2023 Lineup:

Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen

 Jon Cleary was born in England but has made his home in New Orleans for decades, His career has been built on performing and playing in the style of New Orleans piano masters such as Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Art Neville, Dr. John, and James Booker. His skills at the keyboard led to global touring work in the bands of Taj Mahal, John Scofield, Dr. John, and Bonnie Raitt. 

Additionally, he’s recorded 10 albums solo, and won a Grammy in 2016 in the Best Regional Roots category. He is a fixture each spring at JazzFest and otherwise plays in a variety of combos, all called the Absolute Monster Gentlemen. They’ll be at McTell Fest as a trio.

Shemekia Copeland

 From the New York area, we are excited to present Shemekia Copeland. Ms. Copeland  — winner of the 2021 Blues Music Award for B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year, is touring behind her latest release on Alligator Records, Done Come Too Far. This latest disc was nominated for a Grammy in 2023, coming alongside three prior Grammy nominations.  She won the 2022 award for Blues artist of the year at the annual  Downbeat Critics Poll. In 2023, Copeland triumphed in the 'Instrumentalist - Vocals' category at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis. 

Ms. Copeland, daughter of the late blues guitarist Johnny Copeland, has literally been singing all of her life, touring the world, releasing 10 albums of high energy blues and roots music along the way. Shemekia joins a long line of great female singers who’ve played McTell Fest, including Mavis Staples, Marcia Ball, Francine Reed, and many more.

John Fullbright

Oklahoma’s John Fullbright is making his first trip to Thomson as part of a Southeastern run. Born in Okemah, the birthplace of Woody Guthrie, it seems fitting that he enjoys renown as an Americana songwriter. Fullbright received a Grammy nomination in 2013 for Best Americana Album. He’ll be touring with a 4 piece. 

Carolyn Wonderland

Carolyn Wonderland has been on our radar for many years. From Austin Texas, she’s firmly established as one of that musical hotbed’s best guitarists and performers. She tours with a combo on her own, and also works in John Mayall’s touring band. Her latest record is 2021’s Tempting Fate, produced by Dave Alvin on Alligator Records.  

Eddie 9V

Atlanta’s Eddie 9V is new on Atlanta’s roots music scene. Eddie, born Brooks Mason, will be touring behind his latest album, Capricorn. The tunes were recorded at Capricorn Studios in Macon and the album cracked the top 5 on the Americana Album charts soon after its release. The sounds are soulful, southern and his set is guaranteed to be big fun.  

The Sensational Barnes Brothers

Finally, from Memphis, the Sensational Barnes Brothers will open the 29th McTell Music Fest with their unique brand of gospel and R&B. The Barnes Family was, and still is, well known in Memphis as stellar gospel performers. Brothers Chris and Courtney, raised in that musical genre, have branched out and now are putting their own spin on “gospel soul”. 

Sugar Ray and the Bluetones

Join us Friday night for a FREE show featuring Sugar Ray and the Bluetones. They have been playing their unique style of blues the world over for almost forty years. Not limited to one style, but able to play Chicago Blues in the style of Muddy Waters. Little Walter and Billy Boy Arnold; Kansas City Swing in the style of "Big" Joe Turner; Texas Blues like "T" Bone Walker and Freddie King; and the swampy Louisiana sounds of "Lazy" Lester-all played with distinctive originality .

All of the members of Sugar Ray and the Bluetones have been featured on other Artists recordings which include Roomful of Blues,Hubert Sumlin, John Hammond, Johnny Winter, J.Geils, Otis Grand, Pinetop Perkins, The Mannish Boys, Sugaray Rayford, Debbie Davies, Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl and many more.

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