Friday, March 13 • Evening Kickoff Party

6:30 PM
Soul Symmetry

Since October, 2016, something special has been happening in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Newly formed Soul Symmetry have a combined sound of blues, funk, and rock that will be sure to make ya move and groove. Their music is influenced by Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Nirvana, Parliament Funkadelic, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Phish, Santana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and others.

Most members students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, so they started playing at student parties, but their popularity soon saw them playing all over Wisconsin and releasing an extended play record in November, 2017.

8:30 PM
Aaron Williams & the HooDoo

Formed as a trio in May of 2008, Aaron Williams (Vocals, Guitar), Eric Shackelford (drums, vocals) and Z (bass, vocals) have the blues deeply rooted in the music they love to play. The trio all met while Aaron was hosting a blues jam at the now-defunct Cuda Café. Not long after this fateful night, the band was playing all over their hometown of Madison, WI.

As word continued to spread beyond their hometown, the trio began to tour the Midwest playing sold-out shows in North Dakota, Illinois and Indiana. As the band continues to grow musically, they’ve fused blues, roots and rock music into and original sound that a growing fan base is recognizing and following.

Saturday, March 14 • Saturday’s Blues Café

1:00 PM
Boom Boom Stevie V. & the Knockouts
with special guest Bruce McCabe

Steve V and The Knockouts serve up high-energy, post-war Chicago blues, Memphis-soul, and West-coast swing with the kind of polished, professional show that has become a lost art in today’s “blues” scene. B Steve and his band – featuring fellow MN blues hall of famer, Dan Schwalbe – have played alongside and backed up some of the biggest names in the biz – including James Cotton, Jonny Lang, The Blasters, Buddy Guy, Gary Primich, Bryan Lee, R.J. Mischo, and Hubert Sumlin, just to name a few. If you like Blues done right, do yourself a favor and check ’em out! Both Stevie and Bruce McCabe are Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame members. Bruce played with Lamont Cranston, The Hoopsnakes, and Johnny Lang in the past.

 

 

3:00 PM
The Bel Airs

Living on the road and playing clubs from “Austin to Boston,” the Bel Airs are carrying on the tradition of American rhythm and blues.  The band is fronted by brothers Dick and Dave Pruitt on bass and electric guitars.  Growing up on country soul and rock-n-roll, the Pruitt brothers have developed a harmony vocal style all their own.  They have been performing together for more than 30 years, wowing audiences nightly with their unique brand of music- leading one reviewer to refer to them as the “Everly Brothers of Blues.”

With four acclaimed albums and performances at festivals and night clubs across the USA as well as England, France, Belgium and Spain, the band continues to travel extensively.​ ​ The Bel Airs’ musical approach and superbly crafted showmanship make for a more than memorable concert whenever they appear.

These guys Rock the House with “Old School”, fill the dancefloor Rock N’ roll style Blues. Put on your dancin’ shoes and come on down for an entertainment blast from the past!

5:00 PM
Vanessa Collier

“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.”

Those are the words of Buddy Guy in a recent issue of American Blues Scene, describing an impromptu performance with Vanessa Collier on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to meet Vanessa and witness one of her head-turning, fiery, and passionate performances, you should definitely make sure you do. As a master musician and multi-instrumentalist, Vanessa Collier, weaves funk, soul, rock, and blues into every powerful performance and she is downright impressive. With soulful vocals, searing saxophone, and witty songwriting, Vanessa is blazing a trail, racking up an impressive arsenal of honours, 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 — three 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 honours 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 two critically acclaimed albums (2014’s Heart, Soul & Saxophone and 2017’s Meeting My Shadow), and released her highly anticipated third album, Honey Up, in July 2018. 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!

“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

 

7:00 PM
John Nemeth

Don’t try to snatch him back and hold him, he’s a man on the move. John Németh had already established himself among the very top ranks of blues musicians and modern soul singers when he decided to break the mold with his new record, FEELIN’ FREAKY. Németh fearlessly crushes all barriers of style and genre with an album of original songs that defies all the usual pigeonholes. Drawing from his strong influences in blues and R&B, as well as contemporary sounds in hip hop and rock & roll, John creates music that is personal as well as universal, and owes its origin to no one but John Németh. John’s songs are groove and melody-driven, laced with thoughtful lyrics and nuanced humor, and cover themes from social issues of gun violence and class values to the pure hedonistic joy of dancing, sexuality and marijuana. He creates his songs from melodies and phrases he draws from the sounds of life, from early-morning Memphis songbirds to the din of the city. For this album John brought his new songs to his great touring band, the Blue Dreamers – Danny Banks on drums, Matthew Wilson on bass and guitar, and Johnny Rhodes on guitar – so they could hone the groove and finish building the album as a group.

9:00 PM
Ana Popovic

The award-winning, hard-touring, guitar slinger and singer Ana Popovic is back on the road promoting her new album ‘Like It On Top’, that focuses on empowered, successful, inspiring female role models.

Like It On Top opened #2 at the iTunes most downloaded US blues albums. The album peaked at #2 of the Billboard Top Selling blues albums chart. Recorded in Nashville, TN and produced by four-time Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’, the blues influenced album features guest appearances from Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robben Ford and Keb’ Mo’.

A trending theme in today’s world is women overcoming obstacles and breaking through the glass ceilings to reach the top. Like It On Top celebrates those that take initiative, develop, inspire and motivate. But it also credits the men who are motivated and enlightened enough to support women in their quest to be their best versions of themselves.

“I hope that my music inspires others to motivate ladies all over the world to be successful, energetic, empowered women on a mission, and to motivate men to give them that chance,” Popovic says. “The majority of women need to work harder than men to prove themselves or need to cope with a feeling of constant pressure to never make a mistake and be perfect. I believe that women no longer only have the right to earn a living and to take care of themselves and their families. The time has come to step it up. Becoming the outstanding leaders of tomorrow. Corner-office ladies in business, politics, and the electric guitar!”

Acoustic Sets between Acts
Sam Ness