Marcia Ball has played McTell Fest, first in 2004 (with a lineup that featured Pinetop Perkins) and again in 2011. She and her combo put on a dynamite show of New Orleans influenced blues, featuring Ms. Ball on vocals and piano. She had been nominated for five Grammys and has won the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of The Year five times in the last ten years…an award given each May by the Blues foundation in Memphis. Ball’s New Orleans boogie and Gulf Coast blues have made her a one-of-a-kind favorite with music fans all over the world. She’s touring behind her sixth release for Alligator Records, The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man. It is no secret that Marcia Ball’s shows are always the best, high quality, incendiary, and fan favorites.
John Hammond has been out singing and playing solo blues guitar and harmonica since the early sixties. During this time he’s recorded 35 albums, 8 of which were nominated for Grammy awards. His collaboration with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Koko Taylor and others, called Blues Explosion, won a Grammy in 1985. Hammond was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2012. His 2014 release, Timeless, is nominated for a Blues Music Award this year in the category of Acoustic Album of the Year, along with a nomination for Acoustic Artist of the Year. He has performed or recorded with Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Duane Allman, Mike Bloomfield, JJ Cale, Tom Waits, The Band, John Lee Hooker, Dr. John and many more. He truly is one of the world’s premier acoustic blues artists. ½ of John’s set will be solo, finishing with the backup of the Bruce Katz Band.
Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue is a five-piece, featuring Mark Hummel on vocals and harp, along with guitar greats Charlie Baty and Anson Funderburgh. Baty and Funderburgh have appeared a number of times in Thomson….Anson with The Rockets and “Little” Charlie with the Nightcats. With Hummel’s great Chicago style harp, backed by the stellar group of blues players, this act should be something to see and hear.
Chris Smither appeared in Thomson at McTell Fest in 2000. He has been playing and singing and writing for over 50 years. Chris comes into town touring behind his career retrospective Still on The Levee, his 17th release. His finger-style guitar playing is rooted in the syncopated blues style of say, John Hurt, and his original tunes have been covered by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Diana Krall and many others.
From Austin, Texas, soul-funk revivalists Mingo Fishtrap bring a soulful, rootsy sound to Thomson this May. This 8 piece band with a full horn section is fronted by songwriter and vocalist/guitarist Roger Blevins Jr. Formed in Texas in the Mid 90’s, they’ve recorded 6 albums. Their latest release is 2014’s On Time.
From the band’s bio
What started as a casual jam session with friends blossomed over time into an impressive eight-piece ensemble that evoked fond memories of listening to soul music as a kid. “Pops [Mingo’s bassist, Roger Sr.] always had soul and R&B on the stereo, and then he was playing those tunes every night. So that was what I grew up with. Then, when I was maybe eight or nine and living on an Air Force base, all my little friends used to go to Catholic Sunday School on Sunday mornings, so I’d tag along. After that let out, we heard this gospel music wafting from the chapel,” explains Roger. “The deacon saw our raggedy jeans and cut-off shorts and said we weren’t really dressed for an audience with the Lord, but he let us watch from the balcony. That became our regular stop. It was really moving, even though I didn’t fully understand it at the time.”
While the band’s name comes from a crossroads just outside of Denton, Mingo has long since extended its reach onto the national music scene, sharing stages with the likes of Trombone Shorty, Parliament, Sting, Little Feat, Earth Wind & Fire, Robert Randolph, Galactic, and MOFRO — but they still experience their fair share of humbling moments. After playing a show at MusikFest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, they noticed an oddly familiar-looking gentleman dancing in the crowd. “We got offstage, and when he walked up, he handed me his business card,” recalls Roger. “It was Bernard Purdie, one of the session drummers with James Brown. He’d recorded some of the very songs we’d just played. And he was dancing… Those kinds of moments are hard to beat.”
Opening the festival this year will be piano/organ virtuoso Bruce Katz and his combo, the Bruce Katz Band. Bruce played here last year with Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band and has been a mainstay of the New England blues and jazz scene for decades. As an added collaboration for 2015, we’re pleased to announce that Bruce and his combo will play with John Hammond for about ½ of his set later in the afternoon.
Bruce’s current album, “Homecoming,” is #8 on the Living Blues Radio Chart and getting heavy radio play on XM/Sirius Bluesville Channel. He is a 2015 nominee for a BMA (Blues Music Award) for “Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year.” His 4th nomination in that category in the last 8 years.
Bruce is a member of The New York Blues Hall of Fame. He spent six years as a touring artist with Greg Allman. He has toured and played with Delbert McClinton, Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, and recently with Quinn Sullivan.