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 this year’s festival and perhaps music that you’ve never heard before!
Louie Bluie Stage
Grammy-winning blues guitarist and songwriter Alvin “Youngblood” Hart has been praised for carrying on the traditions of country blues and old-time music, as well as fusing these influences with classic rock and soul. In 1998, Hart shared a stage in his native Oakland, Calif., with Howard Armstrong when the elder man was 89 years old. Both were nominated for WC Handy Awards (now known as the Blues Music Awards, presented by the Blues Foundation) in 2000.
Watch Alvin "Youngblood" Hart on YouTube
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, he 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
Kelle Jolly and the Will Boyd Project
Kelle Jolly & The Will Boyd Project bring classic standards to life with their soulful stylings and jazzy grooves. Combining a voice reminiscent of Sarah Vaughn and Oleta Adams with an effervescent stage presence, Kelle is the perfect counterpoint to her husband Will’s cool virtuosity on any of the saxophones he chooses to play. They stay busy, individually as well as together. Kelle is the host of “Jazz Jam” on WUOT 91.9 FM and the co-host with Robert Minter of “What’s Goin’ On” on Community TV. Besides his own Project, Will stays busy playing regularly with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, The Streamliners Swing Orchestra, The BluePrint, and more.
Watch Kelle Jolly and the Will Boyd Project on YouTube
The BluePrint, featuring pianist Keith Brown and a cavalcade of top-notch musicians, is an eclectic band with various influences of musical styles ranging from traditional jazz, modern jazz, soul, funk, rock, and more. Based in Knoxville, the band is known for its energetic performances that inspire combine Jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop, Funk, Rock and anything else that is needed to make the music happen!! We always bring a lot of energy to the stage and aim to push our own musical boundaries while always bringing our audience a performance that is soulful that they can relate and groove to. The musicians in the BluePrint come from a range of various musical backgrounds which allows us to to create a musical sound and experience that is unique to us.
Watch The BluePrint on YouTube:
Y'uns is a goodtime acoustic/electric band that blends jugband music, folk, swing, country, blues, and roots. Individually, Yun’s members Steve Horton, Dan Gammon, have been part of the fertile Knoxville music scene for more years than they like to think about. Together they are Y’uns, a goodtime acoustic band that blends jugband music with elements of folk, swing, country, and blues.
Watch Yun's on YouTube
When one thinks of klezmer music, two things come to mind--Tennessee and a washtub bass. Billing themselves as “the finest in Southern Klezmer,” Tennessee Schmaltz is a band based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Founded in 1995, this five-member group blends traditional Eastern European Jewish dance music with Southern Appalachian folk, country, bluegrass, jazz and classical motifs. Over the last 18 years, they’ve performed at Bonnaroo, on the WDVX Blue Plate Special radio show, at the Rossini Festival, in concerts and events in Knoxville, Atlanta, Toledo, Ann Arbor, Alabama and North Carolina. They’ve opened for Nickel Creek and even performed at a bluegrass festival. The band is comprised of keyboardist Manny Herz, Dan Shapira on accordion, Larry Hoffman on clarinet, Rob Heller on clarinet and washtub bass and Leslie Gengozian on fiddle and vocals.
Watch Tennessee Schmaltz on YouTube
Sounds Like Home Stage
East Tennessee native Steve Gulley (Mountain Heart, Grasstowne, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver) performs with his new bluegrass band, New Pinnacle, which includes members Bryan Turner, Gary Robinson Jr, and Matthew Cruby. They’ll play songs from their new CD, Leaving Crazy Town.
Watch Steve Gulley on YouTube
Pinnacle Mountain Boys Reunion
Led by singer Don Gulley, The Pinnacle Mountain Boys reunites members of the influential bluegrass band’s original line-up from the ‘50s and ‘60s. With his son Steve, Don began performing on the historic Renfro Valley shows in the early 1980s, and, in 1989, he became a regular member of the cast. Don currently performs four weekly shows at Renfro Valley, including their live Sunday morning show, one of the most long-lived radio program in America.
The New River Boys
Starting in the mid 1960s on LaFollette’s WLAF's Tennessee Jamboree, the New River Boys trio of Tommy Phillips, Pitney Seiber and Eugene McGhee literally ran onto the stage for each performance, took to the mics, leapt forward with mountain-made bluegrass music and never looked back. Over the years since, the band has seen many line-up changes—adding bassist Elmer Phillips in the ‘70s, and welcoming banjo journeyman Wade Hill—the band has stayed active due to Tommy Phillips’ drive to perform. In recent years, the band has been further invigorated by the addition of Tommy’s son Brian, an expert banjoist, guitarist, and vocalist, along with bass player Irv Bunch and multi-instrumentalist Jay Lloyd.
New River Boy Tommy Phillips joins Pitney and Larry Seiber for "Nobody's Darlin But Mine"
Cumberland Trail Fiddler’s Showcase
Launched in 1913 and lasting for over a quarter of a century, the LaFollette Old Fiddler’s Convention was perhaps the longest running and largest event of its kind in the Southeast. At its peak, the convention boasted dozens of fiddlers and string bands from Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia, and Tennessee. Due to its popularity among locals, the event’s organizers were often forced to turn away many in the overflow crowd gathered at the old LaFollette High School auditorium. Though the annual event ended in 1940, East Tennessee continues to be home to several pre-WWII fiddle styles and offshoots. The Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail’s Music and History project has worked to document the variety of fiddle music in the region, and will showcase several master fiddlers and styles on stage at the Louie Bluie Music and Arts Festival.
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
Campbell County native Maggie Longmire has long been involved with planning the Louie Bluie Festival. This year, she joins us as a performer with a full band playing songs from her forthcoming new CD.
Watch Maggie Longmire on YouTube
At a time when many acoustic roots bands are reaching a broader audience by electrifying their sounds, Dixieghost is swimming against the tide. After having enjoyed local and regional success from 2008-11 as an electrified folk-rock band, they have retooled as an acoustic 6-piece string band. Gone are the drums and electric guitars. What remains are the original songs and vocal harmonies of Jason Hanna and Justin Nix. To this core has been added veteran acoustic instrumentalists, Will Carter (dobro), Dave Leventhal (banjo) Seth Hopper (fiddle) and Jonathan Keeney (mandolin). The result is a sound that is deeply rooted in traditional folk styles yet is unmistakably original and progressive. Ultimately, it is all about the songs. Hanna and Nix have a rare musical chemistry that can only come from years of writing & singing and playing hundreds of shows together. Their songs feature vocal harmonies reminiscent of the everybodyfields woven in with acoustic instrumental work in the vein of Allison Krauss & Union Station and Blue Highway.
Watch Dixieghost on YouTube