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Sol Roots / Blog

Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Michael Burks, Sol & Funk Root, and more

The Congressional Blues Festival will take place on July 27 at the National Building Museum in DC. The festival is an effort to honor and showcase American Roots music and help those who helped create this great art form.

Previous performers include Taj Mahal, Derek Trucks, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Robert Cray, Bobby Parker, Sol & Funk Root, Music Maker Revue, Memphis Gold and more!

Here are a few details about some of this year's performers.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd, still barely in his 30s, is a Louisiana born axeman and songsmith who has been selling millions of albums, throwing singles into the Top 10, shining a light on the rich blues of the past and forging ahead with his own modern twist on a classic sound he has embodied since his teens. He met Stevie Ray Vaughn at 7, shared the stage with New Orleans legend Bryan Lee at 13. As an adult, he continues to create genre-defining blues-infused rock n' roll.

Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Michael Burks stands tall as a major contemporary blues figure. With a nickname earned by his hours-long, intensely physical performances, fearsome guitar attack, tough, smoky vocals and the thousands of miles logged behind the wheel of his touring van, Burks is a modern blues hero. Nobody in today's blues world successfully bridges searing electric guitar blues with unbridled rock and roll energy like Burks. The Chicago Sun-Times recently said Burks is “poised on the brink of major stardom."

Sol is a fierce guitarist, bassist, and soulful singer who has toured around the world with many roots, funk, and blues legends. Sol and his band Funk Root create a unique blend of energetic rock, raw blues, reggae, and funk, all delivered with deep soul. Sol is also honored to have harmonica legend Phil Wiggins performing with him for this festival.

Mudcat is an internationally known gospel and bluesman. Mudcat continues the traditions of the early blues pioneers while adding his own Mudcat edge, resulting in one of Atlanta's greatest treasures.

Christylez Bacon is a GRAMMY Nominated artist and multi-instrumentalist from Southeast, Washington, DC. Christylez multi-tasks between various instruments such as the West African djembe drum, acoustic guitar, and the human beat-box (oral percussion), all while continuing the oral tradition of storytelling through his lyrics.

In keeping with tradition, all CBF tickets include all you can eat and drink all night, and rocking performances by our artists. This year's menu features flavorful southern-influenced fare with vegetarian options accompanied by unlimited beer and wine.

This event continues to support American roots music and will again support this year's CBF charitable partner, The Blues Foundation.

The National Building Museum is America's premier cultural institution dedicated to exploring and celebrating the rich living history of performing arts. National Building Museum is located at 401 F Street Northwest Washington D.C.

www.kennywayneshepherd.net www.michaelburks.com www.sol-roots.com www.mudcatblues.com www.christylez.com

Sol Roots Celebrating Life Through Music

Sol and Tim Smith perform in Wilmington NC on Wed March 9. Sol has toured around the world with roots, blues, funk, and soul legends and brings his unique style home to the Carolina coast. Sol and Tim Smith are both recognized as top east coast US musicians.

Many musicians learn songs by listening to old records or CDs of artists, but Sol Roots has been lucky enough to learn many tunes directly from the source. Even though his vocal and guitar talent stretches from fiery rock to laid back jazz, from funky innovative grooves to soulful ballads, Sol draws on a deep background in raw down-home blues. His father performed with Piedmont blues legend Guitar Gabriel and Tim Duffy (founder of Music Maker Foundation) as part of the Brothers in the Kitchen.

Sol has been working with Music Maker all his life and is dedicated to spreading the gospel of blues and roots music. "Working with them has been a great experience," he says. “I've been able to travel around the world, and to work with many deep, spiritually rewarding artists. Music Maker is a great organization that I'm proud to work with. I've learned how the root of most American music styles stem from the blues and this is something that I respect."

Now Sol, who lives in the Washington, DC area, makes his living playing music. As a full-time musician he has learned to be flexible in his performance's and loves branching out into jazz, rock, reggae, Latin, soul, and all styles in between.

Jambase, the web's largest live music database, has described Sol as “a fierce guitarist and soulful singer." He admits that having a strong foundation in the blues and being open to all styles has helped him live up to that.

“As one of my mentors Guitar Gabriel taught me—I try to view music as a spirit and focus on the emotion and delivery of the songs, and the connection with the audience is of primary importance."

And to many, it this connection with the audience that is as inspiring as his playing ability.

“Making a living at music, I have to cater to each venue and each audience differently. Some shows I perform all jazz, some all acoustic, some all rock, etc. I do try to put my heart and soul into every show and make it the highest quality possible, and to work with musicians who understand and respect the groove."

When he performed in Wilmington last year at 128 South, Sol had audience members dancing. Local promoter and musician Susan Savia explains his shows this way, “If you attend a Sol Roots concert, prepare to be transported to a groovy place. You will grin, sway and toe-tap through the whole journey."

To Sol, this is what music is all about —it is supposed to connect people.

“I'm very excited about the upcoming Wilmington event," he says. “Tim Smith and I have worked on several albums together and have a electric musical connection."

Smith has been hailed as one of the best saxophonist and vocalist in the country. He has toured nationally with Squirrel Nut Zippers, Countdown Quartet, and the Jumpstarts.

Sol Roots playing has been described as “musical glue," holding together many grooves and personalities. He has backed up legendary artists like Taj Mahal and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, opened for Robert Randolph, the Wood Brothers, Jackie Greene, and has played with more obscure artists who have had unique perspectives and sounds. Though it all, he has learned many valuable lessons, dealt with a broad range of personalities and egos, and is still able to hold on to the one thing that ties us all spiritually to one another—music.

Humble, appreciative and talented, Sol lives by a simple rule these days.

“I believe in celebrating life through music," he explains. “Each show is unique and individual." And on March 9th, we all have the opportunity to celebrate along with him.

Jeff Reid- The Beat Magazine

Funk Rock for the Nation's Capital, Sol Gets DC Up and Dancing

He’s toured the world with some of the biggest names in blues, roots, and funk, and recorded several well-reviewed albums. He’s the fiery guitarist known as Sol, and his influences span the country, and the globe.

Sol was born in North Carolina and grew up there, as well as in Virginia, Ohio and Arizona. He went to college in Virginia and Tennessee, and he has family scattered across the US, as well as in Brazil and Costa Rica. The music and cultures of all these places make Sol the musician that he is. He also happens to have a musician dad who has played with some of the greats in blues, folk and rock.

“I grew up surrounded by music,” Sol said, “hearing rock, blues, soul, folk and jazz. I appreciate music from all over: samba, bossa nova, jazz etc.”

Some of Sol’s most formative experiences came from his involvement with the Music Maker Relief Foundation. The MMRF is a North Carolina-based non-profit organization that helps pioneers of blues and roots music make ends meet and put out their music on CD. Sol tells the story of his involvement:

“Before Music Maker had officially been established, my father was touring with his friend Tim Duffy (President of Music Maker) and Piedmont blues legend Guitar Gabriel. During my summer breaks from school I would travel around the deep south helping to do field recordings with Tim Duffy. I started working with Music Maker first as a recording engineer, then a mastering engineer, and also as a session musician. After they began to hear my musicianship, they pulled me in for quite a lot of shows. Working with them has been a great experience; I’ve been able to travel around the world, and to work with many deep, spiritually-rewarding artists. Music Maker is a great organization that I’m proud to work with.”

Through Music Maker, Sol had the chance to travel around the world, backing up musicians like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Taj Mahal. He also put out one of his albums, “Volume: Blue,” on the Music Maker label.

“’Volume: Blue’ has been described as an underground blues/hip-hop mash-up,” Sol said, “and is a tribute to some of my musical mentors. It is my attempt to share the philosophy, life lessons and soul of artists like Guitar Gabriel and Cootie Starks with the youth of today. I have a deep respect for all of the artists that are a part the album. All of them have had a great impact on me, not just musically, but also personally.”

These days, Sol calls DC home, and he’s recording and touring around the east coast with his band Funk Root. They’ve put out one CD, “Freedom,” with another on the way sometime this year. Sol & Funk Root includes musicians who have worked with many musical legends, including Jah Works, Corey Harris, Hobex, Mary Ann Redmond, Deanna Bogart, and Tommy Castro.

Deciding he wanted to settle down just a bit after all the relentless touring, Sol has made the L.A. Bar in Arlington a kind of home base. Besides the open jam/ music showcase he hosts himself on many Thursdays—Sol also plays gigs at the bar a few times a year and helps the manager (and avid live music supporter) find bands for the bar’s Friday Night Music Series.

“LA Bar and I work together on a vision of bringing in quality music while keeping a laid-back atmosphere,” Sol said. “Every Friday, this relaxed venue is transformed into a lively party spot for music lovers of all kinds.”

Sol does not plan on stopping the music anytime soon. He is dedicated to spreading the gospel of blues, rock, and roots music, and making people get up and dance while he’s at it. He’s grateful for the chance.

“I try to be thankful,” he said, “for every day, every show, every musician I work with, and every venue and promoter I work with that is focused on quality and integrity.”

Check www.sol-roots.com and www.musicmaker.org for more info.

By Jon Kaplan

Home Grown Music Network welcomes Sol & Funk Root

Roots Rock and Funky Blues delivered with deep Soul

Home Grown Music Network welcomes Sol & Funk Root

November 2nd, 2010 | Posted by: Robie

Sol is a fierce guitarist and soulful singer who has toured the world with many roots, funk, and blues legends. Sol and his band Funk Root create a unique blend of Southern fried rock, blues, reggae, and way back yonder funk, all delivered with deep soul, performing tasty original tunes and bluesy, greasy jams. Sol & Funk Root have toured across the east coast U.S. at many premier festivals and venues and have been on bills with Jon Cleary, Soulive, The Wood Brothers, Robert Randolph, Jackie Greene, and more.

Sol & Funk Root’s latest CD release “Freedom” includes Sol on guitar and vocals with band members drummer King George (Corey Harris, Jah Works), bassist Jake D, and saxophonist Tim Smith (Hobex, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Countdown Quartet), and special appearances by members of reggae jam groups the Seed, and the Alliens.

"Freedom displays the social consciousness that is at the heart of much roots music”- HGMN

"Sol puts soul into his guitar...everytime! With a screaming blues-funk sound and a tight rhythm section- you can't help but to move your feet!"- Floydfest founder/organizer

"Sol is an exceptional guitarist & a wonderful spirit...with an extraordinary ability to fit the perfect approach and composition."- Fred Cannon - a Senior VP at BMI

Tour Dates

November 13, 2010 - Lexington Market - Baltimore, MD

November 20, 2010 - Oyster Riot - Washington, DC

December 10, 2010 - L.A. Bar - Arlington, VA

December 12, 2010 - Delaplane Winery - Delaplane, VA

December 31, 2010 - New Years Eve Party - Kernersville, NC

Booking: 9th Floor Music booking@sol-roots.com

Band photo credit: Sean Cuddy www.cuddyphoto.com WEBSITE: http://www.sol-roots.com

Home Grown Music Network is a network of fans, bands, venues, and businesses working together to make the independent music scene stronger.


show review: Robert Randolph, Sol & Funk Root, Bobby Parker, Howard Gospel Choir

The Congressional Blues Festival is one of Washington DC’s premier music events. Past headline acts include artists such as Levon Helm, Taj Mahal, Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Bill Wax said “this festival presents a lot of shades and reflections of the blues”. The CBF is dedicated to giving back to American Roots music and has partnered with Music Maker and Blues Foundation.

This year the musical lineup was Robert Randolph & the Family Band, guitar legend Bobby Parker, the powerful Sol & Funk Root, and the spirited Howard Gospel Choir. The crowd was lined up in anticipation to get inside, to hear all the great musical acts, and to enjoy the food and drinks.

As festival goers entered, they received a taste of great music: Sol & Funk Root. Sol is an incredible guitarist and vocalist who has performed with musical heavyweights Taj Mahal and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, as well as with a broad range of roots, blues, and funk pioneers. Sol started off strong, leading his band Funk Root into an unusually funky twist on the tune Serve Somebody. The band then dove into several spirited originals Work It For Me, Sweet Sugah Momma and Your Love. Sol and his second guitarist Bobby Thompson (SOJA, Junior Marvin) both energetically played off of each other, trading tasty licks, and complimenting each other perfectly, as the crowd swarmed close to the stage and begin to dance. The drummer and bassist locked in tight grooves for Sol to dance over with his fiery fretwork. Sol presented an array of funk, blues, r&b, & rock music catering to the festival crowd and ended with the infectious groove of their original Let’s Get Down.

With crowd warmed up and ready, the Howard University Gospel Choir took the stage. This joyful choir skillfully performed When the Saints go Marching In. Their heavenly voices blended perfectly and had the audience singing along. The director then broke it down for their tune Thank You for These Blessings and then the lively O Happy Day. Their sweet harmonies and arrangements were a nice addition to the festival and reflected some of Robert Randolph’s gospel roots.

Next up was blues legend Bobby Parker and his five piece band. Bobby Parker kicked into high gear with a fast pace instrumental and then hit the audience with a slow blues. An Albert King cover and Superstitious provided two funky blues tunes that allowed Parker to showcase his stinging guitar playing. Parker's playing made it clear to see how he had influenced Santana, Jimmy Page, and John Lennon. The crowd enthusiastically cheered as Bobby Parker performed his hit Watch Your Step, perhaps not even knowing this song was later covered by Santana and others. Parker's set ended on the shuffle drag of Goin to New York. The crowd was fired up and ready for him to continue but also excited for the upcoming headliner.

Anticipation filled the air as Robert Randolph took the stage for the final performance of the night. Robert began with his screaming pedal steel intro echoing in the huge hall and then the band dropped into the groove of Look Where He Brought Me From. Marcus Randolph provided rock solid drum beats and Danyel Morgan locked in incredibly deep bass grooves and vocal harmonies, as band broke loose with I Need More Love. Lenesha Randolph with her beautiful soulful vocals sung “Anybody out there feel good?” as she received an enthusiastic response from the crowd. Guitarist Adam Smirnoff (Lettuce, Soulive) had a chance to really shine on this jam. Robert then slowed down to a hypnotic beat of You’ve Got to Move. Then the band boogied hard with the up-tempo Shake Ya Hips. Lovely ladies jumped on stage and shook their hips as Randolph shook out some licks on his guitar. Robert lit up the night with his unique pedal steel guitar and vocals, the band swayed, and the audience cheered heartily. What a perfect way to end the evening!

The CBF continues to give back to roots of American music. This was an incredible event with extremely high quality acts.

Shakori Hills Spring 2010 Festival - Jambase review

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance is a wonderful celebration of music, arts, and dance set in the beautiful North Carolina countryside. This vibrant festival offers four days of incredible music featuring some of the best international, national, regional, and local bands. The diversity and quality of the musical groups at Shakori Hills is impressive, and Shakori Hills is known for being a very relaxed, family friendly and earth-conscious festival.

The big name acts at this April's Shakori Hills included banjo master Béla Fleck, the Malian musician and bandleader Bassekou Kouyate, world psychedelic jammers Rusted Root, Americana musician Abigail Washburn, and the festival founders Donna The Buffalo. On the last day even Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones stopped by with his bass, mandolin, and keyboard for a few powerful guest appearances!

Among the many other spectacular groups who performed were Sim Redmond Band, Sol Driven Train, Hobex, Asylum Street Spankers, Hackensaw Boys, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Sol & Funk Root, and Great American Taxi.

Here's a healthy sampling of photos from Shakori Hills. If you missed this spring festival, the 2010 fall festival is right around the corner!


Photos By: gabriel Nelson KEVIN JAMES Artists in this gallery: Great American Taxi, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, Bela Fleck, Casey Driessen, Rusted Root, The Smart Brothers, Hobex, Eilen Jewell, Chiwoniso, Sol & Funk Root, Greg Humphreys, Hackensaw Boys, Ralph Roddenbery Band, Bowerbirds, Whistlin' Britches, Captain Luke, Cool John Ferguson, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Scythian

Words by: S. Taylor | Images by: Kevin M. James & Gabriel Nelson

from: JamBase | North Carolina Go See Live Music! http://www.shakorihills.org/

[Published on: 5/3/10]

show review: The Wood Brothers, Joe McGuinness, & Sol in Richmond VA

The Wood Brothers are touring the east coast promoting their new album Loaded. The fans loved the Richmond Virginia concert that included the opening acts Joe McGuinness and Sol.

“We’re glad to be performing in Richmond for the first time!” declared Oliver Wood to an enthusiastic crowd at the Capital Ale House. Friday March 12 was The Wood Brothers second stop on a two week tour of the east coast. The brothers are promoting their new album Loaded on Blue Note Records that was produced by John Medeski. The downtown Richmond crowd was focused and appreciative of the Wood Brothers making their city a stop on their musical voyage. Sol and Joe McGuinness were both two extremely talented opening acts that complimented the Wood Brothers Virginia show perfectly.

Starting the night off with a bang, Sol, a fiery guitarist and soulful singer, kicked into some bluesy songs that included a local harmonica player Wave Milor. Sol performed a set of originals and his super solid bass player Mike Tony Echols provided Sol some space to stretch out and wow the crowd with his guitar virtuosity. Sol’s album includes musicians that work with Corey Harris, Jah Works, and Hobex. Oliver Wood compared Sol to songwriter Mutlu (Philadelphia based Mutlu works with The Wood Brothers fellow label mate Amos Lee).

Next up, Atlanta based Joe McGuinness presented very some tasteful guitar finger picking and also breaking out an electric banjo. McGuinness performed many originals including one of his signature songs “My Name Is Joe” and a cover song by another Atlanta underground blues legend Bill Sheffield. Joe’s CD release also includes guest appearances by the great guitarist Sean Costello. Joe ended his set with “I Feel So Good” and everyone in Capital Ale House was certainly feeling good!

Oliver gave thanks to the opening acts and The Wood Brothers jumped into “Stealing” and “One More Day” with the crowd singing along. Chris Wood tore into his stand up bass, ripping out grooves, with Oliver perfectly strumming infectious rhythms on his old Gibson guitar. Both brothers would occasion break into emotional solos that brought cheers from the audience. Tyler Greenwell provided some very tasteful drumming and percussion work. Tyler also works with Colonel Bruce Hampton, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeski and others. The musical connection between guitarist Oliver Wood and his brother Chris Wood was incredible. Chris Wood’s bass was rumbling through the sound system and he would hit high vocal harmonies to accentuation Oliver's lyrics. Capital Ale House was set up for mostly sitting and dining, but even the first opening act the music had folks up dancing. The dancing was brought to a head with The Wood Brothers performing their slinky rhythm on the tune “Spirit”.

The night ended with The Wood Brothers returning for an encore to perform “The Luckiest Man Alive”. The feeling was though out the air: the crowd felt lucky to be at a great concert and you could sense The Wood Brothers felt so lucky to be celebrating life and music with such an enthusiastic audience.

The crowd gave heartfelt cheers to The Wood Brothers presentation of stripped down acoustic songs, danced to their rocking electric songs, sung along with well know tunes, and listened attentively to the brand new unreleased tunes and songs from their newest album Loaded. The Wood Brothers put on a wonderful show, getting a great first taste of their fans appreciation in Richmond Virginia.


Sol Freedom review on Home Grown Music Network

We're very happy to have just begun working with Home Grown Music Network.

Leeway's Home Grown Music Network is a collective of independent bands, representatives, venues, stores, fans and people all working together to improve our world through good music!

The recent HGMN review of the CD release Freedom is here:


Sol featured on Music is Music Blogspot

Thanks to Music is Music Blogspot for spreadin all the great info about the east coast music scene! Here's a quote from their recent blog...

"Sol - Freedom Sol is an amazing talent! He is a guitarist/singer/songwriter and producer. His music makes you feel good- and that ain't bad! I have been listening to this CD (Freedom) consistently for an entire year... The songs have a great sound and cover several styles like deep blues, laid-back reggae, pure funk, psychedelic rock, and smooth R&B..... The main players here comprise of Sol and his band, but there are some brilliant new sounds complementing them like electric piano, horns and even a flute.... Sol puts into each song just what it needs. He can be take a nod to the traditional and still be original and fresh. There is not any over-the-top production and no showboating on the album. There is no need to pretend when the music is as pure and free as this! Everyone should hear this album!

now give yourself a New Year's present and GO BUY ONE (or more) OF THESE ALBUMS TODAY!"

"Freedom" song of the week for RockOm-

Sol was honored to be involved with RockOm recently! please visit the site below and connect with RockOm!


RockOm is an online community to celebrate, share and explore the common ground of music and spirituality, inclusive of all faiths and all musical styles. We at RockOm have created this venue to be a haven for spiritually-inclined musicians to share and promote their art, for listeners to encounter the power of their musical expressions, and all to forge new friendships, help each other, and discuss and further explore the bonds of music and the spirit.