Monday, October 10, 2011

The Future of The Blues

There are several perks that come with being a talent buyer for a popular live Blues venue, and the music itself heads the list. High up on that list is bearing witness to growth of the next generation of great Blues musicians.

Yesterday afternoon, we had the Young Blood Blues Band open for a Dan King for City Council campaign volunteer party, and the kids were a worthy choice for the honor. This band came to be about three years ago, starting with Tony Golden (bass) and Zach Bahn (drums and recently excepted to the Denver School of the Arts ), who were both eight at the time. They were at the Outlook for a Sunday jam, sat in with the adults, and were already a solid rhythm section. I told them if they put together a band, I’d hire them to open on occasion. They took me seriously. Not too long after that, Zach and Tony sat in with Steady Rollin‘ Bob Margolin once at the Outlook, prompting Bob to say on the mic, “I’ve had to pay rhythm sections that aren’t this good.” Oh, and they got their picture in Blues Review magazine in Bob’s column. Not bad. Now a seasoned eleven, they rock the stage with bandmates Ryan Hutchinson, eleven (keys), Brady Hutchinson, fifteen (guitar), Melisa Lundy, thirteen (vocals), and Rhyleigh Abel, ten (harmonica).

Since the conception (Jim Primock and I even came up with the band’s name that very first night), they have played a few times at the Outlook, and I recently arranged for them to open for Bob Margolin at the Buffalo Rose in Golden, CO. They then returned the favor, and had Bob sit in with them. Pure magic. (See YouTube on the right).
They also have the good fortune to have Mr. Rex Peoples as their coach and mentor. They’re clearly working hard, and Rex has a great rapport with them. They’ve played Blues From the Top in Winter Park, CO, one of the state’s most prestigious Blues festivals, and did a great job. Every time I hear them, I’m thrilled and impressed with their progress. They obviously love what they’re doing. Fortunately, we have a Blues community that genuinely supports and encourages these Blues kids.

A few years older, Austin Young, sixteen, and Taylor Marvin, seventeen, are a couple of other young Colorado slingers we’re watching closely with a great deal of pride. They are serious band leaders, Blues musicians and songwriters, and both have been to the IBC with the Youth Showcase and left their audiences staggering at their level of talent. Last month, both of their bands competed for the Colorado Blues Society’s entry in the band category of the International Blues Challenge. They made it to the finals, competing against six adult bands, and turned in terrific sets. I predict that both of their bands will soon represent the CBS in Memphis, and I’ll be there to cheer them on.

Like I did for another brilliant Colorado musician, Nic “Cottonseed” Clarke, at the 2011 IBC Semifinals in Memphis at the New Daisy. Nic plays harp with the Wyoming band, Another Kind of Magick, with the oldest then being seventeen. Only forty-four of the original one hundred and ten bands went on to the semis, so no small feet for five teenagers. Nic then took home the 1st Annual Youth Knowledge Bowl award and is also one of the youngest players ever endorsed by Hohner Harmonicas. Maybe there’s a bit of Clarksdale in the Rocky Mountain’s water.

Two wonderful young singers, Tomara Conrad and Emma Henry (both sixteen), are making national waves, with Tomara recently appearing on Rachel Ray and Emma on X Factor. I’m hoping to have both of them play at the Outlook more, allowing us to bear testimony to their musical growth, while simultaneously forming a protective and healthy environment for them.

The music business can be tough, so I’m glad all of our talented kids have great parents and a large community looking out for their best interests. We embrace our responsibility to these kids with a familial obligation we aggressively undertake. They’re ours and we’re damn proud of them.

~Honey Bee Sepeda~

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