September 5-6, 2014
Friday, September 5th @ St. Joseph’s Historic Theatre
The Campbell Brothers
John Dee Holeman
Saturday, September 6th @ Historic Durham Athletic Park
The Ori Naftaly Band
The Calvin Edwards Trio
The Red Dirt Revelators
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About the Artists
Guitarist, singer, harmonica player and songwriter Grady Champion has been compared to Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Lionel Ritchie and Smokie Robinson. He has released two very impressive recordings, in 1999 and 2001 for Shanachie Records.
Both his debut, “Payin’ For My Sins” and “2 Days Short of a Week” put Champion on the national touring blues map and helped launch his career beyond the boundaries of his native Jackson, Mississippi.
Grady Champion’s biography reads like a TV movie. Starting his musical career in the early 1990s as a rapper named MC Gold, he changed his style when he discovered the blues. Immersing himself in the music of the major blues artists of the past, most notably Sonny Boy Williamson (the Rice Miller one), whom he acknowledges as his greatest influence, Champion eventually became a more than capable blues artist. You’d never guess he hasn’t spent his whole life playing this music.
Champion was the youngest of his father’s 28 children, and he grew up in rural Canton, outside of Jackson. Raised on a farm, hard work became a way of life for Champion. Like so many other blues performers, he joined his church choir as an eight-year old and began singing gospel. Then at 15, his mother moved the family to Miami, Florida, where he attended high school for a year before heading back home to Mississippi for his senior year.
After he was graduated, he returned to Florida where he tried boxing, being a radio DJ and several other occupations before he settled into his career as a performer. He recorded and released his own album, “Goin’ Back Home,” in 1998 and began drawing ever-larger crowds to Florida blues clubs before catching the attention of Shanachie Records executives, who signed him.
Champion has not been afraid to speak his mind on his two releases for Shanachie, and he writes from personal experience with social commentary songs like “Policeman Blues” [about racial profiling] and “Children of the Corn,” a song about the rising tide of youth violence.
His debut album “Payin’ For My Sins” includes a version of “Don’t Start Me to Talkin’” that really shows Grady’s high-energy singing and harmonica playing and an update of the traditional blues lament “Goin’ Down Slow” with an AIDS parable — a hard-bitten vignette of modern life. His revved-up, soulful vocalizing and the charm and insight he brings to his songwriting in numbers like the campy “My Rooster Is King” and the classic-sounding tale of infidelity “You Got Some Explaining to Do” (co-written by his producer Dennis Walker, who helped Robert Cray reach national fame) mark Grady as an important new talent.
Innovative Blues man Grady Champion is the winner of the 2011 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, Grady’s hometown.
From the inception of his relatively recent career as a blues performer, Champion has sought to tackle new lyrical themes with his original compositions. As a triple threat harmonica player, guitarist and songwriter, he accomplishes that in grand style on both “Payin’ For My Sins” and “2 Days Short of a Week.” Champion, along with young innovators like Shemekia Copeland and Shawn Pittman, is one of the brighter beacons when we talk about the future of blues music. ~ Richard Skelly, All Music Guide
On Saturday’s midnight cruise, I was immediately drawn to the upper deck, where I found Hawkeye Herman and T.J. Wheeler, two great pickers, engaged with a younger harpist from Mississippi named Grady Champion, exchanging songs and doing requests.Grady’s voice not only made me think of Robert Johnson, but the way he worked the crowd seemed as though Johnson’s, or Luther Allison’s, fire and raw sense of what the audience needs was being born inside him.”
When Phil Cook isn’t touring the world with his genre-blending folk band Megafaun, he’s on the porch. Specifically, the sunny porch of his North Carolina home, playing acoustic guitar while Willie, his loyal dog, lays by. Cook was raised on piano, taking lessons for over 20 years, but nonetheless found himself inescapably drawn to the iconic instruments of folk music: dobro, banjo, acoustic guitar. He began exploring the finger-picking and slide styles of the blues and country records of the early 20th century, learned by ritual rather than formal education. Relocating from his birthstate of Wisconsin to the South further immersed Cook in the rich traditions of American folk, as he absorbed the vernacular music that created and reflected the culture of the region around him.
Hungry Mother Blues was recorded in a single day in the back room of Cook’s house, during a rare North Carolina ice storm. The immediacy, intimacy and intensity of the performances have little to hide behind, as every song incorporates a single instrument in all of its vulnerable glory (with the occasional addition of Cook’s tapping feet). Cook manages to draw out the emotional resonance of each instrument, with finger-picked compositions that sound like lost classics of the Southern musical canon. Each song on Hungry Mother Blues is dedicated to someone in Cook’s life, whether it be a friend, a bandmate or even Cook’s unborn child. Devoid of lyrics, the songs function as instrumental love letters to the people around him.
Cook joins an exciting class of modern musicians who are carrying the torch of authentic folk music. Playing from the heart, Cook creates tender and patient compositions that celebrate the traditions of the past by redefining them for the future.
Hungry Mother Blues will be released on May 10 in Trekky Records’ signature 3-part package, including a vinyl record, a CD and an MP3 download.
The Campbell Brothers:
The Campbell Brothers present Sacred Steel: African-American gospel music with electric steel guitar and vocal. This tradition is just now emerging from the House of God Keith Dominion Church, where for over sixty years it has been an integral part of worship and a vital, if little known, American tradition. As the music moves from sanctuary to concert hall — including the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music and Symphony Space — secular audiences are now able to appreciate a performance both devoted and rocking.
Pedal steel guitarist Chuck Campbell and his lap steel-playing brother Darick are two of the finest in this tradition. Rounding out the band, which has been playing together for nearly two decades, is a high-energy rhythm section featuring brother Phil Campbell on electric guitar and his son Carlton on drums. Katie Jackson’s classic, gutsy gospel vocals bring the ensemble to a level of energy and expression that defies description.
The Campbell Brothers present a compelling, rich variety of material from the African-American Holiness-Pentecostal repertoire with a new twist: the growling, wailing, shouting, singing and swinging voice of the steel guitar, played as you have never heard it played before.
Chuck Campbell began playing the lap steel guitar at the age of 12. At the age of 17 he became one of the first players to utilize the Pedal Steel guitar in the House of God Church, Keith Dominion. Chuck is renowned for his innovative approach to the instrument both technically and musically. His use of effects such as distortion, and wah pedal and his picking techniques enable him to emulate the human voice in an uncanny fashion, which evokes images of gospel moaning and field singing. Early in his career Chuck became recognized for becoming the first steel player to be accomplished in the Sacred Steel styles of Calvin Cooke, Ted Beard and Henry Nelson when most steel players could only play in one! Chuck’s inventive blending of those methods along with his ground breaking use of complex chords and fast picking formed the musical style which is the most emulated among young Sacred Steel players today. More of Chuck’s technical prowess is displayed in his role as producer and primary engineer on the new Campbell Brothers’ discs, Sacred Steel On Tour and Sacred Steel For the Holidays.
Darick Campbell first made his mark in music as a drummer. For several years Darick was the premier drummer of the General Assembly, the National Convocation of the House Of God Church in Nashville, Tennessee. His choice of the Lap Steel is a reflection of the influences he has blended to become the most emotional player of The Campbell Brothers musical tour d’ force. His renditions of End of My Journey have caused audiences throughout the world to weep in heartfelt response to his playing. However it is argued that his most definitive work was his solo work on The Storm is Passing Over. Darick brings the added dimension of being the vocal leader on the Campbell Brothers’ What’s His Name? In marked contrast to the pin drop rapture of audiences to End Of My Journey, the raucous spontaneity of What’s His Name? have left Campbell Brothers’ audiences everywhere dancing on a spiritual high.
Phillip Campbell began life as a drummer but quickly proceeded to the instrument which is arguably his most accomplished, the bass guitar. It was on the bass that Phil began to explore the many genres which form his eclectic musical personality. As his self-taught explorations took him into bass chord harmonics and figures, Phil began to look at the other instruments which lent themselves to chordal progressions which would express his melodic tastes and further compliment the Sacred Steel playing of his brothers. The guitar became the weapon of choice because of its ability to drive the music. Phil now combines the rhythmic attributes of the guitar with MIDI guitar synthesis to bring a unique stylistic blend, which perfectly compliments the Steels across all genres into which they venture. Phil’s work as a songwriter has also been recognized. His song, Breakthrough, has been published in Germany for an upcoming Gospel compilation CD.
Drummer Carl Campbell is the heartbeat of the Campbell Brothers. Carl and dad, Phil, form the rhythmic foundation upon which The Campbell Brothers soulful Gospel is built. Formally trained in Jazz and Band Percussion, Carlton has been able to assimilate the classic rudiments of drumming with his improvisational upbringing in Church to formulate a style which always finds itself in the groove. Carlton continues to stretch his boundaries by studying the Sacred Steel tradition on his own double neck Fender String Master as he pursues his dream of being a “Campbell Brother”.
Even though Denise Brown is a cousin of the Campbell Brothers there isn’t any nepotism at work here. Silky smooth is the most commonly used description of this outstanding vocalist’s singing. Her renditions of Don’t Let The Devil Ride have garnered ovations across the United States, Europe and Africa. However her favorite song, The Storm Is Passing Over, has become an audience favorite as well. As she continues to develop her style and push her artistic boundaries, look for Denise’s work to become even more compelling than it is today.
The fact that Katie Jackson is a part of the Campbell Brothers is the result of unbelievably good fortune. She just happened to be “available” when the Campbell Brothers asked her to be the Vocalist on their critically acclaimed Pass Me Not disc. Indeed Katie Jackson has shared the stage with some of Gospel’s most famous singers, including Mahalia Jackson (no relation) and is well renowned throughout the Eastern United States for performances she has given in numerous venues. As a vocalist in the House of God Church, she has been the keynote performer for countless conferences and occasions for more than two decades. In Europe, Katie’s acapella renditions have amazed audiences and critics alike. Her powerful vocals underscore the term “Command Performance.”
Diversity might be the best the word to describe Malcolm Kirby Jr.’s adaptive musical persona. After spending two years at Manhattan School of Music, Malcolm finished his bachelors in jazz performance at the Eastman School of Music. Soon after college, Malcolm and long time friend Jim Martin created the music production company known as 456, joined the Campbell Brothers, was playing with the Respect Sextet, and was working fulltime as a freelance bass player. Malcolm’s wide range of musical interests are apparent in his body of work; classically trained, jazz bassist, hip-production/mixing for Shady/Aftermath “The Game”, commercial t.v. work for Vogue/Mercedes-Benz/GMC/Bravo, pop-dance remixing for Duran Duran/Britney Spears, and mixing/mastering a violin and koto duo album for the classical label Naxos. Malcolm has worked professionally as a musician, private teacher, as well as serving many roles in the studio environment; engineer, producer, ProTools operator, and session musician. As a professional musician he has performed and recorded with many great musicians such as Fred Wesley, Marcus Printup, Shelly Berg, Steve Gadd, John Medeski, The Campbell Brothers, Ben Monder, Clay Jenkins, Toshi Nagai, Jon Faddis, Robben Ford, Derek Trucks, Sonny Landreth, Respect Sextet, and many others. As a co-founder of 456 Productions, he has done work for Fox TV, ESPN, VH1, Warner Brothers, Jive Records, MTV, Electronic Arts, and many others.
Tight rhythms drive the high-energy electric blues of The Rousters. Led by the powerful vocals of Lane Daughtry and the soaring slide guitar of Luke Congleton, The Rousters play updated blues standards and contemporary blues/rock hits. The steady backbeat of drummer Mike Davis lays the groundwork for the rich textures of Kenny Henry’s keyboards and Michael Patrick’s soulful harmonica playing.
Lane (vocals, bass, and guitar) recently moved to Durham from Pennsylvania and has been singing and playing guitar and bass in blues-rock and metal bands since the 70’s. He studied bass at Lebanon Valley College then earned a Music Business degree from Harrisburg Area Community College and a B.S. and M. Ed. from Penn State.
Luke (slide and lead guitar) grew up in Durham playing guitar from an early age. While his main influences include slide guitar greats Duane Allman and Derek Trucks, he also has a keen interest in jazz/fusion styles. Luke graduated from the Atlanta Institute of Music.
Mike (drums) is a “North Carolina boy” who honed his percussion skills in a number of regional country and southern-rock bands in the Triangle area and a few in Colorado.
Kenny (keys, bass, and vocals) hails from Michigan and brings over 45 years of professional piano and bass playing experience, with a vast repertoire in blues, rock, country, and R&B.
Michael (harmonica and vocals) is a New Orleans native who fell in love with the sound of the blues harp playing of Little Walter and Paul Butterfield and brings his amplified harp tones to The Rousters.
It takes all of 30 seconds.
Whether listening to a track on his newest CD, engaging him in conversation or hearing his voice on an answering machine message, one word springs immediately to mind to describe Kermit Ruffins.
The 44-year-old New Orleans native lives it, plays it and sings about it, and nowhere is it more evident than when he discusses his craft the swinging, good-time jazz that lured him in as a teenager and continues to whet his appetite even three decades and 10 solo recordings later.
“You definitely pick that up from me. Thats definitely the way I live, man,” he said. “From the time I wake up in the morning, Im itching for my next show to happen. It cant get here fast enough for me. I think thats the basic ingredient of New Orleans music. Our traditional music. Its really just happy music. A lot of other jazz players are very technical and concentrating on studying hard.
“We study hard, too, but what we most want to do is just get up there and experiment with the tunes that weve been playing for years and years.”
At this point in his career, in fact, having fun at work is a prerequisite.
“Thats really the only way I can do it anymore,” Ruffins said. “I do occasionally play a straight-ahead gig like a business meeting or a private party once in a while, where all theyre asking me for is background music, but Id rather get people up and dancing than just having dinner and listening. Id rather be in one of the New Orleans clubs, and Ill only take gigs in places that have a dance floor. There are places around the city that I played for years, but now I wont do it because nobodys dancing.”
The mandate for fun in performing traces back to a musical role model Louis Armstrong.
Though he grew up in a decade when Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna were at the top of late-teen playlists, Ruffins still vividly and emotionally recalled the moment when Armstrong a New Orleans icon became the be-all and end-all of his musical universe.
“When I started out playing, it was down on the streets in the French Quarter for tips, and wed sit and watch all the guys in suits going inside to play in the clubs,” he said. “I was watching one day when, all of a sudden, I heard one trumpet on the juke box. I was 19 or 20 years old, and it was Louis doing a solo on When Youre Smiling.
“I was so overwhelmed that I went that day and bought all the CDs of his that I could find. I started to watch videos all the time, and from then on, whenever my friends got together to play, wed be drinking, eating barbecue and watching Louis Armstrong.”
A visit earlier this year to “Satchmos” former home in New York since labeled a national landmark and transformed into a Queens College museum was similarly life-changing for Ruffins, who eagerly, and humbly, accepts any comparisons to his idol.
“I really cant put into words what that meant,” he said. “You look at the stairs out front where he would give lessons to neighborhood kids, and then you go through the house and see his rooms and press buttons and hear his conversations, it was so powerful for me. I was very choked up.
“Thats someone who really, really led one of Americas true art forms. He was really the cherry on top of New Orleans music. And now I see it being passed on to younger kids, and for me to have a role in that and to maybe do the things he did is so spiritual to me.”
Ruffins legacy-in-progress includes co-founding the Rebirth Brass Band in 1983. Rebirths creation was inspired by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band which was credited with bringing influences of funk and contemporary bebop into New Orleans style brass bands.
In 1992, he founded the Barbecue Swingers, a traditional jazz quintet that mixes music with another of his true loves, food.
That combination helped create his first release for Basin Street Records The Barbecue Swingers Live recorded at Tipitina’s in New Orleans on Nov. 14, 1997.
And now, hundreds of shows and barbecues later, prolonging the status of jazz in New Orleans is among Ruffins pet projects.
He consistently plays at venues that cater to the younger set and is often visible in the audience at local sporting events and other activities where some of the citys youth are performing.
“You can go out on any given night and see 30 or 40 bands playing,” he said. “All over the city, whether its at the schools or somewhere else, kids are still excited about this kind of music because its the tradition thats been handed down and its what theyve been listening to for years.”
His own school-age efforts as a performer, however, were something less than wholly endorsed.
“They made me take off my band uniform at a football game when I started playing that second-line music,” he said. “But things like that werent going to stop us. Wed be in school and itd be time for lunch and wed go straight to playing, we didnt even eat. We could usually get in two good songs before the principal shut us down.”
Ironically, some three decades later, Ruffins has become one of the citys signature symbols.
He’ll play himself in an upcoming HBO series named “Treme” for the neighborhood and lifestyle essential to its musical and cultural history. The area was also inspiration for his most recent CD, “Livin a Treme Life” his seventh for Basin Street Records released in April.
The pilot episode produced by David Simon, creator of “The Wire” was shot in early 2009. Production for the remaining episodes of the first season began in November 2009, with a scheduled launch in April 2010.
Simon said “Treme” would reach beyond music to explore political corruption, public housing controversy, the crippled criminal-justice system, clashes between police and Mardi Gras Indians and the struggle to regain tourism after Hurricane Katrina.
“Every day, everyone would be working, making phone calls, hauling, building things up,” he said. “Then at night, when the city went dark and youd stop work to get something to eat, there was always a band playing on a porch. And for three hours, you could forget everything that happened.”
The CD, which includes 12 tracks blending original and cover material, reviewed well.
“Kermit Ruffins is one of the prime reasons why New Orleans is mending post-Katrina, bringing his good-time music to the people as an entertainer,” said All Music Guides Michael G. Nastos on Billboard.com, “As a trumpet player and singer of heritage jazz, soul, and popular music, he’s uplifting the spirit of Crescent City dwellers who are slowly but surely rebuilding their neighborhoods. This CD further defines that role.”
To cap off a busy year, the perpetually swinging Ruffins expects an early November release for his first holiday recording, which also features a blend of traditional staples and new songs all delivered via Ruffins playful lyrics and powerful rhythms.
“I always wanted to do a Christmas record. Its my favorite time of the whole year,” he said. “Every year around the holidays we do a party at the House of Blues and, as soon as one ends, Im always looking forward to the next one.”
And somewhere, the “next” Kermit Ruffins can take notes from a contented mentor.
“I sit back all the time,” he said, “and it amazes me to think, Man, we did it. We made it.
While only in her early 30s, two-time GRAMMY® nominee Shemekia Copeland is already a force to be reckoned with in the blues. She’s opened for the Rolling Stones, headlined at the Chicago Blues Festival and numerous festivals around the world, scored critics choice awards on both sides of the Atlantic (The New York Times andThe Times of London), shared the stage with such luminaries as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Mick Jagger, and Eric Clapton, and has even performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. Heir to the rich tradition of soul-drenched divas like Ruth Brown, Etta James and Koko Taylor, the singer was presented with Taylor’s crown by her daughter, Cookie, on June 12, 2011 at the Chicago Blues Festival and given the honor of the new “Queen of the Blues” by official proclamation of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.
Copeland’s passion for singing, matched with her huge, blast-furnace voice, gives her music a timeless power and a heart-pounding urgency. Her music comes from deep within her soul and from the streets where she grew up, surrounded by the everyday sounds of the city – street performers, gospel singers, blasting radios, bands in local parks and so much more.
Born in Harlem, New York, in 1979, Copeland actually came to her singing career slowly. Her father, the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland, recognized his daughter’s talent early on. He always encouraged her to sing at home, and even brought her on stage to sing at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club when she was just eight. At the time, Shemekia’s embarrassment outweighed her desire to sing. But when she was fifteen and her father’s health began to fail, her outlook changed. “It was like a switch went off in my head, and I wanted to sing,” she says. “It became a want and a need. I had to do it.”
At only 19, Shemekia stepped out of her father’s shadow with the Alligator release of 1998 debut recording, Turn the Heat Up!, and the critics raved. The Village Voice called her “nothing short of uncanny,” while the Boston Globe proclaimed that “she roars with a sizzling hot intensity.” A year later, she appeared in the Motion Picture Three To Tango, while her song “I Always Get My Man, was featured in the film Broken Hearts Club.
Her second album, Wicked, released in 2000, scored three Handy Awards (Song of the Year, Blues Album of the Year, Contemporary Female Artist of the Year) and a GRAMMY® nomination. Two years later, New Orleans R&B legend Dr. John stepped in to produce her third recording, Talking To Strangers (2002), which Vibe called “a masterful blend of ballsy rockers and cheeky ballads.”
Copeland released The Soul Truth in 2005. The album was produced by legendary Stax guitarist Steve Cropper (who also played on the CD), and featured generous doses of blues, funk and Memphis-flavored soul.
Never Going Back, her 2009 debut on Telarc, a division of Concord Music Group, captured Copeland at a crossroads on that artistic path. While Copeland will always remain loyal to her blues roots,Never Going Back took a more forward view of the blues, and in so doing pointed her music and her career in a new direction. Produced by Oliver Wood, guest players included John Medeski, Marc Ribot and Chris Wood.
“I’ve had success in my career, and I’m happy with that,” she says. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to continue to grow. In order for an artist to grow – and for a genre to grow – you have to do new things. I’m extremely proud to say I’m a blues singer, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing I’m capable of singing, or that’s the only style of music I’m capable of making.”
She adds: “I want to keep growing. My main goal when I started this was that I was going to do something different with this music, so that this music could evolve and grow. I got that idea from my father. He didn’t do the typical one-four-five blues. He went to Africa and worked with musicians there. He was one of the first blues artists to do that. I want to be the same way. I want to be innovative with the blues.”
Copeland’s latest Telarc recording, 33 1/3, was produced by Oliver Wood and released September 25, 2012. On December 5, 2012, 33 1/3 received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Blues Alb
The Ori Naftaly Band:
The Ori Naftaly Band is the Best Israeli Blues Act for 2013.
In a very short time this extremely talented band has gained international recognition and support by the international blues community and by an extended fan base, located in the USA, Holland, India, Germany and other countries all over the world.
Within the course of two years The Ori Naftaly Band has twice toured the United States and the Netherlands, won the Israeli Blues Challenge Competition, and was the first Israeli band ever to have reached the Semi-Finals of the International Blues Competition (IBC) in Memphis, Tennessee. They have released two live studio albums and are currently working on their third new album. Their upcoming third USA tour is scheduled for the fall of 2013.
From the very beginning of its performing career and with the release of its first album, The Ori Naftaly Band has won awards which placed the band in the same category as some of the best known blues rock artists in the world, notably ‘Best Blues Album in 2012′ by Bluesmagazine.nl.
“Happy for Good” is the band’s second album. It features a mix of styles including electric blues, funk, rock and soul. With the release of the album in May of 2013, The Ori Naftaly Band was immediately invited to the United States for a six-week tour to promote their new CD and to perform in many well-known venues throughout the country. Just one month after its release, the album reached number four in the International Blues Radio Airplay Charts, and maintained fourth place for three consecutive weeks.
Ori Naftaly – founder, producer, composer and lead guitarist of the band – has been leading and managing the band since November 2011, together with songwriter, composer and lead vocalist, Eleanor Tsaig. Their album “Happy for Good” conveys the band’s journey since the beginning of its activity.
The Ori Naftaly Band began playing in November 2011 and after a year’s performing and touring all over Israel, they flew to the Netherlands in Sept. 2012 for a three-week tour.
On their return home, they participated in and won the Israeli Blues Competition, which granted their participation in the IBC at Memphis, Tennessee. Two months later the band flew to Memphis and represented Israel among 200 other bands from all over the world. The Ori Naftaly Band is the first Israeli band to have been voted into the IBC Semi-Finals, and was the band which sold the largest number of CDs at the Memphis competition. After completing the competition the band flew to Chicago for a short tour and performed at several local, historic and well-known blues venues.
Immediately after returning home from their first U.S. tour, the band wasted no time and got right back into the studio. They began recording their second album “Happy for Good” which contains exclusively original material, all written and composed by Naftaly and Tsaig. Recording and production continued for a month and a half, and with the album’s release, they flew to the USA for their second tour. During this six-week journey The Ori Naftaly Band had 14 performances, including the historic Levitt Shell in Memphis (where Elvis Presley gave his first paid concert in 1954) and the Winchester Blues Festival. This tour has immensely expanded the band’s exposure and American fan base.
On their way home the band has stopped off for another short run in the Netherlands in August of 2013. They are currently in the throes of booking their upcoming USA Fall Tour as well as writing and composing new materials for their upcoming album, due to be released in 2014.
The Calvin Edwards Trio:
Born in Kings Mountain NC, Calvin Edwards is a well-known international artist who has performed in Okinawa, Tokyo, and China as well as performed for the G8 Summit for President Clinton in Okinawa. Calvin is now performing in the USA and has played in San Francisco, New York, Charleston, including the The 2005 NAMM SHOW in Anahiem, California, the Romare Bearden 99th Birthday Bash, the grand-opening of the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC. At 17, Calvin joined the famous Gospel group Five Blind Boys of Alabama and performed with them for many years. Subsequently, Calvin moved to Los Angeles to play in The Jett Edwards Band. During this time, Calvin and his brother recorded two albums together, including one song which was recorded by George Benson. Calvin Edwards has released four CD’s as a band leader…So What, Don’t Forget – Venus Records – Japan Let It Flow – Simply Smoking Records – USA Just Swing – Roving Spirits – Japan That’s It – Chasity Music Records – USA The Maupin/Williams Project – Simply Smoking Records – USA Live from San Francisco – Chasity Music Records – USA. Calvin Edwards has performed with and/or booked various artist through Chasity Music including Tom Brown, Tuck & Patti, Michael White, Kei Akagi, Lonnie Plaxico, Benny Maupin, Hidefumi Toke, Javon Jackson, Michael O’Neil, Ron Brown, Ali Jackson, Michael Paluo, Michael Wolf, Roy Ayers, Everette Harp, Dan Siegel and Phil Perry.
The Red Dirt Revelators:
The Red Dirt Revelators are a dirty blues roots band, and not in the manner of lyrics or distortion. The dirt is in the the grooves, Red Dirt grooves, with lyrics that reveal a story, a truth, and sometimes even an emotional Revelation. The Red Dirt Revelators are powered by the irrisistable “Big Deluxe” dirt engine of Jason Gardner on drums, and Clay Ford on bass. The band gets their supercharger cut from the incredible guitar work of John Fenwick and the voice of Willie Shane Johnston; when he gets to revelatin’ on harp and that nasty voice lights up he couldn’t hold back the gasoline, even if he wanted to.
John Dee Holeman:
One of Music Maker’s most renowned and respected artists, John Dee Holeman spent the first six years of his life in the town of Hillsborough, Orange County, North Carolina, barely a mile from MM’s present office. A gentlemanly, gracious man, he speaks in a lilting, soft-spoken manner.
“I was born in 1929,” he says. “My father was Willy Holeman and my mother was born Annie Obie near Roxboro, North Carolina. Her daddy moved to Hillsborough and ran a flour mill. James Obie was my uncle; there are still Obies in Hillsborough. I lived on the Sam Latta place at first- he was the High Sheriff. There were three sisters and one brother. My parents are planted in the cemetery of Obie’s Chapel Church in Person County.” “In about 1935 we moved to a 100 acre farm on Gray Road in Northern Orange County. We would walk four miles to the store at Timberlake to get us some candy. We could play on Saturday or Sunday. You know, fix a swing in a tree, swing in a tire and things like that. One time I took a fender off a Model T Ford, got on a bank, put water on the bank, and slid right down to the bottom! I completed the fourth grade, then stopped; we weren’t compelled to attend then. I cut short my education because Daddy needed me to farm. I had to do what my Daddy said. I missed my education, but I’ve made a living so far.”
John Dee has made a living and then some. He has performed at the National Folk Festival, at Carnegie Hall, and has made overseas tours. In 1988, he was awarded the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is proud of a certificate signed and given to him by then-President Reagan. His skill as a guitarist, singer, and buckdancer have carried him far beyond his small-town and country roots. It was his skill as a guitarist that first set him apart.
When John Dee was 14 he bought a brand new Sears Silvertone guitar for $15. “I thought I had something!” he says. His uncle and cousin taught him a few chords. “I listened to 78’s like ‘Step It Up and Go’ by Blind Boy Fuller, the Grand Ole Opry, and heard others play at pig-picking parties. I was good for catching on. My guitar kept me company when I tended to tobacco in the barn so I wouldn’t go to sleep. You had to control the tobacco as it cured-you ran one heat to get the green out, then another to dry it out for cigarettes.”
He moved to Durham in 1954 in reaction to farming’s financial shortcomings. “The government took over the farming and gave you an allotment of how much you could raise. Before that we raised as much as we could handle. If you went over the allotment at harvest time, they’d make you cut it down. In 1954 I got $200 for my portion of tobacco for the whole year.” “I went to the Liggett and Myers Tobacco Company for work. You could get a three-room ‘shotgun’ house for $6 a week. I also operated heavy equipment, like hauling dirt.”
In recent years John Dee has been a regular artist at Music Maker’s summer Warehouse Concerts series in Durham, held onsite at the West Village development on the site of the old L&M factories and warehouses. Organized in partnership with the City of Durham Parks and Recreation Department, the concerts are produced among West Village condos and stores where John Dee and his L&M co-workers used to produce cigarettes for the world. After his move to Durham, he played with musicians who learned first-hand from such bluesmen as Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, and Reverend Gary Davis, who played for rent parties and outside the bustling cigarette factories.
Although John Dee played his guitar for private functions while engaged in his regular day jobs, it wasn’t until folklorist Glen Hinson asked him to play for the Bicentennial Festival in Durham that his music career took off. “He said there would be 500 or 5,000 people. I told him, ‘I can’t face that many people- I’m not that good.’ He said to do the same thing that I do at my house or at a pig-picking, to do what I know. He just about begged me. I went out there and everybody like to have a good time. It made me feel real good.”
Since then, John Dee has been “just about all over- Thailand, Honolulu, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Turkey, Canada and six weeks in Africa. I met B.B. King and Chuck Berry and played with Joe and Odell Thompson (from Mebane, N.C.) in Boston.” He also met Lighnin’ Hopkins, who originally recorded a song in John Dee’s repertoire, “Give Me Back My Wig (Let Your Doggone Head Go Bald).” Some of his foreign trips were sponsored by the U.S. State Department. In addition to caring for his late wife Janet when she became ill for several years, John Dee managed to keep a regular schedule of foreign and local gigs with partners such as harp player Billy Stevens and the late piano player Fris Holloway. More recently he has recorded on the Music Maker label, backed by well-known players such as Taj Mahal and Cool John Ferguson. In 2008 Zeke Hutchens produced John Dee’s most recent CD, “You Got To Lose, You Can’t Win All The Time.”
When John Dee turned 80 in 2009, his many friends surprised him with the gift of a new electric guitar, which made his Piedmont blues sound as fresh as ever. His rapport with younger players is reflected in the comments of fellow MM artist Harvey Arnold, who has played bass and guitar with John Dee.
“His playing and singing have that special feel like they’re pouring out as natural as breathing, “says Arnold. “He’s such a genuine bluesman that I want to touch him and hope it rubs off on me.” Whether he’s playing and singing a ragtime like Fuller’s “Come On Down To My House”, a traditional blues like “John Henry”, or a city blues like Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man”, John Dee Holeman is the real deal, a much-loved performer and man.
Winner of the 2009 and 2012 Cape Fear Blues Society Solo Blues Challenges and the 2010 and 2013 Triangle Blues Society Solo Blues Challenge, and his band “The Chickenhead Blues Band” won the 2007 Cape Fear Blues Society Blues Challenge.
Rick Tobey is an accomplished singer-songwriter, guitarist and “Blues Man”. He moved to Wilmington, NC from Louisiana, where he played in clubs in and around New Orleans as a solo artist and with his band “Too Much Coffee”.
Caraway Management Group are the official 2014 Bull Durham Blues Festival coordinator!