MAIN STAGE PERFORMERS
Utah Blues Festival Schedule
Better Off With the Blues is an acoustic blues band in Salt Lake City. We are: Lou Borgenicht (harmonica and vocals), Ken Critchfield (standup bass), Jim Poulton (guitar and vocals), and Paul Rasmussen (guitar, mandolin and vocals). Collectively our musical roots are eclectic – we’ve played in jazz, punk, Celtic, rock and roll, jug, bluegrass, old timey and folk bands, but we’ve always returned to the blues. Our blues influences are mainly traditional, but contemporary blues players can also get our attention. Better Off With the Blues formed in 2008. The band’s repertoire has grown to include blues of Lightnin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf, Mississippi John Hurt, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Blind Blake, Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Skip James, Sleepy John Estes and Muddy Waters, as well as more contemporary music of Delbert McClinton and Tom Waits. We also play original music by members of the band. Better Off With the Blues plays locally in Utah
Harry Lee and the band joined together 18 years ago under the moniker “The Part Timers” to host a Sunday Blues jam at The Old Bottling House. The Back Alley Blues Band was formed when Harry struck out from the jam to entertain under his own flag. Harry has been entertaining in Utah and all over the west his entire adult life.
ANNIKA CHAMBERS, like so many powerful vocal artists, can trace her love of music back to early childhood. “I grew up singing in the church,” she says. Not that she had to tell us. Citing the gospel influences of Yolanda Adams, Shirley Caesar, Dottie Peoples and Whitney Houston, you can’t help but feel the Spirit moving through the entire room when Annika throws herself into the heart of a song. But it was during her two tours of duty in the US Army that Chambers realized the gift she had. “One of my colonels heard me singing, and he said, ‘Why don’t you sing the Anthem for one of our ceremonies?’” She was an immediate hit and became their first choice for all their music events, joining the gospel choir and even winning the talent show on her base. From there, Chambers became part of a touring band making the rounds through Kosovo and Iraq, providing a welcome lift for the troops’ morale. She also planned special events, concerts, dances and karaoke nights, always doing her part to infuse the good time music into their lives. Returning to Houston in 2011 brought the creation of Annika Chambers and The House Rules Band. Audiences loved their combination of blues and soul and started paying attention to that powerhouse voice behind the microphone. Among her admirers was bassist Larry Fulcher (2012 inductee to the Blues Hall of Fame) and producer/musician Richard Cagle of Montrose Records. By the end of 2014, Chambers’ debut album, “Making My Mark”, was climbing blues charts across the US and Europe. Her meteoric success and rising attention brought Annika Chambers the coveted nomination for 2015 BMA (Blues Music Award) “Best New Artist 2015”. Her sophomore release, “Wild & Free”, did not disappoint, with a debut at #7 on the Billboard Blues chart! Building on her success, Chambers used this opportunity to showcase her ever-improving abilities to sing across multiple musical genres. The word continues to spread on this rising star as festivals from South America, Europe and right in her own backyard (Minnesota Bayfront Blues Festival, Las Vegas Blues Bender, Gloucester Blues Festival, Mississippi Delta Blues Festival) race to feature Annika Chambers in their lineup. A full-time music career can keep a person busy and yet Annika Chambers always finds time to give back to her community. Chambers has a deep passion for supporting and inspiring the next generation of musicians. When performing, she’ll often shift the spotlight to local youth musicians and she also donates time speaking in classrooms about the legacy that is the blues. Keep cruising the website to discover videos of Annika’s performances and samples from her CDs!
Samantha Fish Spins You Around With An Emotional Wild Heart “She snarls it, she spits it out and she could give a damn.” Goldmine Produced by Luther Dickinson Out on July 7th on Ruf Records 3rd Studio Release is filled up to the rim with staggering vocals, Aching guitar riffs and thunderous drums, leaving you lifeless Atlanta, GA – On July 7th, Ruf Records recording artist singer-guitarist Samantha Fish, will raise eyebrows with her third studio release, Wild Heart, produced by Luther Dickinson (The North Mississippi Allstars/Black Crowes). Having Samantha on guitars and Luther on various stringed instruments, they rounded out the lineup with Grammy Award-winning Brady Blade (Emmylou Harris/Bob Dylan) on drums. Special guests include Lightnin Malcolm (guitar), Sharde Thomas (drums) and Memphis session singers Shontelle Norman-Beatty and Risse Norman. The result is a stunning representation of Americana roots music. Wild Heart was recorded in three different studios, as they trekked the backroads from Louisiana to Mississippi in the fall of 2014. Starting at Brady Blade’s Shreveport, Louisiana studio, they laid the basic rhythm tracks and vocals. Luther and Samantha then hightailed it to his Zebra Ranch Studios in Hernando, Mississippi where they had a traditional Hill Country Blues session. Then, finally, all roads lead to Memphis where the duo put the final touches at both Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios and the legendary Ardent studios. “I fell in love with it,” she told Premier Guitar of her growing passion for the form, “and started doing my homework by listening to the old guys like Son House and Skip James.” Only into her mid-20s she already released two CDs, played all over the world and shared the stage with well-established to the legendary artists from Tab Benoit and Johnny Lang to Buddy Guy. Label mate and sometimes touring buddy, Mike Zito has long championed Samantha, produced her critically acclaimed albums, Runaway and Black Wind Howlin’ (2013). Samantha’s had a master’s class in a wide variety of the blues. Her work ethic is unquestioned and her love for performance is obvious. Boys will be boys it’s a powerful thing Better learn how to swim or learn how to drink – Bitch On The Run All that ambition and passion paid off in 2012 when Samantha won a Blues Music Award for Best New Artist Debut for her 2011 release Runaway (Ruf Records). The wonderful critical praise, winning fans at shows and all the long hours driving came to a shining moment that put more fuel into her fire. This desire is now revealed with Wild Heart as the pivotal moment in her budding career. Always yearning to learn, Samantha soaked in this experience like a sponge from the songwriting sessions to the final background harmonies. As her songs came together, it was suggested for her to collaborate with another songwriter she jumped the opportunity. Last summer she traveled to Nashville and wrote with accomplished songwriter Jim McCormick, whose songs have been cut by Trisha Yearwood and Keith Urban. A native of New Orleans, Jim has a flare for blues-boogie and full throttle vocalization to haunting melodies that gave Samantha a chance to growl. “… Fish’s commanding voice holds its own against the crunching guitar riffs and driving beat.” –Elmore Magazine Samantha and Jim wrote five of the 12 songs on the album, including the title song, “Wild Heart”, that echoes Led Zeppelin with a whiplash of a steady guitar riff. “Show Me” – a song that could easily be heard at some of New York City’s finest rock clubs – wreaks stale beer. Samantha holds her own on guitar duties on this tune as Brady Blade grinds the drums with a slow steady roll. As the album opens she’s bashes away with “Road Runner“, a warning to others of this mean man that broke her heart. The driving guitar sounds and thunderous beat supports her voice that is smooth as honey with a sad dash of salt. Left me waiting by a red-light, I think about him every night Road runner, road runner – Road Runner After wrapping basic tracks, it was off to Dickinson’s Zebra Ranch Studios via the back roads of Mississippi. Seeing the culture and environment upfront got her excited for the unknown. The result of that magical setting was a cover of Charley Patton’s, “Jim Lee Blues Pt. 1”, which fits Fish’s voice. It was an organic setting with fellow Hill Country Blues artists Sharde Thomas and longtime friend, Lightnin Malcolm. Sharde is a native Mississippian fife/drum player in the same American tradition of her grandfather Othar Turner. “This session had a whole other vibe to it. The studio is out in the country, no cell service, no distractions. You’re just surrounded by nature and guitars,” beams Samantha. Samantha’s love for the Hill Country Blues genre started early on as her musical foundation began to build. This fiery singer-songwriter and guitarist met some of these players when she attended the King Biscuit Blues Festival at age 17. There she met Lightnin Malcolm, a guitarist who befriended the young gun and then a few years later, at Zebra Ranch, she got to record with him. “Working with Malcolm was a longtime coming as I’d known him since I was a teenager. Hearing hill country blues made me fall in love with blues music and he was one of the first artists who let me jam with him.” “One of my favorite songs on Wild Heart is ‘Go Home’. It became so powerful and we wanted girl power, no-frills and those ladies delivered,” Samantha proudly states. It’s a quiet moment of reflection of an inner self struggle that can either be destructive or productive. The background singers, Shontelle Norman-Beatty and Risse Norman provide a soothing answer to Samantha’s tearful call. “Maybe in a moment of clarity, I’ll do what’s right, Maybe I’ll finally swallow a bit of my own advice” – Go Home oth Samantha and Luther wanted to make a live and honest record, capturing Fish’s emotional intensity and power trio integrity. “She is so smart and talented. It was a joy to take her under my wing and share what I’ve learned with her. Samantha brought her emotional energy from her performances which transcended into the record. The songs are very personal and she delivered. I am proud to be a part of the record”, states Dickinson. Samantha was equally satisfied with the results, “I was blown away by his ability to color a song. I stepped out of my comfort zone and I couldn’t be more proud of what we made.” Fish is an inveterate storyteller as well. Her songs are vivid and compelling with thick guitar lines and catchy riffs. – The Morning Call As the album comes to a close, Samantha has run the gamut of emotions. Her fingers are tired and her voice is shaking but she is able to pull out one more gem of a performance. A whispering rendition of RL Burnside’s “I’m In Love With You”. This is Samantha at her best-caressing the melody while the guitars and a slight drum beat flickers underneath her reassuring voice. Samantha has dug her high heels in some rich musical soil with Wild Heart and is poised to reach a new level in her career. She is armed with her guitar and these songs are in her back pocket; for there is no doubt Miss Fish will aim and fire, with confidence.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking of Rod Piazza as one of the “young turks” of the blues, or part of the “new generation” of blues greats. At this point in his career, Piazza has been recording longer than his mentor George “Harmonica” Smith did, or Sonny Boy Williamson (either of them!), or Big Walter Horton. He’s been making records for more years than Little Walter was alive. Piazza is a tried-and-true, dyed-in-the-wool blues veteran with credentials that are second to none. From his first recordings as a leader in 1967 fronting The Dirty Blues Band, through his multiple W.C. Handy Award winning with his current band The Mighty Flyers, to his countless appearances both live and on record with legendary blues figures, Piazza has set a standard for harmonica virtuosity that has established him as one of the most influential living blues harp players. He’s consistently surrounded himself with players who bring out the best he has to offer, and epitomize the very best in blues: fresh, swinging, tasteful, exciting and creative. The core of his band has been together for over three decades, and developed the kind of musical telepathy that simply cannot exist without years of experience on the bandstand and in the studio. The Mighty Flyers are a well-oiled machine, with Piazza in the driver’s seat. Born in 1947, Piazza’s infatuation with blues began at a time when many of the masters were still in their prime years, and in the mid 1960s when the first blues revival was picking up steam, he was in the thick of it. By the 1970s, he’d already released five albums, and was one of the leading lights of the West Coast Blues scene. In the early ’70s he joined forces with Otis Spann disciple Honey Alexander (now his wife) on piano, and when they formed the Mighty Flyers over three decades ago, his career really hit its stride. Since then Piazza and the Mighty Flyers have won or been nominated for just about every award that can be bestowed upon a blues band, played literally thousands of gigs around the world, recorded over a dozen highly acclaimed releases, and along the way virtually created a new style of blues – a combination of low-down Chicago grit, suave West Coast swing and jazz, and the rhythmic drive of the best early R&B and rock & roll. Quite simply, Rod Piazza and The Mighty Flyers are one of the best, most experienced, and most distinctive bands in blues today.
If you want to experience the “Real Deal”, take time out to find Kenny Neal. One of the strongest modern proponents of Baton Rouge swamp blues, Kenny Neal is a second-generation southern Louisiana bluesman who is cognizant of the region’s venerable blues tradition and imaginative enough to steer it in fresh directions. Neal was born on October 14, 1957 in New Orleans. His dad, harpist Raful Neal, was a Baton Rouge blues mainstay whose pals included Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo (the latter gave three-year-old Kenny his first harmonica). At age 13, Neal was playing in his father’s band, and at 17, landed a job playing bass for Buddy Guy. The guitarist recruited some of his talented siblings to form the Neal Brothers Blues Band up in Toronto (brother Noel later played bass behind James Cotton; five other Neal brothers also play in various bands) before returning stateside. In 1987, Kenny Neal cut his debut LP for Florida producer Bob Greenlee, an updated swamp feast initially released by Kingsnake Records as Bio on the Bayou. The following year, Alligator Records signed Neal and reissued the debut under the title Big News from Baton Rouge!! Young Neal was on his way. Neal’s sizzling guitar work, sturdy harp, and gravelly, aged-beyond-his-years vocals served him well, and he cut four albums for Alligator Records between 1989 and 1994. An acclaimed 1991 stint on Broadway in a production of Mule Bone found him performing acoustic versions of Langston Hughes’ poetry set to music by Taj Mahal. In 1998, Neal moved from Alligator to the blues division of the jazz-based Telarc Records, releasing three albums for the label: Blues Fallin’ Down Like Rain (1998), What You Got (2000), and One Step Closer (2001). In the new millennium, Neal recorded sets for a variety of independent labels, including Easy Meeting (a 2003 collaboration with Billy Branch), Double Take (2004, a one-shot return to Alligator), and A Tribute to Slim Harpo and Raful Neal (released in 2005 for True Life Entertainment). Three years later, Neal hooked up with Blind Pig Records and released Let Life Flow in 2008, once again incorporating his gritty Louisiana roots with a sophisticated Chicago/Memphis soul approach. A second Blind Pig release, Hooked on Your Love, appeared two years later in 2010. In 2015, Neal released his first holiday-themed album, I’ll Be Home for Christmas. It was his first album for Cleopatra Records, which also issued his latest critically acclaimed release, Bloodline in 2016. In the last few years, Kenny has relocated back to Baton Rouge and has spent much of his time around home with Family, writing songs, riding horses and working on his collection of vintage cars, but has come to realize that life on the road is his life. You can bet on seeing Kenny Neal and his band of Brothers (Darnell Neal on Bass and Fred Neal on Keys) back on the road and better than ever in 2017. They are joined by longtime drummer and friend, Bryan Morris and new addition to the band, Alphonso “AG” Guillory on horns. Kenny Neal, a true living blues Legend is THE REAL DEAL and more poised than ever to deliver the blues like no one else can!
Cigar Box Guitar-Making Workshop Location: 2017 Utah Blues Festival Gallivan Center, Salt Lake City Marriott Hotel Capital C Room Facilitated by Dave Smith of Defiant Guitars In this hands-on workshop, you’ll make your own fretless electric cigar box guitar. After you have completed the assembly, plug it in and listen to the sweet tone of your authentic cigar box guitar. This is a unique opportunity to make your own instrument and bottleneck slide. Become the down and dirty blues slide guitar player you’ve always dreamed of being. Parts & materials fee: $25. You will end up with a guitar valued at ~$250. You Must Email Tripp Hopkins at firstname.lastname@example.org and PRE-PAY to reserve your spot. *ONLY 12 SPACES AVAILABLE! Learn More: http://www.utahbluesfest.org/workshops/#1495722328227-424c9b10-8874
Bottleneck Guitar Slide Workshop Location: 2017 Utah Blues Festival Gallivan Center, Salt Lake City Marriott Hotel Capital C Room Facilitated by members of the Utah Blues Society During this hands-on workshop you’ll learn how to make your own slide out of the neck of a bottle the same way the blues players made them a hundred years ago. Once you’ve completed the process, you will have your own handmade bottleneck slide – Ready to Rip the Blues! Learn More: http://www.utahbluesfest.org/workshops/#1495722328177-b2e4c30f-588a
Blues Harp Workshop Location: 2017 Utah Blues Festival Gallivan Center, Salt Lake City Marriott Hotel Capital C Room Facilitated by members of the Utah Blues Society Hohner harmonicas will be given to the first 110 workshop attendees free of charge. We’ll teach you how to play a traditional blues harp riff and conduct an informal Q & A session to answer any questions you may have about playing your new blues harp. A portion of the workshop will be an intimate concert demonstrating how the blues harp blends with the blues guitar. Registered Blues Festival Attendees may begin registering for this workshop at the Capital C Room at 3:00PM Learn More: http://www.utahbluesfest.org/workshops/#1495733993800-cdf94a96-564d
UBS Youth ShowcaseGallivan Stage12:00 pm - 12:45 pm
BETTER OFF WITH THE BLUESMain Stage1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
HARRY LEE & THE BACK ALLEY BLUES BANDMain Stage2:20 pm - 3:20 pm
ANNIKA CHAMBERSMain Stage3:40 pm - 4:55 pm
SAMANTHA FISHMain Stage5:15 pm - 6:30 pm
ROD PIAZZA & THE MIGHTY FLYERSMain Stage6:50 pm - 8:05 pm
KENNY NEALMain Stage8:25 pm - 10:00 pm