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2014 Blues Fest: Watch What Happens – Margaret Murphy-Webb (Friday, July 4, 4:30 p.m., Tent) PDF Print E-mail
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:12

It’s about 15 minutes into my phone conversation with jazz vocalist Margaret Murphy-Webb. She’s energetic and engaging and boasts an infectious laugh, and every once in a while she calls me “baby,” which I like a lot. And then, knowing that the artist is pursuing a music degree at Chicago State University after nearly 30 years of performance, I ask her if, because of tuition and other costs, she has to supplement her income with any additional jobs.

“Oh, baby, you don’t know!” she exclaims. “I’m a Chicago police officer! August 1 will be my 20th year!”

I actually did not know this (nor, for the record, would any other visitors to, where that information is noticeably absent). I apologize for my ignorance and ask if it’s cool to mention her career in print, and she says, “Oh yeah! I just assume people know, but I try not to tell people. That’s dirty laundry.” She laughs. “But they don’t boo me when they know I’m a police officer!”

Of course, I’m betting that the musician doesn’t ever deal with booing, given her gorgeous phrasing and vocals, and her presence that the late, great jazz saxophonist (and Murphy-Webb’s former mentor) Von Freeman said “reminds you of Betty [Carter] and Billie [Holiday] in that, from the moment she steps onto the stage, she has the audience enraptured.”

2014 Blues Fest: Thursday, July 3, Bandshell Bios PDF Print E-mail
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:11

The Johnny Kilowatt Band with Gloria Hardiman, 5 p.m.

We have a great opener for the 30th-annual Mississippi Valley Blues Festival! The Johnny Kilowatt Band featuring Gloria Hardiman will get your blues blood pumping!

Jon Klinkowitz, a two-decade veteran of the Iowa blues scene, is the frontman and guitarist for the Johnny Kilowatt Band from Iowa City.

Klinkowitz was a founding member of the Blues Instigators and played with the group from 1990 to 1995, during which time the band won the University of Iowa RiverFest Battle of the Bands (in 1994) and the inaugural Iowa Blues Challenge (in 1995). The band backed Bo Diddley in 1993 and played the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in 1993 and the Iowa City Jazz Festival in 1995. During Klinkowitz’s tenure, the band opened for Lonnie Brooks and Rod Piazza at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago and appeared on the syndicated television show Chicago Blues Jam. Klinkowitz formed the Johnny Kilowatt Band in the late 1990s; other members include fellow Blues Instigators alumnus Ed English on bass, Tim Crumley on drums, Bill Peterson on keyboards, and veteran jazz musician Saul Lubaroff on sax.

2014 Blues Fest: Thursday, July 3, Tent Bios PDF Print E-mail
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:10

The Mercury Brothers, 6 p.m.

Congratulations to the Mercury Brothers for winning the 2014 Iowa Blues Challenge! The Quad Cities band first beat out the competition in a local round and then in the final round in Des Moines for the opportunity to represent the entire state of Iowa at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next January. This band is tight and professional, and includes some of the best musicians in the Midwest.

Make sure you bring your dancing shoes for this set by the best band in Iowa! The Mercury Brothers play original blues, R&B, soul, and roots music as well as covers that sound like their own. They pull from deep repertoire of artists from the Blasters to The “5” Royales.

2014 Blues Fest: Friday, July 4, Bandshell Bios PDF Print E-mail
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:09

Dexter Allen, 3 p.m.

I had the luxury of seeing Dexter Allen for the first time in 2011, at the Windy City’s blues festival. I heard an amazing musician! Someone turned to me and said, “That’s Dexter Allen, the Blues Man from Mississippi.” Dexter was born in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, the son of a preacher. His grandpa was a deacon. Dexter began playing guitar at the age of 10, and thumping the bass at the age of 12.

2014 Blues Fest: Friday, July 4, Tent Bios PDF Print E-mail
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.

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