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Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame / Bio

Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame is a West Coast blues band from Modesto, California. Eli Lester and Jason Finley share guitar duties. The rhythm section is Randall Niemann on bass and Ian Stambaugh on drums. The group is fronted by "Big Earl" Matthews who belts out the blues. The band members come from varied backgrounds and have played just about every musical style from Jazz to Rockabilly to Rap. Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame has built their music on a sturdy foundation of 50's Chicago style blues infused with infectious funk rhythms, this unique blend of classic styles has been filling dance floors since 2007. The boys independently released their first CD, "Low Cash Blues", in October, 2011. In addition to actively promoting their CD throughout the Central Valley these hard working boys can also be found gearing up for their second CD recorded live at the Gallo Center at their sold out show in Oct of 2014. They have had the pleasure of opening from such well known acts as; Charlie Musselwhite, Chris Cain, Cafe R&B, John Nemeth, MoFo Party Band, Billy TK Junior, Greg “Fingers” Taylor, Mark Hummel and BB King. The band is booking Clubs, Theaters, Festivals, Private and Corporate Event.

Modesto native Eli Lester was raised by musician parents and began playing professionally with his father's bluegrass band at the age of 13. Eli has won three Modesto Area Music Awards (MAMA's) and recorded an album with Sony's Work group. In addition, he has toured extensively throughout the US and UK and shared the stage with such artists as Robben Ford, Tommy Castro, Eric Gales, Matt Schofield, Huey Lewis and the News, Robert Cray & Chris Cain. In addition to playing with the Cryin' Shame, Eli has been a guitar teacher since 1999.

Jason Finley needed a way to pass time while recovering from a skateboarding accident which led him to the guitar. Having been exposed to music through his uncle, Jason knew what it took to become a skilled musician and spent all his free time practicing. Jason cites Chet Atkins and Merle Travis as his Rockabilly influences. With the Rockabilly group "The Haywoods", Jason played numerous San Francisco clubs as well as toured the US and UK before the band broke up leading to Jason becoming a founding member of Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame.

Ian Stambaugh is a multi-stylistic drummer with fifteen years of experience. He has played jazz, rock, blues, funk and R&B. Ian has shared the stage and/or recorded with artists such as Megan Slankard, Roem Baur, Sapo Sueno, Aaron Durr, Project 59, Stop Motion Poetry, Mark Little & the Blue Monday Band, Dan Mass Quartet, and Strange Brew. In addition to his duties with Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame, Ian is a sought after drum teacher.

Randall Niemann brings over 30 years of experience to the band, finding his love of Soul, R&B, and Blues in The Cryin’ Shame. As a Sacramento native Randall studied under legendary bassist Darryl C Anders (Tower of Power, Charlie Peacock, & video games Guitar Hero & Rockband). He has played and recorded with many bands and projects from Hip Hop to Rock including members of Def Tones and ultimately winning a SAMMIE (SacramentoArea Music Award) for his efforts with DC Ray. After moving to ModestoRandallplayed on numerous radio spots, managed and produced bands, and has won two MAMA awards. Randall has shared the stage with Blues greats such as Charlie Musselwhite, Kim Wilson, A.C. Myles, and The Mofo Party Band.

Big Earl Matthews began his quest to sing professionally at the age of 19 after hearing blues legend Tommy Castro. Six years later the first incarnation of Big Earl and the Cryin’ Shame was born in Humboldt County. After five years, Earl returned to his hometown of Modesto, soon met Jason Finley and rebuilt Big Earl and the Cryin’ Shame. Earl counts artists such as Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Magic Slim and Big Mama Thornton as his influences. Earl loves blues music and likes to say: Everybody loves the blues, some people just don’t know it yet.

Highlights and venues
Opening for BB King at the Gallo Center 2014, 1200 person sold out show.
Blues and Bones Fest
Modesto Blues Fest
Pick and Gather Fest
Apricot Fest
Stanislaus County Fair
Calaveras County Fair
The Gallo Center for the Arts, 4 times, the last two to sold out crowds.
The State Theater
The West Side Theater
The Prospect Theater
The Stockton Arena
The Torch Club
The Powerhouse Pub
THe Embassy Suites Sacramento-Riverfront Promenade

Types of shows we can provide

1-4 sets (up to 4 hours) of electric danceable blues music. Perfect for Clubs, Private Parties, Corporate Events and Festivals. We are able to dress it up or down depending on your needs.
1-2 sets of acoustic americana and blues. This is more mellow, we sit down break out the acoustic guitars and the lap steel and play some soulful original music mixed with some oldschool classics. This is perfect for more mellow/quiet events or we can use this as a way of opening the night. i.e. start with an Acoustic set and then pick up the electric instruments to get the party kicked up.
Our goal is to provide the perfect arrangement for your needs.

You can reach us at:

General Info

Band Members
Jason Finley - Guitar, Eli Lester - Guitar, Ian Stambaugh - Drums, Randall Niemann - Bass, Earl Matthews - Vocals
Artist Name
Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame
Profile Page
Active Since

Contact Info

Modesto, CA
Earl Matthews

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