Welch-Ledbetter Connection

The Blues is in very good hands via this standout “connection”. A “Real Deal” guitarist joins forces with one of the most gifted vocalists to come along in years, in a game changing, soul grabbing, musical tour de force! Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter received a combined total of 7 nominations including Album of the Year and Traditional Blues Album (for Right Place, Right Time), Band of the Year, B.B. King Entertainer of the Year (Ledbetter), Contemporary Blues Male Artist (Ledbetter), Instrumentalist-Guitar (Welch) and Instrumentalist-Vocals (Ledbetter).

With over 25 years under his belt, Boston-based blues guitarist Monster Mike Welch is handily considered a seasoned veteran of the international blues scene at just a mere 37 years old. Adorned with the nickname “Monster Mike” by actor/comedian Dan Aykroyd at the tender age of 13, Welch has since carved out a successful living as a highly accomplished and in-demand guitarist. Welch has received two consecutive Blues Music Award nominations by the Blues Foundation for Instrumentalist-Guitar beginning in 2016.

Chicago’s own Mike Ledbetter has had nothing short of a rich and multi-dimensional musical journey thus far. Before making a home in West Side Chicago and Memphis style blues, Ledbetter set his feet in various genres ranging from soul, gospel, pop, jazz, and even spent the better part of a decade performing on Chicago opera stages. Spending eight years under the tutelage of his mentor, Nick Moss, Ledbetter recorded and toured the world with Moss as his lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist.

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Mr. Sipp

Castro Coleman a-k-a Mr. Sipp, “The Mississippi Blues Child” began playing the guitar at the tender age of 6. Being recognized for his amazing vocals, songwriting ability, musicianship, ability to produce records and entertain Fans with an upbeat, outlandish show all make Mr. Sipp “The Total Package.” In 2014 Castro was the winner of the International Blues Challenge (Band), the Albert King Gibson Guitar Award, BMA Best New Artist Album winner 2016, The Spirit of Little Walter Award 2016. In 2016, Castro was the first blues artist to have his handprint inducted into the Wall of Fame in Fredrikshavn, Denmark. In 2014, Castro was given the Bobby Rush Entertainer of the Year Award by the Jus’ Blues Foundation. In 2015, he won several Jackson Music Awards including International Male Blues Artist, Blues Artist of the Year, Entertainer of the Year.

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Shakura S’Aida

Shakura’s long-simmering career initially moved into high gear in 2008 with a triumph at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, when she earned the runner-up position, competing against more than 100 bands from more than 20 different countries. Shakura S’Aida has consistently been thrilling audiences with her powerful pipes for years. As a veteran of the international music scene, she’s performed both as a featured artist with musicians like Jimmy Smith, Lee Oskar (WAR), Bettye LaVette and Keb Mo’, as well as an award winning solo artist. Whether she’s speaking Swiss-German, French or English, Shakura instantly connects with her audience — and at the same time richly demonstrates the multiculturalism that Canada prides itself on.

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Chris Cain

At the age of eight, Cain taught himself to play guitar and began playing professionally before he was eighteen. Chris studied music at San Jose City College, and was soon teaching jazz improvisation on campus. Over the next twenty years, Cain would also master piano, bass guitar, clarinet, alto and tenor saxophone. The combination of his blues upbringing and his jazz studies melded to form the searing guitar style that sets Chris Cain apart and has moved him to the top ranks of the blues music scene. Cain’s debut recording, Late Night City Blues (Blue Rock’it Records-1987) garnered four W.C. Handy Blues Award nominations, including Guitarist of the Year.

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Harper and Midwest Kind

An amalgamation of blues, soul and world music, multi award winning Australian singer/songwriter “Peter D. Harper” creates a heady mix of roots music through his creative use of the harmonica, and the haunting drone of the didgeridoo. By combining traditional and modern influences, borrowing from Western and World music, Harper has created a highly original take on the roots genre, which many have labeled “World Blues”. Harper has received an amazing fourteen music awards in four different countries. His innovative use of electronic enhancement and feedback breaks the traditional boundaries of the harmonica, giving his music its distinctive harmonics and effects. The powerful guitar sounds and the unique drone of the didgeridoo create raw yet eerie sonic textures, somehow sounding primal and contemporary at the same time.

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Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Born in 1999, Kingfish began playing the drums at age 6, bass guitar at the age of 9, and lead guitar at the age of 11. By the age of 14, he was great on all three instruments and has added vocals to his ever-growing list of talents. Kingfish is a living phenomenon, soon destined to be a living legend! He has won the following awards: 2015 Artie “Blues Boy” White Youth Scholarship Award, 2015 Jus’ Blues “IN HONOR OF B.B. KING” King of The Blues Award, 2015 Robert Johnson Rising Star Award presented by The R&B Hall of Fame, 2015 Muddy’s “Performance of The Year” Award at The Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, 2015 Sean Costello Rising Star Award Nominee, 2016 Young Blues Generation Award presented by The Bellinzona Blues Sessions Festival,  and 2016 Rising Star Award presented by The 3rd Annual New Blues Festival.

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Kelley Hunt

In some ways, Roots R&B/Americana singer/songwriter/piano player/guitarist Kelley Hunt is a rarity and a challenge to the music industry’s penchant for easy artist definitions — a woman who has muscled her way onto the scene on her own terms with an identity steeped in blues/roots/gospel traditions and a refreshing originality. She makes music with its righteous roots intact that also crosses boundaries, has an open-minded, exploratory attitude and takes on social and political issues. Together with a commanding, passionate stage presence and superior vocal, keyboard and songwriting skills she has earned the respect of critics and fans across North America and Europe.

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Trey Wanvig

At age 15, Trey Wanvig, a local blues guitarist and singer songwriter has already accomplished a great deal. Early in 2017, he won the local “Sarasota’s Got Talent” competition held at Music Compound while competing against contestants of all ages. During the summer, Trey was invited to participate and perform in the Grammy Museum’s Music Revolution Project at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. He attended an advanced week long Guitar Session at Berklee School of Music in Boston. In August 2017, he won the Youth category in the Southwest Florida Blues Society’s “Road To Memphis” IBC Challenge. This granted him the opportunity to participate in the 34th Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN in January 2018.

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Bridget Kelly Band

Inspired by classic & electric blues, the Bridget Kelly Band has placed their unique stamp on the blues genre, with high-energy live performances and a hybrid sound that mixes Texas and Memphis Blues with various Southern Blues traditions. The powerful and sultry vocals of singer Bridget Kelly and the incendiary lead guitar work of Tim Fik forge a signature hybrid sound that combines female urban blues with riff-driven rockin’ blues guitar, held together by a dynamic rhythm section comprised of Alex Klausner on drums and Mark Armbrecht. The Bridget Kelly Band (BKB) recently at the “Women in Blues” Showcase in Memphis during the 2017 International Blues Challenge (IBC). The Bridget Kelly Band were International Blues Challenge (IBC) Semi-Finalist in 2015 and 2016. Also, Tim won a Keeping the Blues Alive Award in January from the Blues Foundation.

Photo credit: Jim Hartzell

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Memphis Rub Band

A high energy show that has dynamic vocals, soaring guitar and a tight rhythm section. The band is based out of Florida’s Suncoast. The Memphis Rub Band showcases vocals reminiscent of James/Otis, soulful blues guitar, solid drumming and dynamic piano and organ. “Barefoot” Dan Ryan plays the keys, Jay “Jayson” Moss on the drums, Gary Drouin is known as “Guitar Gary” and Scott Matzke’s unique bass style and soulful vocals bring a tasty BAM to the Memphis Rub mix!

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Bryan Lee, The Braille Blues Daddy

Bryan Lee lost his eyesight and was legally blind by the age of eight. The man now known as “Braille Blues Daddy” started out playing for Midwest crowds at the early age of 15. In the late 1950’s, Bryan Lee opened for Bill Haley & The Comets with his band “The Glaciers” performing cover music of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. By the early 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s, Bryan Lee’s musical interest turned to the sound of Chicago Blues, influenced by Chicago Bluesmen Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Hubert Sumlin and Freddie King. Bryan gained the nickname “New Orleans Blues Institution” from Quint Davis, producer of NOLa Jazz and Heritage Festival, of which Bryan has performed at for 26 years now. In 2010, Bryan was nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on “Live! In Chicago” with Kenny Wayne Sheppard and Friends and won a BMA for Best Rock Blues Album for the same album.

Photo credit: R. Keith Lambert / East Coast Blues

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