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items tagged with Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

“God Loves It All” – Otis Clay: Sunday, July 3, 9:30 p.m., Tent Stage
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

2011-06-22 12:03:18

Is he soul? Is he blues? Is he gospel? Yes, and he has become an iconic figure in all those genres.” – Chicago Sun-Times

Otis Clay

“I’ve always been a bit open-minded about the music,” Otis Clay said in a recent phone interview. He recalled that when he first went professional, he performed a genre of music called jubilee that included show tunes alongside gospel. “In the ’60s we would be all up in the Catskills during the week, and do churches on Sunday. I had done secular even then. [But] I never left gospel. It was all mixed up in there.”

That genre-blending had begun even before Clay – who will receive the Mississippi Valley Blues Society RiverRoad Lifetime Achievement Award before his July 3 festival performance – started touring when he was 18. Born in Waxhaw, Mississippi, in 1942, Clay started singing in the church at four, but even then he was also getting a different music education. “My father was an entrepreneur – he always had a juke joint, and my mother was very religious. But ... for the Saturday-night fish fries, she would cook and sell sandwiches,” Clay said. There he would listen to John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf on the jukebox. He was seven years old when he experienced his first live concert: Muddy Waters in Clarksdale.


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Conquering the Fingerboard – The Lionel Young Band: Saturday, July 2, 4 p.m., Bandshell
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

2011-06-22 12:02:38

The Lionel Young Band

With his 2008 victory in the solo/duo division, and his six-man ensemble’s 2011 triumph in the band category, Lionel Young stands as the first double winner in the history of Memphis’ International Blues Challenge (IBC). Meanwhile, the reviews that he and his Lionel Young Band have amassed would seem to back up the IBC’s choices; Blues Blast Magazine wrote that the group “deserve[s] a place on your must-see list,” and American Blues News called Young himself “an entertainer’s entertainer.”

Yet even given his awards and plaudits, this Colorado-based musician – one of the genre’s few professional violinists – understands the importance of daily practice, and not just at the blues elements you might expect.

“Most people play loud and proud all the time,” says Young during a recent phone interview. “Especially in the blues. But in any music, just like in any conversation, dynamics play a very important part. You know, when people want you to pay attention to what they’re saying, they can either yell at you, or they can say something re-e-eally quiet. If you say something really quiet, people listen a lot harder.


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Call It a Comeback – Eric Gales: Friday, July 1, 7 p.m., Bandshell
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

2011-06-22 12:01:44

Eric Gales

You wouldn’t know it from his discography, but 2010’s Relentless marked a comeback for the blues-rock guitarist/singer/songwriter Eric Gales. The Story of My Life was released in April 2008, and its follow-up came this past July – a pretty standard interval in the music business.

But there’s a hint of his troubles on Relentless’ lead track, “Bad Lawbreaker,” on which he sings: “I’m a bad lawbreaker / Three strikes ain’t enough for me.”

In between those two albums, Gales served 21 months of a three-year sentence for violating the probation he received in 2006 for drug and gun charges. “I was smoking weed on the road and I didn’t want to risk them telling me to come home in the middle of the tour” because of a dirty urine sample, he said in a recent phone interview. “I just said to myself, ‘I’ll deal with it when I get home.’” So he turned himself in after the tour and was sent to prison. (He couldn’t play a guitar for his first six months of incarceration but – because of the intervention of a warden who knew who he was – eventually led a prison band.)


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Photos from the 2010 IH Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

2010-07-08 14:47:17

Images by photographers Steve France and Chris Jones from the 2010 IH Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, held July 2 through 4 in Davenport's LeClaire Park. Click on any photo for a larger version.

Caroline Shines:

Photo by Steve France


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Photos of Bo Ramsey at the Blues Fest
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2009-07-15 19:57:02

Images by photographer Chris Jones from Bo Ramsey's performance at the 2009 IH Mississippi Valley Blues Festival Click on any photo for a larger version.


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