Tag Archive: musician

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?

2011 Festival Date Set

The date for the 2011 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival has been set! Marke your calendars and save the day: this year’s event will be on Saturday, October 29th, at the historic Rivoli Theatre, right here in Monmouth, Illinois. We are close to finalizing the line-up for the event – it’s going to be an amazing show – we’ll see you there!

Submissions for 2011 Deep Blue Innovators

If you are interested in being part of a magical day of music at the historic Rivoli Theatre for the 2011 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival, please send your promotional materials in so they will reach our offices no later than January 20, 2011. The promo packs should be sent to:

Paul Schuytema


90A Public Square

Monmouth, IL 61462

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.

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.

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

2010 Festival Lineup Announced

MonmouthBlues.com is pleased to announce the lineup for the 2010 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival. This year’s festival, to be held on Saturday, October 23rd, will be the best yet. We’ll see you at the show!

Starting the festival off will be our old friends Hayes and Fleming.

Next, we’ll enjoy the old-school, energized guitar mastery of Oklahoma’s own Little Joe McLerran.

Blues troubadour Scott Ainslie is trekking down from Vermont and will take the stage and deliver a set of powerful slide guitar blues.

Master guitar virtuoso Dave Specter will bring his band to present a set of eclectic jazz-inspired blues.

…and headlining this year’s festival will be the one and only Carolina Chocolate Drops! We’re very fortunate to have this internationally-recognized group make a stop in Monmouth to thrill us with their high-energy, toe-tappin’ deep roots blues. This is not to be missed!

Before the festival, we will once again have a guitar workshop, this time featuring both Little Joe McLerran and master-teacher Scott Ainslie.

Tickets will go on sale online later this month and will be available at local outlets by mid-July.

2009 Performer: Watermelon Slim

watermelon slim

“Does anyone in modern pop music have a more intriguing biography than Bill “Watermelon Slim” Homans?” asked the Memphis Flyer.

Slim was born in Boston and raised in North Carolina listening to his maid sing John Lee Hooker and other blues songs around the house. His father was a progressive attorney and ex-freedom rider and his brother is now a classical musician. Slim dropped out of Middlebury College to enlist for Vietnam. While laid up in a Vietnam hospital bed he taught himself upside-down left-handed slide guitar on a $5 balsawood model using a triangle pick cut from a rusty coffee can top and his Army issued Zippo lighter as the slide.

Returning home an fervent anti-war activist, Slim first appeared on the music scene with the release of the only known record by a veteran during the Vietnam War. The project was Merry Airbrakes, a 1973 protest tinged LP with tracks Country Joe McDonald later covered.

In the following 30 plus years Slim has been a truck driver, forklift operator, sawmiller (where he lost part of his finger), firewood salesman, collection agent, and even officiated funerals. At times he got by as a small time criminal. At one point he was forced to flee Boston where he played peace rallies, sit-ins and rabbleroused musically with the likes of Bonnie Raitt.

He ended up farming watermelons in Oklahoma – hence his stage name and current home base. Somewhere in those decades Slim completed two undergrad degrees in history and journalism.

Watermelon Slim’s accolades are legion, including being only one of four musicians ever nominated for a record tying six blues music awards in 2007 (the only others to accomplish this feat were B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Robert Cray). To see all of Slim’s nominations and awards, click here.

Now, this award winning bluesman and storyteller will descend on the Rivoli stage to give the Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival a set like no other – innovative, exciting and deeply rooted in the blues.

“Now I’m pumped,” says Slim. ” First of all, I’m going to get to see my old friend Joe Price. I have watched Joe’s magic down here in Oklahoma City, at the Blue Door. I am honored to be on a bill with him!”

“Then besides that, I get to meet up with another buddy, Shawn Kellerman. What a freakin MENSCH! One hard-working all-around showman. We got to jam a little bit up in Mont Tremblant back in early August. I play Canada quite a bit, so we run into each other a few times a year at least.”

“And your theme–Innovators– is spot on, least as far as I’m concerned. I try to keep the music new, keep it my own. The blues will never be a museum exhibit in my hands, nosireebob!”


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.

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.

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 www.matthewskoller.com)

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