Musician: Brett Benton

Brett Benton

(He / Him)

Alabama-born and Southern-raised, Brett “Bad Blood” Benton has been obsessed with country blues ever since he was a child, listening to his parent's and grandparent's records at an early age. By his teens he was playing behind a drum kit, and by his early 20's was learning his way around slide guitar. In 2016 he left the South and everything he's ever known to perform his own brand of delta and country style of blues around the country and the world. Currently in the Pacific Northwest, he has played many local, regional, and national festivals and a countless number of venues in just a few years' time and most recently he has signed with Seattle’s own Knick Knack Records with his first studio release coming in Spring of 2019.

He has been on the same stages at venues and festivals with many players of all calibers, including Grammy-Nominated Artists Cedric Burnside (also a friend of his, along with his guitar player Trenton Ayers) and Walter Trout, International Blues Challenge award winning Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons and the Selwyn Birchwood Band, Samantha Fish and The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, and West Coast favorites The 44’s Band and HILLSTOMP. Known for his fierce rhythmic finger picking and melodic slide guitar as well as his booming voice, Brett's raw style is best heard one of two ways: paying homage to its roots with solo, acoustic slide guitar and “stompin’ and hollerin’ ” as Bad Blood himself would put it; and electric alongside a heavy, relentless and dynamic style of drums that really emphasizes what country blues is all about… the hypnotic groove that gets folks up and dancing! For either style being played, both remain true to the nature of country blues – a style not played by many – while also retrofitted with grit and a bit of heaviness from the modern times! His music keep the fans moving and grooving!

Musician: Brother Yusef

Brother Yusef

(He / Him)

Brother Yusef has been described as a master solo guitarist, as well as a uniquely passionate vocalist. His performances are as raw, honest and real as the genre has ever aspired to be. Honed over thirty years, he calls his multifaceted style, fattback blues for it’s a rich mix of Delta , Chicago and Texas blues alongside a hard driving Louisiana stomp. Fattback Blues combines "traditional" fingerpicking and slide guitar playing with the contemporary feel of urban blues, rock and funk. He uses his right hand thumb to beat out a percussive bass-line and shuffle, while the index finger plays rhythm and lead lines, creating a full band sound with a solo guitar.

Born in Bakersfield California and later moving with his family to Southern California, Yusef picked up the guitar at 19 experimenting jazz, reggae, and R&B. He would find himself at a musical crossroads in 1989 while paying his last respects to his grandfather at his childhood church. A soloist at the funeral played a hymn on guitar that connected him to his grandfather, elders and ancestors in the Blues

Brother Yusef approaches the blues from a musical, spiritual and social context. He is quoted as saying, “for African Americans blues has been about survival, healing and freedom ”.

Brother Yusef has gained worldwide recognition performing at various blues and music festivals, social dance events and concert performances both nationally and internationally. He takes his audience on a musical journey from a backwoods jook joint to the fiery emotions of the sanctified church.

Musician: Joshua Fialkoff and Shawn Hershey

Joshua Fialkoff and Shawn Hershey

(He / Him; He/ Him)

Joshua Fialkoff lends his smoky voice and unique piano stylings – a veritable gumbo of “roots piano” flavors – to dance exchanges and series around the world, and has been doing so for over ten years. Joshua first began playing for dancers as a bass player for Solomon Douglas. Later, as a pianist, he started his own group and began sharing his distinct brand of Blues and Swing. Joshua is known for his unique arrangements that are at once new and old, and an authenticity and rawness that shines through in his presence and performance.

Blues and Swing events throughout the US, Canada, and Europe regularly feature Joshua or one of his ensembles. Some recent performances include Spoonful (Edinburgh, UK), DCLX’tra (Washington DC), Dance Flurry (Saratoga Springs, NY), BluesSHOUT (Chicago, IL), Sweet Molasses Blues (Boston, MA), Eastside Stomp (Seattle, WA), Montreal Bagel and Blues (Montreal, QC), Capital Ballroom (Seattle, WA), Mean Old Blues (San Francisco, CA), and many others. He has shared the stage with a number of esteemed musicians including Gordon Webster, Barbara Morrison, and Meschiya Lake. Joshua is the rare performer who cares deeply about his audience, who is constantly seeking to connect and engage the people he plays for, and who yearns to instill in everyone within earshot an irresistible urge to move.

Shawn Hershey started playing the trumpet at age 9. Originally taught by his father, Lowell Hershey, a successful NY musician, Shawn went to the “Fame” high school, attended Manhattan and Juilliard Pre-college, and eventually went to Eastman School of Music to study classical trumpet. Forced to quit the trumpet for three years as a result of an injury to his lip, Shawn moved to Boston to work as a software developer.

Slowly Shawn regained his ability to play the trumpet at the same time as he developed an interest in swing and blues dancing. Instead of going back to classical music, he began studying jazz more intensely. In 2006 he created his first swing band, The Fried Bananas. Since then he has played almost all of the Boston swing dance venues as well as dances in NYC, Connecticut, and Montreal. In addition to playing for swing dancers, he has created a variation of the Fried Bananas to play for Blues dancers. They have played many blues gigs including one of the biggest blues dance festivals in the US, BluesSHOUT 2011, where they got rave reviews.

Shawn has also played with other swing and blues bands including Joshua Fialkoff’s J-Street, the Gordon Webster band, the Careless Lovers, and Jonathan Stout’s Campus Five.

Shawn is learning bass, drums, and piano but hasn’t yet figured out how to play them all at the same time. Also, as far as he knows, Shawn is the only person to combine dancing and playing the trumpet to place in a national solo blues dance competition.