Johnny Burgin earns his name as The Worldwide West Side Guitar Man by performing up to 250 shows a year in Europe, Japan and coast to coast in the US. Johnny started his career in the rough and tumble neighborhood blues joints on Chicago’s West Side with Howlin’ Wolf disciple Tail Dragger, and went on to tour and record with blues legends such as Pinetop Perkins, Sam Lay and Billy Boy Arnold. He’s been praised by the Cascade Blues Association for his “stunning guitar playing– the pure Chicago styled sound”, and his fans love Johnny’s take on the intense, stripped-down “West Side sound” of Otis Rush, Magic Sam and Buddy Guy. Johnny is a Delmark and Vizztone recording artist with 8 CDs to his credit. He was nominated for a BMA for Best Traditional Blues CD of 2017 for “Howlin’ at Greaseland”, a Howlin’ Wolf tribute.
Johnny Burgin grew up in Starkville MS and Greenville SC, and while he was still in high school, he got to see many touring blues bands such as Guitar Jr, Gatemouth Brown and Eddie Clearwater. His father was an actor and folk musician and taught him the basics on guitar. He went to University of Chicago with the intention of becoming a writer, but a different path unfolded and he fell headfirst into the Chicago blues scene. Things started happening fast after Johnny (at that time featuring guest vocalist Jimmy Burns) took a Monday night residency at the Smoke Daddy in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. They soon became a strong draw, and the atmosphere they generated was so electric that Bob Koester of Delmark Records offered them a contract after hearing just one set.
Since those days, Johnny played the Chicago blues festival many times, toured Europe regularly, and has headlined festivals all over the US. Over the years, he has developed from a blues guitar slinger and local blues hero into a fully fledged singer, harmonica player, a dynamic and engaging bandleader, and a mature, seasoned guitarist. One look at Johnny’s tour schedule confirms his status as an in-demand blues performer. Rockin Johnny also plays solo and duo performances and does guitar and blues workshops worldwide. He puts on the kind of satisfying and exciting show that only years of touring can develop. Elmore magazine remarked on Johnny’s “commanding vocals and stinging guitar”, but Elvin Bishop may have said it best: “his guitar style is raw and rude and real—on the vocal side, a nice original style–he’s damn good!”
Guitar World with Aldynne Glanton – Aldy is the man in charge of some of the most iconic guitars on the road today. The mobile Guitar World Devon and Aldy have built is amazing. I mean just take a look at the photos below, a man who’s dedicated to his craft and a person who is about as humble as it gets. It truly was an honor to speak to Aldy a few weeks ago.
Chicago bluesman Toronzo Cannon defies all expectations. The blistering guitarist, soulful vocalist, singular songwriter and city bus driver fuses his muscular, rock-inspired blues guitar playing with his original, keenly detailed slice-of-life songs, blazing his own blues trail. With the 2016 release of his Alligator Records debut, The Chicago Way, Cannon burst onto the international stage as one the most electrifying bluesmen to emerge from Chicago in decades. His live performances unfailingly earn him heaps of critical praise and hordes of wildly enthusiastic fans. Cannon has played major cities all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He recently performed for the first time in Japan, delighting and surprising audiences with one unforgettable gig after another. Now, with the release of The Preacher, The Politician Or The Pimp, Cannon builds upon the foundation he’s laid, creating and defining his vision of contemporary blues.
The Preacher, The Politician Or The Pimp features twelve Cannon originals, ranging from the burning social commentary of the title track to the wryly told, up-to-the-minute truths of Insurance to the trademark Cannon humor of Stop Me When I’m Lying and Ordinary Woman. He gets serious on the haunting The First 24, the Martin Luther King-inspired The Silence Of My Friends and on the moving final track, I’m Not Scared. Cannon’s blazing guitar and soul-baring vocals are front and center. His songwriting is inspired by his deep Chicago roots, the wisdom of his grandparents and his years of observing the public while driving a bus. His songs tell timeless stories of common experiences in uncommon ways.
“It’s not about the solos,” Cannon says, “It’s about the songs. People get used to everyday life, so it’s easy to miss the things around them. I write about those things. I know the problems of Chicago, the hardship, ’cause we’re always a scapegoat. But I choose to love and respect the city because of the Chicago blues giants that came here from down south. I’m proud to be standing on the shoulders of every great Chicago blues musician who came before me.”
Toronzo Cannon was born in the Windy City on February 14, 1968, and grew up in the shadows of the notoriously tough Robert Taylor Homes. Theresa’s Lounge, one of the city’s most famous South Side blues clubs, was nearby. As a child, Cannon would stand on the sidewalk outside the door, soaking up the live blues pouring out while trying to sneak a glance inside at larger-than-life bluesmen like Junior Wells and Buddy Guy. He also heard plenty of blues growing up in his grandfather’s home, and listened to soul, R&B and contemporary rock on the radio.
Cannon bought his first guitar at age 22, and his natural talent enabled him to quickly master the instrument. Although his initial focus was reggae, he found himself increasingly drawn to the blues. “It was dormant in me. But when I started playing the blues, I found my voice and the blues came pouring out.” He absorbed sounds, styles and licks from Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Hound Dog Taylor, B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Jimi Hendrix, J.B. Hutto, Lil’ Ed and others. Although influenced by many, Cannon’s biting, stinging guitar sound is all his own.
Cannon began his rise in the intensely competitive proving ground of the local club scene, where only the best musicians reach the top. Iconic blues artists from Muddy Waters to Howlin’ Wolf to Koko Taylor to Hound Dog Taylor to Luther Allison all paid their dues in the Chicago blues bars before making their mark on the world. The same holds true today, as newcomers look to living legends like Buddy Guy, Jimmy Johnson and Lil’ Ed Williams for inspiration in taking their music from Chicago to fans across the globe.
From 1996 through 2002, Cannon played as a sideman for Tommy McCracken, Wayne Baker Brooks, L.V. Banks and Joanna Connor. But he was determined to prove himself. In 2001, while continuing to work as a hired-gun guitarist, he formed his own band, The Cannonball Express. By 2003, he was working exclusively as a band leader. Cannon’s first three albums—2007’s My Woman (self-released), 2011’s Leaving Mood (Delmark) and 2013’s Blues Music Award-nominated John The Conqueror Root (Delmark)—document his rise from promising up-and-comer to star-in-the-making.
Almost immediately upon the release of The Chicago Way, Chicago media helped launch Cannon toward blues stardom. He was the subject of multiple newspaper and magazine feature stories and appeared on every local television station. National and international media soon took notice. CNN filmed Cannon leading a tour of Chicago blues clubs and then broadcast the piece around the world. England’s MOJO magazine declared The Chicago Way the #1 Blues Album Of 2016, as did the readers of Living Blues magazine in their annual poll. The album and Cannon were also nominated for four Blues Music Awards (the Grammy of the blues) in 2017. And the world champion Chicago Cubs invited Cannon to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the September 13, 2017 game. All the attention only makes Cannon more focused. “I feel like I’ve become an ambassador for Chicago blues. People expect a lot from me,” he says. “But it’s good, because I’m forced to keep upping my game.”
Cannon has played the Chicago Blues Festival on ten separate occasions, initially as a sideman, then as a special guest, a sidestage band leader and finally as a main stage headliner. When he’s home, he drives a Chicago Transit Authority bus by day and performs by night. Using every vacation day and day off and working four ten-hour shifts a week, Cannon arranges his schedule to gig out of town as much as possible. It isn’t easy, but, like all of the Chicago greats who have come before him, blues is his calling. Blues Music Magazine declares, “His guitar playing has all the fire and spontaneity of the Chicago legends he carries; his songwriting is a timely and original look at the world he sees by day on a bus and in blues clubs by night, and his assertive voice is the perfect vehicle to deliver the message.”
Now, with The Preacher, The Politician Or The Pimp, Toronzo Cannon delivers his messages loud and clear. Between his searing chops, soul-satisfying vocals and vibrant and distinctive original songs, Cannon has grown from being a local attraction to become a world-renowned torch bearer for the blues. PBS Television’s Chicago Tonight sums it up like this: “Cannon is just your typical CTA bus driver who moonlights as a sought-after Chicago blues musician. As a guitarist, singer and songwriter, he drives the sound of Chicago blues from the city to blues clubs and festivals around the world.”
Bobby Rush… GRAMMY winning blues legend, Blues Hall of Famer, 12x Blues Music Award winner, B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, and makes a cameo in the Netflix Original ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ Starring Eddie Murphy.
After decades of tearing up the chitlin’ circuit on a nightly basis with his sweaty, no-holds-barred funkfests, Bobby has thoroughly broken through to the mainstream. He won a long-overdue 2017 Grammy for his spectacular album Porcupine Meat and consistently tours the globe as a headliner. What’s more, Bobby’s newest album Sitting on Top of the Blues on his own Deep Rush imprint (distributed by Thirty Tigers) promises to further spread the news that this revered legend, well past 80 years of age even if his stratospheric energy level belies the calendar, is bigger and badder and bolder than ever. In December 2019 – January 2020, the album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album and for a Blues Music Award for Best Soul Blues Album.
“I’m sitting on top of the blues. I’m a bluesman who’s sitting on the top of my game, proud of what I do and proud of who I am and thankful for people accepting me for what I am and who I am,” says the charismatic Rush. “I’m happy about what I’m doing and still enthused about what I’m doing. And I think we’ve got some good songs.”
That’s a profound understatement. There’s something for everyone on Sitting on Top of the Blues, from the boisterous R&B-laced opener “Hey Hey Bobby Rush” through the cooking “Good Stuff,” the sexy “Slow Motion,” and a stripped-down “Recipe For Love” that features Bobby and his co-producer Vasti Jackson supplying all the accompaniment necessary with their interlocking guitars. Rush wails on pungent harmonica throughout the set, his vocals as sly and sensuous as ever while elastic grooves simmer and surge behind him. Rush has been a master storyteller for decades, and the songs on this disc follow in that tradition.
Never one to rest on his considerable laurels, Bobby’s not about to start now. “I think I’m getting more acclaim because I’m working harder, and when people tell me I can’t do something, that’s the wrong thing to tell Bobby Rush,” he says. “I’m considered the king of the chitlin’ circuit. I’m crossing over now, but I haven’t crossed out. And I think the music itself says that about me.”
Scott Billington, producer of Porcupine Meat for Rounder Records, was involved this time too, though to a lesser extent as Rush recruited the multi-talented Jackson to help with much of the action behind the board. “I wanted to come with a record behind winning a Grammy,” says the veteran bluesman. “So we went and finished it up.” The album spotlights all of Rush’s strengths: blues, soul, funk, and everything in between.
“That’s about the truth of me,” he says of his new disc. “That’s all I know. Even if I do something different, I’m going to put enough blues in it so you’ll know that I’m still this blues singer that’s giving you what I know about it. Anything I do or say is going to be about the blues. So that’s where I was coming from with that. It’s got a lot of little twists. It’s got a little of this, a little of that. And I often talk about how I came up and who did I love and who influenced me.
“I think the first one was my daddy, as a preacher. And the next person was Louis Jordan. I respect Little Walter, because he was a good, slick harmonica player. Sonny Boy Williamson, I like the way he plays harp, and I like the way he delivers his songs and writes the songs,” Rush continues. “I like Howlin’ Wolf because he was good and he was different because of the voice he had. I also like Bobby Bland, the way he kind of squawked with a soft voice. And I like B.B. King and respected B.B. And I like Junior Parker because he was so smooth and slick with what he done. I guess you can find about 20 guys that I like, and when you hear my music, you can hear a little of this, a little of that, a little up, a little down. You put ’em all in a bowl and stir ’em up, you get a Bobby Rush. That’s called a Bobby Rush blues soup.”
The master chef stirring that sizzling soup was born Emmett Ellis, Jr. outside Homer, La. His daddy was a preacher and knew enough about a harmonica to pass along a few riffs to his progeny, who twanged a diddley bow before picking up a guitar around age 11. The senior Ellis relocated his family to Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 1948. When young Bobby went professional as a blues musician, he changed his moniker so as to not disrespect his devout dad.
Bobby Rush was born.
He played with Delta blues guitarists Boyd Gilmore and Elmore James in Arkansas during the early ’50s before migrating to Chicago. There he assembled a band with an equally young Freddie King on guitar (Luther Allison came into the combo later). Rush gigged around the West Side and in the southern suburbs of the Windy City, but it took until 1964 for him to debut on record with the tough downbeat blues “Someday” for the Jerry-O logo. He encored with “You’re the One for Me” for the Palos imprint, a single so obscure that a copy couldn’t be located for inclusion on Omnivore Recordings’ award-winning four-CD box set Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush, which spanned his entire career to that point.
Not one to be dissuaded, Bobby’s “Sock Boo Ga Loo” on the tiny Starville label was picked up by Chess Records in 1967, propelling the singer into the big leagues of R&B. “Gotta Have Money,” his funk-drenched ’68 single for ABC, and the Sonny Thompson-produced “Wake Up” the next year for Salem Records showed Rush had what it took and then some (another of his Salem sides, the rousing “Just Be Yourself,” was recently featured in a memorable TV commercial for Bonobos, a clothing manufacturer).
In 1971, Bobby broke through on the national charts with the lowdown funk grinder “Chicken Heads” for Galaxy Records. “That was the first big record I ever had,” notes Rush. The song has since been featured in the film Black Snake Moan, HBO’s Ballers, and more. Calvin Carter, the producer of “Chicken Heads,” put out Rush’s ’72 followup “Gotta Be Funky” on his own On Top logo and then sold Bobby’s contract to Stan Lewis’ Jewel Records in Shreveport, La. Lewis issued several Rush singles before Bobby made the major label leap in 1974 with “Get Out of Here” for Warner Bros.
The sparkling album Rush Hour for Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International empire should have made Bobby a huge star in 1979 but didn’t receive its proper praise until the 2000s, when Rolling Stone recognized it as one of the best blues albums of the ’70s. An encore LP was summarily shelved, and before long Rush moved back south to Jackson, Mississippi, where his legion of fans eagerly embraced him. The lascivious “Sue” didn’t chart for him in 1983 on the LaJam imprint, but it blasted out of countless ghetto jukeboxes and sold over a million records.
His reputation for spectacular live performances growing exponentially as he did a minimum of 200 shows a year, Bobby built a vaunted reputation on the chitlin’ circuit and cut a series of memorable albums for Urgent!, Waldoxy, and his own Deep Rush Records. His mainstream recognition campaign commenced when he earned his first Grammy nomination for his 2000 album Hoochie Man, followed by an appearance in the Martin Scorsese-produced 2003 PBS docu-series The Blues with his own segment in the episode The Road to Memphis.
To date Bobby has earned 12 Blues Music Awards and 48 nominations, including the prestigious B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award and Album of the Year. Rush co-starred in the 2014 documentary Take Me to the River alongside Terrence Howard, Snoop Dogg, and Mavis Staples. That same year, Bobby joined Dan Aykroyd on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon to perform two songs, marking his first late-night television appearance. In 2019 the feature film Dolemite Is My Name about Rudy Ray Moore making cult classic film Dolemite, was released in select theaters and on Netflix, starring Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key and with a cameo by Bobby Rush.
Bobby’s performance itinerary has encompassed some of the biggest music festivals around the world, from Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis to Byron Bay Bluesfest in Australia, countless European engagements, the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, and closer to home, Bonaroo and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Rush was the first bluesman to perform at the Great Wall of China, attracting an audience of more than 40,000 and earning him the title of “China’s Ambassador of the Blues.”
Even as streaming and shifting technological trends transform the recording industry, Sitting on Top of the Blues is certain to extend his winning streak. “Records ain’t selling like they used to, but nevertheless you have to keep going to the grinding mill to get corn ground,” says the Blues Hall of Famer. “You can’t make a hit record. You do the best you can and hope it’ll be a hit.” Make no mistake: Bobby’s once again at his very best on Sitting on Top of the Blues.
Tom Hambridge is a three-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, producer & drummer.
Tom’s production work includes duets or solo projects with: Eric Clapton, BB King, James Bay, Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman, Keith Richards, Keb Mo, Mick Jagger, Susan Tedeschi, Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Van Morrison, Joss Stone, Kid Rock, Billy Gibbons, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, George Thorogood, Gary Clark Jr., Allen Toussaint, Delbert McClinton, Johnny Winter, James Cotton and many others.
Tom has had over 500 of his songs recorded by such diverse artists as BB King, ZZ Top, Van Morrison, Joe Bonamassa, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, George Thorogood, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Chris Young, Meatloaf, Billy Ray Cyrus, and many others. His songs have been included in many major motion pictures, TV movies and shows from American Idol, Criminal Minds to The Super Bowl.
Tom has produced 8 Grammy nominated albums , won three Grammy’s, won countless Handy and Blues Awards, 8 Boston Music Awards, ASCAP Country Music Awards, He is a recipient of the prestigious KBA Award in Memphis (Keeping the Blues Alive) and has been inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall Of Fame.
As a drummer Tom has played on albums and/or toured with: Eric Clapton, Keith Urban, Mick Jagger, James Bay, Boston, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Steven Tyler, Van Morrison, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Joss Stone, Carlos Santana, Kid Rock, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Roy Buchanan, Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, George Thorogood, Gary Clark Jr., Allen Toussaint, Hank Williams Jr.,Delbert McClinton, Johnny Winter, James Cotton and many others.
Nick Bell is a prominent, up and coming Chicago-land Blues and Rock guitarist. Influenced by the likes of Jeff Beck, Warren Haynes, Jimi Hendrix, Gary Moore, and countless others; Nick plays with a distinct, fused, Blues-Rock style.
At 26 years old, Nick Bell has shared the bill and stage with the likes of: Buddy Guy, Bret Michael’s, Uriah Heep, Edgar Winter, Supertramp, Grand Funk Railroad, Robert Cray, Walter Trout, Pat Travers, Popa Chubby, Loverboy, Here Come the Mummies, Tower of Power, J. Geils Band, Gary Hoey, Anthony Gomes, Jackyl, Jason Ricci, Pablo Cruise, Guitar Shorty, James Armstrong, John Nemeth, Dave Uhrich, and many others.
Originally born in Chicago in 1993, and spending a big portion of his childhood in Europe, Nick’s background is from Moscow, Russia. With two parents in the music business, his love for music was natural. Starting at age 12, he began learning the guitar by ear. Currently Nick fronts his own power trio, performing throughout the Midwest, focused mainly in the Chicago area.
Nick and his band have performed at various venues and festivals across the country, including: Wrigley Field, The upcoming 115 Anniversary of Harley Davidson in Milwaukee, The 75th Sturgis Bike Rally in South Dakota, Buddy Guy’s Legends, The Arcada Theater, The Hard Rock, Chicago’s Navy Pier, The Double Door, Chicago Blues Fest, The Mancow Show, and countless other festivals around the country…. See Nick in a venue near you!
It takes a special artist to snatch triumph from the jaws of disaster. Rewind to 2016 and everything was going right for Ina Forsman. The 24-year-old singer had gone from Finland’s best-kept secret to Ruf’s hottest new signing. Her self-titled debut had wowed the music press, from Classic Rock (“dynamite voice”) to Blues Blast (“debut album of the year”). She’d blazed her reputation in the US and Europe on that year’s Blues Caravan tour, and couldn’t slow the torrent of new songs that flowed from her. Then fate threw a curveball. While gigging in New York, Ina lost her phone – and with it, every last scrap of new material. A lesser artist would have crumbled. But as you’d expect from a road-warrior who paid her dues under blues heroes like Guy Verlinde and Helge Tallqvist, Ina stood tall, breathed deep, wiped the slate clean and took two more years to pen a fresh batch of songs. “For a long time, I was so angry at myself,” she remembers. “But at the end of the day, I’m happy I lost my phone. I lived a little more life – and was able to write better songs with more emotion.” We’ve had the introductions. Now, on second album Been Meaning To Tell You, Ina brings the listener closer than an old friend, spilling her deepest emotions while surveying the beauty (and beasts) of the modern world. Tracked at Austin’s Wire Recording Studio with producer Mark ‘Kaz’ Kazanoff and a world-class band, these are twelve songs for life’s highs and lows, whether you want speaker-rattling soul for wild nights or a slow-blues for licking your wounds. “Let the music heal you,” Ina advises, “or break you momentarily if you’re not ready to get back up yet.” Some listeners will focus on Ina’s incredible vocal, as she slips from the feline purr of Be My Home and the rapid-fire punch of Get Mine, to the conversational flow of Figure. But perhaps still more impressive is the quality of her original songwriting. As on her debut, Ina is a creative force here, penning all the lyrics and co-writing the music, on an emotional rollercoaster that swerves between the acid-jazz of All Good, Genius’s raucous soul and the shivering slow-blues Miss Mistreated. “That song is about getting out of a bad relationship,” explains Ina, “and I wrote Who Hurt You for my best friend, who spent a long time trying to leave an abusive relationship.” She’s full of surprises. Try Every Single Beat, with its Latin rhythms and a lyric that Ina hopes will let you “feel the moment and stop being so goddamn concerned what other people are thinking”. Try Chains, with its throbbing percussion and gang- chant vocals. Even when she writes a love song, Ina twists the template, with Whatcha Gonna Do and Why You Gotta Be That Way giving two perspectives on sexual harassment. “The first song tells the situation from a man’s point of view,” she explains. “He sees a beautiful girl, tries to get her attention and ends up making some fucked-up decisions. The second song tells the story from the girl’s point of view: she just wants to carry on with her stuff but this dude won’t leave her alone.” It all ends with the stunning Sunny – a smoky acapella masterclass, written entirely by Ina, that sends you off into the world with goosebumps, ready to spread the word about this extraordinary artist. Been Meaning To Tell You is the second album that you hoped Ina Forsman was capable of – and then some. Let us all be thankful that she lost her phone…
Luke was born in Chicago and raised in East Tennessee. He is 23 years old and an accomplished and respected musician throughout the Chicagoland area. He has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with greats such as Carl Weathersby, Linsey Alexander, Mike Wheeler, Toronzo Cannon, Jimmy Johnson, Ric Jaz, and many more.
Some of the festivals that he has performed at are Chicago Blues Festival, Ed Fest Musical Festival, Marshall Michigan Blues Fest to name a few. He always leaves the crowd wanting more.
He received his first guitar at the age of 2 and has not put it down since! He was born for the stage. He is a self-taught guitarist with a unique style that captivates his audiences, large and small!
Luke strives to wow audiences every show. Whether a small bar on the south side, an extravagant Blues club on the north side, a quaint restaurant or music festivals throughout the nation, Luke never fails to give his all, along with his band mates.
His southern mannerisms shine through as he entertains crowds. Luke takes great pride in his performances and his band .
May 2020 MIDWEEK MYSTERY EPISODE: For guitarist and singer-songwriter Jackson Stokes, great musicians make great neighbors. Even as a youth weaned on classic rock- his first concert was Lynyrd Skynyrd- Stokes was unaware that living across the street from his St. Louis home was guitarist and singer-songwriter Devon Allman. Allman’s family tree is impressive as the son of Gregg Allman and nephew of Duane Allman of Allman Brothers Band fame. Yet, Stokes knew little of the legendary group. Encouraged by his father, and holding his guitar, the 11-year-old Stokes knocked on Allman’s door.
Allman, two decades his elder, heard something special in the young Stokes and encouraged him to continue learning and growing as a musician. Stokes dutifully attended Allman’s Honeytribe rehearsals, sitting quietly in the corner while the group worked up its repertoire. At 14, Stokes had developed into a prodigious firebrand with a passion for the blues, teaming with another area wunderkind, Marquise Knox, and performing his first professional gigs.
By 18, his experience playing in high school garage bands, and with an All-State school jazz band, expanded his rock-and-roll palette. He attended Drury University in Springfield, earning a degree in music therapy, while maintaining a friendship with Allman, who encouraged Stokes to further sharpen his songwriting skill. In Memphis in 2012, Allman produced a five-song EP, Witness, from the Stokes-led band, Delta Sol Revival.
DSR toured regionally until 2016 when Stokes and Allman began discussing recording his solo debut. The pair returned to Memphis for the initial sessions, as Allman invited Stokes to join the Devon Allman Band for 2017, and subsequently the Devon Allman Project for a world tour in 2018. On days-off from the road, Stokes continued work on his album, organically building the full-length.
In May of 2019, Stokes put the finishing touches on a striking inaugural effort. Produced by Allman, it is a lean and focused set of rock-and-soul, including an ambitious Talking Heads cover, and a depth of original material ranging in style and subjects. From the Memphis stroll of the opening “Can’t Getcha Out,” through the reflective acoustic closer, “Take Me Home,” the debut encompasses Stokes’ wide swath of influences and tastes. There’s the ‘60s R&B update that morphs into modern rock on “Slave,” the staggering punches of overdriven guitar on “Time is Now,” and the midnight seduction of “Contents Under Pressure.” A flourish of pleading guitars finishes the slowly climbing blues-rock centerpiece, “You and Your Partner,” while David Byrne meets Southern funky on “Life in Wartime.” As well, Stokes welcomes the sunny-days slide guitar of The Allman Betts Band’s Johnny Stachela to brighten the Southern sway of “Sins Are Forgiven,” complementing that with the chunky Saturday night blues of “Whiskey.”
Naturally, the nine-song record offers plenty of the fiery guitar that has been the calling card of Stokes’ career for this first decade, showcasing the stellar reputation he’s earned sharing the stage with such icons as Robert Cray, The Wailers, and Robert Randolph, as well as Warren Haynes, Lukas Nelson, and Marcus King. Yet, it’s a conspicuous emphasis on Stokes’ escalating songcraft that also shines as brightly on this initial release.
Greg Guy is a recipient of the 2014 Chicago Blues Hall of Fame as an Honorary Master of Blues, and his guitar playing is greatly influenced by Prince — aside from being the son of the Living Legend Buddy Guy. One of Chicago’s own Sons of the Blues, Greg Guy has been playing music most of his life, as it’s in his DNA.
He started playing his guitar publicly on the Buddy Guy’s Legends stage in 2009 during his father’s January Residency shows. With prior attempts he built the courage to join his father. He has toured the world with his father in the following places: São Paulo, Brazil, Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. In 2019, Greg played with Kenny “Beedy-Eyes” Smith at the Chicago Blues Fest and stacked up recording credits with chart-topping Irish traditional musician Sharon Shannon on “Sacred Earth”; Dave Weld and The Imperial Flames on “Slip Into A Dream”; Chris Wragg and Greg Copeland’s “Deep In The Blood”; and the critically acclaimed new release “Drop The Hammer,” by another of Chicago’s Sons of the Blues, the great Kenny “Beedy-Eyes” Smith.
Greg ventured on his own building musical relationships overseas in Rome and London, taking his guitar playing to new heights.
Currently, Greg Guy and The Robert Fetzer Band can be found at Chicago local blues venues collaborating together in the tradition of “Keeping the Blues Alive.” Greg Guy is proving to audiences everywhere he’s one of the hottest young guitar-slinging blues artists on set today, and rightful heir to the greatest name in blues music.