Maurice John Vaugan Band
Maurice John Vaughn is a true blues original. A triple threat on guitar, saxophone and vocals, Vaughn writes powerful, innovative and often humorous songs that spring directly from his vast musical experience. His soulful and passionate vocals are convincing because they are earned — Vaughn means what he sings. Coming out of the streets of Chicago, Vaughn was raised on Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, black Top 40 and James Brown. Like the greats who have come before him, he has incorporated his various influences into a blues and R&B style that is completely his own. Vaughn’s most recent recording, In the Shadow of the City, is a collection of mostly original songs covering all the emotional bases. From the good-time fun of Can’t Nobody to the soul searching of Suicide Is Not the Way, Maurice displays his singular musical vision. He moves effortlessly from the full funk of (Everything I Do) Got to Be Funky to solo acoustic blues on Treat Me So Bad. According to Vaughn, it’s important to mix things up musically and stylistically. “I don’t want to be known as a ‘heavy,'” Vaughn says, “but rather as someone who understands pain, can deal with it, and can also have a good time.” His goal is to inspire his audience to do the same. In the Shadow of the City showcases everything Maurice does best: sharp, original songs; soulful vocals; cutting-edge lead guitar and swinging saxophone. Vaughn, now 43, began his musical career while attending Juliet Low grade school on Chicago’s South Side, playing drums, guitar and clarinet in the school band. He moved on to playing in various Top 40 cover bands. In 1968, he concentrated on the saxophone in order to join a local jazz trio. “They wanted a sax player, and I wanted to be in the band,” Vaughn recalls. He made his very first recording with an R&B group called the Chosen Few for Chi-Sound records in 1976. But soon after that the saxophone jobs were drying up, so Vaughn turned his attention to his guitar. Echoes of Albert King, Albert Collins, John Lee Hooker and B.B. King can be heard in Vaughn’s unique guitar style. In 1979, Vaughn entered the blues world after Phil Guy — brother of legendary guitarist Buddy Guy and a guitarist and bandleader in his own right — sat in with Vaughn’s soul band which was playing behind Professor Eddie Lusk. After the gig, Guy invited Vaughn and band to join him for an upcoming Canadian tour. Soon Vaughn was playing with the top Chicago blues talents: Luther Allison, Son Seals (with whom he toured Europe) and A.C. Reed (whose Alligator recording, I’m In The Wrong Business!, features Vaughn on guitar). Maurice’s musical vision and self-guided career helped land him with Alligator Records. In 1986, Maurice played, produced, recorded and financed his own solo album. He was, as he says, “tired of waiting in line for producers to call,” so he formed his own Reecy label, and released Generic Blues Album. On the strength of this recording, Alligator president Bruce Iglauer invited Vaughn into the studio to cut a track for The New Bluebloods compilation album. Alligator then worked out a distribution deal for Generic Blues Album with Maurice, reissuing the album with an additional track. Guitar World declared, “Blues album of the year!” As well as writing up-to-the-minute urban blues songs, Vaughn loves to perform. A typical Vaughn show involves a close rapport with the audience. His style is comfortable and inclusive. He’ll talk to the audience as if they were all sitting in his living room. “You won’t just see me stand there with my guitar,” Vaughn says. One way he has learned to keep his live show fast paced and always fun is by playing for kids. Vaughn often plays in schools for children who have never heard blues music. He’ll update Sonny Boy Williamson’s Help Me to include lyrics about homework. “Kids have short attention spans, so I need to keep things fun and exciting or I’ll lose them. I always keep this in mind when I’m performing in clubs.” Vaughn loves to travel and is constantly updating his sound and style. His abundant talent and experience place him at the forefront of the contemporary blues world. His innovative songs, passionate singing, blistering guitar playing and romping saxophone mark his music as visionary work from a true blues original.
Shirley Johnson like so many African-American vocalists, Shirley Johnson started out singing in church and then went on to embrace secular music. The Chicago resident, whose influences range from Mahalia Jackson to Koko Taylor, Etta James, and Ruth Brown, is a gritty, big-voiced blues singer who can also handle soul and gospel. Although Johnson has spent much of her adult life in Chicago, the Windy City is not her hometown; she was born in Franklin, VA, on June 7, 1949, and raised in Norfolk, VA. Johnson came from a very religious family and she was only six when she started singing gospel in a church choir. Johnson’s family didn’t think much of either the blues or R&B, which are considered sinful in some of the stricter, more fundamentalist Christian churches. Nonetheless, she managed to hear the blues as a little girl and fell in love with secular black music; despite her parents’ disdain for the blues and R&B, she developed a healthy appreciation of Brown, James, and Taylor, as well as male bluesmen like B.B. King, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Little Milton, and the late Z.Z. Hill. None of those artists have been blues purists and James, in fact, is primarily a soul singer who often detours into the blues and listening to them obviously taught her that the blues and classic soul often go hand in hand. When Johnson reached adulthood in the late ’70s, she was free to pursue a career in secular music, so she made her presence felt in Norfolk’s blues and R&B circles and went on to become an opening act for Aretha Franklin, Jerry Butler, Z.Z. Hill, and other well-known artists who were passing through town. In the early ’80s, she recorded some singles for two regional labels in Virginia and those recordings caught the attention of a man who was planning to start a label in Chicago. The aspiring record man expressed interest in recording Johnson and sent her a plane ticket to Chicago, but when she arrived in the Windy City she learned he didn’t have enough money to pay for a session. Nonetheless, she decided to remain in Chicago and became active on the city’s blues circuit, where she has performed both blues and soul. The people she worked with in Chicago included Little Johnny Christian, Artie “Blues Boy” White, and keyboardist Eddie Lusk (who took Johnson on the road with him on international tours). In the ’90s, Johnson made some recordings for the Appaloosa label, including her 1996 album Looking for Love. Then, in the early 2000s, she signed with the Chicago-based Delmark, which released Killer Diller in May 2002, following it up with Blues Attack in 2009.
The Soul Shine Blues Band
The Soul Shine Blues Band featuring Dave Phillips (Guitar, Vocals), Otto Mercer (Guitar), Rusty Campbell (Drums), Pete Hill (Bass) and Jay Albright (Harmonica). Dave, Otto, Rusty, and Jay have all been part of the Findlay area music scene for decades. Dave has played in a several bands to include The Night Watchmen in the 1960’s. He has studied classical guitar and music composition with some of the greats. Dave currently teaches traditional finger style blues, classical guitar, voice, and bass guitar. Otto and Rusty, both seasoned musicians, have performed in many bands to include Thick & Thin, Slick Black Cadillac, Mr. Frumbles Pickle Car, The Paul Sanders Band, and the Rock Crushers, to name just a few. Otto currently plays with Jay Albright in the Midnight Riders, and Smokehouse Express. Pete Hill of Johnny Reed & the House Rockers is the youngest member of The Soul Shine Blues Band.
The Soul Shine Blues Band will perform traditional blues, drawing on influences like Lead Belly (Huddie William Ledbetter), Reverend Gary Davis, along with the Chicago blues of Howlin’ Wolf, and John Lee Hooker. Sort of a musical journey though the history of the blues.
Bud Mowery & The All Star Blues Band
Bud Mowery & The All Star’s will complete the line-up at this year’s Soul Shine Blues Festival. Bud Mowery (Guitar) together with Glenn Roddy (Vocals), John Whitlow (Keyboards), Steve Wilson (Harmonica), Dave McNary (Bass), and Gary Burns (Drums) formed this band specifically for Soul Shine, and welcome the opportunity to play an all blues show.
Bud along with the All Stars have decades of experience, playing in local bands such as Brazin Bull, Xpando Band, Mars, Free Wild, Anthem, and The Mongrels. The one thing they all share in common is their love for the blues. Bud like a lot of aspiring young musicians that grew up in the 60’s and 70’s were introduced to the blues via Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page to mention just a few. Bud Mowery & The Blues All Stars will be a welcome addition to Soul Shine playing everything from BB King and Muddy Waters to more contemporary artist like Rory Gallagher and Joe Bonamassa.