Nick Moss has dedicated himself to mastering the classic Chicago blues sound.  He fully understands the debt he owes his predecessors.  “I’m not trying to take blues to the next level or in another direction,” he says, “I’m just trying to preserve what was handed down to me.  I have a lot of respect for the guys who taught it to me.”  Blues fans around the country gravitate to Nick’s playing because of this stylistic link to the Chicago blues past, but he is no imitator of past performers.  Nick and the Flip Tops invigorate the classic blues sound with a fresh and contemporary approach.

Nick’s blues education began in earnest when he joined the Muddy Waters-styled Legendary Blues Band that featured Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums.  The next blues lesson was with Jimmy Rogers in the mid-’90s.  In the late-’90s, Moss started his own band, the Flip Tops. Their CDs include “First Offense” (1998), “Got a New Plan” (2001), “Count Your Blessings” (2003), and “Sadie Mae” (2005).  The last three have received W. C. Handy award nominations.  Nick says of his recordings, “If people go back and listen to all four of the CDs, they’d see a growth with each disc of more contemporary elements. My first album is straight-up ’50s-style blues, and the next two are a really good mix of blues styles of the ’60s and ’70s. The new one is a clearer picture of what we do live.”

Nick Moss and the Flip Tops perform throughout the country, although their home is Buddy Guy’s Legends and the House of Blues in Chicago, where the Flip Tops were the original “house” band. Nick knows he is doing something special. “I’ve gotten praise from a lot of the old-timers that have seen us play.  They say it’s great to see there’s actually a band from Chicago that actually plays Chicago blues.” As the late, great blues guitarist Jimmy Rogers said, “Nick’s just got it in him.  The blues feeling ain’t nothing you can teach someone.  He’s just got that feeling.”  Visit their website for more information.

Life at the Top was formed in 1998 as a blues and rock band covering a wide range of artists, from Albert Collins to ZZ Top.  They enjoy playing high-energy dance music by such greats as James Brown, Wilson Pickett, and Etta James; and also mellower ballads by the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, and Patsy Cline.  The members of Life at the Top include Karen Wilkins (lead vocals and keyboard), Dudley Dean (guitar and lead vocals), Dan McPherson (bass and vocals), and Ralph Liddle (drums). They have played venues such as the San Luis Blues Society, Mid-State Fair, SLO Brew, SLO Farmers Market, and many private parties. Come dance, sing along, or just kick back and enjoy Life at the Top.


For the last 30 years, Little Charlie and the Nightcats have been dazzling audiences with their creative mixture of West Coast jump and Chicago blues.  The team of guitarist Charlie Baty and harmonicist / vocalist / songwriter Rick Estrin combine technical brilliance with loads of fun.  A Nightcats performance has the audience racing to the dance floor, laughing at the lyrics (with songs like “Money must think I’m dead”), and reveling in the band’s famous theatrics.

Little Charlie and the Nightcats was formed in Sacramento in the 1980s.  They quickly came to the attention of Alligator Records, which has produced six studio albums, a live album, and a greatest hits CD.  Their recent release (“That’s Big!”, 2002) continues their tradition of tongue-in-cheek storytelling in original songs that range from roots-oriented blues to jazz-flavored jump.  “Rick Estrin sings and writes songs like the brightest wise guy in all bluesland and blows harmonica as if he learned at the knee of Little Walter,” raves Down Beat.  Guitar World declares, “Baty’s straight blues playing is eye-popping…he stretches solos to the breaking point, skittering on the edge, where one wrong note will bring the whole thing crashing down.”  Rounding out the Nightcats are Bay area veterans drummer Jay Hansen and bassist Lorenzo Farrell.

“Rollicking, super-cool, jazzy and hip…satirical, sharp lyrics and killer guitar and harp solos. It just doesn’t get any better then this.” – Blues Revue.

“Powerful…outrageous…wonderful….Baty’s immediately recognizable guitar style and Estrin’s uniquely twisted and humorous lyrical vision [make] Little Charlie and the Nightcats one of the most successful proponents of the blues/swing /rock/jazz synthesis so popular today.” – Living Blues.

Life at the Top is a five-piece band comprised of long time Central Coast performers, with musical influences ranging from the legendary Albert Collins to contemporary blues artists such as Debbie Davies and Tommy Castro, as well as crossover performers such as Jimi Hendrix and the Allman Brothers.  The band includes Karen Wilkins on vocals and keyboard, Guitar Slim on guitar and vocals, Dudley Dean on guitar and vocals, Dan McPherson on bass and vocals, and Ralph Liddle on drums.  Their high-energy performance was a hit at the blues show last year, so dancers are urged to be prompt.

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