2010 Blues Fest -- Sunday, July 4: Tent Print
Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
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Wednesday, 23 June 2010 05:42

Bill Sims Jr. & Mark LaVoie, 2 p.m.


Bill Sims Jr. & Mark LaVoieBill Sims Jr. (guitar and vocals) and Mark LaVoie (harmonica) call themselves the American Roots Blues Duo. Bill is from New York City, and Mark lives in Vermont. They have been working together for more than 15 years, mostly in Vermont. In the early '90s while working in Burlington, Vermont, Bill met Mark and they became fast friends after discovering their shared love of acoustic blues.

Bill Sims Jr. played on the soundtrack of American Gangster, starring Denzel Washington. And he was a music technical advisor for the movie Cadillac Records. Bill taught actor Jeffrey Wright (who played Muddy Waters) how to play in the blues style that Muddy was playing when Alan Lomax discovered him in 1940. Bill also plays guitar in the Stovall Plantation scenes, and he has a part playing bass in Muddy Waters' band and a part playing piano in Howlin' Wolf's band.

Mark LaVoie is a master harmonica player, and is a protégé of harmonica virtuoso Sonny Terry. He was Sonny's driver in the summer of 1976 and performed with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. For more than 30 years Mark Lavoie has been performing and teaching, showing his passion for and commitment to blues harmonica. He is a Hohner endorsee; he enjoys spreading the word about harmonica music and is an active member of national groups working to preserve and promote the harmonica as an accessible, inexpensive instrument.

I saw the duo two years ago at the third-annual Delta Groove All-Star Blues Revue in Clarksdale, Mississippi. When they finished the last song of their showcase, the audience gave them thunderous applause, and MC Randy Chortkoff said, "Now that's some real blues!"

Sims and LaVoie will also host a workshop at 4 p.m. Sunday. -- Karen McFarland

Dave Riley & Bob Corritore, 3:30 p.m.


Dave Riley & Bob CorritoreThe Mississippi-meets-Chicago pairing of Dave Riley (guitar and vocals) and Bob Corritore (harmonica) began when they met at the 2004 King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, and became fast friends and musical collaborators. You might remember Bob from 2008, when he played the Fest as part of Big Pete Pearson's band from Phoenix; he also conducted a Fest workshop. The duo has two albums: 2009's Lucky to Be Living, and the Blues Music Award-nominated Travelin' the Dirt Road from 2007.

Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Dave spent his early years learning gospel. Barely a teenager, he moved to Chicago and ended up living on the West Side near Maxwell Street, where he was steeped in the blues. It wasn't until he met up with Delta-blues legends Sam Carr, Frank Frost, and John Weston that Dave revitalized his career in the mid-'90s; they formed a musical bond that would lead Dave back to the Delta and back into blues full-time.

Growing up in Chicago, Bob Corritore fell in with the blues early on, taking up harmonica at age 13. A student of Big Walter Horton, Louis Myers, and others, Bob played around Chicago with some of the greatest of that city's bluesmen until relocating to Phoenix in 1981. He now hosts the weekly radio program Those Lowdown Blues on KJZZ in Phoenix and is the owner of the Rhythm Room. As a recording artist, Bob appears on 33 CDs, including his solo album Bob Corritore's All-Star Blues Sessions on the HighTone label.

Dave Riley and Bob Corritore play blues deeply rooted in the Chicago and Mississippi styles that represent their upbringings. Dave's gritty Mississippi voice, articulate blues guitar, and rowdy, personable, original songs combine with Bob's passionate, full-toned harmonica to spell out down-home blues!

Riley and Corritore will also conduct a workshop at 1 p.m. Sunday. -- adapted from MySpace.com/daverileybobcorritore

The David Boykin Expanse, 5:30 p.m.


David BoykinSome of the blues fans who come to LeClaire Park might wonder why jazz bands perform at the festival. When the MVBS was formed in 1985, the bylaws that were approved included the statement: "The objective of the society is to educate the general public on America's sole, original art form, blues-related music." Gospel, hip hop, jazz, R&B, rap, rock and roll, and zydeco are all blues-related musics. And there are many types of blues, among them Chicago, Delta, Kansas City, Piedmont, soul, Texas, West Coast, and Memphis. The MVBS Entertainment Committee tries to bring as many of these blues-related musics to the festival as we can.

David Boykin comes from a long line of great Chicago tenor-saxophone players, including Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin, Eddie Harris, Clifford Jordan, Von Freeman, and Fred Anderson. Partly from listening to them and other greats such as Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane in person and on records, and being exposed to other music and life on the South Side of Chicago (where he has lived all his life), David Boykin developed his own style and sound on the tenor sax.

David Boykin organized his current band, Expanse, in the late '90s. At the same time, he was featured in flutist Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble. From the very beginning back in the '90s, The David Boykin Expanse has performed regularly at Fred Anderson's legendary Velvet Lounge. David Boykin has performed at festivals and clubs throughout the U.S., France, Russia, and Dakar. The David Boykin Expanse has recorded 10 CDs.

David Boykin is the director of the Creative Music Ensemble at DuSable Leadership Academy and is a professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago. -- Jimmie Jones

Kim Massie, 7:30 p.m.


Kim MassieKim Massie is coming from the great blues and jazz town of St. Louis. She has been singing with her wonderful voice in clubs there for quite some time now. In this writer's opinion, if you like a real soulful and full voice, this is where you find it. She has seemed to develop her singing in the gospel choirs. I have been fortunate to hear her sing live on a couple of occasions while passing through the St. Louis area. When she starts on some of those songs, it's just powerful. When she sings that Robert Johnson tune "Come on in My Kitchen" or, of course, "Amazing Grace," she just has the voice. Like a good friend of mine once said: The most important blues instrument is the voice. That isn't to say that we leave out the band that backs her up; she has a tight three- or four-piece that backs her up and knows where to go with her at any given time. I will be looking forward to hearing her in a beautiful setting here and also watching the guitar player that I have seen with her. I believe he is just waiting to show us his stuff with that thing in our park. -- Michael J. Livermore

The Nighthawks with Hubert Sumlin, 9:30 p.m.



The NighthawksIt never ceases to amaze me how the music of the Nighthawks can lift my soul. They've been road warriors for more than 35 years now. They're my homeboys from the D.C. area. I remember seeing them just after Mark Wenner (tattoos and harmonica) and Jimmy Thackery formed the band in 1972. Thackery and the other two original members are gone now, but the Nighthawks live on, still performing their Chicago-meets-rockabilly style of blues. The current lineup of the Nighthawks is bandleader Wenner on harp, guitar wizard Paul Bell, eclectic Johnny Castle on bass, and Thackery's longtime drummer Mark Stutso.

The Nighthawks have played with so many blues legends. I know Muddy Waters is among them, and I saw them play with J.B. Hutto back in the mists of time. Before Thackery left in 1986, they had toured the world and recorded numerous albums, including the bestselling Jacks & Kings with Pinetop Perkins, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, Calvin Jones, and Bob Margolin.

In early 2009, satellite-radio blues guru Bill Wax heard that the Nighthawks were doing some acoustic shows and suggested the band come in to cut some live tracks. The result is Last Train to Bluesville, an album that includes covers of Muddy's "Can't Be Satisfied" and James Brown's "I'll Go Crazy." It's just that kind of variety that has kept the Nighthawks in touch and in tune over the years. They were playing roots music before the term was invented.

Hubert SumlinThe Nighthawks have performed with Hubert Sumlin many times before. Placed 65th on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time, Sumlin is a living legend. He grew up playing his guitar with harmonica great James Cotton. In 1949 at the age of 18, he became Howlin' Wolf's lead guitarist, a position he held down for the next 25 years, except for a six-month stint in Muddy Waters' band. He has played with Pinetop Perkins, Willie Dixon, the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, and countless others. He counts among his biggest fans Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, and John Mayer, as well as Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, both of whom play on About Them Shoes, Sumlin's 2003 Grammy-nominated album. From Jeff Beck to Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan -- all have cited Sumlin as a major influence on their work.

Muddy Waters sideman Bob Margolin has said: "When Hubert Sumlin plays guitar he takes you to his World of Blues Feeling -- from despair to ecstasy, from delicate grace to raw power, from lost to found. Though he's influenced and inspired many of the most famous guitar players, Hubert owns the magic. His style is original and personal and instantly recognizable." Amen to that! I just keep thinking of Hubert's intro to "Killing Floor." -- Karen McFarland

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