Willie K and the Warehouse Blues Band
Willie K headlines the event, and fans can look forward to another impressive performance of impassioned playing from the uncle they know and love. Joined by the Warehouse Blues Band, fans will be treated to a round of blissful blues.
As always, Willie K will welcome a few special guests to the stage to join him. The special guest list grows as the event draws nearer, so check this section often for updates.
This year, Willie K welcomes the following special guests:
American singer/songwriter Gretchen Rhodes has long been a fan favorite – and it’s easy to see why. Rhodes’ unique, soulful blend of blues and rock always gets audiences on their feet, singing, dancing and joining in the fun. While trained in the classical tradition, Rhodes has found her passion fronting rock and blues bands.
“Playing in front of a live audience is what I live for. The transference of energy is incredible…and to be able to express my Soul and touch the souls of others is unlike anything I can describe. It’s a palpable rush…”
Rhodes has collaborated on stage with an impressive list of music industry heavies, including funk genius George Clinton, rock icon Steven Tyler and Doobie Brother Pat Simmons, as well as recording, performance, and music video appearances with Kenny Chesney in his ‘Life on a Rock’ album and ‘Wild Child’ music video.
Currently, Rhodes is touring with Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer and founding member of Traffic, Dave Mason along with the founder of ‘the Blues Brothers’ and Rolling Stone’s 39th greatest guitar player of all time, Steve Cropper. When not touring, Rhodes fronts Mick Fleetwood’s Band with the legendary Fleetwood Mac drummer.
Additional Guest Appearances
Alice Cooper pioneered a grandly theatrical brand of hard rock that was designed to shock. Drawing equally from horror movies, vaudeville, and garage rock, the group created a stage show that featured electric chairs, guillotines, fake blood and boa constrictors. He continues to tour regularly, performing shows worldwide with the dark and horror-themed theatrics that he’s best known for.
In the new millenium, Cooper has been very productive and busy, writing, recording and releasing the albums “Brutal Planet,” “Dragon Town,” “The Eyes of Alice Cooper,” “Dirty Diamonds,” “Along Came a Spider,” and 2011’s “Welcome 2 My Nightmare,” plus “Old School 1964-1974,” a box set celebrating the original band.
He also wrote and published a memoir, “Golf Monster,” in 2007, which tracked his life from childhood to rock stardom, and his journey from alcoholic to golf addict, and was = featured in the Tim Burton film “Dark Shadows” in 2012.
As he heads back out on the concert trail each year, Cooper insists he’s still motivated to continue touring and recording albums, as well as making time for such side projects as Cooper’stown (his Phoenix-based restaurant/sports bar) and his Nights With Alice Cooper nightly radio show, syndicated domestically and worldwide on over 100 stations.
Dave Mason has loved playing guitar most of his life. He first picked one up when he was 15 and founded two bands: The Deep Feeling, and The Hellions. At age 18, the Worcester, England native teamed up with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood to form the legendary band Traffic whose profound influence over rock music remains unquestioned even today. At 19, Mason penned the song "Feelin' Alright". First recorded by Traffic, this song has since become a rock and roll anthem and recorded by dozens of artists, including JoeCocker, who had a major hit with the song in 1969.
Mason departed from the group after their second album. In 1969. he headed for the USA to pursue a solo career. A prolific artist, Mason has penned over 100 songs. He struck gold with the album "Alone Together", which is considered a rock classic. This was followed by five albums for CBS/Sony including "Dave Mason" and "Mariposa De Oro", four of which received gold albums. "Let It Flow", which has gone well over platinum, contained the classic "We Just Disagree", a top-ten single!
In addition to performing to sold-out audiences, Mason performed on a number of albums such as The Rolling Stones' "Beggars's Banquet", George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass", Paul McCartney's "Listen To What The Man Said" and Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland". One of the songs from the "Ladyland" album, "All Along the Watchtower", featured Dave playing acoustic guitar. This song, written by Bob Dylan, remains a big favorite in Dave's live show!
Guitarist Patrick Simmons joined the Doobie Brothers in 1970 and was an instrumental factor in the band's ascension from a club band playing biker bars to a global success story in the '70s, selling millions of albums and charting a succession of hit songs.
Today Pat still performs with the Doobie Brothers but you can catch him adding his vocals and guitar playing on stage with Willie K at this year's bluesfest.
With his husky, soulful baritone, Michael McDonald became one of the most distinctive and popular vocalists to emerge from the laid-back California pop/rock scene of the late '70s. McDonald found the middle ground between blue-eyed soul and smooth, soft rock, a sound that made him a star. He initially essayed his signature style with the Doobie Brothers, ushering in the group's most popular period with hits like "What a Fool Believes" and "Taking It to the Streets."
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers
“Phenomenal and funky...soulful vocals and inspired blues-rock guitar" – The Washington Post
"An inspired blend of high-energy blues, R&B and roadhouse rock…soulful, celebratory vocals and exquisite, stellar guitar” —Blues Revue
Over the course of his career, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Tommy Castro – a six-time Blues Music Award-winner – has played thousands of shows to hundreds of thousands of ecstatic fans. Castro, along with his band, The Painkillers -- bassist Randy McDonald, keyboardist Michael Emerson and drummer Bowen Brown -- plays music that is guaranteed to fill the floor and raise the roof.
With seemingly telepathic musicianship, the Painkillers bring an unmatched passion to Castro’s blue-eyed California soul and hard-rocking, good-time songs. Delivering the songs from his brand new Alligator release, Stompin’ Ground, Castro both looks back with autobiographical originals and cover songs that inspired him, melding contemporary lyrics with blistering blues-rock. No Depression says, “Castro plays gritty, string bending blues like a runaway soul train…a glorious blend that rocks the soul and lifts the spirits.”
Opening Performances By
John Akapo is a nomad that followed the music. From his early days as a kid growing up in Alaska where he fell in love with the guitar, to his youth spent in American Samoa singing Acapella and learning how to loop, John Akapo has been magnetically connected to a path of musical discovery.
John's family heritage runs deep into the music. As a kid, John was constantly surrounded by music and his uncles were touring musicians that played guitar. His parents had watched family members succumb to addiction from the rock-and-roll lifestyle, so they did their best to keep John and his brothers away from the same pitfalls.
"My parents were firmly against the idea of me taking up the guitar," said John. I would have to hide my interest in singing and especially playing the guitar. I looked to my brother's friend for guitar lessons and quietly dove into a wormhole of music that I have never climbed back out of. I would learn to play songs from watching VHS tapes or whatever I could get my hands on. That was how I discovered Eric Clapton performing his MTV Unplugged set and my whole world changed. I was still too young to have known who he was or that he was even part of the British revival of the Blues. All I knew was I wanted more."
John dove head first into the origins of the blues and never looked back. Taking a cue from the legends like Robert Johnson, Tommy Johnson, Blind Lemon, Son House, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Buddy Guy, and B.B. King, John began to explore and absorb as much as he could from recordings, movies, books, and magazines. Blues had become his solace.
Recording his own original works, John began a professional career as a luau musician, bandleader, solo entertainer, and more recently, a hip-hop producer and vocalist for 13 years, when he sits down to write music he always ends up with a blues song. It's only fitting that he has finally decided to release his first debut album, "Paradise Blues,” as a Blues artist bringing him right back home.
"I think my music is like a tree rooted in traditional blues but sprinkled with Pacific salt water," added John. "I’m merely telling a story of where I’m from, and how I got here set to a mellow acoustic blues soundtrack.I play the blues because it feels familiar to me. I feel a connection to the story behind the blues and I’m just trying to continue the story from another perspective. Give me a try and see if I cant make you feel good about being blue."
Akapo's eclectic style has won over fans across the globe including the likes of comedians J. Anthony Brown and Russell Peters who was signing John's praises on his Instagram feed.
On his musical journey, John Akapo never turned his back on his Samoan heritage or his Hawaiian roots and his experiences on the Island have helped shape him as a person, as well as a guitarist. John embodies the spirit, beauty, sadness, and struggle of the Islands with every guitar lick.
"The blues fans that have seen me play, appreciate the fact that I’m from Hawaii yet I make them feel like they're at home in the mainland. The blues is at home here in the islands, and its nothing new. I think the entire blues scene could use some of this 'Paradise Blues'."
Tavana is a multi-instrumentalist from Honolulu, HI who uses electronic drum triggers to lay down a variety of grooves with his feet while simultaneously playing guitar, banjo, lap steel, or ukulele and singing soulful, island-inspired Rock and Blues.
"My rig has grown over the years, and I now use six electronic drum pedals to achieve my desired sound. I perform everything live and use no looping. Everything is played moment to moment...It's hard to explain how fun it is to do this. Its like having a whole band in your body and mind. And they can stop and go together on a dime!!! They can slow down, speed up or whatever in perfect unity! Every sound comes with its own identity, colors,and emotions creating a much larger pallet from which to express myself. Additionally, it gives my mind very little time to stray away from the music resulting in a truly meditative state.
" The result of this exploration and improvisation became his 3rd Album - 'Kicking and Screaming' featuring hard-driving hits such as 'Mystery', 'Wise Up', and 'County Line' while also offering softer, more melodic tunes such as 'Baby Blue' which he wrote while trying to lull his newborn baby - Mavrik - to sleep one afternoon. His 4th album - 'Aloha Spirit' - was a Na Hoku Hanohano Award Nominee for Best Contemporary Album of the Year in 2018, and features Leon Mobley (Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals), Chris Chorney (Kanye West and Jay-Z), and Mike Lewis (Sammy Davis, The Temptations, Billy Joel), as well as other world class musicians - Mark Lindberg, Ken Likens, and Ane Pessin. The album displays Tavana's versatility with crossover pop songs 'SMH', 'Aloha Spirit', and 'Island Days,' while still showcasing some of his traditional hard-driving rock style on 'Walk My Way' and 'Glass Castle.
' Tavana has been the supporting act for Alabama Shakes, Shakey Graves, Xavier Rudd, Jenny Lewis, Julian Marley, and Kaleo to name just a few, and In 2009, Eddie Vedder invited Tavana to sing 'Hawaii 78' - a Hawaii anthem of sorts - with him at the Hawaii Theatre. "He's more the exception than the rule, he is a great human and I'm glad to know him" said Vedder while introducing Tavana to the audience. From a recording of their performance together, Vedder produced a limited vinyl record that was sent out to 10,000 Pearl Jam fans.
After taking a few years off from touring to be back on Oahu with his family, Tavana is looking forward to going back on tour to the US Mainland and Japan in Summer 2018!