Billy Joe Shaver - Texas singer/songwriter Billy Joe Shaver’s music is imbued with a timeless Texas honky-tonk and the rich journeyman style of poetry that transforms life into a series of songs. Year’s ago, Shaver distinguished himself by penning every song on Waylon Jennings’ classic “Honky Tonk Heroes” LP. His first LP, ”Old Five and Dimers Like Me,” was released in 1973. To date, he has released 25 titles and his songs have been recorded by Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, the Allman Brothers and Elvis Presley. Bob Dylan, who rarely covers other writers, often plays Shaver’s “Old Five And Dimers Like Me” in concert, and Johnny Cash called him “my favorite songwriter.” Shaver recently served as “spiritual advisor” to Texas independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman and the Americana Music Association awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting. In 2012, he released a CD/DVD package of a live show titled “Live at Billy Bob's Texas.” His first release in six years is due out in August - just before his 75th birthday - and is aptly titled “Long in the Tooth.”
The Holmes Brothers - With their soulful blend of gospel, country and rhythm & blues, the Holmes Brothers have rightfully been called a “national treasure” and rank as one of the country’s best and most important roots groups. Brothers Wendell and Sherman have played together for more than a half-century while “late-comer,” drummer “Popsy” Dixon, joined in 1980. The group combines city and country influences with stirring harmonies and barn-burning grooves to come up with an encyclopedia of blues and gospel. The group has been championed by heavyweights like Peter Gabriel (who recruited them for his WOMAD Festivals and released the album “Jubilation” on his Real World label) and Joan Osborne - who produced both “Speaking In Tongues” and 2010's “Feed My Soul.” The Holmes Brothers’ music is universal in its appeal and the band has won multiple Blues Music Awards and shared stages and recordings with: Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Willie Nelson, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Merle Haggard, Keith Richards, Al Green, Ben Harper, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Levon Helm, Rosanne Cash, Odetta, and The Jungle Brothers. Following up “Feed My Soul” (which included a song by WV native John “Some Kind of Wonderful” Ellison), the CD “Brotherhood” has been called its “most bluesy album to date.”
Candi Staton - Once known as the “First Lady of Southern Soul,” thanks to a string of gritty southern fried early ‘70s R&B hits that included “I'm Just A Prisoner,” “Stand By Your Man” and “In The Ghetto,” Candi Staton also scored major dance hits including 1976's No. 1 “Young Hearts Run Free.” A native of northern Alabama, Staton did her early recordings at Rick Hall’s legendary FAME studio in Muscle Shoals, AL. After singing gospel for two decades, she returned to secular music in 2006 with the critically acclaimed CD “His Hands,” with Bonnie “Prince” Billy penning the title track. Her latest release - and 27th to date - is titled “Life Happens.” The album was produced by her son Marcus Williams and, for three tracks, reunites her with Grammy winner engineer/producer Hall. Her songs have been sampled and recorded by Christina Aguilera, Susan Tedeschi, and Janiva Magness. She’s also been championed by fellow Alabaman Jason Isbell who, with his band The 400 Unit, put his stamp on her 1969 track "Heart On A String."
Paul Thorn - Hailing from Tupelo, MS, Paul Thorn is one of the most colorful, fun and irreverent songwriters to come on the scene in the last two decades. A real life character who embodies the spirit of his songs, Thorns life experiences - from being a skydiver and a prize fighter who was knocked down by Roberto Duran to touring and collaborating with the likes of Sting, Paul Carrack, Joe Diffie, Tanya Tucker, and Carole King - make his songs ring true. Thorn’s break came when he was discovered by record honcho Miles Copeland in the late ‘90s. Soon, he was opening for acts like Mark Knopfler, Jeff Beck, Sting, John Hiatt, Robert Cray, Marinanne Faithfull and John Prine. His music is infused with the soul of the Mississippi heartland: blues, country, gospel, rhythm and blues, and rock n’ roll. Thorn has become a staple in large clubs and festivals throughout the country. Thorn’s current release is compilation of some of his favorite cover songs titled “What the Hell is Goin’ On?”