We spent a nice Friday afternoon hanging out with Willy Tea Taylor this past Friday listening to his tough but tender songs, talking about the lost art of the knuckleball, why he plays tenor guitar, and a shared love for Jim Harrison books.
Jon Pontrello stopped by the KBCS studio recently to play his song about PNW icon Peter Bevis. Peter had a hand in everything from the Fremont Troll, to the infamous Lenin statue, to the ill-fated Kalakala. Jon’s song is wonderful and fitting tribute to a complex person.
Amy Lou Keeler and Lisa Maria, the wonderful Eastern Canadian duo that is Mama’s Broke stopped by the KBCS studio on Monday, April 3rd to chat with music director Iaan Hughes. They talked about love as both briar and rose, song cycles, and going beyond traditional covers when working with old ballads like “Barbara Allen.” They also performed 3 songs! You can hear it here!
Catch them live tonight, Friday, April 7, when they perform at Conor Byrne Pub in downtown Ballard!
We were thrilled that Stephanie Anne Johnson stopped by the KBCS studio this week to chat about their new album Jewels with Mike Biggins, our host of Monday night’s Soul Folks and Sunday morning’s Sunday Folks. Stephanie, accompanied by Jeff Fielder (Amy Ray, Mark Lanegan), also performs a few new songs for us.
You can listen to the conversation here or catch it on air Friday afternoon at 1:00 PM and then also on Soul Folks!
Stephanie Anne Johnson’s upcoming shows:
Saturday, April 8th at Open Space for Arts & Community
Saturday, April 15th at Kilworth Memorial Chapel at University of Puget Sound
Friday, April 28th at The Triple Door
“One of the last true links to the great folk traditions of this country, with over 40 albums under his belt, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is considered one of the country’s legendary foundations of folk music. Long before every kid in America wanted to play guitar – before Elvis, Dylan, the Beatles or Led Zeppelin – Ramblin’ Jack had picked it up and was passing it along. From Johnny Cash to Tom Waits, Beck to Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder to Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead to The Rolling Stones, they all pay homage to Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.
In the tradition of roving troubadours Jack has carried the seeds and pollens of story and song for decades from one place to another, from one generation to the next. They are timeless songs that outlast the musical trends of any given day. He wrote one of the first trucking songs-Cup of Coffee-recorded by Johnny Cash, championed the works of new singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and Tim Hardin; and became a founding member of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue. He continued the life of the traveling troubadour influencing Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, Tom Russell, The Grateful Dead and countless others.
Ramblin’ Jack is a two-time GRAMMY winner, National Medal Of Arts recipient, and in 2016, received a Folk Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award. Featured in the recent Rolling Thunder Revue film by Martin Scorcese and also in the early 2019 PBS release of the Woody Guthrie All Star Tribute Concert Center, Ramblin’ Jack is an icon of American roots and folk music. A lover of storytelling and veteran troubadour style musician, on tour he is in his element and known for telling the tales gathered along his magnificent journey through the roots of Folk, Blues, Americana and Cowboy music and poetry. His permanently enshrined seat at Woodie Guthrie Center Theater in Tulsa, OK., sits among other greats, including Lead Belly, Cisco Houston and Pete Seeger.
“Nobody I know—and I mean nobody—has covered more ground and made more friends and sung more songs than the fellow you’re about to meet right now. He’s got a song and a friend for every mile behind him. Say hello to my good buddy, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.” -Johnny Cash, The Johnny Cash Television Show, 1969.”
KBCS 91.3, Washington Blues Society and Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley welcome the debut of 2022 BMA winner “Contemporary Blues Female Artist” singer/saxophonist Vanessa Collier for two nights and two shows. Band members are: Vanessa Collier (vocals, saxophones, guitar), Laura Chavez (guitar), Andrew Crane (bass), and Byron Cage (drums). Show times Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30pm. Doors open at 6:00pm.
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.” – Buddy Guy
A master musician, multi-instrumentalist and dual degree graduate of Berklee College of Music, Vanessa Collier 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.
It’s not simply the accolades she has accumulated so far, although they’ve been many — two Blues Music Awards for “Horn Player of the Year”, and a third BMA for “Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year”, eight Blues Music Award Nominations (BMAs), a Blues Blast Award nomination, the Jammingest Pro Award bestowed by the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, First Place for lyrics in the International Songwriting Competition, Best of 2014 Blues Breaker on Dan Aykroyd’s BluesMobile — it’s the fact that she has accumulated all these honors even while her career is still in its infancy. A 2013 graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, she’s toured nationally and internationally, released four critically acclaimed albums (2014’s Heart, Soul & Saxophone, 2017’s Meeting My Shadow, and 2018’s Honey Up, 2020’s Heart On The Line. Honey Up spent 9 weeks atop the Billboard Blues Album Charts Top 15, 3 months on the Living Blues Charts at #10 and #23, and continues to be spun on Sirius XM’s B.B. King’s Bluesville radio station!
It’s not surprising that the press has been quick to commend her efforts as well. Blues Blast Magazine affirms, “Vanessa Collier is a fresh face on the American blues scene, and in addition to her soulful vocals, she brings a mighty sax to the table…” Midwest Record exclaims, “This bluesy singing sax player knows how to bring the slinking funk to her captivating, award winning sound that has echoes in young Bonnie Raitt/Maria Muldaur vocal sounds…Killer stuff on every level, this sounds like one of the reasons you first became a music fan. Killer stuff.” and AXS.Com declares that she “might as well go ahead and add another shelf to her trophy case because clearly, she’s going to need it. With a voice that often recalls that of blues-rock stalwart Bonnie Raitt, Collier turns up the heat…”
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. Her talents have taken her to the Blues Music Awards Show where, in the words of the Blues Foundation, Vanessa “blew the doors off the Blues Music Awards!”; Ottawa Blues Festival, where she earned two front page newspaper photos and rave reviews after her foot stomping debut there; twice on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, where she earned the Jammingest Pro Award and was a featured artist with Tommy Castro’s Blues Review; Briggs Farm Festival, where she was the “most popular Briggs Farm act in 2017” (Elmore Magazine), and the list continues. In 2017, Vanessa was also a featured artist in three major tours across Europe as part of Ruf’s 2017 Blues Caravan.
“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”!! She has been nominated for eight Blues Music Awards since 2017, which puts her in elite company with artists such as Beth Hart, Samantha Fish, Shemekia Copeland, Ruthie Foster, Trombone Shorty, Al Basile, and Jimmy Carpenter.
As for Collier, she says she’s happy performing on stages across the world, hoping that she can make a difference with fans and followers along the way. “I am driven to do this because I find it a total form of expression and connection,” she explains. “I love connecting with an audience and feeling their energy and I hope to inspire people to follow their dreams and passions, to find what brings them joy, and then to pursue it doggedly.” Vanessa also takes that message to young people as she runs clinics across the country and is active with Blues in the Schools programs. At a recent Blues in the School program, Vanessa invited a stage full of elementary and middle school aged kids up to dance around her while she performed a blues shuffle. Watching the joy on the faces of Vanessa, the kids, and everyone in the auditorium, it is no wonder why Vanessa has become awe-inspiring to all who meet her. On top of talent and hard work, Vanessa shares an incredible heart and a strong purpose. To borrow from the words of an article in Blues Blast Magazine, “Vanessa is an important part of the future of the blues, and it would be cool to support her journey.”
KBCS Thank you to Wintergrass and volunteers!
Thank you so much to our Music Director, Iaan Hughes managing and rallying volunteers for the KBCS Stage at the recent Wintergrass 2023 Bluegrass Festival. There was a pleasant turn out and wonderful performances for many to share on this 30th Anniversary for Wintergrass and 50th Anniversary for KBCS.
KBCS was also awarded a No Box Business Award for our dedication with the Wintergrass festival and performers. Thank you to everyone for your support and volunteer action with the KBCS stage.
Special thanks to these volunteers!! Be sure to check out their programs at KBCS:
This year’s Wintergrass Program Guide 2023 includes a special feature: Community Radio, A Love Letter. Local DJs representing community radio share moments of their radio experience and creativity. From KBCS Bluegrass Ramble host Tom Kenney, DJ Emeritus Pete Goodall, and Music Director Iaan Hughes to other local talents KSER DJ Nicollete Roberge and Mike Meyer of KMUZ Island Earth Radio. Thank you to them and all of you for supporting community radio and the music and message it shares to so many.
Please review the entire Wintergrass Program Guide 2023
Wintergrass 2023 and KBCS 91.3FM over 30 years of celebrating Bluegrass, Folk and Americana, Roots and Acoustic music
KBCS is honored to share another year with the long running music festival, Wintergrass! This year Wintergrass marks 30 years celebrating and sharing Bluegrass, Folk, Acoustic, Americana and Roots music to the community. Tune into these upcoming shows for the sound of KBCS, the spirit and music of Wintergrass, and the curatorial music magic of KBCS DJs:
We are so thankful for all of their volunteer time and continued support to KBCS and the Wintergrass communities. KBCS is excited to share in this banner year for both KBCS’s own 50th milestone and Wintergrass’s 30th! Thank you for the support and dedication to keep these community organizations reaching so many for so many years.
DON’T MISS OUT!! – KBCS at Wintergrass 2023
Join KBCS at Wintergrass on Saturday Feb. 25th from 9am to 12noon. Check out the KBCS Stage at the North Grand Hallway for featured Wintergrass musicians: Joe Craven and Joe Troop, Anna Tivel, Cedric Watson and Dirk Powell, Tray Wellington Band, Never Come Down and The Deslondes!
For a full schedule of Wintergrass please review the entire Wintergrass Program Guide 2023
“Songs are our teachers. They show us the depth of the human race and its unrelenting desire to create.” – Tommy Emmanuel
Anytime you talk to any of Tommy Emmanuel’s fans, whether musicians or civilians, invariably they will speak of not one but two qualities that define his greatness. The first, predictably, is his extraordinary guitar playing. Considered by those in the know to be among this planet’s greatest guitarists, his playing is simply miraculous, as it would take three musicians, or more, to do what Tommy does solo. Who else, for example, when playing “Day Tripper,” can lay down the rhythm part, dig into the riff and sing the melody all at once on just one acoustic guitar?
Which brings us to the other aspect of his music always mentioned, and without which the first might not be as powerful or as infectiously appealing: the joy. Yes, joy. Because it’s one thing to play these multi-dimensional arrangements flawlessly on an acoustic guitar. But to do it with that smile of the ages, that evidence of authentic, unbridled delight, is an irresistible invitation to feel his music as deeply as he does. “The joy, he says, “is there always because I’m chasing it through music. Seeing the surprise in peoples’ eyes is worth living and working for… I can’t help but play to the people with all my heart, which is overflowing with joy of being in that moment that I’ve worked all my life for. And here it is!”
Although his expression is instrumental, he comes to the guitar much more like a vocalist, positively singing melodies through the strings. He inhabits the tunes he performs, delivering every nuance and turn of phrase. His own songs are also illuminated always with lyrical melodies that go right to the heart, such as his beautiful ode to his daughter, “Angelina,” or his great “story without words,” “Lewis & Clark.” That they resonate so deeply without words makes sense, as words only go so far. But music, coming from a genuine and joyful source, can go so much farther. Now with The Best of Tommysongs, he brings us a complete collection of his own songs, all rich with ripe melodicism and rendered with joy in real-time.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be in show business. Now, I just want to be in the happiness business. I make music, and you get happy. That’s a good job.” –Tommy Emmanuel