Tag Archive: guitar


2011 Performer: Hayes and 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. Charlie has also been working on blues banjo and the pedal bass, which provides him with even more musical territory to explore.

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 23rd, 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.

In keeping with our Women in the Blues theme this year, Hayes and Fleming will also be joined by some special guests: Tami Rankin will be belting out some powerful blues vocals and Mari Hauge will be performing some blues cello. Who says the blues aren’t innovative?

Walter Trout Playing Fat Fish on Monday

Legendary electric blue guitarist Walter Trout will perform at the Fat Fish Pub in Galesburg on Monday, March 21st. Tickets are $20 in advance. It’s an early show – doors open at 4pm and the show kicks off at 6pm. Don’t miss this chance to see a legendary guitarist in action!

For more information, visit Fat Fish here.

Duke Robillard at Fat Fish

Blues guitar great Duke Robillard will be playing at the Fat Fish Pub in Galesburg this Sunday, November 21st. Duke is a masterful guitar soloist and evangelist for the blues, called by the New York Times “a soloist of stunning force and originality.” Tickets are $20 before the show and $25 at the door. Doors open at 4pm and the show will kick off at 6pm.

Fat Fish Pub website.

Official Duke Robillard website.

2010 Performer: Dave Specter

Dave Specter is a busy man. Just back from a tour of Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, Dave and his band are hitting a few stateside gigs (including the 2010 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival) before heading off for another European tour in November.

We are honored to include the Dave Specter Band in our lineup for this year’s festival. If you’ve spent any time listening to the blues over the last 25 years, you’ve certainly heard his instantly recognizable jazzy-bluesy guitar playing. A virtuoso on hollow-bodied electric guitar, Dave can move effortlessly between hard core blues licks and complex jazz chords and phrasings.

Before forming his own band in 1989, Specter toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe behind such blues greats as Son Seals, The Legendary Blues Band, Hubert Sumlin, Sam Lay and Steve Freund. Specter has also performed and recorded with such blues and jazz artists as Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Robert Jr. Lockwood, John Primer, Mighty Joe Young, Valerie Wellington, Magic Slim, Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Earl, Otis Clay, Pinetop Perkins and Sunnyland Slim, to name just a few.

Dave has released nine solo albums and has appeared as a guest artist on numerous others, with a discography totaling out at more than 30 releases. His latest release (which came out just over a month ago), Spectified, is currenlty near the top of the Roots Radio chart and is garnering blistering reviews, including five stars from the Blues Underground Network:

Spectified is an album that is not only purely instrumental, it is also a album that is instrumentally pure. Unlike the vast majority of albums out there today, instrumental albums do not have the option of hiding behind lyrics if there are flaws. Spectified was flawless, in fact lyrics would have only taken this treasure down a few notches.”

On October 23rd, we’ll all have the wonderful opportunity to hear one of the truly original blues guitar virtuosos performing at the top of his game in the intimate setting of the Rivoli Theatre. Be prepared to be amazed!

To learn more about Dave Specter, visit his website here.

To get the inside skinny on the life of a Chicago blues guitarist, check out Dave Specter’s Blues & Beyond.

To buy his latest album, click here.

To visit his Amazon Artist Store, click here.

Blues Guitar Workshops Before the Festival!

Once again, blues fans and guitar geeks have a chance to get up close and personal with some of the acts performing at the Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival on October 23rd. This year we’re hosting not one but two guitar workshops!

Starting at 10am at the Buchanan Center for the Arts (less than a block from the Rivoli), the festival will host two guitar masters for workshops on style, history and how to play the blues.

First, Little Joe McLerran will introduce workshop participants to the unique characteristics of Piedmont style blues. Little Joe has given numerous workshops (including several in the Middle East) and is the 2009 winner of the International Blues Challenge.

Next, master blues teacher and historian Scott Ainslie will be taking us deep into the Delta with his extensive knowledge of the guitar stylings of the first modern bluesman: Robert Johnson. Ainslie has been studying roots and Delta blues for 40+ years and has delivered successful teaching videos and DVDs for MelBay.

The workshops are free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so please RSVP to paul@monmouthblues.com to reserve your seat.

All levels of players are welcome, but players should have a basic knowledge of chord fingering. For participation, please bring a acoustic guitar (or unplugged electric), pick, thumb pick and slide.

This is an amazing opportunity and a great way to get you in the mood for a day of great live music. We’ll see you there!

2010 Performer: Scott Ainslie

Scott Ainslie heard Virginia Bluesman and grave digger, John Jackson play a couple of songs in the middle of a Mike Seeger concert just outside of Washington, DC, at Groveton High School back in 1967. Things haven’t been the same since.

Scott started playing guitar a month later and has now spent nearly forty years studying and playing traditional music, visiting and documenting senior musicians in America’s old-time banjo and fiddle music, Blues and gospel traditions.

With four CDs, a teaching DVD on the guitar techniques of Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson, and a book on Johnson’s music “Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads” (Hal Leonard, 1992) to his credit, as a performer and a teacher, Ainslie continues to present programs that are vital and entertaining. He currently makes his home in of Brattleboro, Vermont after transplanting there from North Carolina.

Ainslie’s deep voice and powerful slide guitar technique command attestation and pull the listener back in time, back before amplifiers and top-40 radio, to a time when the blues was a mirror of the lives working familes lead.

“I’ve played house concerts and sold out 1800 seat auditoriums,” reflects Ainslie, “and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d enjoyed them both. But, if I had to choose my favorite setting, it would be something in between:  a small theater whose stage has seen generations of my brothers and sisters over the years where, rather than separating the audience and the artists, the stage is a place where we come together and get to know each other. The Rivoli is one of those places. It has soul, a history, and when it’s filled up with people and artists, a living presence. It is going to be a real pleasure to join the ranks of musicians and performers who have walked onto that stage.”

“I spent a week with the Carolina Chocolate Drops years ago and had a ball,” continues Ainslie. “We’ve all spent time with Joe Thompson and we have interests in Old-Time music as well as Blues. We are going to have a ball.”

Ainslie will also be leading the second of two guitar workshops at the Buchanan Center for the Arts on the morning of the festival (Saturday, October 23rd, approximately 11am). Ainslie is a deeply dedicated teacher and historian and will bring his wellspring of knowledge to local musicians and blues fans.

“Back in 1967, when I began to play guitar I had no teacher,” says Ainslie.  ”No lessons, no workshops, no TAB, no YouTube videos: just a cheap guitar and a book of folksongs with chord diagrams (many of which were wrong). I spent some time wandering in the wilderness, falling into every muddy ditch, bumping into every tree. I can spare you a good portion of that walk. Having been there, I’m  a good guide. You’ll still have to walk the walk, of course, but it’s a big help to know which paths are dead ends and what you need to know to move forward.”

“Over the past 43 years, I’ve built a body of knowledge about roots guitar styles and acoustic blues and slide guitar. Robert Johnson, David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards, Muddy Waters, Blind Blake, Rev. Gary Davis, and Mississippi John Hurt and many other relatively unknown musicians have all shaped my understanding of this instrument, its expressive power and flexibility. Sharing that knowledge is one of the ways I honor them. It is a part of my responsibility as a link in a chain of human knowledge, culture and musical tradition.”

“And whenever I need to reconnect with those first few months and years with a guitar in my hands, I simply turn it around backwards and ask my left hand to do my right hand’s job and visa versa. The brain knows, but the muscle patterns necessary are discrete, handed knowledge. In a workshop, I can show your brain. You still have to develop the hand knowledge, the muscle patterns, which take time and repetition.”

“The beauty of having a teacher is to have them look at your hands and how you are playing a guitar and suggest ways to expand your playing and make what you are aiming to do simpler, easier and musically more effective. I always enjoy being allowed into someone’s musical life and being able to be useful. It can be difficult here in America for an artist to feel useful. When it happens, it is always a good thing.”

The workshops are free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so please RSVP using the contact for on the MonmouthBlues.com site.

To learn more about Scott Ainslie, check out his website.

2010 Performer: Little Joe McLerran

Little Joe McLerran has packed a lifetime of musical experience into just 25 short years, culminating in achieving a dream of his: winning the 25th Annual Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. It took four consecutive trips to the event and three stellar sets to earn the crown.

Little Joe McLerran, “Perhaps the finest Piedmont Blues player on the face of God’s green earth”, writes Billy Austin, editor of Blues News. No small wonder. Little Joe has spent 16 of his 24 years on God’s green earth working on his Piedmont chops. For his first public performance Joe sang a Leadbelly song and played another by Rev. Gary Davis as his 4th grade classmates provided theatrical support.

Little Joe McLerran came to the blues early on, discovering the music as a kid through friends of his dad, longtime local bass player Rob McLerran. When he was a teenager, Joe and his brother, Jesse, played on the Pearl Street Mall as “Buddy Hollywood,” a duo specializing in the Beatles, Bob Marley and the blues. Joe played guitar and Jesse — who died in an accident a few years ago — played drums.

Nine years ago the family moved to Tulsa, Okla., where Joe adopted the name “Son Piedmont” and immersed himself in the acoustic Piedmont blues style of the ’20s and ’30s. The 25-year-old blues musician has a penchant for the classics, but he has created a sound that is current — and all his own.

He’ll hit the Rivoli stage as a trio, with father Robbie Mack on bass and his long-time reed man Dexter Payne. Little Joe will be working hard on the weekend, also performing in a pre-fest event at the Fat Fish Pub on Friday, October 23rd (be sure to come by to score some free tickets or a free t-shirt!). He’ll also be presenting the first of two blues guitar workshops at the Buchanan Center for the Arts at 10am on Saturday, October 23rd (Little Joe has given Piedmont Blues workshops all across the US and also in the Middle East).

Many thanks to IllinoisBlues.com for the great picture of Little Joe!

Learn more about Little Joe at his website.

Jimmy Thackery at Fat Fish on Thursday!

Hot guitarist and found member of the Nighthawks Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers will descend on the Fat Fish Pub this Thursday. Tickets are $25 at the door (opens at 4pm) and the show starts at 6pm.

Thackery comes by his six-string brilliance honestly, having learned from the very best sources. Besides Buddy Guy and Jimi Hendrix, Thackery cites Chicago axe master Otis Rush as a primary influence. Moreover, he learned quite a bit from playing on stage alongside such blues legends as Muddy Waters, James Cotton and Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson.

Thackery has been acclaimed as one of the hottest live acts around, with his jaw-dropping performances becoming the stuff of legend. As the Boston Globe put it, “Jimmy Thackery is a four-hour performer. That’s not how long he plays, but how long one should travel to see him. He’s a phenomenal guitarist, one of the best we’ve seen.”

In Praise of Joe Price

How many of you listen to your bloated iPod on shuffle nearly all the time? I made the move to shuffle a few years ago, because I didn’t have time to scroll through every musical Tom, Dick and Harry when I wanted to hear a tune. Most of the time, I get a wonderful, eclectic mix of songs… at times it’ll be something awful and at other times, inexplicably, it’ll rattle off six Beatles songs in a row… how’s that work?

Then every once in a while, a song will come on that will make you stop dead in your tracks… something amazing that compels you to stop what you are doing and just listen. Sometimes, I’ll have to look at the artist to see who is making my feet tap. Other times, I know right away who it is. Joe Price is one of those artists I recognize instantly.

Joe’s music forces me to stop what I’m doing and listen, smile and tap my feet. It’s a crazy elastic form of old-school guitar blues that sounds like nothing else. The rhythms bounce and hop like a super-ball on caffeine, and at times, it sounds like two or three guitars at once, with a crazed cat-in-a-bag thrown in for good measure… but it’s all just Joe slapping and hammering those strings and layering vibrations and tones over each other into this heady cocktail of joyous musical energy.

I play blues guitar as a hobby, and at times, I listen to a guitarist and go “wow, I’d love to be able to play like that!” That’s NOT how I feel when I hear Joe play (either live or on my iPod)… I know with absolute certainty that there is just flat-out no way I can ever play like that… but the music compels just the same. The crazy tunings, the breakneck rhythms and the growling, dancing bass notes work together to weave a unique and utterly un-copyable sound and tone. No one sounds like Joe Price… not before, now now… probably not ever.

If you haven’t seen Joe Price (and his lovely wife Vicki) play live, then shame on you… look them up and go see them this summer. Buy his CDs and load them on your iPod… support his music and then, one day in the near future, you’ll hear one of his songs come on and you’ll stop dead in your tracks and just smile. And isn’t that what music is all about?

Joe Price’s website

Can You Learn Music Online?

I just finished up my second 12 week online course from the Berklee College of Music (the last one was their Blues Guitar Workshop). This go-round, I tried out Basic Improvisation, a multi-disciplinary course on the basics of improvisational soloing.

While it kept me away from open mics over the last three months (every free moment I could dedicate to music was consumed by this course!), it really was a wonderful experience. I’m really amazed that online music education can be so effective. Each week, students are presented with videos (from the instructors), lesson text, written music and web-based jukeboxes filled with tunes to illustrate key concepts. Online class meetings each week provide a chance to share with students and get direct, non-email teacher feedback. Each week, we worked through one or two major assignments that we had to record and post as MP3s.

As a computer geek who makes web applications during his day-job, their course site is top-notch and I’m a little jealous of all the bells and whistles it has.

In the improvisation course, we spent time working on transcriptions skills, listening skills, playing with accompaniment, note-based and rhythm-based motifs, chord tones, chord scales and chromatic approach shapes. While most of the class didn’t really deal with the type of old-school mono-bass blues I like to play, I was able to see how I can sally-forth and apply that knowledge to the way I play the blues.

If you can spare 5-6 hours a week of musical study time, it’s a great investment in learning. Check it out here.

Tommy Castro Band

Tommy Castro

The Tommy Castro Band will be appearing at Galesburg’s Fat Fish Pub on Sunday, April 18 (showtime is 6pm).

Castro is a rising star of the blues, and has been honored with a slew of award nominations for 2010, including Band of the Year and the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year by the Blues Music Awards.

Check out Tommy’s website here.

2009 Performer: Shawn Kellerman

Shawn Kellerman

Guitar wizard Shawn Kellerman is poised to join the innercircle of musicians who define modern blues. Traditional forms are reinterpreted — a not-so-subtle union of past and present delivered with ferocious authenticity.

Shawn understood from the beginning that true blues is a cultural tradition, passed down directly from today’s masters to the next generation. As a result, Shawn spent 5 years in Mississippi and Washington D.C., living, playing and touring with such notable blues artists as Mel Brown, Deborah Coleman, and Bobby Rush. Shawn was a regular on topdraw blues stages playing the Chitlin’ Circuit and the Five-Star Touring Scene and has performed hundreds of international gigs in over 20 countries.

These years on the road gave birth to Shawn’s trademark live stage presence, an unforgettable high-energy assault on the audience that is as much felt as heard.

Over the years Shawn has also earned the status of a highly respected guest artist for numerous live shows and recording sessions. Shawn has recently appeared on stage with W.C. Handy Award Nominee Paul Reddick and Hohner Harmonica World Award Winner Carlos Del Junco. His powerful playing was also featured on Michael Pickett’s Juno nominated CD “Conversation with the Blues” and in 2005 Shawn was invited to play at The House of Blues 80th birthday celebration for B.B. King.

Shawn’s high energy playing, deep-blue soul and original spin on a classical musical form make his show an event that will not soon to be forgotten. He is clearly a Deep Blue Innovator and we look forward to hearing him tear up the Rivoli stage.

Shawn’s latest album is Blues Without a Home, available on his website. Visit Shawn’s web site here.

2009 Performer: Bernie Pearl

Bernie Pearl

The blues is life itself to Bernie Pearl. A guitarist with an upbeat, finger-poppin’ picking style he learned at the elbows of bluesmasters Sam ‘Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Mississippi Fred MacDowell, and others. Yet, Bernie Pearl is no hidebound traditionalist. As music critics and aficionados have said for years, he is a craftsman who packs his songs with melodic interpretations that are new and personal each time he picks up his vintage Martin or National. To hear him tell it, “I’m not a retro player. I’m playing real blues for right now.”

Bernie, who grew up in the Los Angeles community of Boyle Heights, took up the guitar in the 1950′s. Later, at his brother’s legendary blues showcase, the Ash Grove, he met, studied with, and often performed with greats like Hopkins, Lipscomb, and MacDowell as well as with Freddie King, Albert Collins, and Big Mama Thornton. Bernie played duets with John Lee Hooker at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village. “They were my teachers,” he says, “and it wasn’t just music they were teaching. If you took Mance or Lightnin’ out fishing you got philosophy, history, and lessons in life”.

Armed with the teachings of those and other blues icons, Bernie raises the roof with dazzling guitar solos – acoustic and electric – and with his own Bernie Pearl Blues Band, which has backed the likes of B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Dixon, and Big Joe Turner.

For music lovers tired of market-tested commercial radio and industry-buffed overnight phenoms, Pearl provides virtuosity, country wisdom, a warm voice, and the kind of fingerpicking and slide guitar work that still gets juke-joints jumping.

“Making blues music draws from someplace deep,” he says. “I’m lucky. It’s what I do.”

We are also pleased to announce that Bernie will not only be performing at the 2009 festival, he will also be providing a free blues guitar workshop at the Buchanan Center for the Arts on Saturday morning, October 24th, from 10:30am until noon. For more information, click here.

Visit Bernie’s website at: www.berniepearl.com

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: joepriceblues.com

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.

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