Durham Blues & Brews Festival

2017 Festival Bands

While waiting for the announcement of our 2018 lineup, read about the great bands featured in our 3rd Annual Festival.

The Willie Painter Band

Willie Painter Band

Playing a mix of danceable blues with a nod towards swinging jazz and an eclectic selection of rock and pop tunes, the Willie Painter Band consists of four veterans of the North Carolina music scene.

Willie Painter (guitar) and Craig Dittmar (bass) were members of the Boomers, who played for over 20 years in the Triangle and eastern North Carolina. They have performed in the past with Lightnin’ Wells and the Real Gone Cats. Currently they also play with the Pigz Brothers, Mike Hamer and the Rhinoceroses, and the Tommy G Experience. Painter wrote a monthly music column for the Urban Hiker from 1999 to 2004.
Bill Newton (saxophone, harmonica) is a founding member of three Triangle musical institutions: Rebecca and the Hi-Tones, Bill Newton’s Big Blues Quartet, and the Duke Street Dawgs. He has recorded with the Indigo Girls and Big Mama E and the Cool, among others.
John Hanks (drums), has over the years been in many Triangle bands including: the Hard Times Jazz Band, the Swamis, Rebecca and the Hitones, the Gregg Gelb Swing Band and has recently appeared with Peter Lamb and the Wolves, Atomic Rhythm Allstars, and jazz guitar great, Randy Johnston; he is an in-demand musician for many jazz, blues, musical theater and classical music groups. His “day jobs” are Music Director for Duke University’s Dance Program, and Musician for the American Dance Festival school.

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Roy Roberts

Roy Roberts

Roy Roberts became hooked on music while growing up in a small town in Tennessee, listening to blues and R&B on radio stations WLAC out of Nashville. Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me to Do” was the clincher and at the age of 14, Roy worked on a nearby farm to earn the money for his first guitar, a mail order Sears Silvertone.

When he turned 18, he moved to Greensboro, North Carolina to live with an uncle. There he had another inspiration to become a professional musician, when he and a carload of friends happened upon a nightclub where Jerry Butler was performing and making quite an impression on the ladies. Roy sharpened his skills while playing in makeshift bands until he landed a job with local hero Guitar Kimbers’ Untouchables. Before long, Roy was backing up major artists who came through town. One of those artists, Solomon Burke, took young Roy under his wing after letting him sit in as a bass player during a local gig. He was soon handling the guitar chores behind the future soul legend on tour. Roberts subsequently picked up touring gigs with such luminaries as Eddie Floyd, “Little” Stevie Wonder, Dee Clark, and Otis Redding, while fronting his own band, The Roy Roberts Experience, on the regional club scene and Southeastern beach town circuit.

One day in the early nineties, he heard a young Robert Cray singing the blues on the radio. “That cat’s got my style,” he declared, and got the blues fever once again. Besides recording his own material on Rock House, Roberts has produced albums for the label by Priscilla Price, Lou Pride, Chick Willis, Skeeter Brandon, Floyd Miles, Eddie Floyd, and many more. Roy continues to record and produce records for his label, and tours the U.S. and Europe regularly. After receiving numerous awards, Roy has earned his place among the finest artists playing blues today.

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Nikki Hill

Nikki Hill is a fireball

Those who have seen Carolina girl Nikki Hill sing her ass off agree—this isn’t just another newcomer on the scene, this is a ‘whiplash’ moment. Where did this fireball come from? Why haven’t I heard of her before?

If you haven’t heard of Nikki Hill yet, you soon will, and once you see her perform, you won’t forget her.

Hill and her band have been touring extensively following the independent 2015 release ‘Heavy Hearts Hard Fists’ and debut album ‘Here’s Nikki Hill’, released in 2013. With a no-filter energy, and explosive live show, they deliver a sound that will make you believe in rock ‘n’ roll again! Nikki’s unique voice—with raw rock and soul dynamics mixed with the strength, passion, and honesty of blues shouters of the past—steers the driving guitar and a tight rhythm section to create a breath of fresh air with their fast forward approach to American roots music.

Nikki Hill’s self-titled, independently released EP in June of 2012 created a heavy and sudden international underground buzz that the band has traveled with across America and overseas to Europe and Australia. Those four tunes penned by Hill, combined with memorable live performances, have drawn a wide range of people from every avenue and musical taste to their shows. Her enthusiasm for music is simply contagious. One club advertisement will call Nikki “The Southern Fireball”, “the New Soul Sensation”, “amazing R&B Shouter”, and even “the new Queen of Rock n’ Roll”.

If you haven’t heard of her yet, prepare for your ‘whiplash moment’. You have been warned.

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Map of Durham Central Park

Durham Blues & Brews Festival

May 19, 2018
5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St. Durham, NC 27701