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2012 Blues Fest – Sunday, July 1: Tent PDF Print E-mail
Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 05:46

Winter Blues All-Stars, 3 p.m.

The Winter Blues All-Stars is a collaboration of graduates of the River Music Experience’s Winter Blues program, led by Ellis Kell and Hal Reed. The kids have been practicing hard, so their set will be sure to amaze the audience!

Levi Craft is from Viola, Illinois. He became interested in music at age seven and has been playing guitar for about three years now. His influences are Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton. He is excited and honored to play at the Blues Fest this year.

Sophia Pike is from Bettendorf, and has shown interest in music from the time she could crawl. She started singing in church at age three and hasn’t slowed down. Sophia’s influences are Big Mama Thornton, Reba Russell, Ella Fitzgerald, and B.B. King. She will enter Bettendorf Middle School this fall and participate in band, choir, and orchestra.

Simon Ertzinger is originally from Cedar Rapids. He got his first guitar at the age of four and began taking lessons at age five, and he’s been participating in River Music Experience workshops (Rock Camp, Winter Blues) since he was eight. He credits those – and Ellis, Hal, and many other wonderful musicians – for all of their encouragement, support, and inspiration. Some of his influences are Jimi Hendrix, Keb’ Mo, Slash, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and B.B. King.

Sage Weeber is originally from Moline. After getting his first guitar at age eight – a Gretsch hollow-body – Sage fell in love with guitars. While he plays other instruments (including banjo, bass, drums, and piano), guitar is still his favorite.

Cooper Schou started on piano before taking up drums and has been playing music for more than half of his 13 years. Cooper plays percussion in the Pleasant Valley Junior High band and drum set in the school jazz band, and will play snare in the drum line when he enters high school in the fall. Cooper listens to and loves lots of different music, and says his biggest musical influence is the steady diet of ’70s funk, R&B, and Motown that his father has fed him over the years.

Connor Essary is a freshman at Central High School in Davenport. He started playing violin in the school orchestra in fourth grade, and has since learned to play the double bass, cello, guitar, and bass guitar. He loves all kinds of music from blues to rock, country to classical. Along with his musical career, he is a 3.8-GPA honor student and the starting catcher on the freshman baseball team.

Paul Geremia, 4:30 p.m.

For more than 40 years, Paul Geremia has built a reputation as a bluesman, a songwriter, a storyteller, a scholar of early jazz and blues, and one of the best country-blues finger-pickers ever with his tools – six- and 12-string guitars, harmonica, piano, and a husky, soulful voice. Paul is possibly the greatest living performer of the East Coast and Texas finger-picking and slide styles on six and 12 strings. Combining his interpretation of the earlier music of people such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Scrapper Blackwell and Blind Blake with his original compositions, he has created a style of his own that has received accolades in the U.S. and Europe.

Geremia’s background isn’t typical for a bluesman. He is a third-generation Italian American who, as he laughingly puts it, “was born in the Providence River Delta.” He discovered the blues by seeing Mississippi John Hurt at a topical-songs workshop at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival along with Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Pete Seeger. Soon, he found paying gigs in coffeehouses in cities and at college campuses and made occasional forays south and west in search of the music he loved and whatever gigs he could find.

During these years, Geremia crossed paths with people whose influences were beneficial to his development and understanding of the tradition. He worked as opening act for some of the early blues legends, thereby gaining an immeasurable depth of knowledge from people including Howard Armstrong, John Jackson, Yank Rachell, Son House, Skip James, Howlin’ Wolf (“He was very tolerant of my enthusiasm,” and showed him the proper fingering for a chord from Charley Patton’s “Pony Blues,” Geremia said), and many others, especially Pink Anderson – whose career he helped revitalize.

Geremia will conduct a workshop on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

For more information, visit – Karen McFarland

Johnny Rawls, 6:30 p.m.

In April 2002, Johnny Rawls made the cover of Living Blues magazine, where he was given the title “Soul-Blues Renaissance Man.” He’s played the Chicago Blues Festival twice, and one of those times I first heard him there: memorable songs, a soulful voice, and a guitar sound that has, as Soul Blues Music says, “a Southern-soul melody template with a heavy rhythmic pulse.”

Born in Mississippi in 1951, Johnny learned guitar from his blind grandfather as a boy. He went on to play saxophone and clarinet in school bands until he switched back to guitar in his teens. During that time, his music teacher got him gigs backing touring musicians such as Z.Z. Hill and Joe Tex. By the mid-1970s, Johnny was in the band of soul singer O.V. Wright, and the band continued 13 years after Wright’s death in 1980 with Johnny as the bandleader.

After releasing albums on numerous labels in the ’90s, his 2006 album Heart & Soul was nominated for a Blues Music Award for Soul Blues Album. He won that award for 2009’s Ace of Spades, a tribute to his mentor Wright. Johnny’s latest CD, Memphis Still Got Soul, was nominated for the 2012 Blues Music Award for Soul Blues Album.

A Blues on Stage review of Johnny Rawls live noted that he’s “a great singer and a fantastic showman. Rawls filled the dance floor from the very first note and kept them dancing all night long. ... If you had to sum up Johnny and his music in one word, it would be smooth. Everything he does, from singing, playing guitar, writing songs, and interacting with his fans, reflects the polish and considerable talent he has developed over the years.”

For more information, visit – Karen McFarland

Bobby Rush, 8:30 p.m.

Bobby Rush was born Emmet Ellis Jr.,the son of a preacher man, in the north-Louisiana town of Haynesville. He later adopted his stage name out of respect for his father. Bobby has been performing for more than 50 years. He built his first instrument, a primitive guitar or diddley bow, and by his early teens he was putting on a fake mustache and playing at different deep-South juke joints. In the mid-1950s, he moved to Chicago, where some of his bands included blues legends such as Freddie King, Earl Hooker, and Luther Allison. Also, on trips back to his family home in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, he would perform with people such as Elmore James. Bobby started getting national attention with his 1971 release Chicken Heads on Galaxy Records. Over the next decade, Bobby would record on the Jewel, Philadelphia International, and Warner Bros. labels. In the early 1980s, Bobby moved to his current home of Jackson, Mississippi. In 2003, he fulfilled his lifetime dream of forming his own record label, Deep Rush, and recorded his CD Undercover Lover. He also had his always-entertaining live show recorded for a DVD at Ground Zero in Clarksdale, Mississippi. That same year his showmanship was featured in Richard Pearce’s documentary film The Road to Memphis, part of Martin Scorsese’s film series The Blues. This year, Bobby Rush won the Blues Music Award for best Soul Blues Album, Show You a Good Time.

Bobby Rush has decided to perform solo on occasion, but also still tours extensively with his band and lovely female dancers. We are very lucky to have an artist of Bobby Rush’s caliber here, and he will be entertaining our audience with a version of both shows combined, called appropriately the Double Rush Revue. Bobby will also receive the RiverRoad Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Valley Blues Society.

For more information, visit For an interview with Rush, click here. – Steve Heston

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