Ben Rice and the iLLamatics were the Cascade Blues Association’s
representatives at the 2014 International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN,
where they placed as one of the top nine finalists out of 250 acts from
around the world. Ben, at 25 is a growing force in the NW Blues scene.
Ben Rice brings vintage blues into the modern era from his home town of
roots blues, and west coast blues with
rockabilly, funk, and rock. Ben Rice, as Lloyd Jones put, “gets it.” Along with
their music is an exhilarating stage show featuring, cigar box guitars, resonators,
and lots of crowd interaction. Ben Rice has already been established as a
virtuosic guitar player with a soulful voice. His inventive twists on blues are
creating a buzz up and down the West coast. Winning the 2013 Male Vocalist
and Traditional Act of the Year from the Cascade Blues Association as well as
Performance and Acoustic Guitar of the Year from the West Side Blues Society.
Ben’s last all original CD, “Pour Me Some Whiskey” is being among the best CD
releases from the Northwest.
Kenny Neal, born in New Orleans and raised in Baton Rouge, began playing music
at a young age. Learning the basics from his father, singer and Blues harmonica
master, Raful Neal.
Kenny is known as a
modern swamp-blues master and multi-instrumentalist, that draws musically
from the sizzling sounds of his native Louisiana.
His new release, Hooked On Your Love, follows the triumph of his multi-award
winning 2008 comeback album, Let Life Flow. An outstanding success, the CD
raked in the accolades: three prestigious Album Of The Year awards, two Song of The Year
awards for the title track, and Kenny himself garnered two Artist of the Year honors.
Inland Empire Blues Society winner
BEST BLUES ALBUM
From a beginning in immigrant camps through an early music career as a
teen working bars in Mexico and the US, to becoming one of the most
highly-awarded blues musicians in the Pacific Northwest, Polly O’Keary’s life
in music eventually took her on tours as a bassist for national blues bands,
playing all over the United States and Canada, and a total of four continents.
In 2013, O’Keary assembled
her own trio, Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method, and in one short year, the
band released the album “Compass” to rave reviews from all over the world and
extensive international radio play, and began touring the nation. In 2014,
this album was voted the BEST BLUES ALBUM
in the Northwest Region.
Studebaker John Grimaldi was born in an Italian-American section of Chicago
and started playing harmonica at age 7. Under the spell of music he heard on
Maxwell Street, Chicago’s famed blues melting pot, Grimaldi began performing
as Studebaker John and the Hawks in the ‘70s. The band name referenced the
Studebaker Hawk, a car Grimaldi still owns today, and was also intended as a
tribute to his friend, J.B. Hutto and the Hawks. John began playing guitar
after a life-changing experience of seeing Hound Dog Taylor and the
“…Hound Dog started
playing, hitting notes that sent chills up and down my spine. He was versatile
and powerful and would play rhythm as well as leads. I left there knowing what
I wanted to do. I had to play slide guitar.”
Studebaker John bio...
"My new CD, Old School Rockin’, is rockin’ blues that helps people to forget
their troubles. I’ve tried to incorporate the raw blues sound into songs that
strive to be more contemporary and without musical boundaries. It’s what that
sound turned into in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, when the raw blues heavily
influenced many contemporary artists, and changed the course of popular music.
Old School Rockin’ is for all the people, from the rocking blues crowd to the
purists, and from the young folks just getting into it to those who’ve been
listening all along.”