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Blues at the Crossroads: The Robert Johnson Centennial Concerts

There’s no denying anyone who digs the Blues will really dig the once-in-a-lifetime experience that is BLUES AT THE CROSSROADS: THE ROBERT JOHNSON CENTENNIAL CONCERTS. The very special tour (set to launch in San Francisco on Jan. 28, 2011) and accompanying studio recording (to be released early 2011) commemorates the 100th Anniversary of legendary bluesman Robert Johnson’s birth with exhilarating collaborations between Big Head Todd & The Monsters, living Bluesman legend David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Hubert Sumlin, and Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm. With Edwards on board, BLUES AT THE CROSSROADS has a direct connection back to the legend, as Edwards was in attendance for Johnson’s last live performance the night Johnson passed away.

“We both wanted to create a blues show that was not just another blues show, but a show that was truly unique,” said Blues at the Crossroads co-producer Ron Hausfeld, who is producing the tour with Ted Kurland Associates’ Jack Randall. “We want people to walk away saying, ‘Wow…that was cool…I’ve never seen anything like it.’”

Before the tour hits the road, BLUES AT THE CROSSROADS musicians meet this fall at Ardent Recording Studios in Memphis to put this epic collaboration to tape. The studio recordings will be released in early 2011 in conjunction with the tour.

BLUES AT THE CROSSROADS picks up the thread of Johnson’s legacy in Mississippi, at the junction of US Highways 61 & 49; the very crossroads where, as legend has it, Robert Johnson’s burning desire pushed him to make his deal with the devil – giving up his soul to write the baddest-ass blues the world had ever heard. One of the most famous Delta blues musicians, Johnson has influenced a broad range of musicians for generations with his songs, vocal phrasing and guitar style – in particular his landmark recordings from 1936-1937 that display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent. Eric Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived” and described Johnson's emotive vocal delivery as "the most powerful cry that I think you can find in the human voice." Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an "Early Influence" in their first induction ceremony in 1986. Johnson's shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 in 1938 have given rise to much legend.

Tour Dates (additional dates to be announced soon)

Date City, State Venue

Jan. 28 San Francisco, CA Regency Ballroom
Jan. 29 Costa Mesa, CA Orange County Performing Arts Center
Jan. 30 San Diego, CA (2 shows) Anthology
Jan. 31 Santa Barbara, CA Campbell Hall / UCSB
Feb. 01 TBA
Feb. 10 Ann Arbor, MI Hill Auditorium / U of M
Feb. 11 Chicago, IL Orchestra Hall
Feb. 12 Kansas City, MO Uptown Theatre
Feb. 13 Meridian, MS Riley Center / MSU
Feb. 16 Chapel Hill, NC Memorial Hall / UNC Chapel Hill
Feb. 17 Washington, DC Strathmore Performing Arts Center
Feb. 18 Boston, MA Berklee School of Music
Feb. 24 Ridgefield, CT The Playhouse
Feb. 25 Princeton, NJ McCarter Theatre
Feb. 26 Blue Bell, PA Montgomery County Community College
Feb. 27 New Bedford, MA Zeiterion Theater
March 4 Milwaukee, WI Potowatomi Casino
March 5 Omaha, NE Holland Performing Arts Center
March 6 Minneapolis, MN Orchestra Hall
March 7 TBA TBA
March 8 Urbana, IL Krannert Center – Tyrone Festival Theatre

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Performers:

Big Head Todd & The Monsters

Colorado rock band Big Head Todd & the Monsters (“Bittersweet,” “Broken Hearted Savior,” “Resignation Superman”) are known for their timeless songwriting, powerful live performances, and unique sound – all reasons the band has garnered a sizable loyal following during their two decades making music. Their landmark album, Sister Sweetly, produced numerous hit songs and went platinum in the United States following its release in 1993. Big Head Todd’s latest release is Rocksteady. The band name is a tribute to legendary blues/jazz "heads" (eg. Eddy Clean-head Vincent, etc). It was actually just a fluke, as they were scheduled to perform their first gig, but had no name. Frontman Todd Park Mohr came up with the name at the spur of the moment and it stuck. For more information: www.bigheadtodd.com

David “Honeyboy” Edwards

At age 95, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, the one-and-only Delta blues guitarist and singer (“Wind Howlin’ Blues,” “The Army Blues”) and his close friend, Pinetop Perkins (age 96), are the oldest Delta blues players still touring the United States. Edwards was born in Shaw, Mississippi, and was a friend to Robert Johnson. He was present on the fateful night when Johnson died. Edwards was named the Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year at the 26th W.C. Handy Blues Awards in 2005 and earned Acoustic Artist of the Year honors in 2007 at The Blues Music Awards. He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on January 31, 2010.For more information: www.davidhoneyboyedwards.com

Hubert Sumlin

Popular American blues guitarist and singer Hubert Sumlin is widely known for his celebrated work from 1955 as guitarist in Howlin' Wolf's band. His singular playing is characterized by "wrenched, shattering bursts of notes, sudden cliff-hanger silences and daring rhythmic suspensions.” Listed as number sixty-five in the Rolling Stone100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, Sumlin, who continues to tour, is cited as a major influence by many artists, including Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Robbie Robertson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. Hubert has cited Robert Johnson as one of his early influences, along with Muddy Waters, Charley Patton and Robert Lockwood. It has been stated that Sumlin's playing was a vital catalyst for the British blues boom by providing a link from the acoustic blues of the Mississippi delta that was more accessible to electric guitarists such as Clapton, Page, Richards and Beck. For more information: www.HubertSumlinBlues.com

Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm

“Together, they combine the punch of old delta blues with funk, hip-hop and rock influences; one can hardly believe that this was actually recorded live in the studio with just two musicians.” – Houston Press on Burnside & Malcolm’s album, 2 Man Wrecking Crew

Drumming great Cedric Burnside, grandson of the legendary R.L. Burnside, son of drummer great Calvin Jackson, grew up at his grandfather's side and began touring at age 13, playing drums for "Big Daddy" on stages around the globe. Cedric has also brought his relentless, highly rhythmic charged style of drumming to performances with Junior Kimbrough, Kenny Brown, North Mississippi Allstars, and Bobby Rush. Bluesman Lightnin’ Malcolm is one of the leading, younger generation artists on the scene today. A reckless live performer, he has lived and breathed music his whole life, traveling and playing in a slashing, rhythmic style, with deep soulful vocals. Malcolm has played over the years with many of the best Mississippi blues artists, such as Cedell Davis, R.L. Burnside, Hubert Sumlin, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Jr. Kimbrough, Big Jack Johnson, Sam Carr and Otha Turner. Skilled on guitar, bass, and drums, Malcolm is an in demand session player with a telepathic sense of how to follow the older archaic styles, and is especially noted for his old-fashioned, church "shout" style on drums. For more information: www.cedricburnsideandlightninmalcolm.com

Phish Fall Tour 2010

Big Head Todd and The Monsters' new album, Rocksteady, hits streets today

Big Head Todd and The Monsters release their brand new studio album, Rocksteady, today (July 20, 2010/Big Records). As the Denver Post reported in a recent feature story, Rocksteady finds the platinum selling artists “centered and rejuvenated” and moving the BHTM legacy forward. The album’s first single, the infectious “Beautiful” has already reached the Top 20 on Triple A radio charts, and it’s still climbing. Check out a video teaser here.

In support of Rocksteady, Big Head Todd and The Monsters hit the road for a sprawling summer tour, including a recent big play at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where they celebrated the 20th anniversary of Midnight Radio by performing the album in its entirety, and a headlining performance at WXPN’s XPoNential Music Festival.

For Rocksteady, Big Head Todd and The Monsters’ eighth studio album, the band draws on a surprising body of influences. The album cuts across a broad swath of stylistic terrain including R&B, reggae and even punk rock. Throughout, the collection’s 11 tracks are funky, lilting, and melodic - all the qualities that have become signature to the band's sound during their 25 years of making music.

“It’s a soul/Caribbean record that rocks,” frontman Todd Park Mohr says. “We almost went out of our way to take all the rock out of it, but it really rocks. It’s the very first album we’ve ever done that’s cohesive. It makes a difference, in terms of this album standing out from our other albums.”

Look for Big Head Todd and The Monsters on tour this summer in support of Rocksteady. Complete list of tourdates is as follows:

Thursday, July 22 Crystal Ballroom Portland OR
Friday, July 23 Moore Theatre Seattle WA
Saturday, July 24 Pavilion Park Liberty Lake WA
Sunday, July 25 Spud Drive In Driggs ID
Wednesday, July 28 WOW Hall Eugene OR
Thursday, July 29 The Fillmore San Francisco CA
Friday, July 30 House of Blues - Sunset Strip West Hollywood CA
Saturday, July 31 Red Rock Resort North Las Vegas NV
Friday, August 6 Wisconsin Valley Fair Wausau WI
Saturday, August 7 Ravinia Festival Highland Park IL
Thursday, August 19 The Vogue Indianapolis IN
Friday, August 20 Preservation Plaza Arnolds Park IA
Saturday, August 21 Fall Park Festival Grounds Sioux Falls SD
Thursday, August 26 Minnesota State Fair St. Paul MN
Friday, August 27 Crossroads Kansas City MO
Saturday, August 28 Southern Brewers Festival Chattanooga TN

Big Head Todd and The Monsters announce New Album and Summer Tour

Big Head Todd and The Monsters release their brand new studio album, Rocksteady, on July 20 on Big Records. In support of Rocksteady, Big Head Todd and The Monsters hit the road for a sprawling summer tour, including a recent big play at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where they celebrated the 20th anniversary of Midnight Radio by performing the album in its entirety.

For Rocksteady, Big Head Todd and The Monsters’ eighth studio album, the band draws on a surprising body of influences. The album cuts across a broad swath of stylistic terrain including R&B, reggae and even punk rock. Throughout, the collection’s 11 tracks are funky, lilting, and melodic - all the qualities that have become signature to the band's sound during their 25 years of making music.

“It’s a soul/Caribbean record that rocks,” frontman Todd Park Mohr says. “We almost went out of our way to take all the rock out of it, but it really rocks. It’s the very first album we’ve ever done that’s cohesive. It makes a difference, in terms of this album standing out from our other albums.”

Look for Big Head Todd and The Monsters on tour this summer in support of Rocksteady.

Complete list of tour dates is as follows:

Friday, June 11 Higher Ground South Burlington VT
Saturday, June 12 Port City Music Hall Portland ME
Friday, July 9 - Saturday, July 10 Belly Up Aspen Aspen CO
Friday, July 16 XPoNential Music Festival Camden NJ
Thursday, July 22 Crystal Ballroom Portland OR
Friday, July 23 Moore Theatre Seattle WA
Saturday, July 24 Pavilion Park Liberty Lake WA
Sunday, July 25 Spud Drive In Driggs ID
Thursday, July 29 The Fillmore San Francisco CA
Friday, July 30 House of Blues - Sunset Strip West Hollywood CA
Saturday, July 31 Red Rock Resort North Las Vegas NV
Friday, August 6 Wisconsin Valley Fair Wausau WI
Saturday, August 7 Ravinia Festival Highland Park IL
Friday, August 20 Preservation Plaza Arnolds Park IA
Saturday, August 21 Fall Park Festival Grounds Sioux Falls SD
Thursday, August 26 Minnesota State Fair St. Paul MN
Friday, August 27 Crossroads Kansas City MO
Saturday, August 28 Southern Brewers Festival Chattanooga TN
Saturday, April 16 Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center St. Cloud MN

Sarah Jarosz's Song Up In Her Head Streets 6/16

Sarah JaroszSeventeen-year-old Texas native Sarah Jarosz emerged on the scene about five years ago as someone to watch.  Jamming onstage with bluegrass icons David Grisman and Ricky Skaggs, she played her mandolin with a sure touch and real joy.  It looked and sounded comfortable in her then twelve-year-old hands.  She started writing songs on the guitar and took up the banjo.  While her instrumental talents are formidable, let's make one thing clear:  Sarah is a singer.  Her voice is velvety smooth, agile, and powerful occasionally reminiscent of such disparate artists as Natalie Maines and Patty Griffin.  With subtle use of colors and effects, she inhabits her songs the way a fine actress does her role. Overall, her music feels good, avoids overreaching. Nothing's contrived.

About to graduate from high school this spring, Sarah is that rare self-possessed teenager. Her schoolteacher parents have raised her well, providing the skills, support, and freedom to become the confident artist that she is. Beautiful, talented, and just a little mysterious in a wholesome, Texas hill country kinda way, Sarah is at home in this world. She knows what she's about and is ready to get out there and make her mark.

"Song Up In Her Head," produced by Jarosz and award-winning engineer and producer Gary Paczosa, features a mix of her original new-old-timey ballads, and two well chosen covers, the Decemberists' "Shankill Butchers" and the Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan co-write, "Come On Up To The House," which mesh flawlessly with the other eleven songs.  Her collaborators include teenaged peers, including Samson Grisman and Alex Hargreaves, as well as well-known veterans of the acoustic scene, including Chris Thile, Darrell Scott, Stuart Duncan, Mike Marshall and Jerry Douglas.  It's an impressive coming out party, a survey of where she's been so far, and a good indicator of where she's headed.  [Adapted from the liner notes by Tim O'Brien]

SARAH JAROSZ TOUR DATES 2009 

April 18th Old Settler's Music Festival, Austin, TX
June 6th Pagosa Folk 'n Bluegrass Music Festival, Pagosa Springs, CO
June 11th Blue Rock Studios < CD Release Party >, Wimberly, TX
July 18th Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Wimberly, TX
July 26th Rocky Grass, Lyons, CO

Good Time on Stage Shows Head East Slowing Down No Time Fast

Just looking at them, the five members making up the current line up of 1970's band Head East may look like a bunch of older guys with long hair and guitars. Get them plugged in and playing though, and they give a performance just as impressive and rocking as ever before.