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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