Utah Blues Festival Schedule
Welcome Jason Ricci to his first ever Utah performance at the 2019 Utah Blues Festival in downtown Salt Lake City. Jason Ricci is one of the most popular harmonica players on the planet today. Listed in almost every top ten list of players on the internet today Jason Ricci is a polarizing force always in the spot light and on the tips of critics, artists and fans tongue’s everywhere. Through two plus decades of endless touring, TV appearances, recordings and the internet Jason Ricci’s style of playing is so revolutionary and influential that there exists an entire younger generation of players imitating his music, clothes, gear, and even stage presence. Nick named “Moon Cat” (a street name he once used in Nashville and New Orleans to avoid police detection) Jason has been an almost constant force for decades in the studio, festivals, club dates and press. Love him or hate him, through performing, singing, song writing, teaching, harmonica playing and activism in the fields of L.G.B.T., mental health and addiction, it is not an overstatement that this young, white, queer, skateboarding, punk rock loving, multiple convicted felony having Moon Cat from Maine is currently changing the world through music and education.
Sue Foley is a Canadian blues singer and guitarist. Her long awaited visit to Salt Lake City will happen at the 5th Anniversary of the Utah Blues Festival in June of 2019 Foley was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and spent her early childhood in Canada. She learned to play guitar at age 13, became interested in blues music from listening to the Rolling Stones, and played her first gig at age 16. After high school graduation, she relocated to Vancouver where she formed The Sue Foley Band and toured Canada. By age twenty-one, Foley was living in Austin, Texas and recording for Antone’s, the blues label and historic nightclub. Her first release was Young Girl Blues. Foley has toured steadily with her band, toting her signature pink paisley Fender Telecaster. In 2001, Sue won the Juno Award for her CD, Love Coming Down. Foley has also earned seventeen Maple Blues Awards and three Trophees de Blues de France. She has also garnered several nominations at the International Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Tennessee. 2018 will mark Foley’s return as a solo artist with her long anticipated CD, “The Ice Queen”, which features guest appearances by Billy Gibbons of ZZTop and Texas blues legend, Jimmie Vaughan.
Tab Benoit is Louisiana’s No. 1 roots export. More than just an acclaimed bluesman, he is an indefatigable conservation advocate. Benoit is a driving force behind Voice of the Wetlands, an organization working to save Louisiana’s wetlands. In 2010, he received the Governor’s Award for Conservationist of the Year from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. Benoit also starred in the iMax motion picture Hurricane on the Bayou, a documentary of Hurricane Katrina’s effects and a call to restore the wetlands. In 2007, Benoit won the dual awards of B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and Best Contemporary Male Performer at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis (formerly the W.C. Handy Awards). In 2006, he received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album for Brother to the Blues, a collaboration with Louisiana’s LeRoux. LeRoux joined Benoit on Power of the Pontchartrain in 2007 and the live Night Train to Nashvillein 2008.
The Utah Blues Society is proud to present a collection of Utah’s rising youth musicians at the 2019 Utah Blues Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah In partnership with the Music Garage, the Utah Blues Festival provides an opportunity for youth musicians to perform on the Main Stage of the Utah Blues Festival as the opening act of the festival. Sometimes, the youth band even gets to perform during the headlining/encore set of the festival.
The Backtrack Blues Band is one of Florida’s longest running and most accomplished blues bands. Founded in 1980, the group has performed continuously for over 30 years. Backtrack’s high energy Chicago-style blues with exceptional guitar, harp, and vocals, has made the band a constant on the Florida blues concert, club, and festival scene for over three decades. The group has established a strong reputation for creative songwriting and has released five CDs and a DVD of original music, all of which charted on the U.S. blues radio charts. The band released its newest CD, “Way Back Home,” in 2016, and it represents Backtrack’s best recording to date. The record is receiving international radio play and has positioned the band to gain a much wider following. In the words of Art Tipaldi, Editor of Blues Music Magazine, “On its fifth CD, ‘Way Back Home’, the first class band has recorded one of its strongest traditional blues recordings to date and is now poised to carry its musical message to a larger audience.” The quintet consists of Sonny Charles on harmonica and vocals, Kid Royal on lead guitar and vocals, Little Johnny Walter on rhythm guitar and vocals, Stick Davis on bass, and Joe Bencomo on drums. Backtrack has appeared as an opening act in concert with many legendary blues artists including B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman, Robert Cray, Johnny Winter, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and others. The group has also been recognized by the Tampa Bay community as a leader in the blues music arena by garnering three Tampa Bay Music Awards as the area’s “Best Blues Band.” The band members are serious students of blues music and bring a lot of authenticity and talent to the group. Sonny Charles and Little Johnny formed the band in 1980 and have played together for over 35 years. Sonny is an accomplished blues harmonica player, whose tone and style are reminiscent of Little Walter and Paul Butterfield. Kid Royal has appeared at many major blues festivals throughout Canada and America, and his style is influenced by the great Texas guitar players. He is widely respected as one of the very top guitarists in Florida. Joe Bencomo is an exceptional drummer, who has played in the best blues and jazz bands in Tampa Bay for over 40 years. Little Johnny adds solid rhythm guitar and backup vocals to the band. Stick Davis is a gifted bass player, and he was a founding member of the Amazing Rhythm Aces and has traveled the world, touring with BB King, John Mayall, Al Green, Jesse Winchester, Pure Prairie League, and others. Together, these guys comprise one of Florida’s best and most accomplished blues bands, and their live show is an original and exciting display of electric blues at its very best! The band’s leader has significant experience in producing top quality blues music shows, having founded and managed the award-winning Tampa Bay Blues Festival for over 20 years.
Cafe R&B is a five-piece band from the Los Angeles area consisting of female singer Roach, guitarist Byl Carruthers, keyboardists John “JT” Thomas, Harry Cohen and Stevie Utstein, bassist Bobby Pickett, and drummer Don Swanson and Adam Gust. Longtime music fans may remember lead singer “Roach” from her days fronting Los Angeles’ “Roach and the White Boys” in the early 1980s. Critics in the U.S. and Europe have compared her hard-rocking vocals to the likes of Etta James, Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin. HITS Magazine declared: “Imagine Etta James riding a Harley out of an active volcano, and you’ll have some vague inkling as to the vocal power…” Her producer/husband, Byl Carruthers, does amazing guitar work and writes the band’s original material. When not producing music, he also produces and directs television shows – his credits include “Oprah,” “Spy TV,” and others. He’s also known as a walking encyclopedia of the blues, and has written liner notes for several blues compilations. Cafe R&B has passion for gritty, hard-hitting early blues and R&B. For the past ten years, Cafe R&B has honed their legendary live performance skills at venues and blues clubs throughout the U.S., such as the House of Blues and “Buddy Guy’s Legends,” the legendary San Francisco Blues Festival in 2005, Fire on the Mountain Blues Festival in ’05, 06, and ’07, and the Long Beach Blues Festival, Chicago Blues Festival 2010 just to name a few. In Europe, they have performed at jam-packed and sold-out residences in London, Barcelona and Paris. In May 2010 they headlined the Grolsch Blues Festival in Schoeppingen/Germany and the Jazz Festival in Cloppenburg/Germany. In October 2009, 2010 and 2012 they performed on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. They are also the Utah Blues Festival’s first ever headliner and we are so proud to bring the band back for our 5th Anniversary!
The Welch-Ledbetter Connection is the 2018 Blues Music Award Winner for Best Traditional Blues Album! See them live at the 2019 Utah Blues Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah! A powerful throwback to the west side sounds of 1960’s Chicago, The Welch-Ledbetter Connection has become an absolute force in the world of Blues and Soul music. This force is fronted by the dynamic vocals of Chicago powerhouse Mike Ledbetter, and “Monstrous” sounds of Boston blues guitar veteran Mike Welch. Riding the wave of their debut album, ‘Right Place, Right Time’, the duo burst onto the scene in 2017 with thrilling responses from audiences all over the world. They have become well known for their raw musical intensity, a trademark collaborative harmony all their own, and a vigorous approach to their retro roots. Now donning an established group of dynamite musicians to form “The Connection”, this is only the beginning for this duo.
One of the most recognized and sought-after saxophonists/vocalists, two-time GRAMMY nominee Mindi Abair has been electrifying audiences with her dynamic live performances and utter command of the saxophone since her debut album in 2000. No one since Junior Walker has brought saxophone and vocals in one package to the forefront of modern music, with a raucous tone and dynamic stage presence. She has garnered ten #1 radio hits, six Top 5 solo records and two #1 spots on the Billboard album charts. In 2014, Mindi received her first GRAMMY® nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category, followed by a 2015 GRAMMY® nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for her solo LP Wild Heart featuring Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Trombone Shorty, Booker T. Jones, Keb’ Mo’, and Max Weinberg. The daughter and granddaughter of working musicians, Abair continues to captivate fans while evolving her sound. In 2014, after two seasons as the featured saxophonist on the hit series American Idol, Abair released Wild Heart. This LP showcased a compilation of grittier rock and soul tracks featuring some of the biggest names in music. To help translate this sound to her live shows, Mindi enlisted longtime friend and The Boneshakers founder Randy Jacobs (Bonnie Raitt, Was Not Was, Willie Nelson) to inject his brand of Detroit Blues Rock. The collaboration was undeniable, and it lead to an almost immediate decision to join forces creatively. Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers features band leader Mindi Abair (Saxophone, Vocals), Randy Jacobs (Guitar, Vocals), Rodney Lee (Keys), Derek Frank (Bass, Vocals), and Third Richardson (Drums, Vocals).
Ronnie considers blues guitarist and vocalist Otis Rush as having the greatest musical influence on his life, as well as Magic Sam, Guitar Slim, Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Smith, Grant Green, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery, all of whom have deeply and profoundly shaped and inspired his playing. Ronnie is a now a four-time (1997,1999, 2014, 2018) W.C. Handy Blues Award winner, renamed the Blues Music Awards, as Guitar Player of the Year. He has served as an Associate Professor of Guitar at Berklee College of Music, taught for five years at the National Guitar summer workshop in Connecticut, and has given private lessons. In 1995 Ronnie released Ronnie Earl: Blues Guitar with Soul, an instructional VHS tape that was then rereleased in DVD format in 2005. Ronnie Earl has played alongside such greats as B. B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers Band, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Big Joe Turner, Otis Rush, Earl King, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Etta James, and Big Mama Thornton as well as gifted young blues guitarists who he just might pull up on stage at a moment’s notice. From his own introduction to music at age ten to introducing a young ten-year-old to a world of music, Ronnie Earl has made his hopeful spirit and presence felt. These days Ronnie is healthy, happily married and playing with the Broadcasters in New England, the East Coast, occasional trips to the Midwest and to Canada. He played frequently at the First Baptist Church of Littleton, MA, as well as playing for children and adults with special needs, benefits for cancer research and programs that serve the homeless population. Ronnie has now been clean and sober for 29 years and shares this: “To all my friends throughout the world, I thank you deeply from my heart for all your love and all the prayers that you have shown me. Due to God’s miracle and grace, I am free from my depression. I love all of you and may God bless and keep you!” Love, Ronnie ~~ It has been said about Ronnie: “I feel the respect and affection for him that a father feels for his son. He is one of the most serious blues guitarists you can find today. He makes me proud.” ~ B. B. King “Perhaps the finest living blues guitarist on the planet.” ~ The Boston Phoenix “Ronnie Earl is the John Coltrane of the guitar.” ~ Jim Hynes, Elmore Magazine “Ronnie Earl caresses the strings with utmost sensitivity one moment, alternately following it by a cluster of hard-edged riffs.” ~ Gary Tate/LivinBlues “He has released some twenty albums – but Ronnie Earl can still take your breath away.” ~Guitar Player Magazine “When it’s time for spiritual rejuvenation, it’s time for a visit from Ronnie Earl, pastor of the church of tone.” ~ Eric C. Shoaf, Vintage Guitar
UBS Youth Blues BandThe Utah Blues Society Youth Blues Band12:00 pm - 12:40 pm
BACKTRACK BLUES BANDBacktrack Blues BAnd1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
Cafe R&BCafe R&B2:40 pm - 4:00 pm
WELCH - LEDBETTER CONNECTIONWELCH-LEDBETTER CONNECTION4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
MINI ABAIR & THE BONESHAKERSMINDI ABAIR & THE BONESHAKERS6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
RONNIE EARL & THE BROADCASTERSRONNIE EARL & THE BROADCASTERS8:30 pm - 10:00 pm