2010 Blues Fest -- Friday, July 2: Tent (“Blues in the Blood”) Print
Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
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Wednesday, 23 June 2010 05:46

Every act on both stages Friday is a descendant of a blues legend.

Alvin "Little Pink" Anderson, 5 p.m.


Alvin 'Little Pink' AndersonAlvin "Little Pink" Anderson is the son of Piedmont blues giant Pink Anderson. Alvin was born on July 13, 1954, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and by the age of three was performing with his father as a tap dancer and singer in the medicine shows that traveled throughout the South. It was also at this early age that Pink Anderson started teaching Alvin to play the acoustic guitar. By the time Alvin was 13, he was touring with Clarence Carter -- until his age was discovered!

Over the next few years, Alvin assimilated his father's guitar style, and Little Pink was making a name for himself on the local scene playing both electric and acoustic blues. But by 18 he was in prison for the first of two times; he was 20 and still in prison when his father died in 1974. In 1994 Alvin was back in prison for three years for an illegal-driving charge, but that stay helped him to put his life in perspective. He was determined to follow in his father's footsteps by devoting his life to playing and writing about the blues.

After interviewing Little Pink, Ray Stiles of Blues on Stage had this assessment: "In the short time I spent with Anderson I found him to be very honest and open in expressing his feelings. He is also totally committed to the music he grew up with. ... Anderson said he is an Albert Collins freak and showed us what he meant with his scorching, staccato-like licks on guitar. He is an excellent musician with a powerful, soulful blues voice. His playing combines both traditional and modern blues, and he played an electrifying version of 'The Sky Is Crying' that left the late-night audience screaming for more."

Anderson will also present a workshop at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. -- Karen McFarland

Caroline Shines, 6:30 p.m.


Caroline ShinesFriday at the Blues Fest is called "Blues in the Blood," because sons, daughters, and relatives of blues legends will be performing. There is no better example than blues and gospel singer Caroline Shines, the daughter of blues guitarist and singer Johnny Shines, best known for the three years he spent performing and touring with Robert Johnson (whom most blues-music historians argue is the most celebrated figure in the history of the blues). Johnny Shines was a very original slide guitarist who influenced artists such as B.B.King, who once claimed: "Johnny Shines was the best guitar player who ever lived." Johnny Shines performed at the 1989 Blues Fest right here in LeClaire Park, which is one of the reasons the MVBS can rightfully claim that this blues festival is "where legends come to play."

Growing up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Caroline Shines says she learned about all types of music and how to sing from her father. Early on, Caroline and her mother sang in the choir at Morning Star Baptist Church, which Johnny attended when he was not traveling.

Caroline's first professional singing was for the Tuscaloosa Talent Search. When she auditioned, after hearing her sing only one verse, the person in charge hired Caroline on the spot! Now Caroline spends quite a bit of her time performing and conducting Blues in the Schools workshops with Debbie Bond and the Alabama Blues Project begun by Willie King. Caroline performed with the Alabama Blues Project during a week's residency in the Quad Cities in November 2006. At Mojo's during that visit, Caroline let it all hang out and showed blues fans how to holler the blues! This is what blues fans can expect to hear when Caroline Shines takes the stage in the Tent on Friday night. -- Jimmie Jones

Lurrie Bell Chicago Blues Band, 8:30 p.m.


Lurrie BellWhen the Entertainment Committee heard Lurrie Bell's latest release, we agreed unanimously that we wanted him to play the Fest. Guitarist/vocalist Lurrie is the son of famed Chicago harpmeister Carey Bell, who's often compared to harmonica powerhouses Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson. Be prepared to be mesmerized by some deep Chicago blues when Lurrie and his band take the stage.

Born December 13, 1958, Bell was raised in a Chicago household steeped in blues, with regular guests to the house including Eddie Taylor, Eddie C. Campbell, Jimmy Dawkins, Eddy Clearwater, Big Walter Horton, Sunnyland Slim, and Muddy Waters pianist Lovie Lee. Lurrie started playing guitar at the age of six; when he was eight, he went to live down South with his grandparents and played in the church.

Back in Chicago in his teens, Lurrie joined up with Billy Branch and Freddie Dixon to form the Sons of Blues. They performed at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1977, and then recorded three cuts for Alligator's Grammy-nominated Living Chicago Blues series. Lurrie's guitar talent and knowledge of different blues styles was noted by publications such as Rolling Stone and the New York Times. At 20, Lurrie was asked to join Koko Taylor's band, and he traveled with her for several years.

Battling and defeating some personal demons kept Lurrie out of the studio and off the road for a period in the '80s and '90s, but he returned with four CDs for Delmark and then an Alligator release in 2004 -- an acoustic duet with his father that was nominated for a Blues Music Award for best acoustic album.

The year 2007 was a hard one for Lurrie; he lost his life partner, photographer Susan Greenberg, to cancer in January, and then Carey Bell passed in May. But also that year, Lurrie was nominated for a Blues Music Award for guitarist of the year. -- Karen McFarland

Shirley King, 10:30 p.m.


Shirley KingBeing the blues-singing daughter of B.B. King has earned Shirley King the title "Daughter of the Blues," but she is an outstanding singer and performer in her own right. And she's bringing a topnotch band from Chicago with her to our fest -- so you don't want to miss this set!

Her father's career exposed her to the company of great singers. Born and raised in Memphis, Shirley began singing in the church choir at age nine. When she was 13, she met another music legend: Etta James. Young Shirley was so impressed by Etta's performance that she made Etta her musical role model. Ruth Brown and Mahalia Jackson were also influences.

When Shirley was growing up, she studied acting and dancing as well as singing, giving her the skills to be a dynamic singer. She's an all-around entertainer, which comes from her years as a stage baby watching such talents as James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and Sam Cooke. From all of them she learned that there's more to being an entertainer than just being a singer or musician.

Shirley came late to performing the blues, first trying it on in 1990. Within six months she was a regular at Kingston Mines in Chicago. And once B.B. caught Shirley's act, he lent her his full support to her carrying on the blues tradition. Shirley's noted for her high-energy stage presence, and her blues range from traditional to gospel to R&B to soul.

Shirley has sung at major blues clubs and festivals worldwide. She has performed with her father, Bobby Bland, Albert King, Little Milton, Tyrone Davis, Otis Clay, Jerry Butler, Koko Taylor, Lonnie Brooks, Eddy Clearwater, Billy Branch, and many others. -- Karen McFarland

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