2nd Annual Prescott Blues Festival
From: Northern Arizona Blues Alliance
To: General Public
Subject: 2nd Annual Greater Prescott Blues Festival
Date: May 23rd, 2022
Brought to you by the Northern Arizona Blues Alliance! Mark your calendars for June 17th and 18th featuring some of Northern Arizona’s best Blues acts to be held at the beautifully restored Elks Theatre in downtown Prescott. Friday evening will start at 6PM, (doors open at 5PM), and goes until 10PM. Saturday is an afternoon show starting at 1PM (doors open at noon) and finishes at 5PM. Seating is reserved for both days, so it is recommended to buy your tickets early to get the best seats! Snack foods, along with beer and wine will be available for sale. No outside alcohol or food will be permitted. Handicap accessibility available – please contact the Elks Theatre directly for special area access tickets. TICKETS at https://www.prescottelkstheatre.org/theatre-events
The Friday night show on June 17th, starting at 6PM features The Swamp Poets Duo with Christian Michael Berry on guitar and vocals, and Paul Epoch on harp and vocals. The Swamp Poets Duo have consistently been a sought after act, having won the NAZBA local IBC in 2019 and currently having great success with the band’s just released album, “Hoodoo Du Voodoo”, voted “Top 5 Albums of the Year” and “Top 40 Albums being played on the Radio in Europe and the UK for 2021” as well as “Album of the Month”, (Three times by the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association).
Following the Swamp Poets, is Sedona’s own renowned singer, Renee Rice, who continues to wow audiences with her vocal talent and stage presence. She has performed with many great artists such as, Ray Charles, The Temptations, Sheila E. and Aretha Franklin and also performed for President Ronald Reagan. She was a Memphis IBC Semifinalist in 2017 and received a standard ovation at last year’s Prescott Valley Blues Festival. She’ll be accompanied by keyboardist Les Paul Roque, and drummer Roderick Wilson.
Following Renee is Flagstaff’s own Mother Road Trio. This group performs regularly from Flagstaff to Phoenix and has graced the stages of many notable venues such as the Musical Instrument Museum. MRT features Sam McRae on harp and vocals, an AZ Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Mike Shiner on upright bass and vocals, and Larry Czarnecki on guitar and vocals. The band was a Memphis IBC Semifinalist in 2018 and also will be inducted into the AZ Blues Hall of Fame as a Band in 2022. They have played from Flagstaff to Phoenix including sold out shows at the Musical Instrument Museum.
Closing the show, from Phoenix, is one of Arizona’s treasures, Big Pete Pearson, with his full band! Big Pete, an AZ Blues Hall of Fame Inductee, has a long history of performing throughout Arizona for many years and we are excited to have him appear in Prescott after a long absence. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Big Pete Pearson landed in Phoenix, Arizona in the 1950’s by way of Austin, Texas. Over the years Big Pete has worked with legends such as Ray Charles, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Tina and Ike Turner, Big Joe Turner, Etta James, Aaron Neville and the Neville Brothers, Koko Taylor, Gate Mouth Brown, Johnny Ace, T.D. Bell, Big Mama Thornton, T-Bone Walker, Screamin’ J. Hawkins, Pinetop Perkins, Joey DeFrancesco, Buddy Guy, Janiva Magness, Erbbie Bowser, Blues Boy Hubbard, Candye Kane and an endless array of others. Big Pete has created and written many albums but his most memorable CDs include, “One More Drink”, “I’m Here Baby” (which hit # 1 worldwide and won Best Blues Album of the Year at the Independent Music Awards in 2007) “Finger In Your Eye”, his 2009 release, “The Screamer”. Since the Screamer’s release it has hit #1 worldwide on the blues charts. In April of 2012, Big Pete released an album entitled, “Choose”, his first album recorded with a celebrated Italian blues band, The Gamblers. Today, Big Pete can be seen, more often than not, performing live in Europe with the Gamblers. Pete continues to keep busy. His latest recording, released in 2020, is called “Born In An Apple Box”, a fantastic collection of classic style blues songs, recorded again with Pete’s stellar European backup band The Gamblers.
The Saturday afternoon show on June 18th, starting at 1PM, features NAZBA’s 2021 local IBC winner, Marko Donnelly on guitar and vocals. Marko is a great story teller and entertainer, possessing a captivating, soulful voice, and great instrumental skills.
Following Marko is Flagstaff’s very own S.E. (Steve) Willis on keyboard, accordion, and vocals, along with Cottonwood’s Ray DeSylvester on harp and vocals, both AZ Blues Hall of Fame Inductees. Steve’s music is deeply rooted in traditional American forms: blues, boogie-woogie, country, rockabilly, gospel, and zydeco. A veteran band leader, Steve has taken a supporting role in bands with such artists as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Albert King, Jimmy Rogers, Roy Gaines, and, since 2000, Elvin Bishop (his accordion features prominently on the 2014 release “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right”). In 2014, Ray DeSylvester represented NAZBA at the 2014 IBC in Memphis and also was a 3x finalist in the Phoenix Blues Society (PBS) International Blue Competition showdown. He was awarded best traditional Blues Act in 1999 by PBS. Also known as Sweet Baby Ray, he plays with various bands and fronts his band, Blue Smoke. Steve and Ray will be backed by the rhythm section of John Willis (Steve’s brother) on bass, and Dr. Bob Sellani on drums.
Next up is one of Arizona’s favorite Blues bands, Big Daddy D and Dynamites, featuring Memphis IBC Semifinalist in 2020, and 2022 Memphis IBC competitor, Darryl Porras on guitar and vocals, and bringing Blues to the audience with power and finesse like no other, is Betty Jo Vachon, on vocals. This powerhouse band plays extensively throughout Arizona at notable venues and festivals, including The Colorado River Blues Festival, Flagstaff Blues and Brews, Glendale Blues and Jazz Festival, The Phoenix Blues Society’s Annual Blues Blast, The Arizona State Fair, and many local city events including The Camp Verde Pecan and Wine Festival, Sedona Red Dirt Concert Series, Clarkdale in the Park, and The Payson Outdoor Concert Series. Rounding out the band is drummer Dr. Bob Sellani, a Heritage Blues Hall if Fame Inductee and a 2017 Memphis IBC Semifinalist, Mahlon Hawk on bass, a 2019 Memphis IBC competitor, and Rick Mutter on keys, also an IBC Semifinalist in 2020, and 2022 Memphis IBC competitor.
Closing the show, from Chicago, is legendary Blues artist Lurrie Bell! Born in 1958, the son of famed blues harmonica player Carey Bell, Lurrie Bell picked up his father’s guitar at age of five and taught himself to play. He grew up with many of the Chicago blues legends around him such as Eddie Taylor, Big Walter Horton, Eddie C. Campbell, Eddie Clearwater, Lovie Lee, Sunnyland Slim, Jimmy Dawkins and many more were frequent visitors to his house. They all helped to shape and school him in the blues, but none as much as his father’s long-time employer Muddy Waters. By seventeen, Lurrie was playing on stage with Willie Dixon. In 1977 he was a founding member of The Sons of Blues with Freddie Dixon (son of Willie) and Billy Branch. The band recorded three standout tracks for Alligator Records, Grammy nominated “Living Chicago Blues” series. In 2002, Lurrie released “Cutting Heads”, and in 2004 came out with “Second Nature”, an acoustic duet recording with his father Carey Bell that was nominated for a WC Handy Award Acoustic Record of the Year by the Blues Foundation in Memphis. In 2007, released “Let’s Talk About Love”, which has been called his most accomplished, deeply heartfelt album yet. On the strength of this record, he was voted Most Outstanding Guitar Player in the 2007 Living Blues Magazine’s Critic’s Poll, and in 2008 and 2012 he was named the magazine’s Male Blues Artist of the Year. Since 2007 he has received multiple Blues Music Award nominations as Best Guitarist and Best Traditional Male Blues Artist by the Blues Foundation. 2009 found him pairing up with Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, and Billy Branch on the recording Chicago Blues: A Living History, which garnered him his first official Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Blues Recording. In 2011 a follow-up was released; Chicago Blues: A Living History (The Revolution Continues) featuring Buddy Guy, Magic Slim, and Ronnie Baker Brooks. And in 2012 came the arrival of his second CD on Aria BG Records “The Devil Ain’t Got No Music”, was honored with the Prix du Blues award from the prestigious French L’Academie du Jazz for the Best Blues Recording of 2012 and the title song (written by producer Matthew Skoller) received a nomination from the Blues Foundation for song of the year. At last count Lurrie Bell has now appeared on over 50+ recordings either as leader or featured sideman. Lurrie Bell’s elegant and intense guitar playing and passionate vocals have made him a favorite at clubs and festivals around the world and have earned him a reputation as one of the “leading lights” in the future of the blues. He’ll be backed by Big Daddy D and the Dynamites.