Magazine 33 article on The Bush League’s ‘Blues In The Bottom’!


On December 17, 2011, The Bush League brought their second installment of ‘Blues In The Bottom‘ to The Canal Club in Richmond, VA.  Magazine 33 came out and reported on the event.  If you missed the first two ‘Blues In The Bottom’ events, be sure to keep an eye out for the next one coming soon!



Blues in the Bottom

By Correspondent: Sarah Freiseis   Sat, Jan 07, 2012

Local artists stake their claim in the International Blues Challenge. Photos by Chandler Moulton.


Big ups to our local musicians putting this fine city on the music map.  Richmonders are shouting out and showing up when it comes to live and local.  Supporting local acts is easy when you genuinely enjoy what you are hearing, seeing, and above all, experiencing.

The Blues in the Bottom event at The Canal Club was a fundraiser to help two acts – The Bush League (Richmond) and Rooster Foot (Virginia Beach) – get to the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.  The competition is in its twenty-eighth year and will be held January 31 – February 4 in the Beale Street entertainment district.  The Bush League will participate in the group category and Rooster Foot will perform as a duo in the upcoming IBC.  The groups were eligible to move on because of a win in a regional competition; both, in this instance, from the one hosted by the Natchel Blues Network, which has been promoting the blues as a 501c3 non-profit organization since 1984 in the Hampton Roads area.

Beyond the IBC bound, the lineup for Blues in the Bottom also featured the Mike Lucci Band and Pigfoot Riot who got the night started off right, each bringing a unique energy to the stage through vivacious female vocalists.  The Richmond-based Mike Lucci Band is a self-proclaimed Chicago style variety of the genre with added emphasis on rockin’ rhythm and blues (and even known to throw in some rumba) that features Mike Lucci on the bass.  Pigfoot Riot is comprised of members of the River City Blues Society, a six-person ensemble with a raw edge that gets the audience movin’ off the bat.

Next came Rooster Foot, aka the Stainback duo.  Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Seth was joined by his father Keith to complete the sound.  “I grew up around music.  I’ve been playing since I was a kid,” said Seth.  “I moved out to Norfolk about three years ago – I’m a welder, I moved out there to work – and my dad moved out like two years after me because he just liked it there, and I started playing music again.  Someone said, ‘Hey, you need to enter this competition, it will help you out,’ so I did, and I got my dad to come with me ’cause he plays percussion.  I was filling out the form, and we needed a band name, so I put down Rooster Foot.”  He said there isn’t a particular process for him in writing and creating music.  “Words hit me, or a melody will hit me, sometimes I’ll write a song in ten minutes, and sometimes pieces of it will lay around for months.  It’s always different, but all my life anything that has to do with music has never been something contrived.  It’s always just been in me, it definitely comes from my heart, I can say that, it comes from my heart and soul.”  He went on to say he is currently working on an album due out in or around February.  “Recording over at Soul Haven Studios in Virginia Beach, so we’re about three quarters of the way done, so hopefully it’ll be out soon.”

Headliners the Bush League have often referred to their sound as FuB&RR, standing for Funk, Blues & Rock and Roll.  Guitarist Shane Porch (aka Chicago Slim) said, “I think our sound is different because it’s not textbook, it’s projecting the feelings inside of you, we are ourselves in the music, and I think that’s what we have to bring to the table.”  Royce Folks (bass) added, “We play off of each other, it’s all organic, and we play off the crowds also.  Even if we played the same setlist, it would be different every time.”  The band took a moment before going on stage to talk to Magazine33 about that night’s event as well as the upcoming Memphis competition.  Folks explained that the Blues in the Bottom event was the second of its kind, “We’re just trying to get more blues acts, and to have more blues related things here in the area.  This time we’re using it as a fundraiser to get down to the International Blues Challenge.”  Vocalist JohnJason “Sleepy Eyed Jay” Cecil, who also happens to be co-founder of the band (the other being Folks), said they have had the opportunity to attend this esteemed event before.  “There has been some iteration of this band going to the International Blues Challenge for three years in a row.  Shane and myself went first as a solo/duo category winner, and then the band won at the Sedalia Blues Festival, and now we just won again for the Natchel Blues Network, so what it’s become now is … a whole lot of fun.”  He said because acts come from all over the globe, it has almost become like a homecoming of sorts, “because we’ve made friends now, it’s like, ‘See you in Memphis.’”

The band has released two self-produced live albums since forming in early 2007.  Porch said, “I think the next move after Memphis is probably going to be towards a full-length studio album.”  Gwen “Platinum Plaque” Frederick played drums on their latest album which included songs “Mexico”, “Gotta Women”, and “Don’t Touch My Liquor” they also played at the 2011 International Blues Challenge.  On the night of the Blues in the Bottom event, the guys were joined on stage by double duty drummer Rod Hyner of Pigfoot Riot.  In terms of live music, Porch added, “Simply put, our songs have a framework, and we play with that framework every night, but as long as we get from point A topoint B, and we know the general path to get there, we make it, and that’s how we do our music.  It works … and people like it.”  When asked about the future of the blues, JohnJason said, “The blues isn’t going anywhere.  People have their interpretations or perceptions of what it is, but the fact of the matter is, blues as a genre of music is just as varied as any other sort of music, and since blues is the progenitor of all American music, it just stands to reason it won’t going away.  We’re not going to let it go anywhere.”

It is incredible that in just a matter of weeks these guys will be playing the clubs of Beale Street, an infamous stretch of town where so many music greats have graced.  In addition to evenings filled with playing music, the days will provide seminars and workshops, closing by paying homage to the blues community with the Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) awards ceremony.  Rooster Foot and the Bush League will participate in a “Battle of the Bands” style competition for a panel of judges, and not that they need it, but we wish them luck and look forward to hearing more about their incredible adventure.


We Are Now Card Carrying Members!


That’s right, The Bush League is now a Corporate Member of The Blues Foundation!  We did this to show our support for the organization that has been dedicated to preserving blues music history (The Blues Hall of Fame, The HART Fund), celebrating recording and performance excellence (The Blues Music AwardsThe International Blues Challenge), supporting blues education (Website, Worldwide Blues Society Affiliates, Blues in the Schools) and ensuring the future of this uniquely American art form for 32 years now!  As corporate members, we get to vote on this years nominees for the Blues Music Awards, a link to our website located on the The Blues Foundations website, and we get membership cards, decals and a lapel pin!


The Bush League Membership Cards for River City Blues Society (RVA) and The Blues Foundation.


Through our participation in our local and many close by blues societies’ blues challenges for participation in the  International Blues Challenge (2010 Sleepy Eyed Jay & Chicago Slim - Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, 2011 The Bush League - Sedalia Blues Society, 2012 The Bush League - Natchel’ Blues Network) we’ve had many opportunities to share our music and our love for blues music that we would not have had otherwise.  We’ve also made some great friends, had many unique experiences and grown a greater  appreciation for live music in general, blues music and its far reaching influence specifically!

Currently, The Bush League is also a member in good standing with the Natchel’ Blues Network Blues Society, the DC Blues Society and Richmond, VA’s River City Blues Society (card shown above), of which our bassist, Royce Folks was voted onto the Board of Directors in December 2011.  All of the blues societies mentioned in this post are just a few of the 180+ affiliate organizations of The Blues Foundation from around the world!  If this sounds like something that YOU would like to support also contact your local blues society or join the The Blues Foundation directly to help Keep Blues Alive!


Click Picture To JOIN!


Sleepy Eyed Jay & Chicago Slim video LIVE at The Pig on Beale Street 01.22.10!!!


That’s right!!!  If you didn’t make it down to our second jaunt to Memphis in January of 2010 to see Sleepy Eyed Jay & Chicago Slim represent the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, below is video of their full set from their second night of competition in the solo/duo portion of the 26th Annual International Blues Challenge at The Pig on Beale Street!



Thank you again to EVERYONE that made that trip possible!  We keep striving becasue of your belief in us!




Article on Sleepy-Eyed Jay and Chicago Slim at the 2010 Carolina Blues Festival!

05.12.10 YES WEEKLY – ‘Blues On A Saturday: Carolina Blues Festival Shines On’ by Ryan Snyder



Wednesday May 12, 2010

Blues on a Saturday: Carolina Blues Festival shines on

By Ryan Snyder

For the past two years, torrential rains have cast a rather ironic damper onto the Carolina Blues Festival. Ultimately, what’s more conducive to a chronic case of the blues than an ugly, weatherwrecked day? There were no weather-related worries for the 24 th installment of the Carolina Blues Festival, hosted by the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society in downtown Greensboro on Saturday, as hundreds came out for the near-perfect weekend weather and a full day of blues.

The music kicked off at 1 p.m. with the placid acoustic duo of Sleepy-Eyed Jay and Chicago Slim to an even slimmer crowd, as too many missed out on the PBPS Solo/Duo Challenge winners’ from Richmond plaintive ode to the early Delta sound on songs like their original “Gotta Woman.” Numbers started to roll through the gate for Full Band Challenge winner, Greensboro’s own Charlley Ward Band. The performance itinerary moved forward through the history of blues itself, with Ward’s band representing the genre’s early popularization through the same shimmering vibrato that would usurp the lonely Delta tone.

The mid-afternoon draw of the Matt Walsh Blues Band seemed to confirm it, as his snarling, 1950s Chicago style was almost a little too abrasive for the gray-haired sea of onlookers to fully appreciate. Walsh is quite a blues anomaly in that, he’s almost a little too hip for this crowd. His tall throwback coiffeur, near-perfect Howlin’ Wolf imitation and all-around dirty sound are far from the middling, unobjectionable and gentrified brand of blues that this crowd typically gulps down. That said, he’s really good.

As was mentioned in last week’s preview of the blues festival, the headliner designation for Debbie Davies and Robin Rogers appeared to be completely arbitrary, since a) Davies is a little too obscure for practical marketing purposes, Rogers even more so; and b) the more widely recognized Tinsley Ellis was scheduled to perform immediately after. Even the “ladies’ turn” angle that the festival adopted to promote them came off as passively sexist, as if last year’s 6 p.m. performer Diunna Greenleaf was somehow irrelevant because she didn’t play guitar.
Ellis took the lower billing in stride, however, and praised his friend Davies as the right choice for this particular festival.

“The next-to-last slot at a blues festival is a very sought-after slot and always has the biggest attendance due to the fact that blues fans are much older now and want to get home early,” Ellis said via e-mail. “I love and really respect Debbie. Known her since the ’80’s and really enjoyed jamming with her again that night.”

Ellis’ words also provided a tacit explanation as to why it gets easier every year to navigate the 30 feet immediately in front of the stage.

More of the nearly comatose, second-wave baby boomers that compose the festival’s primary audience resign themselves to the comfort afforded by the sea of foldout lawn chairs under the stage’s canopy. It gives the appearance that there’s a full crowd witnessing the shows, when in actuality three or four standing listeners could occupy the space of one languorous age casualty.

It’s not a very enthusiastic or energetic crowd by any standards, as Ellis’ comments suggested, and the headliner booking this year reflected that. Davies is an extremely talented guitarist with little to no appeal to an audience below 40. She’s certainly technically gifted, but her style is almost too clean to be truly compelling and interesting to a discerning listener.

Ellis, on the other hand, was fiercely aggressive, almost dangerous as the closing act. It’s only too bad that over half of the audience had dispersed by the time he took the stage, because his gut-wrenching axe wielding defined the evening and left promise for the festival’s 25th installment. His rhythm section of the masterful drummer Jeff Burch and the intimidating bassist known as the Evil One sent his show precariously into metal territory, which may also serve to explain why many in the crowd were long gone by the time Davies reemerged to help Tinsley on “Key to the Highway” and “Shake It for Me.” The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society does a commendable job of keeping the blues alive in a region with one of the richest relevant musical traditions in the country, but without a little bit of imaginative and adventurous thinking, nothing will preserve its audience the long run.



Article on Sleepy- Eyed Jay and Chicago Slim winning their way to Memphis for the 2010 IBC!


09.23.09 YES WEEKLY – ‘The 24th Annual PBPS Blues Challenge – Solo/Duo Competition’–solo_duo-competition.html



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The 24th Annual PBPS Blues Challenge – Solo/Duo Competition

The 24th Annual PBPS Blues Challenge – Solo/Duo Competition at Zion Bar & Grille Sunday was another success.

Twelve acts competed in the Solo/Duo Competition portion of the 24th Annual PBPS Blues Challenge.

Congratulations to our Winners – Richmond VA´s Sleepy- Eyed Jay and Chicago Slim. They will represent the PBPS in the Solo/Duo competion of the International Blues Challenge to be held January 20-23, 2010 in Memphis.

Rick Tobey´s Chickenhead Blues from Wilmington, NC came in Second Place and Danny Wicker of Stony Point, NC took Third.

Thanks to: all at Zion for being wonderful hosts, Shiela and her crew for sacrificing a Jam, our Judges for their taking the job so seriously, Trustees and volunteers for all the help, and of course the Competitors for putting on a great show and the fans for supporting it.

Sleepy-Eyed Jay and Chicago Slim also receive bookings at the Carolina Blues Festival presented by YES! Weekly to be held May 8, 2010 In Greensboro´s Festival Park, The Asheboro Fall Festival, October 3-4, 2009 and will open for Blues Legend Duke Robillard at the Garage in Winston-Salem on October 21. Also a special Shout out to our dedicated timekeeper JoAnn and the Lady in charge of this shootin’ match Chris Roulhac.