Sunset Concerts

Taj Weekes: A Conscious Party at the Sunset Concert

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Sharon Clark Tribute: The Sunset Concerts Honor a Local Legend


Who: Taj Weekes and Adowa
What: Sunset Concert Series (reggae)
Where:
When: 2017-07-27
The summer sets on another Sunset when Taj Weekes and Adowa bring socially conscious reggae Thursday
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

The summer sets on another Sunset when Taj Weekes and Adowa bring socially conscious reggae Thursday, July 27 to the Shryock Auditorium steps.

Growing up in the Caribbean, Weekes recalled entertaining at a young age.

“We would all line up in the living room and entertain and sing for my dad,” Weekes told Nightlife. “I sang in school and at church.... I think you are very much the product of the music you grew up with.”

A professional singer since he was ten, Weekes now fronts Adowa, which includes Burt “Rads” Desiree on bass, Wayne “Adoni” Xavier on lead guitar, Jafe Paulino on guitar, John Hewitt and Ayo Kato on keyboards, and Baldwin Brown on drums. Valerie Kelley and Jennifer Schultheis supply background vocals.

Weekes and Adowa released a fifth studio album, Love, Herb, and Reggae, in 2015, a record that featured a mellow assortment of reggae tunes that touch on the humanitarian roots of the genre, yet never seem cliché.

A poet and a social activist, Weekes extends his harmonious humanitarian efforts beyond his song lyrics. He works with the United Nations as a UNICEF Champion for Children and started a children’s charity, They Often Cry Outreach.

Weekes and Adowa started their current, twenty-nine city tour in June. Weekes plans to release a new album this January, and has incorporated many of the new songs into the band’s soundcheck and set list.

Much of the material for the new record, Weekes said, was inspired after seeing the efforts at the Standing Rock Indian Tribe Reservation and the ongoing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“The level of love that I saw at Standing Rock kind of overwhelmed me,” Weekes said. “I understand people standing up for family and for friends, but for land that isn’t yours and for people you don’t know, it was incredible.”

Weekes has earned accolades for his smart, socially sentient writing style, maintaining a self-described “unblinking and sophisticated view of the world,” as his press bio states. Weekes explained that the balance between seeing what is and seeking what should be can be mutually understood if humanity is taken into consideration.

“I think love was the kind of influence for the album— love for humans, and lack of love for those who think it’s their right to take it away,” he said.

Weekes said he hopes that the melodic message behind the music will resonate with the audience and help listeners realize the power in united fronts. He quotes one of his lyrics— “You and I have no war, except the war we’re given”— as a universal truth.

“We hope to put out positive vibes,” he said. “Within our shows could be one little spark that could start a fire in one possible place. Not a destructive kind of fire, but if we can look past the bullshit and really see what’s going on, that’s the kind of fire we want to start.”

For more information, check out <https://www.TajWeekes.com>.

who: Taj Weekes and Adowa

what: Sunset Concert Series (reggae)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium

when: Thursday, July 27

Sharon Clark Tribute: The Sunset Concerts Honor a Local Legend

The next Sunset Concert presents an opportunity for many local musicians to pay tribute to another.
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

The next Sunset Concert presents an opportunity for many local musicians to pay tribute to another.

The Sharon Clark tribute concert will take place Thursday, July 20 at the Turley Park Gazebo. Musicians scheduled to perform include Ivas John, Martin “Big Larry” Allbritton, Tawl Paul, Robbie Stokes, Richard “Rip Lee” Pryor, and Shadi Frick. John’s band, which includes Mel Goot, Charlie Morrill, and Jamie Pender, will back the rolling roster of blues musicians.

Clark died on January 13 at the age of sixty-six after struggling with cancer. Clark had a weekly jazz stint with Goot at Global Gourmet. She also was a featured performer on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.

In 1971, Clark and her band, the Product of Time, recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, a session that would result in two small hits, “I’m Not Afraid of Love” and “That’s a Good Reason. The former was featured on the soundtrack of the Netflix hit show Orange Is the New Black.

Other career highlights included working with Saint Louis blues legend Oliver Sain in the eighties and regularly touring Europe in the nineties. Clark played the Sestri Levante Blues and Soul Festival in 1996.

“I first met Sharon Clark back in 2004, and had the pleasure of playing with her many times over the years,” John said. “It goes without saying that she had a beautiful voice, but was also a kind and generous person who always had something nice to say. Like many others, I felt lucky to know her and have the experience of learning from her. She’ll be missed.”

John said the Sunset Concert is the best place for the Sharon Clark tribute because the summertime tradition is a draw for so many people.

John also said this one-of-a-kind Sunset Concert presents not just a chance for Southern Illinois to honor one of its own, but also to experience the living legends who still perform here.

“With so many great talents that are still living and calling Carbondale home, it seemed like an important time to bring together the music legends of Southern Illinois,” John said. “Some of them have been making music in this area since the seventies, but have never before been featured at a Sunset Concert like this, so it’s pretty exciting! And also a big honor to be included.”

John said if time allows, he could see the party going until the music runs out.

“There are so many great local musicians,” he said. “I wish the show went all night so we could get every last one of them on stage.”

John, meanwhile, saw his last album nominated for a Blues Blast award for acoustic blues album of the year.

“I’m playing guitar every day, learning new music all the time, writing, and squeezing in recording sessions where I can,” John said. “Having good help is key, and I’m lucky to have a great support network of fans, musicians that I play with, and people behind the scenes. Yeah, life is good!”

who: Ivas John Band and friends

what: Sunset Concert Series (Sharon Clark tribute, blues)

where: Turley Park Gazebo

 

when: Thursday, July 20

Kiko Villamizar: Aquas Frias at the Sunset Concerts

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Sunset Concerts

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Barrence Whitfield: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fireball Opens the Sunset Concerts
Version City Tour: Allstar Ska and Reggae at the Sunset Concerts


Who: Kiko Villamizar
What: Sunset Concert Series (Latin roots music)
Where:
When: 2017-06-29
Singer, songwriter, and social activist Kiko Villamizar sets the Steps of Shryock Auditorium ablaze
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

Singer, songwriter, and social activist Kiko Villamizar sets the Steps of Shryock Auditorium ablaze Thursday, June 29 at the next Sunset Concert. The Latin American folk musician is fresh of the April release of his sophomore album Aquas Frias, and much of his music features a fusion of Afro-Colombian music, reggae, and otherworldly beats mixed in beautiful measure. It feels both familiar and contemporary.

Villamizar was born in Miami to Colombian parents who later brought their family back to the Andean city of Medellín.

“I grew up around [Latin American folk music] with my parents,” Villamizar said. “It’s something that has always stuck with me.”

Villamizar decided to return to Miami to study jazz after graduating from high school and now lives in Austin.

Throughout his travels, Villamizar has collected melodies and beats that have helped him build a unique style. He said seeing for himself how other cultures embrace their oral and musical traditions has made him want to continue them.

“It was something to see,” he said.

Villamizar’s travels, upbringing, passions, and point of view are woven throughout the stellar Aquas Frias, named after a mountain where he grew up. Many songs are built around the standard drum-and-flute composition found in Colombian music, along with a few self-described “psychedelic dings.” Among the musicians whom Villamizar sought out to perform on the sessions: Elber Alvarez, a master gaitero, or elder flute player, who is a consistent winner in the annual festival competitions held across the country. Villamizar would spend hours listening to stories and watching him play.

Much of Villamizar’s music celebrates Mother Earth while lamenting the violence and inequality that he has seen throughout his travels. In “El Arbolito,” Villamizar croons, “La Música es la magia más evidente como el viento y el agua,” which translates in English to “Music is the most evident form of magic, like the wind and the water.”

Villamizar calls songwriting an important way to get messages across.

“We’ll talk about something like resistance to colonization ties, and that’s what everyone wants to dance to,” he said.

Villamizar plans to continue his tour through North America and Europe, and eventually bring his music back to Colombia. But before coming to Carbondale next week (with a band that includes Greg Goodman, Felipe “El Tiburón” Borrero, Noah Mosgofian, Fabian Rincón, and Christopher J. Edwards.), Villamizar is gearing up for the WEPA Cumbia Roots Festival in Austin, which will include international and local acts who play the cumbia style of Latin American dance music. The festival will include Trapiche de Colomboy, one of the most respected bands in the tradition.

“It’s a passion project,” Villamizar said. “It’s unlike anything I have ever undertaken before.”

Find out more at <https://www.KikoVillamizar.com>.

who: Kiko Villamizar

what: Sunset Concert Series (Latin roots music)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium

when: Thursday, June 29

Version City Tour: Allstar Ska and Reggae at the Sunset Concerts

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Barrence Whitfield: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fireball Opens the Sunset Concerts


Who: Version City Tour featuring King Django, Brian Hill, John DeCarlo, and Sascha Laue
What: Sunset Concert Series (ska, reggae)
Where:
When: 2017-06-22
Pictured: King Django and Brian Hill.
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

The next Sunset Concert will turn Carbondale into Version City when an allstar reggae, ska, and dancehall tour featuring King Django, Brian Hill, John DeCarlo, and Sascha Laue comes Thursday, June 22 to the Turley Park Gazebo. Afterward, Django will head over to the Hangar 9 to spin reggae and ska records with Adam Fletcher of local band the Copyrights.

Nightlife caught up with Django and Hill while the band was getting breakfast in North Carolina to discuss the tour’s origins and the supergroup’s plans for the future.

Django is a veteran producer, engineer, and performer who served as a sideman for Rancid, Murphy’s Law, and the Toasters. He assembled the Version City recording studio in 1997. Soon, it became the hub of the ska and reggae scene in New York City. In 2001, the studio moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey, where Django continues to engineer and produce recordings for many international clients. He also held the Version City Party at various venues before making it a monthly event in 2006 at the prestigious Knitting Factory in New York City.

In 2012 Django took the Version City party on the road. First supported by a young band called the Snails, Django performed original songs and several classic reggae and ska tunes during the tour.

A second Version City outing ventured out during summer 2013, featuring a compact quartet with Hill, who leads Regatta Sixty-nine on bass and vocals, and DeCarlo, the guitarist and vocalist for Boston ska group Westbound Train. Broadcaster and Royal City Riot drummer Anthony Vito Fraccalvieri rounded out the second incarnation.

Hill said the latest group, which brings aboard Sascha Laue of Foo Fanick and the Butlers, is about the fifth lineup of the Version City Party, and the melding of musicians from different bands into one larger ska/reggae supergroup came from a mutual love for the music and respect for each other as musicians.

“It all kicked off pretty organically,” Hill said. “It’s been like a variety show with different elements every show.” (A video from earlier this year that announced the tour features a slightly different band playing a cover of the Willie Nelson song “On the Road Again.”)

Django said the Version City tours allowed him to play with a wide variety of high-caliber musicians.

“With this group, I’ve got to reconnect with musicians,” he said. “I really enjoy the pedal-steel guitar sound.”

Both Django and Hill said they hope this incarnation of the band will record an album sometime in the near future.

“We have been going into the studio whenever we get the chance,” Hill said.

Hill said ska and reggae is able to resonate with audiences because it has a roots feeling.

“Jamaican music is very earthy,” he said. “It’s down-to-earth and honest. It doesn’t have a lot of pretense. It is what it is.”

Django agreed, adding: “It’s simple to connect with and it’s danceable.”

Hill also said people can relate to reggae and ska because it’s just a more pure form of the popular music they’re used to hearing.

“The vast majority of music today has some trace back to Jamaican music,” he said. “Rap, hip-hop, pop, all of it. Pretty much every decade has been influenced. The eighties had new wave. There was Sublime and No Doubt in the nineties. Even today, you can still hear it in artists like Taylor Swift and Britney Spears.”

For more information, check out <http://www.VersionCity.com> or <https://www.EchoMixArtists.net>.

who: Version City Tour featuring King Django, Brian Hill, John DeCarlo, and Sascha Laue

what: Sunset Concert Series (ska, reggae)

where: Turley Park Gazebo

 

when: Thursday, June 22

Roots of a Rebellion: A Reggae Revolution Concludes the Sunset Concerts

Venues & Businesses
Sunset Concerts


Who: Roots of a Rebellion
What: Sunset Concert Series (reggae)
Where:
When: 2016-07-28
Roots of a Rebellion rock Thursday, July 28 on the Steps of Shryock Auditorium. The Nashville, Tenne
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

Roots of a Rebellion rock Thursday, July 28 on the Steps of Shryock Auditorium. The Nashville, Tennessee-based roots-reggae band is hot off the heels of releasing a new album, A Brother’s Instinct, which came out earlier this month.

Nightlife talked with guitarist and lead singer Austin Smith about the band’s rising status and making music that makes a difference.

Current members of Roots of a Rebellion include Smith, Marco Martinez, Adam Quellhorst, Troy Wiggins, Jeremyck Smith, and Justin Smith.

Roots of a Rebellion started gigging back in 2010. The band started as a cover band, covering blues and jam-rock tunes. Smith said their own sound evolved while they held on to their influences.

“We wanted something different, something that not only sounds good but makes you feel good,” Smith said. “And everybody brought their own ideas and influences to the table.”

For A Brother’s Instinct, Roots of a Rebellion rented a bed-and-breakfast in Boston and worked with Craig Welsch, a music producer who had previously collaborated with State Radio on 2012’s Rabbit Inn Rebellion. Then they poured their hearts into the new project.

“We lived and breathed the album for almost four days,” Smith said. “We worked almost nonstop, twelve hours a day.”

Smith said at the end of the production schedule, the band decided to head back to Music City after reports of a snowstorm, but they ended up finding themselves deep in snow anyway.

“The winter storm Jonas was coming, and we knew we wanted to get home before the storm hit,” Smith said. “So we drove all night just to get back just to get back for the largest snowstorm Nashville has ever seen. We were on the interstate in our beatup van going five miles per hour, passing all these cars along the highway. It was crazy.”

Smith said many tracks on the new album are already incorporated into the live shows. He said the purpose for the record was for audiences to get to know the band and get a sense of what the live performances were like.

“It’s really an opportunity to hear what we are about,” Smith said. “All the songs on the CD are ones we have toured with, only one is new and hasn’t been played out yet. We are constantly trying out new songs and writing, so we wanted to include all the ones that hit the hardest with the crowds and went over the best.”

Smith said much of the A Brother’s Instinct— and Roots of a Rebellion’s music in general— combines roots reggae with a message of love and respect for all of humankind.

“There is so much music out there that A, doesn’t sound good, or B, doesn’t have a good message,” Smith explained. “We want our music to bring out messages of peace and love and unity and respect for everyone, everywhere. Even if you disagree with someone, you can still respect them.”

Overall, the response for the album has been overwhelming, he said.

“We’ve had nothing but positive reception,” Smith said. “All of our fans have been really supportive. We just played a soldout show in our hometown, and it was just electric.”

Earlier this year, Roots of a Rebellion won the BMI Road to Bonnaroo competition, which occurred over several weeks at Nashville nightclub Mercy Lounge. As a result, they earned a spot at the massive festival. This summer will continue their Midwest tour, and Smith said this fall the band will head out west for shows in Colorado.

Smith said his biggest wish is for Roots of a Rebellion to deliver a message of hope that stirs action in the audience. A lot could change, he added, if the right people are motivated to make that change happen.

“My hashtag is, Your Life Matters,” he said. “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

For more information, check out <http://RootsOfARebellion.com>.

who: Roots of a Rebellion

what: Sunset Concert Series (reggae)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium

 

when: Thursday, July 28

Rusty Wright Band will Rock the Sunset Concerts

Venues & Businesses
Sunset Concerts


Who: Rusty Wright Band
What: Sunset Concert Series (classic rock)
Where:
When: 2016-07-21
This Thursday, classic blues/rock powerhouse the Rusty Wright Band will set Turley Park ablaze with
Thomas Henry Horan
Video Comentary

This Thursday, classic blues/rock powerhouse the Rusty Wright Band will set Turley Park ablaze with hot riffs, lightning licks, and smoldering grooves.

Founded in Flint, Michigan, in 2004 by husband-and-wife blues guitar-and-vocals duo Rusty and Laurie Wright, the still-new band opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd to a standing ovation. Skynyrd guitarist Rickey Medlocke asked Rusty, “Dude— where the hell did you come from?”

Born into a musical family, Rusty was on the road by the time he was thirteen, playing guitar in a southern-gospel group that featured his mother on lead vocals. He was soon writing songs, putting together his own bands, and playing the club circuit around Detroit. Now, he relies on his hereditary Southern roots to support a rich blend of blues and southern rock woven into a hard-driving, bluescentric sound.

Joined by Robert Vines on drums and backing vocals and Mark “Bumpy Rhoads” Bumgarner on bass and backing vocals, the band went on to win the 2006 Detroit Blues Society’s Blues Challenge and were in the semifinals of the Blues Foundation’s 2011 International Blues Challenge, securing Rusty an endorsement deal from Epiphone guitars.

They’ve toured the world, from Italy to South Korea, often entertaining American troops, and released four full-length albums on Sadson Music as well as a Christmas single, “Santa’s in Jail.” Their most recent release, 2015’s Wonder Man, reached number eight on the Billboard blues chart.

Rusty writes many duets for himself and Laurie that feature the lovebirds’ signature guitar collaborations. “I have so many influences, I don’t just fit in one little space,” Rusty says in a media bio. “I’m trying to find a way to take the blues further down the road that will appeal to a younger generation as well. I’m not afraid to bring in other styles of music. But I want it to have passion. You never want to lose the passion.”

Find out more at <http://www.RustyWrightBand.com>.

With a plethora of award-winning and critically acclaimed recordings to boast of, Rusty Wright Band’s greatest joy is performing live. Rusty found time in the band’s super busy schedule to answer a few questions for Nightlife.

Have you folks ever played in the Southern Illinois area before?

The band has performed at Rustle Hill Winery in Cobden a few times in recent years as we pass through on the way to shows further west. They’re really nice folks and have been really great to work with— but most of our Illinois shows have been in the northern part of the state. This will be our first appearance in Carbondale.

Your bassist, Mark Bumgarner, has been battling rheumatoid arthritis. How is he these days?

Mark is doing well and his [rheumatoid arthritis] is in remission, thanks to his team of doctors back in North Carolina where he lives. He joined the band back in March.

You and your wife Laurie perform together onstage. Offstage, who does the dishes?

Uh-oh! This one’s gonna get me in trouble. Let’s just say I’m chaos and she’s order.

Who makes better chili— Lynyrd Skynyrd or Etta James?

Having read Etta James’s biography, A Rage to Survive: The Etta James Story, I don’t think Etta spent an awful lot of time in the kitchen, so I’d have to say Skynyrd. I don’t think they spend a lot of time hanging out cooking for people either, but they seem like the kind of guys who would have a killer recipe or two up their sleeves. They’d be cool like that.

who: Rusty Wright Band

what: Sunset Concert Series (classic rock)

where: Turley Park Gazebo

 

when: Thursday, July 21

Locos por Juana’s Latin Sunset Concert Jams

Venues & Businesses
Sunset Concerts


Who: Locos por Juana
What: Sunset Concert Series (Latin jam band)
Where:
When: 2016-07-14
Since bursting onto the Miami scene in 2000, Grammy- and Latin Grammy-nominated Latin-fusion explosi
Thomas Henry Horan
Video Comentary

Since bursting onto the Miami scene in 2000, Grammy- and Latin Grammy-nominated Latin-fusion explosion Locos por Juana have been rolling to greater and success. They will be mapale-ing Thursday, July 14 into Carbondale this week for the Sunset Concerts on the Steps of Shryock Auditorium, fresh from their triumphant appearance at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

The sound of Locos por Juana (translation: Crazies for Jane) is a hybrid of island swing, Afro-Colombian rhythms, reggae, dub, hip-hop, and rock. Their heart and soul emanates from Colombia, a country whose musical styles include cumbia (African wedding music), champeta (“country knife,” or machete, a style of Colombian folk music,) mapale (a style of dance and music born along the Caribbean coast of Colombia), and even chande (a drum style originating in India).

Locos por Juana’s debut single, “Mueve, Mueve” (Spanish for “move, move,” and boy, does this track get Nightlife moving!) has garnered nearly half a million views on Vevo. Their latest single, “The Cure,” featuring Bermuda’s pride and joy, Collie Buddz, and produced by the band, recently dropped on iTunes to critical acclaim. The bouncy and infectious tune explores new musical territory filled with the colorful and contagious dance vibrations for which the band and Collie Buddz have become known.

A fiercely popular world-music staple in their hometown of Miami, the bilingual and colorful band was formed in 2000 around the core of vocalist Itagui Correa, guitarist Mark Kondrat, and drummer Javier Delgado, flanked by trombonist Lasim Richards and percussionist Carlos Palmet. They are usually joined onstage by a handful of guest musicians, making every concert a unique and electrifying Caribbean jam band experience.

Correa and Delgado were born in Colombia, and Kondrat is a Miami native of Colombian descent. As Locos por Juana, these Latin soul brothers breathe new life into the musical traditions of their heritage to create what Kondrat calls “island swing,” a fast-emerging worldbeat sound that has captivated Jane-crazy audiences from Portland to Port au Prince.

Their debut album, Locos pro Juana, earned them a nomination as Best Urban Artist on Univision’s Premio Lo Nuestro awards show. La Verdad, their third album, released by Universal Music in 2007, was nominated for the Best Rock or Alternative Album Grammy in 2008. The band’s 2010 EP, Evolución, was nominated for Colombia’s Shock Award for Best Alternative Album. Their most recent album, 2012’s Somos de la Calle (“We’re From the Street”) showcases the band’s Latin hip-hop influences.

Find out more at <http://www.LocosPorJuana.com>.

Nightlife recently shared a jarra of internet Caspiroleta Colombiana and a chat with Itagui Correa. Here’s how it went:

Will any guest musicians (or Collie Buddz) join the band at the Sunset Concert?

Well, at a Locos show, you just never know what surprises might happen. We’ll most definitely invite him and hopefully he’s around the area and surprise us all with his energy. We’ll definitely have some guest musicians as special guests. It’s going be an amazing vibe.

Have you played in the Southern Illinois area before?

Yeah, we have, and we had an amazing time. It was, like, almost six or seven years ago, but we remember SIU always. It’s a very nice place.

What was it like having Locos por Juana and Collie Buddz in the same studio?

It was a special night combining our music together! It worked out perfectly because we both respect each other’s music. Imagine! Bermuda and Colombia making music in the USA— it was magical! Finding that music doesn’t have any barriers or borders, that not even language in 2016 can stop the vibes.

Music is the cure for the soul and we need to spread the message of good energy. That’s the main reason we got together in the studio— to create a positive song. For the people. For the world.

Any pre-concert message for our readers?

We appreciate all the support and the love we receive in Carbondale. Look out for our new album coming in August!

who: Locos por Juana

what: Sunset Concert Series (Latin jam band)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium

 

when: Thursday, July 14

DieDra and the Ruff Pro Band: The Blues Diva Comes to the Sunset

Venues & Businesses
Sunset Concerts


Who: DieDra Ruff the Blues Diva and the Ruff Pro Band
What: Sunset Concert Series (blues)
Where:
When: 2016-07-07
DieDra Ruff, the Alabama blues queen and self-professed blues diva, is slated to shine on the next S
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

DieDra Ruff, the Alabama blues queen and self-professed blues diva, is slated to shine on the next Sunset Concert Thursday, July 7 at the Turley Park Gazebo with her Ruff Pro Band.

Born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, Ruff said she has been singing for as long as she can remember. She grew up with her maternal grandfather and wrote and sang songs in the church. At age nine, Ruff sang with the family group, and her love for music and singing only solidified after hearing songs by legendary artists Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, and Whitney Houston.

In 1998, Ruff signed to the Bronx-based Boogie Down Productions. Keith Ruff, noted for his work with Bobby Rush, was assigned to produce her first CD, but the project was indefinitely shelved because of his schedule.

Keithen Ruff of Ruff Pro Records found out that the project had been left incomplete. DieDra Ruff signed on to his label and launched the Ruff Pro Band. DieDra and Keithen (who has played guitar for several legendary artists, including a nineteen-year stint as lead guitarist for Bobby Rush) also married.

The group’s debut disc, Overcoming Hurdles, was released in 2008, spawning a single, “Hip Swing’in Blues.”

Current Ruff Pro band members include DieDra and Keithen Ruff as well as Ezra Williams on drums and Alaina Sims on bass. In the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, the band placed in the semi-finals. The next year, the Ruff Pro Band bested more than two-hundred artists to earn a spot in the finals.

DieDra Ruff runs her show along with her husband, producer, and adviser.

“He has been so encouraging,” DieDra said of Keithen, “just a really great support system for me.”

DieDra’s vocal range is simply spectacular, drawing comparisons to Anita Baker’s slow-jam delivery, Patti LaBelle’s vocal technique, and Aretha Franklin’s gospel background.

Ruff described the blues as a relatable music that taps into and expresses experiences that everyone experiences.

“It’s overcoming. Everybody has had something that happens to them,” she said. “You have a bad day. Something doesn’t go right. Relationships and marriages go wrong. Life just happens.”

Ruff is quick to answer when asked who has influenced her: “Aretha Franklin. I absolutely love her. I covered one of her songs, ‘Angel,’ and a Washington D.C. radio friend called and told me that the station had been getting requests for the song. He said, ‘No one does Aretha, but you did and you killed it.’”

Ruff said she has one dream she knows she wants to come true.

“I am going to win a Grammy,” she said. “I want to win a Grammy. That’s my mantra. It’s going to happen.”

For more information, visit <http://www.DieDraTheBluesDiva.com>.

who: DieDra Ruff the Blues Diva and the Ruff Pro Band

what: Sunset Concert Series (blues)

where: Turley Park Gazebo

 

when: Thursday, July 7

Josh Garrett Band: Honey for My Queen, Summer for My Sunset

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Sunset Concerts

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Who: Josh Garrett
What: Sunset Concert Series (Louisiana blues)
Where:
When: 2016-06-30
The Josh Garrett Band sizzles Thursday, June 30 at the next Sunset Concert on the steps of Shryock A
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

The Josh Garrett Band sizzles Thursday, June 30 at the next Sunset Concert on the steps of Shryock Auditorium, bringing laid-back Louisiana blues with which Sunsetters can really get down and dirty. The group is touring in support of their latest album, Honey for My Queen, a genre-twisting mixture of rock, blues, and Cajun-inspired melodies.

Hailing from Louisiana, Garrett first picked up his father’s guitar at the age of twelve. By the time he was twenty, Garrett was gigging out several times a week in Houma, one of the state’s southernmost cities and one of its music meccas.

At twenty-four, Garrett released his first album, Changed Man, and later decided that he and his band needed to tour to properly promote it. In 2008, Garrett relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, and shortly after the move, he recorded his second record, the double album Live on Printer’s Alley.

The 2011 album String of Problems marked the Josh Garrett Band’s biggest commercial and critical success. The record hit number one on the Roots Music Louisiana blues chart. It also secured the number-one spot two weeks in a row on American Blues Scene magazine’s top-five list.

The Josh Garrett Band’s fourth album, Honey for My Queen, is loaded with southern flavors, smooth vocals, and sultry guitar licks.

“You are influenced by everything around you,” Garrett explained. “It definitely has a way of shaping the kind of sound that you are after. I was never setting out to have all these different genres blended together. It just sort of happened.”

Garrett returned to reside in his home state a few years ago and explained that the band’s unique brand of Cajun flavor, Louisiana roots and soul combined with straight blues, is a concoction with a hometown feeling. Many of the album’s songs deal with the comfort of coming home and the joy and adventure of new experiences.

One track from the album, “Same Boat,” has James Johnson as a special guest performer. Johnson is a legendary Baton Rouge bluesman who played bass and guitar with Slim Harpo. You can find him taking the lead on one of Harpo’s greatest hits, “Baby Scratch My Back.”

Other Louisiana musicians are also featured on the album, including Corey Duplechin, the bassist for Tab Benoit, and fiddle player Waylon Thibodeaux.

Garrett said he is currently working on new material, which is an ongoing part of the creative process, particularly on tour.

“I’m always writing,” he said. “I’m constantly working on new songs. Just life, really,” he says of his inspiration. “Everyday experiences can really play a part in songwriting.”

For Garrett, the blues is about connecting a state of mind to a melody.

“It’s emotion,” Garrett said. “It’s emotion set to music.”

Whatever will be will be, Garrett says, as long as he is still able to make music.

“I just want to be able to keep doing this, making music for a living,” he said. “That’s all I have ever wanted to do.”

For more information, check out <http://www.JoshGarrettMusic.com>.

who: Josh Garrett

what: Sunset Concert Series (Louisiana blues)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium

 

when: Thursday, June 30

Hope Country: The Bright Side of the Sunset Concerts

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Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band: Bring on the Sunset Concerts


Who: Hope Country
What: Sunset Concert Series (country-western)
Where:
When: 2016-06-23
If a positive outlook could remove the murkiest of moods and lift emotional storm clouds, just think
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

If a positive outlook could remove the murkiest of moods and lift emotional storm clouds, just think what it could do for the soul.

“I believe that with love and encouragement we can change the worst of atmospheres,” Hope Country leader Brent Johnson said.

Hope Country brings a sunny-side-up style of inspirational country to the next Sunset Concert Thursday, June 23 at the Turley Park Gazebo. The show marks the first stop on a busy touring season for the group, which will soon release their full-length, self-titled debut record.

Nightlife recently talked with Johnson, interrupting a summer chore (putting in an air conditioner) to discuss making music, staying true, and planning festival appearances.

Johnson grew up on a farm in Wisconsin, which is where he first heard and fell in love with music. And country music always seemed to catch his ear.

“My mom always used to say that the cows milk more when they’ve listened to country music,” Johnson said with a laugh.

In 2011, Johnson started Hope Country as an “environment and place of hope.” The band entered the studio in 2014 to record material for Water, Land, and Sky. The EP, which was mixed by Jonathan Clark and mastered by Grammy Award winner Richard Dodd, features strong songwriting and vivid storytelling. A couple of the eight tracks were cowritten with Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional and Twin Forks.

In August 2014, on its release day, Water, Land, and Sky hit number eight on the iTunes Singer and Songwriter chart. The video for the single “On Our Own” was featured on Country Music Television’s Edge website.

Hope Country went back into the studio in early 2015, this time to create a five-song record that was a bit more stripped back. For Thirty-one, Johnson said the focus was more on the songwriting, melody, and the type of sound he wanted. He added that his marketing strategy has been for the band to discover its sound.

“I was really lucky, because it is usually the other way around, the industry trying to put you in a box,” he said.

And it seems a good way for Hope Country to figure it out. The bright guitar and Johnson’s emotional delivery on “The Life” depict redemption and religious faith with haunting hallelujah calls as he sings, “You are the life I can’t live without.” And “Let Love Grow” incorporates the simple kind of life, “getting off the grid” with a backbeat charm.

The Sunset Concert kicks off a summer of Hope Country tour dates, many of which are at outdoor festivals. Stops include Nashville, Tennessee’s Musicians Corner and Milwaukee’s Summer Fest in July. Hope Country is also slated to return to the area Thursday, June 30 with an appearance at the Riverfront Concert Series in Paducah, Kentucky.

Johnson said the band is working on a self-titled album they will release either late this year or early in 2017.

Johnson said the goal is to continue to make music that resonates with audiences, saying “That it could be more than just a band but a movement. I want people to be able to hear something. Even those who don’t maybe like country, sit back and say, ‘I don’t really like country, but I like this.’”

For more information, check out <http://HopeCountryMusic.com>.

who: Hope Country

what: Sunset Concert Series (country-western)

where: Turley Park Gazebo

 

when: Thursday, June 23

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band: Bring on the Sunset Concerts

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band rocks the steps of Shryock Auditorium Thursday, June 16 at the inaug
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band rocks the steps of Shryock Auditorium Thursday, June 16 at the inaugural Sunset Concert of 2016. The Indiana-based band creates a holy concoction of American country blues, and is fresh off the release of So Delicious.

Josh “Reverend” Peyton and his younger brother Jayme grew up in Indiana. Peyton discovered his father’s record collection of blues-influenced rock ‘n’ roll and was immediately hooked. He picked up the guitar because he wanted to learn how to fingerpick like Charley Patton.

But after an accident at a party following his high-school graduation, Peyton was put in a position where he worried he never be able to play again. The pain he felt in his left hand hindered his ability to fret, but after seeking a second opinion, he decided to go ahead with surgery.

During his recovery, Peyton met Breezy, who joined the band as washboard player and later became his wife. Their first date was at the Indiana State Fair, where the reverend won a stuffed teddy bear that the couple called “Big Damn Bear,” which later became, more or less, the band’s name. Drummer Ben Bussell rounds out the trio on percussion, replacing founding member Jayme Peyton.

The group has released seven albums, including a Charley Patton tribute and a pounding gospel EP. The song “Your Cousin’s On Cops” led to their gig as a house band on a Jerry Springer pay-per-view event.

In 2014, the Big Damn Band signed on to the revived Yazoo Records as the legendary label’s first contemporary band, and in January 2015 the group released So Delicious. The first single, “Raise a Little Hell,” features a parade of eccentric small-town characters. The rowdy march centers on the call-and-response chorus and Peyton’s impressive finger-flying guitar technique.

“Don’t want no trouble, just stories to tell,” Peyton sings. “We came to raise a little hell.”

Peyton said the band is set to make a lineup change later this season with guitar tech and Carbondale native Maxwell Senteney replacing Bussell on drums.

“It was Ben’s idea to add Max. He knows all of the songs,” Peyton said. “We’re really glad to have him aboard.”

The hard-working Big Damn Band travels around the globe, playing as many as 240 shows each year.

“There’s a lot more to it than people think,” Peyton said. “You have to be relentless that borders on sickness. You have to love it. Human beings are wired to have a routine. This [kind of life] doesn’t.

“I think I’m just wired differently. I live for this.”

Up next for the Big Damn Band is another summer on the road. After the upcoming Sunset Concert, the group embarks on another European tour. They may release a collection of front-porch sessions this fall.

Can anything stop the reverend now?

“Not in the slightest,” Peyton said. “I plan to keep doing this so long as I keep playing music from the heart.”

For more information, check out <http://www.BigDamnBand.com>.

who: Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

what: Sunset Concert Series (deep blues)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium

 

when: Thursday, June 16

Ark Band: Ain’t No Party Like the Sunset Finale

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Ark Band: Setting the Sun on the Sunset Concerts
Ark Band: Floating on a Flood of Reggae at the Sunset Concerts 2013


Who: Ark Band
What: Sunset Concerts (reggae)
Where:
When: 2015-07-30
All good things must come to an end, but at least the epitomic finale of the season’s concert series
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

All good things must come to an end, but at least the epitomic finale of the season’s concert series is setting up with a sizzling Caribbean sendoff that the summer deserves.

The Ark Band returns to the ‘Dale with a performance at the final Sunset Concert Thursday, July 30 on the Steps of Shryock Auditorium. The Colombia, Ohio-based group produces a high-energy show jam-packed with virtuoso musicianship. One listen and it is easy to understand why the band has been going strong for nearly thirty years with no signs of slowing down.

The Ark Band includes Terry Bobb on drums, Eustace Bobb on bass guitar, Mark Hunter on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Kohl Fixari and Tim Hartshorn as dual lead guitarists, and Qweku Menka on the keyboards.

Terry and Eustace Bobb— the Saint Lucian Riddim Twins— founded the band in 1987. That same year, Terry Bobb came to the States from the Caribbean.

The hard-working band has travelled across the United States, Canada, and Jamaica to share an explosive mix of roots-reggae, calypso, and soca styles inside a repertoire of original compositions and covers. These songs propagate love, peace, and togetherness along with with a sense of spirituality often lost in today’s world.

Keeping up the band’s heavy touring schedule has its advantages.

“We are basically a band on the run,” cofounder Terry Bobb said. “If it has music, we’ll be there playing.”

Bobb said the band is currently working on a fifth album. When the Ark Band is able to take a time out for studio recording, he said, the group attempts to make music that expresses their evolving perspectives and musical tastes.

“[The songs] are all different,” Bobb said. “And they all represent where the band is at a certain time, like a soundtrack.”

Bobb explained that the international appeal of reggae transcends personal preferences in the name of the universal mode— to mellow out. The heart of the matter finds truth in a pop song.

“It’s like that song, ‘All About that Bass,’” Bobb said, referencing the Meghan Trainor tune. “Reggae music is all about the bass and the drums.”

Other elements the Ark Band employs are intricate harmonies and the ability to share lead vocals. Bobb said many bands, like the Beatles and Fleetwood Mac, successfully play this type of vocal musical chairs because it keeps the music interesting and the audience engaged in what is going to happen next.

“We have three lead singers,” Bobb said, “and with that you have a different dynamic. We switch it up on you. With three different singers, you will see that the band speaks for itself. You can listen to a whole show and not get bored hearing the songs.”

No strangers to Southern Illinois, the Ark Band closed the 2013 Sunset Concert series and before that the 2009 series. The opportunity to once again close out the Sunset Concerts is an experience the band enjoys.

“We always look forward to coming back to Carbondale,” Bobb said. “We always have a good time when we come here.”

Bobb said that reggae also speaks to parts of the soul that like to get down, let loose, and have a good time. Musical preferences are set aside during an evening set to island sounds and party moods that audiences have relished summer after summer.

“They say that rock fans will go to rock shows,” Bobb said. “But reggae, it’s for everybody.”

For more information about the Ark Band, check out <http://www.TheArkBand.com>.

who: Ark Band

what: Sunset Concerts (reggae)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium

 

when: Thursday, July 30

Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp: Bringing the Bayou Back to the Sunset Concerts

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Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp: A Cajun Sunset Concert at Turley Park
Dennis Stroughmatt et l’Esprit Creole: Carbondale’s Cajun Alum Returns to Bon Temps Roulez


Who: Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp
What: Sunset Concerts (Cajun and Creole music, zydeco)
Where:
When: 2015-07-23
On Thursday, July 23, Creole Stomp will bring a little bit of Louisiana home to Southern Illinois at
K. Brattin
Video Comentary

On Thursday, July 23, Creole Stomp will bring a little bit of Louisiana home to Southern Illinois at the Turley Park Gazebo. This group, born in Carbondale, calls itself a Cajun/Creole honkytonk party band. They play true Creole music— situated somewhere in between Cajun and zydeco— flavored with blues, swamp-pop, swing, and even old country. Band founder Dennis Stroughmatt talked to Nightlife about what it’s like to share the stage with musicians from the Bayou state and what we can expect from Creole Stomp at the Sunset Concert.

Originally founded in 2002 by a group of SIU graduates, Creole Stomp consists of six musicians. They’ve seen personnel come and go over the years, but longtime lead guitar player Robert Russell is a Carbondale native, and singer/accordionist/fiddler Stroughmatt went to graduate school here. Stroughmatt hails from southeastern Illinois, a corner of the state in the Mississippi River Valley that has its own French Creole culture. In the 1990s, he spent some time in the Creole community of Old Mines, Missouri, where he learned to play the fiddle and speak French. Later, Stroughmatt lived in Louisiana, playing with local groups and developing relationships that persist to this day. Over the years, he’s worked with seven Louisiana-based zydeco and Cajun bands— including Sheryl Cormier and Cajun Sounds, Bois Sec Ardoin, and the Morris Ardoin Creole Band— and he learned to play accordion from the Ardoin family.

Creole Stomp are no pretenders. Today, they often play at Cajun/zydeco music festivals toe-to-toe with Louisiana bands. “That keeps us sharp,” Stroughmatt told Nightlife. He says that fans of the band “don’t even think about us being from Illinois, they just like what we bring to the stage and that’s a very cool feeling.”

Stroughmatt is fluent in French, which he learned in Old Mines and practiced while working with Creole and Cajun people in Lafayette, Louisiana. He holds a certificate of French Language and Quebecois Studies from the University of Quebec, and has given keynote addresses at the Missouri Folklore Society and at the national meeting of the American Association of Teachers of French. Stroughmatt feels that his ability to speak and sing in the language of traditional Creole music brings something special to Creole Stomp. “If you understand the music you’re singing,” he says, “you feel the music, not just play it. And you can then as a singer pass that feeling to the audience. That’s very important to me personally.”

As a well-respected national act, Creole Stomp plays for festival crowds all over the country. “When the audience is energized, our energy meets theirs and wow, it can be electrifying,” Stroughmatt says. “We’ve also been lucky to have such a good fan base grow over the years who sometimes travel hundreds of miles to see us. They’re just great people.”

As far as what their appearance on Thursday at Turley Park will be like, Stroughmatt warned Nightlife: “You never know what we might pull out. We never play the same show twice and love to keep our fans guessing. It should be a fun night.”

Find out more at <http://www.CreoleStomp.com>.

who: Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp

what: Sunset Concerts (Cajun and Creole music, zydeco)

where: Turley Park Gazebo

 

when: Thursday, July 23

Charles Walker Band: Neo-Funk for the Next Sunset

The Charles Walker Band brings an ever-evolving sound Thursday, July 16 to the Shryock Auditorium st
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

The Charles Walker Band brings an ever-evolving sound Thursday, July 16 to the Shryock Auditorium steps. The neo-funk sounds of this Milwaukee-based quintet are richly grounded in blues, yet Walker and his band dabble in the fusion of funk, rhythm and blues, and Motown.

Walker said he has been a student of music most of his life. He has played the saxophone since he was in sixth grade and continued training throughout college, participating in the prestigious University of Wisconsin Eau Claire jazz program.

The Charles Walker Band began in 2004 as a blues project. The group includes Walker on lead vocals, saxophone, and keyboards; Porsche Carmon on lead vocals and congas; Nasty Nate P. on guitar; the Sledgehammer on bass; and Melanie Means on drums.

Walker said the band has made a name for itself as a hardworking, high-energy group.

“It’s about getting out there and putting on a show, and making sure other people come out and enjoy it too,” Walker said.

Walker explained that growing up a music fan and listening to Motown and other influences has helped reshape the band as a neo-funk force.

“It has been an evolutionary process,” Walker said.

The Charles Walker Band received a Wisconsin Area Music Industry award in 2013 for Best Soul and Rhythm and Blues Act. That same year, the group’s music video— the sultry, derriere-appreciating “Soul Deep”— hit more than two-million views. The Charles Walker Band was also voted the number-one soul act in Wisconsin on Reverb Nation in 2013.

Capping off such a year was no easy feat, but the band’s eighth and latest recording, 2014’s Ghetto Prophet, is an eclectic thrill ride. The out-of-this-world horn section beckons to the dancer in us all.

In his band bio, Walker said of the EP, which was released on Ehlona Records: “‘One in a Million,’ where the title of the album comes from, tells the story we know can happen. That of the child who grows up impoverished and becomes something great. In this album, I again departed further in funk and Motown while remembering it’s 2015.”

Walker summed up his plans for the future by referencing a motto he and his bandmates see everytime they get together. It serves as a reminder of where they’ve been and where they’re going: “The Charles Walker Band is a household name loved by fifty-million people worldwide. We have been reinventing the game of soul music. We are a world-class act.”

It’s about music. It’s about reinventing soul. And it’s about gaining more fans each time they play.

“We have this saying on the wall in our practice space,” he said. “It’s kind of like our mantra as we go forward.”

For more information, check out <http://www.WalkerBand.com>.

who: Charles Walker Band

what: Sunset Concerts (funk)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium

 

when: Thursday, July 16

Sunset Concerts 2015: Sam Lee Both Parts of the Singer/songwriter Genre

Sam Lee loves a crowd, and he’s ready for us all to have a good time together. As part of the Sunset
K. Brattin
Video Comentary

Sam Lee loves a crowd, and he’s ready for us all to have a good time together. As part of the Sunset Concert series, Lee will play original rock music and covers with his Nashville band Thursday, July 9 at Turley Park in Carbondale.

A singer/songwriter who grew up in Colorado, Lee began his professional musical career out west almost a decade ago as a college freshman, performing in local bars. Feeling a change was due after completing his first two albums in Denver, he made the big move to Nashville, a city he says is “known as a place where an artist can find their way.” Though he is based in Tennessee, he has appeared at venues all around the country.

Lee is an entertainer who enjoys playing in front of an audience— the larger the better. “I love bigger crowds,” he says. After all, he points out, at a venue like the Sunset Concerts, “everyone is there to have a good time— I don’t have to convince them.” In fact, he says, “I get more comfortable the larger the group of people I’m playing for. There’s some solidarity there.” He enjoys varying his set, playing both original material and covers, which he sees as a unique opportunity. Putting his own spin on a song that’s familiar to the crowd is “a really cool way to tie a brand-new audience into what I do.”

Known for his strong, melodic voice as well as his catchy lyrics, both parts of the “singer/songwriter” genre are important to Lee. Always singing along with the radio as a child, he first turned his attention to learning musical instruments— he plays three now— in order to build a home for his voice. Now he views meaning-finding to be synchronous with sound. Singing and songwriting are equal parts of an artistic process, building upon each other. “When I write a tune, I never really feel it until I’m singing it,” he explains. Lee spent his early career working collaboratively on songs, which he says helped him solidify who he is as a creator, but he now writes much of his material alone.

During his two years in Music City, Lee made about a dozen music videos and has recently completed an EP, which is due to be released in the fall. To give the new songs energy, he recorded them live with a band in the studio. He’s distanced himself a bit from the bombastic classic-rock sound of his last full-length album, focusing instead on the soul, funk, and blues roots of the music he loves. “If you looked at my music collection,” Lee laughingly told Nightlife, “almost everyone in there would be dead,” yet the music he’s making now is of-the-moment in its fusion of genres— or as his producer terms it, its “mono-genre” sound. Lee points out that these days, pop, country, and rock all influence each other to such an extent that genre divisions sometimes feel superfluous. Lee feels good about his new material. “The more records an artist creates,” he says, “the closer they get to their center.”

who: Sam Lee

what: Sunset Concerts (original rock)

where: Turley Park Gazebo

 

when: Thursday, July 9

Sunset Concerts 2015: Chris Canas Band Brings the Blues

For Chris Canas, the blues has mass appeal because at the heart of every performance is something to
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

For Chris Canas, the blues has mass appeal because at the heart of every performance is something to which nearly everyone can relate.

“I think that it will remain for the most part a music-lover’s genre, but artists like B.B. King really helped bring it out to the mainstream,” Canas said.

The Chris Canas Band will play to the next Sunset Concert crowd Thursday, July 2 on the steps of Shryock Auditorium.

For more information about Canas, check out <http://www.ChrisCanas.net>.

Nightlife chatted with Canas to learn more about the up-and-coming blues artist. Read on to find out how legendary blues artist B.B. King and The Simpsons helped Canas mold his organic, diverse style.

How important was music to you when you were growing up?

Music to me when I was growing up was essential. A lot of times people turn to religion, therapy, or something else. I turned to music. Whenever I got upset or sent to my room I would practice my cornet for hours on end. I later turned to piano, bass, drums, and then guitar. Music is the pillar of good mental health for me, and I like to say it saved my life and still does to this day.

How did you feel when you listened to a blues song for the first time?

The first blues song I heard that I can remember was from the album The Simpsons Sing the Blues. I believe it was the “Moaning Lisa Blues” that started my journey. I knew I liked the way it sounded, but it wasn’t until I heard B.B. King’s “Thrill is Gone” that I became engulfed in everything about the blues. It made me feel sad, depressed, lonely, and like giving up on everything. However, I also felt hope, determination, and focus as I wanted to be able to express my emotions that way to another human being. The guitar was pulling at my heart, and the orchestra and bass line coerced my very soul to electrify. I knew I was struck by blues lightning from the opening line.

What does the blues mean to you?

The blues to me is the most raw form of musical expression. It can lift you up, bring you down, make you happy, make you sad, and everything in between. I’ll take some words from Mister King to help me describe the blues: “It’s like a good [liniment], it’s good for whatever ails you.” Sometimes it feels like the root of everything to me, but above all else the blues means “freedom” in my eyes. It was born out of suffering as a way to communicate the hard times on the plantation to evolve into the root of rock ‘n’ roll and basically all music today in some way.

Your website bio said you are finishing your sixth album, Would You Mind. Can you tell me about this project?

Would You Mind is going to be my best work yet, I believe. It will feature songs in the style of jazz, blues, urban blues, funk, country, neo-soul, soul, and a style I don’t really have a name for. I have been writing for about two years off and on. I usually have a certain time of year where the songs just flew out of me like a waterfall, then I finish them and get back to living life until it happens again. The style I’m going for is passion. I like to do everything with passion and if I don’t feel what I’m writing then my audience won’t feel it either. Even when I listen to music or cover a song, I try and empathize with what the artist is going through and portray that with pure emotion and passion. I’ve seen too many times when people just sing the lyrics, as opposed to truly feeling every line and imagining yourself in that situation. I want to try and pull people into my world so they can understand what I was going through when the song was conceived. There are a plethora of emotions involved in this new album, and I hope it comes across.

How you describe your style?

I would say my style borrows tidbits from every style of music. I don’t only listen to blues twenty-four/seven/365, so you will hear some of everything in there. You will hear some Prince, B.B. King, D’angelo, Al Green, Miles Davis, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Bob Marley, George Benson, and even some Travis Tritt in my style. I try to be as musically diverse as possible. Maybe that’s my style— diversity.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

I would like to say thank you on behalf of the Chris Canas Band for having us and taking the time to get to know us a little bit better. The blues is special to me and so are the people trying to keep it alive. My new mission is to keep this incredible piece of American culture moving forward and moving upward. It’s a great bitter sweet moment when I heard for the very first time in a long, long time B.B. King’s “Thrill is Gone” on a local big-name radio station in my car. It was sweet to hear people call in and show appreciation and claim they had to pull over and just enjoy. It was bitter because my blues and guitar hero had just passed away on my mother’s birthday and it was a shame that it took him having to pass away for blues to be in the mainstream. But I’m sure he’s smiling down on all of us!

who: Chris Canas

what: Sunset Concerts (blues)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium

 

when: Thursday, July 2

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