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2014 Calgary Bluesfest Artists

Alex Zayas

Based in Barcelona, Spain, Alex Zayas could consider Calgary a second home due to the loyal fan base he's created here. That's not to say he hasn't generated fans all over the globe for his electrifying blend of blues, funk, and rock. Zayas has a long list of impressive credentials, having started his professional career at 18 when he was picked up by Hook Herrera Government Mule, Alvin Younglood Hart), and going on to perform with notables such as Larry McCray, Lynwood Slim and Mike Wheeler, as well as opened for legendary bluesman BB King. Most recently Zayas has opened for guitar giant Jeff Beck. Zayas has released 4 CDs, the latest of which, Guitarshock has launched his career into a whole new dimension.

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Ana Popovic

The award-winning, hard-touring, guitar slinger blends smoking electric funk and slide guitar, jazzy instrumentals and a tight blues groove with soulful, feminine vocals. Add to the mix her incredible stage presence, all of which makes her an irresistible force in the world of contemporary blues music. During 2013 Ana has appeared on the cover of Vintage Guitar, Guitar Player's Gear Guide and American Blues Scene. Her album Can You Stand The Heat was a "Pick Of The Week" by USA Today and featured on NPR Music. Nearly all of Ana's albums made it the Top 5 of the Billboard Blues Charts and are being played regularly on US radio. Ana and her phenomenal four-piece band as well as her Mo' Better Love Big Band are tirelessly touring, playing major blues, jazz and rock festivals around the world. She is endorsed by Fender, Mesa Boogie, Ovation and DR strings. Ana has shared headlining stages with B.B. King, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph, Jonny Lang and many others. When not on tour, she resides in Memphis, TN.

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Andrew Jr. Boy Jones

Guitarist, songwriter, and singer Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones began working professionally at age 16 with Freddie King's backing band, the Thunderbirds. Among his many musical credits, Jones played guitar on Charlie Musselwhite's three late 80s/early 90s albums for Alligator Records, and toured extensively with the harmonica master. Andrew, who cites an eclectic array of influences: Freddie King, Cornell Dupree, and Larry Carlton, is known for his crafty songwriting, great guitar playing, and powerful singing.

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Bill Durst

Bill Durst is a Canadian Blues-Rock-Roots guitarist, singer, songwriter, entertainer who has written and recorded over 115 songs on 11 albums with 7 national radio chart hits. Bill has opened for, or shared the stage, with Rush, Aerosmith, BTO, Yardbirds, John Mayall, Savoy Brown, Bobby Rush, Little Feat, George Thorogood, Bad Company, Edgar Winter Group, Jeff Healey, Steve Strongman, Johnny Winter, Rick Derringer, Jack de Keyser, Ted Nugent, Monkey Junk, L.A. Guns, David Wilcox, Bob Seger, Slade, Downchild, David Clayton Thomas, Sly And The Family Stone and more. Mr. Durst has toured across North America and in Europe and tours extensively in Canada.

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Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues

Billy Branch was discovered by Willie Dixon, the "father of modern Chicago Blues," while Billy was still in college. After receiving his political science degree, Billy began touring with the Willie Dixon Chicago All-Stars for 6 years. Since those days, Billy has played on over 150 different recordings, including 12 under his own name. He's recorded with Willie Dixon, Johnny Winter, Lou Rawls, Koko Taylor, Eddy Clearwater, Honeyboy Edwards, Syl Johnson, Lurrie Bell, Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Baker Brooks, John Primer, and Taj Mahal, just to name a few. In addition, he has received three Grammy nominations,served two consecutive terms on the Grammy Board of Governors, and founded the Grammy Blues Committee. In addition, he has won multiple W.C. Handy Awards from the Blues Foundation, an Emmy Award, an Addy Award (like an Oscar for TV ads), two Chicago Music Awards, and numerous humanitarian achievement awards. He and the Sons of Blues have made over 70 international tours. His internationally recognized "Blues in Schools Program," teaches both young and old about the Blues as the roots of America's music. In addition he teaches in the Grammy Museum Music Revolution Project.

read more Billy Branch & Sons of Blues


Bob Margolin Band

Guitarist-singer Bob Margolin played guitar in Muddy Waters' band from 1973-80. In 2013, Bob was nominated for The Blues Foundation's Blues Music Award for Traditional Male Blues Artist and has won Blues Music Awards for guitar in 2008 and 2005. Bob is a founding partner in The VizzTone Label Group, on the Board of Directors of The Pinetop Perkins Foundation and received the 2013 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Journalism, among his many credits.

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Guitar Shorty

Credited with influencing both Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Guy, Guitar Shorty has been electrifying audiences for five decades with his supercharged live shows and his incendiary recordings. Like a bare knuckled boxer, Shorty strikes with his blistering, physical guitar playing and his fierce vocals, connecting directly with body and soul.

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Harper & Midwest Kind

An amalgamation of blues, rock, funk, soul and world music, Australian singer/songwriter Peter D. Harper creates a heady mix of roots music through his creative use of the harmonica and the haunting drone of the didgeridoo. By combining traditional and modern influences, and borrowing from Western and Aboriginal music, Harper has created a highly original take on the roots genre which many have labeled World Blues. His innovative use of electronic enhancement and feedback breaks the traditional boundaries of the harmonica, giving his music its distinctive harmonics and effects. The powerful guitar sounds and the unique drone of the didgeridoo create raw yet eerie sonic textures, some how sounding primal and contemporary at the same time.

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Jerome Godboo

Toronto singer and harmonica player Jerome Godboo is an accomplished and exceptional bluesman, his bending harp skills being sought by everyone from Ronnie Hawkins to the late Jeff Healey. He continues to mesmerize all who witness him onstage, including the judges at the International Blues Challenge 2014 in Memphis, where Jerome took home the Lee Oskar best harmonica Player award. The one-time local legend of explosive 90s rock band the Phantoms, Jerome has released 14 albums in his 25-plus year career, 11 of which are solo, including the brand new Sanctuary City with drummer Gary Craig and Spin Doctors guitarist Eric Schenkman. He's headlined at the Montreal Jazz Festival (2005), played Toronto's Air Canada Centre with Ronnie Hawkins, opened for the Yardbirds and performed on stages across Canada, the U.S., France, Finland, Portugal, Ukraine, Israel and beyond. He's played with Prince, Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton, the Tragically Hip, Levon Helm, Billy Ray Cyrus and many more, and recorded and toured with the likes of Alannah Myles, Dutch Mason, Jeff Healey, Jimmy Bowskill and Suzie McNeil.

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Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne

Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne is a veteran blues and boogie piano player and a three-time Juno Award nominee, including a win for his Let It Loose CD. His main influences are Fats Domino and Chuck Berry's long-time piano player Johnnie Johnson, as well as Amos Milburn, Bill Doggett and Johnny Otis, king of the West Coast blues sound of the '50s. Raised in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans, Wayne settled in Vancouver, BC more than 30 years ago. Wayne is rarely home, thanks to extended tours in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. His bass-heavy boogie piano work, as well as his original songs, makes for powerful live performances, enhanced by the flashy splendour of his boldly coloured, French custom-tailored stage suits.

read more Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne


Johnny Juke

Vocalist, Drummer, Guitarist, Harmonica player, Songwriter, Producer, Writer, Carpenter, Skateboarder, Hiker, Amateur Radio Operator, Leather Crafter, Mechanic, Cyclist, Archer, and Truth Seeker are a few things that make up who Johnny Juke is. Over a 34 year musical journey, Johnny has performed with and opened for acts like Bobs Your Uncle, D.O.A., Billy Bragg, 5440, Stratovariuous and Sonata Arctica. Johnny released his debut blues album LIVE in 1999, writting all of his own material. In 2014, Johnny was selected by a panel of industry specialists during the Calgary Midwinter Bluesfest's Singing the Blues Vocal Camp as the top singer to go on to make his festival debut at Calgary Bluesfest.

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Mike Clark Band

Mike is one of Canada's premiere blues and roots artists. Mike was nominated three consecutive years for the Maple Blues Award for "Horn Player of the Year', and named Sax Player of the Year by the Calgary Blues Music Blues Music Association's Hall of Fame (2008, 2010). The band, with drummer Thom Moon, bassist Brian Pollock and guitarist Brent Wright, was chosen to be the first to represent the Calgary Blues Music Association at the 2014 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. Mike' performed with Albert Collins, Son Seals, Amos Garrett, The Downchild Bluesband, Big Dave McLean, Brent Parkin, and Dutch Mason to name a few. He's recorded with Johnny V, Donald Ray Johnson, Tim Williams, Ray Montana, Steve Pineo and on many other sessions.

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Monster Mike Welch

One of Boston's best-loved guitarists, Monster Mike Welch has been a fixture on the international blues scene for over thirteen years. As leader of the Monster Mike Welch Band, Mike released four acclaimed CDs These Blues are Mine, Axe to Grind, Catch Me, and Adding Insight To Injury, and toured North America and Europe. He's the featured guitarist on the 2003 CD release Sugar Ray and the Bluetones Featuring Monster Mike Welch on Severn Records. Monster Mike Welch is appearing with Mannish Boys Revue.

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Nigel Mack & the Blues Attack

Chicago's Canadian Blues Ambassador, Nigel Mack is a blues "triple threat" (vocals/harmonica/guitar), delivering a high-energy show that features a dynamic mix of contemporary original blues and blues classics. Nigel switches seamlessly between instruments and is equally proficient at them all. These are talents honed by a half-million miles and years of touring. His latest all-original release, Devil's Secrets was the #1 Canadian Blues CD, nationwide on Galaxie Satellite radio (Canada's Sirrius/XM) and won the 'Best Self-Produced CD' prize from the Windy City Blues Society in Chicago, IL . The CD's first track, King For A Day was a runner-up in the International Songwriting Contest. Nigel's compositions have been featured on television sound-tracks 'Dawson's Creek', 'The Street' and 'Time of Your Life'.

read more Nigel Mack


Randy Oxford Band

Randy Oxford, trombonist, "Blues Performer of the Year," and notorious wild man, has been honored more than 25 times since returning to his home state of Washington more than 20 years ago, following a European Tour of duty with the U.S. Army band. He has won multiple "Best Horn" awards, "Entertainer of the Year", "Keeping the Blues Alive", and induction into the Washington Blues Society's Hall of Fame and has played with some of the best bands the area has produced, including Little Bill and the Blue Notes, Fat Cat, and Junkyard Jane. His own band: the Randy Oxford Band, has been tapped three times by NW blues associations to compete at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. In 2011, The Randy Oxford Band earned a spot at the finals, where they placed among the top 8 bands of the hundreds that competed from around the world.

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Rick Estrin & the Nightcats

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Rick Estrin "is an amazing harmonica player, a soulful lead vocalist and a brilliant songwriter." The award-winning musician, another critic said, "sounds like Little Walter playing and singing Leiber and Stoller." Along with The Nightcats, jaw-dropping guitarist Chris "Kid" Andersen, singing drummer (who plays standing up) J. Hansen and dynamic multi-instrumentalist Lorenzo Farrell (electric and acoustic bass, organ and piano), Rick Estrin serves up fresh and modern original blues injected with a solid dose of gritty roadhouse rock 'n' roll. Since the 2009 release of their celebrated Alligator Records debut, Twisted, the band has toured non-stop, honing their creative synergy to a razor's edge. Night after night, the band blazes their own innovative musical path while still remaining true to the blues. The results of all of this natural chemistry can be heard on their irresistible new album, One Wrong Turn.

read more Rick Estrin & the Nightcats


Russell Jackson

Memphis born Russell Jackson moved to Chicago, working with Otis Clay, Buddy Guy, Bobby Rush, Luther Tucker, Matt Murphy, Kenny Neal, Lucky Peterson, Katie Webster, Charlie Musselwhite, and Willie Nelson. He joined Vancouver’s Powder Blues Band and recorded with Long John Baldry and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne. He’s released three CDs off his own material and is a regular at the Chicago Blues Festival.

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Sugar Ray Norcia

Forming Sugar Ray & the Bluetones with guitar giant Ronnie Earl in 1979, the group continues to this day. Harp man Norcia has appeared on nearly 50 albums, including his 1999 "Best Traditional Blues" Grammy nominated collaboration with fellow harmonica virtuosos James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite and Billy Branch called SUPERHARPS. In the ‘90s Norcia spent seven high-profile years with the legendary Roomful of Blues, cutting five albums with the group. Appearing with Manish Boys Revue.

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Tim Williams

Tim Williams' career began in the coffee houses of Southern California in the mid-1960s and continues today around the world from his home base on the Canadian Prairies. Tim has played festivals, folk clubs, concert halls and roadhouses from Rabat, Morocco, to Melbourne, Australia, and from Dawson City, Yukon Territory to Zihuatanejo, Mexico, all to huge acclaim. His guitar skills are frequently compared to Ry Cooder and David Lindley (and like them, Tim plays a wealth of other string instruments), and his songwriting has won praise from the likes of Tom Russel and Willie Nelson. A string of Maple Blues Award nominations, three JUNO award nominations, five Betty Mitchell Awards for composition/musical direction in theatre, and roughly a dozen awards from Real Blues magazine (as artist, guitarist, producer) attest to the high caliber of his work. Tim was honoured as Guitarist Of The Year for 2012 by the Calgary Blues Music Association, and in 2014, took first place in the Solo/Duo category and the St. Blues Guitar Award at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennesee.

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Too Slim & the Taildraggers

Spokane based Too Slim & the Taildraggers are beloved by fans around the globe. The band has performed with Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, and Robert Cray, among the many. The Cascade Blues Association named Too Slim & the Taildraggers Best Regional Band for five consecutive years, while The Inland Empire Blues Society dubbed them Best Blues Band. Their 2013 CD, Blue Heart, hit number three on Billboard's Top Blues Album Chart.

read more Too Slim & the Taildraggers


Vernon Wills Band

Calgary based musician, songwriter, producer and educator Vernon Wills is a staple on the local scene. Boasting a long list of performing and recording credits, Vernon is bringing his own sound to the Calgary Bluesfest stage. Vernon has toured most countries of the globe in bands and as a solo artist. He has Gold and Platinum songwriting credits to his accomplishments, and appears on Capitol, CBS, Sony records.

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Zakiya Hooker

Daughter of blues giant John Lee Hooker, Zakiya has pursued music on her own terms. The strong and versatile vocalist is a regal combination of sass and soul. Making her debut performance in 1991 with her dad, Zakiya has gone on to perform with the likes of Etta James, Charles Brown, John Hammond, Taj Mahal and many more. Zakiya has appeared in Europe, at the world famous Filmore Auditorium, and other prestigious venues and festivals. Her voice is heard on ads for Lexus, AIWA, and on the soundtrack of the movie Chalk, which won the Camera d'Or at Cannes and Grand Prize at Sundance Film Festival in San Francisco.

read more Zakiya Hooker