As I sit here and write this post, the temperatures in Kansas are coming off 100 degree days and it has cooled down to the mid-80s. Summer is smoking, but that isn’t all that is smoking! The Hoodoo Brothers have had some cool things happen (and will be happening) since early March!

On April 16th the band performed at “Mama” Diane Ray’s Hope House Benefit at BB’s Lawnside BBQ. Mama Ray asked if we would donate our time for this worthwhile event and course we said yes. Nic had surgery a week before and was unable to play guitar so their good friend Matthew Francis (Cleveland Blue) sat in on guitar while Nic handled the vocals. It was a great show and the amount of Kansas City talent that was there that day was off the charts!

April 27th the band made an appearance on KKFI 90.1 FM’s “Local Showcase” with Keith Washburn and Kansas City Blues Society board member Dennis Nelson. This was our second time on the show and we got to play a little, talk about the band, the addition of saxophone since the last time we were on the show, and where we we going to be playing in the future.

May was a busy month for the band. We played twice at the KC Juke House Blues & Jazz Restaurant in the historic 18th & Vine jazz district in KC. We also was the host band at Score Bar & Grill for the Kansas City Blues Society monthly meeting/jam. Lot’s of folks came out and Mama Ray herself mad an appearance. Paul had to have multiple surgeries and was not available for this, so once again, our buddy Matthew Francis stepped in, this time on bass, for the event.

The band also performed in Topeka at Gage Park for the Topeka Blues Society “Summertime Blues in the Park”. We had a fantastic crowd and the weather was absolutely perfect! It was great to meet up with and talk to the TBS folks (President Gerry Schmanke and board member Suki Blakely). The sound system (Thanks Frosty) was incredible and we are hoping to be able to be a part of bring the blues to Topeka next year as well!

The end of May found the band recording 5 of their original songs for a EP, aptly titled “EP”. We did a crash course, DIY recording session at our rehearsal space and what transpired was a good example of not only our original material, but a live performance of that material. Nic spent the first couple weeks of June creating the cover art and mixing and mastering the tracks at his home studio and sent the master off to be pressed around the middle of the month, with expected delivery sometime in July.

June was the breakout month for the band, however. The month started a whirlwind, hectic three day weekend starting with a last minute fill-in at BB’s Lawnside BBQ in KC on Friday, June 2. Jimmy Nickle and his staff were off the hook and the crowd was equally fantastic! If you’ve never been, the blues vibe here is powerful and it is definitely the place to be seen if you are a blues musician or fan!

Saturday June 3rd found us with two shows. The first for the Topeka Blues Society again at the Mulvane Art Fair in Topeka. We did an afternoon show between 2023 IBC finalist Mark Montgomery and powerhouse Orphan Jon & The Abandoned. Once again, the weather cooperated for the outside event. After the show we had a couple hours and had to then hustle to KC for a show one of our favorite places, Christine’s Firehouse in North KC. Casey was unavailable for both shows on this day, so our great friend, and master saxophonist Harry Muldrow, filled in for the show. The hectic weekend ended on Sunday, June 4th at KC Juke House Blues & Jazz for a Sunday matinee show.

The band played a Wednesday midday performance at Evergy Plaza in downtown Topeka for the Live @ Lunch series on June 21st and that closed out June for us. We had a great crowd, good weather, and saw a lot of familiar faces!

So, here it is July. We have gotten more bookings at venues in KC that are upcoming (Christine’s, BB’s Lawnside) as well as some in Topeka (Dirty Girl Adventures: Compass Point), Perry (High Tide 21) and Lawrence (Trivedi Wine [with the KC Blues Society]. We also received our lot of 100 CDs which are now available for purchase on this site or at our shows!

September is the 2024 IBC at Knuckleheads Garage, which we have been working up our original material in anticipation of. We plan on bringing our A game (as we always do) and are hopeful for a win this year to represent the KC Blues Society in Memphis January 16-20th, 2024!

Look for us around the northeast Kansas and KCMO areas and don’t forget to keep supporting local, live music and musicians!! You are the reason we do what we do and are the the reason we are able to do what we love doing! Next update will be in October, until then!!

Wow, so like our last post said, this is gonna be a breakout year for us. This first quarter a LOT has happened.

So, probably the biggest and most significant update is that we are now a five piece band with the addition of saxophone. We are blessed to have Casey Artzer filling this spot for us regularly (we also have our friend, and master saxophonist, Harry Muldrow, to fall back on if Casey is not available so that we always have the sax sound that has quickly defined us).

Casey has been playing every gig with us this year and if you’ve never heard him you are in for a treat! He has so much energy, a genuine interest in the music and an attitude that is infectious. Add on top of that chops that just are out of this world! It has been a breath of life into us…solidifying that desire to be the best we can possibly be. Working with Casey is just flat out fun!

So, if that isn’t huge in and of itself, we have had a lot of cool things happen to us and played some incredible shows so far this year.

First we played at The Happy Basset Barrel House in Topeka. Craig sat in a few songs with us and we played to an incredible audience and honestly sounded about as good as we ever have.

Then the big one, for us anyway, was playing in January at Christine’s Firehouse in North Kansas City. Casey played with us that night and quite honestly we burned the place down (pun kind of intended)! Incredible crowd, incredible staff, incredible food, and we played like we have never played before! We gained a lot of new followers that night and scheduled a followup show there in June. This was our first, real break into the Kansas City market. Our goal is to make a name for ourselves in Kansas City and this got the ball rolling! 

In March a couple huge things happened to us. First, we had a friend tell us of an opening at The KC Juke House Blues & Jazz in the historic 18th & Vine jazz district in Kansas City and suggested we see about filling it, which were able to. OK, mind you this is less than a week before the show when we secured it and we had to throw together a quick rehearsal that same morning because, I mean, it’s the 18th & Vine jazz district! We needed to add some jazz tunes to our set. All I can say is, wow. What an incredible night. Not only was the staff there great, every single person was so nice to us! The stage was incredible (killer stage light setup), the food was out of this world, and the audience was extremely receptive. So, a big thank you to Andrea Shelby (who was equally super nice) for giving us fellas the opportunity to play in a historic part of Kansas City and for inviting us back again (so look for the dates on our Shows page)!

The second big thing in March is that we were able to secure a spot at the Summertime Blues in the Park hosted by the Topeka Blues Society that is held at the Gage Park Amphitheater in Topeka on May 17th.! This is another milestone for us. To be part of this event, at least to us, is a big deal. We had some behind the scenes things working to make it happen (Thanks to Danielle Norwood of Majic 107.7 for spearheading this and of course to Suki Blakely for having us) and are confident we are going to bring Topeka an incredible 90 minutes of blues in the park!!

Whew! That is a lot for only three months! We have so much more coming though! We are attending the Kansas City Blues Society Meeting/Jam at The Hideout Bar & Grill in Gladstone, MO. on March 8th (our friends Double Take, who we met at the 2023 IBC at Knuckleheads Garage are the host band) and then we will be hosting the KCBS Meeting/Jam on May 10th at Scores Bar & Grill in Independence, MO.

Unfortunately, April will see us with a little down time. Nic will be having some surgery that will prevent him from performing live for pretty much all of April. Nothing serious, but will prevent him from being able to hold or play guitar. But we will be back with a vengeance in May and have stuff lined up already for June, July and August with plenty more just waiting to happen! 

If you follow us on social media, thank you SO much! it really means a lot to us and believe it or not helps us out immensely. Thank you for everyone who comes to our shows, who says nice things to us and who support local music and local musicians. Kansas City is chock full of top-notch music, musicians and venues that is as good, if not sometimes better, than big time national acts. So, as always, help support them by coming to shows, spreading the word and tossing a little something in the tip bucket! 

Until the next post, PEACE!



2022 was a great year for the The Hoodoo Brothers. We learned a lot, made new friends, made improvements to the group, and have big plans for 2023.

The beginning of the year

The year started off with Mickey Munoz coming to the band. If there was a better way to start the year I really don’t know what it could have been. Mickey not only brought his years of experience and talent, but he is a helluva guy and now in hindsight I don’t see how we could have come this far without him.

With the band in place we hammered away at rehearsals, but in March a big event happened to us (at least in our minds it was huge) when Jim and Nic we’re performing with their Americana group “The Hot Toe Pickers” at DDubs Bar in Eudora, KS. At that show they met Kansas City Blues Society board member Dennis Nelson and KKFI radio personality Keith Washburn. Both turned out to be fortuitous for the group. Dennis not only has been a big fan of ours he also has gone out of his way to help us break into the Kansas City music scene with guidance, tips, and support. You could not find a better advocate for live, local music in KC than Dennis Nelson (plus, the man is EVERYWHERE)!!

The groups first show was scheduled for Lago Vista Grill in Ozawkie, KS. in April, however, the weather did not cooperate and the show ended up being cancelled. The first live performance was in downtown Topeka in May at Evergy Plaza for a Wednesday afternoon “Live @ Lunch” performance. The show went well and we really learned a LOT about our sound and show presentation. We had a decent crowd and was well received by all!

June and July saw us at The Kick Start Saloon in Topeka, KS (June) and D-Dubs Bar in Eudora, KS (July) with a fill in drummer, Gary McDaniel (Nic and Mark both have played with Gary in other projects) and both shows were another good learning experience and well received.

Middle of the year and the IBC

August and September we had two shows, one at Lago Vista in Ozawkie, KS and one at Tomorrow’s Bar in Junction City, KS. The show at Lago Vista was fun (even though we were hit with a little rain) and Miguel Cadena and his staff were awesome like they always are (the food is incredible too!) Conflicts turned the show in September 3rd in Junction City into a half Hoodoo Brothers, half Big Harry & The Back Street Blues band show. Both Jim and Mickey were unavailable for the show so Gary McDaniel and saxophonist Harry Muldrow filled in. It was different from a normal Hoodoo Brothers show but was a whole lot of fun nonetheless as we played a different variety of music than we normally would play.

The month of August began the transformation of the band and helped us realize our potential as a local group that could hold its own in the KC local market.

At the request of Dennis Nelson in August, The Hoodoo Brothers decided to enter the International Blues Challenge (IBC) regional competition to represent the Kansas City Blues Society in Memphis, TN in January 2023. This was being held at Knuckleheads Garage in Kansas City. The band needed to learn 25 minutes worth of original material before the competition on September 10th. Basically one month to put together a show. Nic brought in four original songs – “Never Go Back Again”, “Time Ain’t On My Side”, “Hell Hound” and “Trouble On My Mind” and as a group they decided to perform their version of the Dave Bailey Quintet’s “Comin’ Home Baby!”

August and September was filled with lots of rehearsals, going over the original songs, putting together a show that would fit within the 25 minute slot we were allowed, promotion and, quite honestly, psyching ourselves up for the event. The band also performed their IBC set at The Celtic Fox Thursday Open Mic (hosted by The Josh Vowell Band) in Topeka, KS. It went very well and really proved to us that we were ready to perform at the competition.

Keith Washburn invited the band to perform live on KKFI radio in KC on September 8th to promote the band and the IBC. But, nothing is ever smooth it seems like in the music world. Two days prior, our bassist, Mark Cavender ended up getting very sick and not only couldn’t make the radio broadcast, would not be able to make the IBC as well! The band was NOT going to pass this opportunity up and had to scramble last minute to not only find an available bassist, but someone who could learn the five songs with almost no rehearsal. Nic called his buddy, bassist Paul Gibson from Lenexa, KS. (who he played with in a variety of bands back in St. Louis, MO. in the 1990’s) to see if he was able and willing to fill in (which he was). Nic (in Topeka) and Paul (in Lenexa) crammed the songs through an online rehearsal (Jamulus is pretty cool!) and felt he was ready with one online rehearsal. He was unable to make the KKFI radio broadcast, but would be ready for the IBC. The radio show was fun and an incredible promotional opportunity for the band. We played a handful of songs live, talked and answered questions and promoted the band. (You can hear the broadcast here on the website). 

Then September came and the IBC. We met a LOT of great musicians (great conversations with Jonny Green, JD & The Chasers Band, and others), event goers, and added another supporter in the form of current KCBS President, Betty Berry. The band arrived and when the drawing came for order of performance the band drew number 1. We would start the whole thing off!! 

We took the stage and played our asses off. The sound system was incredible and in all honesty, made us sound better than we have before. Sure, there were hiccups, but they were minimal and by the response from the audience they must have have been unnoticeable. The applause when we finished was awesome. We completed our set in 24 minutes. Perfectly in the allotted time. We hung around, of course, for the other groups performances (every one of them were incredible) and awaited the results. We did not win (Coyote Bill and The Brood earned that win) but we got SO many good comments during and after the competition that we felt we had achieved just as much as winning. In fact, after we performed, KCBS President Better Berry told us “You guys set the bar for today!”

So, with the IBC behind us it was time to start looking forward to the rest of the year and our future.

Post IBC and closing out the year

Bassist Mark Cavender was still sick and with some other future potential sticking points, the band decided to go a different direction with the bass and offered Paul Gibson the position, which he accepted. Mark is an incredible bassist and quite frankly, a helluva nice guy. We couldn’t have done the things we did in 2022 without him we believe. Paul’s addition, however, VERY much changed the dynamics of the band. Paul also sings lead vocals and harmony very well, so that takes some of the pressure off of Nic doing all the singing as well as opening up the song opportunities the band can perform.

The first full show with Paul was on September 24 at D-Dubs Bar in Eudora. We again had to employ Gary McDaniel as Mickey had a previous commitment. Paul has a killer FOH system and we used that for the first time instead of our existing PA. It sounded incredible! We played well (D-Dubs is great place with great food too!)

October was another great month for the group. We were asked earlier in the year by KCBS board member Dennis Nelson if we would like to be the host band for the October monthly KCBS meeting/jam which was being held at The Hideout Bar & Grill in Gladstone, MO. (which we said of course).  We loved the place (great food and the staff were awesome!) was super great to hob-nob again with KCBS board and society members, got to jam with some great folks (JD on harmonica and Bruce Sidener on guitar) and then near the end had “The Jonny Green Arrangement” play a few numbers before we finished out the night.

Also in October the band played at The Happy Basset Barrlehouse in Topeka, KS. This is a REALLY cool place and honestly one of the best places for live music in Topeka. We had a killer night, a great crowd, great response, and have booked future shows there that we are excited about!

The last gig for us this year will be on New Years Eve a The Kick Start Saloon in Topeka. We will be ringing in the new year doing what we love doing. 

What does 2023 hold in store for us?

We are starting the year off with a band meeting to focus on how best we can position ourselves to being more well known by the Northeast Kansas (specifically KC) market and a show at The Happy Basset Barrlehouse in Topeka.. We also have a show on January 28th at Christine’s Firehouse in North Kansas City (which we will also have a special guest sitting in with us… more on that later),  We have a few other shows booked, but are still trying to fill up our calendar with shows. 

We have a plan, a goal, the skills, and the desire – all which make us a reckoning force in this market. In all honesty, 2023 is going to be our year of becoming known to the venues and people of Kansas City. Look for us, tell your friends about us, support us (and local music and musicians), come to our shows and chit chat with us!!

If you read this far, thank you. Look out 2023! Here comes the Hoodoo Brothers!!

What a great year we had as a band! We had some up and downs, some shows cancelled because of the weather, and a lineup change, but here we are at the end of the year and we have accomplished a LOT and have a promising start to 2023!

2022 is going to end with us performing on New Years Eve at Kick Start Saloon in Topeka, KS. This is sure to be a wild bash and hope those of you reading this will join us! It’s a fun place with a fun crowd!

January and March has us back at the Happy Basset Barrel House (also in Topeka). January is also our first time at Christine’s Firehouse on 20th in North Kansas City. We are excited to be back at the Happy Basset and equally excited about playing at Christine’s Firehouse and getting our name out there in the KC area! 

More shows will be coming. We have been working hard on putting together a solid set list as well as working on our show, sound and lighting!  We will also be working on recording our EP of original songs and hope to have that completed in the first quarter of 2023 and have CD’s available at our shows.

Our goal is to make a footprint in the KC market this coming year and become a sought after group in that market. We want to be the band that get’s mentioned when a open date is available.! We also want to continue making connections with the other blues musicians in the KC area. A lot of groups fail to do this, and it’s important. 

So, 2023, here we come! Look for us and as always, thank you for supporting The Hoodoo Brothers, local music and the blues scene in Kansas/Missouri!

October is about to come to end, bringing us even closer to the end of 2022, which in our view, was a breakout year for us as a group!

We’ve beefed up or song list and added some killer songs that we think folks will enjoy, playing stuff that has more “get up and move” feelings rather than super heavy stuff. While we still do some of that, our goal is to play songs people can move to as well as listen to. We hope if you come to a show you enjoy the material!

Next, our Kickstarter campaign is not going so well. WE won’t make the cutoff which means we will not receive any funds. This means we are going to have a go at recording our EP ourselves and possibly get it mixed and mastered somewhere else. Definite benefits and drawbacks to this approach. Biggest benefit is we can take our time and not worry about studio costs, but the biggest drawback is not having a studio engineer who knows what they are doing and has the skills to to make a recording sound fabulous. We’ll do our best and hopefully the finished product is something folks will enjoy! 

Once it has been completed, will will make it available here as well as having some physical copies made on CD to sell at our shows. We will also, most likely, have it on the main streaming media services like Spotify, iTunes and Pandora. 

Finally, we are actively looking for bookings and trying to make our mark in the KC area, but also in the Lawrence and Topeka markets. Our gig calendar here is always current, so wheat you see is what we currently have booked.

Thanks for reading! Unless anything major happens we’ll post an update sometime in November and then most likely near the end of December to wrap up 2022! 

Thanks for supporting local music!! 

First, we want to say welcome to our new bassist/vocalist Paul Gibson. Paul and Nic go back over 20 years to their days playing together in a few St Louis bands (Reality In Exile, The South Side Johnny Band and Blufish) and brings not only his incredible bass skills but his equally incredible vocal talents. His passion for music and playing live are going to help make THB a powerhouse in 2023! Next time you see us, say hello to Paul! Thanks to Mark Cavender who was our original bassist and was instrumental in getting The Hoodoo Brothers off the ground. 

Next… Last Saturday (9/10/2022) The Hoodoo Brothers participated in the Kansas City Blues Societies (KCBS) competition at Knuckleheads Garage in Kansas City, MO. for a spot at representing the KCBS at the International Blues Competition (IBC) in Memphis, TN. in January 2023.. While we did not win we came away with so much that we felt like winners. We played a killer set of four original songs (Never Going Back Again, Trouble On My Mind, Hellhound, and Time Ain’t On My Side) and one cover song (Coming Home baby! by Ben Tucker) and just nailed it. Paul played it with only one online rehearsal with Nic and the rest of the guys were in rare form. The audience seemed to really enjoy our music and we got rave reviews from a lot of people, included a judge or two, members of the KCBS as well as members of some of the other bands.

Speaking of the other bands, I have to tell you it was so cool to talk with them and get to know them. They were all there to compete, but they were all friendly and not a single group came across as holier than thou. We got to hear some great stories from some of them and got to share the love of blues music. Being able to network and make new acquaintances was just as good as winning. Also, the other five bands prove the amount of shear talent that is out there in the KC community. There are great bands in KC and we are hoping to start making a name for ourselves there.

So what is in store for us?

We have some shows in October and are planning on going into the studio to record our first EP in October or November. We will be launching a GoFundMe campaign soon and appreciate any help and support folks can offer us. Be on the lookout for that music near the end of the year.

We are going to continue writing new material, picking up some new cover songs, and playing shows in Kansas and Missouri, and gearing up to compete in next years IBC. We’re on the move and we hope our friends and fans will join us for the ride! 

A lot has been going on with the group. We have done a few shows and have been tightening up our set list with music we think not only represents the blues well, but us a group. We continue to tweak the songs we do and are always open to suggestions.

We have submitted our application and it has been accepted to take part in the 38th Internation Blues Challenge (IBC) regional competion. Thanks to Dennis Nelson of the KC Blues Society for prompting us to submit our application. We are excited and humbled to take part, and while we will do everything we can to win, we are just happy to be taking place and getting out in the KC blues community to let folks know about us!

We have been working on our original material and it is coming along very nicely. We are excited about that and hope to possibly have an EP out by the end of the year or early 2023. This will depend on how we do at the IBC. If we win the EP will get pushed later next year as we will need to save to travel to Memphis for the IBC.

We will also be the host band for the October KC Blues Society Meeting/Jam that will be held at The Hideout Bar & Grill in Gladstone, MO. We’re excited about that and, again, thank Dennis Nelson for getting us hooked up to play there.

We are really looking forward to having a stellar 2023 and truly believe that big things are in store for the group! We appreciate everyones support and thank those who are actively contributing to our vision!

NOTE: This was originally posted on the Making A Scene website. I have reposted only to make it easier to read as I think the information is still relevant and useful. The original article can be found HERE.

Current Condition of the Blues

There are those who say the current condition of the blues is good. They are usually the more traditional fans that may go to a show once a month in a club or go to maybe 1 or 2 local festivals a year. Their understanding of the state of the genre is usually narrow and very hyper local. But even at this level you should be able to take a look around you and determine the current condition of the blues in your area. If you have less than 2 venues in your immediate area(within at least an hour’s drive) that brings in “Touring” Blues acts, blues may be in trouble. If when you go to a show and you look around and 80% of the people at the show is over the age of 40, blues may be in trouble.

For a good portion of my working career my job was finding the “Root Causes” of problems and identifying the Solutions.

Finding the Root cause is a method of problem solving that tries to identify the root causes of faults or problems. Once removed from the problem fault sequence, it prevents the final undesirable event from recurring.

You talk to Touring artists and their booking agents, you will hear the same story over and over again, they are finding it harder to route a tour with enough paying venues to make it profitable. When you add the price of Gas, Lodging, maintenance of their vehicles, time on the road, off days between gigs (yes the band has to get paid) etc., going on the road becomes expensive and sometimes it is just not profitable, but they still have to do it. The reality of it is, without a circuit of venues that will bring in a touring artist on a regular basis and pay them enough that they can make some sort of living; the economic base of the genre is in jeopardy. Despite what you may want to believe, the way an artist makes his living is performing and touring, whether he is a major label artist or a small independent one.

Now I can’t place the blame on the venues either. Let’s face it; they are in business to make a profit. They sell food and drink, they are not running a musicians charity. The Music is there as part of the business model to make themselves profitable. In order for any bar or restaurant business model to work, they have to attract at least 20% of their customer base as new customers annually, just to maintain their current customer base. If people don’t go to a show, buy food and drink, then the venue will not make a profit. If the venue does not make a profit then it cannot justify paying the musicians to perform.

Even if you are one of those who supports your local blues venue, you know that 90% of the crowd are on their way home by 11pm-12am (come on face it you know I’m right), and how many of those order a coke and not much else. Yes, I am guilty as well and I am going to say it, we are getting too old to rock and roll. So, if the genre cannot attract new young fans, as the current fan base ages and goes out less and spends less, the venues that host “Touring” Blues Artists will soon disappear. The sad part is it is already starting to happen.

In order for us to take a real look at the problem we need to go a little deeper to find the root cause. So let’s break it down.

The Demographics

In 2006 the Kitchens Group conducted a survey of current blues fans to determine what the actual demographics of the Blues fan base is for advertisers. The results of that survey are extremely telling and provide us with a baseline for our discussion of finding a Root cause. So let’s take a look at some of the more glaring results of that survey. Now remember these are people who already like “Blues”.

Age: The most telling demographic was the average age of a blues fan. There was NO fans under the age of 21, between 21 and 30 there was only 3% and between 31 and 40 there was 9%. When you get to age 41 and older your percentage rises to an astounding 87%! The majority of these are baby boomers. The median age is 49 years old (that was in 2006, they are now 58 years old). The problem with this demographic analysis is there are little to no new fans being created for the future.

Race: 80% of blues fans are white and only 4% are African Americans.

Music Purchased: The median number of CD’s purchased in a given year is 9½ . Nearly one-quarter (24%) of respondents say they purchase more than 20 CD’s per year, even higher percentages of those earning more than $75,000 per year. Ironically there is little to no “New” blues on the shelf of the major retailers of CDs today. Of this group 48% NEVER buys music from digital retailers. This is mainly because of the age demographic of the blues fan. Most older fans prefer a more tactile experience when buying music. They want something tangible in their hands when they spend their money. As opposed to the younger market who is used to having more of an online experience.

Festivals: Eighty-one percent (81%) of Blues fans attended at least one Blues Festival in a year. The median attendance at Blues Festivals per year is 2.7. The most frequent response as to the distance a Blues fan is willing to travel to a Blues Festival is 250+ miles. Thirty-seven percent (37%) offered this response. The median number of miles a respondent is willing to travel is 177 miles.

On Ramp to the Blues

It is acknowledged that most of the current fan base came to the genre by way of another artist that was popular in their youth. The British invasion gave new life to the blues in the 1960’s and those artists went as far as bringing the blues greats as opening acts with them when they went on tour. They revered them and they made sure their fans knew where they got their influence. Blues was cool, and the way it was interpreted by these young artists made it current and relevant. During the 1980 and 90’s it was Stevie Ray Vaughn that brought a whole new fanbase to the genre.

I was having a conversation with Mick Kolassa, Vice President of the Blues Foundation and he used the Analogy of the “On Ramp To the Blues”. I thought this was a great way to look at how most blues fans were introduced to the genre. Whether it was the British Invasion, Stevie Ray Vaughn or the Black Keys I can be pretty safe in saying that the majority of blues fans took some “ON RAMP” artist to get on the Blues. The artists don’t have to be pure, traditional blues. They just have to be proud to acknowledge their roots and their fans will find their way onto the blues highway where they can discover other artists, old and new.

Being Blues Aware

So, awhile back I started a “Blues Aware” campaign for myself, where I would pay attention to where I hear blues in everyday life. I started to pay attention to TV Shows, TV Commercials, Movies, etc. I also invited those who listened to my radio show to do the same. What I quickly discovered was Blues is being used in all of these outlets extensively! So much so I can be pretty safe in saying that you cannot watch TV for more than 2 hours and not hear a blues song and you would be hard pressed to go to a movie that did not have a blues song somewhere in it. The only conclusion I could come up with is the music cannot be the problem. Think about it, there are people on Madison Ave and Hollywood making large paychecks and for that money their only responsibility is to find just the right music to put their client’s product or movie scene in the right light or mood.

Time and gain they are choosing Blues! Howlin Wolf sells Viagra, Reeses Peanut butter cups used blues to sell you candy, Vintage Trouble sells you on Hyundais, Outback Steakhouse recently started using a Remix of Muddy Waters to come in and “Get Satisfied” and the list goes on and on. Try it for yourself for 30 days, just make note of where you hear blues. It may take a bit to get used to picking it out, but once you tune your ear you will be surprised how many times a day you say to yourself “Hey that’s blues”!

Now, this is a great advantage to the genre. Because of all the subliminal injection of The “Music” into the mainstream mentality by all the media usage, when people “Hear the Music” they are immediately hit with images of being “Cool”, “Rebellious” and a “Free Spirit” and all qualities that are used to market to their specific demographic. The one caveat is this, the images that are being presented with the music reflect for the most part, a younger demographic. You don’t see a bunch of old hippie types wailing away on guitars, you see young hip 20 something’s doing hip young 20 something things to the music. Even the commercial for the Toyota Camry that feature BB KING, where a girl buys a storage locker and finds the old “Lucille” in the locker and brings it to BB King in the end. The whole commercial revolves around her journey as a young fun loving girl, only at the end does she have a very brief encounter with BB King. What a concept associating Blues with Young and relevant! What this tells me is not only is the “Music” relevant, but the media is working in favor of the genre for mainstream attention. This is a positive if the those in blues recognize it and learn to capitalize on it.

Lori Feldman, EVP Brand Partnerships and Creative Synch Licensing at Warner Brother Records, believes music connects people to other people, images on screens and even their own emotions. “Music is used in advertising and marketing to help ensure these connections, whether it’s through the use of a particular artist, a set of lyrics, or a specific song structure that makes you actually feel something,” says Feldman. “Music and the artists who make it are integral to helping connect brands to consumers,”

On top of this you have all those “talent” shows; The Voice, American idol, America’s Got Talent, etc. How many times has a contestant had a moment that can be directly attributed to a “Blues” performance? How many times did a judge compliment a vocalist for their “Bluesy” Tone? This cannot be a coincidence and the only conclusion I can come up with is the problem with the Blues is not with the music. The Music when performed with passion and truth is relevant and can touch the soul like no other music can.

What is in a Name?

‘When you think of blues,” Ike Turner once mused, “all you think about is crying guitar like BB King’s guitar. You think about someone crying that their woman’s gone. And how bad life is and all that. Why can’t it be something happy with the blues? Why can’t it have a hip-hop beat to which you can do the dances of today?” (Excerpt from the “Guardian” article )

Ok, here is the bottom line. There is a problem with the name of the Genre. The word Blues has been so restricted over the last 30 years it has garnered a very negative impression on the minds of the music buying market. The traditionalists, who have been in control of most blues radio and media have kept such a narrow view of what is or is not blues, they have actually created a negative perception of the genre. Even the outgoing president of the Blues Foundation Jay Sieleman stated “It will take a marketing genius to turn around this perception”.

One promoter I spoke with told me straight out that if he put the word “Blues” on a poster he would lose at least half of his market that would have gone to the show. As a booking agent for young blues band, I can’t tell you how many venues tell me that they cannot book blues because it doesn’t draw.

Finding the Root Cause

Here is where we get to the Root Cause and possibly a solution. We know the music is viable. We understand to have a strong genre we need a strong venue system to support the artists in that Genre. That goes hand in hand with the fact that the current Blues market is aging and not getting renewed. This can be directly attributed to the fact that those who control (or had controlled) the media outlets of the genre are not open to new innovative artists. Let’s face it, this does not bode well for attracting new fans. When you have an aging fan base that is not being renewed by new fans, you get less people going out to shows. The less people that attend a show, well the less profit the venue makes putting on that show. The less profit, the less likely that venue will continue to present shows in that genre. No venues for the touring artists, the harder it is for the genre to survive. Simple Economics.

I often draw parallels to another genre that faced a similar problem. Country music at one time was considered to be old fashion and not relevant to what was happening in the world around them. During the 1960’s a movement called “Outlaw Country” began to take hold of the genre. Artists like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr., Merle Haggard took the genre over and revamped the sound and image of country music. By the time the 1980’s came around these artists had created strong careers but when the movie Urban Cowboy hit the movie screens, country music hit the big time! Since that time the genre has not looked back.

As a Genre they have embraced, nurtured and supported their new artists and they have embraced new sounds. Country Radio and media pride themselves on bringing new artists to their base. Let’s face it Taylor Swift is as far from traditional country as you can get, but she brought new fans to the genre. Those fans discovered other artists that they could relate to and made country music stronger. The best part is no traditional country artist was harmed in the process! The bottom line, they realized that without new fans there was no money to be made and EVERYONE suffers. Again Simple economics.

So here we are, the Root Cause.

We need to find and support new “ON RAMPS” to the blues.

Attracting new fans to the genre should be the primary goal of every Touring blues artist, blues radio station, Blues press media outlet, Blues Society and the Blues Foundation. To attract these new fans we have to start embracing new artists that are creating and interpreting the blues in a new way. Their music has to be relevant to those new fans. That means those in the genre need to encourage young artists to write and perform NEW songs that speak to their truth and not a constant rehashing of songs that was created 50-100 years ago.

The best way to honor the past is to support the future of the Blues.

I can almost see the pitch forks and torches from the blues purists now. But, let’s face the facts here. Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Willie Dixon will always be with us. We have their music forever and by supporting new artists and new music, this will not change that fact. But, Muddy, Howlin and the rest are not creating new music, none of them are out there touring and bringing new fans to the genre. You are not going to dilute or harm “Blues” by allowing your definition of Blues to Expand. Let’s be honest, Muddy Waters was once one of those new Blues artists who took the music in his own direction. His electric blues sound changed the world and influenced all of popular music, imagine what would happen if we embraced the next blues innovator!

History has proven that by supporting and encouraging new “ON RAMPS” to the Blues, you are introducing more potential fans to their music then if you were to guard the genre like a hoarder guards their possessions. Change is essential!

In the summer of 2010, Jim Fusilli, the rock and pop critic for the Wall Street Journal, travelled to the 31st Blues Foundation annual gala in Memphis, and his resulting report sounded puzzled and somewhat disappointed: “I heard folk blues, country blues, jump blues, Chicago blues, Delta blues, Texas blues, fast blues, slow blues, good blues and bad blues,” he wrote. “What I didn’t hear was new blues.” Fusilli wondered what the future of the genre might be, and like Turner, considered the possibility of the blues rethought: “Young fans who still fuel the music marketplace may admire veterans like Mr [Buddy] Guy, but they’re right to ask if there’s a new way to play the blues, one that’s affiliated with new sounds and styles.” (Excerpt from the “Guardian” article )

We need to Re-brand the genre

Rebranding is a marketing strategy in which a new name, term, symbol, design, or combination thereof is created for an established brand with the intention of developing a new, differentiated identity in the minds of consumers, investors, and competitors. Often, this involves radical changes to a brand’s logo, name, image, marketing strategy, and advertising themes. Such changes typically aim to reposition the brand/company, occasionally to distance itself from negative connotations of the previous branding, or to move the brand upmarket.

The fact is that no matter what you do, the moment you say the word “Blues” you are behind the 8 ball. I propose (Unless someone comes up with a better idea) that the artists, publicists, Booking Agents and Radio people refer to any “Touring Original Blues based artist” as an “INDIE BLUES” or “INDIE B” artist (Remember the B in R&B is “Blues”). No sub genres, no separation between Country blues, blues rock, Texas blues, etc. Just one genre, just one music. By re branding we can separate ourselves from the stigma that has been attached to the word “Blues” but still honor the past. I have already seen this begin to work in my own booking endeavors. I have marketed a young blues band as an INDIE B Band, though the venue was not sure what INDIE B was they listened to the music and decided that they would book them. Had I told them it was a Blues Band, I doubt I would have been able to get them to even give them a listen.

It’s a Team Effort

Blues Artists– Take back your genre! Don’t let anyone tell you what is or is not blues. Don’t try to fit into the small box that someone else decided you need to fit into. Be true to who you are, write music that expresses your truth. Stand up as a true “Indie Blues” artist! And if anyone tries to tell you that you are not “Indie Blues” enough, you just refer them to me ..

Blues Radio– Really simple, start opening up your playlist to include, young “Indie Blues” artists. At the very least give the largest percentage of your playlist to the living “Touring” Blues artists that is creating new music. Help promote the re-branding of Blues to “Indie Blues”.

Report your playlists to the charts! I cannot stress this enough, if you play new music make sure you report it to either the RMR or the Living Blues charts. It Does Make a difference!

Blues Societies – Create outreach programs to attract young musicians and members. Be open to new interpretation of the blues and understand that they are communicating to their peers. By showing them that you are willing to support them, they become more open to learning where the blues came from.

In addition, the Blues Societies should work to create opportunities to bring in touring artists into their area. Remember you are a non for profit, so using monies to put on a show is well within your charter as a blues society. In addition, if you use a venue for a show and the venue starts to realize that it can make a profit bringing in a “Touring” INDIE BLUES band, they may start doing it more often.

You may also qualify for grants for the purpose of supporting American Roots Music and presenting music programs that showcase the Blues. Having someone on your board that is willing to learn how to write grant applications is a great way to help fund these types of programs. A great Resource for finding where to get grants and how to apply for them is the “Foundation Center”. They have an extensive database of currently available grants and their requirements. Many Libraries have direct access to the database for you to search for grants.

If there are members that have extra rooms in their homes (empty nesters), ask them to make them available to help the touring artists by giving them a place to sleep. I have done this at my own home many times. I cannot tell you how appreciative the musicians are when they are given a clean bed and a warm welcome while they are on the road.

Create outlets that showcase local and touring indie blues artists. The Atlanta Blues Society created the ABS Bluescast which only plays Local and touring blues artists. It’s an easy process to setup such a station and the added benefit of having this resource it puts that organization on the world stage. You can find an article on this site on how to create your own Internet Radio Station.

Blues Foundation –as the pre-eminent voice of the genre the Blues Foundation should be taking the lead on advancing the Genre. They have a golden opportunity in that they already have several vehicles in place that can do just that. With the opening of the “Blues Hall of Fame” they are uniquely positioned to be the organization to spearhead what is needed to do to re-position the genre. Memphis could become the “Nashville” of Blues, if they open their eyes to the possibilities and are given the support of the artists, fans, Blues Societies, Radio, the blues media and industry.

The IBC – This should be the single most important showcase of what is new and exciting in the genre. Unfortunately, the winners of this event most often reflect what the more traditional fanbase wants to hear and not what will bring new fans to the genre. Ironically in its history, more artists have created successful careers that did not win, then those that have won the IBC. It might be time for this event to open up to an “INDIE BLUES” (or contemporary blues) category that would showcase artists that have the best chance to move the genre into a more mainstream market and bring in new fans.

The BMA’s – Open up the nominations to more young and innovative artists. Start embracing more out of the box artists that have that young fan base. Give them an incentive, something to strive for and embrace them as “Indie Blues” Artists.


Not all the news is bad, actually it’s quite the opposite. There is no shortage of “INDIE BLUES” artists. Right now on the road there are literally hundreds of great “Indie Blues” artists, that have the ability to attract new fans and help the genre grow. They are out there, creating new music, bucking the tide and fighting the good fight. All they need is for the rest of us to start stepping up to the plate and supporting them and supporting the creation of new “Indie Blues” music. This can be done, and the best part .. the purest can still say what is and what is not blues .. but they have no say in what is or what is not “INDIE BLUES” !

A Small sampling of INDIE BLUES artists to check out!

Joe Bonmassa, Selwyn Birchwood, Jarkus Singleton, Samantha fish, Mike Zito, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Gary Clark jr., JPBlues, Eliza Neals, Jeremiah Johnson, Magnus Berg, Oli Brown, Missy Andersen, Jeff Jensen, Albert Castiglia, D.A. Foster, Mike Andersen, Jeff Chaz, Big Bill Morganfield, Neal Barnes, Balkun Brothers, Sean Chambers, Tas Cru, Annika Chambers, JP Soars, Sena Ehrhardt, Liz Mandeville and the Billy Walton Band to name just a very Few!

Join the INDIE BLUES movement!

INDIE BLUES – on Facebook

I Love INDIE B – Facebook Group

The INDIE Blues Movement – Facebook Group

Read the Follow up Article


Thanks for visiting the official web site for The Hoodoo Brothers!

The Hoodoo Brothers is a four piece, Topeka, KS. based heavy blues group playing cover as well as original material. The band is made up of highly experienced musicians, all with over 40 years playing experience each.

Our goal is to provide an energetic, fun and sonic adventure for our guests at shows. We have a solid song list that expands to meet the expectations of the venues we perform at and do our best at entertaining the audience.

Our song selection as of this posting covers songs by a variety of artists such as Joe Bonamassa, Tab Benoit, Freddie King, Popa Chubby, The Allman Brothers Band, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, Marcus King, Gary Moore, Robben Ford, and More!

We are huge fans of local music and musicians and firmly believe that if you want to truly understand the soul of music you need to listen to local musicians. Nothing wrong with national acts, but local acts are all blood, sweat and soul. Local musicians have to do it all – load gear in, play, load out, rehearse, etc. They don’t usually have the luxury of just showing up and playing. A four hour gig is more like eight hours when you take into account load up, driving, load in, playing, load out, drive again, and the load out once more. National acts make it look glamorous, local acts give you reality. They give you the experience of seeing musicians who love to play music, not for the money, but because it is a part of their being that cannot be denied.

That is what the Hoodoo Brothers are about. We toil and sweat during the week doing our day jobs, but on the weekends we get to let loose our true selves!

We hope you’ll join us in the adventure!