Bernard made his first appearance on record at age 13, when he played on a live LP his father recorded in Peoria, IL. “When we moved to Peoria, Dad came home preparing to do his live album in Peoria. I hooked up the amplifier and guitar in the basement and started playing his first record. Love Me Momma note for note. He freaked out and said tonight you’re gonna record with me. That was my first recording; I played ‘You Don’t Love Me No More’ and ‘Sweet Home Chicago’.”
Bernard Allison totes the same smokin’ six string shooter that his late father Luther Allison assaulted the blues with. Bernard is blessed with his fathers soulful voice, spiritual devotion and a musical freedom, which experiments with the blues. Born in Chicago on November 26th 1965, he was the youngest of nine children. Bernard was first introduced to the roots of black music and the art of the electric guitar by his father, the late great Luther Allison. Like Ken Griffey Jr., hanging out in baseball locker rooms as a youth, Luther’s son was a kid running on stage throughout the bands set. Experiences like that profoundly affect ones aspirations. “That’s when I decided that I wanted to be up there with him. I think I was seven.”
After 17 years of recording experience, Bernard has perfected his sound. Instead of just using his guitar, Bernard has become the mature artist, who uses the full palate of music colors in his band to paint his stories. If there ever was a CD for all occasions, this is it.
In any business it’s hard to try to live up to the success of ones father or mother but in the music business there is an added challenge of trying to meet the expectations of their fans and trying to make new ones. Bernard has been walking on this tightrope for his entire career and has done an admirable job of living both in his fathers world and in the one he has created for himself.
“There’s a young lady [Vanessa Collier] came onstage with me, I forget where I was, but she’s playing an alto saxophone, and man, she was amazing.”
Those are the words of Buddy Guy in a recent issue of American Blues Scene, describing an impromptu performance with Vanessa Collier on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to meet Vanessa and witness one of her head-turning, fiery, and passionate performances, you should definitely make sure you do. As a master musician and multi-instrumentalist, Vanessa Collier, weaves funk, soul, rock, and blues into every powerful performance and she is downright impressive. With soulful vocals, searing saxophone, and witty songwriting, Vanessa is blazing a trail, racking up an impressive arsenal of honors, and has already singled herself out as an artist of distinction and one we would all do well to watch.
Having first picked up the saxophone at the age of nine, Collier embarked on her road to recognition at Berklee, earning dual degrees in Performance and Music Production & Engineering. While still completing her degree, Collier landed a position touring with Joe Louis Walker for a year and a half before Joe encouraged her to strike out on her own. And strike out she did.
These days, Collier spends much of her time on the road, performing at some of the most prestigious music festivals in the world. Vanessa has won 3 Blues Music Awards - two for “Horn Player of the Year” in 2019 and 2020 and one in 2022 for “Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year”.
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats are an American electric blues band formed in 2008. The group was established by ex-members of Little Charlie & the Nightcats. Members include Rick Estrin on vocals and harmonica, guitarist Kid Andersen, bassist Lorenzo Farrell and drummer Derrick "D'Mar" Martin. Blues Revue magazine said, "The ‘Cats are one of modern blues’ most versatile bands." Living Blues said, "Estrin's harp work is masterful" and their music is "intelligently conceived and executed and hugely entertaining." At 19, Estrin relocated to Chicago and worked with some of the city’s best bluesmen. He met and jammed with the legendary Muddy Waters, who told Rick, “You outta sight, boy! You got that sound! You play like a man!” Muddy wanted Estrin to go on the road with him, but Estrin missed Muddy’s phone call and it never happened.
Estrin eventually moved back to the Bay Area, met guitarist Charlie Baty and formed Little Charlie & The Nightcats. Estrin fronted Little Charlie & the Nightcats for 30 years and performed around the world. They were nominated four times for the Blues Music Award for Band of the Year. In 2008, guitarist Kid Andersen replaced Charlie Baty and with previous band members Hansen and Farrell they formed Rick Estrin & The Nightcats. Norwegian born Alexander Pettersen joined the band in 2017 as the drummer.
Since its inception, the band has played around the world, including Norway, Switzerland, Brazil, Ireland, Turkey, and the Netherlands. The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “Rick is one of the great characters in blues – a sharp-dressing, smooth talking harmonica-playing hep-cat. He’s also a deceptively subtle writer who can cloak pointed or sobering messages within the band’s good-time vibe.”
Altered Five smokes, smolders and burns like a swig of good whiskey. The hip Milwaukee quintet is known for its strong brew of tough, original blues and hard-hitting live shows. Blues Blast raves that barrel-chested front man Jeff Taylor possesses a “smooth, warm-toned voice as monumental and undeniable as Howlin’ Wolf with the finish and flourish of B.B. King.” Downbeat declares stealth guitarist Jeff Schroedl “reaches the high bar of mixed invention and fluidity.” Fueled by a rhythm section laying down the deepest grooves this side of the MGs, the five blues blasters hit the ground running 20 years ago and show no sign of easing up.
Altered Five have consistently checked all the boxes, making lasting, deeply expressive original blues for the mind and body. Up front and leading the big blues train, Taylor exhorts and cajoles while carrying the weight of the lyrical content. Neither imitating nor hiding his debt to the legendary blues singers of the past, he commands deserved attention on his own. Schroedl propels, embellishes, and adds palpable power through his varied rhythm accompaniment and riveting guitar solos. While inspired by, but not tethered to the kings and titans of blues guitar, he has found his own estimable path to personal expression always at the service of the song.
The muscular yet limber rhythm section of bassist Mark Solveson and drummer Alan Arber lock into the full range of blues grooves from classic slow Chicago drag ("Holding on With One Hand") and romping Texas shuffles ("Mint Condition") to soulful R&B worthy of Stax Records ("Gonna Lose My Lady"). In addition, returning keyboardist Steve Huebler always provides a rich pad of lush harmony along with his own and soaring solos.
Whether live or on record, Altered Five performs seamlessly as a powerhouse entity encompassing the timeless blues virtues of passion and unwavering commitment funneled through technical excellence.
Ivan Singh is 26 years old and comes from Cordoba, Argentina. Today, he is one of the biggest Blues guitar players in his country. He has a unique can box guitar and a particular way of playing that sets him apart. Besides playing all over Argentina, he has also played around America, Europe, Brazil and Chile. (Austin Texas, Memphis, New York, Chicago, Mississippi, Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona, ect.)
He has collaborated with Artists like: Chris Cain, Jimmy Burns, Slam Allen (James Cotton), Lurrie Bell, Cedric Burnside, Linsey Alexander etc.
And national Artists like: Charly Garcia, Pappo Blues Band, Botafogo Don Vilanova ,Vitico, Chizzo, La Mona etc.
Playing in places like House of Blues, Chicago Blues Festival, Buddy Guy Club. He was the revelation of the Mississippi Delta Blues Fest in 2016 (Brazil) and Cosquin Rock 2017 la Casita del Blues (Argentina).
In Argentinas first book about the blues “Bien al Sur” he is mentioned as one of the representatives of the blues in his nation and a promise that the genre will find a new way beyond the traditional style of blues.
Foley was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and spent her early childhood in Canada. She learned to play guitar at age 13, became interested in blues music from listening to the Rolling Stones, and played her first gig at age 16. After high school graduation, she relocated to Vancouver where she formed The Sue Foley Band.
Pinky’s Blues, which is named after Sue Foley’s pink paisley Fender Telecaster electric guitar that has been such a major part of Foley’s life for all these years. Part of that is the total devotion Sue Foley has to the guitar, and in particular to the one she calls “Pinky” that has been with her for decades and continues to play on this album. Foley feels it’s almost a living extension of who she is and helps guide her through the rambunctiously deep renditions of everything she performs. Sue Foley is a multi award winning musician, and one of the finest blues and roots artists working today. Foley spent her early childhood in Canada, mesmerized by her father’s guitar and started her professional career at sixteen. By twenty-one, she was living in Austin, TX and recording for Antone’s.
Foley has toured steadily with her band, toting her signature pink paisley Fender Telecaster—working and sharing the stage with greats such as B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan and Billy F Gibbons. Foley is the only female member of the famed “Jungle Show” which features Gibbons, Vaughan, B3 virtuoso Mike Flanigin and Chris ‘Whipper’ Layton (formerly of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble). Her latest album, Pinky’s Blues is a raw, electric guitar driven romp through the backroads of Texas, with Foley’s signature Telecaster, “Pinky” at the wheel. Pinky’s Blues is a guitar driven collection of 12 songs, both original and some of Sue’s favorite covers, that demonstrate not only that Sue is one of the world’s greatest Blues guitarists, but that the sheer joy of playing can be felt through the recording in an emotional thrill for the listener. Pinky’s Blues was the #1 album in The Roots Music Report’s Top Blues Rock Album Chart for the Year of 2021, the #1 album on the NACC Blues chart for over 4 weeks and debuted at #4 on the Billboard Blues Albums chart. In 2020, she won “Traditional Blues Female” at the International Blues Music Awards in Memphis. She’s also a Juno Award winner, holds the record for the most Maple Blues Awards including “Best Guitar Player”, and has earned three Trophées de Blues de France.
Joe Louis Walker, a Blues Hall of Fame inductee and four-time Blues Music Award winner celebrates a career that exceeds a half a century. Looking back on his rich history, Walker shares, “I’d like to be known for the credibility of a lifetime of being true to my music and the blues. Sometimes I feel I’ve learned more from my failures, than from my success . But that’s made me stronger and more adventurous. And helped me create my own style . I’d like to think that when someone puts on one of my records they would know from the first notes, ‘That’s Joe Louis Walker.'”
Born on December 25, 1949 in San Francisco, at age 14, he took up the guitar. Just two years later, he was a known quantity on the Bay Area music scene, playing blues with an occasional foray into psychedelic rock. For a while, he roomed with Mike Bloomfield, who introduced him to Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead. Walker even made a brief pilgrimage to Chicago to check out the blues scene there. In 1975, burned out on blues, Walker turned to God, singing for the next decade with a gospel group, the Spiritual Corinthians. When the Corinthians played the 1985 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Walker was inspired to embrace his blues roots again.
Always an artist deeply expressive lyrically, Walker continues to write and sing about themes that are universal. NPR Music has called Walker “a legendary boundary-pushing icon of modern blues,” and he is already being referred to within the blues world as a living legend. However, at this stage of his life, Walker profoundly shares, “I’d really like to inspire younger musicians to carry on the legacy of blues/roots music. But play, and do it your way. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. There’s no right, or wrong way. Just the way you wanna express yourself. And above all, ENJOY YOURSELF.”
Billy Branch was discovered by Willie Dixon, the "father of modern Chicago Blues," while Billy was still in college. Willie encouraged Billy to finish his college education, which he did, but instead of going to law school after receiving his political science degree.
Billy began touring with the Willie Dixon Chicago All-Stars. This gave Billy the unique opportunity to travel and work as an under study for the legendary Carey Bell who was planning to leave the All-Stars and form his own band. When Carey took his leave, the young Billy Branch took his place, touring with Willie Dixon for 6 years.
Since those early days, Billy has played on over 300 different recordings including 15 albums under his own name. Billy has recorded with Willie Dixon, Johnny Winter, Keb' Mo, Lou Rawls, Koko Taylor, Eddy Clearwater, Honeyboy Edwards, Syl Johnson, Lurrie Bell, Ronnie Baker Brooks, John Primer, and Taj Mahal, just to name a few. Billy has three Grammy Award nominations, having lost one nomination to BB King and Eric Clapton! He served two consecutive terms on the NARAS Grammy Board of Governors and founded the First Grammy Blues Committee. Because Billy's Blues credentials include dozens of years spent working side-by-side with many of Chicago's illustrious Blues musicians of years gone by, he is considered an ambassador of Chicago Blues.
Billy Branch is a Blues education pioneer. He was one of the first artists to develop a Blues in Schools curriculum. Since 1978, in addition to recording and performing, he has taught hundreds of thousands of children around the world. His internationally recognized Blues in Schools Program is committed to teaching students of all ages about the Blues as the roots of America's music. His curriculum and instruction strategies open his students eyes to music history, music theory. Students also learn music skills that reinforce music as a positive creative outlet which inspires students to embrace music as a viable creative expression.
For more than 25 years, Kevin Burt has been electrifying audiences throughout the Midwest dispelling the myth that true blues has no roots in Iowa. His soul-inspired presentation is unique, which consistently gets him compared to a range of artists like Bill Withers and Aaron Neville, with the ability to build an audience rapport that has been compared to B.B. King.
Kevin is a self-taught musician (vocals, harmonica, and guitar) whose smooth, warm vocal presentation sets a mood of relaxed exhilaration, with a welcome mixture of serious music and infectious humor audiences of all ages seem to enjoy. His voice and presence are powerful. His unique delivery ranges from the sweetest, fullest, juiciest come-on to the most playful growl. Though he performs between 325 and 400 shows a year, he holds nothing back night after night and audiences leave knowing that.
Kevin is also recognized as one of the Midwest’s top blues heritage educators. This honor was given to him by the Governor of Iowa, Chet Culver in February of 2009. Kevin is a registered artist, and artist educator with the state of Iowa Arts Council. He has also written and published a classroom harmonica method book called “Just Play It: an introduction to blues harmonica.” His approach is simple, education through entertainment. His program has been going strong since 1994. Burt plans to continue this work as well as his community work with Children and the arts.
Blues Fest 2022 will be held on Friday and Saturday, September 16-17, at the historic LeClaire Park in Davenport, Iowa. This year we have over 10 food and merch vendors!
Tickets can be purchased in advance at MVBS.org or at the gate on September 16th and 17th. Attendees 16 and younger get in FREE with an adult!
For the past 35-plus years, the Mississippi Valley Blues Society has continued to bring both national and regional Blues legends and rising stars to the Blues Fest. Also featuring over 10 food and merch vendors!
This year's Blues Festival will be at the historic LeClaire Park. A 400-acre public park located along the Mississippi River in downtown Davenport. Situated between Centennial Park on the west and River Heritage Park.
400 Beiderbecke Dr, Davenport, IA
Voted "Best Casino" in the region, the Isle Casino Hotel Bettendorf is also Iowa’s largest hotel, with over 500 rooms. It is nestled right on the banks of the Mississippi River, and its well-appointed rooms and excellent restaurants make this a terrific deal.
Rates are deeply discounted for Blues Fest 2022 attendees and are available from September 15th to September 18th! Get booked by September 9th.
We want every fan to feel safe at the festival. Specific questions regarding safety, security, medical, and any others can be directed to the MVBS.org contact form. If you have an immediate need while on-site seek out any festival staffer, police, or security personnel.
MVBS seeks to present a welcoming summer festival and community. As a festival guest, you have an active role in creating an enjoyable and accepting environment for your fellow attendees, including speaking out when you see unacceptable behavior. MVBS has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or discrimination of any kind.
No weapons of any kind. No pets, unless it is a service animal. No outside food or drinks. No coolers, unless empty. No video recorders and no cameras with detachable lenses.
There are no refunds available for Blues Fest. In the event of an artist cancellation, MVBS reserves the right to substitute a suitable replacement performer.
We have taken enhanced health and safety measures for you, our artists and staff. You must follow all posted instructions while attending Blues Fest.
Dr. V’s BlueSkool is an interactive workshop where you can learn the history of blues, listen to blues, and play the blues. It is open to all ages on Saturday, September 17th. Kids 16 and under get into BlueSkool and Blues Fest FREE!
Kevin is recognized as one of the Midwest’s top blues heritage educators. He has also written and published a classroom harmonica method book called “Just Play It: an introduction to blues harmonica.” His approach is simple, education through entertainment. His program has been going strong since 1994. Burt plans to continue this work as well as his community work with Children and the arts.
Dr. Tanya has been leading her own band for over ten years and launched her Healing with the Blues website two and half years ago with help from her husband and bassist, Ed.
Billy Branch is a Blues education pioneer. He was one of the first artists to develop a Blues in Schools curriculum. Since 1978, in addition to recording and performing, he has taught hundreds of thousands of children around the world. His internationally recognized Blues in Schools Program is committed to teaching students of all ages about the Blues as the roots of America's music. His curriculum and instruction strategies open his students eyes to music history, music theory.
In addition to the phenomenal acts on the historic bandshell stage, the Mississippi Valley Blues Society is proud to present what has come to be known as the Pedigo-Jones Stage. Named after long time volunteers Steve Pedigo and Jimmie Jones, this is where we feature both local and regional talent.
Avey Grouws Band met at a blues jam on the Iowa side of the Quad Cities along the Mississippi River, and have since put their Quad Cities sound into the world with the release of their debut album 'The Devil May Care' in March of 2020. The album hit #10 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart, #24 for 2020 on the Roots Music Report Top Contemporary Blues Album Chart, “Rise Up” was named top song of 2020 in the Ben Vee Roadhouse 66 top songs of 2020, “Come and Get This Love” won top honors in the Unsigned Only Songwriting Competition and in the International Songwriting Competition, Avey Grouws band was nominated for the 2020 BBMAs for Debut Album New Artist and was nominated for 4 awards in the 2021 Independent Blues Awards, including Best New Artist, Best New Artist Album.
Hot on the heels of their Billboard charting album, ‘The Devil May Care’, AGB is released their sophomore album ‘Tell Tale Heart’ September 24, 2021, which debuted #7 on the Billboard Blues Album chart. Recorded in Nashville at East Iris Studios and The Purple House (Leiper’s Fork, TN) with Grammy-winning engineer/producer Casey Wasner at the helm. Featuring 10 original songs, ‘Tell Tale Heart’’s music (described by Wasner as “rock and roll blues soul”) demonstrates the label-defying band’s command of a wide swath of American roots music - - including blues, classic rock, country, R&B, funk, introspective balladry and unbridled rock and roll.
"...Jeni Grouws is a remarkably demonstrative vocalist, fully capable of delivering sturdy rockers, blustery blues, or...a tender heartfelt ballad. For his part, Chris Avey comes across as a prototypical guitar ace, one whose searing fretwork is both dazzling and decisive. Together with bassist Randy Leasman, drummer Bryan West and keyboard player Nick Vasquez, they make for a formidable ensemble...Many of these songs could easily be mistaken for standards given the band’s adept arrangements, clear confidence and a decidedly agile approach as far as the shift in styles...an explosive offering indeed.'" (Lee Zimmerman/Goldmine)
This 5-piece band brings together three members of Iowa's popular "Blue Band" - Violinist Molly Nova, Guitarist Bryce Janey and Drummer Turk E. Krause, along with Corey Baker (Guitar, Bass & Vocals) and Russ Moore (Keyboards).
Nova and Krause spent decades playing together in The Blue Band from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Having grown bored of playing covers, the two decided to write their own music, a hurdle every great artist needs to make. It was decided that they wanted to focus on Nova’s custom made electric violin. The departure from The Blue Band was necessary and the two struck out for Minnesota. Influenced by Southern rock legends like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers, the two call their music style “sweet rockin’ roots and blues”.
Joining Molly in the spotlight is blues-rock & roots performer, songwriter, music producer and Grooveyard Recording artist Bryce Janey. With over 10 million Spotify streams and 8 studio albums to his credit, Bryce’s music is also featured with Molly Nova and The Hawk stepping up and putting their own touch on his original music. The band is playing live shows and working on exciting new music at Southwest Studios, an analog and pro tools recording studio owned by Bryce Janey.
Interspersing covers with their original tunes, Molly Nova and the Hawk have many years of performances playing all kinds of music, resulting in a style of music that is all their own – original timeless music with ballads, rockers and grooves not limited to any genre. It’s just sweet rockin’ roots and blues!
Kent Burnside was born in 1971 in Memphis Tennessee, and spent his early years in Holly Springs, Mississippi. He is the oldest Grandson and one of the closest pupils of the legendary R.L. Burnside.
Kent first heard the blues while watching his grandfather R.L. perform on the family farm to the locals. Kent used to sell sandwiches to audience members for a dollar a piece during these performances. The first lesson RL taught Kent was that to be a bluesman you have to find your own rhythm on the guitar. You can't play someone else's rhythm - as rhythm comes from your heart.
It started with Buddy Guy. Kent got his real start in the music business playing with Jimbo Mathus (Fat Possum Records) and going on tour with Buddy Guy in the early 2000's. That was when he started developing his signature style of blues: dark, hypnotic, inviting and very danceable.
Kent performed for Samuel L. Jackson to help Jackson prepare for his role in Black Snake Moan (2007) and has also worked on The Blues Brothers' stage shows with Dan Aykroyd. Aykroyd is a huge fan and supporter of Kent's work.
Kent has spent decades performing at festivals and has toured all over the world. Most recently in 2019 he performed at the Blues Rules Festival in Switzerland, and played a two week tour of Australia with The New Savages.
Since the 1990s, The Soul Searchers have been one of the most in-demand live music groups in Iowa. The group, whose music is best described as boogie-woogie blues, typically performs more than 100 dates a year at music festivals, bars, wineries, breweries, company gatherings, wedding receptions, and graduation parties. The band's members, Scott Eggleston (guitar and vocals), Neil Stoffregen (piano and organ), Erich Gaukel (electric and upright basses) and Mark Grimm (drums), are in-demand musicians in Iowa and have toured and performed onstage with Pieta Brown, Bo Ramsey, The Nadas, Sam Salomone, The Turner Center Jazz Orchestra, R.J. Mischo, Rockin' Johnny, Aki Kumar, Jim Viner's Incredible B3 Band, among many others.
What industry and media people are saying about the band's eponymously-titled CD:
"This was a very enjoyable listen; everyone playing the blues with a real sense of the tradition, no desire to show off, and real ensemble work. Nicely done; thanks for sharing the good music." - Bruce Iglauer, Founder, Alligator Records
"Whether it’s a five-course meal, or a romantic interlude, or sultry blues, anticipation is what stimulates the senses and makes the payoff rewarding. Such is the case with Des Moines’ hippest blues band, The Soul Searchers. It took the group about 15 years to record its full-length album, but in the end, it doesn’t disappoint. Like their live shows, ‘The Soul Searchers’ is a slow burn that gets hotter as the music progresses.” - Michael Swanger, Cityview
“Great debut! I've played this album with great pleasure in my radio show! Can't believe that this is only their debut, these guys know how to swing/jump/rock! Great songs, tight band...gimme more!” - Bernhard Schulte, Radio Host from Germany
Matt Woods is both a native of Iowa, and a longstanding purveyor of its diverse music scene. As a seasoned performer of many local, regional and national venues, Matt has developed a distinct style while staying true to his love of traditional American music. Woods is well versed in the many shapes this music can take; from traditional delta, hill country and urban electric blues, to gospel, country and folk music.
Woods has been performing regularly since 2002 and to date has released 5 independent albums (3 solo albums, and 2 albums backed by his unparalleled band, The Thunderbolts). He has also won the Iowa Blues Challenge and gone on to represent the state in the International Blues Challenge an unprecedented 3 times. Matt’s first solo album, “If I Was a Fish”, finished in the top 5 of The Blues Foundation’s “best self-produced CD” category in 2006. His two subsequent albums with The Thunderbolts, have also gained national attention. 2007’s “Be My Friend”, was referred to as “blistering” by Dirty Linen magazine, and Living Blues magazine called 2010’s “Matt Woods and The Thunderbolts”, “a smoking amalgam of Hound Dog Taylor and Freddy King”. Additionally, Blues Revue called the album; “raw, hypnotic and very appealing”. In 2015 Matt released “Sawdust and Gasoline”, his first solo album comprised completely of original material. It went on to receive extensive airplay in the U.S. and Europe and also finished in the top 5 of The Blues Foundation’s “best self-produced CD” category for 2015. “Sawdust and Gasoline” was also nominated by Blues Blast Magazine for album of the year in the “Acoustic Blues” category!
Over the course of his career, Matt has shared the stage with many notable acts, including; Hubert Sumlin, James Cotton, Pinetop Perkins, Louisiana Red, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, John Primer, Rj Mischo, James Harman, Nathan James, Delbert McClinton, The Arc Angels, Dr. John, Kelly Hunt, Joe Price and many more. In 2010, Matt Woods and The Thunderbolts opened for Pat Benetar and REO Speedwagon at the famed Iowa State Fair Grandstand to a crowd of 10,000+!