A Tribute to Big Joe Burrell w/ the Unknown Blues Band ft. Dave Keller, Joey Sommerville, Dave Grippo and The Unknown Horns
Thursday, June 7, 2018
18+ $15 ADV // $20 DOS
Unknown Blues Band
The Unknown Blues Band, which featured Big Joe Burrell, up until his passing in 2005, was a staple on the Vermont music scene for almost 27 years. The band derived its tongue-in-cheek name from the fact that the four other members of the band were also members of the award winning jazz pop group “Kilimanjaro.” What began for the four veteran players as an off night “alter ego” in between national tours quickly grew into a constantly working unit once they combined forces with Big Joe. It was this combination that drove audiences wild when Big Joe and the boys performed at the famed Newport Jazz Festival, at SPAC in 1983, or when they toured the Soviet Union in November of 1991; it also won them an invitation to perform at the prestigious Utrecht Blues Festival in Holland in 1995.
The Discover Jazz Festival began using this local resource to back up national acts such as New Orleans soul queen, Marva Wright, guitarist Kenny Neal, and Texas Bluesman, W.C. Clark, at the renowned Blues Tent. By the mid-eighties both bands had established themselves to the point that legendary bluesman Paul Butterfield asked The Unknown Blues Band to be his band for a three-month national tour. That relationship led to additional dates at the Lone Star in NYC with Butterfield, and an appearance before a crowd of 70,000 at the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark.
As word grew about this local phenomenon, musical celebrities passing through the area would frequently stop in and join the band, much to the crowd’s delight. B.B. King was a frequent guest, and there was an infamous night during Discover Jazz’s very first year when Betty Carter sang with the band for much of the night. She reprised that night in 1995 when she again joined up with The Unknown Blues Band at Club Metronome. Along with Big Joe’s superb tenor sax playing there was almost always a cadre of great horn players at every gig which were affectionately referred to as “The Unknown Horns.” This included some now very “known” players such as Dave Grippo, Joey Sommerville, Russ Remington, Chris Peterman, James Harvey, Terry Youk, and many more.
Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio has said on several occasions that the reason he moved to Burlington was largely because of the Unknown Blues Band. The first time that he visited Burlington, friends took him to Hunt’s where UBB was performing that night. He came away thinking that if that was representative of the quality of music in the Burlington music scene, then this was the place he wanted to live. Shortly after that first encounter, Unknown Blues guitarist Paul Asbell, became Trey’s guitar teacher, and later on, UBB bassist Tony Markellis began playing with Trey in The Trey Anastasio Band. Tony has been a member of that band since it’s inception 17 years ago. In 2001 during Phish’s two year sabbatical, UBB keyboardist and audio engineer, Chas Eller, partnered with Trey at Trey’s personal recording studio, The Barn. All three of those founding members of the Unknown Blues Band will be performing at the Metronome show, along with long time UBB drummer, Lucas Adler.