Durham Blues & Brews Festival

2018 Festival Bands

Bulltown Strutters

Bulltown Strutters

The Durham-based Bulltown Strutters bring the party and shift it into high gear with their raucous mix of old-school New Orleans classics and new-school New Orleans funk, powered by a massive horn section and an extra dose of Durham craziness.

A street band? You got it. A stage show? Sure. Parading inspired by the finest in New Orleans Second Line traditions? Absolutely!

Over the years, this community band has built up a loyal following of fans who don their feather boas, wacky hats and sequins (or maybe just jeans and t-shirt) and come out to dance, get happy, make a toast and maybe make themselves hoarse singing those old tunes that you didn’t even know you knew all the words to.

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Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos

Mel Melton

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos, a smokin' Zydeco/Cajun flavored blues band out of North Carolina. For those not in the know, let's meet the guys up close and...

Mel Melton, on what was intended to be a brief visit to Lafayette LA in the early '70s turned out to be a life-changing experience. There he met, played with and forged lasting relationships with Sonny Landreth and Cheniers Clifton, Cleveland and CJ. After a long stint with Bayou Rhythm, Mel took time off from the music rat-race to concentrate on a chef career (another facet developed and sharpened from the early Lafayette days). 1990 found him back in NC and back at music, having formed the first edition of The Wicked Mojos. In 2008 Mel opened a new hot Cajun restaurant called Papa Mojo's Roadhouse (www.papamojosroadhouse.com). For a more detailed bio on Mel, please feel free to visit www.melmelton.com.

Max Drake has been playing in and recording with blues/R&B bands such as Arhoolie, The Excellos and the Ministers of Sinister since the '60s. More recently, he has lent his fiery fretwork to the late Skeeter Brandon and Big Bill Morganfield before joining forces with The Wicked Mojos in 2005. Max also performs with a stripped-down nasty blues/roots band known as The Buzzkillz (www.myspace.com/buzzkillzboogie). T.A. James, after a 3 year sabbatical (intracontinental freight relocation), hooked up with the Wicked Mojos at the very tail end of 2007. He logged much of 20 years as bassist and guitarist, having spent '95-'03 as the low-end kingpin for the Carey Bell Band. More bio info for T.A. can be found at www.myspace.com/tajames68. Kelly Pace logged road and recording time with Skeeter Brandon and an earlier version of Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos (Mojo Dream) as throne man, and has also been a longtime member of Blues World Order. Kelly rejoined forces with the 'Mojos in 2009.

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The Selwyn Birchwood Band

Selwyn Birchwood

With his fiery guitar and lap steel playing, his trailblazing, instantly memorable songs and gritty, unvarnished vocals, Selwyn Birchwood is among the most extraordinary young stars in the blues. His deep familiarity with blues tradition allows him to bust the genre wide open, adding new sounds, colors and textures, all delivered with a revival tent preacher's fervor and a natural storyteller's charisma. Since the 2014 release of his Alligator Records debut, Don't Call No Ambulance, Birchwood's meteoric rise from playing small Florida clubs to headlining international festival stages is nothing short of phenomenal, as he continues to set the contemporary blues world on fire. The album received the Blues Music Award and Living Blues Critics' Award for Best Debut Album Of 2014, and he won the 2015 Blues Blast Rising Star Award. Selwyn and his band have crisscrossed the U.S. and Europe repeatedly, delivering unforgettable live performances. With his new album, Pick Your Poison, Birchwood, along with his band—saxophonist Regi Oliver, bassist Huff Wright and drummer Courtney "Big Love" Girlie—takes a major step forward, crafting visionary blues for a new generation of forward-looking fans.

Birchwood, who attacks his guitar and lap steel with searing intensity, wrote and produced all 13 songs on Pick Your Poison. His richly detailed, hard-hitting originals run the emotional gamut from the humorously personal "My Whiskey Loves My Ex" to the gospel-inflected "Even The Saved Need Saving" to the hard truths of the topical "Corporate Drone" and "Police State" to the existential choice of the title track. The cutting-edge songs are made all the more impactful by Birchwood's gruff vocals, his untamed musicianship and his band's seemingly telepathic accompaniment. "I write and sing what I know," says Birchwood, whose innovations are as expansive as his influences. "This album has a broad reach. It's for young, old and everyone in between."

According to Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer, who signed Birchwood to the label shortly after the bluesman won the 2013 International Blues Challenge and also the Albert King Guitarist Of The Year Award at the same event, "Selwyn writes smart, infectious, fresh songs and delivers them with a warm, conversational vocal style and a fun-loving attitude. He's a killer guitarist, switching between a regular six-string and lap steel. Live, he's a ball of energy, interacting with the audience like they were in his living room."

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Map of Durham Central Park

Durham Blues & Brews Festival

May 18, 2019
5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St. Durham, NC 27701