W.C. Handy All Stars Tour Brings Blues Legends to Five East Coast Cities

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. The W.C. Handy All Stars Tour will bring six blues legends to a single stage in four East Coast cities including New York from November 8 to 12, 2000. The bill features legends Little Milton, Johnnie Johnson, Charlie Musselwhite, Duke Robillard, Joe Louis Walker and Trudy Lynn. All participants are nominees or winners of the W.C Handy Blues Awards, the annual blues/soul awards show presented in Memphis by The Blues Foundation.

The W.C. Handy All Stars Tour is the first of many planned packages carrying this title which will celebrate the vitality of the blues scene by showcasing the artists who have been chosen by their peers and fans as the best in their genre.

Dates for the W.C. Handy All Stars Tour are as follows: November 8, Garde Arts Center, New London, Conn.; November 9, B.B. Kings Blues Club, New York, N.Y.; November 10, The Community Theater, Morristown, NJ.; and November 12, Trumps Casino, Atlantic City, N.J. (Note: Joe Louis Walker will not appear on the New York show.)

The W.C. Handy All Stars Tour features six greats of the blues:

  • Johnnie Johnson, while a perennial W.C. Handy Blues Award nominee, has never actually won the award. Johnnie's claim to fame is even stronger though having been one of the prime architects of rocknroll as Chuck Berrys “partner in crime" from early on. The world famous “Johnnie B. Goode" was written by Chuck Berry as a tribute to his collaborator, the man behind the piano. Johnnie has since been brought into the spotlight by the artists his work has influenced, performing and recording with the likes of Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker and Ry Cooder and even touring as a member of Bob Weirs Ratdog. Johnnie will be honored with The Rhythm & Blues Foundations Pioneer Award on September 6, 2000.

  • Little Milton, a 2000 Grammy nominee, is a three-time W. C. Handy Blues Award winner for “Best Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year" from the years 1995, 1996 and 1998. In the 60s he scored several hits in the Top 10 of the national R&B charts including the #1 “Who's Cheating Who?" plus “Grits Aint Groceries," “If Walls Could Talk," “Were Gonna Make It," and, more recently, “The Blues Is Alright." Now signed to Malaco Records, his latest album is Welcome To Little Milton, on which Milton duets with such artists as Susan Tedeschi, Govt Mule, Keb Mo, Lucinda Williams and Delbert McClinton.

  • Charlie Musselwhite is a nine-time W. C. Handy Blues Award winner, having won for “Best Harmonica Player" eight times since 1990 including this year. He also won in 1995 for “Best Blues Band" of the Year and his last two releases have received Grammy nominations. Charlie has also been featured on Saturday Night Live, Late Night with David Letterman, CBS This Morning, and Live from the House of Blues. Musselwhite's latest album is Continental Drifter on pointblank/Virgin, and continues Charlie's exploration of the boundaries of blues by collaborating with Cuban legend Eliades Ochoa on several tracks. According to Rolling Stone, “Musselwhite and his tight band set the standard for blues bands everywhere." Among his many guest appearances on other artists CDs, he appears on four tracks on Tom Waits 2000 Grammy Award winning CD, Mule Variations.

  • Duke Robillard was coronated “Blues Guitarist of the Year" in the 2000 Handys. Dukes band -- also nominated for a Handy this year will lead the backing group for several of the artists. The role is perfect for former Roomful of Blues guitarist Robillard as he was also named the worlds #2 “Most Diverse Guitarist" in Guitar One magazine. Who better to bring out the best in everyone while accenting each artists style. His new album, Explorer, on Shanachie, captures him delivering his mix of six-string virtuosity, classic songwriting and gritty vocal elegance in varied settings.

  • Joe Louis Walker is a three-time W. C. Handy Blues Award winner, having been named “Contemporary Blues Artist of the Year" in 1988 and 1991. Joe and his band also won for “Band of the Year" in 1996. His latest album for Blue Thumb Records, Silvertone Blues, takes Walker back to his roots with stirring acoustic performances and stinging, stripped-down electric tracks. Downbeat, which awarded it four stars, cited that Walker “displays copious amounts of emotional honesty in his music."

  • Trudy Lynn was nominated in the “Best Soul/Blues Female" category for a W.C. Handy Blues Award both in 1996 and 2000. Houston's first lady of soul/blues continues to etch her sound into listeners ears everywhere with her explosive live performances and superb voice that follows in the same tradition of Etta James and Esther Phillips. Her new release on Ruf Records, U Don't Know What Time It Is, boasts special guests Lucky Peterson and Bernard Allison. Lynn's stage show is elegant, sophisticated and impassioned.

A portion of the proceeds from The W. C. Handy All Stars tour will go to The Handys Artists Relief Trust (The HART Fund), a new fund established to aid blues artists in need.

The W. C. Handy Blues Awards are presented annually by The Blues Foundation, based in Memphis, Tenn (http://www.blues.org .) Additional information on the tour is available at http://www.rosebudus.com

Executive producer of the W.C. Handy All Stars Tour is Mike Kappus, owner of the Rosebud Agency in San Francisco and manager of Handy veterans John Lee Hooker and The Robert Cray Band.

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