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.


The Bush League – 2012 International Blues Challenge Semi-Finalist

That’s right!!!  We just found out that we moved on to the next round of The Blues Foundation 28th Annual International Blues Challenge!  It seems that we’ve made the best of our redo this year at The Flying Saucer!  HUGE congratulations going out to out fellow Natchel’ Blues Network representatives Rooster Foot who have moved to the next round also!  We will find out in the morning when and where we will be playing!  You can check The Blues Foundation’s News Page for updates related to this year’s IBC!

Night #2 at the 2012 IBC is tonight!!!

Last night, The Bush League put it down in the first night of competition of the 28th Annual International Blues Challenge at The Flying Saucer!  All of the bands that played were amazing!  We made it out to catch a few others playing including David Kimbrough Jr., Rooster Foot and  Another Kind of Magick!  The rest of the night was spevt at The Beale Street Tap Room jamming out with Vince Johnson and the Plantation All-Stars!  Tongiht we kick of the night at 5:30 and we will find out laaaaate tonight of we’ve moved on to the semi-finals tomorrow night!


At 9:00pm (central time, 10pm eastern)  will be on kicking off the Music On The Couch radio show with Vinny ‘Bond’ Marini!  This is show #5 that’s concentrated solely on the International Blues Challenge and all of the artisits here!  Tune in LIVE or catch the podcast later HERE!


Thank you to everybody for following us on Twitter (@the_bush_league ) and on Facebook (@thebushleague) and checking us out here for updates while we are on the road!  Stay tuned!!!

‘American Blues Scene’ article on 2nd Natchel’ IBC Fundraiser!


Our friend Roger Underhill is now a contributer at American Blues Scene off of blogs that were posted on his own blog Blues, Food and Gardening and wrote this awesome article on Natchel’ Blues Network ‘s second fundraiser for their IBC reps, Rooster Foot and The Bush League!



Natchel Blues Network send Seth Stainback and The Bush League Off to Memphis in Style

By  Roger Underhill  January 25, 2012 


The good folks at the Natchel Blues Network put together quite an event as a final fundraiser to assist two blues acts, Roosterfoot (Seth Stainback and Keith Stainback) and The Bush League, with the expenses of their trip to the International Blues Challenge (IBC) that is being held in Memphis, TN from Jan 31 to Feb 4, 2012. For those of you who may be unaware, the IBC is an international competition where all of the Blues Foundation affiliates are encouraged to stage a regional preliminary IBC competition, with the winner of that competition representing the organization in the Memphis international competition. I have never been there, but I hear that it is one of those mountaintop experiences for any blues music lover and based on what I heard and experienced at Mojo Bones on this day, I can only imagine what a whole week of this kind of talented musicianship and the blues can do to a person’s soul.

The day started with a nice 2 hour drive through the countryside, to get from Colonial Heights, VA to the Ocean View area of Norfolk, VA with my daughter and son-in-law taking the two front seat positions and my wife and I riding as passengers. I am not really to used to being a passenger, but I would have to say it wasn’t too bad. I just wish I could sleep in a moving vehicle, but maybe that’s why I drive most of the time. We arrived at Mojo Bones and stepped in just prior to Seth hitting the stage. The word had definitely gotten out about this event as the place was packed but I was able to immediately recognize some faces that I have gotten to know recently. Seth and Bobby Blackhat Walters walked over to greet me and I saw and spoke to folks affiliated with the Natchel Blues Network along with many other newly acquired friends and acquaintances. The anticipation and excitement of this day was beginning to build.

Roosterfoot hits the stage and, to my surprise, they have added Larry Berwald on the electric guitar and man is that a nice fill-in. I have only recently seen Larry play as a part of Bobby Blackhat Walter’s band and was really pleasantly surprised to see him playing with Roosterfoot. Seth comes at you with some blazing acoustic slide playing and raw, down to earth vocals that he seems to summon from deep down in his being. Especially at the end of songs like “Love You Down”, where he pleads and pours his heart out to the one who has left him brokenhearted, to come back home. This is the blues folks, as real and raw as it gets and Larry fills in the missing gaps with some nice guitar work. Seth brouht Bobby Blackhat Walters, who is also making the trip to Memphis representing the River City Blues Society out of Richmond, up on the stage for a couple of tunes and closed out by inviting a local harp player, Art Kohn of WAVY TV in Hampton Roads, for a couple more songs. This was a very upbeat set and hopefully gives Seth and company a little extra boost at the IBC in Memphis.

As Roosterfoot was playing, I began to notice all the folks showing up with guitars and other instruments in hand. First was Anthony Rosano, who was so impressive on his cigar box guitar at the last jam and not far behind him members of The Bush League started showing up. I knew that they were driving in from Lynchburg and it was good to see Royce, Shane and Kenya, who seemed a little nervous while waiting on John Jay Cecil to make it in time for their set. In addition to those fine folks, a couple other oddities caught my eye. The first was a small, young girl along with what looked to be her mother, they were carrying a bass guitar case. The other being a young fellow with wispy blonde hair falling from underneath a Fedora hat. I made a mindful note and went back to enjoying the last bit of the Roosterfoot set.


The Bush League

Next up was a short set with The Bush League doing a couple of their favorite tunes with Shane showing some of his slide prowess, power chords and picking. Royce on the bass is as steady as a rock and worked well with Keith Stainback setting in on percussion, in place of an injured Gwen Frederick and, well, John Jay being John Jay. This guy is one of a kind with a personality that grabs a room and the hi-jinx to match. Good fun is always had from this group and it happened once again today with Jackie Merritt joining them late in the set on harmonica.


The Jam

These blues jams can get a little confusing as different players start unloading their cases, pedals, chords and instruments while folks are setting up additional mics and getting everyone plugged in. I do notice though, that the small girl now has the bass strapped over her shoulder. The bass is practically as tall as she is. The mother that walked in with her was now sitting at the set with sticks in hand and warming up and to the left of her was a young man on the guitar. Then JD Silvia stepped to the front of the stage and I am thinking, “Man, he has a young backing crew”, but then they strike up version of Stevie Ray’s “Pride and Joy” with the  little girl taking the vocals and the whole place was like HOLY COW, she is for real! Come to find out she is all of 11 years old, her brother on lead guitar is 14 and it is their mom on the drums. JD was just setting in with them. The trio of Sandy, Cole and Logan plays together as In Layman Terms and are playing in the Williamsburg area in March and May. It is refreshing to see such young kids really enjoying what they do and that is playing the blues.

After squeezing in an original tune “Daughter of Blues”, the stage was shared like a tag team match in the WWF. Players were swapping in and out and around and included great guitarists like Sean ParkerJD Silvia and Anthony Rosano along with bassists Brian “Boogie” Thomas and Paul Warren. They were also joined by a few harmonica players, one being Jeremy JB Bustillos who ended up sharing his rig with a couple of other harp players that stood in from time to time. There was also a fiddle player in the group but unfortunately, I didn’t get his name. This jam was very guitar heavy and ended up leaning towards a more blues influenced rock-n-roll feel. This was a bit of a change from the last one, held at the old JM Randalls in Williamsburg. That jam was heavy on the vocals of John Jay, Jackie Scott, Seth Stainback and Resa Gibbs. Two blues jams and two distinctly different experiences even though some of the same players were involved. That is what I have come to like about these type of get-togethers, you may think you have an idea of what might be coming your way and then all of a sudden the music takes a path that was unpredictable but everybody goes with it and ends up, like Bobby Blue Bland put it, “Further On Up the Road”!

The end of the road, and the day, was coming for my crew and it was just about time for us to head out. I was in the back of the club, opposite the stage area having a conversation with Jeremy about his gear, when my ear caught an incredibly crisp and clean note that was struck just a half-beat after the first notes of the rest of the band had been hit. I was in the middle of a conversation and it just rang through me. I look up and, lo and behold, it was the kid in the Fedora hat! I immediately excused myself, I think, and headed back to the stage area. This kid, who I had never had the pleasure of seeing perform, was as cool as a cucumber. I whispered that to my daughter who was standing to my side and she nodded in agreement. Both of us were mesmerized by his poise, stature and the incredible licks that seem to come, like most people breath, with no effort whatsoever. I have seen many shows and many players and this kid is different. He is 16 year old Grant Austin Taylor and a quick read of his bio when I got home proved that what I had seen was true. There are certain people that I come across that jump out at me. It is not always an up-in-my-face moment, but a presence that transcends the place you’re in. I relish these moments in life and it makes going to each one of these shows very well worth it. It doesn’t happen all the time, but this is two for two, actually, if I include the 2011 Blues at the Beach, it is three for three for events put on by the Natchel Blues Network. Thanks to all who participated, you made a lot of people in that part of the world very happy on this day and it is appreciated by all of us.


2012 IBC OR BUST!!!


28 days til we hit the road heading to Memphis, TN!!! Since early August we have been saving from every gig, had one fundraiser sponsored by Natchel’ Blues Network at J.M. Randalls in Williamsburg, VA and we turned our second BLUES IN THE BOTTOM event at The Canal Club into a fundraiser for us and Virginia Beach, VA based Rooster Foot, who represents NBN in the solo/ duo category.  We’ve been asked how help could be given outside of attending our shows and buying our merchandise so we’ve set up a DONATE button through our Facebook Band Page.  If you would like to support The Bush League by donating to help us offset expenses for travel and lodging for 5 nights, please CLICK on our Tip Jar!!!



We would like to thank every single one of you that’s supported this band through the years; from those that donate money, purchase our merchandise, proudly wear our t-shirts and sweatshirts and attend our shows, to those that turn up our CD’s loudly when they play them, given us encouraging words to keep pushing, and everyone who has turned us on to someone else by sharing us with their friends by saying, “Have you ever heard of this baaaaaaadass blues band out of Richmnd, VA called The Bush League?”!






…to EVERYONE that helped make this BLUES IN THE BOTTOM a success:

- Kathy, Donna, Adam and the rest of the staff at The Canal Club for hosting the second BLUES IN THE BOTTOM on the upstairs stage!  We’re looking forward to getting things started for the third!

- The Mike Lucci Band, Pig Foot Riot ft Jimmy Z from Barrelhouse on bass, Rooster Foot & special shouts to Rod Hyner of Pig Foot Riot for pulling double-duty and playing drums with us also!

- Chandler Moulton for introducing us to Sarah and taking pictures of the event!

- Cindy & Lisa for holding down the merch and auction tables and Michelle for running with the raffle bucket (& the video below)!

- Everyone that bid and everone that one the silent auction items, everyone that bought a 50/50 raffle ticket, evryone that bought some merch & everyone that bought a ticket for the night and helped support Rooster Foot and The Bush League for their trip to the 2012 International Blues Challenge!

- and to manager extraordinaire Kenya Watkins for putting this thing together!  None of ANY of this would be possible without you, THANK YOU!!!


The Bush League with Rod Hyner on drums covering Hound Dog Taylor's 'Give Me Back My Wig' at BLUES IN THE BOTTOM 12/17 The Canal Club RVA!


Rooster Foot at BLUES IN THE BOTTOM 12/17 The Canal Club RVA!


Pig Foot Riot at BLUES IN THE BOTTOM 12/17 The Canal Club RVA


The Mike Lucci Band at BLUES IN THE BOTTOM 12/17 The Canal Club RVA