Born and raised in the blue-collar Mississippi River town of Burlington, Iowa in 1951, Bo Ramsey not only played a vital role in shaping Eastern Iowa’s distinctive blues-rock hybrid, but has continued in his still vibrant career as a performer, producer, recording session guitarist and touring “hired gun”. Ramsey broke out in the mid ‘70’s with the seminal Mother Blues Band, a honking powerhouse which also featured Iowa blues legends Joe Price and Patrick Hazell. In the latter part of the decade, the guitarist broke off to form Bo Ramsey & The Sliders. In the late ‘80’s Bo began a collaboration with revered folksinger Greg Brown that continues to the present. Ramsey has played guitar on ten of Brown’s discs, and produced 1990’s “Down in There”, 1994’s “The Poet Game”, 1996’s “Further In”, 1997’s Grammy-nominated “Slant 6 Mind”, 2000’s “Covenant” and 2006 “Evening Call” (all on Red House Records), as well as 2000’s “Over and Under” and 2004’s “Honey in the Lions Head” for Trailer Records.
The past 16 years have brought a dizzying array of cross-pollinations. In between gigs with Greg Brown, Ramsey briefly co-fronted a band with Nashville singer-songwriter Kevin Gordon, led his own bands, and has recorded and toured with singer-songwriter Pieta Brown. Bo produced Iowa City treasure Dave Moore’s “Breaking Down to 3” (Red House) Tuscon roots-rocker Teddy Morgan’s “Lost Love & Highways” (Hightone) and acclaimed singer-songwriter Jeffery Foucault’s “Ghost Repeater” (Signature Sounds ‘06). He also coproduced Pieta Brown’s self titled debut (Trailer), “I Never Told” (T Records), “In The Cool” (Valley Entertainment) and “Remember the Sun” (One Little Indian ‘07). He coproduced Kevin Gordon’s “Down To The Well” (Shanachie) and perhaps most notably- alt country superstar Lucinda William’s “Essence” (Lost Highway). The Lucinda connection began in the early ‘90’s. Ramsey played on her Grammy – winning “Car Wheels On A Gravel Road” (Mercury), and joined her for part of that record’s tour. Bo coproduced Lucinda’s follow-up, the Grammy nominated “Essence”- again joining her band on tour in support of that record. That tour included many television appearences including German film director Wim Wenders “Soul of a Man” segment for Martin Scorcese’s seven-part series on blues for public television
In 2005 Bo was inducted into the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame and in 2006 he was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame.
Bo has recorded ten albums under his own name, four of which – “Down To Bastrop”(1992), In The Weeds”(1996), “Stranger Blues”(2006) and “Fragile”(2008) – remain in print on Bo Ramsey Records. In 2007 Bo produced The Pines “Sparrows In The Bell”(RedHouse). In 2008 Bo coproduced Pieta Brown’s “Flight Time” and played guitar on Calexico’s “Carried To Dust”. In 2009 Bo produced the record “Redemption Man” for fellow Iowan Chad Elliott. He also produced “Walking With Angels” for Ernie Hendrickson and the critically acclaimed “Tremolo” for The Pines (Red House). Also in ‘09, Bo worked with Pieta Brown and Don Was on Pieta’s EP “Shimmer” for Red House Records. In 2010 Bo produced Charlie Parr’s record “When The Devil Goes Blind” and coproduced Pieta Brown’s first full length record for Red House “One and All”. Bo has been touring with Pieta behind “One And All” which included opening North American dates for Mark Knopfler.
Born in Washington, D.C. in 1961, a family move to Nashville at age 3 fully immersed David Grier into the bluegrass music world, and at age 6, he began playing the guitar. Today, he is regarded as one of the premier acoustic guitarists in the world, along with his early influences, Doc Watson, Tony Rice, and family friend Clarence White. Recognized by Acoustic Guitar Magazine in 2000 as one of the Artists of the Decade, and named Guitar Player of the Year three times by the International Bluegrass Music Association, Grier has played on four Grammy Award-winning albums (True Life Blues: A Tribute to Bill Monroe; The Great Dobro Sessions; Alison Brown’s Fairweather; and Amazing Grace 2: A Country Salute to Gospel).
Having released four albums on Rounder, beginning in 1988 with Freewheeling, Grier launched his own label, Dreadnought Recordings, with the 1998 debut release, Hootenanny, with Dirk Powell and Tim O’Brien (“endlessly inventive and tasteful” – All Music Guide). Evocative (Dreadnought 2009), featuring 10 original tunes and a rich complement of collaborators (Victor Wooten, Paul Franklin, Stuart Duncan and more), has been hailed for its “deep musical introspection” as well as its “unmatchable mastery of the guitar” (Martin Mull). Other Dreadnought releases include the highly-acclaimed Live at the Linda (2007) and I’ve Got
the House to Myself (2002) (“unfettered explosive invention” – Tim O’Brien). His most recent release is Fly On The Wall (2014).
Peter Lang is one of the world’s Preeminent 6 and 12 String Finger-Picking Guitar Players. He cites the work of such country bluesmen as Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Blake, Rev. Gary Davis, and Mississippi John Hurt as his principal influences. His newest CD explores and revels in the DNA of American music. He has returned in the new century with magnificent playing that mines the roots of his original inspiration. Peter talks about the music, saying: ‘Historians say blues was full blown by 1890 with centuries of African-American oral history behind it the whole world loves it and the lyrics seem ageless — sex and power, betrayal and redemption. It was the southern working man’s pop music, what made Elvis and Dylan and Springsteen possible, also made Tupac and Nirvana, for that matter. A luminary proponent of modern American Finger-style Guitar, Lang was part of a handful of guitarists who would bring the instrument to the stage and redefine it as a serious concert instrument.
Like his labelmates at Takoma, John Fahey and Leo Kottke, Peter Lang used the techniques and vocabulary of country blues guitarists to create his own compositions in a variety of alternate tunings. Lang made a name as a guitarist and composer of exceptional ability and originality. His bright sound, driving rhythm, and whimsical compositional sense were already well-defined by the time of his first record, which was made in 1972.
Lang toured, and recorded as one of the top acoustic players of his day. In the 70’s he was in good company, having recorded or performed with Ry Cooder, John Fahey, Jerry Garcia, Chet Atkins, John Hartford, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Emmylou Harris, Leo Kottke, Freddie King, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, John Hammond, Keith Jarrett, Phoebe Snow, Maria Muldaur, The Yellowjackets, Robben Ford, and host of others.
As a prolific composer and guitarist from DR Congo (later Uganda, Kenya, Dubai and Japan) Siama Matuzungidi performed with many of the greats and was a sought-after studio musician, recording over 100 popular songs during the golden era of soukous music in the 70s-80s. His signature sound and commitment to innovation helped to fuel the popularization of soukous (aka “the sound of happiness”) which is ubiquitous on dance floors the world-over to this day.
Siama launched his solo career in 2014 from Minneapolis, MN-USA after being awarded a McKnight Fellowship and now that he’s running his own show, he’s developed an acoustic format, a lot of new material is flowing and he’s collaborating with musicians of a wide array of backgrounds and instrumentation.
In addition to performing concerts, festivals, home concerts and special events, Siama hosts interactive programs and instrument petting zoos for children and lifelong learners and he teaches workshops on songwriting and guitar.
Pushing Chain was formed in 2012 by Boyd Blomberg and Adam Moe. The duo, which has been performing together in various manifestations since 1997, plays Folky-Tonk music featuring Boyd on guitar and vocals and Adam on the fiddle and vocals. Strong songwriting, tight harmonies, and a gonzo approach have been winning fans for Pushing Chain across the Midwest and beyond. Recent highlights include:
- Sang National Anthem at Target Field before a Minnesota Twins game
- Opened for Bill Staines, Flatt Lonesome (IBMA 2014 Emerging Artist of the Year) and John Hiatt
- New York Mills Cultural Center
- Harmony for Mayo Music Series in Rochester, MN
- Toured through Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri
- Placed 2nd in a vocal duo competition at the Minnesota State Fair
- Placed 3rd in the MBOTMA Race for a Place band contest
Since moving to Minneapolis in 2005, Zacc Harris has gained a reputation as one of the area’s top guitarists, leading a host of creative projects including Atlantis Quartet, winner of the 2015 McKnight Fellowship and named 2011 Best Jazz Artist by the City Pages, as well as the Zacc Harris Group, American Reverie, and Zacc Harris Trio.
Harris has toured as leader and sideman throughout the US and UK, including a recent run with Zacc Harris Group at London’s famed Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Jazz Improv Magazine says, “Harris delivers a sound that is lucid, clear…providing rich-sounding accompaniment, and well-crafted solos” while Cadence Magazine calls some of Harris’ work on Atlantis Quartet’s most recent album “worthy of John McLaughlin.” MPR News states, “Harris makes his own mark on standards with enough new hooks to keep jazz alive.”
In 2012, Harris released his first album as leader, THE GARDEN, on Shifting Paradigm Records. City Pages writer Rick Mason says, “The Garden showcases Harris’s compositions, which adeptly and compellingly link the past and future of jazz, and guitar work, which is consistently articulate with an enticing fluidity seemingly influenced by the likes of Wes Montgomery and Pat Metheny.”
Zacc is also a busy sideman, having performed and recorded with countless artists, including Debbie Duncan, Bruce Henry, Babatunde Lea, Eric Gravatt, Ben Wendel, Michael Janisch, and Nancy Harms. Currently, he plays with Jt Bates’ Grain Trio, Lars Larson’s Mancrush, Cory Healey’s Beautiful Sunshine Band, and Adam Meckler Quintet.
A graduate of Southern Illinois University, Zacc has studied privately with Adam Rogers, Jonathan Kreisberg, Gilad Hekselman, Nir Felder, Miles Okazaki, and Fareed Haque. Zacc has taught privately for the past 18 years and is currently adjunct faculty in the music department at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN and Carleton College in Northfield, MN.
Mike Salow is a multifaceted guitarist with close to 20 years of playing experience. He graduated with honors from McNally Smith College of Music receiving a B.M. in guitar performance with a music business minor. One year after graduating, Mike was asked back to McNally Smith to join the guitar department as a teacher where he currently works. Outside of teaching Mike has done a lot of work with various fusion, funk, jazz, hip-hop, blues, metal, pop, country, and rock bands.
Currently Mike is lead guitarist & backing vocalist for Minneapolis based rock band, Chester Bay. After joining the band in September of 2009, Chester Bay toured throughout the upper Midwest, was featured in Rolling Stone magazine, and also opened for national acts such as Candlebox, Los Lobos, Fitz and the Tantrums, and The Avett Brothers. Aside from Chester Bay, Mike also plays with Twin Cities Progressive Metal band, Ideology. The band will be releasing their much anticipated debut album in Spring of 2016.
Besides teaching at McNally Smith College of Music he also teaches freelance guitar, bass, and piano lessons as well as teaching at several schools around the Twin Cities which have included School of Rock, Cyprus School of Music, Virtuosos Music Academy, and Pathway Music Institute. You can also find Mike teaching online for InfiniteGuitar.com where his main lesson focus is on advanced jazz/fusion playing.
Mike is endorsed my Mayones Guitars & Basses and Arobas Music (makers of Guitar Pro). He has been featured on TruthInShredding.com, received an Outstanding Solo award at the Elmhurst Jazz festival, in Chicago, with the Kirkwood Community College Jazz Big Band, and has also had success in select international guitar competitions via YouTube, placing 1st in one, and also being a top 5 finalist and top 12 finalist in two others. Most recently Mike won 1st place in the #solocontest2016, which was put on by Mayones Guitars & Basses, Mesa Boogie, Gruvgear, Toontrack, Line 6, and John Browne of the band Monuments.
Rena Haus has been playing music for over thirty years. Born into a creative family, she started playing the guitar at the age of 11 and took up the banjo at the age of 14. An accomplished vocalist, Rena writes and performs her own material at many locations throughout the state. From 1983 to 1998, Rena lived and worked in Phoenix , AZ where she served for 4 years as a roster artist on the Arizona Commission for the Arts; traveling to schools and communities throughout the state, presenting a history of American popular music and conducting residencies and workshops in music and art. Her original music has been featured in radio, television and film scores, and she’s opened concerts for dozens of national artists. Rena offers lessons in acoustic finger style guitar, 5 string banjo, and vocals from beginner to intermediate level.
Mike Salovich performs eclectic uptempo 12-string and 6-string electro-acoustic guitar music. His guitar virtuosity typically mixes world rhythms, simple melodies and turbo fingerpicking. Think Leo Kottke rifting world music.
Salovich is known for a series of eye candy YouTube videos that capture dazzling images of wildly vibrating guitar strings. An initial video became a mini-viral hit and landed in YouTube’s Top 100 Music Videos, besting Lady Gaga for a day. International YouTube specter propelled his debut album, The Return Message, to rank in Amazon’s Top 100 World Music, as well as invitations to perform around the world. The Return Message features ECM recording artist Marcus Wise as well as Marc Anderson.
Salovich recently performed at the International Healdsburgh Guitar Festival and dueled with guitar notable Alex DeGrassi. He is currently recording a latin jazz album. Salovich’s guitar technique is rooted in American Primitivism, known for animated fingerpicking on steel strings to create layers of notes towards folk impressionism. His music is difficult to categorize and veers towards the World genre when it beats Latin, African and East Indian rhythms. Salovich’s influences include Leo Kottke, Peter Lang, John Fahey along with spaciness from The Edge, Brian Eno and spicy Latin rhythms of Celia Cruz, Aterciopelados.