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The Bush League was founded on a front porch in 2007 not too far outside Richmond, Virginia, by dynamic vocalist JohnJason “JohnJay” Cecil and the heartbeat of the band, self-taught bassist Royce Folks. They are joined by Michael Burgess and Brad Moss on guitar with Wynton Davis keeping time on drums. The Bush League has sported many faces and played many different styles of music but the unifying force is the collective love of the Blues, particularly the soulful groovin’ Hill Country Blues of North Mississippi. Taking that Hill Country base and drawing upon individual influences of rock, soul, funk, and gospel The Bush League meshes those genres to create their own sound that pays homage to traditional blues but with a modern feel. Fat Possum Records’ “You Better Run: The Essential Junior Kimbrough” was the band’s first exposure to Hill Country Blues and heavily influenced The Bush League’s first original song, “Don’t Touch My Liquor”
Over the years, The Bush League has been playing the Blues and paying its dues on the 21st century version of the “Chitlin’ Circuit”, playing bars, restaurants, private parties, wineries, weddings, in front of the bathroom at the VA State Fair, and various festivals throughout the Mid-Atlantic. For 156 straight weekends, The Bush League played anywhere that would book them, seeing these gigs as opportunities to further hone and evolve their signature sound as well as introduce the world to a version of blues that many had never heard.
All that honing and evolving has begun to pay off as The Bush League has become a familiar face in Memphis, with either a member of some iteration of the band having competed in every category of the International Blues Challenge since 2010. The Bush League was one of the first bands ever based outside of Mississippi to be invited to play the 9th Annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic. The band also opened the final day of the 4th Annual Colonial Beach Blues Festival and they have even brought their VA-MS Blues to NYC!
The Bush League’s long awaited studio CD, “Can of Gas and a Match” was released in December 2012 to very positive reviews from Blues-centric publications such as Blues Blast Magazine and Living Blues. Recorded in one 14 hour session at Young Avenue Sound in Memphis, TN, the CD and its reviews introduced The Bush League to the larger blues world and stayed in the Top Ten on Amazon’s Top New Blues Rock and Roots Rock charts for 3 months. The album was placed in rotation on Pandora in 2013.
Known for energetic live shows, The Bush League aims to keep the Blues alive by continuing to push the boundaries of what the blues can be. The lyrics can stand on their own as well as the music, but when you put them together you have a visual soundscape that evokes images of times gone by but still relatable to today’s audience. Think aged wine in new stems, bleu cheese on fresh Ritz crackers, or a juke joint with new lights. Shiny new dirty ol’ Blues is what The Bush League will continue to bring to whoever opens the door.