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James CottonLive Tribute to James Cotton
The House of Blues - Boston
Thursday, October 29, 2009, 8 PM

Ticket prices are
Regular Seating - $35.00
VIP tickets $225 (includes VIP Foundation Room,
Buffet, Meet & Greet with the Musicians from 6-8 PM)
Nightclub directions
Tickets available at the boxoffice and at the door and available online through

The Reel Blues Fest, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping musicians receive access to medical care and to supporting the work of independent filmmakers. Proceeds from events will be distributed to eligible 501 (C) (3) organizations pursuant to the guidelines established by The Reel Blues Fest, Inc.


- JAMES COTTON ('nuff said!) -
- HUEY LEWIS (Huey Lewis and the News) -  JAY GEILS (J. Geils Band) -
- KIM WILSON (The Fabulous Thunderbirds) - PAUL OSCHER (Muddy Waters Band) -
- MATT KELLY (Dropkick Murphys) - MIKE FINNIGAN (Jimi Hendrix to CSN&Y sessions) -
- THE JAMES MONTGOMERY BAND (James Montgomery, David Hull, George McCann, Seth Pappas)-
- UPTOWN HORNS (Rolling Stones, B.B. King horn section) - GRACE KELLY - DAVID FOSTER -
- ERNIE AND THE AUTOMATICS (Sib Hashian & Barry Goudreau (Boston), Ernie Boch Jr.,
Tim Archibald, Brain Macs)


JAMES COTTON - Harmonica

James CottonJames Cotton (born July 1, 1935, Tunica, Mississippi), is an American blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter who was nurtured by the likes of Muddy Waters and became the bandleader for the James Cotton Blues Band. He also writes songs alone, and his solo career continues to this day. His work includes the following genres: blues, delta blues, harmonica blues, and electric harmonica blues.

He has been an important part of The Reel Blues Fest since its founding in 2000. He appeared at the first ever concert held at the Otis Air Base on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and returning many time since. We are proud to have been able to put together this magnificent tribute concert with this friends and admirers. And we've also put together some of his amazing story in words, pictures, and historical posters. Feel free to browse thise pages below and learn more about this remarkable American treasure and good friend..

Link to our James Cotton Tribute Site

Our site includes biographical material, a discography with images, a fantastic poster collection from the Sixties, historic videos and photos.

Link to the official James Cotton site


The Lineup:

James MontgomeryJames Montgomery - Vocals/Harmonica.
When blues legend James Montgomery plays the harmonica, he "brings it on home". Whether it's recording with Kid Rock, sitting in with Gregg Allman, or fronting his hot band of thirty years, Montgomery plays with authority. While growing up in Detroit he learned first-hand from the masters - James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, and Jr. Wells - at the legendary "Chessmate." Over the years, he's carried on in the tradition and continues to be a vital presence in Blues as one of the most dynamic performers on the scene.
     In 1970, while attending Boston University, Montgomery formed the James Montgomery Band. His inimitable (oh yeah, he majored in English) harmonica playing combined with his incredibly energetic live shows led to the band's quick ascension on the New England music scene. Within two years, the James Montgomery band was among the hottest acts in Boston along with J. Geils and Aerosmith, and they were quickly signed to a multi-album deal with Capricorn Records.
      Since that time, James has recorded six albums. His first, "First Time Out" has been remastered and re-released by MRG/Capricorn. Other include "James Montgomery Band" on Island Records which was number nine on Billboard's national playlist, "Duck Fever" with members of the David Letterman Band, "Live Trax," with the Uptown Horns (the Rolling Stones' horn section), and his release on Tone-Cool, "The Oven Is On."
       Montgomery has toured with many major artists, including Aerosmith, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, the Allman Brothers, Steve Miller and others. He has jammed on stage with B.B.King, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Jr. Wells, James Cotton, Charlie Daniels, Bonnie Raitt, Greg Allman, Laverne Baker, Patti LaBelle, and Peter Wolf among others, including an impromptu session with Mick Jagger at New York's "Trax".

David HullDavid Hull - Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals. David Hull is an American bass guitar player. A founding member of the power rock trio Fahrenheit, David has also played with The Buddy Miles Band, Joe Cocker, Ted Nugent. He is notable for being the substitute bass player for Aerosmith during a portion of their 2006 Route of All Evil Tour (from September 5, 2006 to November 29, 2006), while the band's normal bassist Tom Hamilton was absent while recovering from throat cancer. In the early 1980s, Hull was the bassist and background vocalist for The Joe Perry Project, a band formed by Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, as well as local Connecticut bands named White Chocolate and later The Dirty Angels. Several of the songs on The Joe Perry Project's albums were co-written by Hull.  David brings it like no other.

George MccannGeorge “Guitar” McCann - Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals.  George is a longtime member of the James Montgomery Band. McCann's career stretches back more than 25 years. He's been playing full-time professionally since 1997. You can also catch him on occasion with Wilbur and The Dukes. Where other guitar players will wow you with flash and volume, McCann will also win you over with economy. "That's part of the lexicon of the blues," he says. "Otis Rush or Freddie King — whenever you hear them you are reminded of that power of simplicity. I love phrasing. Any musician that has really good phrasing and tells a story, I love that." George will be squeezing out the sparks with his guitar.

Seth PappasSeth Pappas - Percussion/Backing Vocals.
In the past 25 years, Seth has performed with such stars as Linda Ronstadt, Dicky Betts, John Hartford and Charlie Daniels, The Coasters, The Drifters, The Marvellettes, Little Anthony and The Imperials, and many well-known Boston blues bands, touring extensively in the US and Europe. He has recorded with the Dillards, Earl Scruggs, and Barrence Whitfield and the Savages. He recently received a degree in electrical engineering.



Link to our James Montgomery discography

Link to the official James Montgomery site


HUEY LEWIS - Vocals/Harmonica

Huey LewisIn an interview with David Letterman, Huey Lewis (of Huey Lewis and the News) talked about hitchhiking across the country to New York and how he learned to play the harmonica while waiting for rides. He talked about hanging out at the airport for three days until he stowed away on a plane to Europe. In Madrid, Spain, Lewis became an accomplished blues player and he hitchhiked around and supported himself by busking with his harmonica. He gave his first concerts in Madrid, earning enough money to buy a plane ticket back to the USA.

On his return, Lewis entered Cornell University, joining the engineering program. While there, he made friends with Lance and Larry Hoppen, who later played with Oleans and Eddie Tuleja of King Harvest. Initially an active student and a member of the fraternity Eta Lambda Nu, Lewis soon lost interest in college. He signed up with a band called Slippery Elm, and in December 1969, during his junior year, he dropped out of Cornell and moved back to the San Francisco area. His aim was to continue playing music, but along the way he also tried other fields of work, including landscaping, carpentry and natural foods.

Links: Huey Lewis on Wikipedia
Huey Lewis and the News site

JAY GEILS - Guitar

Jay Geils 1Jay Geils was born John Geils Jr. in New York City, NY, the guitarist's nickname becoming the handle for one of the most legendary musical groups in the history of Boston rock & roll, the J. Geils Band. During live performances, singer Peter Wolf would say, "Play it Jerome" to his lead guitarist when Geils took a solo. "Occasionally it was Tyrone [that Wolf called him on-stage]," the musician told the All Media Guide.
   Growing up in New Jersey, Geils was a big jazz fan during his high school years thanks to his father's (John "Jack" Geils) love of the genre. Jack Geils Sr. had many 78 rpms in his record collection -- Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman -- and he also took the young musician to concerts, a performance by Louis Armstrong when he was ten or 12 years old being particularly memorable. Geils' own musical playing began when he performed Miles Davis tunes on trumpet and drums. He got turned on to the blues when New York radio station WRVR broadcast recordings by Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and others on Sunday afternoons.
   Geils went off to Northeastern University in Massachusetts, where he played trumpet in the marching band. Immediately drawn to the burgeoning folk scene in Boston in 1965, Geils witnessed Tom Rush, Dave Van Ronk, BU student Jim Kweskin's the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and other proponents of that movement. Geils transferred to Worcester Poly-Technic Institute. "I wound up transferring to Worcester Tech... because I wasn't doing too well at Northeastern... going to see all those guys," Geils says. At Worcester he met harp player Magic Dick Salwitz and bassist Danny Klein and they formed what Geils termed "this little kinda acoustic folk blues group," which they called the J. Geils Blues Band.
Jay Geils 2
   The J. Geils Blues Band merged with two members of the Hallucinations, singer Peter Wolf and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd. After promotion man Mario Medious brought them to the attention of Atlantic's Jerry Wexler, they recorded a bit with rock critic Jon Landau, but the project was abandoned. About a year later, Seth Justman joined the group and they recorded their first album.
   Jay Geils 3After Peter Wolf and the J. Geils Band went their separate ways, J. Geils formed Bluestime with Magic Dick in 1992, also playing with various musicians like Kevin Visnaskas in the Blood Street Band. Along with producing friend Danny Klein's Stone Crazy band, Geils worked with Gerry Beaudoin and Duke Robillard in the New Guitar Summit (utilizing the Bluestime rhythm section). Geils and Beaudoin also performed in an acoustic trio, Gerry Beaudoin's Kings of Strings, where Geils played rhythm guitar and Jerry Miller provided his mandolin. With all this musical output, Geils released his first solo record in 2003, a jazz CD which features many guest sax players. From the days when members of the J. Geils Band were on his case to learn more Jimi Hendrix riffs and he was off playing Charlie Christian instead, the founding member of a hugely popular and respected ensemble that opened for the Rolling Stones live and performed with Buddy Guy on record now has his guitar singing the music of his heart, the sounds that inspired one of the most familiar names in rock music. ~ Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

KIM WILSON - Vocals/Harmonica

Kim WilsonKim Wilson is best known as the lead vocalist and frontman for the The Fabulous Thunderbirds on two hit songs of the 1980s; "Tuff Enuff" and "Wrap It Up".

Wilson was born in Detroit, Michigan but he grew up in Goleta, California. He started with the blues in the late 1960s and was tutored by people like George "Harmonica" Smith, Luther Tucker and Pee Wee Crayton, and was influenced by swamp blues harmonica players like Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester. Before he moved to Austin, in 1974, he was the leader of a band in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In Austin he formed The Fabulous Thunderbirds with guitarist Jimmie Vaughan.

Wilson continues to perform up to 300 dates per year at blues festivals and clubs in America, Canada, and Europe, both as leader of The Fabulous Thunderbirds and with the Kim Wilson Blues Revue.

His powerful style of blues harp playing has been described as "loaded with the textures of a full-blown horn section.

Link: The Fabulous Thunderbirds



David MaxwellDavid Maxwell has amassed an enormous resume throughout the years playing piano with some of the greatest and well-known musicians in the blues. David plays many styles of blues, jazz and improvised music, but he is best known for his soulful virtuosity and unmatched ability to reach the heart of post-war Chicago Blues. In the last decade, David has received over a half dozen WC Handy and Grammy nominations and a Grammy Award for recorded work, as well as Handy nominations for instrumental performance. He has played with manyof the greats including tours with Freddie King, Bonnie Raitt, James Cotton, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rodgers, Charley Musselwhite, Johnny Adams and Ronnie Earl; and gigs with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Levon Helm, Jimmy Witherspoon, Lowell Fulsom, Junior Wells and many others.

He has been involved in well over fifty recording sessions and can be found playing keys on many blues albums that have been released over the last 25years. (Recently, he backed up Keith Richards and Eric Clapton for a Hubert Sumlin project that will be out later in 2005). David's music was used in the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" and in the TV series "Touched By An Angel". He has performed on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and is on several videos playing with Freddie King in the early 70's. (Rounder). David's first CD as a leader "Maximum Blues Piano"(1997, Tonecool) received high critical acclaim. His new album, "Max Attack" (2005 95North Records), features guests James Cotton, Kim Wilson, Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins. David has performed in major festivals, theaters and clubs in North America, Europe, Scandinavia, Morocco, Israel, and Japan, and keeps busy today playing, recording, and teaching (and nurturing his interests in jazz, ethnic and improvised music).

"I don't think anybody could be tighter playing the blues on the piano than David Maxwell. He plays the blues like it should be played. He plays the low-down, dirty, funky blues.He's got it all together"---John Lee Hooker.

"Dave has always been one of the most amazing piano players I've ever heard. His command of a wide range of blues and jazz styles is remarkable. ---Bonnie Raitt.


PAUL OSCHER - Vocals/Guitar/Harmonica

Paul Oscher Paul Oscher’s place in music history was cemented in the 1960s when he became the first white musician to join the Muddy Waters Blues Band. He has been an inspiration to a host of new generation harmonica players ranging from Eric Clapton’s Jerry Portnoy to Magic Dick of the J. Geils Band and Rick Estrin of Little Charlie and the Nightcats. Oscher toured the “chitlin’ circuit” with Muddy Waters at a time when mixed race bands were not welcome in the Deep South. He learned the nuances of the blues looking over the shoulders of the best musicians the blues had to offer, players like legendary pianist Otis Spann and guitarist Sammy Lawhorn. Paul lived in Muddy Waters’ house on the southside of Chicago and shared the basement with the great blues pianist Otis Spann.

Awards: 2006 Blues Music Awards: "Acoustic Artist Of The Year," "Acoustic Album Of The Year"




Mike FinniganFinnigan’s five-decade musical career has made him one of the most respected keyboardists and vocalists on the planet. Growing up in a musical family in Troy, Ohio, Finnigan was a young man with many interests. He dabbled as an amateur basketball player (he is 6' 5") and was a talented enough basketball player to earn a four-year ride at Kansas University. But music was always his calling, and he left Kansas after two years to pursue his dreams.
      “I played as a freshman but I was gradually losing interest and if you aren’t fully plugged in there it isn’t for you,” said Finnigan. “So I left my four-year scholarship behind, and my parents thought I was nuts.”
     Finnigan, who started out as a drummer but moved to the Hammond B3 organ, started playing music with some veteran musicians. Building his music career from the ground up by playing numerous gigs at clubs in and around Ohio, Finnigan and his band - The Serfs (”We thought we were pretty hip with that name. People of the soil.”) - earned a contract with producer Tom Wilson.
      While in New York recording their first album “Early Bird Café,” Finnigan’s prowess on the Hammond B3 caught the ear of Jimi Hendrix, who nabbed him and two of his band mates to work on the album “Electric Ladyland.” Jamming with Hendrix on two tracks, “Rainy Day, Dream Away” and “Still Raining, Still Dreaming,” Finnigan’s career officially took off.
      From there, Finnigan has worked on numerous projects with an untold number of historic and diverse musicians over the years, including Etta James, Dave Mason, Jerry Wood, Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young), Cher, Ringo Starr, Bobby Womack, Santana, Dan Fogelberg, Elvin Bishop, Eddie Money, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Leonard Cohen, John Hiatt, Bonnie Raitt, Alice Cooper, and many, many others.
     Currently, Finnigan tours with his own blues group, the Phantom Blues Band, as well as the likes of Joe Cocker, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt and other veteran musical stars.




Uptown HornsThe Uptown Horns (Arno Hecht, Crispin Cioe, Bob Funk and recent recruit Larry Etkin) are Rayban wearing, horn carrying professionals whose credits read like a who's who of music. Their signature horn riffs can be heard on the turntables of America on chart toppers including Grammy-award winning James Brown's "Living in America," the B-52's "Love Shack," Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot, "Joe Cocker's "Unchain My Heart," Tom Waits' "Rain Dogs" LP, and Billy Joel's "River of Dreams" LP, among numerous others. Hundreds of additional recordings and touring credits include names such as the Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, Aretha Franklin, REM and the B-52's, to name a few.

For nearly 15 years, this autonomous unit has been revered as one of the most respected brass sections in the world. Horn groups, on the whole, are an anomaly in the music industry. "We knew that most horn bands break up when members take solo projects both on the road and in sessions," says Funk. 'We adopted an all for one and one for all mentality." These four classically trained musicians have outlasted the few who have tried. Laughs Hecht, "The Uptown Horns are an anarchist collective and our guiding principles are to make great music while destroying any sense of law and order."

The original members of the Uptown Horns converged on the NY session scene in the late 70s: Arno from NY; Cioe from Michigan; Funk from Colorado; and former member Paul Litteral from Kentucky. Etkin, a native New Yorker, worked with The Horns off and on prior to taking over Litteral's trumpet duties.

As session horn players, their paths often crossed from one studio to the next. The members of the Horns often played together on numerous recordings, jingles and live performances. Their shared influences cover the waterfront from punk to classical, jazz to rock, blues to avant garde/fusion.

As Chuck Berry says, "These cats are cool."

Link: The Uptown Horns

GRACE KELLY - Saxophone

Grace KellyHaving studied saxophone since the age of ten, she is rapidly making her way up in the jazz music world. Grace’s talents far outstrip others her age. Now just sixteen, Grace has already recorded and/or performed with many notable musicians including Dave Brubeck, Hank Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Frank Morgan, and Harry Connick, Jr. among others.
     Born Grace Chung on May 15, 1992 in Wellesley, Massachusetts to Korean parents, Grace moved to Brookline, MA when she was two years old with her mother and sister after her parents divorced. Grace’s mother married Robert Kelly in 1997 and adopted her (thus her name became Grace Kelly).  She began with classical piano training but soon changed to jazz because she had the propensity not to stick to the notes on the page but wanted to make up her own melodies. Grace wrote her first song “On My Way Home” at age seven.   All public school students in Grace’s hometown are required to choose an instrument and take a year of school-sponsored instruction in fourth grade. Grace chose the clarinet.  But she had already gotten hooked on another sound: the warm, almost-human voice of the saxophone.  Her mom loved [saxophonist] Stan Getz and would play him at home when they had Sunday brunch.  Grace always wanted to play saxophone, but they didn’t let you take it until fifth grade.  So halfway through fourth grade she started private lessons on the saxophone. When Grace was 12 she met Ann Hampton Callaway, a renowned cabaret and recording artist and award-winning songwriter. Seeing what Grace had accomplished in -two short years, it is no wonder that when Callaway met Grace she declared that: “her sensitivity, control and focus as an alto saxophonist is impressive.  When I played some songs of hers for the legendary drummer Victor Lewis [Duke Ellington, Stan Getz, etc], he said, ‘Wow, I love her sound.’” 




Matt KellyMatt Kelly is drummer for the DROPKICK MURPHYS. Matt comes from a family of musicians. "My dad tried doing it for years and he's wasn't too successful at it, so I feel blessed. He played drums as well as my uncle. My cousins play the accordian and bagpipes. " His bass playing brother Mike has just released his first album with Trebek.



Mike Kelly     Mike Kelly (Matt Kelly's brother) is the bassist for local hit TREBEK Mike got his first bass guitar when he was seven. Mike said it was a small bass with a tiny amp ("13 watts," cuts in Matt) that distorted after the dial was turned past five. And he couldn't play it."I tried taking lessons from Scott Babineau for a few weeks but then I had to quit, my hands couldn't reach the notes," Matt said. "I didn't really care, I mean, I was just like, 'Okay, that's cool, what's next?'" The bass didn't come up again in his life until a few years later, attending Northwest that he and friends Shawn Pelkey and Chris Schuller (John Schuller's son) decided to form a band, World in Panic, and Mike decided to go back to his guitar and try learning it again. He said their first performance was in seventh grade. A few years later, Mike's mother and grandmother bought him a new amp and jazz bass and he began taking the bass more seriously, getting lessons from Steve Spagnola and Mark Marquis. It was while playing on and off and working at Action Music (now City Music) that Mike was introduced to Matt Dion, the lead singer for what would soon become TREBEK. Having just released their first, selftitled album in November by Blind Crossing records, he says the band is quickly gaining momentum. Recently TREBEK went home with four of the 2007 Worcester Music Awards for Best Live Act, Best Male Vocalist (to Matt Dion), Best Rock Act and Best CD. Soon, TREBEK will be featured in a world-wide punk band compilation, The Kings of Street Punk, featuring other artists like Cockney Rejects and Rancid, produced by G&R Records out of London, England.


Marty RichardsMARTY RICHARDS - Drums

     Marty Richards is a well-known local drummer who has played with many bands including the J. Geils Band, The James Montgomery Band, and the Joe Perry Project.



David Foster     David Foster (of the Mohegan All-Stars, formerly the Shaboo All-Stars) is a charismatic band leader who had been singing professionally since the age of 14, working with such artists as B.B. King, the Temptations, Chuck Berry, and Keith Richards. Foster has now armed himself with a complete assembly of All-Star musicians who are quite frankly some of the best in the business today. The band’s rotating lineup often includes appearances by Maceo Parker (Saxophone) and Matt “Guitar” Murphy (of “Blues Brothers” fame), both of who appear on “Powerful Stuff”. Guitarist Cliff Goodwin (Joe Cocker, Robert Palmer), Keyboardist Mitch Chakour (Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker), Guitarist Jeff Pevar (currently with CPR featuring David Crosby), and Keyboardist Michael Finnigan (who has recorded with Jimi Hendrix at Electric Ladyland) lead a formidable 14 member cast with an extensive list of musical credentials.


Marty BallouMARTY BALLOU - Bass

Marty Ballou has worked on numerous jazz and blues projects. He's a regular with Duke Robillard and he's worked with Al Basile and Cheryl Wheeler. He plays electric, upright, and acoustic bass.



Ernie & the Automatics     Ernie and the Automatics is a blues band based in Boston, Massachusetts. The band is notable for having two former members of the band BOSTON, Barry Goudreau on guitar and Sib Hashian on drums. Also on guitar is Ernie Boch, Jr., CEO and president of Boch Enterprises, a $1 billion business comprised primarily of automobile dealerships in Norwood, Massachusetts. Ernie is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston and a fan of traditional jazz (bebop) and modern rock. Tim Archibald plays bass for Ernie and the Automatics. Tim starred with New Man and has recorded and performed with Peter Wolf, RTZ, Chris Emerson, Áine Minogue, and others. Keyboardist Brian Maes started as a member of Orion The Hunter, where he met Brad Delp and Barry Goudreau. All three of them went on to form RTZ.
     The band first played at "The Reel Blues Fest" on August 2, 2006 at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis. They have since opened form many national acts including Johnny A., Los Lobos, and B.B. King.

Ernie & The Automatics is Tim Archibald, Bass – Sib Hashian, Drums – Ernie Boch Jr., Guitars – Barry Goudreau, Guitars – Brian Maes, Keyboard.

Ernie & The Automatics' Web Site


House of Blues House of BluesHouse of Blues Boston is perfect for live music and dining experiences. In keeping with tradition, House of Blues Boston displays the "Crazy Quilt" and keeps a metal box of mud from the Delta Mississippi underneath its stage. The Boston Foundation Room (see photo below) provides a fireside lounge, sacred Prayer Rooms, elegant dining, and live entertainment.

House of Blues
15 Lansdowne Street
Boston, MA 02215
(888) 693-2583 (BLUE)

Direction to the House of Blues

photos coming after the event
copyright 2009 The Reel Blues Fest, Inc.
all rights reserved


The Reel Blues Fest



The Reel Blues Fest, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping musicians receive access to medical care and to supporting the work of independent filmmakers. Proceeds from events will be distributed to eligible 501 (C) (3) organizations pursuant to the guidelines established by The Reel Blues Fest, Inc.

For more information call 508-495-FILM
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