Blues Bash Lineup

Jimmy G band joins musical fray

Hoy, Brent, Robinson in mix
for constant blues music action

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(August 2012) – Jimmy Gaetano, front man of the band, Jimmy G. and the Sidewinders, likes to play what inspires him. Music is “my way of expression and it could sound like anything,” he said.
Gaetano, who runs a music store in New Albany, Ind., says he is not bothered with titles and categories. “Whether you are Garth Brooks, Jimi Hendrix, Mozart, Miles Davis, David Gilmore, Angus Young, etc., if any of these musicians play a G chord, it’s still a G chord. It makes no difference to me who is playing or what title you put over it (country, rock, jazz, blues, folk, and bluegrass) it’s still a G. chord. It’s still music.”

Jimmy G. & The Sidewinders

Photo provided

Jimmy G. & the Sidewinders includes
(from left) Hank Dobson, Jimmy
Gaetano and Tom Murray (drums).

The Jimmy G. and the Sidewinders will join several others on the Madison Ribberfest Blues Bash stage Aug. 17-18 to entertain the crowd at the 11th annual festival on the Madison riverfront. Others include Madison’s own Jimmy Davis, Trampled Under Foot, Tyler Mac, Eden Brent, Tad Robinson, and Johnny Hoy & the Bluefish. Nick Moss is the Friday night headliner and Robert Cray headlines on Saturday.
Gaetano began playing when he was 12 years old in 1979 and “I knew the guitar was my instrument.” He later attended the GIT/Musicians Institute, a music school in Hollywood, Calif. “It took me over 10 years of playing until I found the blues. It was what I was always looking for.”
He credits Stevie Ray Vaughan, whom he saw perform live, with making “it cool to play the blues. He was so passionate it was undeniable he loved what he did.” Gaetano lived in Dallas for three years. It was there that he really learned how to play the blues by hanging out with professional blues players.
“I think some people are born with a certain type of soul that needs music and or an instrument, to express emotion,” said Gaetano. “A blues player, to me, has no other motive in their music but to express what they feel. It’s not about a display of technique or of knowledge.”
Gaetano started Jimmy G. and the Sidewinders in 1990. Before that, he had played with The Crawl, a blues band started by Mike Morgan.
Last year, the Jimmy G. and the Sidewinders played in the Madison Regatta Parade for the Madison Blues Society’s float. So well liked was the band that they were booked to play in this year’s Ribberfest Blues Bash. “We are dying to play for a crowd that appreciates the blues,” said Gaetano.
Gaetano shared the stage before with last year’s Blues Bash headliner, Buddy Guy. “People seem to dig our energy and the reality in our music,” said Gaetano. “These two things are intangible. You feel it but don’t see it.”
Now in its 11th year, the Blues Bash portion of the Madison Ribberfest excites crowds as much as it did when it first began. Spectators look for the varied lineup that provides a versatile, lively unforgettable experience.
“It’s definitely a blues festival,” said Dave Butler, one of four individuals who comprise a band committee that choose the acts each year for the Blues Bash. “The blues is quite varied; definition of the blues can be expansive.”
Friday night’s opener, Jimmy Davis, is a repeat act. “He played the event for the first three years,” said Butler. The committee tries not to book a lot of repeat performers, but Davis was such a crowd pleaser that they kept inviting him back. He takes the stage at 6 p.m. Friday.

Tyler Mac

Photo provided

Tyler Mac is an Anderson, Ind.,
native who now resides in
Pensacola, Fla.. He spends much
of his time on tour throughout
the United States.

Known regionally and nationally, Davis is a singer, songwriter, session guitarist and virtuoso performer. At 34, he is a veteran of the Midwest music scene. His live shows are an eclectic mix of original blues, funk, rock ‘n roll and cover selections. “He has two new CDs out,” Butler said.
Davis will be followed by Trampled Under Foot at 8 p.m. This band won the 2008 International Blues Challenge. Trampled Under Foot is comprised of siblings Danielle, Kris and Nick Schnebelen. Hailing from Kansas City, their grandmother, Evelyn Skinner, was a big band singer.
Butler said that after the 2012 Ribberfest is over, the band committee will probably meet in September to begin working on next year’s lineup. Headlining acts are chosen first because the “big names are the hardest to pin down.”
Other factors to consider when selecting the lineup include availability and costs.
“We get a lot of input from other bands. We’re overwhelmed with press kits that have been sent from people wanting to play at the festival.” Word of mouth and recommendations by friends are other sources the committee relies on to find talent.
“We generate a list of performers, go through it, and lay the show out so that it makes sense,” Butler said. “We want a new, fresh show every year.” Tickets went on sale June 1.
A mobile stage is set up at Madison’s Bicentennial Park for this event. Tiered seating lets the entire crowd enjoy the entertainment from wherever they are sitting.
“We’re gonna have a good show,” said Butler. “It’s a great festival. Blues may be the biggest draw for the festival. It brings people in who are not necessarily coming to eat barbecue. But once they get here, they enjoy everything. It all goes together. There are so many good things going on.”
Madison Ribberfest director Kathy Ayers said, “We try to make sure we have locals in the lineup.” She called Jimmy G and the Sidewinders “a great kickoff band for the Blues Bash because we try to have people come in with a local following, like Jimmy G., who is based in Louisville.”
Tyler Mac, an Anderson, Ind., native, follows Jimmy G. at 1:30 p.m. Mac began his professional career at age 13 and was touring internationally by age 18. Now a resident of Pensacola, Fla., he has shared the stage or opened for such artists as Joe Bonamassa, Van Morrison, Johnny Winter, John Rich and The Allman Brothers.
Mississippi jazz artist Eden Brent takes the stage at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Brent draws in her listeners with her earthy meld of jazz, blues, soul and pop. “She puts a little different spin on the blues,” Butler said, by drawing in a boogie woogie sound.
As part of her musical experience, Brent underwent a 16-year apprenticeship with late blues pioneer Boogaloo Ames, whom she credits as having taught her to boogie woogie. She was named the 2010 Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year.
Singer, songwriter and harmonica player Tad Robinson follows Brent at 5:30 p.m. Butler characterizes Robinson as more of a “soul singer, but soul that is based on the blues.”
As a songwriter, Robinson has contributed to the success of several major motion pictures that include “Under Siege,” “A Perfect Murder” and “The Guardian.” This New York City native is a five-time Blues Music Award nominee.
A returning crowd pleaser is Johnny Hoy & the Bluefish, who will perform at 7:30 p.m. Formed in 1991, the band first played Ribberfest in 2006. “They are a really good harmonic-based band,” said Butler.
The band is based in Martha’s Vineyard and it is a treat to have them since “they don’t tour a lot because they are busy there,” he said. “Everybody really enjoyed them.”
The night finishes with headliner Robert Cray. “We’ve wanted Robert for years,” said Butler. “What a Robert Cray or Buddy Guy will add to the festival is name power. Last year, when we had Buddy Guy we had our biggest crowd ever.”
Butler guessed close to 10,000 people attended the Blues Bash portion of Ribberfest last year. “We had a lot of pre-sales for Buddy Guy. It was a boost to the crowd.”

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