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!
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
Trumpeter, arranger, composer and Knoxville Jazz Orchestra founder Vance Thompson heads up this fresh contemporary jazz combo.
Watch Marble City 5 on YouTube
Mason T. Capps plays mandolin and writes most of their instrumentals. His bluesy, innovative and hard-driving style has amassed comparisons to some of the top performers in bluegrass music. He is also an accomplished guitar and bass player. Carl Capps, Mason's dad, plays guitar, sings and writes many of their vocal numbers, which have been very popular for many years. Since the early ‘70s, he has played banjo and guitar for several Bluegrass and Gospel groups in the region. They have recorded two compact discs, both of which contain original songs by Mason T. and Carl. From 2010 is 'Cold Kentucky Ground' with the true-life title track written by Carl. Their latest disc, recorded in November 2013, features the amazing title track “LaFollette Blues” written by Mason T. Capps.
Watch Mason T. & Carl Capps on YouTube
Jeff Orr & Vic Graves
Mountain born and farm-raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Carolina, Jeff Orr first began writing at an early age upon the loss of his mother. Soon after high school, he landed a recording deal with Chory records and later GBS. Somewhat disillusioned by the course of his career, he left town as his first single for GBS reached the charts. He later wrote, recorded and performed with Paul Williams and then Trey Hensley. Orr's songs have been recorded by Springfield Exit, Linda Lay, Rob Nichols, Trey Hensley, Paul Williams, Larry Sparks, and many others. Tom T. and Dixie Hall have been Jeffs' publishers through Good Home Grown Music for years, and he is the sole artist on their Blue Circle Country label.
Dobro player Vic Graves, of Speedwell, has performed frequently with Steve Gulley and was featured on the 2013 release God Didn't Choose Sides, Vol. 1: Civil War True Stories About Real People.
Watch Jeff and Vic videos
- Jeff Orr performs "A John Deere Tractor" with Wildwood Rhythm (Vic Graves on dobro) on Song of the Mountains (on YouTube)
- Jeff and Vic perform "Finger-Lickin' Chicken" (on Facebook)
Community Choir of Campbell County
The Campbell County Community Choir first performed at the 2010 LaFollette High School reunion. Since then, the choir has grown to approximately 35 members representing seven different Christian denominations. The group, which has Tuesday night rehearsals open to all potential members, has performed at several holiday community events including the Christmas Cantata at the LaFollette United Methodist Church and the National Day of Prayer at Dr. Lee J. Sergeant Park.
Kukuly & the Gypsy Fuego
Knoxville-based Kukuly and the Gypsy Fuego get audiences dancing with Gypsy and American swing jazz with a French twist. The band’s repertoire and original material is naturally influenced by Kukuly's Hispanic roots; Latin standards like Argentine tangos and Brazilian bossa novas frequent their live sets. Playing everything from Django Reinhardt through Les Paul and Antonio Carlos Jobim, Kukuly and the Gypsy Fuego play jazz that knows no border, epitomizing Howard Armstrong’s facility and passion for world music.
New Harvest was formed in 1988 in LaFollette by Steve Bruce, Greg Marlow and Warren Marlow. Bob Powell joined the band in 1992. New Harvest plays bluegrass gospel music and has travelled the Eastern United States playing churches and festivals for the past 20-plus years. New Harvest's main objective is spreading the Good News of the Gospel with a high energy, toe tapping, positive brand of music that will warm the heart. New Harvest is a blend of traditional and contemporary bluegrass with a focus on strong harmony vocals and solid hard driving music.
Watch New Harvest on YouTube
The Beech Fork Boys
The Beech Fork Boys are an up and coming Bluegrass/Bluegrass Gospel band including members John Byrge on banjo, Travis Wright on guitar, Clint Carroll on mandolin and Luke Marlow on bass.
Watch the Beech Fork Boys on YouTube
Wild Blue Yonder
Wild Blue Yonder is an all-acoustic ensemble of guitar, mandolin, banjo, twin fiddles, upright bass and three-part harmony vocals. All stellar musicians, they are strong on originality while maintaining a respect for the best in bluegrass traditions. The Knoxville-based band founded by Melissa Wade and Philip Coward has been together since 2001, performing in East Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Mississippi. Their first release, "Bolt Out Of The Blue," featured the infamous novelty tune, "The Possum Crawls Tonight," a backwoods spin on "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." This deliciously clever song gained the group extensive airplay, including several weeks as most requested song on country music station WIVK FM.