Blues Fest 2009: Thursday, July 2, Bandshell Stage Print
Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
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Wednesday, 24 June 2009 06:00

Bob Dorr & the Blue BandBob Dorr & the Blue Band, 5 p.m.

The Blue Band turned 28 on June 10! As Bobby's Blue Band (a tongue-in-cheek play on blues icon Bobby Blue Bland), the group headlined at the first Blues Fest in LeClaire Park in 1985. For the 25th-anniversary IH Mississippi Valley Blues Fest, Bob Dorr & the Blue Band will kick off the festivities on Thursday, July 2. This band is guaranteed to have you up and dancing with their rockin' blues and soul tunes!

The outfit is led, of course, by founding member Bob Dorr on lead vocals and harmonica. (You've probably also heard him on the radio during his 30-year-plus career at KUNI). Jeff Petersen, the other remaining founding member, can be heard on his 1968 Gibson Flying V guitar, lap steel guitar, vocals, and songwriting. Longtime eastern-Iowa skins legend Steve "The Chief" Hayes has been the drummer since 2003, and sax man Heath Alan is starting his 11th year in the Blue Band horn section. The "new guys" are Davis Michaelsen, who took over playing bass in the fall of 2007, and "Uncle" Al Naylor on trumpet, who was a founding, 20-year member of the state's premier salsa band, Orquesta de Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz.

Bob Dorr & the Blue Band were inducted into the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Both Bob Dorr and Steve Hayes have also been inducted into Iowa's Blues Hall of Fame. From "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," "Drown in My Own Tears," "Yield Not to Temptation," "Not Fade Away," and "We're Havin' a Party" to originals such as "The Mojo & the Say-So," Bob Dorr & the Blue Band are the consummate eclectic group whose members know that "the blues had a baby and they named the baby rock and roll."

For more information on the band, visit - Karen McFarland


The Peña Brothers, 7 p.m.

It was June of 1985. I went to the Rock Island Brewing Company on a weekend night not knowing who was playing, but I was pretty sure they'd have a good band there. Instead of seeing a RIBCO employee at the gate of the outdoor concert, Dennis Hancq and Tracy Everaert were there asking for my money. Confused, I asked them what was going on, and they told me about this new not-for-profit organization they belonged to called the Mississippi Valley Blues Club. The gig that night was a fundraiser for a blues festival the club was planning to hold in LeClaire Park on the Fourth of July. I paid the cover charge and walked in to listen.

When the band started, I heard searing guitar licks like none I'd experienced before. It was the Peña Brothers. The Peñas were just one more reason I knew my Fourth of July had to include the first Mississippi Valley Blues Festival.

After John Peña returned from his tour with Luther Allison in 1985, he formed the band with his two brothers. At first they got their gigs at the Yankee Clipper playing top-40 covers, because that's what the crowds wanted. But it wasn't long before they decided to stick with the music they loved: the blues.

Joe Peña plays mostly guitar and supplies the bottom occasionally. John is usually the bass player but sometimes switches to lead guitar. The two furiously fast hands above the drum kit belong to Lyle Peña. The Peña Brothers say they can't wait to have some fun at this year's festival! They were there at the first one, and there's no better way to celebrate the silver anniversary of the IH Mississippi Valley Blues Festival than hearing the Peña Brothers. - Stan Furlong


Cobalt BlueCobalt Blue, 9 p.m.

Jason Stuart is the front man (guitar and vocals) and founder of Cobalt Blue Blues Band. His journey to the Midwest started in New York City with his father's old guitar. Working in music exchanges such as Manny's, Eddie Bell's, and Dan Armstrong's led him to various bands and artists. Time spent at the famous Apollo Theatre also added to the list of connections. Among these were the people at Universal Attractions, who had in their stable the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown. They liked what they heard well enough to ask Jason if he would like to tour with the legendary Chuck Berry. Of course, he accepted. When that tour was over, Jason did some touring of his own. One of his gigs happened to be in the birthplace of one of the Blues Brothers - Rock Island, Illinois. He has called it home ever since.

Jason has done tours with such names as Edgar Winter and Black Oak Arkansas. Then he caught the attention of the people with Soma Records. When Soma Records dissolved, Jason could be found anywhere from Carbondale to Chicago playing with the likes of Larry "Big Twist" Nolan, Mighty Joe Young, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, just to name a few.

In 1985, one of the founders of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society, Ross Haecker, asked Jason if he would like to put together a band to play the first Mississippi Valley Blues Fest. And boy-oh-boy did he ever put together a band - 11 pieces' worth. For the next three years Jason would gather musicians to play the Fest.

Space allows but a small portion of what there is to know about Jason and all of the performers he has worked with. Check out the Cobalt Blue MySpace page ( and read for yourself. You will be impressed. - John Downard


Roy RogersRoy Rogers & the Delta Rhythm Kings, 11 p.m.

Guitar Player magazine has said, "Many guitarists dabble in slide guitar, but the number of modern masters can probably counted on one hand - Roy Rogers is surely one of them." Roy Rogers was born July 28, 1950, in Redding, California. And yes, he was named after the cowboy Roy Rogers. Although Roy didn't play guitar until he was 12 years old, he was a quick learner. By age 13 he had a rock band together that played local venues. They patterned themselves after Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

That all ended when Roy heard his big brother's Robert Johnson album. That changed everything. In the early 1970s Roy joined up with harmonica player David Burgin. They put out one album, and they can be heard on the soundtrack for the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

By 1980, Roy had a band called the Delta Rhythm Kings. After they did a tour of Europe, Roy joined John Lee Hooker's Coast to Coast Band. Not only did he play slide guitar for Hooker, but he also produced albums for him - including Boom, Mr. Lucky, and the Grammy-winning The Healer.

Roy also has Grammy nominations for his own work, with harmonica virtuoso Norton Buffalo and for a song called "Song for Jessica." In all he has chalked up four Grammy nominations and two Grammy wins. Plus his album Slideways hit number three on Billboard's blues chart. His album Chops Not Chaps received a Blues Music Awards nomination, and in 2003 he was nominated for a Blues Music Award for Best Blues Guitarist.

Roy is a perfect fit for our "retro" night. He played the Fest in 1986 with John Lee Hooker. And then in 1987 he played with his band the Delta Rhythm Kings.

For more information on Rogers, visit - John Downard

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