Best known as the lead vocalist on the Chairmen of the Board blues classic “I’m the Chairman of the Board,” Harrison Kennedy was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, before moving to Detroit to join up with the Chairmen, a group started as part of the new Holland-Dozier-Holland label Invictus/Hot Wax. In the mid-’70s, Kennedy left the group and struck out on a solo career. Over the years he has been able to pull from styles as varied as funk, soul, R&B, folk, rock, and gospel. In 2008, Kennedy was nominated for Best Blues Recording in Canada’s Juno Awards.
A unique line-up performing original songs. Raw and simple with a deep love for American Roots Music. These musicians have broad taste and an open mind, so a lot of musical influences come through.
grew up in Dallas, Texas. As a little girl, Dede would sing along to whatever she could find, but it was the rawness of Blues and Gospel that shaped her talent the most. Classically trained on the violin, it was always clear that her voice was her first instrument. Moving to Austin, Texas, she earned a degree in Philosophy, then followed her heart and let the music lead. In Austin, Dede began singing professionally and has shared the stage with Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Leon Russell, Tommy Shannon, and Harry Belafonte. Performing in the USA and all over Europe, Dede Priest continues to forge ahead with successful shows
mainly known as a bass player, Jasper has found a new passion: playing drums! Over the last ten years, Jasper has toured extensively in the whole of Europe. He has worked with numerous great artists like Preston Shannon, ‘Sax’ Gordon Beadle, Monti Amundson, Philip Walker, Candye Kane, Sherman Robertson, Terry Evans, Long John Hunter, Eddy Clearwater, Paul Oscher, Doug Jay, Boo Boo Davis, Byther Smith, Boyd Small, and many others. Right now, he is the regular bass player the Jimmy Reiter band.
Jan has toured Europe as a guitar player with USA artists like: Smokey Wilson, Byther Smith, Burton Gaar, Roy Roberts, Larry Garner, Boo Boo Davis, Erskine Oglesby, Jody Williams, Roscoe Chenier, Clara McDaniel, Boyd Small, Billy Jones, Hosea Leavy, Percy Strother, Harrison Kennedy, and many others. With Boo Boo Davis, he has performed on all major European festivals like North Sea Jazz, Jazz a Juan, Montreux Jazz Festival, and Peer Bluesfestival.
Byther Smith is a true Living Legend of the Chicago blues scene and during his long lasting career he worked with the greatest of the Chicago blues artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Otis Rush. Born in Monticello, Mississippi on April 17, 1933 young Byther Smith got his first musical experiences with gospel music, a music that he returned to at various stages of his career. As a teenager Byther moved to Arizona, working on a cattle ranch and playing with a country & western band at weekends. In 1957 he moved to Chicago at the advice of his cousin, the legendary J.B. Lenoir. He began gigging and taking guitar lessons from Robert Lockwood and Hubert Sumlin presumably on the basis that if you’re going to get a guitar teacher you might as well get the best.
In the early 1960’s Byther Smith was working the clubs on guitar and bass both as a leader and in various bands as sideman. A group of highly prized recordings were made resulting in 45’s on labels such as Bea & Baby, Cruise and Apex. In 1965 it was back to gospel with the Gospel Travellers for a time. In the 1970’s he spent five years in the house band at Theresa’s Tavern, which often meant playing with Junior Wells.
1979 found Byther Smith determined to make it under his own name and a steady stream of coast to coast gigging and touring commenced. He made several recordings and his releases, “Addressing the nation with the blues” (JSP) and “Housefire” and “I’m a mad man” (both on Bullseye), were very successful. Byther released three CDs (“Mississippi Kid”, All Night Long and Hold that train) on Delmark Records. During the years Byther Smith has toured all over the world. In Europe several times, among others as a member of the Chicago Blues Festival. Byther Smith did several very successful European tours between Nov ’94 and Sept ’99. During these tours he performed in Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden and the UK. Byther released two recent CDs on Black and Tan Records; Smitty’s Blues (2001) and Throw Away The Book (2004).
Ernie Payne was an African American musician from Louisiana’s Acadia Parish. His family was large and everyone learnt early to pitch in and help with chores and household duties. Their strict, religious, hardworking ethic thought ‘music’ essential to a quality life, but hardly something to pursue as a way to earn a living.
“Somebody singing is my first memory. Music celebrated and music mourned. Everybody in my family loved some kind of music and they shared it with me. My music attempts to carry on that idea of brotherhood and sharing.”
At the core of almost every song are Payne’s vocals which are extremely strong, yet soothing. The stories told in the songs are intimate and visual and as he is singing he makes the listener feel as if he is talking to them personally, directly and one on one. Ernie’s debut CD (Coercion Street) was released on Black and Tan Records in April 2004. The record was played all over the world and it got rave reviews in among other BLUES WAX and BLUES REVUE. During his European tours Ernie visited Holland, France, Ireland, Belgium and the UK. He was invited to do several support shows for ROBERT PLANT both in the UK and the USA.
Ernie spend almost his entire life on writing and improving his songs. He always dreamed of performing and touring and just when this finally started to happen, his health didn’t allow him to do it very long. It was really sad that he got sick and was not able to travel anymore. Ernie died in September, 2007.
Ernie’s Bio in his own words: “I was born in Louisiana, U.S.A. Raised in Evangeline Parish and East Texas. Late blooming baby boomer, nurtured by godfearing baptists and creole catholics and the powerful fun of the second line drum. I’m trying to serve the blackness well.”
Erskine Oglesby gained a strong reputation within his hometown St. Louis, Missouri Born in St. Louis in 1937, Erskine played with nearly everyone who had a name in his hometown He started out at the age of l4 on piano with no less a performer than Chuck Berry. Still the sax was and remained his choice instrument throughout.
When he finished his military service in the US Air Force in November 1957, Erskine got in touch with Billy Gayles’ band and started out as a professional musician. Over the years he played with the likes of Albert King, Ike & Tina Turner, Little Milton, Billy Gayles, Eugene Neal and Benny Sharp, as well as with local jazz acts. He just didn’t want to limit himself to blues (Because I enjoy it all!), he told the St. Louis Blues Society. In 90’s he also visited Europe as a member of the St. Louis Kings of Rhythm and on more than one occasion he played with other St. Louis acts at the renowned Bluesestafette in Utrecht
His taste for diversity also shows on his two records for Black & Tan Records. The music he picked ranges from straight jump blues to jazzy instrumentals.
For a sense of the blues at its most tangible, one needs to look no further than singer/guitarist Percy Strother, who triumphed over incredible tragedy to create music of genuine pain and sorrow. Born July 23, 1946 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, he was still a child when his father died violently; his mother passed away shortly afterward, and rather than submitting to life in an orphanage,
Strother simply took to the road. He drifted from job to job for a number of years, all the while fighting a battle with alcoholism; discovering the blues turned his life around, however, and after sobering up he began teaching himself guitar, honing his chops in virtual anonymity before recording his debut LP A Good Woman Is Hard to Find in 1992. The Highway Is My Home followed in 1995, and in 1997 Strother returned with It’s My Time. He toured Europe several times and recorded Home at Last there, which saw release in 2001. A legend in his adopted home of Minneapolis, Percy Strother was diagnosed with liver cancer and passed away May 29, 2005.
Guitarist/singer Roscoe Chenier was born November 6, 1941 in the hamlet of Notleyville, just east of Opelousas. Though his family of sharecroppers was poor in material posses-sions, it was musically rich in talent. Related to both zydeco demigod, Clifton Chenier, and bluesman Morris ‘Big’ Chenier, his father Arthur ‘Bud’ Chenier was his main inspiration. Bud, a cajun accordionist, accompanied by his first cousin and fiddler John Stevens, the father of Duke Stevens, was widly popular, as he often would entertain at weekend house parties. “As a youngster, I’d just soak up the music”, Roscoe said.
His vocal gift manifested itself early, as he was invited in 1958 to join one of the hottest traveling bands in the territory; C.D and the Blue Runners, which featured three Gradnier brothers on harmonica, drums and bass and Lonesome Sundown on lead guitar. Roscoe remained with CD for over a dozen years, until 1970 and despite the British Invasion, still managed to find enough work to keep the blues alive. Things in the black com- munity changed and it was difficult earning a living, especially when the gigs were paying $6 per man per night. And, Roscoe began a succession for day jobs as a truck driver in order to make ends meet.
In the 70’s Roscoe led a rather peripatetic existence as a bluesman, drifting from band to band, finding gigs catch as catch can. for a year and a half, he served with Good Rockin’ Thomas and thereafter a hitch with Good Rockin’ Bob. Often he was a “hired gun” for artists like Lonesome Sundown and Clarence Randle. The final chapter of this itinerant period of Roscoe’s life was a three year stretch with local horn man Duke Stevens, who like Charles Tyler, also had a hit on Lee Lavergne’s Lanor label in the 60’s “I’ve been your fool.”
By 1980, Roscoe finally was his own man, leading his own band, shaped in his image. During the years he had some great players in his band and allthough some of them “retired” Roscoe always managed to attract capable replacements. Since that date, it’s been a long hard struggle to remain financially independent. And he’s tried various means, including recording, to jump start his career. Roscoe Chenier and his band appeared at the Blues Estafette in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2001. He also performed at the very prestigous North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague. Roscoe Chenier toured Europe regularly and performed on several major blues festivals. Roscoe’s last two releases are “Roscoe Style” (1998) and “Waiting For My Tomorrow” (2006).
Way back in the South, turnip greens were considered a simple daily fare for the countryside folks. This same simplicity is also to be found in the music of Turnip Greens. Turnip Greens are five seasoned musicians from Arhus, Denmark. Their music is a unique blend of several musical styles from the southern states of the US.
They are influenced by Tom Waits, Dr. John, Delbert McClinton, Elvis, The Meters, B.B. King, Solomon Burke, Daniel Lanois, Ry Cooder, Doyle Bramhall II, Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, Muddy Waters, The Black Keys and many more. Without a doubt the geographical distance between Denmark and the US is the reason for the fresh and original approach to the music. At the same time you hear exactly where they are coming from and in the music you hear a deep respect for ‘the masters’ and ‘the tradition’. Also vocal harmonies play an important role in their music. With a repertoire that consists of mostly original material
Turnip Greens are making their way into the roots & blues music tradition of New Orleans. The band performed on several major European festivals like Bluesnacht Idar-Oberstein (D), Blues Balls Festival in Luzern (CH), Austrian Blues Masters, Stadfest Steyr (A) and Blues Autour du Zinc in Beauvais (F).