Alligator Records 50th Anniversary Online Streaming Concert Premieres March 13

Alligator Records 50th Anniversary Online Streaming Concert Premieres March 13

Alligator Records

“Sweet Home Chicago — An Online Blues Celebration” To Feature Blues Stars Billy Branch & The Sons Of Blues, Shemekia Copeland, Lil’ Ed Williams, Toronzo Cannon In Concert At University’s Center For Performing Arts.

Governors State University (GSU) Center for Performing Arts (the Center) will celebrate Chicago blues and Chicago-based Alligator Records’ 50th anniversary by presenting an online streaming video concert starring four of the label’s most popular artists. “Sweet Home Chicago – An Online Blues Celebration” will feature a performance by legendary harmonica player Billy Branch with his all-star band, The Sons Of Blues, with three special guests — Grammy-nominated vocalist Shemekia Copeland, slide guitar master Lil’ Ed Williams and beloved Chicago blues guitarist and songwriter Toronzo Cannon. Alligator Records founder and president Bruce Iglauer will serve as emcee.

The once-in-a-lifetime event will be recorded on the Center’s stage to its empty 1171 seat house. This concert is part of the Center’s 25th anniversary celebration. The show will debut as a ticketed streaming event at 7:00PM Central time on March 13, 2021, and will be available to watch on demand through April 11. The event will stream on the Center’s YouTube channel.

Alligator Records, founded in 1971 by Bruce Iglauer, is home to some of the world’s foremost blues and roots rock talent and is regarded by fans and the media alike as the top contemporary blues record label in the world. From classic Windy City artists like Hound Dog Taylor and “Queen Of The Blues” Koko Taylor, to next generation legends Lil’ Ed Williams and Billy Branch to contemporary stars including Toronzo Cannon and Shemekia Copeland, Alligator’s discography reads like a who’s who in modern blues history. Legendary artists including Lonnie Brooks, Luther Allison, Johnny Winter, Albert Collins, James Cotton, Rick Estrin, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Michael “Iron Man” Burks, The Holmes Brothers, Mavis Staples, Marcia Ball and rising stars Selwyn Birchwood and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram are just some of the blues immortals who have recorded groundbreaking music for the label. Now, at 50 years old, Alligator is still committed to discovering great new talent, proving that the passion, soul and redemptive power of blues and roots music is alive and well.

Blues giant Billy Branch is hailed internationally as one of today’s greatest harmonica players. The New York Times says, “Branch has a warm, open vocal style and a full command of the blues harp, from wailing notes to chugging rhythms.” With his inventive, deeply rooted playing and gritty, soulful vocals, Branch carries on the Chicago blues tradition that he learned first-hand from icons including Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Carey Bell, Willie Dixon and many others. With his instantly recognizable sound and his band, The Sons of Blues, Branch has traveled the world, delivering his signature brand of Chicago blues for over four decades. Branch’s latest album is 2019’s Roots & Branches: The Songs of Little Walter. The album finds Branch and his band boldly reimagining the renowned songs of Little Walter Jacobs. Jacobs was one of the principal architects of the Chicago blues sound and one of the most influential blues harmonica players who ever lived. Living Blues says, “Billy Branch has cemented his place among the kings. Chugging, incessant blues and R&B…greasy, funky, howlin’ harp attack that really burns. Wonderful, bold and surprising.” This concert marks Branch’s third appearance at the Center.

When Shemekia Copeland first broke on the scene with her groundbreaking Alligator Records debut CD Turn the Heat Up in 1998, she instantly became a blues and R&B force to be reckoned with. The Chicago Tribune says, “Shemekia Copeland is the greatest female blues singer working today.” News outlets from The New York Times to CNN have praised Copeland’s talent, larger-than-life personality, dynamic, authoritative voice and true star power. Shemekia has earned three Grammy Award nominations, 12 Blues Music Awards and a host of Living Blues Awards, including being named the 2020 Female Blues Artist of the Year. With her recent albums, Shemekia broadened her musical vision, melding blues with more rootsy, Americana sounds. Her new album, the soulful and uncompromising Uncivil War, tackles the problems of contemporary American life head on, with nuance, understanding, and a demand for change. It also brings Copeland’s fierce, sultry R&B fire to songs more personal than political. NPR’s All Things Considered says, “Copeland embodies the blues with her powerful vocal chops and fearless look at social issues.” No Depression declares, “Copeland pierces your soul. This is how you do it, and nobody does it better than Shemekia Copeland.”

Slide guitar-playing blues master Lil’ Ed Williams, leader of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, comes to the blues naturally. His uncle, Chicago slide guitar king and master songwriter J.B. Hutto, taught him how to feel, not just play the blues. Living Blues says, “Lil’ Ed plays rough and ready blues with unmitigated intensity…swirling, snarling, riveting slide…scorching and soulful, joyous and stomping.” With nine albums and thousands of performances under his belt, Lil’ Ed is now universally hailed as a giant of the genre. The Associated Press says, “Williams fills Chicago’s biggest shoes with more life and heat than anyone on stage today.” With his latest album, 2016’s The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Lil’ Ed continues to bring his blistering Chicago blues to fans new and old. His infectious energy, joyful showmanship and masterful playing have been honed to a razor’s edge. The Chicago Tribune says, “Electrifying, raucous, pure Chicago blues….Lil’ Ed is a guitarist extraordinaire…slashing slide and flamboyant stage persona.”

Upon release of his Alligator Records debut, The Chicago Way in 2016, Toronzo Cannon burst onto the international stage as one of the most electrifying bluesmen to emerge from Chicago in decades. The Chicago Reader said, “Bluesman Toronzo Cannon is one of Chicago’s finest string-bending storytellers.” He has played major cities all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including stops in the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Poland and Japan, delighting and surprising audiences with one unforgettable gig after another. He has played the Chicago Blues Festival on ten separate occasions. UK tastemaker music magazine MOJO named his latest album, 2019’s The Preacher, The Politician Or The Pimp, the #2 Best Blues Album Of 2019. Chicago’s Newcity and Reader both named Cannon among the city’s greatest musicians. Blues Music Magazine says, “Cannon has all the fire and spontaneity of the Chicago legends. His songwriting is a timely and original look at the world, and his assertive voice is the perfect vehicle to deliver the message.”

Throughout its 25-year history, many blues artists have graced the Center for Performing Arts’ stage: Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Eddie Clearwater, Jimmy Burn, Eddie Shaw, Zora Young, Demetria Taylor, Jamiah Rogers, Tail Dragger, Billy Branch, Howard Levy, Sugar Blue, Corky Sigel, Melody Angel, Lurrie Bell, Chicago Ladies Sing the Blues collective, and more.

The seed of “Sweet Home Chicago – An Online Blues Celebration” sprouted pre-COVID at an Andersonville diner in Chicago, when the Center’s Director Lana Rogachevskaya and Iglauer explored how to celebrate their upcoming institutional birthdays and share their passion for the blues with a larger Chicago community. This conversation reemerged in 2020 with an additional goal of employing Chicago artists, while serving blues fans from all over the globe.

Rogachevskaya says, “Blues is a feeling. A musical genre with origins in American slavery and Jim Crow, its continued popularity is in its universal appeal. Communally held and lived through, blues uplifts, nourishes, and sustains the human soul.  Sweet Home Chicago Blues participants will feel the healing power of blues sounds and stories while being together.”

According to Iglauer, “Chicago Blues is the famous musical signature of the city. This exhilarating music — music that grew up on the city’s South and West Sides — has become Chicago’s most vibrant and honored cultural export, reaching a worldwide audience. This concert will be a celebration of the city’s heritage, featuring some of the most talented and exciting blues artists in the world.”

For tickets and more information, click here.

Shemekia Copeland Performs Live Streaming Concert From Lincoln Center On Jan 14

Shemekia Copeland Performs Live Streaming Concert From Lincoln Center On Jan 14

Alligator Records

‘Uncivil War’ Debut Concert Marks Copeland’s First Full Band Performance Since March 2020

Multiple Grammy Award nominee Shemekia Copeland and her band will perform a live streaming video concert from New York’s Jazz At Lincoln Center on Thursday, January 14 at 7:30pm Eastern time, with only a few rebroadcast times to follow. This performance is Copeland’s first full band concert since March 2020, and the first time she will be performing her new songs live.

According to Copeland, “With this new album, I’m trying to put the ‘united’ back in the United States. Like many people, I miss the days when we treated each other better. For me, this country’s all about people with differences coming together to be part of something we all love. That’s what really makes America beautiful.”

The soulful and uncompromising Uncivil War tackles the problems of contemporary American life head on, with nuance, understanding, and a demand for change. It also brings Copeland’s fiercely independent, sultry R&B fire to songs more personal than political.

When Copeland first broke on the scene with her groundbreaking Alligator Records debut CD Turn the Heat Up in 1998, she instantly became a blues and R&B force to be reckoned with.

Shemekia Copeland concert info and tickets
Shemekia Copeland

*Feature image courtesy of Alligator Records

Shemekia Copeland Releases New Album ‘Uncivil War’ on October 23

Shemekia Copeland Releases New Album ‘Uncivil War’ on October 23


Press Release

The soulful and uncompromising Uncivil War tackles the problems of contemporary American life head on, with nuance, understanding, and a demand for change.

Alligator Records is pleased to announce the October 23, 2020 release of Uncivil War, the riveting new album by recently-named 2020 Living Blues Female Artist Of The Year and multi-Grammy Award nominee Shemekia Copeland. Uncivil War builds on the musically and lyrically adventurous territory she’s been exploring for over a decade, blending blues, R&B and Americana into a sound that is now hers alone.

The soulful and uncompromising Uncivil War tackles the problems of contemporary American life head on, with nuance, understanding, and a demand for change. It also brings Copeland’s fiercely independent, sultry R&B fire to songs more personal than political.

Uncivil War—recorded in Nashville with award-winning producer and musician Will Kimbrough at the helm—is a career-defining album for Copeland. Among the most striking songs on the album are the true, torn-from-history story of the last slave ship to reach America, “Clotilda’s On Fire,” and the topical title track, a courageous plea for unity in a time of disunion. With songs addressing gun violence (“Apple Pie And A .45”), civil rights (the Staple Singers-esque message song, “Walk Until I Ride”), lost friends (the Dr. John tribute “Dirty Saint”), bad love (Junior Parker’s “In The Dark”) as well as good (“Love Song,” by her father, legendary bluesman Johnny Clyde Copeland), Uncivil War is far-reaching, soul-searching and timeless. Guests on Uncivil War include Americana superstar Jason Isbell, legendary guitarist Steve Cropper, Grammy-nominated young guitar star Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, rocker Webb Wilder, rock icon Duane Eddy, mandolin wizard Sam Bush, dobro master Jerry Douglas, and The Orphan Brigade providing background vocals.

Of the new album Copeland says:

I’m trying to put the ‘united’ back in the United States. Like many people, I miss the days when we treated each other better. For me, this country’s all about people with differences coming together to be part of something we all love. That’s what really makes America beautiful.

When Shemekia first broke on the scene with her jaw-dropping Alligator Records debut CD Turn The Heat Up, she instantly became a blues and R&B force to be reckoned with. With each subsequent release — Uncivil War is her ninth album — Copeland’s music has evolved. She continues to broaden her musical vision, melding blues with more rootsy, Americana sounds, and singing about the world around her, shining light in dark places with confidence and well-timed humor. Her recordings have won her worldwide acclaim and dozens of awards. Her previous album, America’s Child, featuring a duet with John Prine and accompaniment from Mary Gauthier and Rhiannon Giddens (among others), was named by MOJO magazine as the #1 blues release of 2018. In addition to her three Grammy nominations, Copeland has won a total of 12 Blues Music Awards and more than 20 Living Blues Awards over the course of her career.

Copeland has performed thousands of gigs at clubs, festivals and concert halls all over the world, and has appeared in films, on national television, NPR, and in magazine and newspapers. She’s sung with Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Dr. John, James Cotton and many others. She opened for The Rolling Stones and entertained U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. Jeff Beck calls her “amazing.” Santana says, “She’s incandescent…a diamond.” In 2012, she performed with B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty, Gary Clark, Jr. and others at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. She has performed on PBS’s Austin City Limits and was recently the subject of a six-minute feature on the PBS News Hour. Currently, Copeland can be heard hosting her own popular daily blues radio show on SiriusXM’s Bluesville.

Pre-Order Uncivil War
Shemekia Copeland

*Feature image photo © Marilyn Stringer

Shemekia Copeland Brings Headlines to Life With “Uncivil War”

Shemekia Copeland Brings Headlines to Life With “Uncivil War”


Press Release

For me, this country’s all about people with differences coming together to be part of something we all love. That’s what really makes America beautiful.

Award-winning blues and Americana vocalist Shemekia Copeland releases her timely new song, “Uncivil War“, on Friday, June 19. It is a courageous statement pleading for unity in a time of disunion, and is unlike anything Copeland has previously recorded.

“Uncivil War” takes no sides and speaks to every person’s desire to be safe and free. Featuring iconic mandolin wizard Sam Bush, dobro master Jerry Douglas and background vocals from popular alternative band The Orphan Brigade, the song is simultaneously comforting and challenging, as Copeland sings, “Same old wounds we’ve opened before / Nobody wins an uncivil war.” Shemekia delivers the song with passion and insight about the chaos and uncertainty in the world while still finding light in the darkness and hope for the future.

According to Copeland, “It’s not just a song. I’m trying to put the ‘united’ back in the United States. Like many people, I miss the days when we treated each other better. For me, this country’s all about people with differences coming together to be part of something we all love. That’s what really makes America beautiful.”

Copeland’s instantly recognizable voice is capable of being sultry, assertive and roaring. She is a three-time Grammy nominee with a wide-open vision of contemporary Americana roots, blues and soul music. “Uncivil War” showcases the next step in the evolution of a passionate artist with an up-to-the-minute musical and lyrical approach. The song, written by John Hahn, will be featured on Copeland’s upcoming Alligator Records album.

Copeland’s previous release, America’s Child, cemented her place her as one of blues’ and Americana’s most commanding voices. America’s Child won the Blues Music Award for Album Of The Year, and was named the #1 blues album of 2018 by MOJO magazine. Copeland recently received the 2020 Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Female Artist Of The Year, during a special online ceremony.

“Uncivil War” was written by John Hahn and Will Kimbrough. Video by Josh Lindner/Alligator Records.

Shemekia Copeland

*Feature image © Mike White / Alligator Records

2020 Blues Music Award Winners

2020 Blues Music Award Winners


JD Nash

Here are your winners from the 41st Blues Music Awards. 2020 saw the awards show virtually, but the Blues Foundation, and all involved created a great event

It is a strange time, but like many artists these days the Blues Foundation found a way for the 41st Annual Blues Music Awards to happen virtually.

The event was hosted by Shemekia Copeland, who won 2 BMAs last year (Album of the Year and Contemporary Blues Album). She and the presenters which included Ruthie Foster, William Bell, Beth Hart, Charlie Musselwhite, Warren Haynes, Keb’ Mo’ and Fantastic Negrito all did their parts remotely from their homes.

BMA nominees also contributed exclusive performances recorded in their homes, making this virtual event as close to actually being there as possible. Mixed with “Flashback Moments” of performances past, it was truly a great show.

 

And the 2020 Blues Music Award winners are…

Acoustic Blues Album, Sponsored by Newman, DeCoster
This Guitar and Tonight – Bob Margolin

Acoustic Blues Artist, Sponsored by Folk Alliance International
Doug MacLeod

Doug MacLeod – Photo: Marilyn Stringer

Album of the Year, Sponsored by Rum Boogie Café and Blues Hall
Kingfish – Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, Sponsored by B.B. King’s Blues Club
Sugaray Rayford

Band of the Year
The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling

Historical Album

Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records

Best Emerging Artist Album
Kingfish – Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Blues Rock Album
Masterpiece – Albert Castiglia

Blues Rock Artist, Sponsored by Landmark Band
Eric Gales

Contemporary Blues Album
Kingfish – Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Shemekia Copeland

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Instrumentalist Bass
Michael “Mudcat” Ward

Photo by: suze72

Instrumentalist Drums
Cedric Burnside

Cedric Burnside by Marilyn Stringer

Instrumentalist Guitar
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Instrumentalist Harmonica, Sponsored by Hohner Harmonica
Rick Estrin

Instrumentalist Horn
Vanessa Collier

Instrumentalist Piano (Pinetop Perkins Piano Player)
Victor Wainwright

Instrumentalist Vocals
Mavis Staples

Song of the Year
“Lucky Guy,” written by Nick Moss

Soul Blues Album
Sitting On Top of the Blues – Bobby Rush

Soul Blues Female Artist
Bettye LaVette

Soul Blues Male Artist
Sugaray Rayford

Traditional Blues Album
Lucky Guy! – The Nick Moss Band Featuring Dennis Gruenling

Traditional Blues Female Artist  (Koko Taylor Award)
Sue Foley

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Jimmie Vaughan

The Blues Foundation

41st Blues Music Awards Show Will Go On

41st Blues Music Awards Show Will Go On


Press Release

THE 41st BLUES MUSIC AWARDS SHOW WILL GO ON AS THE FIRST VIRTUAL BMA CEREMONY ON MAY 3, 2020

This year’s Blues Music Awards ceremony will be unlike any of its predecessors. In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, the annual BMA gala will take place online in living rooms around the world instead of onstage in Memphis. The festivities will commence on May 3 at 5 p.m. EDT, 4 p.m. CDT, and 2 p.m. PDT, and will be live-streamed on The Blues Foundation’s Facebook page and co-broadcasted on its YouTube channel . Barbara Newman, Blues Foundation President and CEO states “our goal this year is to create a global community from all corners of the world, coming together to celebrate the music and heal our souls.”

Multi-BMA winning and GRAMMY® Award nominated artist Shemekia Copeland will host the event from her living room and BMA nominees will contribute exclusive performances recorded in their homes. Like prior BMA ceremonies, this online event will also feature announcements of all nominees and award winners, along with some special guest appearances. A full list of 2020 BMA nominees can be found here.

Not only will the BMA show emanate from artists’ living rooms around the world, but it can be enjoyed by fans from their own homes while socially distancing— making this event one big communal party. Preserving, celebrating and promoting the blues are core missions of The Blues Foundation, which marks its milestone 40th anniversary this year. This unique online experience will allow Facebook viewers to share their thoughts and comments with fellow blues enthusiasts watching worldwide as they celebrate blues’ grand night together.

Of special note, the Foundation has created the COVID-19 Blues Musician Emergency Relief Fund to assist full-time professional blues musicians who have lost their income source due to tour and event cancellations into the foreseeable future. 2020 BMA ticket holders are being asked to convert their purchases into donations to be applied directly to the fund. Monies have already been distributed to blues musicians for rent/mortgage, utilities, cell phone bills, car payments and other vital necessities with hopes for continued fund growth to allow The Blues Foundation to help as many blues musicians as possible. Donations may be made directly online here.

The Blues Foundation is a world-renowned Memphis-based organization whose mission is to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, the Foundation has approximately 4,000 individual members and 173 affiliated blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals worldwide. Its signature honors and events — the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame inductions, International Blues Challenge, and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards — make it the international hub of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance for musicians in need, while Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues Scholarships expose new generations to blues music. The Blues Hall of Fame Museum, located in Downtown Memphis, adds the opportunity for blues lovers of all ages to interact with blues music and history. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the global blues community with answers, information, and news.