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  • 2014 Blues Fest: Schedule, Ticket Info, Interviews, and Biographies PDF Print E-mail
    Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
    Written by Administrator   
    Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:19

    The River Cities’ Reader is proud to present the official guide to the 2014 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, taking place July 3 through 5 on Second Street between Main and Ripley streets in downtown Davenport.

    Here you’ll find the complete festival schedule, new interviews with six of the performers, older interviews with four additional artists, biographies (from the Mississippi Valley Blues Society) of all 27 acts, and more: ticket and general information, a letter from the Mississippi Valley Blues Society president, and biographies of workshop and BlueSKool presenters who won’t be performing on the Tent or Bandshell stages. You can also pick up a copy of the official blues-festival guide in the June 26 issue of River Cities’ Reader.

    More information and tickets are available at the Mississippi Valley Blues Society Web site.

     
    2014 Blues Fest: Breaking “Bad” – George Thorogood & The Destroyers (Friday, July 4, 11 p.m., Bandshell) PDF Print E-mail
    Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
    Written by Jeff Ignatius   
    Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:17

    George Thorogood’s parents encouraged him to pursue a music career, but to hear the guitarist/singer/songwriter tell it, they didn’t have much choice. They didn’t see any more-conventional options to point him toward – and they were just glad he wasn’t following in the tracks of his brothers.

    “My older brothers, they were real terrors,” Thorogood said in a recent phone interview. “They were like the Dennis Hoppers and the James Deans of the Delaware area on their motorcycles. ... My parents almost wept when I told them I wanted a guitar for a Christmas present. They were so pleased they couldn’t see straight. And once they saw me perform once or twice, they said, ‘This is what he’s destined to do. All he has to do is stay with it long enough to get good at it.’ And they also said this to me: ‘George, you can’t work.’ That’s true. I can’t. I’m not good at it. Could you imagine Tom Petty working in an accountant firm? ... Some people are cut out to do what it is they do.”

    And, Thorogood added, it wasn’t merely a hunch his parents had about him being a natural performer: “They didn’t think it. They knew it. ... You know your own children.”

    Of course, 40 years into the career of George Thorogood & The Destroyers, it’s more than clear Thorogood’s parents were right about their son.

     
    2014 Blues Fest: Blues Brother – Curtis Salgado (Saturday, July 5, 9 p.m., Bandshell) PDF Print E-mail
    Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
    Written by Mike Schulz   
    Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:16

    If you’re of my generation – the generation that, as grade-schoolers, used to stay up long after bedtime to watch the early years of Saturday Night Live – there may be two names you most associate with your early exposure to blues music: Jake and Elwood.

    Yet if you, too, became a fan of John Belushi’s and Dan Aykroyd’s famed Blues Brothers act through the duo’s SNL appearances, their 1978 album Briefcase Full of Blues, and their 1980 feature film, the one to thank for your youthful blues immersion shouldn’t be Jake or Elwood (or John or Dan). It should be Curtis.

    Described by Blues Revue magazine as “one of the most down-to-earth, soulful, honest singers ever,” and a harmonica player who is “rollicking, funky, and electrifying,” Curtis Salgado has been at the forefront of the blues scene for decades. Included among Salgado’s considerable credits are his many years of professional partnership alongside five-time Grammy-winner Robert Cray, his headlining of blues festivals from San Francisco to Thailand, and his 2010 and 2013 Blues Music Awards for Soul Blues Male Artist of the Yearthe latter of which Salgado received after successfully battling lung cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2012.

    Check out the liner notes for Briefcase Full of Blues, though, and you’ll see that Salgado is also the man that the album is dedicated to, making him the de facto reason many of us knew the lyrics to “Soul Man” before entering high school. (Also check out the name of Cab Calloway’s character in 1980’s The Blues Brothers movie. It’s Curtis.)

    “Belushi told me that Aykroyd was trying to get him into the blues, but he wasn’t biting,” says Salgado during our recent phone interview. “And then when he saw me, he got it.”

     
    2014 Blues Fest: The Sibling Ring – The Westbrook Singers (Sunday, July 5, 3 p.m., Tent) PDF Print E-mail
    Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
    Written by Mike Schulz   
    Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:15

    If you’re one of your parents’ 11 children and are looking for something rewarding and fun to do with your 10 brothers and sisters, there are actually a number of options to choose from. You could, for example, form a football team. Or a soccer team. Or a field-hockey team.

    Or, you could do what the children of East Moline’s Charles and Barbara Westbrook did: You could form your own band.

    “We did all of it,” says Delores Westbrook-Tingle of her and her siblings’ ensemble the Westbrook Singers, who began performing together in 1975. “I mean, some of us just played instruments – we had a couple of drummers, keyboard players, a guitar, a bass guitar ... . So when we actually started, all 11 of us, we had all our musicians and the vocalists, as well.” She laughs. “We were pretty much self-contained.”

    Nowadays, however, the official number of full-time Westbrook Singers stops at four; after seven performers either moved from the area or retired from the group, the current lineup consists of Delores, brother Gary, and sisters Brenda Westbrook-Lee and Cynthia Westbrook-Bryson. Yet given the gospel quartet’s smooth, stirring vocals and harmonies that clearly come from lifetimes of practice together, no one who has heard the group in its numerous concert and festival sets, CDs, or televised specials for the Quad Cities TV station WQPT could argue that they’re getting only four-11ths of a great thing.

     
    2014 Blues Fest: Obsessed with an Honest Genre – Jarekus Singleton (Saturday, July 5, 6 p.m., Tent) PDF Print E-mail
    Music - 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
    Music - 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
    Music - 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 MargaretCMurphy.com, 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
    Music - 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
    Music - 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
    Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
    Written by Administrator   
    Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:09

    Dexter Allen, 3 p.m.

    DexterAllen.com

    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
    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.

     
    2014 Blues Fest: Saturday, July 4, Bandshell Bios PDF Print E-mail
    Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
    Written by Administrator   
    Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:07

    Little Bobby Houle, 3 p.m.

    Bobby Houle makes his home in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. He is a third-generation musician who was born on Red Lake Reservation and eventually followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Robert “Bashful Bob” Houle – a member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame and National Rockabilly Hall of Fame – and father, Robert Houle Jr.

    A self-taught musician like his elders, Bobby began playing guitar in high school. He wasn’t exactly following in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps of country music. Bobby said, “I don’t know how I fell into the blues, but once I did I was hooked on it. I love playing the blues, because each performance will be different from the previous performance.”

    In 2005 Little Bobby released his first CD, Before the Storm. Later that year he landed a spot on the Last Ride Blues Festival in his hometown, and Buddy Guy was the headliner. What a way to kick off a blues career!

     
    2014 Blues Fest: Saturday, July 5, Tent Bios PDF Print E-mail
    Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
    Written by Administrator   
    Thursday, 26 June 2014 06:06

    The Westbrook Singers, 3 p.m.

    TheWestbrookSingers.com

    The Westbrook Singers are an extraordinary family group that is committed to spreading God’s message through music – in a style that is both contemporary and traditional. The origin of this seasoned group dates back to the mid-’70s, when 11 siblings came together to complement a ministry that began with their father some 20 years earlier. Thus, the children of Bishop Charles B. and Barbara Westbrook came to be known as The Original Westbrook Singers.

    Over the years, the group has changed in its makeup but not in its focus. Today, only four of the siblings continue in performance roles, though appearances by other siblings are not rare. They are Brenda Westbrook-Lee, Delores Westbrook-Tingle, Gary Westbrook, and Cynthia Westbrook-Bryson.

     
    Photos from the 2013 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, July 4-6 in Downtown Davenport PDF Print E-mail
    Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
    Written by Matt Erickson and Steve France   
    Tuesday, 09 July 2013 20:45

    Photos from the 2013 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, held July 4 through 6 in downtown Davenport.

    Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Photo by Matt Erickson, MRE-Photography.com

    Mighty Sam McClain. Photo by Matt Erickson, MRE-Photography.com

     
    Complete 2013 Blues Fest Coverage: Schedule, Ticket Info, President's Welcome, and More! PDF Print E-mail
    Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
    Written by Administrator   
    Thursday, 27 June 2013 06:00

    After the River Cities’ Reader’s official guide to the 2013 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival went to press, the Mississippi Valley Blues Society announced that the festival was being moved from LeClaire Park to Second Street in downtown Davenport because of flooding:

    Mississippi Valley Blues Festival organizers have finalized the site for the July 4-6 event in downtown Davenport. The 29th Mississippi Valley Blues Festival will take place on Second Street. Bandshell acts will perform on an east-facing stage near Ripley Street. Tent Stage acts will perform in the courtyard area just east of the River Music Experience at Second and Main. BlueSKool will be held on the River Music Experience’s Community Stage, and workshops and the photo exhibit will be held in the River Music Experience’s upstairs Exhibit Hall.

     
    2013 Blues Fest – Playing It by Ear: Kenny Wayne Shepherd (Saturday, July 6, 11 p.m., Bandshell) PDF Print E-mail
    Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
    Written by Mike Schulz   
    Thursday, 27 June 2013 05:59

    If you’re an amateur guitarist hoping to turn pro, particularly one with an affinity for blues rock, you could certainly choose lesser talents to emulate than Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The 37-year-old musician, after all, has been already nominated for five Grammy Awards, has won two Blues Music Awards and two Billboard Music Awards, and was once named the world’s third-finest blues guitarist by Guitar World magazine, with only B.B. King and Eric Clapton ranking higher.

    If, however, you’re an amateur guitarist who feels that the world of professional music will forever be out of reach due to your inability to actually read music, don’t let that dissuade you from following your dream. It turns out that Kenny Wayne Shepherd doesn’t read music, either.

    “Yeah, I still play by ear,” says Shepherd, who unofficially began his career as a self-taught guitarist at the tender age of seven. “I used to have to sound songs out one note at a time until I got from the beginning to the end of it. It was kind of a tedious process in the beginning, but you know, it’s gotten easier over the years. Modern technology is a big help now, because I can just record things on my iPhone, but yeah – I just play what sounds good, and then I just have to remember it.”

     
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