It’s been many years since I was in Kansas City, and I’ve never been to Knuckleheads, although one of my oldest friends practically lives there. I get reports from musician friends who live in the area, and of course I check out who is playing there from time to time. It’s on my bucket list if anyone wants to send me an all-expenses paid trip and toss in some barbecue with it…
NICK SCHNEBELEN BAND
LIVE AT KNUCKLEHEADS VOLUME 1
VIZZTONE RECORDS VT-NSB-01
I’M GOIN’–WILLIE JAMES–CRAZY–DESPERATE HEART–BREAK OF DAY–BAD DISPOSITION–TAILGATE SWING–WHO WILL COMFORT ME–SPOONFUL–SLEEP WALK–JOLENE–NEW ORLEANS
Many fans may remember Nick Schnebelen as the founding family member of Trampled Under Foot, a critically-acclaimed group that consisted of Nick and his siblings. Those youngsters are all grown up now, and Nick is fronting his own band, and takes full advantage of the home court for his debut release for Vizztone, “Live At Knuckleheads, Volume 1.” Along with Nick on guitar and vocals, we have Cliff Moore on bass, and Joe Voye on drums. Also, making her dazzling debut herein is guitarist/vocalist Heather Newman. She brings another soulful dimension to an already-powerful lineup, with a vocal style that will bring to mind Susan Tedeschi.
Nick’s family was always immersed in all types of music, and the band brings a sampling of this to the table on this set. He kicks off with a little bit of KC swing with the jumpin’ “I’m Goin’, but I don’t know where I’m going!” Heather comes out next, preachin’ the blues about “goin’ down to Alabama to see ol’ Willie James!” “Break Of Day” rides a “walkin’ blues” groove as Nick goes “lookin’ for that little woman that kept my soul.” Heather sings a sweet boogie in the double-entendre’-filled tale of youthful lusts, “Tailgate Swing,” then goes right down to the Crossroads and gets down on her knees, preachin’ a story of her “weary soul,” and asks, “Oh Lord, Who Will Comfort Me.”
The set closes with four really nice covers. Mick takes the lead vocal and Heather adds the backup on a primal, raw, sparsely-arranged “Spoonful.” Santo And Johnny’s iconic “Sleep Walk” is a time-honored instrumental, and Heather follows with our favorite. She brings that tortured lover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” to life, pleading “please don’t take him just because you can.” The whole shootin’ match winds up with a slide-driven ride “down the Mississippoi, down ta New Orleans!”
This is a fantastic way for the Nick Schnebelen Band to kick off their career, and Heather Newman makes a fine addition. Certainly, “Live At Knuckleheads, Volume 1,” begs for a Volume 2! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.
Blues shows coming to The 21st Saloon include the return of a former BluesEd kid who is now part of Kansas City’s Nick Schnebelen Band. All grown up, Heather Newman has been singing with Schnebelen, one of the founders of the popular band Trampled Under Foot, for over a year. Catch The Nick Schnebelen Band featuring Heather Newman Thursday, Feb. 4, at The 21st. Another regional crowd pleaser, Kansas City’s Kelley Hunt returns to the venue Thursday, Feb. 11. Hunt’s soul-and-gospel-infused blues is always a big draw with fans. Hoodoo favorite and Chicago blues mainstay Studebaker John is a quadruple threat: an innovative songwriter, blistering slide guitarist, fine vocalist and excellent harmonica player. Make a point to catch Studebaker John & The Hawks Thursday, Feb. 18. Randy McAllister brings his big-voiced, blues-Americana back Thursday, Feb. 25. Popular blues-rock guitarist Chris Duarte returns Thursday, March 3. Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m.
Lincoln blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Tim Budig steps out front with his new Tim Budig Band focused on scorching, classic blues sounds. They have a CD release party Saturday, Feb. 27, 8 p.m. at The 21st.
Speaking of the Blues Society of Omaha’s BluesEd youth performance program, the auditions for their 2016 program will be held Feb. 21. Audition registrations close Feb. 18. The program is entering its 15th year and is open to students 12-18 years old currently in middle school or high school. Find all the information at bluesed.com/audition-information.html
Lincoln’s Zoo Bar also presents The Nick Schnebelen Band featuring former Omahan and BluesEd program alum Heather Newman Wednesday, Feb. 3, 6-9 p.m. Other notable shows coming up at The Zoo include Steepwater Band Saturday, Feb. 6, 6 p.m., The Bel Airs Wednesday, Feb. 17, 6-9 p.m., Moreland & Arbuckle Friday, Feb. 19, 5-7 p.m., Hector Anchondo Band Saturday, Feb. 20, 9:30 p.m. following guitarist Michael Charles who performs at 6 p.m. Earl & Them featuring Earl Cate and Baby Jason Davis are back Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. & 27 at 6 p.m. Don’t forget the Zoo Bar House Band, featuring some of the best local players, takes the stage Mondays, 7 p.m.
Alvin Brothers on the Horizon
Americana icons Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin are touring in support of their second recording together since Dave left The Blasters some 30 years ago (aside from some recordings around The Blasters’ reunion gigs in the early 2000s). The CD is Lost Timeon YepRoc. Dave, Phil and The Blasters were at the epicenter of the American roots music revival that happened in Southern California in the late 1970s. See davealvin.net.
They are making their first trip to Nebraska since The Blasters days with Dave’s band The Guilty Ones. They perform Wednesday, March 2, 7:30 p.m. in a Sunday Roadhouse show at The Waiting Room. Tickets are on sale now at sundayroadhouse.com. They hit Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Thursday, March 3, 6-9 p.m. I’m telling you now because these are don’t-miss gigs and by the time the March Readercomes out, tickets may be gone for these rare shows.
The Harney Street Tavern mixes it up with a variety of music but often puts a spotlight on local roots, Americana and soul. Catch Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal at Harney Street Tavern Friday, Feb. 5, 9 p.m. See facebook.com/harneystreettavern.
The Omaha Lounge features a focus on smooth jazz and solo-duo blues, 7:30-10:30 Sunday through Thursday and 8-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Check out their schedule at theomahalounge.com.
Legendary songwriter and guitarist Peter Case plays a Sunday Roadhouse show Sunday, Feb. 14, 5 p.m. at Reverb Lounge. Case is a Grammy-nominated artist whose work has been covered by everyone from Dave Alvin and Alejandro Escovedo to The Go-Go’s. See petercase.com and sundayroadhouse.com.
Music fans in the Boston and South Shore areas are well acquainted with the cachet associated with winning the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, since this region annually sends down outstanding performers in that genre, and Norwell’s Susan Tedeschi got her first big national exposure after her band finished second in 1994. Boston’s Michelle Willson and Evil Gal won in ’93, and the past decade has seen groups like the Matt Stubbs Band and the Chris Fitz Band make their own big splashes while representing The Hub.
So, pointing out that Trampled Under Foot is the group that won the IBC in 2008 should tell music fans that the Kansas City, Missouri quartet is the real thing. But don’t take our word for it, consider the Blues Music Award the band just received for Best Contemporary Blues Album of the Year, for their CD, “Badlands.”
Coincidentally, that album, which came out in July 2013, is also their major label debut, on Telarc Records, after releasing four full albums and two EPs on their own imprint. “Badlands” also achieved a neat trifecta, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard, iTunes, and Amazon blues charts.
Trampled Under Foot will be performing at the Narrows Center in Fall River tonight and then they’ll be swinging back to the area to headline the North River Blues Festival at the Marshfield Fair on Aug. 24.
Trampled Under Foot had its origins years ago, when the band’s principal members were growing up with a father, Bob Schnebelen, who played in one of Kansas City’s best and busiest blues bands. Guitarist Nick Schnebelen (who won the Albert King Most Promising Guitarist Award at that 2008 IBC) and his sister, singer Danielle Schnebelen (voted Best Bassist in those latest Blues Music Awards), pursued their own separate projects for a while, but by 2006 they were playing together, along with their brother, drummer Kris Schnebelen. In the studio, the family trio was usually augmented by keyboardist Mike “Shinetop” Sedovic, and other guests.
The new record features Mike Finnigan on keyboards, and a guest spot from guitar ace Johnny Schell. Kris Schnebelen has stepped away from the constant touring, so Jan Faircloth has now taken over the drum chair, and Sedovic is back on keyboards. But the core of the band’s music is still Danielle and Nick, alternating lead vocals, and also both contributing original songs.
“We’re very fortunate to be going up to New England a lot this year,” said Danielle Schnebelen from her Kansas City home last week. “That’s one area we hadn’t been able to play in much – last year we played the Bull Run (in Shirley) which was our first time in New England. I can remember seeing Susan Tedeschi at the Dinosaur BBQ, when that IBC she’d been in really helped break her out nationally – everybody in our local music scene was there.
“The IBC definitely helped us, and now the last album has been another big step up,” said Danielle. “Our previous two records (including 2011′s “Wrong Side of the Blues”) were on Vizztone, but this is our first full-label release. It has helped get us in front of people who never heard us before, and really helped broaden our fan base.
“We’ve been touring Europe pretty regularly since 2008, and that’s become an even stronger market for us.”
Those Blues Music awards were a particular thrill, not least because Danielle is relatively new to the bass, picking it up around ’06, simply because one brother played guitar and the other drums, and their potential family trio needed a bassist.
“We were told I had been the first female ever nominated for the Best Bassist award back in 2012,” said Danielle. “That was enough of a thrill, coming off the ‘Wrong Side of the Blues’ album, and it created a little buzz for us. When I was nominated again this year, I never really expected to win it. There were some well-seasoned veterans in that category … versus me? I was shocked to actually win, but it is deeply satisfying, and I am proud to be the first woman to ever get that trophy.”
One cool byproduct of their burgeoning profile is getting to meet some of their musical models. Keyboardist Sedovic lists his influences on the band’s website, including Marshfield’s own Anthony Geraci – who’ll also be on that North River Blues Festival bill with Sugar Ray & the Bluetones.
“It was really funny, when we went on this year’s blues cruise,” Danielle said, laughing. “Anthony Geraci came up and introduced himself to ‘Shinetop’ and said he’d read where he’d been an influence on him. It was so cute, and Mike was just flabbergasted.”
The brother-sister songwriting duo does not usually collaborate. Each writes their own songs, start to finish, and then generally sings them. Some of the standout songs on the latest CD include the lost love song “Bad Bad Feeling,′ the funky, upbeat “Dark of the Night,” and Danielle’s wrenching, Tedeschi-level cathartic ballad, “You Never Really Loved Me.”
“Basically, as a bass player, I’m most concerned with rhythm and the foundation of the song,” she said. “The groove is the most important thing I’m trying to establish. Then I want my words to tell a story, or say something. You can say a lot with just words, but to speak and make it work musically is another thing.”
The only cover on the baker’s dozen of cuts on the latest album is a notable one, James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” sung passionately by Danielle.
“I had done it once at a Diva Festival, where the idea was women’s songs only. I had always loved the Etta James version of that song, so it was easy enough to pull off that first night. But then the response we got – within six months so many people requested it every night, we decided to record it. I think it’s still a pretty cool song, and we do it now, pretty much every night,” she said.
TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT – The Next Great Family Band
The Allman Brothers of Macon, Georgia; North Mississippi Allstars of Memphis, Tennessee… great blues-based Family bands who generated such intense love, pride and excitement in their regional fans that they were propelled to a worldwide stage. Now it’s time to add one more name to that short list: the Schnebelen family of Kansas City, Missouri – TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT.
Siblings Danielle, Kris and Nick Schnebelen grew up with the Blues. Their parents, Bob and Lisa, were active in the thriving Kansas City Blues scene, playing in local bands and competing in the Kansas City Blues Challenge. Bob and Lisa’s band didn’t make it to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis — but their kids did. When TUF arrived in Memphis for the 2008 IBC they were followed by huge, wildly enthusiastic throngs of hometown supporters, eager to cheer for their favorite musical family. And when TUF took First Place in the competition and Nick won the Albert King guitarist award, it was a sweet victory for the Schnebelen family and for Kansas City itself. TUF has been on a roll ever since, becoming popular repeat headliners at clubs, festivals and cruises around the world and releasing CDs and a DVD on their own label.
Trampled Under Foot’s brand new CD, Wrong Side of the Blues was produced by Tony Braunagel, and features guest appearances by Mike Finnigan, Kim Wilson, and engineer/guitarist Johnny Lee Schell. It also features one of their dad’s songs, and backup vocals by their mom. In the future, when people speak of the great Blues dynasties, musical families who breathed the same musical air and produced the highest form of the art, chances are they’ll refer to the Allmans, the Dickinsons, the Burnsides, the Brookses, the Neals… and the Schnebelens.
Trampled Under Foot, the Kansas City-based three-piece sibling band with an IBC win and three Blues Music Awards under their belt, has announced major lineup changes effective immediately. Drummer Kris Schnebelen, brother to lead singer/bassist Danielle and guitarist Nick, has departed the band “to pursue other interests and take a much-needed break from life on the road,” according to TUF’s official press release. Kris’ last performance with the band was on last week’s Blues Cruise. He will continue to play drums in other projects.
Additionally, the band will be adding a keyboardist, Mike “Shinetop” Sedovic, and Kris’ position will be filled by Jan Faircloth of the popular Kansas City band, Levee Town.
From the band’s website:
Trampled Under Foot is excited to introduce a couple of new faces to the band in 2014. It is with mixed emotion that TUF announce original drummer (and brother to Nick & Danielle), Kris Schnebelen has decided to take 2014 off to pursue other interests and take a much-needed break from life on the road. His replacement, Jan Faircloth is no stranger to the Kansas City blues scene though. As co-founder of the popular KC blues-rock outfit Levee Town, Jan brings years of experience to the TUF family.The other new member of TUF should be no stranger to fans. After years of playing with the band as a special guest, Mike “Shinetop” Sedovic will join TUF on the keyboard. The addition of Shinetop will add a new dimension to the already stellar live performance TUF has become known for.