If you want to be considered for a possible slot at the 2015 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival September 5 and 6, follow these directions:

·         Send a bio and links to video and audio to Karen at .  OR

·         Send a bio and CD to:  MVBS Entertainment Committee, 102 S. Harrison St. Suite 300, Davenport IA 52801.


Due to the high volume of solicitations for the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, we may not acknowledge your package.  Make sure you send contact information.  Thanks!

For Immediate Release 16 February 2015

Contact MVBS President Scott Klarkowski at 563-742-0450 or

Karen McFarland at


Blues Festival Will Move to Labor Day Weekend;

Blues Society Begins a Fundraising Campaign

After weathering 3 floods and multiple rain days in the past 7 years over the 4th of July weekend, the Mississippi Valley Blues Society Board of Directors voted to move the date of the 2015 Blues Festival to the Labor Day weekend—Saturday and Sunday September 5 and 6.

After 30 years of being on the Independence Day weekend, the change to Labor Day is a momentous move to avoid the flooding of LeClaire Park with its consequent monetary outlays and still keep the Blues Festival on a holiday weekend that will provide a travel day for the 40% of attendees that come from out of town for the Festival.

“We understand the inconvenience that this move may cause our loyal attendees,” says MVBS President Scott Klarkowski, “but we hope that they will continue to support the Festival, which received recognition in 2014 as ‘one of the longest running, most prestigious blues festivals in the world’ by The Blues Foundation of Memphis, TN.” 

Basically, the move to Labor Day reflects a choice of LeClaire Park over the dates of the Festival.  “LeClaire park, situated between the blues Highway 61, the railroad, and the Mississippi River, and with its historic Bandshell, presents the perfect ambience for the music originating farther south on the highway and the River,” says Klarkowski.

 The move to Labor Day weekend is also designed to maintain the quality of the Blues Festival, because it will give more time for the MVBS to find funding for their coffers depleted by the moves to downtown Davenport due to flooding and rain in the past 7 years.  The date change will also open up new audiences such as high school and college students, which will help the MVBS maintain its mission of keeping the blues alive through education.

 “The Festival is just part of what the MVBS does to Keep the Blues Alive,” says Klarkowski.  “We also have an active Blues in the Schools educational program, as well as our Legends Concert Series that brings live blues to the Quad Cities, our radio shows on KALA,  and our other events that include the preliminary round of the Iowa Blues Challenge.”

 The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival is the only major blues festival in the country that is produced by an all-volunteer blues society, without major corporate support.  It will take a total of over $200,000 to produce just a two-day festival in September.   “We rely on grants and sponsors to help us produce the Blues Festival,” says Klarkowski, “and now we need support from the public as well if we want to see the Festival continue.  We accept any donations—just go to our website at and donate what you can to help us keep the festival alive and high-quality.”




Blues in the Schools Presents Semenya McCord Feb. 18-20

Vocalist/music educator/composer Semenya McCord will perform her show “Classic Blues Connection” in Quad-City schools February 18-20 as part of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society’s Blues in the Schools Artist-in-Residence program for Black History Month.

She will also perform two open-to-the-public shows:

Wed. Feb. 18 at 1:30 p.m.—CASI (Center for Active Seniors), 1035 West Kimberly Road, Davenport IA

Wed. Feb. 18 at 7:00 p.m.—River Music Experience, 2nd & Main Streets, Davenport IA

Semenya’s “Classic Blues Connection,” with pianist Frank Wilkins, highlights important roots of American popular music from 1900 to 1935, featuring Classic Blues women Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday.  This is perfectly paired with Wilkins demonstrating early piano styles from boogie woogie to Scott Joplin’s ragtime and Duke Ellington’s jazz.​

Semenya McCord earned her degree in Music Education from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.  Her popular musician father, the late Ken Henderson, was an early and significant influence on her desire to sing and touch people through music. At the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, she was turned on to the powerful traditions of gospel music with Horace C. Boyer and of jazz with master drummer Max Roach and reedman Archie Shepp.​
​Semenya performed throughout New England for over 25 years, presenting programs and residencies featuring spirituals, blues, traditional and contemporary jazz for audiences of all ages through Young Audiences of Massachusetts, Inc., the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the New England Foundation for the Arts.​

Since 1982, she directed annual tributes to the life and “dream” of Martin Luther King, Jr., the music of Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington, and community events that celebrate cultural diversity through the arts.​ In 1988, she was awarded “Outstanding Jazz Vocalist” by the Boston Music Awards, and she received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Musical Excellence in 1990 from the city of Boston.

Semenya returned home to Galesburg, Illinois in 2003 to assist her mother;  she earned her Master’s degree in Music at Northern Illinois University in 2006.  Semenya currently teaches Jazz Voice at Knox College and teaches General Music and directs student choirs at Lombard Middle School. ​ She is an active member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity and the Music Educators National Conference.​

Pianist Frank Wilkins, a native of Milwaukee, moved to Boston in the early 1970s.  Wilkins has become known as a “jazzmatician”—a consummate music director and pianist among national and international venues and with vocalists, a multimedia producer/director, music composer, arranger and experienced private instructor—with  awards from The Artists’ Foundation (Boston), Composition Fellowship (Berklee College of Music) and The Hank Jones Jazz Masters Award.

Playing virtually every major jazz and blues venue throughout New England, Wilkins has shared a stage with Angela Bofill,  Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kevin Eubanks, Tiger Okoshi, and Archie Shepp, to name a few.  His career has included performances at the Newport Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, and North Sea Jazz Festival;  and in West Africa , Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, and Mexico.​

Semenya McCord’s residency is made possible by a major grant from the Riverboat Development Authority.  Thanks also to sponsors the River Music Experience, KALA Radio, and The Lodge.



At The Muddy Waters
1708 State St, Bettendorf, Iowa 52722

LIONEL YOUNG is a high-energy performer with “the soul of a Bluesman.” This ain’t the kind of blues that will bring you down. The Lionel Young Band won the 2011 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, making Young the first double champion in the IBC’s history, with his solo-duo victory in 2008.

Fans of the driven, classically trained Young love his distinctive brand of blues on electric violin. The shows feature, not only originals by Lionel and the band, but also interpretations of blues classics. The songs, combining the strength and passion of Young’s playing, his smooth vocals, and unique transitions, have impressed audiences and CD listeners across the globe, as evidenced by his nomination for a Blues Music Award. More than just a soloist, Young’s musical sense has assembled an impressive band: the legendary Kim Stone, international jazz artist AnDré Mali, poll winning Dexter Payne, and vocal powerhouse Jay Forrest.

If you’re not familiar with Lionel, you’re missing out. When he plays, he owns the room. He’s one of those special performers able to do his own thing while still playing to the crowd … Lionel has the soul of a Bluesman.
Eric Wrisley and Chip Eagle – Blues Wax

butterscotch vocal delivery and … a guitar and violin master… retro feel with unique interpretations of originals and covers… a cappella arrangement done by the whole group that took me back to the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Don Wilcox – Blues Review

brought the Orpheum crowd to its feet with his horn-driven sound… an entertainer’s entertainer, whether singing, playing guitar, or playing his violin.
Vinnie “Bond” Marini – American Blues News

One of the highlights of the recent King Biscuit Blues Festival …[This] multi-talented band … composed of musicians with impeccable credentials… swiftly moving from tune to tune without pause, they covered a wide palette, layering a texture of sounds into each selection with Young interspersing some interesting tales along the way. They have a knack for reinventing tunes. The cohesion displayed by this aggregation felt genuinely instinctive and they all just flat-out joined in the musical scuffles that made for one of those memorable evenings. Their live show was enthralling and if you don’t catch this act when they hit your town, shame on you!
Dorothy Hill – SF Blues Society Pres.

Lionel Young chucked being a world touring classical musician because he had the blues, though “this ain’t the kind of blues that’ll bring you down,” …must-see and must-listen!!
Guy Errickson –Colorado Music Buzz