Grammy Winner Bruce Hornsby to Headline Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival

Bruce Hornsby

Harvest Jazz and Blues revealed more of the 2012 line up today with the announcement that multiple Grammy winner Bruce Hornsby & the Noise Makers, popular jam-rockers Big Head Todd & the Monsters, and brand new soul-blues super group Royal Southern Brotherhood – featuring Devon Allman and the legendary Cyrille Neville – will perform at Harvest this September.

“These are some of the finest performers we’ve ever put on a Harvest stage,” says Brent Staeben, Harvest’s Music Director. “As our previous releases have shown, we’ve diversified the offerings for this year’s Festival, but still remain firmly in the realm of what Harvest audiences know and love – top notch performers who know how to put on an amazing show. Today’s announced acts reflect that Harvest-experience philosophy. They’ve all got blues roots but each with a unique twist, and – best of all – they all know how to absolutely bring it on stage.”

Three-time Grammy winner Bruce Hornsby has had one of the most diverse, evolving and collaborative careers in music. His journey began with a bang 25 years ago with the release of his multi-platinum debut The Way It Is, the title track of which shot to #1 in the charts and soon after followed a raft of instantly memorable #1 hits including “Mandolin Rain”, “The Valley Road” and “Across the River”.

Feeling the need for a more creative outlet, Hornsby joined The Grateful Dead in the early nineties, playing piano and accordion in over 100 shows. As an in-demand musician and collaborator, he has been featured on over 100 albums, including Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bela Fleck, Stevie Nicks and Bonnie Raitt.

For the past 20 years, Hornsby has been leading The Noise Makers, an outfit known for their playful spontaneity, freewheeling spirit and unique chemistry. In fact, to keep the spontaneous energy up, Hornsby doesn’t create set lists, opting instead to choose songs in the moment based on his whims and audience requests.

For all his talents as a singer, bandleader and pianist with an instantly identifiable sound, Hornsby is a songwriter at heart who is committed to portraying his songs in new ways that allow them to evolve and expand. As one reviewer put it, his “live performance is like a journey in search of that perfect musical moment”. This approach was expertly honed during his time with The Grateful Dead where he learned to harness their vibrant tradition of loosely blending folk, blues and improvisation in an always-exciting live performance.

“Many people will know Bruce Hornsby from his instantly recognizable radio hits like ‘The Way It Is’, but he has evolved into a different, more musically daring artist over the years, in large part thanks to his friendship and collaborations with Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead,” says Staeben. “There’s no telling what to expect from a Hornsby show but the groove is sure to be unforgettable!”

Like their better known contemporaries – Phish, the Dave Matthews Band and Blues Traveler – if there’s one thing that Colorado’s Big Head Todd & the Monsters are known for, it’s putting on an incredible live show each and every time they step on stage.

Formed in 1986, the band started building a steady following on the college circuit until their big break in 1993 with the platinum-selling album Sister Sweetly and its huge hit “Bittersweet”. Since then, the band has released 10 more albums, including Live at the Fillmore, which captures the essence of their dynamic live performance, and 2010’s Rocksteady, which forged surprising new musical territory for the band with heavy influences from funk, soul, reggae, and Caribbean music. Their most recent release, 2011’s 100 Years of Robert Johnson is a blues departure for the band, playing the songs of the famed bluesman with special guests including B.B. King, Charlie Musselwhite and Ruthie Foster.

Over their 25 years of non-stop touring, Big Head Todd & the Monsters have fostered a deep connection with their rabid fan base. They released their 2007 album All The Love You Need as a completely free download and half a million fans grabbed it.

Big Head Todd & the Monsters will make their eastern Canadian debut at Harvest.

“Big Head Todd & the Monsters aren’t as well known here in Canada, but south of the border, they are hugely popular on the jam circuit, and with good reason – see Big Head Todd live and you’ll leave a fan,” says Staeben. “They’ll be at Harvest fresh off a US tour with Blues Traveler and the Barenaked Ladies, who actually opened for Big Head Todd at their annual sold-out show at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. We can’t wait to introduce them to a new audience.”

Royal Southern Brotherhood may be a brand new band, but their musical royalty runs deep. Formed by Devon Allman (the son of Gregg Allman), Cyril Neville (singer, percussionist, and musical catalyst of Grammy-winning The Neville Brothers and The Meters), and Blues Music Award winning guitarist/vocalist Mike Zito, RSB creates a wicked fusion of southern blues rock with southern soul, which the band describes as “amplified soul for a new generation.”

Blues Revue calls them, “the 2012 version of a super group… this may be the hottest new band on the circuit.” With Neville taking on lead vocals and percussion, Zito and Allman sing and trade off on lead guitar with Allman’s style reminiscent of his Uncle Duane with a touch of Carlos Santana. The explosive double guitars and Neville’s hypnotic rhythms carry their music through everything from blues rock to New Orleans funk, tasty ballads, and soulful R&B, all backed by the rhythm section of veteran New Orleans bass player Charlie Wooten, and Yonrico Scott – the master percussionist who last visited Harvest as a member of the Derek Trucks Band in 2009.

This powerful super group of road warriors delivers a show that is simultaneously progressive and traditional with blues, rock, soul and funk on the menu and – like the very best N’awlin’s gumbo – their music is served up piping hot.

“When a southern blues-rock band is fronted by an Allman and a Neville, you know the musical result will be nothing short of superb,” says Staeben. “Royal Southern Brotherhood do the Allman and Neville names proud with a fresh approach that will appeal to young rockers and hardcore blues fans alike.”

The launch of the full Festival line up will take place on Tuesday, April 24th at 11am at the Garrison District Alehouse. Tickets and passes go on sale through Ticketpro online and by phone on Saturday, May 26th at 9am. There will also be a limited number of passes sold at Harvest Central on May 26th on a first come, first serve basis.