European Blues Challenge 2012 – The Bands
Friday, March 16:
20:00 Ismo Haavisto Band (FI)
20:30 The Downstrokes (HR)
21:00 John F. Klaver Band (NL)
21:30 Lubos Beña (SK)
22:00 Roland Tchakounte (FR)
22:30 Marco Marchi & The Mojo Workers (CH)
23:00 Chehols (LV)
23:30 Slavek Wierzcholski I Nocna Zmiana Bluesa (PL)
24:00 Lightnin’ Guy & The Mighty Gators (BE)
Saturday, March 17:
20:00 Vasko The Patch (BG)
20:30 Dago Red (IT)
21:00 Slidin’ Slim (SE)
21:30 Norbert Schneider (AT)
22:00 Rita Engedalen & Backbone (NO)
22:30 Mingo & the Blues Intruders (ES)
23:00 Ben Poole (UK)
23:30 The Blues Express (DK)
24.00 Michael van Merwyk (DE)
00:30 T. Blues Mob (GE)
01:00 end of competition
Ca. 01:10 announcement of the winner
01:15 – 01:30 performance of the winner
01:30 jam session of all musicians (open end)
Norbert Schneider (AT)
Lightnin’ Guy & The Mighty Gators (BE)
Lightnin’ Guy, born in 1976 as Guy Verlinde near Bruges, is the hardest working performer on the Belgian blues & roots scene. He’s not only the latest top act conquering the hearts of the blues-and-roots lovers in Belgium and Holland but he is also on the brink of a breakthrough on the European stages. He plays in the “Louisiana swamp & Chicago slide and harp” -tradition. Lightnin’ Guy is not only an excellent musician and singer, but also an all-round entertainer. He performs as solo and in Berlin with the The Mighty Gators. Willy Devleeschouwer is a true master of the blues guitar. Karl Zosel, born in Germany, but moved to Belgium in the 1980’s, is the bass player, who has played in many rock, funk and blues bands. Thierry Stievenart is the seasoned drummer. Lightnin’ Guy’s latest release is the live CD: “Banana Peel feat. Guy Forsyth”, and the band’s release is the CD: “Live From the Heart”.
Vasko “The Patch” & Poduene Blues Band with Kamen “The Barrel” Doytchinow (BG)
Vasko “The Patch” Krupkata, born in Sofia in 1959 as Vasil Georgiev, is a self-taught musician, and he plays the drums, harmonica and guitar and he is also a writer and a blues singer. At the end of the communist regime he created his own band, Poduene Blues Band, which became the best post-communist Bulgarian rock and blues formation. Fame and success followed through endless tours all around Bulgaria and abroad. Rebellious and not swimming with the tide, Vasko “The Patch” has become one of the most controversial personalities in modern Bulgaria. One thing is clear: Vasko “The Patch” breaks stereotypes in music and you need to listen to it to appreciate it. Poduene Blues Band features the singer Kamen “The Barrel” Doytchinow, Vladimir Stoyanov (harmonica), Kiril Georgiev (drums), Nikola Dragnev (solo-guitar), and Veselin Ivanov (bass). Vasko “The Patch” Krupkata has recorded several albums through the years as a solo or with bands. His newest recording is titled “Emigrants”.
The Downstrokes (HR)
The Blues Express (DK)
Ismo Haavisto Band (FI)
Roland Tchakounte (FR)
Born in Cameroon, far away from the cotton fields that shaped his elders’ style, Roland Tchakounte started his musical training with the percussion followed by the guitar, piano and harmonica. He succeeds in creating a perfect fusion between his African roots, blues influences and a special talent to sing his complete repertoire in bamiléké, his native dialect. He obviously looks up to such artists as Son House, Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, but regards John Lee Hooker and Ali Farka Touré as his real masters. He has performed in almost every corner of the world, on stages in Belgium, Canada, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Lithuania, Croatia, but also in Africa (Burkina Faso, in Mali) and in France (Cognac, Vaison-la-Romaine, etc.). He has released several albums over the years and the latest is titled “Blues Menessen”.
Michael van Merwyk & Bluesoul (DE)
Michael van Merwyk is a singer and songwriter and a talented guitar player whether on acoustic, electric, or on lap steel. His guitar playing is funky like Johnny Guitar Watson’s and rough like Albert King’s, and his voice growls somewhere between Dr. John and Johnny Cash. He is no newcomer on the scene, he tours regularly throughout Europe – from Finland to the Mediterranean coast, from the Atlantic coast to Moscow. The line-up for the star-studded Bluesoul band is Ollie Gee on bass (Henrik Freischlader, Blues Company, Blue Night Band, Big Daddy Wilson, Sidney Youngblood, etc.), Jochen Ben on different guitars (Eric Bibb, Big Daddy Wilson, Alexander Klaws, Mike Kruger, etc .) and Bernhardt Weichinger on drums (Candy Dulfer, Adriano Batolba Orchestra, Mess Of Blues, etc.). Michael’s latest album is titled “Catching The Rain” and a new CD “New Road” will be out in March 2012.
T.Blues Mob (GE)
T.Blues Mob, a band from Tbilisi, plays its own uncompromising version of blues based on hard-driving rock and jazz & soul. The repertoire of the band consists of both their original re-workings of standard or lesser known traditional blues songs and their own compositions driven by an improvising and energetic performance style. T.Blues Mob was formed in 1998 by Koka Tskitishvili a member of a famous Georgian band, Blues Mobile Band. The T.Blues Mob has toured extensively and performed in various festivals (Notodden, Samso Fest) and shared the stages with many international top names. Koka Tskitishvili is the band’s leader, its songwriter, arranger, bluesy vocalist and bass player with a rhythmic, aggressive and improvising playing style. Other members are: Tamaz Tkhinvaleli – super technical lead guitarist, one of the best blues guitar players in Georgia, Roma Rtskhiladze – virtuoso boogie & blues piano and keyboard player, Davit Manizhashvili – explosive and technical, blues and jazz drummer. The band has released several albums; “Live In Denmark” (in 2003) and a studio album “Unexpected” (in 2006) and their latest CD is “Live In Denmark 2010”.
Dago Red (IT)
Dago Red is a blues and roots band. Their repertoire includes originals, work songs and reworked blues and folk standards. The band features the vocals and the acoustic guitar of Giuseppe Mascitelli, the vocals of Paola Ceroli, drummer Fausto Troilo, bass player Angelo Tracanna and the guitars of Nicola Palanza. Dago Red have the ability to make familiar songs sound both fresh and dynamic. They started playing in 1998 and have released three CDs, “Folk ‘n’ Blues Memories and Other tales”, “Feel Like Going On”, their latest “Dago Red”, as well as compilations. They wrote songs for artists from the prestigious Crosscut Records label. They have also performed at major blues festivals in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.
The band “Chehols” aka “The Gypsy Cowboys” started out as nothing more than a bunch of friends having fun playing on the streets for pocket money. As they played the streets, offers from different bars began to flow in and after a season of regular bar gigs, the guys began to realise that playing was not “just for fun”, but that it could also be a real and exciting line of work. Right now the band has earned a reputation for being a fine and reliable “bar band” that mixes elements of rockabilly, rhythm ‘n’ blues and blues and fuels it all up with an intense rock energy. Audiences love their live shows and the energy they produce on stage. The current line-up of the band consists of Ilja Krumins on guitar and vocals, Matiss Tazans on drums, Kristians Priekulis on double bass and Karlis Vitols on harmonica. Chehols have played countless top venues all across Latvia and have played abroad as well – in Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and Russia. They have recently released an album titled “Songs Of The Gypsy Cowboys”.
John F. Klaver Band (NL)
John F. Klaver is a guitarist and a singer, who has played the guitar since the age of eleven. When he was seventeen, he decided to go to the Unites States. John took guitar and music theory classes as a private student at The University of the Pacific until he came back to his country. After that he entered the Conservatory of Amsterdam, where he continued his guitar studies and after graduation started his own band. John plays blues, funk and soul in a very grooving style, making it contemporary without losing its authentic feel. John F. Klaver has a lot of experience in hosting jam sessions, doing session work and he has played in many groups and performed at many festivals with his band. John F. Klaver Band features Iris Sigtermans on bass, Martijn Klaver on drums and Bob Fridzema on Hammond, the latest addition to the band, which was formerly a trio. Their first CD, “Jetpepper”, was released in 2008, and their second album “Coming Back For More” was released in April 2011.
Rita Engedalen & Backbone (NO)
Rita Engedalen is an amazing blues artist and she is often referred to as “Norway’s Queen of the Blues”. She has released four CDs so far; “Here My Song”, “Heaven Ain’t Ready For Me Yet” , “The Tree Still Standing” and her latest “Chapels And Bars”. All are superb albums which demonstrate Rita’s unique talent. She’s not what you would call a mainstream blues performer – she’s a truly original artist. Rita’s influences are mostly American folk music from districts and areas not very familiar to the mainstream audiences. Dusty roads, back and forth from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi Delta are areas she travels musically. Her intense personality, and her strong and rich voice mixed with deeply rooted soul form her personal musical expression. Rita’s backing band is Backbone and it consists of guitarist Morten Omlid, bassist Jens Haugen and drummer Eskil Aasland.
Slavek Wierzcholski I Nocna Zmiana Bluesa (PL)
Nocna Zmiana Bluesa – The Blues Nightshift – is the most popular blues band in Poland. Established in 1982 by its leader Slawek Wierzcholski – a harmonica virtuoso, singer and songwriter. The band have played thousands of gigs throughout the years in Poland and all over Europe in countries such as Russia, France, Greece, the Nederlands, Sweden and even in Zimbabwe. They opened for The Blues Brothers Band (Nürnberg 1989) and B.B.King (Warsaw 1996). Slawek Wierzcholski & Nocna Zmiana Bluesa have issued total of 20 albums (3 LPs, 2 DVDs and 15 CDs), having recorded with such distinguished blues men as Charlie Musselwhite, Junior Wells or Louisiana Red. The band Nocna Zmiana Bluesa is formed of these seasoned musicians: Marek Dabrowski (guitar), Witek Jakalski (guitar) Piotr Dabrowski (bass guitar), Grzegorz Minicz (drums). And it is a band of the highest world standards with nothing to be ashamed of when compared with their beloved American roots that inspired them to develop their own unique sound. Having started as an orthodox blues act a quarter-century ago, Slawek and his team have created their own unique style which is a fusion of blues, folk, jazz and played on acoustic instruments. Slawek is the writer of the band’s entire repertoire and some of them have become real hits.
Lubos Beña (SV)
Lubos Bena comes from Slovakia, and he plays the resonator guitar, known as the Dobro, (the American invention, by Slovak emigrants, the Dopyera family in 1927), and in Bena’s hands it becomes, a rhythmic, refined and expressional instrument. Bena has travelled to discover authentic blues inside the American states of Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. From these expeditions, you can feel Bena’s experiences of the folklore, tradition and humble expression of this music form.
Mingo & The Blues Intruders (ES)
Mingo Balaguer, born in 1957, began playing the harmonica at about eleven. He played with several amateur bands during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In 2003, after playing with bands like Caledonia Blues Band, Blues Machine and Blues Blasters, Mingo Balaguer craved to experiment as a vocalist. He had always missed playing with a quartet in which he played harp and sang. He eventually took the decision to lead a four-piece band and realised that to carry out this project it was essential to have companions with whom musical secrets did not exist and who were familiar with the style. These companions are Quique Bonal (guitar), Fernando Torres (bass) and Juan de la Oliva (drums). They try to include a great variety within the field of the blues and they have decided to form a repertoire influenced by styles ranging from the pure electric Chicago blues to the Texan style, the West Coast blues or the jump blues. In 2008 the band released their first vinyl and CD titled “Going West”, and in 2010 the second CD titled “Fun To Visit” came out, and it was produced by the legendary British producer Mike Vernon.
Slidin’ Slim (SE)
Slidin’ Slim, born Anders Landelius, developed a love of American blues at an early age. After many years playing in punk and rock bands, he rediscovered his first love and adapted it to his punk ethos. In the past 16 years, Slim has become one of the pre-eminent blues artists in Scandinavia. He has played all the major blues festivals and has toured extensively in Scandinavia, Europe and USA. At first hearing, Slidin’ Slim appears to be the real deal: the deep voice, the dexterous resonator guitar picking, and the road-worn lyrics all add up to an impressive, raw Delta blues sound reminiscent of John Hammond. However, once you dig a little deeper, a real interesting fact emerges: Slim is from the South – the South of Sweden, that is. He has released several records that have received great reviews from all over the world. His latest studio CD “One Man Riot” was originally released by the American label Nine Mile Records in 2007 but was re-released in 2011 by Swedish label Transubstans Records and has become one of the best selling Swedish blues records of all time.
Marco Marchi and The Mojo Workers (CH)
Marco Marchi & The Mojo Workers are an acoustic blues band formed by musicians with decades of experience in a vast range of musical genres (blues, jazz, folk, traditional, pop). After starting the band in October 2009 the experienced musicians have managed to carve out a niche in the European blues scene in a short period of time, performing a repertoire of blues from the 1920’s to the 1950’s, from ragtime to piedmont style, from Delta blues to country blues and the early hours of the Chicago blues. Marco Marchi & The Mojo Worker’s sound is designed with a completely personal style, and with instrumentation of a resonator guitar, a pre-war tuba, a rub board and a harmonica. Their songs are interpreted by assimilating the original energy and playing with passion and authenticity. The result: an absorbing blend of sounds filled with a pathos from the past. The band’s latest album is “Listenin’ To My Soul”, and they are working on their new CD, which will be out early 2012.
Ben Poole (UK)
Inspired by the Blues, infused with a hard hitting, “in-yer-face” rock approach and topped-off by virtuoso musicianship, Ben Poole is being talked of as “the” new up-and-coming UK Blues guitarist, one of the finest to have emerged in Europe for years. Having already played with and received critical acclaim from some of his heroes such as legendary blues artists Jeff Beck, Gary Moore and John Mayall. At just 22 years of age it appears that there is no stopping this young and incredibly gifted musician. His latest recordings make it blatantly clear that Ben is destined for a great future on the European Blues/Rock scene. Ben Poole has released the 5-track mini album/EP titled “Everything I Want”.