“She’s like the love child of Amy Winehouse and Little Richard.”
—Bruce Iglauer, Alligator Records president”
When blues-rocking, soul-singing drummer, songwriter and bandleader Lindsay Beaver takes the stage, she makes an immediate and unforgettable impression. Standing front and center at her kit, singing every song from the depths of her soul, she delivers blues, R&B and old school rock ‘n’ roll with punk rock energy, and sings with a voice brimming with attitude and soulfulness. She comes at every song with urgent intensity, soul-baring emotion, a distinct swagger and a take-no-prisoners confidence. With influences ranging from Little Richard to The Ramones, from Billie Holiday to Queens of the Stone Age, Lindsay has crafted a timeless sound and personal style that simply cannot be denied.
Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Beaver possesses an old soul at the young age of 33. She is a classically trained vocalist and a jazz-trained drummer with a deep love and knowledge of roots music, from blues to jazz to R&B ballads to raucous rock ‘n’ roll. Live and on her recordings, she lays it all on the line, performing her signature mix of unforgettable originals and dance floor-filling versions of songs by artists as diverse as Sam Cooke and The Detroit Cobras. Her Alligator Records debut, Tough As Love, introduces her as a true force of nature with a sky’s-the-limit future.
Tough As Love, produced by Beaver, was recorded in Lindsay’s current hometown of Austin, Texas. She wrote seven of the album’s twelve tracks, the striking originals melding seamlessly with the perfectly-chosen covers. Her deep understanding of blues and roots rock traditions is a launching pad for her songs, combining electric urgency with skill and finesse. Tough As Love honors some of Beaver’s inspirations (including songs by Little Willie John, Angela Strehli and Art Neville) while introducing her own instantly memorable songs. Along with her touring band—guitarist Brad Stivers and bassist Josh Williams (“they are the glue that holds it all together,” she says)—well-known friends including Marcia Ball, Dennis Gruenling, Laura Chavez, Eve Monsees and Sax Gordon all add their talents to the proceedings. According to Beaver, “These are all folks that I’ve admired or wanted to perform with for years. It was important for me to highlight people that have inspired me.” From the first song to the last, Tough As Love is rough and raw, fearless and moving.
“Signing with Alligator is a true stamp of approval for any roots music artist,” says Beaver, who has been releasing her own recordings and performing professionally for 15 years, first as a singer and then as a band-leading vocalist and drummer. “It’s like a dream come true.”
Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer is thrilled to bring her into the fold. “I’m very excited to welcome Lindsay Beaver to the Alligator Records family. She’s a great young talent. Her songs evoke the spirit of 1950s and ‘60s R&B and blues, but her singing and playing infuse them with a raw, rocking punk energy. Her music is full of unvarnished emotion and power.”
Beaver grew up in a working class family surrounded by music. She loved to sing around the house (especially soul music), but she was a shy kid and only sang when she was alone. She discovered the music of Tupac Shakur at age 11 and fell in love with hip hop, which started her on a path back to soul, blues and jazz. At 14 she heard Jimi Hendrix and then, in her words, “everything changed.” She got a guitar and learned to play. She was finally convinced by her friends to sing in public in her high school talent show. From there, she sang in school musicals and at open mic events around Halifax. But when she first heard Billie Holiday sing Don’t Explain at age 17, Lindsay found her true musical direction. “I was floored,” she recalls. “Her voice had more soul and emotional depth than any singer I had ever heard. Billie led me to lots of other jazz, and jazz led me to blues.”
Immediately after graduating high school, Lindsay took voice lessons and began a self-described “crash course” in classical music. A quick study with obvious talent, she received a scholarship to train as a classical soprano. Around the same time, she put together a small jazz band featuring her vocals. “My drummer didn’t want to keep bringing his drums over to my house for rehearsal,” she recalls. So my dad scraped together enough money to buy a drum set to keep in the house. As soon as I sat down at that set, I got it.” Her biggest drumming inspiration is the immortal Earl Palmer, who recorded with everyone from Little Richard and Fats Domino to Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Dizzy Gillespie and Tom Waits. “He was the perfect drummer,” she says. “He understood how to play for the song.”
At the age of 19, Beaver saw Canadian blues icons The Garrett Mason Trio perform. Between the hordes of happy, dancing fans and the band’s fiery-hot performance, Beaver came to a realization then and there. “I want to do that,” she decided. “Have a band, actually be a real musician.” Later that week she went to the local Sunday night blues jam. “I didn’t tell any of the blues guys about my singing. I figured that if I told them that I sang, nobody would take me seriously as a drummer. So I did my jazz gigs in town singing and then would go to the blues jam on Sunday as a drummer.”
Wanting to broaden her horizons, Beaver headed to Toronto to study jazz drumming, with the desire to take her percussion skills to a whole new level. “I got in,” she recalls, “because I was the only applicant who could play a shuffle.” She started a blues and soul group—the acclaimed 24th Street Wailers—and began making a name for herself in Toronto and across Canada. She befriended guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, who recognized her talent instantly. She started making regular pilgrimages to Austin to jam with locals beginning in 2014. When she relocated to Austin permanently in 2018, she formed a new band featuring her own soulful vocals and dynamic drumming and the talents of fiery guitarist Brad Stivers and rock-solid bassist Josh Williams.
Over the course of her career, Beaver self-released five albums by her band, the 24th Street Wailers, producing three of them. Tough As Love is her first release under her own name. She has toured Canada, the United States and large swaths of Europe, and will be back on the road bringing her new music to places far and wide, earning new fans at every stop. “I like music with drive and passion,” she says. “I write what I know and I sing what I know. At my shows, I want people to have fun and to be moved. I want everyone to be inspired to dance and I want at least some people to be moved to tears. And I definitely want every person to go home saying, ‘I’m never going to forget this.’”
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band has built its reputation the long, slow, hard way. After 12 years of playing as many as 300 shows each year, Rev. Peyton, the world’s foremost country blues finger-style picker, along with the biggest little band in the country has pieced together one of the most dedicated followings out there. This following is sure to eat up the band’s latest offering, Poor Until Payday, (the second on their own Family Owned Records label through hip Nashville indie Thirty Tigers) out October 5th, a country blues record that was made the right way — two feet on the ground and both hands getting dirty.
With all the power of a freight train, the Big Damn Band is known for its live shows. Rev. Peyton delivers guitar pyrotechnics the old fashioned way — ten fingers, a 6 string and an amp cranked at full tilt. In the country blues style, he plays the bass with his thumb, while picking the lead with his fingers at the same time. When he lifts the guitar behind his head to play there’s nothing but skill and 16 gauge nickel strings to make the sounds coming out of the speakers.
Beside him on stage are just two other people. His wife, “Washboard” Breezy Peyton playing with all the nuance and percussive power of a New Orleans drum line, and keeping the train moving is Max Senteney on a lean drum kit including a 5 gallon maple syrup bucket. Together they play Peyton’s wildman country blues that’s as much ZZ Top as it is Bukka White.
Johnny and Jaalene are Mexican-American singers, songwriters, and actors. Both from Anaheim, California, the two musicians play a combination of old soul and rock n’ roll. They met at church in 2010, but only started collaborating in mid 2017. Their mentor Kid Ramos introduced them to classic music from the 50s and 60s, in turn having a profound impact on their style. They have goals to tour Europe and introduce their songs to the world through a variety of platforms. They released their self-titled debut album Johnny & Jaalene on September 21, 2018.
Fifteen-year-old Brandon Niederauer, nicknamed “Taz” for his ferocious guitar playing, is living proof that dreams really do come true. Having performed in some of the most legendary venues in America with many of the most prominent musicians of our time, the young guitarist, singer, and songwriter has already earned himself quite the reputation.
It all started at eight years old, when Brandon watched the movie School of Rock. Already inspired by his father’s record collection, Brandon instantly realized he was destined to play guitar. From that moment on, his guitar rarely left his hands. Just four years later, Brandon was cast in the principal role of guitarist “Zack Mooneyham” in the Tony Award-nominated Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway production, School of Rock the Musical.
Based in New York City, Brandon has had the opportunity to play with many of his musical idols. In recent years, he’s shared the stage with multiple members of the Allman Brothers Band, including Gregg Allman, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Butch Trucks, and Oteil Burbridge, as well as a variety of other notable musicians, including Buddy Guy, Stevie Nicks, Lady Gaga, Slash, Jon Batiste, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Gales, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Dr. John, Gary Clark Jr., Col. Bruce Hampton, Eric Krasno, George Porter Jr., Robert Randolph, Karl Denson, Doug Wimbish, and John Popper. He has also performed with Tedeschi Trucks Band, The String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, The Revivalists, Dumpstaphunk, Blackberry Smoke, Galactic, and countless other bands.
Since making his national television debut on The Ellen DeGeneres Show at just ten years old, Brandon has appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Good Morning America, and The View.
In 2018, Brandon reunited with Andrew Lloyd Webber, performing in January with Sarah Brightman at The Phantom of the Opera’s 30th Anniversary celebration, and in April alongside Sara Bareilles, Alice Cooper, and John Legend in NBC’s live broadcast production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Brandon is currently featured in Spike Lee’s Netflix series, She’s Gotta Have It, and performs concerts for audiences across the country and around the world.
Chicago guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Nick Moss is a bona fide bluesman down to his soul, a 30-year veteran of the city’s take-no-prisoners blues scene. Moss paid his dues gigging in Chicago’s rough and tumble West and South side blues clubs under the tutelage of some of the city’s greatest blues luminaries. Blues Revue says, “Nick Moss is at the top of the blues world…ambitious and intense…He can play traditional blues with the best.” New Jersey’s Dennis Gruenling is considered among today’s best blues harmonica players. His high-energy, full-throttle playing has earned him comparisons to the late James Cotton. Living Blues says, “Dennis Gruenling is a contemporary harmonica master…impressive, genuine and fresh-sounding.” Now, recording together for the first time, The Nick Moss Band Featuring Dennis Gruenling makes their Alligator Records debut with The High Cost Of Low Living, a dream come true for both musicians.
The High Cost Of Low Living is a tour de force of the classic Chicago blues ensemble sound Moss and Gruenling know, live and love. But it’s no recycling of old songs. Moss wrote eight memorable new originals and Gruenling wrote two, all deeply rooted in the blues tradition with a touch of old school rock ‘n’ roll. Produced by guitarist Kid Andersen and Moss and recorded at Rancho de Rhythm in Elgin, Illinois, the album is a joyous sonic blast of pure blues power.
Although Moss and Gruenling had known each other for 20 years and had jammed together often, it wasn’t until 2016 that they decided to team up full time. Moss’ deeply rooted yet fully modern guitar playing flawlessly meshes with Gruenling’s monster harmonica chops. On stage, the two communicate seemingly telepathically, as Moss lays down the deepest blues licks and Gruenling’s harmonica wails and howls in perfect response, with Moss’ top-notch band adding their energy and expertise to the ensemble.
According to Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, Nick and Dennis are a natural fit for the label. “It’s very exciting to bring artists to Alligator who are so deeply rooted in the Chicago blues tradition, but creating fresh new songs to carry that tradition forward. Nick’s a thrilling guitar player, a gritty, honest singer, and his band is tough as nails. Dennis is a blues harmonica master and a terrific showman. This is a partnership of two world-class talents in one band. These are artists that any fan of the blues has got to love.”
Moss is equally thrilled, saying, “I am extremely excited and honored to be a part of Alligator Records’ legacy. It was 35 years ago that I got my first Alligator recording—Blues Deluxe—and 31 years ago that I saw my first Alligator act, Little Charlie & The Nightcats, in person. My life has never been the same!”
Growing up in Chicago and standing tall at 6’2”, Moss dreamed of playing both music and sports. When kidney surgery sidelined his athletic hopes, he dove headfirst into the blues. His mother was a huge blues fan, even taking a young Nick to see bluesmen like Muddy Waters live in concert. Originally a bass player, Moss got his first professional break touring and playing bass with legendary West Side Chicago guitarist Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins. He next toured with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith (longtime Muddy Waters’ drummer), leader of the Legendary Blues Band. Finding himself in need of a guitarist, Smith insisted Moss switch instruments. Combining his natural talent with non-stop woodshedding and playing every open jam session, Moss quickly became one of the city’s most highly sought-after players. Bluesman Jimmy Rogers (famous for his pioneering guitar work with Muddy Waters and for his solo hit Walking By Myself) hired Moss to join his touring band and became his mentor. Moss’ other influences include B.B. King, Freddie King, Earl Hooker, Magic Slim and other groundbreaking players.
Moss formed his own band in 1997 and released the first of his 12 solo albums a year later on his own independent Blue Bella label. He’s received 21 Blues Music Award nominations and has earned legions of fans around the world, playing over 100 shows a year. Moss has shared stages with Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Gary Clark, Jr., David Hidalgo and many others, and is an in-demand guest, always welcome to sit in with his musician friends around the world. Elmore calls him “one of the best guitarists on the scene today.”
As a teen, Gruenling heard the Alligator recording Harp Attack! (a summit meeting of James Cotton, Junior Wells, Carey Bell and Billy Branch) and decided that blues harmonica was his life’s calling. In addition to Cotton, Gruenling was inspired by blues harp masters Little Walter and George “Harmonica” Smith as well as by saxophonists, including Lester Young and Red Prysock. A self-taught player and a natural entertainer with seven solo albums to his credit, Gruenling’s giant, fat-toned harp work, raw-boned singing and untamed energy are a perfect foil for Moss’ hair-raising guitar playing and straight-from-the-shoulder blues vocals.
With the release of The High Cost Of Low Living, The Nick Moss Band Featuring Dennis Gruenling will do what they do best: barnstorm the globe, bringing their muscular, high-energy show to clubs, concert halls, roadhouses and festival stages night after night. It is a show that is not to be missed. According to Moss, “I’m a shy person, but when the band and I get on stage, the music takes over. We can’t hold back and the energy just comes pouring out. We get carried away and the audience gets carried away with us.”