took an acoustic instrument and gave it a voice loud and powerful. Like Henry Ford, who couldn’t really visualize what he was doing until it was too late, Les Paul didn’t see the monster chops of Jimmy Page, Slash or Hendrix. Didn’t anticipate feedback, the raged sound of over-heated tubes, wah-wah pedals and the like.

Les Paul created the electric guitar and developed a sound that was sweet, smooth and urbane… jazzy, bluesy riffs that we’re like some smooth Kalua cocktail. I remember in college listing to his albums made with his wife Mary Ford… the sweet, jazzy, poppy songs they’d perform together… wonderful music.

Then every once in a while, in the middle of a song, Les would take a guitar break and shred that fretboard, blending blues, country and soon-to-be-rock runs with his jazzy chords… playing the bass strings with a pick, running the neck from low to high… sliding, hammering and pulling off, delivering a 20 second guitar solo that would just leave your jaw hanging open.

He was truly a tipping point, and those scales started tipping a half century ago with the like of Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins and Bill Haley… and imagine that thread of guitar innovation as it moved through Lou Reed, Jimi Hendrix, Leslie White, Eric Clapton and Jorma Koukenen… and into modern guitar masters like Robin Trower, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eddie Van Halen, The Edge, Stanley Jordon and Robert Fripp.

A true innovator may have left us, but the scales have already tipped and there is no turning back. Better turn it up to eleven!

Matthew Skoller Profile

Matthew Skoller

One of the hardest working harmonica-based blues groups in Chicago, The Matthew Skoller Band rocks with a fierceness not felt since the likes of blues harp icons Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson II. Skoller and his band of veteran musicians are at the forefront of a new generation who’ve come up schooled in Chicago’s world-renowned and highly competitive blues scene.

As with many blues performers of his generation, Skoller’s been influenced as much by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix and the Allman Brothers as by the legends of blues. Skoller’s take on the blues tradition is about letting his own voice come through — his culture, his experience.

Skoller moved to Chicago in January 1987. His already mature harmonica playing led a number of musicians to take him under their wings. He paid his dues backing up a “who’s who” of creative and passionate musicians, including the legendary Jimmy Rogers, Big Time Sarah, and Deitra Farr.

Despite his success working with others, Skoller heard the crying of an inner voice and since 1992 has led his own band. Like a tornado, he’s blown through the Chicago blues scene.

In October 1996, the band was a prizewinner at the International Blues Talent Competition held by the Blues Foundation in Memphis. That same year, Hohner Harmonicas installed Skoller as an endorsee.

(edited from

Matthew Skoller Poster

Here’s the poster you’ll see around town. Matthew also send some groovy full color posters that you’ll see out an about as well.

Matthew Skoller

Best Amplifier Ever!

A few weeks ago, I took delivery of my new custom made Hahn Signet amplifier. What a gem! Hand made in Galva and Texas, this low wattage tube-powered beauty is a real throwback. Simple volume, gain and tone controls give a surprisingly wide range of sound options.

I’m playing my Phillips archtop through it and it’s the sound that amazes me… clear, crisp and with just the right amount of fuzzy edge to deliver that vintage blues sound I’m alays looking for but rarely find.

In the past, I used a Voodoo Sparkle Drive pedal to get the sound right, but this amp delivers just what I want straight up, and I love not having any other electronics in the way between the guitar and amp.

The quality of the custom craftsmanship is amazing… from the custom cabinet (finished to match my Yamaha piano) to the tube amp chassis, everything is neat as a pin, professionally done and done with flair and an eye to lasting quality.

I rarely get on bandwagons, but I’m certainly on the Hahn Amplifier band wagon… if you are looking for a wonderful small tube amp with amazing sound, be sure to check them out! You can even head to the image gallery and see me playing through my new amp at an open mic at Budde’s… check it out here.

Matthew Skoller Band in Concert!

Matthew Skoller

On Saturday, June 6th, has a real treat in store for you!

The Matthew Skoller Band will come down from Chicago to deliver an amazing night of harmonica powered blues at the Rivoli Theatre.

If you were at last Fall’s Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival, than you know that the Matthew Skoller Band nearly stole the show. Raw energy, passion and musicianship are the hallmarks of this hard working Chicago original.

Sally Weisenburg

Blues and jazz singer Sally Weisenburg and her band will open the show and will deliver a set of solid vocal-driven tunes to get the night rolling.

Mark your calendars for this exciting show – can you think of a better way to spend a Saturday night?

Tickets will be $12 at the door or $10 in advance, and will be available online this week and at local retailers next week. Doors to the Rivoli will open at 7pm and the music will get rocking at 7:30pm.

Matthew Skoller Band Website

Matthew Skoller Band MySpace Page

Sally Weisenburg MySpace Page

Kelly Rocks the High School

The Kelly Richey Band performed before the students of Monmouth-Roseville High School on Friday, March 13th. The students learned a bit about blues history and also had a chance to see how a master can shred on guitar.

The full story is here.

Kelly Richey in the News

With only a little over a day to go until the Kelly Richey Band hits the stage at the Rivoli, both regional papers are providing some exciting coverage of the event. Click the links below to read more.

Monmouth Review Atlas: Kelly Richey Band to perform Friday

Galesburg Register Mail: Richey brings blues to Maple City

Profile: The Kelly Richey Band


“Hey Monmouth! Kelly Richey here. Last time we were in town, we made lots of great new friends and we’re looking forward to seeing you again! Remember, you promised to be there when we came back AND you promised to bring your friends so we can have twice the fun as last time!!! We’ll see you there!”

Guitarist/singer Kelly Richey has been described as “Stevie Ray Vaughan trapped in a woman’s body with Janis Joplin screaming to get out,” by Vintage Guitar Magazine. “That makes a helluva picture, but it’s as close as words come to describing the talent of this musician.”

In addition to the Friday night concert, the Kelly Richey Band will be presenting a program to local students in an assembly at the Monmouth High School at 10am.

“It is a real boost to music education programs in our schools to have professional traveling musicians who are willing and eager to visit schools and share the music and their knowledge base with students,” said Lee Wiggins, choral director. “It is especially cool to have these musicians visit us in rural America who do not have ready access to concert venues and the wonderful musicians who frequent the larger urban communities.”

“Keeping music in our schools is an important mission,” Says Kelly, “so please help to spread the word and support music education any way you can!!!”

More information on The Kelly Richey Band, plus MP3s and video performances can be found online at

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