Monday, May 22, 2017

Tinner Hill Blues Festival Brings The Blues Back to Falls Church

Beverly Guitar Watkins at the 2013 Tinner Hill Blues Festival
The weekend of Friday June 9 through Sunday June 11, the City of Falls Church will host the 24th Annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival. Produced by the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation in conjunction with the City, the Fesival will feature such performers as Mud Morganfield, The Nighthawks, Beverly ‘Guitar’ Watkins and more. There are both free and ticketed events throiughout the Little City in Northern Virginia.

Blues on Broad 

The Festival opens Friday with the opening event, Blues on Broad, at the Mad Fox Brewing Company at 440 W Broad Street with their craft beers, a live band and terrific food. This runs from 5 to 8 PM and there will be an admission. After 8PM, blues continues at various locations in Falls Church. The full list of bands and venues will be polsted on the Tinner Hill website and the Festival’s Facebook page.

Concert in the Park

Saturday, the Blues moves to Cherry Hill Park, 223 Little Falls Street. In the morning there will be blues performers at the City’s weekly Farmer’s Market along with the showing of Blues Films, a workshop-presentation, and kids programs including an instrument petting zoo. There is an admission charge for the Saturday concert and tickets can be purchased ahead at time per the Facebook page or website. After the concert there will be a Blues Crawl at various venues. Also, the Festival wristband will allow one to the 50% off admission to JV’s Restaurant.

Linwood Taylor


Concert in the Park starts at 1PM (doors open at noon) with the music of Linwood Taylor (shown performing in the video above), a mainstay in the DC blues scene for more than three decades. Living Blues called Linwood “…one of finest contemporary blues guitar on the road today.” His style reflects influences of true guitar icons like Muddy Waters, Albert King, ALbert Collins and Jimi Hendrix. Linwood has played an in-demand guitarist who has played across the U.S. and Europe. His touring credits include legends Lonnie Mack, Albert Collins, and Joe Louis Walker. His two-year stint with Walker included performing with him on the 2010 Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise and is on recordings from this cruise. On the local scene, he’s been awarded several WAMMIES for “Best Blues Band.”

Kareem “Lil’ Maceo” Walkes

Linwood will be followed by saxophonist Kareem “Lil’ Maceo” Walkes (performing above) with special guest, Slam Allen. Walkes, a newcomer to the DC area, is one of its most thrilling and emotive performers of funk, soul, and blues. Pushing boundaries as a composer, performer, and recording artist, his playing, though inspired by Maceo Parker, Candy Dulfer, and others, displays his own fresh ideas and distinctive tone. A native New Yorker, Walkes has been breathing powerful, soulful, raw energy into his saxophone since the age of 18.  He has performed and toured with numerous artists including Cyril Neville, Maceo Parker, Papa J & Mo Soul, Grant Green Jr., Frank Viele & The Manhattan Project, blues legend Moe Holmes, Grammy Award winner John Mayer, music icon Cyndi Lauper, and New York Blues Hall of Famer, Slam Allen. Walkes’ 4th album, “His Name Is Kareem” was released in April. He has also written and produced for R&B recording artist, Rhoda.

Kareem Walkes with Slam Allen at the 2016 Pennsylvania Blues Festival
Appearing with Walkes will be Slam Allen who is taking off his own busy schedule to join Walkes. The two have played multiple events together including the 2016 Pennsylvania and D.C. Blues Festivals. Allen is one of the most dynamic and original blues and soul artists on the scene today. More than just a singer, writer, and guitar player, Allen connects with his audience like entertainers from a bygone era. Think Otis Redding, and B.B., Albert, and Freddie King, with a blend of Wilson Picket, James Brown, Sly Stone and a little George Benson and Jimi Hendrix thrown in to make a unique musical experience. He spent nine years as the lead singer, lead guitarist, and band leader for James Cotton and is also credited with writing and singing on Cotton’s 2011 Grammy-nominated album, “Giant. ” As a solo performer, he is the recipient of the prestigious Master Blues Artist award from the New York Blues Hall of Fame. He was also a 2016 Blues Music Award nominee. With seven original albums under his belt, Slam Allen is dedicated to forging his own legacy in the Blues and Soul world.

Beverly "Guitar’ Watkins

Beverly "Guitar’ Watkins (seen performing above) is next and describes her blues,“My style is real Lightnin’ Hopkins lowdown blues. I call it hard classic blues, stompin’ blues, railroad smokin’ blues.” If you’ve never seen a blues lady who can play guitar behind her head, belt out powerful songs and lay down James Brown steps, you’ve never been in the audience when Beverly “Guitar” Watkins was burning down the house. As a teen, she teamed up with the legendary Piano Red and for the next six decades, she has rocked venues with the best of them. Through the years, Watkins has stolen the hearts and blown the minds of audiences across the U.S., Europe, and Australia. And, she is not about to give up her striding, acrobatic style just because she’s marched past 70. Beverly Guitar means business! This Georgia Music Legend Award Winner has worked with James Brown, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Taj Mahal, and played on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. She also had a residency at Underground Atlanta, an Atlanta nightclub. Beverly Watkins is also on the cover of the current Living Blues with her story told there. This is her second appearance at a Tinner Hill Blues Festival and we’re delighted to welcome her back!

Tas Cru & His Band of Tortured Souls

Tas Cru & His Band of Tortured Souls (seen performing above) brings to the stage one of the new original and unique voices in the blues today. Raucous, rowdy, gentle, sweet, eccentric, quirky, and outright irreverent are all words that fittingly describe Tas Cru’s songs and testify to his reputation as a one of the most unique of bluesmen plying his trade today. As Downbeat magazine notes, “His songs are blues poetry - crafted with rare verbal flair and his ability to cast a memorable hook is magical!” Bruce Iglauer, founder and president of Alligator Records calls Cru “a rare, real writer.”  Live, these songs are performed with power and passion as observed by Living Blues magazine: “The vivacity and sheer joy with which Cru plays is intoxicating!” His most recent new album, “Simmered and Stewed,” released in 2016 on VizzTone Records is receiving wide acclaim and extensive worldwide airplay.  It’s a worthy follow-up to Cru’s 2015 album, You Keep the Money, the hottest debuting blues album of that year, which spent a year residing at or near the very top of every major blues chart.  He has also recorded five othger albums of original songs.

Based out of upstate New York, Cru performs in a variety of formats ranging from solo acoustic to a 7-piece backing band. He’s appeared at a number of festivals and major blues venues throughout the US and Canada. Cru explored and developed his talent by taking up with a rougher crowd of older, self-taught musicians where he was introduced to the songs of the Sun Records legends.  His first foray into the blues came after leaving the US Navy when he was asked to join a band formed by a former shipmate and bluesman, Delray Streeter, whose repertoire tended toward the older and much rawer country blues.  This schooling in country blues later served Cru well and is infused into his original songs.

The Nighthawks

The Nighthawks (Seen performing above) then will come up for a full set before they back Mud Morganfield for his closing set. Just four years after its formation, The Nighthawks began a friendship and musical association with the great Muddy Waters. Initially, Mark Wenner contacted Muddy’s manager, Scott Cameron, and persuaded him to provide Wenner with Muddy’s schedule. Wenner contacted numerous venues and offered to open the shows. The first one was a weekend at The Pier in Raleigh, NC and Muddy invited all four ‘Hawks to join in a multi-song jam. After that incredible engagement, there were week long stints at The Cellar Door in Washington, DC as well as shows at Painters Mill, MD, Emerald City in Cherry Hill, NJ and the Bucks County Blues Society in PA. In 1978, Muddy recommended the band to Wise Fools, a club in Chicago, and when The Nighthawks arrived, the place was abuzz with the news that Muddy made reservations for himself and his young wife, Sunshine. In 1979, The Nighthawks album for Adelphi, “Jacks and Kings” featured Pinetop perkins and Bob Margolin from Muddy’s Band. In 1980, the Nighthawks, now represented by Rosebud, Muddy’s booking agency, opened shows for him from Seattle to San Diego on its first west coast tour. The night Muddy died, the band was on stage with John Hammond, Billy Joel, and Toru Oki playing Got my Mojo Workin’ at the Bottom Line in New York City.

When The Nighthawks first heard Mud Morganfield (seen performing above) on his Severn recording, For Pops, they were totally blown away. Given a chance to back Mud in North Carolina, the band found itself in an amazing situation. Mud’s look, voice, gestures - his entire aura - channeled his famous father. After a number of shows, including the January 2017 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise with Mud, The Nighthawks are excited to have a hometown show with him at the Tinner Hill Blues Festival. Baltimore’s Steve Kraemer will join the show on piano to give the band that real Chicago sound.

Mud Morganfield

Closing the Concert Cherry Hill park will be Muddy Waters’ first born son, Larry “Mud” Morganfield (born 1954). Mud was raised by his mother and often heard the nicknames of “Muddy”, “Muddy Jr.” and “Little Muddy,” but prefers Mud Morganfield and it is fitting.  It’s uncanny how much he looks and sounds like his dad. Growing up, Mud rarely saw his famous father, “he was always on the road working” but, as he notes, the old man was always there for him. “I always have played music. Pops used to buy me a set of drums every Christmas. I started off as a drummer and gradually went to playing bass…” Only recently has Mud stepped forward to embrace his musical gifts—a big voice that can only be compared to his daddy’s.

Mud is now ready to honor his Pops and his music. “I started to sing to show the world that Dad left me here. I love and am proud to sing his songs just like I love and will always be proud of him. I’m not Muddy Waters and I’m certainly not trying to be Muddy Waters. I’m Mud Morganfield. But when I’m up on stage I always feel Pops is there with me and it means so much that I can get on stage and keep his music alive around the world.” Mud’s award-winning album, “Son of the Seventh Son”, was launched on Severn Records in 2012 and was nominated in the Best Album and the Traditional Blues Male Artist Album categories of the 2013 Blues Foundation Blues Music Awards. In 2014, Mud’s collaboration with Kim Wilson, the album “For Pops,” attracted more critical acclaim and awards.

Sunday Gospel Blues Picnic

The Festival concludes Sunday, Juen 11, with the free Old Fashion Gospel Blues Picnic. This takes place at the Tinner Hill Historic Site at 116 Tinner Hill St. Performing will be The Carter Singers and The Barbour Travelers. There will be free lemonade and sweet tea available along with food for sale.

For more information visit or the Facebook page,–370763756356394/.

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