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Band Bios for Waukesha Rotary BluesFest

Friday, August 11, 2023

Southern Avenue

Memphis-based, GRAMMY®-nominated Southern Avenue inked their first record deal with legendary Stax Records in 2016. The first Memphis band signed to Stax in over 40 years, their self-titled debut was an immediate phenomenon, reaching #1 on iTunes’ “Top Blues Albums” chart before being honored with the 2018 Blues Music Award for “Best Emerging Artist Album”. 2019’s Keep On proved an even greater success, debuting in the top 5 on Billboard’s “Top Blues Albums” chart amidst worldwide critical acclaim, ultimately earning Southern Avenue their first GRAMMY® Award nomination, for “Best Contemporary Blues Album”.  


In addition to the early success that the band has had with their recordings, they have also found a home on the road. The band has performed in 15 countries on three continents and averages over 150 shows in a typical year, making the group one of the most sought-after live performance experiences.  Their high-energy shows have captivated audiences around the globe, making this eclectic group a must-see at venues and festivals alike. 

In 2021, Southern Avenue’s released their third full-length LP, Be The Love You Want (Renew Records/BMG). Produced by Multi-GRAMMY® winner Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Susan Tedeschi, Deer Tick), American Songwriter called it “A potent soul force!” and No Depression proclaimed it “one of the most listenable, and danceable, records of the year.”

Since this release, the band has continued its breakneck touring schedule with 2022 highlights including performances at Bonnaroo, the Austin City Limits Festival, supporting Sheryl Crow in multiple cities and three separate tours in Europe.

On November 11, 2022, Southern Avenue released their latest single, a funky reinterpretation of the 1983 Genesis hit, “That’s All.” Their version gives a soulful spin to the classic track taking an already groovy pop-rock song, and translating it into an electrifying banger driven by luscious vocal harmonies and vintage organ and guitar tones. The song is now available worldwide via Color Red Music.


2023 sees Southern Avenue continuing their heavy touring with a number of major festivals on their schedule, including a trip to Australia for the Byron Bay Bluesfest and the Melbourne Bluesfest in April.  Back in the U.S. they will be playing the Baton Rouge Blues Festival, Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, IL and the New York State Blues Festival before making their way to Waukesha BluesFest.


Scott Ellison Band

Singer-songwriter, guitarist Scott Ellison emerged as a blues-rock powerhouse in his hometown of Tulsa, OK in the late 1970's.  With Eric Clapton's and Freddie King's backing bands at the time both hailing from the region, Ellison's guitar shredding heavy blues style quickly brought him regional and then national attention.  He first gained notice playing with Jessica James (Conway Twitty's daughter) in 1977, and national blues audiences learned about him via his work in iconic bluesman Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's touring band in 1980-81.

He relocated to Los Angeles, CA in the mid-'80s, and honed his chops as a session player for everyone from The Box Tops to Gary "US" Bonds to Peaches & Herb.  By the early '90s he finally took the helm as a leader, formed his own band, and opened for the likes of Joe Cocker, Roy Orbison, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Leon Russell, Bobby Bland and Buddy Guy.  Solo albums soon followed, beginning with “Chains of Love” in 1993.  He returned to Tulsa in 1996 and in 2001 he signed with Burnside Records and released “Cold Hard Cash”, which was produced and co-written by longtime Robert Cray producer Dennis Walker.  That album, along with the 2003 follow-up “Bad Case of the Blues” were highly successful and marked the beginning of a watershed moment for Ellison that resulted in headlining slots at blues festivals across the US, Canada and Europe along with multiple European tours.  Scott Ellison opened for and was invited to sit in with B.B. King at the Performing Arts Center in Tulsa in 2009.  He was inducted into the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame in 2013.  In 2015 Ellison signed with Red Parlor Records for the release of “Elevator Man” which was produced by longtime Eric Clapton keyboard player Walt Richmond.  His latest effort is the 2023 album “Zero-2-Sixty”

Beyond the traditional blues world, Scott Ellison has also penned songs that have appeared in films such as Reindeer Games, Feast of Love and Home Front, as well as in TV shows Sister Sister, Santa Barbara, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Joan of Arcadia, Saving Grace, Home Front and Justified.

Jay Stulo Band

Jay Stulo has been playing, fronting, and leading blues bands since the late 1980’s. He has toured the nation several times and released 5 CD’s.  Jay first picked up guitar at the age of 14, learning some basic chords from his father, an early rock-a-billy guitarist.  He joined his first working bar band Gypsy Rose at the age of 17.  Jay hit the road early with blues legend Luther Allison, then later with James Solberg.  Jay co-founded The Mighty Aces in 1996 and toured full-time for a decade leading the Jay Stulo Band.  After taking some time away from music in 2006, Jay picked up his guitar and returned to the stage in 2016.  It did not take long to get back on top of his game, first as part of the West Coast style Jay Edward Band and now leading an all new Jay Stulo Band.  Influenced by multiple genres, Jay is not a traditional blues artist by any means, and this is not your grandfather’s blues - versatile, high energy guitar pyrotechnics, rock-tinged hooks, steaming slide guitar and gut-bucket vocals make for a show to remember.

The Mighty Ms. Erica & The Sound Production

The Mighty Ms. Erica grew up in a family full of musicians watching rehearsals and gigs.  Her father is an avid record collector of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s Blues and Soul music.  Through those records Erica was exposed to and inspired by artists such as Linda Jones, Denise LaSalle, Gladys Knight, and Etta James.  Erica started singing at the age of 2 and was in a church choir at the age of 4.  Soon Erica began performing at church events, school events, and talent shows including an appearance on local TV.  Erica has worked as the lead vocalist for Phase Two, Darnell Kimbo Band, Misfits Blues Band, Brew City Rhythm & Blues Band, and The Blues Disciples.  From there she was motivated to form her own band, The Mighty Ms. Erica & The Sound Production who have performed at Summerfest, The House of Blues in Chicago, Jazz in the Park, The Chicago Blues Festival, and The Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis and many other area venues.  The Mighty Ms. Erica and The Sound Production were selected to compete in the 2023 International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January of this year.


The Mississippi Leghounds

The Mississippi Leg Hounds, well known in Milwaukee blues circles, return to BluesFest after a long absence with their unique brand of blues/rock crossed with traditional R&B.


blue island -  ROCKONSIN 2023 Youth Band Finalist

Waukesha BluesFest is proud to present the runner-up band from the 2023 ROCKONSIN youth garage band competition at the festival once again this summer.  The second place finisher in the 2023 ROCKONSIN competition, “blue island” will be the featured finalist band at this summer’s festival.  The talented young artists in blue island are from the Milwaukee area and include students from Whitefish Bay, Brookfield East, Milwaukee Rufus King & Shorewood High Schools.  blue island is a new alternative band formed out of their persistent love for one another and music.  Their biggest musical inspirations come from beach rock and modern alternative rock.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Maria Muldaur


Maria Muldaur is best known world-wide for her 1974 mega-hit “Midnight at the Oasis,” which received several Grammy nominations, and enshrined her forever in the hearts of Baby Boomers everywhere; but despite her considerable pop music success, her 55-plus year career could best be described as a long and adventurous odyssey through the various forms of American Roots Music. During the Folk Revival of the early '60s, she began exploring and singing early Blues, Bluegrass and Appalachian “Old Timey” Music, beginning her recording career in 1963 with the Even Dozen Jug Band and shortly thereafter, joining the very popular Jim Kweskin Jug Band, touring and recording with them throughout the '60s.


In the 49 years since “Midnight at the Oasis,” Maria has toured extensively worldwide and has recorded 41 solo albums covering all kinds of American Roots Music, including Gospel, R&B, Jazz and Big Band. She has now settled comfortably into her favorite idiom, the Blues. Often joining forces with some of the top names in the business, Maria has recorded and produced on-average an album per year, several of which have been nominated for Grammys and Blues Foundation awards


In Sept. 2019, The Americana Music Association awarded Maria 'The Lifetime Achievement Americana Trailblazer Award' for her lifelong work of covering the depth and breadth of American Roots music and for being one of the pioneers who laid the groundwork for what we've come to call 'Americana Music'.


Maria’s latest release is a collaboration with world acclaimed New Orleans performer Tuba Skinny and his band titled "Let’s Get Happy Together", a collection of 20s & 30s vintage Jazz & Blues. Released in May 2021, the album received nothing but rave reviews. It received The Blue’s Foundation’s Nomination for Best Acoustic Album, and was voted Best Traditional Jazz Album by OffBeat Magazine.


2023 finds Maria Muldaur with a busy live performance schedule as she tours celebrating the 50th Anniversary of "Midnight At The Oasis".

Brian Naughton Band

Brian Naughton, a recording artist, singer, songwriter and guitarist born in St. Paul, Minnesota, possesses a signature sound driven by an energetic mix of Blues, Rock, Funk and Soul, originating far from the Twin Cities. Although based in Minnesota, his wails, croons and soulful emotion derive in and around the heart of the Deep South. At seven-years old, Brian, a third-generation musician, picked up his first guitar and discovered the love of all three Kings, Albert, Freddie and B.B. in quick order. He deftly adapted more tricks of the trade through the study of artists such as Lonnie Knight, Tim Waters and Gus Dewey, while layering on the heavy influences of T-Bone Walker, Albert Collins, and Robert Johnson. Over the years, Brian has continued to push the limits of genre and soul, and has yet to put that guitar down. His style, the evolution of his own brand of expression and his riffs, entwined with raw inflection, interpret and resuscitate the bold flavors of Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Johnny Winter among other greats. 


Brian’s passionate commitment to creating and pushing the boundaries of music has allowed him to build a reputation as one of the foremost guitar players in the Twin Cities. He has shared the stage with Buddy Guy, Lonnie Brooks and Luther Allison among others at both local and national events, combining his pipes and flying fingers to enhance a mix of songs and sounds. Whether performing with industry talents, as part of his full band, paired in a duo, or grooving solo acoustic, Brian expands the expectations and definitions of music in all its forms and will leave you wanting more. 


The band’s latest album currently in the works is filled with collaborations and geared to expose more soul, funk and passion within the brave nuances of his inimitable talent. When not in the studio, the Brian Naughton Band can be found performing regularly at music venues, festivals and events across the Minneapolis and Saint Paul area as well as around the Midwest music scene.

The Danny Miller Band

The Danny Miller Band has been exciting audiences in the Southeastern Wisconsin area for decades.  Their upbeat harmonica powered blues featuring Danny Miller on vocals and harp, complimented by the precision guitar playing of Dan Lloyd, continues to create a fun time for audiences wherever they go!  We are glad to have them back after too long of an absence from Waukesha BluesFest.

The Jimmys

The Jimmys is an award-winning festival favorite bringing people together from coast to coast, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean for over twelve years.  The Jimmys feature band leader Jimmy Voegeli phenomenal Hammond B-3 keyboardist, singer and songwriter; an experienced killer rhythm section steeped in blues with Perry Weber on guitar, Chris Sandoval on drums and John Wartenwieler on bass and the icing on the cake is the best horn section in the Midwest, Pete Ross on saxophone, Mike Boman on trumpet and Joe Goltz on trombone.  It doesn’t get any better than this, The Jimmys deliver!

Ivy Ford Band


Ivy Ford, singer, musician and entertainer was born and raised in Waukegan, IL and at 28 she is quite the up and coming artist of the Chicago blues and live music scene.  Ivy Ford started performing live when she was 13 with Kenosha based band The Real Deal, managed by Steve Rainey and since then continues to nurture her niche and calling to the music.  She plays piano, alto saxophone, drums, bass guitar and guitar which are primarily self-taught.  In late 2012, Ford joined a local blues band which in time evolved into Ivy Ford and The Cadillacs and gained fair amounts of popularity.  Fast forward a few years and Ivy Ford has managed to take the Chicago scene by storm, opening for the legend, Buddy Guy at his club in Chicago in January, 2015.  She continues to share the stage with Chicago blues hall of famers, J.B. Ritchie, Joe Moss, Toronzo Cannon and Tom Holland and made her debut performance at The Chicago Blues Festival in 2016.  She fronts her own band the Ivy Ford Band and performs song selections from not just blues genres but R&B and soul.  Aside from recording and performing in the Midwest on a regular basis, Ivy Ford has also travelled to Europe and been a part of Buddy Guy’s Legends, artist series.  Ivy Ford is one of the leading "youngbloods" of blues and brings a refreshing yet classic face to the genre presenting it in a young and trendy way while always respecting the history and tradition of roots and blues music!

Matt MF Tyner


Matt Tyner is a self-taught musician, singing and playing guitar most of his life.  Matt enjoys performing solo but also collaborates with a variety of talented local musicians in duos, trios and full band settings.  Influences like blues great Muddy Waters, alternative Americana legend Tom Waits, Rock n’ Roll’s elite Rolling Stones and classic country hero Hank Williams Sr. are just some of the artists that inspire his original tunes and interpretations.  Based in Milwaukee, Matt MF Tyner has built a reputation as an acoustic blues staple on six string and resonator slide guitar.

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