Debbie Davies/Robin Rogers to Co-Headline 24th Annual Carolina Blues Festival

Guitar Hero Tinsley Ellis Also Performs at 24th Annual Event

April 15, 2010–Move over, guys.  It’s the ladies’ turn in the spotlight this year as the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society presents the 24th Annual Carolina Blues Festival, in association with YES! Weekly, Saturday, May 8th at Festival Park, downtown Greensboro.

Two of the top nationally touring female blues artists will co-headline and perform together at the Carolina Blues Festival: guitarist/vocalist Debbie Davies and singer/harmonica player Robin Rogers.

One of the world’s hottest blues guitarists, Tinsley Ellis, will make his first appearance at the Carolina Blues Festival.  Also on the bill this year is Raleigh-based retro blues guitarist Matt Walsh, and the two winners of the 2009 PBPS Blues Challenge, Greensboro’s Charlley Ward Band and Richmond, VA-based duo Sleepy-Eyed Jay and Chicago Slim.

The Carolina Blues Festival is the closing event in the annual week long EMF Jazz & Blues Series.


Debbie Davies

To borrow a phrase from James Brown, the blues scene has been a “man’s man’s man’s world,” especially if you want to make it as a guitar player.  Los Angeles native Debbie Davies has secured her place in blues culture as an instrumentalist of singular accomplishment.  People magazine raves, “Davies’s playing is extraordinary, full of propulsion, energy and melodic invention.   Two of her mentors were a pair of blues icons: British blues bandleader/impresario John Mayall, and Chicago blues legend Albert Collins.  After knocking around the San Francisco blues scene for a few years, Davies joined a blues band fronted by Mayall’s wife Maggie.  Debbie’s guitar playing soon caught the interest of Albert Collins, who invited her to join his band The Icebreakers.  For three years Collins presented Davies as a featured guitarist performing all over America and abroad.  Ultimately Blind Pig Records, one of the leading blues recording labels in the U.S, would offer Davies her own contract.  In 1993, Davies released her debut effort Picture This, the first of nine solo albums.  Davies has also released three collaborative efforts; one with Kenny Neal and Tab Benoit, one with Anson Funderburgh and Otis Grand, and one with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s former band Double Trouble.  Davies is an eight-time Blues Music Award nominee.  She earned the award in 1997 for Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist. Her most recent CD was released in October of 2009; an all-instrumental tour-de-force entitled Holding Court.

Davies and her band will perform with Robin Rogers at the 24th Annual Carolina Blues Festival.  Robin Rogers has established herself as one of the fastest-rising stars on the blues scene.  In five short years since winning the Charlotte Blues Society Blues Challenge (and a finalist in the International Blues Challenge), Robin has earned a Blues Foundation award for her second release, Crazy Cryin’ Blues, was signed to Blind Pig Records, releasing her critically acclaimed CD Treat Me Right, and won the 2009 Blues Blast Award for Best Female Artist.  Also in 2009, Rogers earned her very first Blues Music Award nomination for Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year.  Rogers is a triple-threat talent; she’s an expressive, soulful singer, a powerful blues harp player and an accomplished songwriter.  Her composition “Color-Blind Angel” from her Blind Pig debut Treat Me Right won second place in the blues category in the 2007 International Songwriters Competition.  Robin Rogers and Her Hot Band is already becoming a top draw on the blues touring scene.  But Robin Rogers teamed with blues guitar great Debbie Davies on stage at the 24th Annual Carolina Blues Festival has all the makings of an unforgettable performance.

Alligator recording artist Tinsley Ellis is making his very first appearance at the Carolina Blues Festival, and judging from his incendiary club performances at Charlotte’s Double Door Inn or Hillsborough’s Blue Bayou (or any of his hundreds of concerts and festivals he plays yearly across the continents), it will be a memorable one.  After all, this is the guitarist that Atlanta Magazine called “the most significant blues artist to emerge from Atlanta since Blind Willie McTell.”  Since his 1988 debut Georgia Blue, Tinsley Ellis has been one of the marquee artists on the Alligator Records roster.  A native of southern Florida, Ellis first picked up a guitar as an eight-year old enamored with the blues rock of the Rolling Stones, Cream and the Yardbirds.  Through his formative years, Ellis delved deeper into the blues, developing a mature appreciation for the real thing: B.B. King, Freddie King and Albert King.   After several years with the Atlanta blues outfit The Alley Cats, Ellis hooked up with harp player Chicago Bob Nelson and formed The Heartfixers.  Several Heartfixers albums later, Ellis landed his deal with Alligator and the rest is blues history.  His latest Alligator release, Speak No Evil, is nominated for the 2010 Rock/Blues Album of the Year.  As good as his recordings are, Tinsley Ellis is a guitarist best experienced live.  His performances feature extended fretwork filled with melodic and rhythmic experimentation.  In other words, Tinsley Ellis is a blues guitar lover’s dream come true.

Another exciting artist makes his debut at the Carolina Blues Festival this year: Raleigh’s Matt Walsh. The 31-year old guitarist/singer is steeped in 50’s era Chicago blues, rockabilly and jump blues.  Walsh cites as his major influences Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Guitar Watson, Robert Nighthawk and Elmore James among others.  A top regional draw, Walsh gained national attention after being interviewed by none other than Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin in Blues Revue magazine.  His most recent CD Hard Luck (2007 Raw Tone Records) remains in heavy rotation on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.  Blues Revue was effusive in its praise for the 12 original Matt Walsh tunes on Hard Luck, comparing several tracks to classic Muddy Waters songs: “Walsh’s fierce, slashing slide on ‘Why My Baby Ain’t Around’ is reminiscent of classic Waters tunes…. (they)possess the master’s knowing, virile aloofness.”  Both his recordings and live shows place Matt Walsh at the vanguard of old school Chicago blues.

Greensboro’s Charlley Ward Band will perform at the 24th Annual Carolina Blues Festival thanks to its winning performance at the 2009 PBPS Blues Challenge (Band division).  The tall, angular Ward is an ebullient performer with equally impressive chops as a vocalist and guitarist.  Ward is a veteran of the North Carolina blues scene.  In fact, one of his previous bands, The Bull City Blues Band, won the PBPS Blues Challenge in 1993.

Keeping with tradition, the Carolina Blues Festival will open with some acoustic blues.  This year, it will be provided by 2009 PBPS Blues Challenge winners (solo/duo division) Sleepy-Eyed Jay & Chicago Slim.  The Richmond, VA twosome is propelled by Jay’s impressive vocals and Slim’s sure-handed guitar work.


2:00  Sleepy-Eyed Jay & Chicago Slim

3:15  Charlley Ward Band

4:45  Matt Walsh Band

6:30  The Debbie Davies Band with Robin Rogers

8:30  Tinsley Ellis


Advance tickets are $18.00, and will be available from March 25 through May 7. On May 8 tickets will be $30.00 at the gate. When you purchase advance tickets, you will save $12.00 per ticket, so buy your Festival tickets in advance!  Kids 12 and under get in free day of show.  The PBPS is also offering a special corporate group rate of ten (10) tickets for only $120.  To get this deal, your ticket request must be submitted on your company or office letterhead, with check or money order payable to the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society. Please include a business card when you send in your request.   Mail your group ticket request (on company or office letterhead) to PBPS, P.O. Box 9737, Greensboro, NC 27429.  Group ticket discounts are available through May 5.

The PBPS website is now equipped for on-line ticket sales. The PBPS website will accept all major credit cards.

Tickets are also available at the Carolina Theatre Box office, 310 South Greene Street, downtown Greensboro (Mon-Fri, hours are 12pm-5pm), or charge by phone by calling (336) 333-2605.  On-line sales are available at

Tickets will also be on sale at The Bank of Oak Ridge (five locations; 2102 N. Elm St., 1597 New Garden Road, 400 Pisgah Church Road, Greensboro; 4423 Highway 220 North, Summerfield,  and 2211 Oak Ridge Road, Oak Ridge), and Stonefield Cellars Winery, 8220 NC Highway 68 North, Stokesdale.


Once again this year, The Music Academy of North Carolina will operate the Kids Area at the Carolina Blues Festival in partnership with the PBPS.  The Academy will bring exciting enhancements including demonstrations of Early Childhood Music programs and the very popular instrument petting zoo to the Kids Area.  Popular activities such as face painting and arts & crafts will continue.  Information about the MANC and its programs and faculty will be available on site and faculty and staff will be available to answer questions.  This year we are proud to welcome MANC’s own Kevin Dollar as our Kids Area performer.  Kevin will perform three times at the Kids Area: 2:30, 3:30 and 5:15.


A huge thank you our Associate Sponsor YES! Weekly.  Big thanks to Rock 92, WNAA 90.1 FM, Smith Stokes Chevrolet Buick Cadillac Pontiac, The Bank of Oak Ridge, Greensboro City Arts, Stonefield Cellars Winery, Natty Greene’s Brewing Co., R.H Barringer Distributing, Grateful Bread, City Arts – Greensboro  and Downtown Greensboro, Inc.


We will once again provide the big tent to house the stage and protect

Festivalgoers from any inclement weather (not that we’re expecting any!).


The PBPS is proud to have Stonefield Cellars Winery as our official wine vendor for the 24th Annual Carolina Blues Festival. Enjoy Stonefield’s award winning wines and “have some reds and whites with your blues!”  There will also be ice-cold beer (draught and in cans), soft drinks and bottled water available.  A wide selection of food vendors will be on hand to feed you.  The PBPS will have their 2010 edition of the Carolina Blues Festival t-shirts, as well as other PBPS shirts and souvenirs available for sale.  And, as usual, no coolers, bottles, cans, and outside food allowed inside the festival area. Audio and video recording equipment is prohibited inside the festival area.  No pets allowed.  By ordinance of the Fire Marshall, smoking is prohibited under the big tent.  Please access the entrance to the Festival at the front gate located near the intersection of Davie and Friendly streets.  Flash photography will be allowed.


There are three parking decks within easy walking distance of the festival and it’s all free during the weekend.  There is plentiful parking on the streets as well.

Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, folding chairs, blankets or beach towels.  No chairs will be provided.


Debbie Davies:

Robin Rogers :

Tinsley Ellis :

Matt Walsh:

Charlley Ward Band:

Sleepy-Eyed Jay & Chicago Slim:


  • Robin Rogers finished in the top three on two different occasions in the PBPS Blues Challenge.
  • Debbie Davies shared the stage with Delbert McClinton and Little Milton at the Carolina Blues Festival at Castle McCulloch in 1996.
  • Debbie Davies and Robin Rogers are the first two female co-headliners to perform together at the Carolina Blues Festival.
  • The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society and the EMF have partnered with each other on the EMF Jazz & Blues Series since 2006.


Go to our website:  Or e-mail

The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society is a non-profit 501C3 all-volunteer organization dedicated to keeping the blues alive.

P.O Box 9737

Greensboro, NC 27429

Keeping the Blues alive

Since 1985

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