The 2013 Daytona Blues Festival is still several months away, but already some top national blues acts are signing up to participate in the area's fastest-growing event.
This year the Blues Festival will be held on the 11th, 12th and 13th of October with a pre-festival welcome party on the 10th. As always, hotel specials and other details will be posted on the Festival Web site (annualdaytonabluesfestival.com) to help fans who like to plan ahead. Briefly, six top national blues acts will be featured on each of the three days, from 1 to 10 pm. This article will list the twelve acts announced so far, with more to come.
The Thursday night Welcome Party and the Friday Night After Party will be hosted by blues lady Skyla Burrell and her band, and our local phenom, "Piana" bluesman Victor Wainwright will host the Saturday and Sunday night parties. Here goes . . .
Tommy Castro and the Painkillers
One of the newest bands in our 2013 lineup was formed in February of 2012, although the band members have been around for a while. Tommy Castro is a veteran road warrior and one of the most successful blues musicians in the business. Today, Tommy Castro and the Painkillers have a mission: "A lot of folks are having hard times these days, and they need something to lift them up and make them smile," he says. "Our music kills the pain." Even after more than two decades on the road, 14 recordings and collaborations, and multiple Blues Music Awards, he wants to push the boundaries of today’s roots music. The Painkillers have a more stripped-down lineup that recalls the earlier days of the band, allowing Castro’s versatile guitar work and soulful voice to tell a story in every song. Caution: these Painkillers could be habit forming! tommycastro.com.
Formed in 1972, the Nighthawks started off playing a mix of blues, R&B, honky-tonk country, doo-wop, gospel and rockabilly. The band opened many doors for their contemporaries, including the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robert Cray, and played with Blues and Rockabilly legends, opening for Muddy Waters, James Cotton and Carl Perkins, and backed up and recorded with John Hammond and Pinetop Perkins. In 2009, Sirius XM invited the band to record some live tracks for their "B.B. King’s Bluesville" channel. In less than two hours, the band cut almost a dozen tunes, and a week later had a CD ready to release. Last Train to Bluesville was released on RipBang Records and won Acoustic Album of the Year at the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards in Memphis in May 2011. thenighthawks.com
The Grand Marquis band plays a classic Kansas City brand of hot swinging jazz and jumping blues. Their music is hard to pinpoint - Prohibition-era KC, the streets of New Orleans, 1950's Memphis or 1930's Paris, a style that encompasses jazz, blues and swing. They won the Topeka, Kansas region of the International Blues Challenge, earning them a trip to compete in the national Memphis competition, placing in the Top 8 of the Finals out of nearly 200 bands competing. grandmarquis.net.
Matt Hill and the Deep Fryed Two
North Carolina bluesman Matt Hill started playing guitar and studying American Roots Music when he was 12. In high school he started going to blues jams, winning local music awards blues, and playing a mix of blues rockabilly, and rock'n'roll. He developed what one reviewer called "a totally uninhibited, ferociously raving stage presence that harkens back to the heydays of Howlin' Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis and Nappy Brown." His debut album "On the Floor" won the award for Best New Artist Debut at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis TN. facebook.com/MattHillDeepFryed2
Harper and the Midwest Kind
Australian singer and songwriter Harper plays a unique blend of roots music through the harp and the didgeridoo. Backed by his Michigan-based band Midwest Kind, Harper plays a mix of blues, rock, funk, soul and world music, drawn from both Western and Aboriginal culture. He adds his soulful voice and lyrics to the traditional blues harmonica, with powerful guitar licks and the unique drone of the didgeridoo to create raw and eerie sounds. harper.biz
Betty Lou Fox
Raised on Southern Country Gospel music, Betty Lou Fox has exploded on the Florida West Coast Blues scene, singing her blend of soul and blues at festivals all over the area. Opening for artists like our own Selwyn Birchwood, playing the traditional blues of masters like Howlin' Wolf and backed by a talented quartet, this young singer's mix of heart-wrenching original and cover songs has thrilled some large and very appreciative audiences. bettyfox.net.
Ronnie Baker Brooks
Ronnie Baker Brooks is on a mission, carrying the torch from the previous generation of soul and blues greats while adding a style of his own, mixing blues-rock with deep soul and modern hip-hop vocals and funk rhythms. He grew up in Chicago influenced by the best of the best, people like Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, B.B. King and his own father, blues great Lonnie Brooks.
Brooks takes roots music and transforms it into a sound that spans the ages. He compares it with how Muddy Waters took the Mississippi blues of his youth and modernized it in his later years by making it electric and harder. His album "The Torch" has a song featuring classic Chicago artists Lonnie Brooks, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson and the late Willie Kent, and another track highlighting rapper Al Kapone.
Like his father before him, Brooks played regularly in Chicago area clubs and then hit the road for what turned out to be a seemingly non-stop, three-year tour. Today, Ronnie Baker Brooks is a man with both a legacy and a vision, uniquely suited to carry the torch. ronniebakerbrooks.com
Dave “Biscuit” Miller is another Chicago bluesman, born on the south side and raised by his grandmother who called him "Biscuit." Grandma also gave him a love and appreciation for music. While visiting a friend, Biscuit discovered an electric bass guitar and decided to check it out. He took to it like a fish in water, so at the age of eleven, Biscuit Miller was born into the Blues.
One day, Biscuit received a call asking him to fill in for Chicago’s legendary Lonnie Brooks, father of Ronnie Baker Brooks (who is also in the lineup at tonight's Daytona Blues Festival.) Biscuit became the permanent bass player for the Lonnie Brooks Band and toured with him for several years, learning the music business and playing some memorable gigs like President Clinton’s inauguration. He also played with the Anthony Gomes Band (featured in last year's Daytona Blues Festival) for five years.
Biscuit’s fun and funky style of bass playing are today the sound of the "Biscuit Miller and The Mix" band, a bowlful of soulful, funky blues stew served with a pipin’ hot Biscuit, of course! biscuitmiller.com
Stacy Mitchhart is best known for his killer guitar playing and strong vocals, bringing him many awards, 13 endorsements, 10 CDs, one DVD/CD and one documentary. Mitchhart moved to Nashville in 1996 and quickly became the house band for the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar in historic Printer’s Alley. He has played with bluesmen like played James Brown, Keb’ Mo, Steven Stills, Gatemouth Brown, Joe Sample, and even John Entwhistle of the Who.
He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, where at the age of nine he remembers seeing a newspaper ad for guitar lessons. After the first six months, his dad bought him a guitar and he continued the lessons, soon playing his first guitar solo at the school choir concert before about 450 people. His best friends’ father, Frank Hedges, was his biggest musical influence, an unorthodox storefront preacher who played gospel as the blues. Bobby Blue Bland is his favorite vocalist. BB King is another favorite. Same with Albert Collins, Carlos Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, and Wes Montgomery. stacymitchhart.com
EG Kight (a.k.a. "The Georgia Songbird") has headlined at clubs, theaters and festivals in cities across America and Europe. Her career began in country music, and has been broadened to include Americana, southern rock, blues, pop, jazz, gospel and funk. Born and raised in rural Georgia, Kight still lives on land that’s been in her family for four generations. Her roots go deep, and that comes through in her music. Raised in a family of gospel singers, she has also mastered the guitar, earning her the sponsorship of Taylor Guitars.
She has shared the stage with artists like Koko Taylor, Hubert Sumlin, Foghat, Pinetop Perkins, Phoebe Snow, Delbert McClinton, Gregg Allman, Merle Haggard, and Little Feat. Kight has also appeared on NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion”, and one song from her segment was re-broadcast on the Listener’s Choice Program. Kight has no musical boundaries, playing at a coliseum, in festivals, at a songwriters club, a blues cruise, a theater, an outdoor plaza, a military base, and summer afternoons at the local winery.
She was recently nominated for two Blues Blast awards, Female Artist and Song of the Year. She has also received six Blues Music Awards nominations, twice for Song of the Year. One of her originals won a People’s Choice Award and she has written songs on two of Koko Taylor’s Grammy-nominated albums. egkight.com
Texas blues troubadour Hadden Sayers took a path back from a period of hard times through an Ohio country shack where a chance encounter with a retired stonemason forged an unlikely friendship, rejuvenated his soul, and ultimately, his music.
The retired stonemason was Conard McCorkle, whose silent strength, patience, and friendship revived Sayers’ resolve. He began humming tunes and melodies on the drive to the shack. He hauled in recording gear and began working through songs in the country, sometimes recording lyrics as voice memos on a cell phone until he could reach the studio.
One day, Grammy-nominated vocalist Ruthie Foster called in search of a guitarist. She had built her career in the Brazos Valley of Central Texas, Sayers’ old stomping grounds. The two musicians shared a love for the Brazos Valley hybrid of blues, Tejano, country, soul, gospel, and reggae. In 2010, Sayers spearheaded the creation of a new record label with the help of some investors and music industry veterans. Their first release, called "Hard Dollar," was released in June, 2011.
Hadden Sayers' music is about doing things the right way, not the easy way. It’s part of who he is as a person. And those life lessons from Conard McCorkle reinforced it. As the song says, sometimes the hard dollar is an honorable dollar. Sometimes the hard dollar is the dollar that matters most. haddensayers.com
Blues fans who attended the 2011 Daytona Blues Festival can't help but remember Darren Johnson. He's the guy with the deep-deep bluesy voice that you couldn't believe was coming from a Canadian blonde white guy.
For the last ten years, Darren has been busy on the Canadian and U.S. blues and roots scene - working with the likes of Amos Garrett, Tim Williams, Jim Byrnes, John Lee Sanders, and The Blind Boys of Alabama among many others. His songwriting is simple, dealing with everyday situations for everyday people. His music has been described as "somewhere in-between Tom Waits and Leon Redbone, Howlin' Wolf and Willie Nelson". His sound is a throwback to yesteryear. As we said earlier, be prepared to find yourself deceived by the contrast between what you are hearing versus what you are seeing.
Hailing from Okotoks Alberta, Darren spends a lot of his time (when he isn't enjoying our Festival) touring the western provinces of Canada as either a solo or duo act. Tours in Eastern Canada and Europe have also received favorable responses. Four albums later, Darren's music has reached throughout the U.S., Europe, Japan, China, and Australia through CD sales. darrenjohnson.net
If you haven't yet been to a Daytona Blues Festival, call some friends and make plans to attend. You won't be sorry! The rest of the 2013 lineup will appear in the next newsletter.
For More Information
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- Festival Newsletter #1 (1/2013) -- http://eepurl.com/t5mHD
- Festival Newsletter #2 (1/2013) -- http://eepurl.com/ulAP5
- Festival Facebook site -- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Annual-Daytona-Blues-Festival/114723601923609?fref=ts