MCLA to Present Ninth Blues & Funk Fest Feb. 7-8


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - MCLA Presents! will bring to the community a weekend of soulful sounds via New Orleans, Boston and the Berkshires as Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) hosts the Ninth Annual Blues and Funk Festival on Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Venable gymnasium.

Starting things off on Friday night is Boston's own Jesse Dee, bringing his unique brand of retro R and B, creating instantly memorable melodies, according to Jonathan Secor, BCRC director.

Opening for Dee will be the Berkshire's own Rebel Alliance, and MCLA's Jazz Band under the direction of Jeff Link.

Saturday night brings New Orleans' favorite Walter "Wolfman" Washington back to North Adams with his searing guitar work and soulful vocals that have defined the Crescent City's unique musical blend since he formed his first band in the 1970s, according to Secor.

"Something old, something new - two great performers with nothing but the Blues! That's what we have for one and all in this year's annual Blues and Funk Festival at MCLA," Secor said.

"Jesse Dee is someone we will start hearing about more and more, a great young performer in the ilk of James Hunter who is most definitely on the way up, having just signed on with Alligator Records," Secor continued. "On the other end of the spectrum is the embodiment of old school Funk and Blues in Walter 'Wolfman' Washington, a singer who has been playing since the 1950s with the likes of Lee Dorsey, and who still is rocking today, packing houses in New Orleans every week."

Friday night's headliner, Jesse Dee, is part of a school of young musicians who are embracing the style and stylizations of the R and B season in its prime. Steve Morse, Boston Globe music critic, said, "There is not a fake bone in Jesse Dee's body, as you'll hear in the joyously uplifting transformative grooves of his original songs. His music has hints of everything from Memphis Soul to Sam Cooke like smoothness, and Otis Redding like testifying, all stirred with Jesses's contemporary spice."

Dee's label debut, "On My Mind/In My Heart" was released in February 2013.

According to Bruce Iglauer, president of Alligator Records, "His music makes me smile. His music feels like spring. It's Soul music, but it's really happy Soul music. It's in the tradition of Sam Cooke and Chuck Jackson. And there's a little spirit of Joe Tex in there. All of those things make me feel good."

In addition to opening Saturday's performances, the MCLA Jazz Band will get Friday night started when it opens for Dee.

Saturday night belongs to Walter Washington, a well-known New Orleans based musician. According to, "The 'Wolfman' held down his post as DBA's chief tenant of Blues and Funk last week, howling and screaming into the night. Walter and his boys were on a mission to make it more than just another Wednesday night, with music that truly elevated the crowd, and just good old-fashioned talent."

Opening for Washington's Saturday night performance will be the MCLA Jazz Band and local trio T-Bone Daddy, which has ties to MCLA.

In addition to Lou Parreault (drums, vocals), the band consists of front man Tyler Fairbank (guitar, vocals), the chair of MCLA's Board of Trustees, and Jeff Link (bass, vocals) who teaches music at MCLA, and is director for the College's jazz band.

According to Mad Jack's BBQ, "T-Bone Daddy is a rockin' Blues trio, plain and simple; soulful, but with a big, bad sound. Influenced by Blues legends like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton, coupled with new flavors of artists like John Mayer and Joe Bonamassa, TBD puts its fingerprints on everything it does."

T-Bone Daddy's albums include "Deluxe" and "River of Blues."

Tickets to the Blues and Funk Festival are $15 for a two-night combo pass or $10 for general admission each night.  Non-MCLA student tickets are $5 each night. Tickets each night for MCLA alumni are $8, $5 for staff and faculty, and members and students enjoy free admission.

Food and drink will be available for purchase both nights. Tickets may be reserved by calling MCLA Presents! at (413) 662-5204. For more information, (413) 664-8718, or go to presents .

MCLA Presents! is a program of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), a collaborative project with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and the City of North Adams. The BCRC provides professional development training, resources and support to the artists, art managers and creative workers of Berkshire County. Through its multiple programs and presentations, BCRC brings the best of performance and art to the Berkshires and showcases the best of the Berkshires to the world.

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