5/8/2000 James Solberg Band / Jacob’s Well

James Solberg Band

“I knew to play from the heart.  When I feel something, my fingertips are just tools to express what’s in my heart, not the other way around.”  James Solberg

As a Midwest teenager in the 1960’s, James Solberg played in rock ‘n roll bands. The Rolling Stones led him to Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and the Chicago Blues scene.  During the 1970’s, he joined with fellow guitarist Luther Allison and for five years was Allison’s bandleader.  During this time, he recorded “Night Life” and “Live in Paris” with Luther.  By the early 1980’s, Solberg headed into retirement due to drugs and burnout, and worked as a motorcycle mechanic.

Solberg re-emerged in 1985 and toured with the Legendary Blues Band, which contained the former members of the Muddy Waters Band.  In 1987, he toured with the Nighthawks.  For the next five years, he settled down in Wisconsin as the owner and house band for the “Stones Throw” blues nightclub.

In early 1993, his old partner Luther Allison, who had been living in Paris, asked him to reunite.  They recorded “Soul Fixin’ Man” together and Solberg recorded his first solo CD, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean”.  This was the start of a powerful blues partnership, with Solberg as the bandleader for Allison’s triumphant return to the U.S.  They produced the CD “Reckless” and received a W.C. Handy Award for Best Blues Band of the Year in 1997.  However, by the end of the year Allison was dead from cancer.

Two months after Allison died, Solberg recorded “LA Blues”, one of the most poignant blues CDs ever recorded.  It was his farewell and tribute to Luther Allison.  In 1998, the James Solberg Band won the W.C. Handy Award for Best Blues Band of the Year, and Solberg won two W.C. Handy Awards for best Album and Song of the Year.  The James Solberg Band continues to tour throughout the U.S., playing the Chicago style blues made famous by the collaboration of Luther Allison and James Solberg.

“Solberg’s gravelly vocals and never-say-die rhythm playing is a rare treat for modern blues lovers.  Solberg hone his lost art skills of playing behind such greats as Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Sam Lay.  Judging by his performance, his years of playing with the masters have paid off.” (M. Swanger, Live Wired).

December 4, 1999: Willie Chambers with the Croon Dogs

Willie Chambers

The Chambers Brothers produced global smash recordings such as ‘Time Has Come Today”, “People Get Ready”, “Can’t Turn You Loose” and “Love, Peace and Happiness” that welded together rock’s electric energy with musical roots from the Brothers’ native Mississippi into rhythm and blues masterpieces that remain classics today.

Guitarist Willie Chambers continues the tradition, offering up the new selections and old favorites that combine blues, gospel, and psychedelic influences in the style that produced the distinctive Chambers Brothers sound. Willie is still traveling with his family: his son Willie Jr. provides vocal, guitar and percussion support and his nephew Chester covers bass in the quintet.

The Mississippi-born Chambers Brothers were the first act to bring Gospel music to rock venues and coffee houses in the early sixties. Their belief was that people out there needed to hear more about God. Over time, the band began emphasizing how music itself can be a positive force, as a medium to spread a message of love and togetherness. As Willie says, “We try to express ourselves through our music, to state what we feel about life, how to make this world a better place to live in and how to create a better feeling among the people.”

The Chambers Brothers’ first hit, ” Time Has Come Today”, will always be a classic and is in the Music Hall of Fame. The song continues to be heard in films and television shows, including Oliver Stones’ “The Doors” (in which they also appeared) and Spike Lee’s “Crooklyn.” The Chambers Brothers were among the first to simulcast out of San Francisco. They were the first to tour Europe with a light show and they were the first black rock group to be mentioned in the Encyclopedia Britannica. More important, the music of Lester, Joe, Willie and George Chambers is a legacy of friendship and respect. And, ok, it’s danceable too.

THE MIGHTY CROON DOGS

With a richly-deserved reputation as the Central Coast’s premier dance band, the Mighty Croon Dogs are sure to get tails wagging on the Vets Hall dance floor. This 5-piece ensemble selects their tunes with danceability in mind, combining warm harmony singing (that’s where the “Croon” in their name comes from) with talented musicianship (that’s the “Mighty”). And they’re always ready to come unleashed! (the “Dogs,” of course).

“Guitar Wizard” Billy Foppiano formed the band five years ago, when he decided to quit his day-job and earn his living as a musician on the Central Coast. The Mighty Croon Dogs jumped onto the local music scene, quickly becoming known for top-notch performances with a focus on fun. The Dogs are considered the first choice for festival entertainment, and have entertained the crowds at the Paso Robles Wine Festival, the Basil Festival, the Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival, the Morro Bay Harbor Festival, and many more special events.

The Mighty Croon Dogs are recognized as one of the most versatile band in the county, but for this Blues Show they’ve promised to stick to blues and R&B. Says Foppiano, “We’re really excited to open again for Willie Chambers and his band, all a bunch of great players who’ll keep that dance floor packed!” The  Croon Dogs opened for Willie Chambers and Canned Heat at a Pozo concert last year.

Other band members are singer/guitarist/percussionist Buffy Sharon Doran, known for silky-smooth vocals that go straight to the heart; singer/bassist Geert de Lange, whose driving rhythms add a dynamic edge; singer/drummer Denny Carvalho, winner of so many drum competition awards that we’ve lost count; and saxophonist Scott Wright, whose velvet tones are always a crowd-pleaser. You can find out more about the band, or hear audio samples of their recent live performances, on their award-winning website, funlivemusic.com. Catch a sneak preview of their show at SLO Farmers Market Thursday, Dec. 2.

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