LOUIE BLUIE FESTIVAL PERFORMERS
The festival seeks to highlight East Tennessee's great variety of music — something Howard Armstrong not only appreciated but fully embraced. He could often be heard singing German drinking songs in a bar right alongside jazz songs or old-time string music. We hope you will hear both music you know and love at the festival and perhaps music that you’ve never heard before!
Howard Armstrong Legacy Trio featuring Ralphe Armstrong
Like his father, Ralphe Armstrong is an astonishing musical powerhouse. Simply one of the finest bassists in the United States, Ralphe began performing with his father, Howard, by age 5. By age 13 he played with Smokey Robinson and the Miracles; by 16 he affiliated with Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa (which continued for many years). The original bassist in the Mahavishnu Orchestra with John MacLaughlin, Ralphe still plays with Aretha Franklin and James Carter.
Ray Kamalay covers the rhythm on guitar. He is a long-time professional musician who has shared the stage with many great performers, including Mark O’Connor, Doc Watson, Jethro Burns, Steve Goodman, Joel Mabus and Holly Near. Ray began performing with Howard and Ralphe in 1988 when the three of them formed the Howard Armstrong Trio.
John Reynolds is an old-time music whiz in violin, mandolin, and trombone. Early on, as an ethnomusicology student at Kent State University, John was influenced by a number of traditional music masters including our own Howard Armstrong, whom John knew and performed with for decades; the Cleveland gypsy violinist Ernie King, with whom John was awarded an Ohio Arts Council apprenticeship, and Bluegrass master fiddler Ray Sponaugle.
Watch the Trio in action on YouTube
Folk musicians and storytellers Sparky and Rhonda Rucker return to Louie Bluie, continuing the tradition of combining music, tall tales and history into an enthralling performance for all ages. Their repertoire includes old-time blues, slave songs, Appalachian music, spirituals, ballads, work songs, Civil War music, railroad songs, and a few of their own original compositions. During their 40-plus years of performing, Sparky and Rhonda have appeared at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as well as NPR's On Point, Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, and Morning Edition.
View YouTube clips of Sparky and Rhonda Rucker
With a musical lineage that goes back three generations, it's no surprise that EmiSunshine is a natural performer. A native of Madisonville, Tennessee, Emi began singing as early as she began talking and it was quite evident that this was her calling. At age 4, Emi began creating songs with her mother and performed publicly for the first time at a family wedding. By 6 she had her own little band and took first place in a local talent contest. Continuing with her writing and picking up the ukelele EmiSunshine has continued to evolve into a singer/songwriter with an album full of original music. Emi has an old soul and clings to her favorite music like a worn, tattered blanket for comfort. June Carter, Julie Miller, Emmylou Harris and Dolly tunes spill from her room when she is playing with dolls and trinkets or painting her whimsical characters. Buddy Miller, Mike Farris, Jim Lauderdale and Marty Stuart can be heard at high volumes when she is working. Pen and paper in hand she heads to her mom when she starts writing, together they, along with her band (father Randall, brother John, Tennessee Bob and Mississippi Willie ) bring Emi's music to fruition.
Watch EmiSunshine on YouTube
Knox County Jug Stompers are East Tennessee’s go-to band for the authentic old-time, jug band experience. These three-time winners of the International Biscuit Festival Songwriting Competition are favorites at numerous area venues and festivals, including The Knoxville Stomp, May 5-8.
Watch Knox County Jug Stompers on YouTube