Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Prodigal Son comes home - Michael Roach House Concert in Falls Church

Sunday July 27 will be a treat for Washington DC blues lovers as Washington native Michael Roach along with harmonica wiz Johnny Mars are being presented by the Tinner Hill Foundation. Mike was one of the folks who founded the DC Blues Society and was its President for several years. Over a decade ago he moved with his wife to England where he has established himself as quite a blues performer as well as an educator. Mike was mentored by the late John Jackson and Jerry Ricks as well as John Cephas and has become quite a marvelous singer, guitarist and songwriter. I will miss the Falls Church show as I will still be at the Pocono Blues Festival where they perform Saturday, June 26. I will likely miss the Kinsey Report to see Mike as his recordings have been so good and I am really looking forward to seeing him after all these years. The picture is from Michael's website and the rest of the test is from the publicity provided by the Tinner Hill Foundation folks.

"You are invited to experience a spectacular evening of the soulful sounds of rhythm and blues with Michael Roach and Johnny Mars in concert to benefit the Tinner Hill John Jackson Blues Festival. Blues singer and guitarist Michael Roach and Blues singer and harmonica player Johnny Mars reside in the United Kingdom and will be making a rare U.S. tour to perform at the Pocono Blues Festival They will perform in Falls Church in a one night, one show invitation only concert at the historic Henderson House and gardens.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C. Michael Roaches’ life has taken him to reside in Cheltenham, England. He has become a beloved performer in Guitar, Blues, Folk, Jazz, World Music and Country Blues Festival across the globe. He has performed in Sweden, France, Ireland, England, Scotland, The Channel Islands, in the Middle East including Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabe, and Qatar. His work has taken him to Bali and Jakarta in Indonesia. He will soon be performing in Spain and Capetown, South Africa. He has performed in the USA at the Chicago Blues Festival and Maryland's Bluebird Blues Festival.

He has taught in workshops in the United Kingdom for the European Blues Association (which he founded with Paul Oliver.), in Galway, Ireland, at the Bergen Music Festival in Bergen, Norway, Centrum Country Blues Week in Port Townsend and the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop in Washington state, and at the Augusta Heritage Festival for Bluesweek in Elkins, West Virginia. He traveled to the USA to interview many Blues elders for the BBC which culminated in his 3 part series called "Deep Blue" for the highly esteemed BBC Radio 4. He created the Federal City Blues Connection with the Washington, D.C government to serve many factions of the community in Washington.

He was the President for over 4 years of the D.C. Blues Society and Festival Director of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Annual DC Blues Festivals. Michael currently performs as a solo performer, as the leader of the Michael Roach Band and as a duo with harmonica master Johnny Mars.

Mr. Roach is an exceptional performer who has developed his own unique rhythm and blues style after many years of learning directly from such well known figures as John Jackson, John Cephas and Jerry Ricks. Come experience the indisputable genius of Michael Roach.

Songwriter, harmonica player and singer Johnny Mars was raised in a sharecropping family. He was given his first harmonica at age nine. His family lived in various places around the South, including North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

When Mars' mother died in 1958, the older family members settled in Florida, while Johnny and his younger brother went to live in New Paltz, N.Y. After he graduated from high school, he played club shows around New York and recorded with his band Burning Bush for Mercury Records.

In the mid-1960s, Mars moved to San Francisco, where he met Dan Kennedy and formed the Johnny Mars Band, playing clubs and festivals in northern California, as well as shows for rock promoter/impresario/producer Bill Graham.However, Mars could not seem to expand his audience much in San Francisco. After hearing about the greener pastures across the pond from his friend Rick Estrin of Little Charlie and the Nightcats, he toured England in 1972. There, he recorded a couple of albums, eventually moving to West London in 1978. Working with producer Ray Fenwick, who also worked with Spencer Davis, Ian Gillan, Mars met with success on the much praised album, Life On Mars.

In 1991, Mars became a featured soloist with the British New Wave pop group Bananarama. The group used him on their singles "Preacher Man," "Megalomaniac," and "Long Train Running," and he appeared in the group's video of "Preacher Man." Through the 1990s, Mars retained his strong European fan base, and he enjoys particularly strong followings in Ireland, Scotland and Scandinavia. Critics there have called him "the Jimi Hendrix of the harmonica." Over the years, Mars has shared bills with Hendrix (before he was well-known) and Magic Sam.

In 1992, after a long absence from the Bay Area blues scene, owing to his new foothold in England and the rest of Europe, Mars was invited to play at the San Francisco Blues Festival. Mars' 1994 U.S. release for MM&K Recordings, Stateside with Johnny Mars, features brilliant, original, topical compositions and superb, unique harmonica playing, unfettered by the standard Chicago blues conventions. ~ Richard Skelly, All Music Guide

These gentlemen will offer breathtaking virtuosity and wide-ranging musical palette in the lovely garden and historic house constructed in 1913. The home was home for over fifty years to civil rights pioneers Dr. Edwin B. and Mary Ellen Henderson.

Don't miss the opportunity to meet Michael Roach and Johnny Mars, connect with fellow blues lovers and help the Tinner Hill John Jackson Blues Festival. If you are unable to attend we can still support the Blues Festival by making a donation.

Event co-hosts:
Trish Byerly, Ed & Nikki Henderson

The Henderson House & Garden
307 S. Maple Ave.
Falls Church, VA. 22046
(703) 534-4627

Date & Time:
Sunday, July 27th
6 PM

Tickets: $25.00 each
The concert includes hors d'oeuvres extraordinaire, luscious desserts, and cool beverages.
A Cash wine bar will be available.

Parking, in the designated parking lot adjacent to the Henderson House.

Please mail checks and/or money order for reservations and donations to:
Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation
P.O. Box 6117
Falls Church, VA. 22040

For more information about Michael visit:
For more information about Johnny Mars visit:
For more information about Tinner Hill visit:

Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. The festival is co-sponsored by Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation and the City of Falls Church.

We warmly welcome your friends. Feel free to forward this e-mail those who may be interested in a wonderful evening of refreshments, music and the opportunity to help the Tinner Hill Blues Festival! Please bear in mind this is an advance invitation event open ONLY to those with reservations/tickets.

Thank you!"

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