Big Muddy Blues Festival | 09.05-06.15

prev big-muddy-75The funky blues style of Rick Estrin & the Night Cats, complete with harmonica and sensational musicianship, brings them to center stage.





The Big Muddy Blues Festival on Laclede’s Landing is celebrating its 20th year in St. Louis. This year’s fest, sponsored by Budweiser, features two stages and 16 fantastic bands, each of which has a little something different to offer. If you haven’t been to this festival in the past, this is the year you will want to attend.

Here’s a little something about the artists who will perform:

Rick Estrin & the Night Cats is a four-piece band who tours all over the continent. Band members include Rick Estrin, Kid Andersen (lead guitar), J. Hansen (drums, vocals), and Lorenzo Farrell (organ, acoustic, and electric bass). Rick Estrin and his crew have an engaging stage presence. Their funky blues style, complete with harmonica and sensational musicianship, brings them to center stage. This music, the good times, and the stories will delight and groove you—all at the same time.

Mike Zito and the Wheel. St. Louis native Mike Zito, formerly with Royal Southern Brotherhood with Devon Allman, is going to be wielding his shiny white guitar at Big Muddy. This band—which also includes Jimmy Carpenter (saxaphone, guitar), Rob Lee (drums), Scot Sutherland (bass)—doesn’t miss a beat. They play with a natural rhythm, incorporating rock, blues, Southern rock, and maybe a little bit of Texas country to mold their musical style. Zito’s unique voice stands out over his personal lyrics. Be on the lookout for a new album later this year.

The Nick Schnebelen Band. Hailing from Kansas City, the Nick Shnebelen Band has a rock ’n’ roll, yet funky blues sound going. The four members—Schnebelen (guitar, vocals), Heather Joan Newman (guitar, vocals), Gregory “Coko” Henderson (bass), Joe Voye (drums)—really know how to bring it on home. This is a very talented blues band with vocals that are soulful and heartfelt, a must-see at the Big Muddy.

Fruteland Jackson is based in Chicago. His music has a unique, storytelling, ragtime, old blues style, sometimes featuring banjo with a touch of Dixieland style. Jackson has won many honorable awards, including the W.C. Handy Award in 1997 for “Keeping Blues Alive” in education for his work teaching children and adults about the blues genre.

David Dee and the Hot Tracks live up to their name, playing hot tracks all right. Originally from Miss., Dee moved to East St. Louis and, later, to Chicago. He has earned a reputation as St. Louis’s premier contemporary bluesman, fronting an amazing band sure to prompt the toe-tapping, shoulder-swaying enjoyment of the blues that only he can produce. Dee is an excellent storyteller with a distinctive singing voice.

Rich McDonough and Rough Groovers. The four members of this ensemble—McDonough (guitar), Eric McSpadden (harmonica, vocals), Sharon Foehner (bass, vocals), and Derek Bonn (drums)—are all internationally proclaimed blues artists who have performing all over the world, including Germany, Netherlands, and other areas of Europe. With over 25 years of experience, they are considered to be one of the top premier blues bands in the St. Louis area. McDonough has opened for legendary greats such as Robert Cray, Tyrone Davis, and Roy Gaines. Among his other accomplishments, he was winner of the 2008 Riverfront Times’ Critics’ Choice “Best Blues Artist.” The musician makes his guitar shed tears and then sings straight from his soul, while his crisp attention to blues riffs make you sit up and pay attention.

Marcel Strong and the Apostles have recorded with blues great Al Green. Strong has a natural groove for playing good times blues flawlessly. Armed with his tight playing band, his tremendously sexy-smooth vocals stand out and make your hips sway to the beat.

Impala Deluxe frontman Dave Kalz and bassist Greg Hulub have been rocking the patrons of St. Louis music venues for years. Impala Deluxe is a special combination of blues and rock—or, more accurately, rocking blues.

Carolyn Wonderland is a native of Houston and a founding member of Loose Affiliation of Saints and Sinners. She released her hot CD Miss Understood in 2008, was a featured artist on NPR in 2012, and has appeared on Austin City Limits. Wonderland’s sound is modern folk infused with blues and light alternative rock. Her strong voice, amazing range, and enigmatic presence carry her smooth blues to a new depth of emotion, as her clever lyrics and unique, crystal-clear voice tell her story straight to your soul. The artist has won many awards, including Best Female Vocalist 2012 from Austin Music Awards, Best Blues Band 2009 from Austin Music Awards, and Best Blues Song Writer 1999. She has a legendary sound that will carry her far into her bright future.

Grady Champion. Former rapper and the baby of 28 children hailing from Mississippi, this singer, harp player, guitarist, and songwriter won the 2010 International Blues Challenge. Champion sells his music and lyrics while his mellow, blues-filled, raspy voice carries deep emotional inflections and clever, upbeat lyrics.

Popa Chubby. Hailing from the Bronx, guitarist/vocalist Popa Chubby and his bandmates—Eric Boyd (bass) and Sim Cain (drums)—set a new tone for the blues genre. Chuby is a master of his guitar, and his deep throaty voice carries the lyrics straight to your heart. The music is a mix of modern funk and modern rock, infused with a hefty influence of blues. In 1994, he launched his own recording label, Laughing Bear.

Hadden Sayers grew up in East Texas and later created a successful music career in Houston. His music is hypnotically smooth with soulful undertones and meaningful lyrics; he makes his guitar cry tears with “Alone with the Blues.” Sayers stopped touring for several years due to some unfortunate tragedies, but in 2011, he climbed back on his blues horse and got on the road to find continued success.

Rowland Johnson and Soul Endeavor. The winner of the Riverfront Times Best R&B Artist is back in St. Louis and ready to perform for you. As Johnson’s website reads, “If you want to call it blues, soul, funk, rock and roll, whatever…It’s music. For real and from the heart. That’s the way we do it, every night.” This is blues done right; it’s got a little bit of everything, including a showmanship and singing style that is raw and soulful, entertaining and refreshing.

Jeremiah Johnson Band is true, old-school blues complete with saxophone, soul filled vocals, and big brass.

The trio—which includes not only Johnson (guitar, vocals), but also Jeff Girardier (bass, vocals), and Benet Schaeffer (drums)—polishes its craft night after night. Next stop: Big Muddy Blues Festival

The Blue Shadows from Vancouver, Canada, have been on the music scene for over 20 years. While they are considered an alternate country band in their home country, their music resonates as folksy blues with deep country roots.

Edward David Anderson has shared the stage with many big names, including ZZ Top, Buddy Guy, and Government Mule, to name a few. The singer offers deep lyrical prowess coupled with rhythmic alternative rock. Soulful, honest, personal lyrics bring the intensity of emotionally filled blues vibes to life through the music, creating a sound that is both fresh and refreshing. Anderson is a very talented musician who not only writes his own songs, but also sings and plays guitar, drums, and harmonica—all at the same time! | Marsha Buehler

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