Magazine 33′s article on The Bush League’s summer trip!


We were so happy the Chandler was able to work it out to come to Memphis and document our time on Beale Street and well as in the studio in mid-June!  Here is the article that he wrote for Magazine 33!




The Bush League in Memphis

By Photojournalist and Field Events Coordinator: Chandler Moulton   Tue, Aug 28, 2012


This was an amazing road trip for Richmond’s own The Bush League. Not only did they play in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge, but they took the opportunity to work with the student of a master to record their upcoming CD! Magazine33 Photojournalist Chandler Moulton accompanies the group on their journey.



All over the world, around this time of year, groups and solo performers are competing to represent blues societies at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) sponsored by the Blues Foundation and held yearly on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.  While competing in Memphis does not guarantee a group will be discovered and become superstars the competition can provided a leg up. Watermelon Slim, Susan Tedeschi, Tommy Castro, and Super Chikan, to name just a few have all performed at the IBC.
This year’s IBC competition saw 119 bands and 86 solo/duo acts filling the clubs up and down Beale Street for the quarter-finals and semi-finals from Wednesday to Friday night with the finals at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday.  This year, The Bush League,  representing the Natchel Blues Network from the Hampton Roads area advanced to the semi-finals and caught the eye of Vinny Marini.  This led to the group being interviewed on Marini’s “Music On The Couch:  Musicians You Should Know” internet radio live podcast; The Bush League also garnered an appearance at the Hard Rock Cafe in Memphis and the 40th Bentonia Blues Festival in Bentonia, Mississippi.  The festival is hosted by Mr. Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – one of the oldest players in the country blues tradition, and proprietor of the Blue Front Cafe (part of the Mississippi Blues Trail) which his parents opened in 1948.  The Bush League shared the stage with the likes of Lightnin’ Malcolm, Roosevelt Roberts Jr., and Super Chikan and the Fighting Cocks, and front man John Jason Cecil serving as the festival’s Master of Ceremonies.

But that’s not all!  The Bush League’s appearance at the 2012 IBC resulted in other exciting occurences for the group:  Young Avenue Sound Engineer Ari Morris ran sound in the club as the Bush League played during the first round of the IBC.  Morris approached Bush League bassist Royce Folks after the set and told him that he wanted to record the group.  Kenya Watkins, The Bush League’s manager told me:  “[I]t just kinda fell in our laps as we were looking to record here [Richmond] but once we found out who Ari had worked with, including [the late] Jim  Dickinson, we knew he was the right guy for this project.”

For those not familiar with Jim Dickinson, he is credited with recording what has been called the last great record on the Sun Label, “Cadillac Man”, “My Babe” by the Jesters, playing piano and singing lead on both sides, even though he was not an actual member of the group.  Dickinson also played on Aretha Franklin’s Spirit in the Dark album, The Rolling Stones track “Wild Horses”, and Bob Dylan’s album Time out of Mind.  Dickinson produced Big Star’s (perhaps the most influential band you’ve never heard of) Third, as well as co-produced Alex Chilton’s Like Flies on Sherbert.  Other artists that Dickinson produced include Mojo Nixon, Jason and The Nashville Scorchers, The Replacements.  His sons Luther and Cody make up two-thirds of the North Mississippi Allstars.  So, Morris’ education at the University of Memphis has been augmented with lessons from one the masters.

Joining The Bush League both at the Hard Rock Cafe and in studio for a few songs was Jeremy Powell, keyboardist with Beale Street stalwarts Vince Johnson and The Plantation Allstars. Memphis musician (Ghost Town Blues Band) and producer (Daddy Mack Orr Band) Matt Isbell told me that Jeremy had only been playing for a few years and was growing as a keyboardist and performer.
The Bush League’s upcoming CD was recorded in one day, in an open studio (except for Cecil, who was stuck in a small dark isolation booth for his vocals), and except for one song (four takes), the tracks were laid down in two or three takes (one cut was laid down in one take) with a bare minimum of punching.  Fans of the blues and especially fans of Richmond blues should be on the look out for this disc.  Having lived in Memphis for three years prior to my return to Richmond at the end of 2011, I jumped at the chance to accompany The Bush League to Memphis.  While I didn’t accompany the group to Bentonia, (friends and Todd Snider kept me in Memphis) hopefully, the photographs from Hard Rock and Young Avenue Sound do justice to what was a great experience for the group in the city that is considered the home of the blues and the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll:  Memphis, Tennessee.


Memphis 2012, Part 2!!!


Reservations are made, deposits dropped and schedules are confirmed so now it’s official, The Bush League is headed back to Memphis, TN for another musical jaunt to the mecca of the blues!  This time we head down there on our own terms and will see how the city is in the summer time!


Hard Rock Cafe Memphis on Beale Street

We start our trip on back on Beale Street with a gig at Hard Rock Cafe Memphis on Friday June 15  and end that weekend recording at Young Avenue Sound!  We played the semi-finals of The Blues Foundation‘s 2012 International Blues Challenge at the Hard Rock Cafe Memphis and our performance that night parlayed us this gig!  We only played 4 songs that night so we can not wait to give them a full The Bush League show!


Young Avenue Sound Memphis, TN

One of the sound guys during our quarter-final shows during The Blues Foundation‘s 2012 International Blues Challenge at The Flying Saucer was Ari Morris, sound engineer at Young Avenue Sound.  We exchanged information when we ran into each other later that week and lucky we’ve worked it out that we could schedule recording time around the same time as the gig on Beale!  We will then be added to their most awesome and diverse clientele list!


This is going to be a trip (in all senses if the word)!   We are working on ways to document all of this so that we can share as much of this trip with all of you as possible!  Stay tuned cause I’m sure that we’ll come up with something crazy!  The fun times continue…


Sitting ‘On The Couch’ with Vinny ‘Bond’ Marini again on Monday June 4, 2012!


The Bush League on ‘Music On The Couch’ 02/02/12 9pm

While we were in Memphis, TN waiting for the results of who was moving on to the semi-finals for The Blues Foundation‘s 2012 International Blues Challenge in February we were interviewed in a room above Beale Street’s Rum Boogie Cafe by Vinny ‘Bond’ Marini for his Blog Spot Radio Show Music On The Couch “Musicians You Should Know”!  We are the first band of several who did 10 minute interviews that night, one of our songs from The Bush League ROCKS was even played after our conversation!  You can listen to the whole episode right here:


We had an awesome time talking with Vinny about who we are and our experience in Memphis thus far!  We will make another appearance on Music On The Couch on Monday June 4, 2012 at 9:45pm CST (10:45 EST).  This time it will be around a 45 minute interview and he will play around 3 The Bush League originals on air!  You can listen to Music On The Couch LIVE every Monday night starting at 9pm CST (10pm EST) and find archived episodes of the Music On The Couch at the BlogTalk Radio Site.  You can also subscribe to have the episodes download as podcasts from iTunes for FREE!  You should really check out the archived episodes because as the show’s tag lines says, he really interviews “musicians you should know” and we consider ourselves blessed to counted be among them!

Hosted by Vinny ‘Bond’ Marini


CAA Basketball Tournament FanFest: 1st band show since Memphis!


CAA Championship Fan Fest brought to you by Venture Richmond.

On Saturday March 3, 2012 at 3:30pm at the Richmond Coliseum Plaza for the CAA Championship Fan Fest, The Bush League will hit the stage for the 1st time as a band since showing a semi-final placement in this year’s International Blues Challenge and playing/ making music with great friends on Beale Street with during their stay in Memphis, TN!  Venture Richmond sponsors the CAA FanFest every year right outside of the Richmond Coliseum during the CAA College Basketball Tournament for fans to meet up before or after the games, watch the games on large screen TVs, play games, purchase snacks and beverages, shop for CAA merchandise and listen to music provided by local bands!  Here’s the band schedule for the four (4) day championship:

Friday, March 2
5-6 p.m. — William Walter and Tucker Rodgers

7-8 p.m. — Beast Wellington

Saturday, March 3
1:30-2:30 p.m. — Release The Hounds

3:30-5 p.m. — The Bush League

5:30-6:30 — DJ Mordecai with special guests

7-8 p.m. — Debo

Sunday, March 4
11 a.m.-1 p.m. — Psychobilly Cadillac

Monday, March 5
5:30-7 p.m. — DJ Mordecai


It will almost be a month after Memphis and we’re still trying to wrap our heads around our semi-finals finishing at the 2012 International Blues Challenge and making some serious moves for the rest of the year!  Big THANK YOU’s to all that support us and push us to keep doing what we do; we’re going to make it happen!  Keep checking back here for the latest updates because they will be coming soon!


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.


Video of The Bush League’s 2012 International Blues Challenge semi-finals set!


The Blues Foundation‘s 28th annual International Blues Challenge semi-final round on Friday, February 3, 2012 at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street in Memphis, TN starting at 6:00PM Central Standard Time.

The Bush League – Can Of Gas And A Match

The Bush League – Death Of Robert

The Bush League – .38 Special Blues (Juke Joint Conflict Resolution)

The Bush League – Don’t Touch My Liquor


This is put up for everybody that could not make it to Memphis, TN this year for the International Blues Challenge!  The WIRED! Band out of Seattle, WA went on to the finals from this venue ended up winning the IBC this year!  This year’s IBC Program & Guide has listings for all events occurring and bands participating during this most awesome event!  Be sure to check pages 46 and 128!