Photos by Chris Hoyt from Blues Cafe 2017
Photos by Chris Hoyt from Blues Cafe 2017
"With a shoot-from-the-hip Memphis attitude, and a STAX-busting explosion of modern blues vision, GTBB represents a welcome changing of the guard." -Living Blues Magazine
Recently featured at Montreal Jazz Festival, Beale Street’s latest success story, 4-time 2016 Independent Blues Award Nominee and International Blues Challenge Runner-up is Ghost Town Blues Band. Not your grandpa’s blues band, their live show has been captivating audiences in the U.S. and Canada with a second-line horn entrance, cigar box guitars and electric push brooms to Allman Brothers style jams and even a hip-hop trombone player.
Horns, harmonies and homegrown instruments combined with an energetic and roots rich festival set makes Ghost Town Blues Band one of the “must see live bands on the festival circuit today.” Both Andrew McNeill behind the drums and Matt Karner on the bass guitar are a punishing rhythm section behind multi-instrumentalist/frontman Matt Isbell with raunchy cigar box guitar licks and raspy "Dr. John-like, whiskey and gravel-soaked vocals." With the addition of Trombonist Suavo Jones, Tim Stanek on B3 and Taylor Orr on lead guitar, the grooves go from fresh to Funky as the band gains more notoriety in the blues festival and jam circuit. Ghost Town Blues Band has performed all across North America at over 100 festivals and will perform a half-dozen international tours in 2018.
“GTBB shows what can happen when the past is distilled through young sensibilities, voices, and instruments. This is 21st century blues at its best.” -Living Blues Magazine
A genuine musical journeyman, Kris Lager brings a feel good musical experience everywhere he goes. One of those rare and dynamic performers who deliver a combination of musical ability and charisma, Kris Lager will make you want to dance, clap, and sing along creating a fun and interactive show laced with road tested songs, and contagious grooves.
“I wanna lift up your spirits through song and dance!”, Says Kris Lager. “When music is created from a place of love and delivered with good intentions it is undeniably powerful. There’s nothing better than making the people around you feel good. The ultimate compliment for me is when folks come up to me at after a show and say I was having a horrible day or I was in a bad mood and now I feel great.”
ased out of Omaha, Nebraska Kris Lager Band has been zig zagging the country spreading their brand of “Feel Good Funk & Heavy Soul” for over 15 years. This spring KLB will release an album called ‘Love Songs & Life Lines’. It was recorded at White Wall Studios earlier this year in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and mixed by Grammy Award Winning Producer, Jim Gaines (Santana, Van Morrison, Steve Miller, Stevie Ray Vaughan). The album is a collection of love songs, and various heart tugging tunes featuring a more acoustic and Folksy/Americana side of Kris’ songwriting. The recording is a slight departure from their ‘Swaggering Rock ’n’ Roll’ and Blues infused electric guitar grooves that make up a lot their 2016 release ‘Rise & Shine’.
Kris Lager Band is quietly establishing themselves as one of the most storied and treasured groups in the Midwest’s music scene. They honed their skills for many years in and around Nebraska when in 2007 they were invited to hit the road as indigenous. They backed up frontman and guitar hero, Mato Nanji for over two years and were featured on Indigenous’ Jamie Candiliro Produced (Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson) Vanguard Records release ‘Broken Lands’. You might also recognize Kris Lager from working and touring alongside Andy Frasco & The U.N. The group covered 3 of Kris’ songs on their 2014 release ‘Half A Man’ and have made ‘Sunny Day Souldier’ a staple at their live shows. This year they also featured the composition on their Ruf Records released live album, ‘Songs From The Road’.
The Legendary Bluesman, Tab Benoit is also a fan. Proclaiming “These guys are the real deal! Go see them whenever they come to your town!” He produced and recorded KLB’s 2013 release ‘Platte River Runaway’ at his home studio in Houma, Louisiana. Soon after they worked with Tab Benoit they went to San Francisco and recorded with Bay area funk maestros, Monophonics at their Transistor Studios. The result was 2014’s ‘Heavy Soul & Boogie Trance’ mixed by Orgone’s Sergio Rios. The release caught the attention of Ohio’s Colemine Records, who released two of the tracks as a 45 and also featured the release on their internationally distributed Soul Slabs LP.
The roots of Left Wing Bourbon go back further than you’d expect for a blues band from West-Central Wisconsin. Weaned from a young age at the famous River’s Edge blues jams of the mid-to-late 1990s, along the banks of the Chippewa River, every member of the group was playing alongside blues veterans while young and unformed enough to take the impressions to heart.
While the blues jam venues may have changed over time, the members that would go on to form the core of Left Wing Bourbon continued to cut their collective teeth in various incarnations throughout the Chippewa Valley and south to the banks of the Mississippi. Officially formed in 2007, Left Wing Bourbon is a confluence of regional musical streams—some of which have run together for years, others just mixing.
Seasoned with years of hosting and playing at blues jams, serenading the night from some country porch, or moving the masses to swing their bodies at a summer festival, the collective members of Left Wing Bourbon mix soul, sweat, boogie and booze into a kinetic cocktail that leaves the foot tapping and the body wanting more.
Faith Ulwelling’s vocals channel 60’s soul and Delta grit, and her brother Jacob Ulwelling caresses the bass guitar until it moans and sings a counterpoint all it’s own. Jason Keisler works the guitar with finger, pick or slide, cascading a catalogue of blues from Clapton-like growls to a Watters mudslide. Tim Caswell, the veteran of the group, brings a sawdust-stage savvy, careening the band from ragtime to Motown and back, always solidifying the core. Derrick Biederman exudes seemingly boundless energy on the drums, and his diverse percussive vocabulary woos the audience to stand to attention, move their hips, and wander to the dance floor.
Left Wing Bourbon plays funk, blues, and feel good. Left Wing Bourbon mixes the season of experience with the zest of youth. Left Wing Bourbon sweats the blues out its skin and moves the room until you have no choice but to join in too. And why not? Funky blues won’t hurt a bit.