Chicago-based guitarist, singer, songwriter, and blues historian John Primer is one more shining light on the festival’s blues artist list. Primer is now one of the elder statesmen of the blues, and at 71 he was the most recent recipient of Traditional Blues Artist of the Year at the annual Blues Awards in Memphis. That prestigious award came on the heels of a 2016 Grammy nomination. Born in Mississippi, Primer moved to Chicago, learned slide guitar and was drafted into Willie Dixon’s Chicago Blues All-Stars.
He then joined the Muddy Waters band and played with the legend until Muddy’s death in 1983. Primer then joined Magic Slim’s Teardrops and worked as a solo artist and much sought-after sideman. His latest records of note are Knockin’ Around These Blues with harp master Bob Corritore and the live set, That Will Never Do. John Primer is also a great ambassador of the blues and one of the classiest and nicest individuals on the scene today.
As part of a family that has made a huge mark on Americana music, Livingston Taylor is very much cut from a similar artistic mold as that of his super-star brother James. Like his brother, Livingston had a major label deal by 1970 as he was signed to Capricorn Records, the home of the Allman Brothers. He enjoyed chart success with minor hits like I Will Be In Love With You and First Time Love. Brother James recorded Livingston’s Boatman and Going Round One More Time. Taylor recently released the set Last Alaska Moon with an all-star cast while attending to his role as a professor at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Livingston Taylor, who sounds very much like his brother James, will be playing solo concerts and songwriter in the round workshops at ROOTS&BLUES.
Always on the hunt for emerging artists who we feel will be on the roots music scene for the long run, we are excited to introduce two more acts who are sure to win over ROOTS&BLUES audiences.
From Missoula, Montana come The Lil’ Smokies, who took home the 2016 Momentum Award in the Band Category from the International Bluegrass Music Association. This quintet has already won over crowds at Telluride, Delfest, and the Northwest String Summit and performed on shows with Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and The Travellin’ McCourys. In short order The Lil’ Smokies have established themselves as a headliner as they weave a unique blend of traditional bluegrass, new grass, originals and cool covers with superior vocal arrangements and dazzling picking.
Rolling Stone said Toronto’s Kaia Kater is, “plaintive…mesmerizing….writes and performs with the skill of a folk-circuit veteran.” Only 19 years of age, Kater skillfully connects her love of Canadian folk and Appalachian music with powerful lyrics that look at the realities faced by people of colour on this continent, day in and day out. Kater’s latest album, Nine Pin, is an artistic triumph of such astounding depth that Folk Alley called Kater ….” a star in the making.”
Over the last two years the ROOTS&BLUES has presented songbooks that have had a lasting impact on the roots scene: the 50th Anniversary Tribute to the Grateful Dead in ’15, and last summer’s nod to the music from The Band’s Last Waltz concert. For 2017 ROOTS&BLUES will present The Mad Dogs Experience on Saturday night in The Barn. A 17- piece band with choir will roll through the great songbook that Joe Cocker and Leon Russell put together under the banner Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Conceived by Dan Shinnan, the lead singer of Boogie Patrol, the Mad Dogs Experience is an explosive two hour show featuring classics like Delta Lady, Bird On A Wire, She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, Feelin’ Alright, The Letter and Honky Tonk Women. A guaranteed barn burner!
Rounding out this list of 2017 performers is Vishten, the Acadian trio that delivers a fiery brand of traditional French songs cut with slices of Celtic and Acadian sounds. From Prince Edward Island, Vishten blend infectious rhythms with fiddles, guitar, accordion, mandolin, bohdran and whistles that amount to an incredible sonic sweep. Described as “Buckwheat Zydeco meets the Irish” Vishten will be one of many Canadian acts reminding audiences what an amazing variety of roots genres have sprung from our country as we celebrate 150 years.
Stay tuned…there is lots more to come…