Friday Night Headliner

Walter Trout overcame liver disease
to continue his musical career

After five decades, Trout shows
no signs of slowing down

(August 2018) – After five decades in the business, Walter Trout is still breaking boundaries with his blues music. He will be the Friday night headliner at this year’s Madison Ribberfest Blues Bash, and his performance is sure to please the crowd. He is scheduled to take the stage at 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17.
Trout’s musical career began in the late 1960s and early 1970s on the New Jersey coast, where he was born. After relocating to Los Angeles, he became a sideman for Percy Mayfield and Deacon Jones. He gained additional experience working in bands for John Lee Hooker and Joe Tex.
After he became the guitarist for Canned Heat in 1981, replacing the late Bob Hite, Trout’s reputation led to an invitation to perform in the English blues rock band, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. This gave Trout the opportunity to share the stage with fellow guitarist Coco Montoya.

Photo courtesy of
Greg Waterman

Walter Trout is alive and still touring because of a donated liver.

In 1989 he left the Bluesbreakers to strike out on a solo career, forming the Walter Trout Band. The band developed a successful following in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, earning him a large national following. Trout, 67, then released his self-titled U.S. debut album and renamed his band Walter Trout and the Free Radicals.
Trout released his debut LP in 1990, “Life in the Jungle,” followed a year later by “Prisoner of a Dream.”
A string of albums marked his career including 1992’s “Live (No More Fish Jokes),” 1994’s “Tellin’ Stories,” 1997’s “Positively Beale Street,” 1999’s “Livin’ Every Day,” a live album in 2000, 2001’s “Go the Distance,” 2003’s “Relent-less,” 2005’s “Deep Trout,” 2006’s “Full Circle,” 2009’s “Unspoiled by Progress,” 2010’s “Common Ground” and 2012’s “Blues for the Modern Daze.” His 23rd album, “Luther’s Blues,” a tribute to one of his main influences, the late Luther Allison, was originally released in Europe in 2010 and issued in the United States in 2013.
Throughout his career, Trout has made many guest appearances for other artists on their recordings. In 2002, he was featured on the Bo Diddley tribute album, “Hey Bo Diddley – A Tribute!,” performing the song “Road Runner.”
This talented guitarist, singer and songwriter has garnered many nominations and won several awards for his contributions to the blues genre. In 2013 his album, “Luther’s Blues,” was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the Rock Blues Album of the Year category. In 2016, he won two Blues Music Awards for “Gonna Live Again” (Song of the Year) and the Rock Blues Album of the Year for “Battle Scars.”
Several years before, while touring Germany in 2013, Trout faced the hard realization that he was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. Even though his health was deteriorating, he continued to tour until told he needed a liver transplant within 90 days. With the aid of donations from fans, Trout’s wife raised the money needed for the operation.

Photo courtesy of
Laura Carbone

Dawn Tyler Watson and her band are scheduled to play at 8 p.m. Friday at the Blues Bash.

By 2015 Trout had recovered and was able to go on tour in Europe. “Battle Scars” was released the same year and chronicles his battle with liver failure.
In November 2015 Trout became a patron of The British Liver Trust in an effort to help raise awareness and much needed funding about liver disease. He has been quoted as saying, “I’m only still here because someone donated their liver.”
His latest release is “We’re All In This Together,” released in 2017. “Battle Scars was such an intense piece of work, written with tears coming down my face. I needed a break from that; to do something fun and light-hearted. This album was joyous for me,” Trout has said of his latest effort.
Scanning the credits of “We’re All In This Together,” one will find 14 A-List musical legends. Trout wrote an original song for each performer. Tracks include “Gonna Hurt Like Hell” featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd; “She Listens To The Blackbird Song” featuring Mike Zito;
“Blues For Jimmy T.” featuring John Mayall; and “We’re All In This Together” featuring Joe Bonamassa.
• Canadian singer songwriter Dawn Tyler Watson is the third act to perform on Friday evening. She is scheduled to launch into her set at 8 p.m.
Geoff Chapman of the Toronto Star has said of Watson, “This utterly assured performer has you believing she’s a front-ranking country singer, a soul diva, a jazz warbler, a new adult contemporary specialist, a swing siren – as well as a basic blues belter.”
Born in England and raised in Ontario, she adopted Montreal as her home after earning her BFA in Jazz Studies and Theatre from Concordia University. An accomplished and dynamic performer, Watson’s fiery stage presence has earned her national and international recognition over the years.
For several decades Watson has played festivals and concert halls across four continents. She has shared the stage with such well-known artists as Oliver Jones, Koko Taylor, Jeff Healy, Susan Tedeschi and Cyndi Lauper.
In 2017 along with her backing band, The Ben Racine Band, Watson placed first out of more than 260 acts at the 33rd International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn. Four days of fierce competition left her with the honor of being the first female in 25 years to win Best Blues Band.
Junk Box will kick off the Friday night lineup at 6 p.m. This high-energy local band is a hit wherever they perform. “They’re a high quality band,” said Dave Butler, one of the organizers of the Madison Ribberfest Blues Bash.
“They’re a killer way to start off the show. They’re going to bring in horns and keyboards for this one.”

Member Bill Lancton has been recognized as one of the top guitarists in the Midwest and been inducted into the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation Hall of Fame. He will be joined on stage by Jimmy Davis (guitar and vocals), Tim Halcomb (bass), Chris Watson (drums), David “Woody” Woodmansee (keyboard), Rich Dole (trombone) and Mike Stricklin (sax).

Back to August 2018 Ribberfest Articles.



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