Although they only formed in March of 2016, with a combined total of nearly 100 years of playing, the members of Blue Veins are not new to music. You may have seen different members performing at previous Blues Fests in various bands, or running sound for the downtown festivals, or on occasion playing with the band mates of such notable artists as Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Carlos Santana, and Aretha Franklin. With Marisa Aguirre on guitar and vocals, Bob Dullam on guitar, Sean Duross on bass, and Erik Sebastian on drums, the group really enjoys playing music together, and having fun while doing it. As the host band for the local Kalamazoo Wednesday night blues jams, they continue the tradition set forth by their friends at the former 411 club and Wonderful’s blues jams of years past.
Amays and Blue
“Amays and Blue” is a first-time pairing of Alex Mays and Eddie “Blue” Lester, two experienced musicians who team up to meld their personal styles into a unique sound that pleases the ear and covers the spectrum of blues music, from its earliest roots to its later incarnations. The smooth blend of Eddie’s sax and Alex’s acoustic guitar creates a warmth and energy as these two experienced performers explore the blues in its many forms. Amays and Blues’ sound is a blend of original and tasteful covers of roots, delta-style, jump, and smooth jazzy blues music molded by the personalities and expressions of the two players. Alex and Eddie bring their individual voices and musical sensibilities to the table in an intriguing, perfectly-blended performance. The show picks you up and moves you through the various moods and colors of the blues with seamless ease. It’s truly something for everyone to enjoy!
Blues, rock, and r & b blues are staples for the Barrelhouse Catts of Grand Rapids! There’s a funky kind of blues fusion going on here you don’t want to miss. Winning the crowd on lead vocals is Ms. Donna Cattenhead, born in Chicago and raised in Michigan, who actually got her start playing local bars in California. Patrick Mohr, also lead vocals and harmonica, adds his ‘rock out loud’ touch blues style. New to the Catts is Alex Austin playing those sweet blues guitar sounds, while Russell “Tazz” Bullen on the bass, and Tim Cowart, one of Grand Rapids top drummers, hold down the rhythm!
Steve Hilger Band
The Steve Hilger Band is a high energy house-rockin’ electric blues band consisting of hand-picked top-shelf professional and semiprofessional musicians from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Michigan. SHB has delighted audiences from Chicago to Alpena in many festivals, shows and club gigs over the last ten years. They play a mixture of soul-crunching original tunes as well as their own versions of tunes everyone has come to know and love. SHB has been nominated for five “Jammie” awards from WYCE in Grand Rapids and will also be featured as the last act before the headliner at the Grand Jazz Festival in Grand Rapids this summer.
James Reeser & The Backseat Drivers
Having started out as a lead guitarist, James went on to become a master of the “fat-toned harp” sound and is exceptionally adept at playing chromatic harps. He has also honed his skills in the lead vocal category by performing many gigs around the US and Canada. He got started playing the blues in the early 80’s while living in New England very close to many blues-based clubs, where he spent much time developing a love for the music. James has recently returned to performing live after taking a brief sabbatical for nearly 2 years. His band James Reeser& The Backseat Drivers has been slowly working back into the blues scene in West Michigan. The Backseat Drivers are: up-and-coming blues guitarist Marcus Giddings; drummer Bob Overholt, a force on the Grand Rapids Blues Scene for many years; and bass player Robby Jewett, who has toured and performed with a long list of blues greats.
Kev Nichols & Blue Tuesday
Kev Nichols & Blue Tuesday have been bringing their exciting brand of blues to Michigan stages for the past 5 years. The rock-solid rhythm section of Heather Kulaga on bass and Rex Hambone on drums sets the steady groove that lets guitarist Kev Nichols and multi-instrumentalist Mike Crupi (guitar, harp, sax, lap steel and keys) make music that will boil right over the top of any pot of your favorite blues gumbo. From the first note to the last, this band will take you to a party that you’ll never want to leave.
UK British Blues Award winner Bex Marshall’s unique style of guitar playing is a combined technique of slide, blues rock, ragtime and roots pickin’. She always had a passion for traveling; it’s in her blood, and, trained as a croupier at 18, she began her travels around the world working gaming tables on cruise liners to Park Lane, even dealing illegal poker games in Amsterdam. She hitchhiked the coast of Australia on cattle trains, always with a guitar on her back, living and storing tales. She is a musical adventuress, described in the world press with comparisons to Memphis Minnie, Joan Armatrading, JJ Cale, Derek Trucks and “Bonnie Raitt and Led Zep jamming in an everglades moonshine joint”. Her voice is a powerful melting pot of old black woman’s heartache and rock diva soul. Bex is a writer of distinction and notability who pushes the boundaries of blues. Her songs have been called “timeless” and “touches of genius”, and now with anything up to a 7 piece band, she is literally a musical tornado. Bex Marshall was nominated to the top three in Best Solo/Acoustic Artist 2015 in the European Blues Awards and won an award at the UK’s Blues Awards 2013 for Best British Blues Vocalist and album.
You may remember these guys from a few years back…fun, fun band. Named one of the Top 10 festival acts of 2015, members of The Jimmys have performed with notable artists such as The Georgia Satellites, Hubert Sumlin, Clyde Stubblefield, Davina and the Vagabonds, and many others. The Jimmys bring the party wherever they go and leave an infectious trail of fans. “The Jimmys are one hard act to follow at a blues festival. They are truly a wall of rhythm and blues sound. They’ve got it all: songs, musicianship and showmanship. Great guys. Great sounds”–Tinsley Ellis, recording artist. The Jimmys have been tearing up stages with their blend of blues, soul, funk and r & b for nearly 10 years. Award-winning keyboardist/singer/songwriter Jimmy Voegeli has assembled an all-star lineup: Perry Weber, veteran guitarist/singer/songwriter with an authentic blues sound; Mauro Magellan, of the Georgia Satellites, who drives the band with some mighty drumming; and John Wartenweiler, tying it together with thumping bass lines and a deep groove. The Amateur Horn Stars – Pete Ross, saxophone; Darren Sterud, trombone; and Mike Boman, trumpet combine 50+ years’ experience touring the world, playing with Clyde Stubblefield, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Davina and the Vagabonds, Youngblood Brass Band, B.B. King and his All Stars, and many others.
Cash Box Kings
Hailing from the ‘Windy City,’ Blind Pig recording artists Cash Box Kings are keeping REAL DEAL, old-school Chicago blues alive and thriving. The band is dedicated to carrying on the spirit of the 1940’s and 50’s post-war Chicago blues sound as well as the Delta blues music of the 20’s and 30’s. But these illustrious torch bearers also add a bravado, energy and freshness to the mix that results in a distinctive musical experience and a high-energy stage show. With a focus on the raw, stripped-down, ensemble playing that was the hallmark of the post-war sound, the band showcases the music of Chess Records and Sun Records, while adding a healthy dose of original music that captures the essence of the Memphis and Chicago blues sounds of the 40’s and 50’s. The Cash Box Kings are fronted by Joe Nosek, who writes and arranges songs, sings, and channels the spirits of Little Walter and Slim Harpo on harmonica; and singer and songwriter Oscar Wilson, a 6’3”, 300 hundred-pound Muddy Waters-type throwback to the heyday of the Chicago blues scene. The group is rounded out by Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith (drums), and Joel Paterson (guitar, vocals).
Royal Southern Brotherhood
There have been several incarnations of this band, which is grounded in the talents of Cyril Neville and the powerhouse rhythm section of Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooton. For this go-around, RSB brought in two new fiery guitar slingers, Bart Walker and Tyrone Vaughan, who have been added to breathe new energy into Royal Southern Brotherhood’s sound. The new blood is there to help ‘up the funk’ while maintaining the blues and rock edge that has brought Royal Southern Brotherhood a growing, worldwide audience. “They are not a band – they are an extravaganza” – John Hiatt. Once the voice behind the Meters and world-famous Neville Brothers, Cyril Neville felt his way his way through the new tunes and members, as his one-of-a-kind soulful singing energized the recording studio. Although this past year has been filled with many personal and professional events, all he could do was smile at the journey he was to continue, making good music, and sharing it with the world. Cyril Neville’s experience and talent, combined with these energetic players, creates a new sound that remains reverent to the blues traditions. “Amplified soul for a new generation.”
Formed in 2009, Kalamazoo band Big Trouble has been playing to diverse audiences in S.W. Michigan. We’ve performed at many festivals, clubs, fundraisers and special events, including the Kalamazoo State Theater and last year’s Rib Fest, where we won the “Rock the Vote” competition to open the show for Blue Oyster Cult. Currently we are the host band for two local blues jams. Our six-piece band specializes in “up on your feet”, rockin’ blues, funk and soul covers. Big Trouble is Dana Scott, lead vocals & guitar; Mike Barker, bass guitar; Jay Hunt, sax; Jeff Rust, drums; John Hodgekinson, guitar; and Mike Muszynski, guitar.