December 8, 2001 the CRAIG HORTON band with Ball & Chain

the craig horton band

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Craig Horton has made a career of the blues for the last four decades. Growing up in Conway, Arkansas, he learned to play guitar from his grandmother who played gospel music. By the late 1950’s, Craig was playing guitar with the legendary Little Walter’s Band and touring with the Dells. He was part of the Chicago music scene in the 60’s, playing with performers like Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, and Freddie King. During the 80’s, he was lead vocalist and guitar player with Sam Myers and the Mississippi Delta Blues Band. Although his music retains the Chicago sound, Craig has been living in California since the late 60’s.

Craig’s singing voice is reminiscent of T-Bone Walker. There is also a hint of Walker in his guitar playing, along with traces of B.B.King. What most distinguishes his blues guitar playing is its unpredictability – he is a true improviser who plays whatever pops into his head. Craig prides himself on playing on the edge and taking chances. “I always play without a net. It is hard for me to follow set patterns. I’m into trying to execute what I feel. I’m into feelings.” For our blues show, he is bringing with him a full band with horn section.

Horton released his first solo CD this year, entitled “In My Spirit” (Bad Daddy Records). The music reflects the heavy swinging, hard shuffling classic blues sounds of Chicago and the South. The CD also shows the diversity of his music, ranging from classic blues to jazz, R&B, and rock.

ball & Chain

Ball and Chain features a variety of familiar local blues performers. Jon Smith, lead guitar and vocals, has the fastest fingers in the West. Mark White, keyboards, is a master of the boogie woogie (and he can dance while playing). Wil Anderson, bass, can play anything from a delicate whisper to a thumping funk line. Greg Barnes, drums, keeps the band in the groove. Karen Tyler, guitar and vocals, will show you how she can rip on the electric guitar. Lisa Plevel, vocals, gives the band that smoky blues sound. They will play a mixture of originals, classic standards, and some new songs – everything from Muddy Waters to Jeff Beck, Marva Wright, Lou Ann Barton, and Bernard Allison.  Their aim is to get your feet moving and your behind in motion. Let’s party!


JAMES HARMAN BAND.  James Harman is a “dynamo of jump-jive lingo, perpetrator of more than 250 live-wire club shows a year, and one of the keepers of the real-deal blues vibe” (Blues Access).  His special demeanor has earned him the name “Icepick James”.  When he is “on”, there isn’t anybody better, smoother, or cooler in the blues.  His performances have a kinetic vitality – the energy leaps like lightening from the microphones to your feet.

Singer, songwriter, and harmonica player extraordinaire, James Harman has been a key performer on the Southern California Blues scene since the 1970s.  He was born in Alabama, grew up in Florida, and matured as a musician in Chicago.  His recording career began in the early 1980s and he has released a dozen CDs since, garnering multiple W. C. Handy Award nominations along the way.  His music combines soulful vocals, skillful harmonica, and lyrics with a sense of humor.

According to Santelli’s “Big Book of Blues”, humor is what sets Harman apart from other Blues performers.  This sense of play is embodied in his CD  “Takin’ Chances” (Cannonball Records), which was nominated for a W. C. Handy Award. This fun-filled theme album is about the gambles we take in life, love, relationships, and money, as well as the sometime futile pursuit of them all.  His most recent CD, “Mo’ Na’kins, Please” (Cannonball), is a compilation of studio recordings from the mid-’80s with Hollywood Fats, Junior Watson, and Kid Ramos.

The James Harman Band is on the road most of the year, traveling throughout the states and Europe.  The band includes Nathan James on guitar, Alan West on drums, and Lucky Medina on bass.  Together, they play a combination of blues, boogie, and a touch of 50’s rock n’ roll that will keep the Vets Hall jumping.

BLUES ANGELS. The Blues Angels have been performing together for five years.  They have performed for the SLO Blues Society, Mothers Tavern, First Night, the Midstate Fair, and other venues on the Central Coast.  The “angels” are noted for their great dance music and energetic instrumentation.  The Blues Angels credit B.B. King, Robert Cray, Paul Butterfield, Junior Watson, Tommy Castro, and Gladys Knight as influences and describe their style of music as “modern day, West Coast, electronic groove blues – the way you like it.”  The Blues Angels are composed of five experienced local musicians.  The silk and gravel voice of Brett Hoover provides the lead vocals for the band.  He is backed by Danny Oneill on his massive Hammond organ.  Larry Brebes plays lead guitar and provides backup on vocals.  The rhythm section includes Tom Leatherwood on bass and vocals, and Josh Carson on percussion.

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