Varenwinkel Festival Festivalterrein BE Varenwinkel (Herselt)
Vandaag zaterdag 12 april werden de namen van het komende Roots & Blues festival bekend gemaakt. De twee laatste buitenlandse (*) acts op zaterdag moeten nu nog officieel bevestigd worden.
Festivalterrein Varenwinkel (nog steeds het huidige!!)
Barefoot & the Shoes (BE) - (tent) - 19:00-20:00
Jo & Lazy Fellow (PL) - (roots) - 20:10-20:50
Nikki Hill (US) – (tent) - 21:00-22:10
Joe & Lazy Fellow (PL) - (roots) - 22:20-23:00
Mike Vernon & The Mighty Combo (GB) – (tent) - 23:15…
The Blues Vision (BE) - tent) - 15:00-16:00
Congo Faith Healers (GB) - (roots) - 16:10-16:50
Chris Bergson Band (US) - (tent) - 17:00-18:00
Congo Faith Healers (GB) - (roots) - 18:10-18:50
JW Jones (CA) - (tent) - 19:00-20:10
Mario Pesic (BE) - (roots) - 20:20-21:00
Jarekus Singleton (US) - (tent) - 21:10-22:20 *
Mario Pesic (BE) - (roots) - 22:30-23:10
Selwyn Birchwood (US) - (tent) - 23:20… *
MIKE VERNON AND THE MIGHTY COMBO
Line-up: Mike Vernon (lead vocals) West Weston (vocal/harmonica) Martin Winning (tenor sax) Geraint Watkins (vocal/piano) Paul Garner (guitar) Ian Jennings (upright bass) Mike Hellier (drums)
Question: What do Alexis Korner, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood, Spencer Davies, Jack Bruce, Rod Stewart, Ginger Baker, The Artwoods, Muddy Waters, Savoy Brown, Otis Spann, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, Larry Williams, Graham Bond, Ten Years After, Stan Webb, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Champion Jack Dupree, Christine McVie, Mick Taylor, Eddie Boyd, Dr.Feelgood, Freddie King, Climax Blues Band, Roger Chapman, Cleo Laine, Jimmy Witherspoon, Level 42, Roachford, Sherman Robertson, The Hoax, Oli Brown, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Bo Diddley all have in common? Answer All have, at one time or another, been involved in the making of records that have been produced by Mike Vernon. Question What do Alexis Korner, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood, Spencer Davies, Jack Bruce, Rod Stewart, Ginger Baker, The Artwoods, Muddy Waters, Savoy Brown, Otis Spann, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, Larry Williams, Graham Bond, Ten Years After, Stan Webb, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Champion Jack Dupree, Christine McVie, Mick Taylor, Eddie Boyd, Dr.Feelgood, Freddie King, Climax Blues Band, Roger Chapman, Cleo Laine, Jimmy Witherspoon, Level 42, Roachford, Sherman Robertson, The Hoax, Oli Brown, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Bo Diddley all have in common? Answer All have, at one time or another, been involved in the making of records that have been produced by Mike Vernon. Mike Vernon is probably best known as the founder of Britain’s #1 blues record label, Blue Horizon. During the four year period that Blue Horizon was distributed by CBS and Polydor, the label issued around 60 singles and more than 100 albums – most of them featuring blues artists. Although Mike Vernon is primarily associated with the blues, he also produced significant acts outside of that field during those early years – David Bowie; Dutch rock band Focus and a five-piece soul group from California, Bloodstone. His first single production for Bloodstone – ‘Natural High’ – hit the #1 spot on the US charts earning the Producer a Gold record. But there were other such Awards already on the wall – Bowie’s ‘Laughing Gnome’; Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’ and a number from his work with Focus. In future decades, whilst continuing his crusade to record blues acts Mike Vernon worked with Level 42 and, in so doing, collected two further Silver discs. He also produced Andrew Roachford’s debut album – another Gold platter. Mike worked both as a Producer and Engineer throughout the 1980s and early 1990s with some further significant successes – especially in Europe. Albums by Spanish bands Danza Invisible and Los Secretos saw major chart success as did a Renaud Hansen release in France. During the late 1990s Mike Vernon launched three new blues orientated labels – Indigo, Code Blue and Blueside. With Code Blue he produced Sherman Robertson, Jay Owens, Eric Bibb, John Primer and Bo Diddley (his album was nominated for a Grammy) whilst Eugene Bridges and Angela Brown were to appear on Blueside. In 2000 Mike retired and moved to Spain. But in 2010 Mike Vernon came out of retirement to produce both Dani Wilde and Oli Brown for Ruf Records and a ‘live’ set with Louisiana legend, Lazy Lester. He is currently working on a debut CD with an exciting new Spanish band from Sevilla – Q & The Moonstones. And so to Mike Vernon – the Rhythm & Blues singer! Let the man speak for himself: “I have always loved singing – I was in the local Church Choir when a teenager and then as a vocalist with The Mojo Men – an early blues band of doubtful talent! Then I took two opportunities during the Blue Horizon years to have a go at making solo outings – with mixed success I would have to say. Then came The Olympic Runners – I produced, wrote and performed alongside George Chandler, Pete Wingfield and Joe Jammer. Then in the late 1970s and early 1980s I took on the task of singing the baritone parts with Rocky Sharpe & The Replays. I really miss the ‘buzz’ of working in front of an audience – so here I am, a born again Rhythm & Blues vocalist. I’ve been doing a lot of gigs in Spain and getting tremendous reaction – I’m heading into the studio soon to cut a ‘homage to the R&B Greats of the ‘40s/’50s’ CD and I am ready to rock’n’roll! Now is the time – and if I don’t do it now – it will not get done at all!”
NIKKI HILL Those who have seen Carolina girl Nikki Hill sing her ass off agree—this isn’t just another newcomer on the scene, this is a… ‘whiplash’ moment. Where did this fireball come from? Why haven’t I heard of her before? If you haven’t heard of Nikki Hill yet, you soon will, and once you see her perform, you won’t forget her. Hill and her band have been touring extensively following the independent release of debut album ‘Here’s Nikki Hill’ in 2013 leaving jaws on the floor along the way. With a no-filter energy, and explosive live show, they deliver a sound that will make you believe in rock ‘n’ roll again! With an unstoppable force of a band, Nikki’s unique voice with raw rock and soul dynamics mixed with the strength, passion, and honesty of blues shouters of the past, creates a breath of fresh air with their authentic approach to American roots music. Nikki Hill’s self-titled, independently released EP in June of 2012 created a heavy and sudden international underground buzz that the band has traveled with from state to state and overseas to Europe and Australia. Those 4 tunes penned by Hill combined with memorable live performances, has drawn a wide range of people from every avenue and musical tastes to their shows. One club advertisement will call Nikki “The Southern Fireball”, “the New Soul Sensation”, “amazing R&B Shouter”, and even “the new Queen of Rock n’ Roll”. Nikki Hill’s self-titled EP released in June of 2012 created a heavy and sudden international underground buzz that the band has traveled with from state to state and overseas. Those 4 tunes penned by Hill herself, proved that they have an energy that appeals to everyone, drawing crowds from every avenue and musical tastes at their shows to hear this fun and interesting blend of roots music. One club advertisement will call Nikki “The Southern Fireball”, “the new soul sensation”, “amazing R&B shouter”, and even “the new Queen of Rock n’ Roll”. Moving into 2013 with more songs, more energy, and a desire to play their music for the world, the band is still gaining momentum and appear to have no plans of stopping, as they are continuing to tour all over the United States, Europe and Australia after Hill’s newest debut full length album Here’s Nikki Hill, released in June 2013, helps them spread their message of rock ‘n’ soul to believers and new converts everywhere! If you haven’t heard of her yet, prepare for your ‘whiplash moment’—you have been warned.
CONGO FAITH HEALERS Are you ready for some down and dirty savage swamp infested gypsy blues!? The Congo Faith Healers are like nothing you have heard or experienced before. Combining down and dirty swamp infested gypsy blues with wild savage guitar playing, voodoo vocals, latin american drum and trumpet grooves with rockabilly swing double bass and hooks that you will be singing for days, they have one of the most intense and utterly compelling live shows around! No wonder the Congo Faith Healers are in the Independents Top 10 Bands to see live in London!!! The band have previously worked with top industry producers Chris Kimsey (Rolling Stones, the Gypsy Kings,) and Grammy Award winner Cameron Craig (Tina Turner, Robbie Williams, Amy Winehouse), and have recently released their twelve track debut album "Ju Ju Mix", which was recorded in just two days and has been blazing a trail across the land to unprecedented reviews. As diverse and unique as the bands image and members is also their gig history: The band have played the Edinburgh Moonwalk 2012 in front of 10000 people, performed in Trafalgar Square two years running for the West End Live Festival, have played at Battersea Powerstation, The Globe Theatre in London, The Secret Garden Party, and performed at the FX/HBO True Blood series Launch Party! They have supported and played with bands such as Razorlight, KT Tunstall (who called the band "The best band I have ever seen", Supergrass, Mick Jones and have even been invited by Franz Ferdinand to play at one of their parties. Ronnie Wood, Bob Geldof, Roger Lloyd-Pack and Mark Lamarr are also fans of the band - Mark Lamarr featured them twice as special guests on his BBC Radio 2 Show Gods Jukebox! The CFH have recently completed a tour of Northern Cyprus and have floored audiences in Cannes, Qatar and Dubai at a Jack Daniels sponsored event. The CFH are that truly unique beast! A band that blend their collective influences to create something totally fresh and exhilarating. Word is being spread from packed show to packed show that the CFH are an unstoppable musical force.
The Congo Faith Healers are:
Guitar/Vocals - Sonny West Drums - Jay Tubsman Double Bass - Agostino Trumpet - Vic
CHRIS BERGSON BAND "Four stars - another bulletin from the New York street poet with a blues soul...the music is as tight as a hangman's knot." MOJO - Blues Album of the Month "The Chris Bergson Band sets a bold new standard for roots music..." Hittin' the Note "From blazing rock to funk to soul to Delta blues and all that's in between." Elmore Magazine "If it's possible, guitar ace Chris Bergson just keeps getting better. He had some opportunities to play with and observe Hubert Sumlin before he passed two years ago, and his emulation of the legend’s minimalist style has never been more apparent than on his latest record...The CD also showcases Bergson’s vocal power, songwriting skills, and his ability to assemble a world-class band...If you don't know Bergson's music, you should." The Blues Music Magazine. "Over the past decade, Chris Bergson has become one of the most interesting blues-inspired songwriters. He describes the streetscapes and nightscapes of city life, painting small, memorable pictures, a kind of Edward Hopper of the blues. Bergson doesn't do predictable, but there's a visible thread of blues awareness running through the fabric of everything he writes, sings and plays: he is a concise and subtle guitarist and tough, grainy singer." The Blues Magazine (UK) Chris Bergson was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame in February 2015. With MOJO Magazine's #1 Blues Album of 2008, Fall Changes,#2 Blues Album of 2011, Imitate the Sun, and #3 Blues Album of 2014, Live at Jazz Standard, New York guitarist/singer Chris Bergson has established himself as "one of the most inventive songwriters in modern blues music" (All Music Guide), creating his own blend of blues, roots and soul. Chris Bergson has performed and/or shared the stage with Hubert Sumlin, Levon Helm, B.B. King, Norah Jones, John Hammond, Etta James, and Bettye LaVette, to name just a few. Live at Jazz Standard, the latest CD release from the Chris Bergson Band, was recorded live over two nights at NYC's Jazz Standard with Bergson's usual four-piece band (organ/wurlitzer, bass and drums) "augmented with a horn section expert in the snap and crackle of bluesy soul." (The Blues Magazine UK) The fifteen song CD contains eight brand new original songs from New York guitarist/singer Chris Bergson "...one of the most inventive songwriters in modern blues music." (All Music Guide) as well as new arrangements of five older originals from the band's back catalog. According to iTunes Editors' Notes: "A fair number of hot shot guitarists can lay down licks with presence and panache, but that number shrinks drastically when you tally the ones who are also sharp-shooting singer/songwriters. Thatís what makes Chris Bergson an unusual triple threat and this live recording shines a spotlight on the strength of his material as well as the alternately simmering and fiery feel that he and his band serve up in a club setting. New York City native Chris Bergson is a bluesman of a distinctly urban stripe. Instead of swamps and rivers, his songs - many penned in collaboration with lyricist Kate Ross - are full of citified imagery from the midtown Manhattan locale of "61st & 1st" to the Brooklyn scenes of "Gowanus Heights." The three-man horn section accentuates the soul leanings of tunes like "The Only One" and brings out the R&B shadings in Bergson's gritty growl. At times, the blend of Bergson's earthy vocals and terse, biting guitar with Craig Dreyer's organ evokes The Band. Yet whether the guitarist and his group are venturing into R&B, roots rock or straight blues, they create an invitingly organic feel on a recording that clearly captures the band in their element." Special guests include soul singer Ellis Hooks and a three piece horn section featuring baritone saxophonist Ian Hendrickson-Smith (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings), tenor saxophonist David Luther (Bettye LaVette) and Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Freddie Hendrix performing horn arrangements by Jay Collins (Gregg Allman). Jazz Standard has been a musical home for the Chris Bergson Band for the past ten years and provided an ideal venue for their first live record. The album was recorded and co-produced by award-winning producer/engineer Roman Klun whose credits include albums by the Spin Doctors, Joan Osborne and the Holmes Brothers. Bergson has had the opportunity to play with two masters of American music - drummer/singer Levon Helm of The Band and Howlin' Wolf's guitarist Hubert Sumlin - and their influence can be heard throughout the album. Notable past performances include: Moulin Blues (Holland), Groningen Rhythm and Blues Night (Holland), Blues Open (Holland), Salaise Blues Festival (Salaise, France), Bain de Blues Festival (Bain-de-Bretagne, France), Blues Station (Tournon d'Agenais, France), Eden District Blues (Oraison, France), Noct en Blues (Chaumont, France), Blues in Hell (Norway), Harvest Time Blues (Ireland), Leicester Blues Festival (UK), Waterfront Blues Festival (Portland, OR), Saratoga Jazz Festival (NY), Levon Helm's Midnight Rambles (Woodstock, NY), River to River Festival (NYC), Joe’s Pub (NYC), The Blue Note (NYC), Jazz Standard (NYC), John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (DC), SXSW, and opening for B.B. King at B.B. King's Blues Club (NYC). Born in New York City but raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, Chris Bergson returned to Manhattan in 1995. While backing jazz singers Annie Ross, Dena DeRose, Sasha Dobson and Norah Jones, he released Blues for Some Friends of Mine and Wait for Spring on Juniper Records in 1997 and 2000, respectively. In 2002 Bergson was appointed a Jazz Ambassador of the USA by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and he toured Africa with his trio. Evolving to further embrace the blues while also adding pop influences, he followed up with Blues (2003), Another Day (2005) and his triumphant artistic breakthrough, the widely acclaimed Fall Changes (2007) -- MOJO’s #1 Blues Album of 2008 -- that established him as an eloquent, evocative and lyrical songwriter with a sharp urban vision. Recorded at Levon Helm’s Woodstock studio, it led to Bergson being personally invited to perform at the famed drummer’s Midnight Rambles while opening the way for more stateside festivals and subsequent tours of Europe.
JW JONES “JW-Jones is a red hot young Canadian guitar slinger/singer“, says Grammy-winning producer Tom Hambridge. Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, referred to this Maple Blues Award winner as “one of this country’s top blues guitar stars.” Billboard called JW part of “a new wave of young talent moving onto Canada’s blues stage.” Jones has released eight albums, performed in nineteen countries and four continents, and averages over one hundred shows per year. Canadian-born Hollywood actor Dan Aykroyd, known for his Blues Brothers persona “Elwood Blues,” has called JW’s group an “amazing blues band.” American magazine Blues Revue stated that “Jones’ style is a fluid amalgam of T-Bone Walker’s big, bright chords, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s slashing leads, and Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown’s jazzy sting.” JW was born in Ottawa, Ontario and started playing drums at 13, at that time into Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and classic rock. A few years later, after witnessing a B.B. King performance, he fell in love with the blues and decided to take up the guitar. Soon he was absorbing the influences of artists such as Albert King, Freddie King, T-Bone Walker, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Jimmie Vaughan, and later, West Coast guitarists Junior Watson and Little Charlie Baty. In 1998 he won a “Battle of the Bands” contest, and the following year he won a “Best Guitar Riff-Off” competition and used the studio time prize to record his debut album, Defibrillatin’. Jones was the first artist signed to Toronto-based label Northern Blues Music, which released the album in 2000, as well as his next five CDs. JW’s “epiphany moment” came shortly after signing with Northern Blues: “I was in college for a computer course. The label was flying me across the country to play in showcases, and I had gigs every weekend. My focus was on the music and not school. I remember walking away from the college one day, and just like the movies… I looked back at the school, and said to myself, ‘I am never coming back here.’ It was the best decision I’ve ever made. After that, it was complete concentration on building my career.” He started by garnering three consecutive Maple Blues Award nominations and being invited to perform onstage with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Little Charlie & the Nightcats, and Junior Watson. Jones’ second release, Bogart’s Bounce, included performances by singer/harp player Kim Wilson and pianist Gene Taylor of The Fabulous Thunderbirds Kim Wilson produced JW’s next release, My Kind of Evil, which featured well-known Canadian singer/guitarist Colin James as guest. In 2006, JW released his fourth album, Kissing in 29 Days, including performances by David “Fathead” Newman, Ray Charles’ main saxophone player for 12 years. In a feature article entitled “JW-Jones — A Rising Star Chases the Sound of Thunder(birds),” Blues Revue magazine stated that “JW-Jones is highly regarded in blues circles.” One of the tracks, “Parasomnia,” appeared on a Guitar World featured CD, Guitar Masters Vol. 2, along with B.B. King, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Carlos Santana. On Jones’ next release, Bluelisted (2008), he got the chance to work with two of his guitar heroes, Little Charlie Baty and Junior Watson, and rhythm section Richard Innes and Larry Taylor. The liner notes were provided by Dan Aykroyd, who wrote “crisp covers and cool originals make this record a yellow dot must-buy”. For his next project JW headed to Memphis’ famed Sun Studios to record with blues legend Hubert Sumlin, the blues guitarist who worked with Howlin’ Wolf for over 20 years and was named one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. The resulting album, Midnight Memphis Sun, was released in 2010 and also featured guest Charlie Musselwhite, who stated that “JW Jones is one of the best guitar players I’ve heard in a long time. He and his band do great tunes with cool arrangements and I love listening to them. They play with taste and fire at the same time.” Jones’ 2012 release, Seventh Hour was the second release in a row to hit #1 on “B.B. King’s Bluesville” on XM Sirius Satellite radio, and led to the band’s opening for B.B. at the Ottawa Bluesfest, and an endorsement deal with Gibson guitars. Recently Jones was honoured by the Ottawa Business Journal and Ottawa Chamber of Commerce by being named one of the “Forty Under 40,” (out of 250 nominations), a salute to the region’s talented entrepreneurs who balance business achievement, professional expertise and community involvement. His first Blind Pig release, Belmont Boulevard, was produced in Nashville by Grammy-winning producer Tom Hambridge, who’s helmed projects for Buddy Guy, George Thorogood, and Susan Tedeschi. JW chose Hambridge to produce because “This CD is all about getting out of my comfort zone musically and lyrically, working with a big producer and creating a high-energy experience that matches our live show, and I knew Tom was the man to make that happen.” For the songs on the album, Jones decided for the first time to delve deep into his personal life and tell some of his stories that he’d never revealed before. He co-wrote many of the songs with Hambridge, a noted songwriter whose tunes have been recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rascal Flatts, and Delbert McClinton, and featured in movies, commercials, and television. “Digging deep into some very serious personal stories from my past and turning them into songs has been liberating and part of the healing process. I hope these songs resonate with listeners that have been through similar experiences,” said Jones. The future does indeed look bright for this upcoming star. Known for his high-energy, crowd-pleasing shows, Jones recently opened tours for the late Johnny Winter and one of his strongest influences, Jimmie Vaughan (about whom JW penned a song on the new album). Now, with his latest recording, he’s excited about reaching an even wider audience. Belmont Boulevard hit #9 on Billboard sales charts in the United States, and was nominated for JUNO and Maple Blues Awards in Canada. Musicians that tour with Jones (and appear on the new CD); Jamie Holmes (drums) and the heavy grooves of Laura Greenberg (bass) always add a powerful energy to the stage. Looking forward to his association with Blind Pig as he continues to perfect his craft, Jones said, “Signing with Blind Pig is truly an honour and major milestone in my career. I am ecstatic to be on a label that is a fixture in roots music. I’ve been listening to their records since I was a kid! With Stony Plain and Warner Music handling the Canadian release, this is winning team!”
SELWYN BIRCHWOOD Selwyn Birchwood, Florida’s rising young blues fireball, is a guitar and lap-steel-playing bundle of pure energy. He delivers his original songs with a revival tent preacher’s fervor and a natural storyteller’s charisma made all the more impactful by his raw, unvarnished vocals. Birchwood plays high-octane blues – at once deeply rooted, funky and up-to-the-minute – with true passion and honest emotion. With his band feeding off his drive and exuberance, the striking 6’3” 29-year-old with his trademark Afro roams the stage (often barefoot), ripping out memorable guitar licks with ease. His ability to win over an audience – any audience – is proven night after night on the bandstand. With his warm, magnetic personality, Birchwood is as down-to-earth as his music is fun, thought-provoking and vital. His mission is to spread his music far and wide, to share his joy, to play his heart out, and to push the blues into the future. “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than playing the blues,” he says. “And I try to convey that with every song and with every performance.” In 2013, Birchwood catapulted from local hero to shooting star. He won the world-renowned International Blues Challenge, beating out 125 other bands from the U.S. and abroad. He also took home the Albert King Guitarist Of The Year Award. It wasn’t long before Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer offered Birchwood a contract. His debut album, Don’t Call No Ambulance, is a fully realized vision of contemporary blues. Birchwood’s original songs range from raucous romps to hill country stomps, from searing, serious slow blues to modern blues rock. Between his uninhibited sense of fun and adventure and his serious-as-a-heart-attack musicianship, Don’t Call No Ambulance is a window into the future of the blues. “All originals and no filler,” he says of the album. “It’s that genuineness of emotion in the songs that people can hear.” The Tampa Tribune says Birchwood plays with “power and precision reminiscent of blues guitar hero Buddy Guy. He is a gritty vocalist [who is] commanding with his axe.” According to Iglauer, Birchwood is the real deal. “Selwyn Birchwood is a terrific young blues talent with a huge future. He writes smart, infectious, fresh songs and delivers them with a warm, conversational vocal style and a fun-loving attitude. He’s a killer guitarist, switching between a regular six-string and lap steel. Live, he’s a ball of energy, interacting with the audience like they were in his living room. Selwyn is destined to be one of the next stars in the blues world.” Birchwood, his father from Tobago, his mother from the UK, was born in 1985 in Orlando, Florida. He first grabbed a guitar at age 13 and soon became proficient at mimicking what he heard on the radio. But the popular grunge rock, hip-hop and metal of the 1990s didn’t move him, and he quickly grew bored. And then he heard Jimi Hendrix. “He was larger than life. What he did was mind-blowing. When I realized Hendrix was influenced by the blues, I found my path,” he says. By 17 he was deep into the blues, listening to Albert King, Freddie King, Albert Collins, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and especially Buddy Guy. As luck would have it, just as Birchwood was discovering Guy, the blues master had a concert scheduled in Orlando. Birchwood was there, front and center. “I was floored,” he recalls. “I completely connected with the blues. I knew I had to make this music.” As Selwyn’s guitar proficiency grew, a friend told him that his neighbor was a blues guitarist and had a band. The 19-year-old Selwyn went over to check it out and jam. The guitar-playing neighbor turned out to be the Texas-born blues legend Sonny Rhodes, who was instantly impressed with the enthusiastic young guitar slinger. Within one month’s time, Rhodes asked Birchwood to pack his bags and join him on the road. It was an incredible experience for Birchwood, as Rhodes took the youngster under his wing, not only teaching him guitar and lap steel, but also how to conduct business, how to run a band, how to reach an audience. “Sonny always said, ‘Play what’s in your heart.’ I’ve never lost sight of that,” says Birchwood. Rhodes insisted Birchwood go to college and always held the guitar spot in his band open for Selwyn whenever he was available. It was a win-win situation, as Birchwood – through hard work and scholarships – received his MBA from The University of Tampa. “I challenged myself to get that degree,” Birchwood says. "These days, it's not good enough to just be a good player.” Combining the musical lessons learned from Rhodes and his business acumen, Birchwood, now living in Tampa, formed the current version of The Selwyn Birchwood Band in 2010. The band, with the same members still together today, features veteran musicians older than Selwyn, testifying to Selwyn’s musical chops and his leadership skills. On stage, they play off each other with ease, feeding each other energy, sharing the fun with the audience. In 2011 the self-released FL Boy helped the band land gigs outside of their Tampa home, where they were becoming local heroes. Birchwood and his band won their way to spots at the 2012 and 2013 International Blues Challenges in Memphis. After taking ninth place in 2012, they came back determined the next year, taking first place. Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer was sitting at the judges table at the time. “I saw Selwyn’s potential in 2012. He absolutely deserved to win in 2013,” he says. The victory opened more doors for Birchwood, increased his exposure and helped the band land a deal with Intrepid Artists booking agency, which led to more and better gigs. The Selwyn Birchwood Band has been touring non-stop since winning the IBC. The band has performed at festivals including The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, Springing The Blues Festival, The Tampa Bay Blues Festival, The North Atlantic Blues Festival, The King Biscuit Blues Festival as well as on The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. Birchwood has opened for major blues stars including Robert Cray and Buddy Guy and has shared the stage with another friend and teacher, Joe Louis Walker (who guests on Don’t Call No Ambulance’s The River Turned Red). He recently had the opportunity, when performing in San Francisco, to bring his friend and mentor Sonny Rhodes on stage to sit in with his band. It was a moment Birchwood will never forget. “He did so much for me; it was a real honor to return the favor, if only a little.” With Don’t Call No Ambulance, Selwyn Birchwood steps onto the world stage, bringing a new wave of blues to a new generation of blues fans. “If I can play my music, travel the world, bring happiness to people, then I’m blessed and happy,” he says. “It’s like Sonny always told me, ‘If you follow your heart, you’ll always get what you want.’”
JAREKUS SINGLETON Born into a family of church musicians and vocalists on July 11, 1984 in Clinton, Mississippi, blues guitarist, songwriter, and singer Jarekus Singleton was raised on gospel music. Taught the bass by his uncle when he was nine years old, he began playing in his grandfather's church band that same year. He switched to guitar, and soon was soaking up any music he could find, from blues to rock, rap to country, and developed an exciting electric lead guitar style, with a vocal style to match. But Singleton also had other interests, including basketball, and he became a top-seeded national basketball prospect in college (he was the starting point guard for the University of Southern Mississippi for three years) before suffering an ankle injury in 2009. He became a rap artist for a time, writing his own lyrics, and when he picked up the guitar again, it all came together in a blues-based, rap-informed, and very personal take on contemporary blues. He formed the Jarekus Singleton Blues Band that same year in 2009, and quickly found a local following in Mississippi. He self-released a debut album, Heartfelt, in 2011. Signing to Alligator Records, his second album, and first national release, Refuse to Lose, appeared in 2014.