Monday, August 13, 2018

YUM YUM! Our Food at the Hot August Blues Festival!

The Blues and good food go hand in hand and it's a tradition at the Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival.  This year. we're making an effort to present a wide variety of delicious food, based on what festival goers have told us they have enjoyed the most, and/or requested!

Tilford's Q Krew  was a big hit at last year's festival.  From the pulled pork sandwiches which would melt in your mouth, to the award winning ribs, and more.  We had so many requests for Tilford's Q Krew to come back to the festival, we had to invite them back.  They've long been favorites at Paducah, KY's BBQ on the River and over the year's have  rows and rows of trophies to show for it!

At last year's Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival, we got several requests to bring back a food vendor from past festivals, and after tracking them down, we're happy so say Orleans Catering of Lafayette, Louisiana is coming back, bringing their "real deal" cajun favorites,such as crawfish mac n cheese, fried pork chops, shrimp baskets, red beans and rice and chicken wings!

Following last year's festival, several of you told us you wanted "healthier" options for food so we're bringing in Uncle Ted's Just Dang Good Food, featuring veggie and vegan options, as well as grilled chicken, in addition to other fare, including burgers and other sandwiches!  They've got something for everyone and it's all delicious!

No matter how hot  the Blues and the weather get, you can cool off with the coldest ice cream ever made: Dippin' Dots! The favorite ice cream at Major League Baseball Ballparks and Theme Parks around the country will also be available once again at this year's Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival!

Cowboy Kettle Korn brings festival favorites with their kettle korn, and also lemon shake ups! 

At this year's Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival, bring your appetite for great food in addition to your appetite for great Blues!

There will NOT be a beer garden at this year's festival.  Instead, patrons will be allowed to bring their own coolers with a one time, $15 fee per cooler brought into the amphitheater area.  The proceeds from the fee will be shared with the Marshall County Rescue Squad, which received no government funding and relies totally on donations and fundraisers for it's funding. The one time fee covers both Friday and Saturday at the amphitheater.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Delta Hurricane, Larry McCray, Headed to Hot August Blues Festival

If contemporary blues has a long-term future in the 21st century, it's very likely that guitarist Larry McCray will continue to play a recurring role in its ongoing development. Beginning with this 1990 debut album, Ambition, and continuing into the new millennium, McCray has signaled both a strong commitment to the tradition and the vision to usher the genre in exciting new directions.

McCray's first influence on guitar was none other than his sister, Clara, who toured regionally around Arkansas with her own combo, the Rockets. Clara never got to record her Freddie King-styled blues for posterity -- but her little brother has at least partially made up for that omission. Larry followed Clara up to Saginaw, Michigan in 1972. She turned him on to the joys of the three Kings (B.B., Freddie, and Albert), Albert Collins, and Magic Sam, and Larry added superheated rock licks (à la Jimi Hendrix and the Allman Brothers) to his arsenal as he began playing the local circuit with his brothers Carl on bass and Steve on drums.

Working on General Motors' assembly line occupied a great deal of Larry McCray's time after he finished high school. But he eventually found enough free hours to put together Ambition for Point Blank in a Detroit friend's basement studio. The stunning debut set was a convincing hybrid of blues, rock, and soul, McCray combining the interrelated idioms in sizzling fashion. Suddenly, the stocky young guitarist was touring with labelmate Albert Collins.

His 1993 Point Blank encore, Delta Hurricane, was a slicker affair produced by veteran British blues maven Mike Vernon that McCray much preferred to his homemade debut. He followed Delta Hurricane with Meet Me at the Lake in 1996 and Born to Play the Blues in 1998. The bluesman has remained active in the 2000s with albums including 2001's Believe It and Blues Is My Business, 2006's Live on Interstate 75 (his first live outing, recorded in Detroit), and the eponymous Larry McCray in 2007.

Larry McCray's been recognized with an Orville H. Gibson Male Blues Guitarist of the Year award as well as the Top Guitarist prize in International Blues Matters' 2014 writer's poll. But there's a part of McCray that has a rock 'n' roll beat too, and he's following that on his latest release, The Gibson Sessions.

It's a 12-song set featuring some of his personal favorites by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger, ZZ Top, Gregg Allman, the Doobie Brothers, the Rolling Stones, Creendence Clearwater Revival and others, with help from six-string brethren such as Allman Brothers Band co-founder Dickey Betts, Derek Trucks (Allman Brothers Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Eric Clapton), Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and Jimmy Herring (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Allman Brothers Band, The Dead, Phil Lesh & Friends). "The blues is my favorite, for sure. I get more out of it, feeling-wise, but I've always been a rock 'n' roll fan and I've always tried to write music that was rock 'n' roll friendly," McCray explains, "I always try to move forward and remember where I came from, and this album is a way to do these songs I love and maybe get them heard by people who like that music already, but do it in my own way so I can have some of my personality and
self-identity within the music."

"I was a little nervous to do all these classic tunes, and especially classic hits, because you open the door up to 'Who the hell does this guy think he is?' " McCray notes with a laugh. "But I'll tell ya, any of the alterations I've done feel natural to me. They're things I've always heard in my head when I listened to these songs. I think when you hear them they fit. I thought Jimi Hendrix was white up until I was about 19, 20; I just figured he was a white rock 'n' roller, y'know? When I found out he was a black dude, it turned my whole world upside down."

Britain's Q magazine trumpeted McCray's "powerhouse energy" and "an elegance and technical prowess that will delight most exacting blues and rock aficionado," while Collins and Eric Clapton publicly stated their praise. The presence of The Gibson Sessions' top-shelf guests is yet another indication of the regard his playing peers have for McCray. "I've been on stage with all those guys over the years. We've had many encounters," he says. "You've never seen me have guests on a record. I've never called in favors, never asked for anything other than camaraderie. But this record seemed like the right time to do it. I'm at a point and a time in my life where I'm old enough and I've been out there and established long enough that it's not like I'm just cashing in." The Gibson Sessions certainly offers a different look at McCray's music and opens new artistic vistas. "For me, success is being accepted and recognized by your peers and having some people out there who want to hear the music, and I don't need a whole lot of everything to be happy. I feel comfortable with who I am” For Larry McCray, the Blues is his business, and business is good!

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Hot August Blues Festival: Frequently Asked Questions!

Do you have some questions about this year's festival? We bet others have the same question!  E-mail your question by filling out the form HERE on the CONTACT PAGE, and we'll answer your question, PLUS post the question and answer here so others can see!

How much are tickets and where can I get them?
Tickets are ON SALE NOW online!   If you order online before August 1st, they will be only $30 for BOTH FRIDAY and SATURDAY! After that ticket prices will go up. At the gate, ticket prices will be, Friday $20, and Saturday $35 and $45 for BOTH DAYS.  Children 12 and under, accompanied by an adult will be admitted at no charge.   CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS! 
Tickets are on sale locally at The Wine Cellar  and Spirits locations in Draffenville, Benton and Murray, KY, Music One and Murray Transit in Murray, KY and The Moonshine Company in Paducah, KY.

Will there be a beer garden?  Can I bring a cooler?
There will NOT be a beer garden at the festival as state law dictates no outside drinks may be brought in, if there is a beer garden. Instead, patrons will be allowed to bring their own coolers into the amphitheater area.  There will be a $15 fee, per cooler, which is good for both days, Friday and Saturday, August 24 and 25. The fee will be shared with the Marshall County Rescue Squad, which receives no government funding and is totally reliant on donations and fundraisers for it's funding. There is no set size limit on the coolers, however the festival reserves the right to charge extra in the case of an excessively large cooler. The festival just asks everyone to use common sense and their better judgement.

What is allowed and what is not allowed in the amphitheater?
No glass bottles, no beach balls and no pets are allowed.  By law, service animals are allowed.

The last several years, my friends and I have purchased a table with an umbrella at the top of the amphitheater.  Will we be able to do that again this year and if so, how much?
There are 10 tables with umbrellas at the top of the amphitheater.  Five are for our corporate sponsors, and the other 5 can be purchased by those who want preferred seating. They'll each have 6 chairs and come with 6 wristbands for both Friday and Saturday, PLUS the cooler fee is WAIVED for those with the VIP Party Pass!  THEY ARE SOLD OUT FOR 2018!  

My band would like to play at the Kenlake Hot August Blues.  How do we apply?
The bands for this year have already been chosen, but in the late fall, our committee will begin looking at bands for next year!  Please feel free to submit at the time by clicking HERE and including a link to your band's EPK.

I would like to be a vendor at the Kenlake Hot August Blues.  How do I apply?
The vendors for this year have already been chosen, but we will be closely examining how our vendors do, and how they go over with the crowd, asking questions such as, "Do we have enough vendors?, Do we need different varieties of food?"  Just like the bands, feel free to contact us in the late fall and inquire about being a vendor for next year, by clicking HERE!

Will there be a shuttle service from the lodge, campground and Aurora to the Amphitheater? 
YES! The Shriners will provide shuttle service, with ALL TIPS going to the Shriners Children's Hospital!  There will be designated shuttle stops to get on and off.  The shuttle will begin running at 3PM Friday, and 10AM Saturday and continue running until everyone is returned to the campground, cabins, lodge or other motels in Aurora.  If you're coming to the festival, be sure to have a designated driver or take advantage of the shuttle service as it is there for the safety and convenience of everybody! If you are coming from Murray, KY, you can reserve a ride with Murray Calloway County Transit at (270) 753-9725.  The transit will provide you and your friends with a ride to the festival from anywhere in Murray and Calloway County, and then back!

What happens if it rains?
In case of rain, the show WILL GO ON. The show will move inside the indoor tennis center near the top of the amphitheater.

Big Mike Griffin Once Again Returns To Hot August Blues Festival

At the very first Hot August Blues Festival in 1990 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky, Big Mike Griffin was the headliner. By the end of the show, he had captivated the audience completely, and soon a tradition was born.

This year, 29 years later, Big Mike returns again, just as he has almost every year. Big Mike appears Saturday, August 25th at the Hot August Blues Festival at Kenlake.

Towering overhead at 6'10", you could easily make a case that there's no bigger blues musician than Big Mike Griffin.

Big Mike comes from a proud tradition of journeyman blues musicians. He has performed on stages across North America and Europe; every place from juke joints and roadhouses to Turner Field and Riverfront Stadium.

Big Mike has also been a biker for more than 30 years. His love of both music and motorcycles spawned a new type of Motormusic that has been widely accepted as a new and exciting form of Blues/Rock.

Born and raised in Lawton, Oklahoma, Big Mike was introduced to music at an early age. "My Dad played so there was always a guitar or fiddle laying around the house. It seems like I've been playing as long as I've been alive." Later, he began listening to blues artists like T-Bone Walker, Paul Butterfield, and Mike Bloomfield. His blues education was further enhanced by late night highway trips to Texas to catch legends like Freddie King, Albert King, and Albert Collins.

Big Mike started his career as a professional musician in the clubs and honky tonks in southern Oklahoma and north Texas. He haunted the blues clubs in Wichita Falls and the Dallas- Fort worth area early on, as the blues music that came from that area really spoke to him. He formed friendships with many great bluesmen of the area. Jimmy Vaughn and his brother Stevie were acquaintances as well as peers.

Blues was his first love musically, but to stay working in the music business, he also played country music. In the late 70's he formed the Broken Spoke band. The band's success led him to share the stage with such artists as Hank Williams Jr., George Strait, John Connely, Johnny Rodriguez, Barbra Fairchild and David Frizzell to name just a few. His relationship with those artists ultimately led to his relocation to Nashville. At that time, through his good friend, Warren Haynes, Mike was hired by David Allan Coe to play guitar in his band. He toured with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, George Jones and Neal Young, just to name a few.

At the end of his tenure with Mr.Coe, Mike left to form a blues band. He was signed to Malaco records in 1992 and released three CD's on that label. In 1997, long time friend and fellow biker John Tubbs partnered with Mike to form Chrome Link Records, which is based in Lawton, with an office in Nashville. They currently have 8 titles on the label.

In 2008, Big Mike starred in the award-winning documentary "Iron City Blues", which chronicled his creation of a blues song about the most notorious town in the South. This film received rave reviews in the press, from Biker Magazine, to the European edition of Easy Riders Magazine. In 2014, Big Mike was inducted into the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame.

Today, he continues to tour the country, sharing his unique form of the blues with long- time friends and a new generation of fans.

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Miranda Louise, The Sweetheart of the Blues, Set for Hot August Blues

Rarely does one find as devoted and sincere an interpreter of the Blues as Miranda Louise. Miranda is set to appear Saturday, August 25th at the Hot August Blues Festival at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky.

As a master and demo studio musician based out of Nashville, she's appeared on more than 70 albums and become a well-known and much beloved mainstay of the Southern Blues scene. Miranda sums it up like this, “Why the blues? Blues is the only real thing I've ever experienced. It's the realist thing there is. Blues and love.”

Miranda Louise's discography reads like a 'who's who' of the blues. She was in three bands with the legendary Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers and Government Mule fame. Miranda says, “Singing with him long enough, just makes you a better singer.” Miranda's studio credits also include the great Johnny Neel and former Allman Brothers' guitarist, Jack Pearson.

You'll recognize Miranda's voice backing Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar on Chicago legend A.C. Reed's album I'm In The Wrong Business. “He was terrific. What a horn player and what a singer. What a great guy and what a great musician.” That album spent 8 weeks at the top of the charts. She also spent time as the lead vocalist for one of Southern Rock's most storied bands, Grinderswitch.

Miranda's song, “Face In My Dreams” placed second in the National Billboard Songwriter Competition and was later recorded by Dionne Warwick and Phillip Michael Thomas. Miranda's CD “Face In My Dreams” did pretty good too, scoring high on the charts for Beach Music, a type of shuffle popular with devotees of the Carolina Shag scene!

Miranda's latest releases, Delta 3 and an acoustic album, Play Americana Blues have both been enthusiastically received and piling up airplay.

Onstage, she packs a punch with her powerful voice which has graced stages across the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. She also has some screen credits, including singing and acting in the soap opera, Music City Blues, and acting in the just released feature film, Soldier's Joy. Prior to that, she was featured in Iron City, along with Big Mike Griffin and his band.

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Ivas John Returns To The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival

No doubt, if there was a show stealer at last year's Hot August Blues Festival at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky, it was Ivas John. John returns this year, by popular demand, on Saturday, August 25th.

If in the soul of a true artist, lay the marriage of opposites, then an exemplary artist does Ivas John make. A throwback and an innovator. A musician with local roots and worldly chops. A purist who can play the dirtiest blues. Ivas John is a musician’s musician. He has a style of effortless authenticity that is both a breath of fresh air and a link to days of yore, imbued with the same sense of timelessness as the shores of the Mississippi River he now calls home.

Ivas John’s story is as unique as his music. Born as a first generation Lithuanian American into a music-loving Chicago home, his earliest influences came from European folk dancing, melodies hammered out on the family piano, and playing trumpet in the school band. His working class father was a truck driver by day, and by night appeared in productions for the local opera company and was a regular fixture on the vibrant folk and blues scene in late 60’s Chicago. Long before picking up the guitar, taking to the country, and becoming the public figure Ivas John, his musical future was being shaped, at least in part, by the living room record player.

And in another way, by a deep appreciation for history, language, and tradition instilled by immigrant parents. In his teens, Ivas got hooked on blues guitar and began making forays to the inner city clubs to get a fix. By means of jamming along with the available record collections, and the sporadic tutelage of his older brother, he learned to play.

In the early years of his career, John was known exclusively for playing the electric blues with finesse, and a maturity beyond his years. While away at Southern Illinois University, he earned a place in the local music scene, and began backing blues luminaries three times his age with his in demand guitar work. It was there he connected with renowned blues singer Big Larry, a consummate entertainer and brother to Big Twist of the famous Alligator records Mellow Fellows band. These years of precious experience gave Ivas a real taste of the working musician’s life…in all its glory and hardship. Being both young and hungry, nothing could’ve been better at the time. Playing every weekend and taking classes during the days, his insatiable quest for music took him through the halls of early jazz, swing, ragtime, country blues, and slide guitar. As his understanding of music blossomed, so did the desire to put his own band together. With the music community on his side, Ivas developed a voice tucked away since childhood folk singing and put together an experienced band that over the last decade has grown into one of the regions busiest and most beloved roots music acts. A new side of himself emerged writing, arranging, and performing original music and the transition from college student to full time working musician was seamless.

The early years of the Ivas John Band were productive ones. Well over 1000 shows and four albums between 2007 and 2012 helped build his name and connect the dots to new markets, including a residency and long standing relationship with the legendary St. Louis club BBs Jazz, Blues & Soups. As his star kept rising and audiences kept coming back for more, the musical evolution continued as well. With the shifting of his musical mind came the urge to collaborate and record with other excellent regional players and also indulge creative curiosities in the banjo, lap steel, and harmonica. During this time Ivas moved from the woods to the river. In historic Cape Girardeau, MO the roll of the Mississippi towed him under the influence of past masters in folk and country music. Ivas studied the world of Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rodgers, Doc Watson, The Delmore Brothers, and Balladeers like Tom Paxton and Gordon Lightfoot.

Ivas’ most recent project, Good Days A Comin, put him on the map in the world of acoustic music. Coming together over a shared vision of what pure folk and country blues music should sound like, Ivas and producers Gary and Noah Gordon made it their business to assemble an A team of supporting acoustic musicians and get things in motion. Since the release, which Billboard magazine called a “Slam Dunk!”, the album went to the top of the pile for roots music DJ’s and received a great deal of critical acclaim.

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Microwave Dave and The Nukes Will Heat Up Kenlake Hot August Blues

Twenty years of performances in the U.S and Europe and six albums-with more on the way-have helped Microwave Dave & The Nukes establish a wide multinational audience. Venues vary from French soccer stadiums to Bike Week in Daytona Beach, from blues cruises on the Big Red Boat to neighborhood saloons, but the thousands of shows delivered by the band all reflect one core element: the heritage blues music enjoys as a lifter of spirits. As Microwave Dave puts it: "Blues is America's first-and still best-self-help program." Microwave Dave brings his unique slide guitar skills to Kenlake's Hot August Blues Festival, Saturday, August 25th at Kenlake State Park, near Aurora, Kentucky.

While major-label stars gauge success by sales figures and chart positions, the predominate barometer for traditional blues artists is simpler: repeat bookings. Microwave Dave & The Nukes' annual itinerary features music festivals and holiday engagements that have billed the act for fifteen consecutive years; motorcycle events for more than a dozen; and a considerable list of major hotels, international deep water fishing tournaments, schools and social organizations that re-acquire the group's services year after year. Indeed, it is such continuous work that led the Alabama Blues Society to present the band it's Blues Achievement Award in 2001, "for accomplishments in performing, writing and preserving blues music."

Formed in 1989, Microwave Dave & the Nukes' blues apprenticeship included a three-year stint as Jerry 'Boogie' McCain's back-up band, interspersed with shows backing Bo Diddley both of whose styles are integral flavors in the band's recipe. Microwave Dave produced Gotta Get A Cadillac as a cassette release in 1991; the album was re-released and promoted world-wide on compact disc by Australia's Full Moon Records in 1999.

Producer Johnny Sandlin, legendary in his work with the Allman Brothers Band, Delbert McClinton, and Widespread Panic among others, recorded the group's next release, Goodnight, Dear, for Ice House (BluesWorks) Records. The 1995 release propelled the band to Europe when their cover of Bo Diddley's "Road Runner" became a soccer stadium smash in Paris and subsequently a solid dance hit across America. Goodnight, Dear was re-released in Europe as Nothin' But The Blues on the Dixie Frog label. Two other selections from the album appeared in the film soundtrack of The Poor & Hungry, which has enjoyed broadcast on the Independent Film Channel, but "Road Runner" has remained the top seller and most-leased record in the Icehouse catalog to date.

Johnny Sandlin returned to produce 2000's Wouldn't Lay My Guitar Down for Duck Tape Records, on which Microwave Dave fronted an all-star band of veteran players from the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, Cowboy, and Little Richard's band. The title cut and a swampy cover of Roosevelt Syke's "Don't Care Blues" became staples on XM Satellite Radio's 'Bluesville' channel, and "Hat" was later covered by Little Milton.

Atomic Electric was released on the Distant Farmer label in 2003. Producer/engineer Tom Gallaher returned to the band's own players and, utilizing vintage analog methodology and gear, garnered the best critical responses for the band's music to date and Atomic Electric found a home on many blues program playlists. The album scored well at Canada's REAL BLUES Awards, gathering wins in the 2003 Southern blues releases and Southern blues band categories, and naming Microwave Dave "2003 Southern Blues Guitarist Of The Year/Modern." "Trail Of Tears", the LoweBow instrumental composed by Dave for the album, received a nomination in the "Best Other Instrument" category from Nashville's Music City Blues Society in the fall of 2004.

American Peasant is Microwave Dave's fifth cd, a live recording documenting the groundbreaking solo electric blues style Dave has developed utilizing real-time loop accompaniment. The Distant Farmer release, also produced by Tom Gallaher, received excellent notices internationally and is the premier release showcasing live looping in the traditional blues idiom.

An invitation to perform live on Public Radio International's "Whad'ya Know? With Michael Feldman" in November 2006 brought the band high praise from the broadcast's 1.5 million listeners on XM Satellite Radio and National Public Radio stations nationwide, adding power to the launch of the Nukes' long-awaited live album, Down South Nukin', also produced by Johnny Sandlin for Rockin' Camel Records.

MICROWAVE DAVE (Dave Gallaher) was born in Chicago, raised in Texas and has lived most of his life in the Deep South. His first performances were in the children's choir at First Presbyterian Church in Amarillo, Texas, and he heard his first blues songs there on late-night radio. After moving to Dallas, then Houston, Dave took up ukulele, followed by his father's old Stella guitar when the uke broke. After a few accordion lessons, he began studying trumpet in the 7th grade, continuing on several brass instruments in school while picking guitar at home and listening to the all-night blues dj's on KYOK. During his sophomore year in high school, he was switched from French horn into the drum section for football season, and began playing a drumkit as well, landing a job in the Houston Oilers' dixieland band, called the Supersonic Philharmonic during the AFL's inaugural season.
When Dave's family relocated to Atlanta, his exposure to soul music and r&b began to supplement his blues and dixie background, and a Fender bass got him jobs in several area bands. After high school graduation (during which he produced and participated in a Beatles act), he enrolled as a journalism major at Georgia State College and formed the Majestics to play horn-driven r&b, and the band worked the college circuit initially before finding employment at Atlanta's top chitlin circuit venue, the Royal Peacock. There, the Majestics backed Carla Thomas, William Bell, The Tams, Billy Stewart and appeared with a young Aretha Franklin and began to secure occasional session work. However, before the band could hit full stride, the Viet Nam draft began pulling members, and soon Dave was in the Air Force as an intelligence specialist and on his way to Saigon.

During his tour in Viet Nam, Dave found solace in a GI soul band called the Rotations, with members coming and going as their tours completed. During this period, he made the decision to become a full-time musician after the service, and following his reassignment to Langley AFB, Virginia (where he played at rough backwoods jukes in a band called the Empacts), he mustered out and enrolled as an arranging and composition major at Berklee College Of Music in Boston with guitar as his instrument.

In Boston, Dave joined the Cameron Company and moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for a twelve-year run. Eventually renamed Cameron, the band recorded three albums and played 300+ dates a year, including many concert appearances with name attractions of the period. During this period, Dave met and studied blues guitar with Johnny Shines in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The last Cameron recordings, accomplished in Muscle Shoals, Alabama under producer Barry Beckett, fostered connections that led Dave into the Thrasher Brothers, a Grammy-winning gospel group that was courting mainstream country audiences. During three years of Nashville-based touring, Dave began to long for music that was closer to his blues/r&b foundation, and he moved to Huntsville, Alabama in the mid 1980s and took up woodworking, and the Nukes were formed in 1989. Concurrently, an opportunity to produce a local blues radio program began Microwave Dave's sideline as a dj and host. His programs were nominated for a WC Handy award in 1995. Around 1993, Dave began playing regular weeknight solo blues performances in Huntsville when the Nukes were not on tour. Both radio and solo work are ongoing.

RICK GODFREY plays bass, neck-rack harmonica and sings backup vocals in the band. A Huntsville native, Rick worked for twenty years as a visual artist in stained glass and woodworks in his own shops. His lifelong desire perform music was first exercised when he was drafted to play bass in a 7th grade talent show, and he took up acoustic guitar during high school, writing songs and occasionally performing in public. Dave began working for Rick in 1987 and the band was born during lunch-hour jams in the woodshop, Rick returning to the bass. When the group suddenly found itself booked on a public radio fundraiser, his on-the-job training in professional musicianship began in front of audiences hungry for blues. Since no formal instruction was involved, Rick developed a unique thumb-and-fingers style that is conceptually his own. This style was further individualized by his altering the tuning on his Fender Telecaster bass to match the lower four strings of a five-stringed instrument, and the deeper tones add to the large sonic footprint of the Nukes. Rick continues to write songs, some of which are in the band's recordings and live playlists, and his domestic and overseas performances have continued without missing a single gig since the band was launched. Recently, Rick has begun a series of acoustic guitar solo performances in the Tennessee Valley on the band's nights off, featuring an entire repertoire of his original compositions.

James was born into a musical family in Decatur, Alabama, and his first performances were at home jam sessions, where he played snare drum from age 4 onward. His eighth birthday got him his first drum kit, but by 10 he was learning to play bass and guitar as well on a diet of classic rockers such as Buddy Holly and His Crickets, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Dire Straits. This experience allowed him to secure his first professional performances at the young age of 15, working local dances, parties and VFW clubs with more experienced musicians.

Two years later, James recorded demos featuring his singing and a twelve-string guitar for the purpose of working solo gigs. While he was successful in landing his first solo at the Kaffeeklatsch in Huntsville in 1999, little work availability in this mode at that moment influenced him to accept slots in larger local acts on guitar and bass that eventually appeared at area festivals and provided James experience with larger audiences, and these associations led to his becoming the 'house drummer' at Sunday blues jams and Monday open mics. It was at the Kaffeeklatsch Sunday night blues jam that Microwave Dave first encountered James' drumming, and he was invited to join the Nukes on the spot. His work has garnered him consistent praise from long-time Nukes devotees who are happily surprised to see a young man play the blues so well. Despite the Nukes' schedule, James was able to record in Muscle Shoals a self-titled album of his original material that was released in 2007. James performed all the instrument and vocal tracks on the release, which received international airplay on XM Satellite Radio's XM43-Indie/College Rock channel.

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Soul Dog Brings The Memphis Sound to The Hot August Blues Festival

Soul Dog recalls the heydays of Memphis Music and 60s and 70s Soul, such as Sam & Dave, The Temptations, Al Green, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, James Brown and others. They'll bring their trip down Soul Music's memory lane to the Hot August Blues Festival Saturday, August 25th, at Kenlake State Park at Aurora, Kentucky.

Soul Dog has been together for 8 years, but the origins of the band started 40 years ago in Russell, KY. That’s when songwriter and lead guitarist David Booth began teaching his then teenaged brother-in-law Kevin Qualls how to play guitar. Some of the songs in Soul Dog’s repertoire are songs that were part of those early music lessons. Soul Dog has had various band members in the past 8 years, but David and Kevin have been constant members.

David Booth has been musically active his entire life. While in college at the University of Kentucky, David played Lexington venues with his band, “The Tungsten Trio.” Kevin’s sister was the vocalist. David has produced three albums of original music. “Worker In The Harvest” and “The Light Album” are soulful praise and worship CD’s. “Loose Ends,” his first album, consists of secular originals that reveal many of David’s musical influences, many of which are now covered in Soul Dog set lists. His CD’s are available on iTunes and CD Baby.

Kevin Qualls turned his attention to bass guitar in 2010 after complications for a surgery resulted in nerve damage to his left hand. In an effort to regain better use of his hand he tried playing guitar, but switched to bass because he could better feel the larger strings. It worked. David and Kevin began playing music together again. Other musicians joined along the way.

Vocalist Ron Coleman joined Soul Dog in 2014. Ron is a classically trained vocalist with an impressive range. He can sing everything from Italian opera to James Brown. In the 70’s, Ron sang with soul bands in Philadelphia.

Saxophonist Chuck Haney joined the band in 2013. Chuck adds a touch of jazz to the band’s sound. Drummer David Frensley has played with many bands in western Kentucky for decades. He was Soul Dog’s original drummer in the early days of band rehearsal, but work travel kept him from performing with the band until two years ago. David has experience in many genres of music and is proving especially adept at soul.

Soul Dog has continued for several years for simple reasons. They play music they love, it is recreational rather than vocational with their principal ambition to just have fun playing music. Their Facebook page is called, “PaducahSoulDog.” They are listed under the same name on Reverbnation, where several recordings are available.

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Elam McKnight Brings “Country Soul” to Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival

Radio” is the first single from the album of the same name by the Elam McKnight Band. It seethes with the universal theme of long, lost love gone unrequited and with the soulful care of something done in the Muscle Shoals or Stax era, when soul from the South reigned supreme. It is a sound McKnight likes to term “Country Soul,” and he's bringing it to this year's Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival, Saturday, August 25th.

The Elam McKnight Band is three years in the making. Elam McKnight had settled into his regional environs of West Tennessee and set up shop after over 12 years of recording and touring nationally and internationally. Using the hub near Memphis he constructed his own Magic Lantern Studio, and aligned himself with management, a publicist, and a booking agent. But he was missing one thing he had the luxury of in Nashville: a band. “I am in a great place personally and artistically but I needed a unit to solidify the sound I was reaching for and I wanted West Tennessee boys to help me get it” says McKnight.

Enter a 62 year old Blues Man with over 45 years of experience playing juke joints and roadhouses all across the region and a rock n roll drummer with a love of 70’s Rock and Blues. After a lifetime of playing the real-deal blues in and around his native stomping grounds of Henderson, Tennessee, Dudley Harris is ready to be heard as bassist, vocalist, and sometimes guitar player for the Elam McKnight Band. He still remembers the inklings of the first sounds he hears “That old juke joint not too far from my house … man, I could hear those bands and hear the bass and the drums coming out of there when I was a little kid and that just struck me. Right then I knew that’s what I wanted to do. And now I’ve been playing them on and off pretty much my whole life.”

Joining Harris, to fill out the Elam McKnight Band rhythm section, is Jackson native and resident Rock n Roller Eddie Phillips. Steeped in the music of the West Tennessee region Phillips also has the distinction of being Carl Perkin’s mail man and playing with him and his sons. “Carl used to teach me so much, not only about music, but he was always so supportive and quick with wise advice about the industry and life in general. He was always filled with such kindness and humility. I was blessed living in a small town with him being a part of my life.”

Elam McKnight is a singer/songwriter from West Tennessee. He is an artist firmly based in the roots of his region. McKnight was surrounded by country, blues, rockabilly, and southern gospel. 70’s rock also dominated the radio airwaves. With family in Memphis he was directly exposed to the Blues in his early teens and immediately made the connection of how all the music of his region was joined. He was later shocked to learn that many early, Blues luminaries, Sleepy John Estes, Sonny Boy Williams, had lived 30 minutes from his house. “I come from what many would term America’s Musical Crossroads so to speak. The Blues guys from my area predate many of the ones people call the originators. Music is just everywhere. “ “I used to go down there with my uncle, when I was probably too young to be going down there to begin with, and there would be this old guy, Alabama Red, playing the low down stuff in the gazebo that used to sit at the beginning of Beale. I was hooked immediately. The rest of them would want to go shoot pool or look around and I would say ‘nah you guys go ahead I am gonna sit here a while and listen to Alabama.’” He scared me right off, which I have learned is a sure sign something is good musically, and he’d say “you wanna play this I can tell.” Picking up a guitar at 14 he started, in earnest, to make his own version of these sounds which reverberated in his head and chased him in his dreams. "I would wake up every morning with some song stuck in my head. Still do."

McKnight’s solo debut, 2003’s Braid My Hair, was hailed by critics as a breath of fresh air in the sometimes-stale climate that is predictable “bar band” blues, while his second album, 2005’s The Last Country Store, found a spot on many blues charts internationally and in America. McKnight’s 2007’s Supa Good earned notoriety when the opening track, “Devil Minded Woman,” was voted by fans as the Best Blues Song in the Musician's Atlas sponsored 7th Annual Independent Music Awards. In 2011 McKnight released Zombie Nation with Universal Music Group and his newest musical partner Bob Bogdal. The album featured the exceptional musicianship of Grammy award winning Tom Hambridge. Zombie Nation received immediate critical acclaim for its hell bent insistence and feet planted deeply in a blues groove all the while testing the genre's limits. The album topped many year-end "best of” charts and received radio airplay worldwide. McKnight has toured the US and Europe.

He has opened for or shared billing with many of music's legends, luminaries, and rising stars including Jonny Lang, Little Milton, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, BB King, Ana Popovic, Jimbo Mathus, The North Mississippi Allstars, Bobby Rush, Elvin Bishop, Delbert McClinton, and many others.

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Blue Mother Tupelo's Swampadelic Style Hard to Define, But Easy To Love

Rising up from the bluffs of Memphis to the mountains of east Tennessee, through the Delta lowlands and muddy banks of Mississippi - Blue Mother Tupelo oozes a kind of southern soul & roots rock that defies boundary or definition.

Blue Mother Tupelo is Ricky & Micol Davis. That's us. Micol is pronounced "Michael", by the way, and they've been making music together since before they were married, back in 1994.

Friday evening, August 24th, they'll take the main stage at the Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival.

Their musical life together began in Knoxville, Tennessee when they got started as a band in 1995 and then took them to Nashville in 1998. There have been so many peaks & valleys, precious memories & lessons, along the way.

Over the years, they've become fixtures at some of the most prestigious blues and roots festivals in the world, such as the Juke Joint Festival, in the birthplace of the Delta Blues. They've also appeared for many years at North Mississippi's Hill Country Picnic near Holly Springs, Mississippi, alongside the legends of Hill Country Blues. They are equally at home on the festival stage, or at quiet listening rooms with some of Nashville's most reknown singers and songwriters.

Blue Mother Tupelo has released five albums, including their latest, Sanctuary, recorded live in Crawford, Tennessee at Hippie Jack's farm in the Outlaw Gospel Music Sanctuary. Fans of this recording have described it as a "deep, personal connection, “ with nothing but acoustic guitars, tambourines and a 100 year old upright piano in the company of the warmest gathering of music lovers anywhere.

The husband-wife duo have also appeared on numerous recordings for other artists, as well as on movie soundtracks, commercials and television.

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available HERE!

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Miami-Based Blues Rocker Albert Castiglia Headed To Hot August Blues

Long known as one of Blues Music's most prolific “road-warriors,” Albert Castiglia (pronounced cas-STEEL-ya) is now bringing his road show to the Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival, at Aurora, Kentucky, Friday evening, August 24th.

Albert Castiglia’s history is as colorful as his home town of Miami, Florida. He got a big break after meeting Chicago Blues Legend Junior Wells in 1996, and became Junior’s lead guitar player before Wells died in 1998. After Wells passed, he toured with Atlanta based Blues vocalist, Sandra Hall.

Returning to South Florida after launching his solo career releasing his first CD, Burn (2002), a self-release, collaborating with his long time friend, Graham Wood Drout. Drout’s songs became the perfect vehicle for Castiglia’s soulful vocals. In 2006, he released A Stone’s Throw, his second album and first release for Blues Leaf Record. Castiglia and Drout also released a live CD together, titled Bittersweet Sessions, in 2005.His 2008 CD, These are the Days contained five original Castiglia songs, including a tribute to his mentor Junior Wells, “Godfather of the Blues.” The cover songs from These are the Days paid tribute to a wide range of styles and artists. These are the Days earned him a Blues Music Award nomination for “Song of the Year” for his original, “Bad Year Blues.” Castiglia was nominated again by the Illinois Blues Blast Awards and walked away a winner for “Song of the Year” for “Bad Year Blues,” as well as being nominated for the “Sean Costello Rising Star Award.”

Up All Night is an apt title for Albert Castiglia’s seventh album: nobody sleeps when this man is in town. After 27 years of house-rocking studio albums and smack-in-the-mouth live shows, the Florida bandleader is the acknowledged master of red-raw, sweat-and-hair blues that gives it to you straight. Now, the visceral riffs and bruised soul of Up All Night make everything else sound like a lullaby. “I’d describe the musical vibe of this new album,” says Castiglia simply, “as heavy.”

Released in 2017 on Ruf Records, Up All Night finds Castiglia in a creative swagger after last year’s acclaimed Big Dog. What wasn’t broke then hasn’t been fixed now, with the bluesman once again recording at Dockside Studios, Louisiana, and capturing a warts-and-all mix alongside producer Mike Zito. “I figured since the Big Dog session went so well there, why change studios?” he reasons. “I’ll probably record there for the rest of my life.”

Dockside might be home-turf, but any notion of a comfort zone was dispelled by an edgy new lineup who pushed their bandleader to the wire. “Putting my new band together was a pivotal moment and this recent incarnation has really upped my game,” says Castiglia. “My drummer, Brian Menendez, is very dynamic and gives me that extra spark. He’s along the lines of a Ginger Baker or Mitch Mitchell. Jimmy Pritchard is my bass player and he’s solid as a rock. His tone is fat and he’s right on time. When I hear him, I think of Bill Wyman or Calvin ‘Fuzz’ Jones. It’s a power trio with no boundaries or restrictions. It’s a pretty amazing sound to me and it’s reflective in Up All Night.”

Up All Night is what happens when fist-tight chemistry meets a songwriter firing on all cylinders. Flying out of the blocks and bottling ten songs on the first day, Castiglia shook the Dockside walls with the most powerful songs of his career. There’s the stinging Hoodoo On Me. The strutting garage-band vibe and scream-it-back chorus of Three Legged Dog. The punchy call-and-response bar-room brawler that is Knocked Down Loaded. “That song was written with my frequent collaborator, Graham Wood Drout,” says Castiglia, “and it brings me back to when I was a young musician and felt like I was ten feet tall and bulletproof.”

Now, Blues fans are looking forward to this road warrior bringing his road-tested rocking blues to Kenlake's Hot August Blues Festival!

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available HERE!

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Woody Pines Bringing Down Home Swing to Hot August Blues Festival

If you’re wondering where the music of troubadour WOODY PINES comes from, look to the streets. It was on the streets as a professional busker that Woody first cut his teeth, drawing liberally from the lost back alley anthems and scratchy old 78s of American roots music, whether country blues, jugband, hokum, or hillbilly.

That's the refreshing sound Woody Pines brings to the Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival, Friday evening, August 24th at the Kenlake State Park Amphitheater.

Heavy rollicking street performances are the key to some of today’s best roots bands, like Old Crow Medicine Show (Woody and OCMS’ Gill Landry used to tour the country in their own jugband), and they’re the key to Woody’s intensely catchy rhythms, jumpy lyrics, and wildly delirious sense of fun. Woody traveled all over the streets of this country, road testing his songs, drawing from the catchiest elements of the music he loved and adding in hopped-up vintage electrification to get that old country dancehall sound down right.

That’s why the songs on his new most recent release, WOODY PINES (on underground label Muddy Roots Recordings) are so hot. This is gonzo folk music, the kind of raise-the-rafters, boot-shakin’ jump blues that used to be banging out of juke joints all over the South in the late 1940s, but now it’s burning into the earholes of a younger generation of Nashville kids, all looking for music with deep roots and something to hang on to.

It’s tempting to call Woody Pine’s newest music “rockabilly,” and in fact he recorded at Sputnik Studios in Nashville, famous for recording rockabilly and psych-twang heroes JD McPherson, Jack White, and Sturgill Simpson. But it might be more accurate to call Woody’s new songs “hillbilly boogie;” a rarely remembered genre of American music made famous by the Delmore Brothers. Hillbilly boogie sits at the exact moment when the buzzed- out, electrified hillbilly country music of Appalachia (which itself drew heavily from country blues), first hit the sawdust-floored honky-tonks of old Nashville and Memphis. It was the moment exactly before the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Woody writes with a wink to this critical time on songs like “Anything for Love” and “New Nashville Boogie,” drawing in modern references at will to make his points. He also dives deep into the tradition, drawing up gems like the old gangsta- folk song “Make It to the Woods” from the Mississippi Sheiks. In Woody’s music, there’s never an idea that roots music should be a recreation of an older time. Instead, he taps the vein of this music that’s still beating today, finding common ground with the old hucksters and bar-hounds who created the music in the first place.

When Woody Pines sings “when the train rolls by, I get a faceful of rain,” this isn’t some hipster dilettante twisting a faux-handlebar mustache and singing about old-timey railroads, this is a dedicated student of Woody Guthrie who used to hop freight trains to get from town to town. This is serious roots music that’s as much a way of life as an aesthetic choice. This music isn’t for dabblers; you gotta feel it in your bones. Let Woody Pines help.

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available HERE!

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.