Local Musicians Entertain at Blues Fest - Updated!

The 31st Mississippi Valley Blues Festival is returning to its roots and as part of that return, is showcasing the mighty musical talent found right here in the Quad Cities. To that end, the Local Scene stage in the beer tent will be presenting local talent in between sets on the Bandshell stage. In some cases, entire bands are represented, in others, we see the formation of jam groups, much like those that can be witnessed at any one of several jam sessions/nights that take place all over the Quad Cities every night of the week. We have a tentative schedule of who you might see on that stage at approximate times during set changes on the Bandshell. The participants and times are subject to change. Tremendous thanks goes to Ricardo Burris who assembled and organized the musicians for this part of the Mississippi Valley Blues Fest!

    Check back frequently for more updates!

Friday Night:

4:15-4:45 TBA

6:30 - 7:00 Host Band

Chris Avey - Guitar
Bryan West - Drums
Don Gustafson - Bass
Andrew Durham – Saxophone, Harmonica
Ricardo Burris – Vocals, Harmonica

8:30 – 9:00 Down the Drain

Ethan Good - Piano
Matt Fuller - Guitar
Jim Drain - Bass
Cooper Schou - Drums
Sarah Hansen - Vocals

10:30 -11:00 The Candy Makers

Bret Dale - Guitar
Alan Sweet - Vocals
Randy Leasman - Bass
Andrew Ross - drums


12:15-12:45 Mercury Brothers

Chris Avey - guitar
Don Gustafson - bass
Joe Collins - Guitar
George Smith Sax
Tony Carton - Drums
Ricardo Burris - harmonica, vocals

2:30 – 3:00

Josh "QC Slim" Kain - Guitar
Ren Edstrand - Guitar
Bob Rosenstiel - Bass
Tom Zick - Drums
Andrew Durham – Saxophone, Harmonica
Perry Hultgren - Keys

4:30 – 5:00 Zach Harris Band

Zach Harris - Guitar
Jamie Hopkins - Drums
Kellen Meyers - Keys
Randy Leasman – Bass

6:30 – 7:00 The Duo Sonics

David Berntson Harmonica, Vocals
Bobby Greenshoes

8:30 – 9:00 Hal Reed All Stars

Hal Reed - Vocals Harmonica
Roger Alexander - Bass
Chris Avey - Guitar
Bryan West - Drums
Ethan Good - Piano
Andrew Durham - Sax

10:30 – 11:00 Shane Johnson’s Blue Train

John Resch - Bass, Vocals
Shane Johnson - Guitar
Tony Carton - Drums
"Detroit" Larry Davidson – Harmonica

We caught up with some of the artists who will grace the stage in the beer tent and asked them a few questions. We’ll be adding more information as it comes in!

Bryan West

Bryan West has been playing music for a living for 30 years. First inspired by the Blues when he joined the Avey Brothers band a few years back, seeing all the great Blues artists play made him want to do it even more. “Blues is the roots of rock and roll,” says West “Kind of like learning where you come from.”

He has most recently played with the Avey Brothers, Frankie Fontagne and the Ramblers, and fills in with Zack Harris and the Mark Avey band.

In regards to our festival and what it means to him, West says ”the blues for me is great time with blues music lovers people who truly want to listen to some great music.”

You can find Bryan at the North Liberty Blues Fest July 9th with the Chris Avey Trio as well as various other places in Wisconsin during July.

Matt Fuller

Matt Fuller started playing guitar at 8 years old. “I've always loved blues since I was little little,” Matt tells us, “What made me want to play guitar was hearing my uncles Joe and Lyle, and my grandpa John Peña playing Hendrix.” He lists his biggest influence as his Uncle Joe Peña, whose guitar playing remains larger than life to Fuller, who describes the late Peña’s tone as insane. Fuller was also influenced by Albert King, Albert Collins, B. B. King, Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter.

Matt currently plays with Serious Business, the Pena brothers, as well as Down the Drain and The Winter Blues All Stars. At the age of 17, he is already a lifetime local blues artist, explaining “The [Blues] fest is a big thing to me because I've played it 3 times already and the 1st time I was 10 years old.”

You can catch Matt at any number of jam sessions around the QC, or occasionally sitting in with a touring artist playing a local venue, as he did recently at a Chris Cain show at Cabanas.

Jamie Hopkins

Jamie Hopkins comes with a family music history, as his father was a 60s rock and roll drummer. “I just thought I was supposed to play the drums too,” Hopkins says.“ I have been passionately working on my craft since I was 9.”

With a discography that includes live and studio recordings with Crusin', Andrew Landers Project, Manuel3, Hard Quarter, The Curtis Hawkins Band, Minus Six, Mike Baum, The Zach Harris Band, the Candymakers, Ernie Peniston, Jason Carl & the Whole Damn Band and more, you could say that Hopkins is a well-recorded drummer.

His thoughts on MVBS and the fest? “The Blues Society represents the grass roots of the community where quality has always been more important than big revenue. This festival is a reminder that not everything has fallen away to strip malls and box stores. The people who play are the same kind of folks as the people who watch and that's something to value.” Well said, Jamie!

You can find Jamie playing most frequently with the aforementioned groups at venues around the QC. July 15th he will be grooving Santana, Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone with the Curtis Hawkins Band outside the River Music Experience from 5-7pm!

Randy Leasman

Randy Leasman has been playing bass and guitar for 20 years.

Leasman is an original member of both the Candymakers and Zach Harris Band. Going to the MVBF as a kid inspired him to see more blues shows such as BB King, Dr. John, Los Lobos and ZZ Top. “The inspiration was endless,” he says, “I had to play music, especially Blues because it was pure, raw, emotional and sometimes on fire.”

You can see more of Randy next week at The Dawn and On Festival and the following week at Camp Euforia festival with the Candymakers.

Ren Edstrand

Ren Edstrand has been perfecting his craft for 20 years. He found his Blues inspiration by going to MVBF as a kid, and listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Edstrand has been involved in several bands, including his current project Liquid Chicken Rubber Biscuit, The Mississippi Misfits, Kent Burnside, Smokehouse, and Whatever Blues Band.

When asked about MVBF, Ren’s response is “Blues fest is the number one event I look forward to each year. It is a place to see old friends, meet new ones, find new bands, and just generally have a good time.”

Ren will be playing solo sets on July 4 at Ca'd'zaan in Cambridge, July 6 at Awesome Town productions in Fulton, and July 7 at Rozz-tox in Rock Island. We’re also looking forward to a first show from his newest project in the near future.

Ethan Good

Ethan Good has been playing piano for 3 years. This week he joins Down the Drain on the Local Scene Stage. His influences and what brought him to Blues in particular are his parents, his teacher Nick Vasquez and according to Good “all the wonderful people that run camps at the River Music Experience.”

Good has performed with The Winter Blues Allstars, Serious Business, Juliana and a Soul Purpose, Down the Drain and Hal Reed & the Mississippi Journey. He sees Blues Fest as an opportunity to play and support a wonderful organization like the Blues Society and a chance to showcase the local talent to the community.

You can find Ethan around town playing gigs, or jamming at My Place and Cabanas.

Robert Rosenstiel

A 17 year music veteran, Robert Rosenstiel has played with Caveman Blues, Buddy Wiggle, Kate Hathaway, Coal Train, Soothsayers, Milltown, Barley House Band, Justin Morrissey, Pat's Acoustic Disco & the Downtown Rockin' Daddies among others.

Rosenstiel is inspired to play the Blues just by living in America all his life. “The Blues are our culture,” he says. On Blues Fest, he’s clear, “Our Pride and Joy - Let us support the Blues and our Culture.”
After this year’s Blues Fest, you’ll find him playing with The Bucktown Revue.

John Resch

Like so many blues enthusiasts, John Resch came at it from the other end. Resch discovered the genre from listening to British rock bands like Derek and the Dominoes (Eric Clapton), Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones. All were bands heavily influenced by the original American blues pioneers.

John began playing the bass in 1974, and joined his first band, The Murphy Band, in 1978. This was his first real exposure to playing the blues live, as the band had a lot of blues classics on their song list.

His thoughts on Blues Fest: “After 31 years, I think the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival is a vital and important part of the Quad Cities music and cultural scene. Not only as a gathering place for music and festival lovers, but as a vehicle for perpetuating this important part of American music history.”

John will be playing with the Blackstones on Thursday, July 7th from 7-9 at the Bass Street Landing, and Saturday, July 9th at Harley Corin's (formerly the Muddy Waters) in Bettendorf from 9-1.

Jim VanHyfte

Jim VanHyfte been playing drums from the ripe age of nine, “which this year will make 40 years,” he adds. VanHyfte grew up listening to the Blues and R&B and funk from a very early age simply because of the neighborhood and heritage that were part of his upbringing.

He says he has played with pretty much every band at one time or another here in the QC. We believe him! Some most notables are: Shane Johnson's Blue Train, John Resch and the Detroit Blues Band, The Twin Towers band, The Ron LaPuma band, the Steady Rollin' Blues band and Hal Reed and the Mob.

“I've had the pleasure of playing the blues fest several times, he tells us. “It's always a special event for me and has always been a mainstay for some of the finest local, regional, and national artists.” He is happy that it only took one year of not having the fest for everyone to realize just how special it really is. “Let's restore it to its former glory and continue the legacy!”

Jim can be found on any Tuesday night hosting the jam at Cabanas in Rock Island as well as playing with other local bands such as Blues Rock-it and numerous other fill-in gigs around the area.
Andrew Ross

Andrew Ross has been playing music since 6th grade concert band in junior high (1995'ish). Ross began playing in rock bands in high school, and made his way to blues via playing in jazz bands in high school and college. He was also influenced just hearing Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Von, BB King… and the list goes on.
Ross currently plays with The Candymakers and the Tri-tones Jazz Ensemble, and also does fill in gigs with the Zac Harris Band and any kind of "throw together" bands that happen.

Ross says, “The Mississippi Valley Blues Fest was always a good way to hear some of the many heavy hittin' local players we have in the area. Just so much talent in the Mid-West.”

Next up after the Blues Fest for Andrew is the 2nd annual Dawn and On fest. He will be swinging with the Tri-Tones at the pre party at Bent River Brewery (RI) on Friday, and then hittin' hard with the Candymakers that Saturday evening.

Kellen Meyers

When asked how long he’s been playing, Kellen responds, “I can't quite remember, but ever since I could reach the piano.” His inspiration to play the blues is in hearing it, and the emotion, soul and sophisticated simplicity behind it.

Kellen has played with “pretty much everyone around the area”, and a handful of touring/regional/national acts such as Lipbone Redding, Willie Pickens, and Bill Payne (Little Feet).

Meyers sees MVBF as a special time for many talented musician from many walks of life to come together to celebrate the blues.

He is now playing regularly with the Zach Harris band, so watch their schedule for another opportunity to see him play.

Chris Avey

Chris Avey former lead guitarist and vocalist for the Avey brothers fuels his band the Chris Avey trio. Since striking out with his own band, one reviewer said “vocals and guitar reminiscent of a younger, more fiery Coco Montoya, mixed with a dash Tab Benoit". Another said “This accomplished bluesman and his band are on the way up, look for them at a festival near you”. Blues Monday monthly says…” one of our favorite bands from the Midwest” a must see’ Blues Blast Magazine says "Blues with intensity and emotion" and "more energy than a power plant". The group with their mixed backgrounds, blends elements of Cajun swamp with Blues-rock and Chicago sounds.

Veterans of the big stage and main events, The Chris Avey trio have played many festivals, and “A” list clubs all across the us and Canada, and have shared the stage and venues with many top tier artists such as Kenny Neal, Delbert Mclinton, IH Mississippi Valley Blues Fest, Simply the Blues Fest, Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials, Walter Trout, Nightfall on the River, Blues Traveler, Bix Jazz Fest, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Lonnie Brooks, Big Pete Pearson, Corey Stevens, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis SD, Iron Horse Bike and Music Festival Rochester blues and BQQ fest , Waterloo Blues and BBQ Fest, Rollin On The River Fest, Blues on Grand, The Rhythm Room, and many other A list blues clubs and fests. With a loyal following and there up and coming sound, this is a band for your club or event ready to fill the house and keep them coming back.

Don Gustofson

Don Gustofson has been playing music since age 7, and has been gigging in the QC area for 30 yrs. He tries to play all styles of music, he says “but the energy and tension release of the Blues speaks to me.” Some of the bands he has played with include: Mercury Brothers, The Bad Dogs with Harmonica Slim, 3+1 featuring Jimmie Lee Adams, Downtown Rockin Daddys, Donny Hot Tub & the Sin City Orchestra.

You can catch Don at Cabanas every Tuesday night, the Edge in Rapids City every Wednesday night, and My Place the Pub every Thursday night.

Bret Dale

“When I was 12 I heard Derek and the Dominos Live at the East Fillmore. From there I discovered BB and Freddie King, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. No other music had the power of what blues musicians were doing and I was hooked. Especially since I grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s. It was guitar shredding time back then but I was only interested in the simplicity of the blues which is what makes the blues so hard to play. The blues masters play one note and it puts you on your knees. That’s how powerful blues is.
Believe it or not my first band was with Lyle Pena when I was in high school when the Pena Brothers were taking a break. I was 17 at most. Our first gig was at a bar in downtown Moline and I was the first one there. I dropped my gear off at the stage and walked up to the bar and ordered a bottle of Bud Light…and the bartender gave it to me. That moment was probably the beginning of the end for me haaaa!!!! Also I had the pleasure of playing with Lonnie Brooks for almost 10 years, the great Hal Reed, the Mercury Brothers and I currently play with the Candymakers.

Blues are one of the roots that have created all American genres of music. Blues is ours…a true American treasure that needs to be preserved, exposed and cherished. MVBF exposed live Blues to me at an early age and I hope it will be around forever to inspire today’s youth so they can pick up the torch and keep the Blues alive. “

Bret will be slingin’ guitar with the Candymakers at these upcoming events:
July 9th – Dawn and On Music Fest
July 16th – Camp Euphoria
July 29th – Hullaballoo
July 30th – Streetfest
Aug 26th – River Roots Live

Perry Hultgren

Perry Hultgren doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t play. His dad sold Hammond Organs, and Perry started playing the organ at 5. He picked up piano in 9th grade. His greatest blues influence was Jimmy Smitts. The attraction to Blues music comes from its freeness.

Blues Fest for Perry has been a family tradition, his kids attending from the time they were born. “(fest is)all my friends and fellow musicians in one place for one weekend.”

“Detroit” Larry Davison

Davison is a harpist with 40 years of experience. “I just picked up a harmonica one day and started messing around and learning songs I heard on TV.” Why blues? It’s what he listened to as a kid.

Some bands he has played with: Ellis Kell, John Resch’s Detroit Blues, Avey Brothers, Juke Joint Sinners.

Blues Fest to Davison means happiness. “It is all about being happy.”

Tom Zick

Tom Zick has been playing for 35 years. “I was inspired by music ever since I heard a small church choir at my grandmother's church when I was 4.” Explains Tom. His blues inspiration comes from Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Albert Collins, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

You may have seen him behind the kit for blues bands The Mississippi Misfits, and Kent Burnside and the New Generation.

Zick on Blues Fest: “It is great to have a local blues festival that attracts a variety of artists and includes the local talent.”

In the near future, you can catch Tom with The Dirty Water Boys on September 2, 3 & 4th at the Sidetracked Saloon in Orion.