Blues Fest 2006: Friday, June 30, Bandshell Print
Music - Feature Stories
Tuesday, 27 June 2006 22:58

Juke Joint Sinners, 5p.m.

Juke Joint Sinners Congratulations to Juke Joint Sinners for winning the Iowa Blues Challenge on May 19. Juke Joint Sinners is a newly formed five-piece band composed of veteran musicians from the Quad Cities. Although the group as a whole is new, it's not the first time its members have played together. Their earlier projects together have been with some of the Quad Cities' top bands, including John Resch & the Detroit Blues, Shane Johnson's Blue Train, and The Mercury Brothers. Each of these previous bands has won the Iowa Blues Challenge in the past, and all the members of this band have made it to the finals of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. No small feat there! Guitar work for the band is handled by two of the area's very best players, Shane Johnson and the Mercury Brothers' Wade Braggs. Vocals and bass guitar are handled by Blue Train and Detroit Blues frontman John Resch. On drums is the powerful, "rock flavored" Daniel Rangel. And, finally, of harp player "Detroit Larry" Davison, a director of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society once remarked, "You'd have to go to Chicago to find a better harmonica player."

The band performs its own material and unique interpretations of contemporary and classic blues numbers with power and passion.

- Glenn Cotabish


Popa Chubby, 7 p.m.

Popa Chubby When I heard the news, I about fell out. Popa Chubby has been one of the best-kept secrets of the blues for quite some time, but now the diamond in the rough is about to become known to the rest. A few hardcores know about Chubby because he is an Elwood Blues favorite and has appeared on The House of Blues Radio Hour. Chubby has played in Des Moines, Chicago, and Wisconsin as of late, but about half the year he tours in Europe. Chubby says, "I have to be out there doing it. The heart and soul of the blues is to bring it to the people night after night."

I was turned on to Popa Chubby about 10 years ago, when my wife bought a birthday CD. The clerk at Co-Op Records thought a Stevie Ray Vaughan fan might like him and suggested Booty & the Beast. From the very first time in the player, I knew that Popa Chubby was a player. Hailing from New York City, Popa Chubby, a.k.a. Ted Horowitz, mixes the old with the new and blends numerous styles of music into an intense fusion of the blues. One might not think that mixing funk, rock, Latin, reggae, and hip-hop with the blues would work, but let me tell you: It does! Chubby creates a modern musical vision for the future of blues and blues rock.

After almost wearing out Booty & the Beast, I got How'd a White Boy Get the Blues? I was hesitant, because I hadn't heard the CD, but I gave it a try on the strength of the previous release. I was blown away. Chubby blends the past with the present and is a modern-day storytelling blues master.

What is great about Chubby is his respect for the past masters. Popa constantly pays tribute to the likes of Willie Dixon, Freddie King, Muddy Waters, BB, Stevie, etc. You've got to like that. Another fabulous part of Popa's work is his wife Galea's vocals. I don't know if she is coming with him to the Fest, but I sure hope so!

My next Chubby CD was The Good, the Bad, & the Chubby. Again, I heard a masterful blend of blues/rock fusion and wonderful storytelling. One of the best was "Somebody Let the Devil Out," a heartfelt story about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

If you don't see Popa Chubby at the Fest, I guarantee you that you will be missing something. You'll be missing one big bad dude cooking up a pot of some serious blues/rock fusion. I for one will be there with knife and fork; I am hungry for some serious live Popa Chubby!

- Steve Langhauser


Ronnie Baker Brooks, 9 p.m.

Ronnie Baker Brooks Ronnie Baker Brooks is Chicago blues at its best. Ronnie, son of the rocking-blues Alligator Records recording star Lonnie Brooks, first stepped onto stage at age nine, playing with Lonnie at Pepper's Lounge in Chicago. He joined his father's band full-time in 1986.

After more than a dozen years as a lead guitarist and bandleader for his living-blues-legend father, Ronnie Baker Brooks began making his own way to blue stardom. In 1992, he played his first solo gig at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He made the jump to permanent solo status New Year's Eve 1998 at Buddy Guy's in Chicago.

Ronnie Baker Brooks' soulful vocals and electrifying guitar reflect the influences of the many blues giants he has jammed with. Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Luther Allison, and Buddy Guy are a few. Ronnie's band consists of Daryl Coutts on keyboard, Carl Armstrong on bass, and drummer Maurice "Moe" Taylor, who has had many other musical affiliations, including with Lonnie Brooks, Buddy Guy, BB King, and Mavis Staples.

Ronnie Baker Brooks has released four CDs. His 1998 debut, Gold Digger, was followed by Take Me Witcha, Ronnie Baker Brooks Live, and his most recent release, The Torch. All the songs were written by Ronnie Baker Brooks, and all four CDs were produced by Jellybean Johnson and Ronnie Baker Brooks.

Ronnie says, "The importance of crossing cultural barriers is one of the most important lessons I've learned. I'm determined to keep the family legacy, to keep the blues alive."

- Ellen Clow


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Mavis Staples, 11 p.m.

Mavis Staples Soul and gospel legend Mavis Staples possesses one of the most recognizable and treasured voices in contemporary music. From her early days sharing lead vocals with her groundbreaking family group, The Staple Singers, to her powerful solo recordings, Mavis Staples is an inspirational force in modern popular culture and music.

Mavis is a 40-year-plus veteran of the music scene - a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee (2006) and one of VH1's "Greatest Women of Rock & Roll." Her voice has influenced artists from Bob Dylan to Prince (who dubbed her "the epitome of soul"), and she has appeared with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Cosby, Presidents Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, Santana, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Aretha Franklin, and many others.

Born in Chicago, Mavis began her career with her family group in 1950. Initially singing locally at churches and appearing on a weekly radio show, the Staples scored a hit in 1956 with "Uncloudy Day" for the VeeJay label. When Mavis graduated high school in 1957, the Staple Singers took their music on the road, including family patriarch Roebuck "Pops" Staples and Mavis' siblings Cleo, Yvonne, and Pervis.

The Staples evolved from enormously popular gospel singers to become the most spectacular and influential spiritually based group in America. By the mid-1960s, the Staple Singers became the spiritual and musical voices of the civil-rights movement.

Mavis Staples recorded her first solo album, Mavis Staples, in 1969. After releasing Only for the Lonely in 1970, she released a soundtrack album, A Piece of the Action, on Curtis Mayfield's Custom label. The Staple Singers hit the Top 40 eight times between 1971 and 1975. Now a long ways from their roots as a pure gospel group, the Staple Singers were bona fide pop stars.

A 1984 album (also self-titled) preceded two albums under the direction of Prince: 1989's Time Waits for No One, followed by 1993's The Voice, which People magazine named to its top-10 albums of the year.

During her career, Mavis has appeared in many films and television shows, including Soul Train and The Cosby Show. Her voice has been sampled by some of the biggest selling hip-hop artists, including Salt-N-Pepa, Ice Cube, and Ludacris. Mavis has recorded with a wide variety of musicians, including her close friend Bob Dylan, The Band, Ray Charles, Nona Hendryx, George Jones, Natalie Merchant, Ann Peebles, and Delbert McClinton. She has provided vocals on current albums by Los Lobos and Dr. John, and she appears on recent tribute albums to Johnny Paycheck, Stephen Foster, and Bob Dylan.

After Pops Staples died in 2000, Mavis and her siblings temporarily stepped out of the spotlight. However, she scored a 2003 Grammy nomination for her duet with Dylan, "Gotta Change My Way of Thinking." In 2004 she returned with Have a Little Faith on Alligator Records.

With Have a Little Faith, Mavis Staples is building on a family tradition of joining gospel fervor with shades of soul and R&B. Her importance in both the music world and as a driving force of social change makes her a true icon - an artist who continues to create music that will inspire a whole new generation of people to have faith in the healing and uplifting power of her remarkable gift.

- Ann Ring


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