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2014 Blues Fest: Friday, July 4, Tent Bios PDF Print E-mail
Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:08

Winter Blues All-Stars, 3 p.m.

The Winter Blues All-Stars is composed of talented young musicians selected from the River Music Experience’s Winter Blues program. The annual Winter Blues program features vocal and instrumental workshops (guitar, bass, harmonica, keyboards, and drums), as well as a concentration on blues composition and improvisation. These sessions are open to musicians from eight to 18 years of age and are led by Ellis Kell of the River Music Experience and Hal Reed of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society, with other veteran blues musicians from the region as special guests.

Jesse Barger is 16 years old and has been playing guitar for two and a half years. He took lessons for about six months from Tony Carducci at West Music, learning mostly from listening to records. He was inspired to play music by listening to The Band, Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, and Son House. Guitar influences include Robbie Robertson, Peter Green, Roy Buchanan, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, and David Gilmour.

Noah Schneider is 16 years old and a junior in high school. He started playing the guitar when he was about eight and was 13 when he started playing seriously. This is his third year playing in the Winter Blues program, and he plays in the church praise band every Sunday. Noah is very happy to get the chance to continue on after the Winter Blues program and excited to have the opportunity play with the Winter Blues All-Stars this year.

MacKenzie Noppe is 12 years old, and she plays drums, guitar, bass guitar, and keyboards, and she also sings and just picked up a saxophone for school band. She even sang lead vocals while playing the drum set when she performed “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith at the Redstone Room Rumble. MacKenzie has been involved in shows at the Center for Living Arts since she was five years old, attends events at the River Music Experience once a month, is a member of the Quad City Flash Mob Troupe, has been doing summer Rock Camp programs since she was eight – and don’t forget dancing, cheerleading, gymnastics, drawing, painting, crafts, cooking, and swimming, too.

Matt Fuller is 16 years old and has been playing guitar since he was seven years old. He started out as a drummer but discovered he loves playing guitar, also. He’s performed with several famous musicians, including Tommy Castro, Lil’ Ed, and Billy Branch. Some of his favorite guitarists include his grandfather (John Pena of the Pena Brothers and Serious Business), Buddy Guy, Albert King, and B.B. King.

Michael Osborne, 13, has played the piano since age six and since then has picked up drums, guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, and harp. He has played multiple instruments and even sang vocals during the Rock Camp and Winter Blues programs at the River Music Experience for the past three years. He has had the pleasure of performing with the Candymakers and Kevin “B.F.” Burt. Michael listens to many different musical artists and loves to play the blues.

Sarah Elisabeth Hanson, from Viola, Illinois, developed an interest in all forms of vocal music as soon as she learned she could easily manipulate the sound of her voice. Since singing her first solo in kindergarten, she has performed in various locations throughout the Quad Cities, including Cool Beanz, SouthPark Mall, the Festival of Trees, the Quad City International Airport, the Speakeasy, and Circa ’21, as well as with the Quad City Symphony children’s choir and Sunshine’s Performing Arts Studio.

(Students from the Winter Blues program will also appear at BlueSKool on Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 4:45 p.m.)

Margaret Murphy-Webb, 4:30 p.m.

Having majored in voice and jazz piano at Chicago State, Margaret Murphy-Webb has been performing in the Chicagoland area for more than 25 years. She developed her unique vocal style and showmanship under the tutelage of world-renowned tenor saxophonist Von Freeman.

As the leader of her own quartet, Margaret has headlined the Chicago Blues Festival and Chicago Navy Pier and Chicago Lake Michigan cruises. Margaret has performed for two presidents – Barack Obama and Bill Clinton – as well as for ambassadors from Russia and Poland. She has opened for piano greats Joe Sample and Chick Corea, and the soulful, sensational Tower of Power at Chicago’s House of Blues.

Murphy-Webb’s Mississippi Valley Blues Festival band features Tom Vaitsas on piano, Peter Learner on guitar, Chuck Webb on bass, and Ben Johnson on drums.

Murphy-Webb has appeared as Billie Holiday in the musical production Legends in Heaven, and as Phyllis Hyman in the production of Somewhere in My Lifetime. Margaret produced and performed in the widely acclaimed show “Three for Jazz” at the DuSable Museum of African American History (with jazz vocalists Tecora Rogers and Marc Courtney Johnson), and as one of Chicago’s Eleven Jazzy Divas she performed at Chicago’s African Festival of the Arts.

Margaret’s debut solo CD, In Full Bloom – produced by her husband, bassist Chuck Webb – can be heard on independent radio stations throughout the United States, England, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Portugal, and Macedonia. The CD is a combination of straight-ahead and smooth-jazz favorites by Dizzy Gillispie, Al Jarreau, and other jazz greats – as well as Sade and Bette Midler. Margaret was awarded a Grindie (independent radio’s Grammy) for her cover of the Sade song “Pearls.” Margaret is recognized as a RadioIndy Gold Artist for outstanding vocals and production on a jazz CD.

Currently the producer and hostess of the Jazz Jam Revival – a jam session dedicated to the memory of Von Freeman – Margaret Murphy-Webb hopes to continue the legacy of the Tuesday-night jam, where musicians, vocalists, students, and jazz lovers can come together in the spirit of networking and share their love of music.

(For a 2014 interview with Margaret Murphy-Webb, click here.)

Nate Lawrence

Roy Book Binder, 6 p.m.’s profile: “Not only is Roy Book Binder a terrific guitarist, he is a true songster with a giant repertoire; he is virtually a walking encyclopedia of folk music. Book Binder is fundamentally a blues- and ragtime-rooted troubadour and one of the last great characters in a land where the culture that he represents, a heritage that traces straight back to the turn of the 19th- to 20th-Century minstrels, is almost lost.”

Steve Cheseborough of Living Blues: “With his laid-back vocals and strong slide guitar, Roy Book Binder sometimes evokes J.J. Cale, or Dire Straits’ early, acoustic songs. But Book Binder’s inspirations go way back. Having worked closely in the ’60s with Piedmont masters Reverend Gary Davis and Pink Anderson, and having toured constantly for decades, Book Binder is a seasoned, mature blues artist with a sound of his own. He is a genuine example of the traveling-bluesman tradition that began in the ’20s, was revived in the ’60s, and continues today.”

Roy himself: “SINGER-SONGWRITER-STORYTELLING-BLUESMAN ... . Roy Book Binder has been rambling around the world for the past 45 years! He gave up his Greenwich Village ‘pad’ in the early ’70s and lived in his ‘Tour Bus’ for the next 15 years, crisscrossing the U.S. and appearing at festivals throughout Canada and Europe. Book Binder traveled with the legendary Reverend Gary Davis in the late ’60s ... . The Book recorded his first solo acoustic blues album in the ’70s, which was the first to receive five stars in Downbeat magazine! In the late ’80s The Book was part of Bonnie Raitt’s East Coast Tour, which included an appearance on The Grand Old Opry, which led to almost 30 appearances on Nashville Now!”

That’s the end of Roy’s short bio. Of course he’s been traveling – and playing, singing, writing songs, and telling stories – since the late ’80s and is now a veteran guitar instructor, often found teaching at the Fur Peace Ranch with Jorma Kaukonen and others whose lives have been influenced by the Reverend Gary Davis. I’m sure Roy’s got tales to tell since he last visited the Blues Fest in 2001.

(Roy Book Binder will also present a workshop Friday at 2:30 p.m. For a 2014 interview with Roy Book Binder, click here.)

Karen McFarland

Anthony “Big A” Sherrod, 8 p.m.

Twenty-nine year-old Clarksdale, Mississippi, native Anthony Sherrod grew up in a musical home. His father, E.J. Johnson, is a gospel singer and still performs with the group The Golden Stars. At the age of six, Anthony picked up his first guitar and hasn’t stopped playing. In fact, he not only plays guitar but bass, drums, and keyboards – and he sings.

“Big A” was schooled by a noted blues teacher in the Delta area, “Mr. Johnnie” Billington, who taught not only the music but the value of hard work and knowledge of the culture and history from which Mississippi blues emerged, a world where the musicians worked at very hard, low-paying agricultural jobs. Big A and his band were regulars at Sarah’s Kitchen, one of the area’s major blues venues, until proprietor Sarah Moore was killed in an auto crash and the restaurant went out of business. He has played at numerous other clubs and events in the Delta area.

Recordings of Big A are few; he appears on bass with Alvin “Youngblood” Hart and the late, great drummer Sam Carr on a song called “Joe Friday” in the 2003 film Last of the Mississippi Jukes. Sherrod is also featured in the 2012 film We Juke Up in Here, now as the band leader. He offers a spirited performance of a song called “Call Me a Lover” in the best tradition of male boasting (along with a bit of humor), and he also wrote and plays the title track for the film. Big A is an exciting performer who freely moves around a performance space with some fancy footwork.


Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience, 10 p.m.

Two-time Grammy winner Terrance Simien brought his “Creole for Kidz” and “The History of Zydeco” programs to Quad Cities schools in 2013 as part of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society Blues in the Schools residency program. A zydeco musician, vocalist, and songwriter, Terrance is an eighth-generation Creole from one of the earliest Creole families documented to have settled in St. Landry Parish in Louisiana. He was introduced to music via the piano at home, the Catholic-church choir, and school band programs in which he played trumpet.

While in his teens, he taught himself to play accordion and formed his first band – Terrance Simien & The Mallet Playboys – and began to play the regional zydeco club and church-hall circuit. I remember seeing Terrance Simien & The Mallet Playboys on the Bandshell at the 1988 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. I even took a photo, trying to capture the energy: Terrance dancing on the stage, his long locks whipping from side to side, the button accordion swinging wildly.

This was a pivotal time in zydeco history because the pioneers of the genre were aging and the music was in jeopardy of dying off without the presence of emerging artists continuing the traditions. In a 1991 interview with Richard Landry of Bomb magazine, Simien said of his debut album: “I think we’ve done what we set out to do, and that is catch the energy of the live performance.”

Since then, Terrance and his band The Zydeco Experience have toured internationally, presenting more than 7,000 live performances in more than 40 countries. Terrance has shared studio and stage time with Paul Simon, Dr. John, The Meters, Marcia Ball, Dave Matthews, Stevie Wonder, Robert Palmer, and Los Lobos. He’s also contributed to soundtracks of multiple movies, two notable ones being The Big Easy and Disney’s The Princess & the Frog.

But don’t forget: It’s all about the energy of the live performance. Terrance & The Zydeco Experience are masters of getting everyone up and dancing – even me!

(Terrance Simien will also on Friday present a workshop at 7 p.m. and appear at BlueSKool at 4:45 p.m. For a 2013 River Cities’ Reader interview with Terrance Simien, visit

Karen McFarland

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