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Band Bios for Waukesha Rotary BluesFest

Friday, August 12, 2022

The Duke Robillard Band

Duke Robillard has carved out one of blues’ most illustrious legacies, as a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, bandleader, studio sideman, producer, label operator and educator.  He founded Roomful Of Blues with pianist Al Copley in 1967.  Duke went from Roomful to a stint with rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon and then to the first iteration of the Legendary Blues Band, composed primarily of then-recent Muddy Waters sidemen.  The Duke Robillard Band debuted in 1981.  Duke also replaced Jimmie Vaughan for a period with The Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1990.  Then, continuing his solo career, he cut his own much-awaited straight blues album “Duke’s Blues” in 1993.  Duke’s resume is decorated with Grammy nominations, Handy Awards and Blues Music Awards, and other honors for his artistry, recordings and productions within the United States and internationally.


Shawn Holt & The Teardrops

Shawn Holt and The Teardrops are based in Chicago and feature Shawn Holt, the son of legendary blues great Magic Slim.  The high energy, hard driving sound of The Teardrops is still alive and well. If you liked what Magic Slim and The Teardrops did for 35 years, you can continue to enjoy that unique sound and energy with Shawn Holt, a chip off the old block, fronting his dad’s band The Teardrops.  Shawn's booming vocals are more than a little reminiscent of his dad's, while his guitar playing exhibits a broader mix of classic and contemporary influences.


Cathy Grier + The Troublemakers
A professional musician since 1978, Cathy Grier’s four decade long career is a rich musical tapestry.  Her career highlights range from winning an MTV Basement Tape award in 1986 to opening for legendary artists Laura Nyro, The Band, Dave Mason and Joan Armatrading. She lived in France in the 1990’s where she toured and wrote for many artists, including a #1 dance hit for pop star Indra.  Cathy spent 20 years in New York mostly performing under the name NYC Subway Girl as part of the “Music Under New York” program, where she was featured on CBS Sunday Morning and also performed at legendary Avery Fisher Hall.  In 2019 Cathy wrote a Blues score for the documentary film “My First And Last Film,” by director Tracey Thomas, currently on the film festival circuit.  Cathy now resides in Sturgeon Bay, WI, because it’s beautiful, and has a great music scene.  Cathy Grier + The Troublemakers recorded and released “I’m All Burn”, a 16-song full production album released July, 2020 on the CG Music Works label.  Cathy Grier + The Troublemakers represented Paramount Music Association and Wisconsin at the IBC International Blues Challenge (IBC) 2022 and made it to the semi-finals.  A Blues musician since she began writing songs as a young guitarist, inspired by the music of Bonnie Raitt and John Lee Hooker, Cathy believes that the Blues is a feeling and a way of expressing life through music.

The SidewinderZ

The SidewinderZ, with Gene Garrison on lead vocals, Jon Keppen on guitar/vocals, Steve Keppen on drums, and Jimmy Korn on bass, are a Blues Rock band from the Milwaukee Metro area, that formed in 2018.  They are heavily influenced by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and many more.  The SidewinderZ have shared the stage with national acts such as Charlie Musselwhite, Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials, Ana Popovic, Joanna Connor, Altered Five Blues Band, Selwyn Birchwood and The Ivy Ford Band.


Jonny T-Bird & The MPs

Jonny T-Bird is the architect and bandleader of Jonny T-Bird & The MPs.  Some say you have to be born with the blues to play the blues.  That was the case when Jon was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, known as the mild form of the autism spectrum, at an early age.  But that didn't stop Jon from picking up the guitar at the age of thirteen.  Back then, Jon studied under two of Milwaukee’s guitar legends, Jeff Dagenhardt and Greg Koch.  Jon was given the name “Jonny T-Bird” while he was a student at Wauwatosa West High School when one of his teachers (Bob Bathurst) called him that name out of the blue.  The more he did it, the more that name stuck.  Jonny was learning classic rock songs and played with various bands during his teenage years.  While he went to college at both MATC and Carroll University, Jonny T-Bird finally decided to pursue his music interests in blues and jazz.  Jonny can also be found giving private guitar and bass lessons when he's not performing.

Geology Club - ROCKONSIN 2022 Finalist

Geology Club is an exciting band from Waukesha, WI formerly known as Sugar High, which was formed in February of 2020.  The band is comprised of all students from Waukesha West High School.  Their sound has an original music, punk rock edge that sets them apart from many other local up and coming bands.  Geology Club loves the adrenaline that the stage and crowd provide and feed off it in their performances.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Sue Foley

Sue Foley, born in Ottawa, Canada, has been playing guitar since she was 13 years old.  As she started working with bands, she made her way to the Mark Hummel Group and began touring Canada and northern America.  Austin blues nightclub and label owner, Clifford Antone saw her at the annual Blues Music Awards in Memphis, and before long, Foley was living in Austin, where in 1992, she recorded her debut album “Young Girl Blues”.  In 2001, Foley won a prestigious Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy) and also holds the record for the most Maple Blues Awards in Canada and has earned three Trophees de Blues de France.  It’s the sound of Sue Foley’s soul that comes out of the six strings, and it’s no accident that her new album “Pinky’s Blues”, released in 2021, is named after her pink paisley Fender Telecaster electric guitar.  Sue Foley won two 2022 Blues Music Awards this year with her album Pinky’s Blues winning Traditional Blues Album and she also won the Koko Taylor Award for Traditional Blues Female Artist.

Altered Five Blues Band

Altered Five Blues Band is a hip Milwaukee quintet known for their strong brew of tough, original blues and hard-hitting live shows.  The band’s sixth studio album, Holler If You Hear Me, debuted at #3 on the Billboard Blues Chart and received three Blues Music Award nominations, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year.  Altered Five Blues Band has found international acclaim in recent years touring and playing festivals not only here in the states, but across Europe.  Let’s welcome our hometown heroes back home!


The Blues Disciples

The Blues Disciples have been bringing their Blues to the people of the local clubs in the Milwaukee area and the Midwest region since 1990.  The band was founded by "Barefoot" Jimmy Schwarz with the intent of remaining true to the influences of the Chicago electric blues era of the '50's and 60's. Influenced initially by the likes of Little Walter, and Muddy Waters, and then directly by Wisconsin Blues greats Jim Liban and Billy Flynn, they forged a sound and band that rose to the top of the Milwaukee Blues scene. Their years of powerful shows every week at Milwaukee Blues fixture, The Up & Under, turned a whole new generation on to the Blues genre.  Many years and changes have kept The Blues Disciples music fresh, and relevant, while still remaining true to their Blues roots.

Birddog Blues Band with Mel Ford

Birddog Blues Band is a power rhythm & blues group that brings ‘a ton’ of talent, tenacity and tone! With the veteran talents of Mel Ford, Tom McCarty and Ken Olufs all providing their vocal skills, this is a band that will inspire you to get up and move!  The Birddog of this Madison-area quartet is harmonica player and singer Ken Olufs (formerly of The Jimmys), joined by a trio of fellow music scene mainstays: guitarist Mel Ford (The Maintainers, Westside Andy/Mel Ford Band), bassist Tom McCarty (Big Wes Turner's Trio, The Sparks Band), and drummer Mark Haines (The Midwesterners, and longtime Smart Studios engineer).


The Spectaculars

The Spectaculars are a four piece Powerhouse Blues Rock Band from southeast Wisconsin delivering riveting live performances containing catchy grooves, soulful vocals, searing lead guitar, top shelf Hammond organ and one of the tightest rhythm sections known to man.  Their performances exhibit a genuine love for each other and the music that comes through with undeniable enthusiasm and contagious energy!  Leon Olson, along with his sons Eric and Mike including "Lonnie Brooks Band Hammond Organ Virtuoso Extraordinaire" Rob Waters are The Spectaculars.  The band has been around since 1986, but is only now just getting truly started!  Their debut album, "Let's Hear Us, Now!" is filled with 11 new songs that include all of what has made this band strong over the years and much more, as they put everything they could into this sincere and insightfully entertaining collection.


Tonic Roots

Tonic Roots features Ann Berchem (vocals/keys), Jeff Kolar (guitar/vocals), John Truttschel (percussion) and Adam DeSombre (bass).  Based out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, this group covers a diverse range of artists and genres, including soulful blues, jazz, acoustic rock, reinvented classics, and original repertoire.  Arrangements have been creatively crafted with unique, bluesy, and artistic touches.  From Etta James and Billie Holiday to Susan Tedeschi, Melody Gardot, Eva Cassidy, Sara Bareilles, Norah Jones, with a dash of Led Zeppelin, and so many more influences in between, Tonic Roots is sure to provide something special for every musical palate!

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