Here is the scheduled line-up for the 2017 Kalamazoo Blues Festival, held at the Wings Event Center.
Friday, July 14 Big Trouble /wsg Kalamazoo Blues Women Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers Dana Fuchs Band Joe Louis Walker Robben Ford & Supersonic Blues Machine
Saturday, July 15 Hunt N Gator Crossroads the Resurrection Martila Sanders & Gee-Q The Ries Brothers Shawn Holt & The Teardrops Carolyn Wonderland Sugaray Rayford The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson
Sunday, July 16 Out of Favor Boys Kevin Nichols & Blue Tuesday Toronzo Cannon Alexis P Suter Band Bobby Rush
Formed in 2009, Kalamazoo band Big Trouble has been playing to diverse audiences in S.W. Michigan, performing at festivals, clubs, fundraisers and special events. Big Trouble can also include large venue performances at the Kalamazoo State Theatre in their resume and also the Kalamazoo Rib Fest where they won the “Rock the Vote” competition to open the show for Blue Oyster Cult. As host band for several local blues jams, they are paying their dues and keeping the blues alive. This six piece band specializes in “up on your feet”, Rockin’ Blues, Funk and Soul covers. Dana Scott-lead vocals & guitar, Mike Barker-bass guitar, Jay Hunt-sax, Joe Garcia-drums, John Hodgkinson-guitar/vocals, Mike Muszynski-guitar/vocals.
The Kalamazoo Blues Women – Lynny K, Bluesy Suzy, and Lil Mo – will be joining Dana Scott of Big Trouble on the Kalamazoo Blues Festival stage.
Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hell Raisers
“He has no competition in his genre, he’s the Jimmy Hendrix of the accordion.”
–Rolling Stone Magazine
“America’s Hottest Accordion” winner, Dwayne Dopsie plays a unique, high energy style of zydeco. Dwayne hails from one of the most influential Zydeco families in the world. Although inspired by family tradition, he has developed his own high energy style that defies existing stereotypes and blazes a refreshingly distinct path for 21st century Zydeco music. Dwayne Dopsie and his Hellraisers have performed in 20 different countries and in hundreds of cities. As a testament to the energy and power of their music, nominations for a Grammy award came in 2007; and Dwayne has received nominations for the last 7 years for best accordion and artist from Off Beat Magazine Awards. As recently as September 2016, he was on the Louisiana Rising Benefit Concert bill with Harry Connick Jr. and Randy Jackson, performing the song Rollercoaster for flood victims; Rollercoaster will be included on the soon-to-be-released new CD. Let the Dopsie Mania ensue!
Hailed as the new Janis Joplin, even before she played the legendary rock icon in an off-Broadway musical, Dana Fuchs is a raspy-voiced blues-rock singer/songwriter whose versatile career has embraced music, theater, and film. Born in New Jersey in 1976, she later moved to the small rural town of Wildwood, Florida with her musically oriented family, where, at age 12, she began singing in the First Baptist Gospel Choir. Inspired by her parents’ Ray Charles and Hank Williams record collection, she moved to New York to sing the blues after leaving high school where she teamed up with Jon Diamond, a seasoned guitarist who had previously performed with Joan Osborne. Together, they formed the Dana Fuchs Band, which built up a reputation as one of the best live acts on the NYC blues circuit. This led to Fuchs landing the lead role in the production of the Janis Joplin-inspired musical, “Love Janis.”
In 2003, the band released Lonely for a Lifetime, through Antler King Records, but Fuchs put the band on hold until 2008 in order to concentrate on other commitments. She starred as Sadie in Julie Taymor’s 2007 Beatles-based musical romantic drama Across the Universe, singing two solos (“Helter Skelter” and “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road”), made a brief cameo in the 2008 ensemble piece New York, I Love You, and wrote and performed on the soundtrack to the Maggie Gyllenhaal movie Sherrybaby. After the 2008 CD Live in NYC, recorded at B.B. King’s, she toured with Ray Davies and Dickey Betts before releasing her second studio album, Love to Beg, via her own label in 2011. Bliss Avenue followed in 2013, and a compilation of live recordings aptly titled Songs from the Road came out in 2014. Contemporary. Singer. Songwriter. Blues-Rock. Entertainer.
Joe Louis Walker
Throughout his lengthy career, JLW is recognized as one of the leading lights on the blues scene, having performed and recorded with artists ranging from the likes of B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and countless other well-known and legendary names to include: Branford Marsalis, James Cotton, Tower of Power, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Ike Turner and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Joe is one of the greatest bluesmen of his generation. He is a four-time Blues Music Award winner and 2013 Blues Hall of Fame inductee. He has appeared on multiple Grammy-winning albums, and he has released 23 solo albums over the last 30 years of his own. Being in the music business since 1964, he is known worldwide as one of the genre’s top musical trailblazers—a mesmerizing guitarist and soul-testifying vocalist.
With his deeply expressive lyrics, Walker is an artist that continues to write and sing about themes that are universal. NPR Music has called Walker “a legendary boundary-pushing icon of modern blues,” and he is already being referred to within the blues world as a living legend. However, at this stage of his life, Walker profoundly shares, “I’d really like to inspire younger musicians to carry on the legacy of blues/roots music. But play, and do it your way. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. There’s no right, or wrong way. Just the way you wanna express yourself. And above all, ENJOY YOURSELF.”
Supersonic Blues Machine / wsg: Robben Ford
Supersonic Blues Machine have the form of a supergroup, but only their drummer, Kenny Aronoff, is well known. The other two members — bassist/producer Fabrizio Grossi and guitarist/vocalist Lance Lopez — are behind-the-scenes musicians but they’re all united by a love of classic blues and classic rock. With a wide ranging pedigree from Steve Vai to Tina Arena, Nina Hagen to Alice Cooper as well as Glenn Hughes, Dave Navarro, George Clinton, Joe Bonamassa, Leslie West, Zakk Wylde, Ice T, Slash, Paul Stanley, John Mellencamp, Smashing Pumpkins, Meat Loaf, Brandon Flowers, John Fogerty, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Joe Cocker amongst a host of others, their collaboration is a fusion of strong and diverse musical traditions, that hold on to the central themes of classic blues and rock].
Special guest Robben Ford joins the Blues Machine on this tour. He is one of the premier electric guitarists today, particularly known for his blues playing, as well as his ability to be comfortable in a variety of musical contexts. He was named one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century” by Musician magazine. A five-time Grammy nominee, he has played with artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Witherspoon, Charlie Musselwhite, Miles Davis, Sonny Landreth, George Harrison, Phil Lesh, Bonnie Raitt, Michael McDonald, Bob Dylan, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Greg Allman, John Scofield, Susan Tedeschi, Keb Mo, Larry Carlton, Mavis Staples, Brad Paisley, and many others.
Hunt ‘n Gator
Dave Hunt and Dave ‘Gator’ Allemang have each played blues for 30+ years in Kalamazoo Michigan. Each of them have led separate bands and have each competed in the IBC in with their own bands on several occasions. These friendly rivals formed an acoustic duo in 2014 to much acclaim going on to win the solo/due category in the Kalamazoo blues challenge in 2014 and 2016. They were warmly received at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN and, in 2017, played all the way up to and including the semi-final round. “After all these years playing in a band, returning to acoustic roots is a challenging and exciting endeavor,” says Dave. (We’ll let you guess which Dave said it!)
Crossroads Resurrection is one of the definers of the Kalamazoo sound. Their unique, funky blend of blues, soul and swamp grooves, and their engaging stage show, has been winning awards and entertaining Michigan audiences for years. The band started out hosting a jam in Kalamazoo which became a huge attraction for some of the best players in the area. From this musical melting pot, this superb group was forged. The lineup consists of the big vocals and smooth sax playing of front man Eddie Lester, the stellar guitar and vocals of Dave Allemang, and the solid rhythm section of Ronnie “Coach” Parker on bass and Jeff Fernandez on drums.
Martila Sanders & Gee-Q
Martila Sanders & Gee-Q is the product of a decade long evolution of one artist’s heart and a collective vision. Rooted in traditional blues and 70s era Motown funk, Martila and Gee-Q bring to life their own flavor of modern day blues and soul with a huge sound and unique chemistry. Behind the spectacular voice and sparkling personality of Martila Sanders lies a family of musicians with professional relationships spanning over three decades. The songwriting and collaboration process reaches for inspiration from the masters of the past, as well the hearts and souls of the players to create their own signature brand, coming to be well known as lower Michigan Power Blues, offering equal amounts of mojo for both the dance floor and the soul.
The Ries Brothers
The Ries Brothers (pronounced ”Rees”), a duo from Tampa Bay, FL, blend rock, blues, funk, and reggae into a soulful-sophisticated sound. Older brother Charlie sings lead vocals while simultaneously playing drums and keyboard bass giving the band its unique and full sound. Younger brother Kevin Jordan completes the band’s “sonic creativity” on guitar, provides background vocals and co-writes many of their songs. They have twice toured nationally as the opening act for the iconic band CHICAGO. Their first 10 city tour with CHICAGO included a performance at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Last year they did a 15 city tour opening for the late Butch Trucks (Allman Brothers) & The Freight Train Band.
Shawn Holt & The Teardrops
Shawn Holt is the son of Blues Legend Magic Slim. The high energy, hard-driving sound of The Teardrops is still alive and well and, if you like what Magic Slim and The Teardrops have been doing for the last 35 years, you can continue to enjoy that unique sound and energy with Shawn Holt – a chip off the old block – fronting his dad’s band. Shawn started playing the blues at the age of 17, when he went on the road with his father and Uncle Nick Holt and The Teardrops. Shortly after that tour with his father, Shawn realized his genetic destiny (all the Holt’s are talented musicians) and formed his own band. He has been watching, learning and playing blues ever since. Shawn Holt and The Teardrops are winners for Best New Artist Debut – Daddy Told Me by the Blues Foundation (BMA) 2014.
A musical force equipped with the soulful vocals of Janis and the guitar slinging skills of Stevie Ray, Carolyn Wonderland reaches into the depths of the Texas blues tradition with the wit of a poet. She hits the stage with unmatched presence, a true legend in her time. Living in Austin renewed Carolyn Wonderland’s focus on her multiple talents, underlining luxurious vocals with fine guitar work, trumpet, and piano, as well as that remarkable ability to whistle on key. A series of each-better-than-the-next discs began with Alcohol & Salvation in 2003 (“songs about booze and God; records are a time capsule of what happened that year”). Her music played in television series such as Time of Your Life and Homicide. Veteran players Kevin Lance on drums, and Bobby Perkins on bass, round out this Texas-blues power trio. Hold on to your hats!
Sugaray Rayford Band
Sugaray has fronted his own band since 2010, called the Sugaray Rayford Band. This band is currently made up of world-class musicians who tour extensively internationally. Ralph Carter on bass who is also Suga’s writing partner, Gino Matteo on guitar, Drake Munkihaid Shining on keyboards, Lavell Jones on drums, Allan Walker on sax, George Pandas on trumpet. Currently Allen Markel is substituting for Ralph on bass until Ralph can return. Leo Dombecki also joins in on 2nd keyboard and sax on select gigs. Jade Bennett also performs back up vocals on many projects. Sugaray Rayford is nominated for the prestigious BB King Entertainer award for the 38th Blues Music Awards! He is also nominated for Contemporary Blues Male Artist.
“There are concerts, and there are parties. West Coast blues man Sugaray Rayford made it clear from jump on Saturday night that he prefers the latter.” — Tad Dickens | The Roanoke Times
The Fabulous Thunderbirds /w Kim Wilson
For over 30 years, The Fabulous Thunderbirds have been the quintessential American band. The group’s distinctive and powerful sound, influenced by a diversity of musical styles, manifested itself into a unique musical hybrid via such barnburners as Tuff Enuff and Wrap It Up. Co-founder Kim Wilson, the sole original member, still spearheads the group as it evolves into its newest incarnation. “We started as a straight blues band,” vocalist and harmonica player Wilson says. “We now incorporate a mixture of a lot of different styles. We’re an American music band and we’re much higher energy than we were before.” In addition to Wilson, the current Thunderbirds line-up features Jay Moeller on drums, Johnny Moeller and Mike Keller on guitar, and Randy Bermudes on bass.
“It was the sort of sound that brings me to my Arkansas and Mississippi Delta roots; blues that dig deep into the soul and touches me with multiple levels of instrumental vibrations and cerebral musings as the lyrics tell a story, as only the blues can tell it.” – Robert Kelly-Goss |The Daily Advance
Sunday Bands 2017
Out of Favor Boys
Originally conceived in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2003, the Out of Favor Boys have evolved into a blues staple in Southwest Michigan. From its very beginning until the fall of 2014, OFB hosted a number of blues jams in and around Kalamazoo, including Wonderful’s Funky Basement, Boomerang’s, the Lamplighter, and The 411 Club. These guys sure know how to get the party started and will prove that by opening the Sunday installment of Kalamazoo Blues Festival. Currently putting the finishing touches on their 5th album consisting of all original material, the band showcases the talents of Danny Ouellette (guitar/volcals), Joel Krauss (guitar/vocals), Tony Sproul (sax/vocals), Tim Brouhard (bass), and Tommy Ufkes (drums).
Kev Nichols & Blue Tuesday
If you’re looking for great live music that you’ll feel from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, look no further than this always exciting band: Kev Nichols & Blue Tuesday. Born out of some casual Tuesday night jam sessions in the basement studio of singer/songwriter Kev Nichols, this band of seasoned musical veterans is ready to give your ears a heaping helping of musical goodness. Your feet will tap, your hands will clap, and you’ll be moving to the music before you know it. Kev Nichols – Guitar & Vocals; Mike Crupi – Guitar, Harp, Keys, Sax, Lap Steel, Guitar; Heather Kulaga – Bass; and Rex Hambone – Drums.
“Deep, contemporary Chicago blues…razor-sharp guitar and compelling, forceful singing” – The Chicago Tribune Cannon’s unofficial launch from local hero to national star took place on June 13, 2015 at the world-renowned Chicago Blues Festival where he performed as a festival headliner for the massive crowd. After announcing that he had just signed with Alligator Records, he delivered a riveting set, instantly earning tens of thousands of new fans.From 1996 through 2002, Cannon played as a sideman for Tommy McCracken, Wayne Baker Brooks, L.V. Banks and Joanna Connor, but he was determined to prove himself. In 2001, while continuing to work as a hired-gun guitarist, he formed his own band, The Cannonball Express. By 2003, he was working exclusively as a band leader.
Cannon’s first three albums — 2007’s My Woman (self-released), 2011’s Leaving Mood (Delmark) and 2013’s Blues Music Award-nominated John The Conqueror Root (Delmark) — document his rise from promising up-and-comer to star-in-the-making. With the release of BMA nominated The Chicago Way and a tour schedule that will take him coast to coast and around the globe, it’s only a matter of time until the rest of the world figures out what his hometown already knows: Toronzo Cannon is the real deal. His 2017 nominations for Contemporary Blues Artist BMA, and The Chicago Way for both Album and Contemporary Blues Album, and of Walk it Off as song of the year, show that paying the dues has rewards.
Alexis P. Suter
Alexis and her band have been the opening act for the following artists: Bo Diddley, Dickey Bets, BB King, Coco Montoya, Etta James, Buddy Guy, Allen Touissaint, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Winter, Elvis Costello and for the 20 year reunion of the Muddy Waters Band. She has been a guest on the “Imus in the Morning Show” and the “Artie Lange Show” in addition to being a featured artist in over 50 Blues and Roots festivals nationwide. “Alexis P. Suter has a big voice and knows how to use it. Whether singing about spiritual ecstasy or earthly troubles, her booming contralto, seasoned with raw emotion make every song she performs her own. ” – Kay Cordt | Blues Revue Magazine APSB are a powerful and unique 5 piece ensemble who artfully blend the lines between blues, soul and rock music. Alexis’ voice ranges from a pained passion to explosive and soul baring. Her band is also on fire, manned by the power trio of Bennett, Bennett and Grappone. Jimmy Bennett is a guitar phenomenon with a fierce and ferocious tone. Drummer Ray Grappone and Peter Bennett on bass lay down the groove like a heavy duty Rhythm and Blues machine. Along with the trio is the very talented backing vocalist Vicki Bell.
Bobby Rush is the greatest bluesman currently performing – period. His latest CD, Porcupine Meat, is a testament to his brilliance, which presents him at his very best, and doesn’t try to be anything that he is not. “I just try to record good music and stories,” he humbly states. With this recording, he has more than accomplished his goal, and has produced one of the finest contemporary blues albums in recent times — and won a Grammy for it at the February 2017 awards show. Rush estimates that he has cut over 345 songs since he first began making music. He has been honored with three Grammy nominations, as well as ten Blues Music Awards and 41 nominations. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006. Rush has always been a prolific and clever songwriter. The songs he penned for Porcupine Meat such as Dress Too Short, I Don’t Want Nobody Hanging Around, Me, Myself And I, Nighttime Gardener, It’s Your Move, and the title selection, all equal or rival his best material. With the performing fire in his belly, still a teen, Rush donned a fake moustache to play in local juke joints…later, residing in Chicago, he met and befriended his neighbor, Muddy Waters, and began working for Jimmy Reed. Through these connections he began performing on a circuit with Etta James, Howlin’ Wolf, and, of course, Muddy Waters, and Jimmy Reed. In 2007, he became the first blues artist to perform in China, earning him the title “International Dean of the Blues.” He was later named Friendship Ambassador to the Great Wall of China after performing the largest concert ever held at that site.
Bobby Rush has toured in most major markets around the world, including Sydney, Australia; Paris, France; Tokyo, Japan; Shanghai, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; Berlin, Germany; Rome, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; Lucerne, Switzerland; New York, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; Los Angeles, California; to Jackson, Mississippi. And now…direct to you in Kalamazoo.