The 17th annual Lowcountry Blues Bash kicked off last week with over 45 artists on the schedule set to play at a variety of venues across town. Tickets are available for shows at the venues. Prices range between $3 and $15. Several events are free to the public. For the full festival schedule and ticket details, check out www.bluesbash.com, call 762-9125, or take a look at City Paper’s Music Board section.
The second week of Blues Bash action features a great variety of players and styles. Local cats like Wanda Johnson, Juke Joint Johnny, Davis Coen, Teddy Midnite, Robert Paige, and Tommy Thunderfoot & The Accelerators are slated for performances at clubs and restaurants. A handful of visiting artists are on hand as well. Listed below are some of the highlights and stand-out “picks” for the second half of the festival:
Big Sam’s Funky Nation: Trombone Funk Master
Big Sam, formerly the trombonist for the popular funk machine Dirty Dozen Brass Band, currently works as ringleader with his own big-brassy ensemble, the Funky Nation. A high-energy mix of New Orleans “street-dance,” jazz, and funk, the Funky Nation kick it with an improvisational style, masterful chops, and a horn-heavy front section. (The Pour House, Thurs. Feb. 15, 9 p.m.)
Nappy Brown: Savvy Savoy Veteran
Napoleon “Nappy” Brown, 75, came up in the Carolinas singing in blues, R&B, and gospel groups and struck out on his own as a pro bluesman in the 1950s. He worked extensively with the legendary Savoy label. He wrote and performed on several hits on Billboard’s R&B charts –including “Lemon Squeezin’ Daddy,’ “Don’t Be Angry,” and “Night Time Is The Right Time,” best remembered as a hit for Ray Charles. These days, Nappy’s based in Columbia and regularly hits special events and festivals like the Blues Bash. He shares the stage with “Chicago Bob” Nelson and The King Bees during the “Night with the Legends” event this weekend. (Cumberland’s, Fri. Feb. 16, 9 p.m.)
CHICAGO BOB NELSON: A Bit of Old & New
Born in Louisiana, “Chicago” Bob Nelson (legend has it he was nicknamed by Muddy Waters) is a veteran player revered for his authentic “swamp blues” stylings. He’s jammed with John Lee Hooker, Johnny Shines, and Tinsley Ellis (in the Heartfixers). His current set list features a mix of “post-war” blues and a slightly more “modern” sound. Nelson’s latest disc, the 14-song Flyin’ Too High, sticks with what works — his deep-hearted, gutsy singing and harp-playing style. He shares the stage with Nappy Brown and The King Bees during the “Night with the Legends” event this weekend. (The Charleston Co. Library, Fri. Feb. 16, noon; Cumberland’s, Fri. Feb. 16, 9 p.m.; Mimi’s Creekside, Sat. Feb. 17, noon)
LEON RUSSELL: By Way of Oklahoma
Recently inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, singer/pianist/guitarist Leon Russell came up as an esteemed session player with Phil Spector’s studio band and a slew of vital rock ‘n’ roll collaborators (from Jerry Lee Lewis and B.B. King and the Rolling Stones and George Harrison). His best-known solo singles include “Tightrope,” “Lady Blue,” and “The Masquerade.” Russell’s latest, an 11-song collection of anthems, family-oriented tribute songs, and funky jams titled Angel In Disguise, was released last year on his own label. (The Pour House, Fri. Feb. 16, 9 p.m.)
SMOKY Weiner & THE HOT LINKS: The Lowcountry’s Versatile Boogiemen
A longtime blues-rock staple in Charleston — led by singer Andy “Smoky” Weiner — the Hot Links specialize in an upbeat mix of blues-rock, surf, rockabilly, swing, and twang. He and the band perform several shows this week leading up to the “grand finale” gig, a “Blues Relief Fund Benefit” show on Sunday at the rejuvenated Bowens Island site. (A Dough Re Mi, Wed. Feb. 14, 8-11 p.m.; Three Lions Pub, Thurs. Feb. 15, 7-11 p.m.; Bowens Island, Sun. Feb. 18, 4-8 p.m.)
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