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2014 Blues Fest: Obsessed with an Honest Genre – Jarekus Singleton (Saturday, July 5, 6 p.m., Tent) PDF Print E-mail
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:14

In an ideal world, Jarekus Singleton would probably still be playing basketball.

But performing at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in support of his Alligator debut – Refuse to Lose, released in April – ain’t half-bad, either.

Singleton grew up in a musical family, playing bass at his grandfather’s church starting at age nine. “It was a family thing at church,” the 29-year-old said in a recent phone interview. “I knew I was musically inclined, but I didn’t really know the significance of what I was doing. I was doing it to help the church out. ... Music was always the foundation of everything, because that was what our family leaned on.”

But Singleton loved basketball and pursued a pro career. After the 2006-7 college season, he was named the NAIA national player of the year, averaging 24.7 points and 6.3 assists per game for William Carey University. He then played professionally in Lebanon.

“Anything that I do, I kind of get obsessed with it,” he said. “I was really focused on basketball.”

2014 Blue Fest: Making His Mark – Roy Book Binder (Friday, July 4, 6 p.m., Tent) PDF Print E-mail
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:13

Roy Book Binder considers last year’s The Good Book to be his most important album. And he never thought it would happen.

“I didn’t really want to make any more records,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I didn’t want to do any more covers of [Mississippi] John Hurt and this one and that one. I figured, 70 years old coming up, why bother? ... I kept telling people, ‘When I write enough songs, I’m going to put out an album.’ I never thought I’d really do it.”

But, he said, there was another pull, the simple fact of getting older: “If I don’t make my mark soon, I ain’t ever going to make it.”

He said he had two good songs, and “I did a live album [2005’s Live at the Fur Peace Station] just to get them out before I died, you know?”

When people would ask about a new album, Binder said, he’d pay lip service to the idea: “I kept saying it would be out in the spring, but it never was. Then finally I said, ‘It’s really going to be out in the spring.’”

But when he returned home in the winter from his annual six-month trek around the country, his wife asked him how it was going. “I got out my notebooks and my pads,” he said, “and I had like three and a half songs written, plus the two that I put on the live album ... .” Then, during a visit to the Caribbean, “the songs came to me.”

The resulting record, he said, will likely be his legacy.

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.

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