Cover Story: Blues You Can Use

The Full Schedule at the 2005 Cincy Blues Fest, plus 'must-sees'

Jul 27, 2005 at 2:06 pm

5:30-6:20 p.m.: Brown Street Breakdown

Hard-rockin' Blues from Dayton.

6:35-7:35 p.m.: John Nemeth featuring Nick Moss

Nemeth is no stranger to Blues festivals, having played at numerous fests across the globe since the mid-'90s. A Bluesman since his high school days, the Boise, Idaho-based singer/songwriter/harmonica player has performed with the Junior Watson Band (who back him on his recent CD, Come and Get It) and fronted his own group, The Jacks. Nemeth has a soulful, vintage Chicago R&B sound (he fancies himself in the vein of Ray Charles, B.B. King and Junior Parker), which has helped him land opening slots with Robert Cray and Keb' Mo'.

7:50-9 p.m.: Lurrie Bell

The Blues press (and music media in general) eats up the music of this Chicago-based Blues guitarist, who's been called the best guitarist in the Windy City and the second coming of Buddy Guy. The son of harmonica master Carey Bell, Lurrie was entrenched in the Chicago Blues scene from birth, learning about the great American artform from Eddie Taylor, Big Walter Horton, his cousin Eddie Clearwater and Muddy Waters, with whom his father worked for many years. His versatility (he's well versed in any number of traditional Blues styles) helped put and keep him in the public eye since he first appeared on stage as a teenager. Lurrie toured with Koko Taylor for many years, co-founded the group Sons of the Blues with Willie Dixon's son and has appeared on countless Blues compilations and sessions. His most recent CD release has been in the can for a while; 2004's Second Nature on Alligator Records is an acoustic album he recorded with his father while on tour in Finland in 1991 (the disc was nominated for "Acoustic Blues Album of the Year" at this year's W.C. Handy Awards).

9:15-10:45 p.m.: Deitra Farr

Living Blues magazine calls Farr one of Chicago's best singers, and her handful of nominations from awards programs like the W.C. Handy Awards and the British Blues Connection Awards help back up that assessment.

She began singing in Soul bands in 1975, before entering the Blues world with a full head of steam in the early '80s. After a few years in the '90s fronting the group Mississippi Heat, Farr returned focus to her solo career, began mixing Blues with her Soul music roots and started touring all over the world, becoming somewhat of an overseas ambassador for the Blues (in fact, she represented the Chicago Tourism Board in Germany). On top of writing songs, Farr is also a poet and journalist and released her sophomore solo effort, Let It Go!, on JSP Records this year, showcasing her silky, rich voice and command of the urban Blues format.

5:30-6:30 p.m.: Clark and Son

Local faves and winners in the "Solo/Duo" category of this year's Cincinnati Blues Challenge.

6:40-7:50 p.m.: Dave MacKenzie

Nashville-based authentic, humorous and acoustic Country/Blues.

8-9:10 p.m.: Paul Rishell & Annie Raines

Singer/guitarist Rishell got his start as a drummer for a Surf band in the '60s but soon found kindred souls in the Country/Blues offerings of Son House and Blind Lemon Jefferson and changed course. After learning all he could from old albums, Rishell dove into the Boston music scene and became a peer of Chris Smither and Bonnie Raitt. Raines discovered her passion for the Blues in high school and, inspired by Walter Jacobs, Big Walter Horton and Sonny Boy Williamson, decided to go into the field as a harmonica player, a rarity for a female Blues performer. Raines and Rishell began playing in the same circles — she with the Tarbox Ramblers and Susan Tedeschi at the same time he was giving guitar lessons to Tedeschi and Michael Tarbox. Raines appeared on Rishell's 1993 album, Swear to Tell the Truth, and the pair's matching, intuitive styles clicked instantly. They've since recorded three albums as a duo, including the W.C. Handy Award-winning Moving to the Country in 2000. Their most recent effort, Goin' Home (Tone-Cool/Artemis), was nominated for 2005 Handy Awards in both the "Acoustic Blues Album" and "Acoustic Blues Artist" categories.

9:20-10:45 p.m.: Guy Davis

Davis is a musician, composer, actor, director and writer, but "Bluesman" is the name he's most comfortable with and proud of. Discovering classic Blues via Taj Mahal records, he also claims influence from Blind Willie McTell, Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt and Buddy Guy. But being the son of the brilliant Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee probably also greatly assisted his rich understanding of the vital American art form. Davis' creative life is as dynamic as it is storied, from acting roles in the film Beat Street and the soap One Life to Live to Broadway appearances to his current main focus as a top-shelf Blues artist. Davis has found ways to combine his various outlets over the years — in '93 he played Robert Johnson in an Off Broadway production and the following year won praise for his one-man show, In Bed With the Blues: The Adventures of Fishy Waters. Davis' recordings for Red House Records have been universally praised for their foot-stompin' glee. His seventh and most recent album, Legacy, explores the acoustic roots of Blues but also features Davis' son on the Hip Hop-influenced song, "Uncle Tom's Dead" (the track was named one of the best songs of 2004 by NPR's All Things Considered, while the album landed on NPR's list of the best CDs of the year alongside Wilco, Brian Wilson and Modest Mouse).

6:45 p.m.: Devotion by Pastor Willie Crawford

7-8 p.m.: The Echoes of Glory

8:15-9:15 p.m.: James Napier

9:30-10:45 p.m.: Milligan & Company

2-2:50 p.m.: Sonny Moorman Group

One of the most active acts on the entire Greater Cincinnati music scene for the past decade, Moorman's "Power Blues" power trio (with him on vocals and guitar, Jamie Combs on drums and Marc Hoffman on bass) earned its festival slot by winning the 2005 Cincinnati Blues Challenge, which also means the group will travel to Memphis in January for the International Blues Challenge competition and festival. Moorman's raw soul bleeds through in his electrifying playing and commanding vocal presence, leading a style that draws on the history of Blues Rock, taking cues from pioneers like John Mayall, Cream, the Allman Brothers, Stevie Ray Vaughan and ZZ Top. He's as good a Blues showman as this area has ever produced, releasing five albums for the indie labels Atlas and Sun Studios/706 (a new one, Crossroads Motel, is due very soon).

3:05-4:05 p.m.: Uncle Russell Givens and Kinfolk

Local favorites in the fine tradition of Cincinnati Blues.

4:20-4:50 p.m.: Blues in the Schools presentation (see main story)

5:05-6:10 p.m.: Slick Ballinger

Young Mississipi Blues master in the vein of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.

6:25-7:30 p.m.: W.C. Clark

Singer/guitarist/songwriter Wesley Curley Clark has been dubbed "one of the greatest modern Blues performers in the world" by his hometown daily paper, The Austin American-Statesmen, and his Gospel/Soul/Rock/Funk-infused take on the genre has earned him similar acclaim worldwide. Clark cut his teeth on the "chitlin circuit" with Joe Tex in the 1960s, honing not only his musicianship but also his renowned performance fervor. When he returned to Austin, he found a new school of young Blues performers, most of whom looked up to Clark as a hero and eventual mentor. One of those newbies was Stevie Ray Vaughan, who recruited Clark to become bassist of his Triple Threat Revue band. Clark struck out on his own in the mid-'80s and became a king of the Austin Roots scene. For his 50th birthday, in 1989, Austin City Limits put together a special show featuring Clark's friends and followers, including Vaughan and his brother Jimmie, Kim Wilson, Lou Ann Barton and Will Sexton. Clark has since remained a star of the Blues world, winning a truckload of W.C. Handy Awards and signing with Alligator Records in 2002 to release the acclaimed From Austin With Soul. His most recent Alligator release, Deep in the Heart, shows him still atop his game even as he nears the half-century mark of his career.

7:45-9 p.m.: Paul ´Wine´ Jones

Jones was born in the Delta, literally, and his distinctive spin on the Blues reflects not only his rural upbringing and deep roots in tradition but also his merit as a true Blues "artist," creatively fusing his own personality into the genre's hallowed customs. With Blues in his blood, Jones learned to play guitar by teaching himself after watching his father play (his brother Casey is a drummer who's played with the likes of Koko Taylor and Albert Collins), eventually developing his own trademark spin on electric Country/Blues, littered with wah-wah riffage and resonant texturing. Like many of his "buried treasure" peers in Mississippi, Jones' career began in earnest when Fat Possum Records brought him to the world's attention; Jones was a highlight on the label's landmark mid-'90s Mississippi Juke Joint Caravan tour, and he has since recorded two albums of blisteringly raw, greasy sounds for the imprint. For those tired of the sometimes overbearing gloss many modern Blues artists go for on their recordings, Jones' Mule and Pucker Up Buttercup are nattily funky and to-the-bone authentic.

9:15-10:45 p.m.: Chicago Allstars

Nothing caps a great music festival like a dazzling all-star jam, and this built-in supergroup is more than happy to comply. The conglomeration of veteran Chicago Blues heroes includes versatile guitarist Billy Flynn (who's played with Otis Rush and Luther Allison), keyboardist Roosevelt "Hatter" Purifoy, one-time Muddy Waters harp blower Mojo Buford, accomplished saxman Eddie Shaw, bassist Calvin "Fuzz" Jones (another Muddy Waters band vet) and drummer Tim Taylor, son of the late legendary singer/guitarist Eddie Taylor.

A trademark Blues Fest feature, the Arches Piano Stage is one of the few fest outlets in the world focused solely on the ivory ticklers. The stage this year once again features some of the finest Blues pianist in the country, including local faves like Todd Hepburn, Ricky Nye and Big Joe Duskin. Stick around for the "grand finale" jam featuring many of the players (Chez Nora will host a piano jam later as well). The stage will be equipped with a Hammond B-3 organ for the first time this year.

1-1:30 p.m.: Todd Hepburn

1:35-2:10 p.m.: Matt Ball

2:15-2:50 p.m.: Craig Brenner

2:55-3:35 p.m.: Rudy Blue Shoes

3:40-4:20 p.m.: Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues

4:25-5:05 p.m.: Ricky Nye & Nick Lloyd

5:10-5:40 p.m.: Big Joe Duskin

5:55-6:05 p.m.: Tim Deelen

6:10-6:50 p.m.: Mark Braun

6:55-7:35 p.m.: Bruce Katz

7:40-8:20 p.m.: Ann Rabson

8:25-9:05 p.m.: Henry Gray

9:10-9:50 p.m.: Henry Butler

9:55-10:35 p.m.: Bob Seeley

10:35 p.m.: Grand Finale

1:45-2:55 p.m.: Devotion

2-2:50 p.m.: The Christian Redemption Choir

3:05-3:50 p.m.: New Inspiration Singers

4:05-4:50 p.m.: Soul Redeemers

5:05-5:50 p.m.: The Latimore Sisters

6:05-6:50 p.m.: Phil Brown & God's Earth

7:05-8:05 p.m.: Charles Collier & The

Dynamic Sons

8:20-9:20 p.m.: The Prodigal Sons

9:35-10:45 p.m.: Mighty Faith Ambassadors