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Sunday, July 3, Tent PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by No Author   
Tuesday, 28 June 2005 18:00
Daniel Burnside – 2 p.m. Opening on the tent stage at 2 p.m. on Sunday will be Blue Grass, Iowa’s own Daniel Burnside. Originally from Como, Mississippi, Daniel is the son of legendary bluesman R. L. Burnside. The sixth of 13 children, Daniel took full advantage of his musical environment by joining his father’s band, The Sound Machine, at the age of 15. By the time he was 18, he had accompanied his father at such prestigious gigs as the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, and even toured Europe. On dates or recordings from that period, Daniel could be heard either laying down a solid beat on the bass or adding to the infectious rhythm on guitar. Their style was, and still is, pure Hill Country Juke Joint Blues.

Accompanying Dan Sunday will be bassist Ernie Snow and veteran Quad Cities drummer Jim Van Hyfte. As an added bonus, MVBS member and Iowa Blues Challenge winner Hal Reed is scheduled to sit in on a few numbers on vocals and harp.

All in all it promises to be a lot of music in a short set, so come on down to the Valley early and Daniel Burnside and his band will take you to the hills... Mississippi Hills that is.

– Bob Covemaker

David Evans & Joe Filisko – 4 p.m.

David Evans began performing in 1962. His interest in folk music soon led him to the country blues. He went on to become a well known blues scholar. His books, Tommy Johnson and Big Road Blues, are based on field research he conducted while pursuing an academic career that led him to a Ph.D. in 1976. He joined the faculty at the University of Memphis in 1978.

He continued performing, writing, and teaching. He also produced recordings of various artists in and around Memphis. His music reflects his dedication to the country blues and his mastery of subtleties of the idiom. He appeared at the MVBS fest in 1999 with the Last Chance Jug Band.

His partner this trip, Joe Filisko, also took a circuitous route to our fest. He began by studying metalworking, found he could also study guitar, and fell from there into harmonica. An interest in pre-World War II harmonica styles led to an interest in the harmonicas used on those early recordings. (Or was it the other way ’round?) Soon, he was learning to create Marine Band Harmonicas of the ’30s, which brought him the reputation as the guy doing harmonica customization. And along the way, he became an instructor at the Old Town School of Folk Music. And he played with various ensembles in the Chicago area.

We are lucky to have this pair at our fest. They are also scheduled in the Sunday workshops – David Evans at 1 p.m. and Joe Filisko at 2:30 p.m.. Their route to our fest might not have been the one most traveled by, but they’re more than worth the trip.

– Bill Schaumburg

Roosevelt Dean – 5:30 p.m.

Looks like we may never know if Roosevelt Dean was actually born in Georgia or in Alabama or whether he is 53 or 63 years old, depending upon who’s doing the talking. But, we know one thing: He sure can play and sing the blues! Rosie (as his friends call him) is living his dream in his second career as a bluesman fronting his own band. After working for 30 years at Syracuse China, he retired and began to do seriously what he’d started to do some 10 years earlier – perform and record the blues in his adopted city of Syracuse, New York.

Rosie can wail out all the classic blues songs. Most of his performances are of his own compositions, showing his diversity as they vary from his favorite sound of Chicago blues to R&B to Delta blues. While earlier in his music career he drifted from soul to R&B, Rosie is now firmly entrenched in the blues. With his voice, it’s a natural marriage! His guitar and harmonica playing really get the crowds moving, and his rich voice reaches their souls.

Roosevelt attributes his love of the blues to growing up in the South and listening to live blues from a neighboring club, visited by the likes of Muddy Waters, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and B.B. King.

Rosie was nominated for a W.C. Handy Award in 1992. He has also received several awards as Best Blues Group from the prestigious Sammy Awards Association.

Be sure to see “The Man,” “The Legend,” and “The Voice of Syracuse” on the Tent Stage on Sunday.

– Phil Koehlhoeffer

Douglas Ewart & the Inventions – 7:30 p.m.

Ever wonder why anyone would name his or her band “Inventions”? In Douglas Ewart’s case it’s because he is an inventor. He invents musical instruments and new music that can be heard in his band.

Douglas Ewart was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1946. At the age of six he began experimenting with sound, making rattles out of pieces of wood, hand drums out of tin cans, and flutes out of bamboo. In 1963, at the age of 18, Douglas immigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago. While studying tailoring at a vocational school, he developed skills in making costumes.

After being fascinated by the new music he heard at Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) concerts, Douglas began studying theory, composition, saxophone, and clarinet under Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarmon at the AACM School of Music. Over a period of time, Douglas mastered most of the wind instruments: saxophone, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, and flute.

As Douglas became a master himself he began using his skills as a teacher. In his workshops, Douglas often guides his students in building and learning how to play flutes, whistles, shakers, and other instruments. Douglas has been on the staff of the AACM School of Music since 1977. Douglas served as AACM president from 1979 to 1986 and was re-elected in 2004.

The Inventions roster consists of Douglas Ewart, Edward Wilkerson, Mwata Bowden, and Wallace McMillan on reeds, Jeff Parker on guitar, Darius Savage on bass, Dushun Mosley on drums, and Dee Alexander and Mankwe Ndose on vocals.

Douglas Ewart will also conduct a BlueSKool workshop on Sunday at 3:45 p.m.

– Jimmie Jones

Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women

No doubt, most of you know Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women from previous MVBS festivals. The entertainment committee just couldn’t resist having them back for our 21st year.

Saffire is a group of middle-aged women with an attitude. In their case an attitude is a good thing to have, because it shows in all of their songs. They have seven CDs out now, and every time I go to the record store, I look to see if there are more. Just the names of the albums are enough to make most of us take notice: Hot Flash, Cleaning House, Broad Casting, and their latest, Ain’t Gonna Hush!

Ann Rabson, along with Gaye Adegbalola, founded Saffire in 1984. Ann was born in New York and grew up in Ohio. By the age of 18 she was playing guitar professionally. Somewhere along the way she learned to play a mean, boogie-woogie-style piano and performed full-time until she needed to put her daughter through college. Then she took a job as a computer analyst but still played at night. The day her daughter graduated from college was the day Ann quit that day job and returned to music full-time. Last year she did a week-long blues residency for MVBS, one night playing her keyboard on two beer kegs because they were the right height and steady!

Gaye grew up in Virginia. She played the flute in high school, became a biochemical researcher, a bacteriologist, and later an eighth-grade teacher. She was honored as the Virginia Teacher of the Year in 1982. Along with her dad she worked with an experimental theatre arts group and was active in the Black Power movement. After hounding Ann Rabson for years, she finally convinced her to teach her how to play the guitar. The result was the formation of Saffire. She has a son, Juno, and together they play “industrial blues” and call themselves Black Mama Black Son. Gaye is smart and outspoken, her own person and an absolute delight.

Andra Faye McIntosh is from Indianapolis. She has been playing music since the sixth grade and now plays fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and the latest addition, acoustic bass. She was pursing a degree in nursing, but Ann and Gaye asked her to sit in on a recording session and in 1992 she joined the group. She is younger than the other two ladies but that doesn’t mean she is any less of a performer. She lends sort of a country feeling to the group and contributes to making Saffire a classy blues band.

We are delighted to have Saffire again this year. They draw huge crowds, so if you want to see them, you had better plan ahead. There will be standing room only in the tent as Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women close out Fest 2005. Don’t miss it!

Katherine Griffen
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