Austria (AT): Ulrich Ellison & Tribe

Born in Austria and now residing in Austin TX, guitarist Ulrich Ellison has quite a story to tell. A high-caliber guitarist, Ellison can easily switch from lightning fast modal runs to swamp-soaked blues and singing leads that make his guitar talk. His avid song writing ranges from southern-rock inspired songs, modern blues, Led Zeppelin type arena rock to enchanting instrumentals. His soul mate and wife Sabine Ellison on bass adds a huge, fat foundation that perfectly locks in with Texas groove veteran Joel Duhon on drums. Named #1 “Blues/Soul/Funk Act” at the 2015 Austin Music Awards, Ulrich Ellison and his Tribe have been playing nearly every major Austin venue as well as clubs and festivals in the US and EU.

Ulrich Ellison – guitar, vocals
Sabine Ellison – bass, vocals
Joel Duhon – drums, vocals

Belgium (BE): Tiny Legs Tim

In 2008, Tiny Legs Tim (TLT) hit the scene with his granddad’s acoustic guitar and original songs based on his personal voyage. This year, he won Belgium’s nomination for the 2016 EBC as a four-piece band with a tight electric set taken from his entirely self-written third album.

Initially inspired by the black acoustic masters such as Son House, TLT quickly developed his own, most melodic song-writing as is proved by all his releases so far. Surely, it’s those idiosyncratic lyrics that definitely set him apart. They are inspired as by a six years’ fight for his life and its aftermath, as in ‘Cortisone Blues’ or ‘Please Dr., Please’.

Finally, his distinctive voice adds rising and falling intonations to the lyrics, as well as irony and relativity. For all his suffering as a young man, TLT is an energetic messenger of joy and hope.
Whether produced as a one-man band or the electric band plugged in outfit, his energy is alternated by a continuous base-line and melody, both in the slide and the finger-setting.

Tiny Legs Tim, guitar & vocals
Steven Troch: harmonica, bass:
Frederik Van den Berghe, drums

Bulgaria (BG): Bluestream

Bluestream is a blues band formed in Bulgaria during early 2014. The band is located in Sofia and has already performed successfully at the local club venues, including some local festivals. The band performs mostly own songs, author of both music and lyrics is the guitar player and vocalist Miroslav (Miro) Naydenov. The musicians of Bluestream have experience in local bands and bands abroad and came together to play their own music in blues, jazz-blues, funky-blues, modern blues style. The vocalist and guitar player Miro has rich experience at the blues-jazz stages in Hungary, playing festivals there (including Gastroblues), Romania and Bulgaria with his former Hungarian band, “Breaking Blues”. The drummer Nikolay Bakalov has played In Bulgarian blues & jazz formations and has been a part of some Dutch projects. All members are Bulgarian citizens and currently reside in Bulgaria.

Miroslav Naydenov -guitars, vocals
Ventsi Pavlov -bass guitars
Nikolay Bakalov -drums

Croatia (CR): Zamba

The band Zamba was founded 2010. Throughout the years their repertoire has moved from blues to rock and then back to blues. After a few years of playing covers, the band now has material of its own, written entirely by Boris Dugi-Novacki Zamba. The album “Home” with 13 original songs (Spona, 2015) earned the finest reviews and is an important turning point for the band. The first place at the 5th Croatian Blues Challenge was a reward for years of dedication to blues. In 2014 Zamba performed at the 30th International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Their love for the blues music is the primary motivation that keeps the musical quality and energy of the band at the highest level. They enjoy performing and try to transfer that enjoyment to their audience.

Boris Dugi-Novacki Zamba – vocal & guitar
Tomislav Biscan – guitar, back vocal
Dragan Kokanovic – bass guitar
Mario Klaric – drums
Aleksandar Baic – keyboards, back vocal

Denmark (DK): Christian Bundgaard Trio

Blues, jazz. boogie woogie… all with an inspirational touch of the New Orleans music culture. This is the music that the young piano player from Denmark, Christian Bundgaard likes to play and perform. Christian was born in 1994 but he grew up on music from Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Dr. John, Otis Spann, BB King… etc. Later onthe music was studied and heard countless times.

Although Denmark is far from the land where the blues was born, the blues environment in Denmark is fantastic and open to all. Today, Christian tries to build a larger music career while also trying to make the blues more visible to young people of his own age.

Christian Bundgaard (piano, vocal, guitar, harp)
Nicals Nielsen (drums)
Paul Jr (bass)

Estonia (EE): Tanel Padar Blues Band

Singer, guitar player and songwriter Tanel Padar is the most notorious figure in the Estonian music scene. He has won every possible award and has participated in almost every noteworthy Estonian popular musical event over the last 15 years.  In 2001 Tanel Padar won the Eurovision Song Contest together with Dave Benton.

Tanel Padar Blues Band was born in 2012 as one-time-old-friends-project, but soon enough evolved into a stable band. The band’s keyboard player Ülo Krigul is one of the most acclaimed young classical composers of Estonia, the guitar player Raul Ukareda is the most acclaimed blues guitarist of the country and organizer of the Augustibluus festival, the bass player Argo Toomel is one of Estonia’s most sought-after roots bass players, and drummer Petteri Hasa is an acclaimed Finnish jazz multi-instrumentalist and big band leader.

The band is a frequent headliner of local festivals and plays constantly in clubs in Estonia as well as in Finland.

Tanel Padar – vocals
Raul Ukareda – guitar
Ülo Krigul – keyboards
Argo Toomel – bass
Petteri Hasa – drums

Finland (FI): Lena & The Slide Brothers

Lena & The Slide Brothers was formed in 2009 in Helsinki, Finland. The band has played at several Finnish blues and roots music festivals as well as in clubs all over the country. They have published two CDs: ”Turn It On” (2010) and ”Shine Your Light” (2013), and their third album will be out on 8th April 2016.

Lena Lindroos, vocals, bass
Matti Kettunen, guitars, backing vocals
Ykä Putkinen, guitars, backing vocals
Juha Litmanen, drums

France (FR): Gas Blues Band

Since created by Gaspard “GAS” Ossikian, guitar and vocals, Since created by Gaspard “GAS” Ossikian (guitar and vocals), the Gas Blues Band has performed on many national and international stages during the past five years. This is not just one more Blues Band, it is also the “backing band” of many African-American artists from Chicago, Canada, Texas… artists such as Donald Ray Johnson, Toronzo Cannon, Lawrence Gladney Shy, Maurice John Vaughn, Linsey Alexander… Having a solid stage presence, whether under their own name or as accompanying unit, the Gss Blues Band is always on fire. They had a CD called “Troubled Watters” with 10 tracks released in June 2013. One can feel their implications for the Blues and its derivatives like “Funk”, “Jazz”, and with a hint of “Texas sound”! Their musical style is like “Jimi Hendrix” met “Muddy Waters” and “ZZ Top” met the “Funky Music”! A true musical identity in the world of Blues, a pure desire to play and to share their good mood, here is the Gas Blues Band:

Let the Good Times Roll!!

Gaspard “GAS” Ossikian, guitar, vocals
Pierre “Little Peter” Cayla, guitar
Philippe “Pompon” Scemama, bass
Yannick “Papayan” Urbani, drums

Germany (DE): WellBad

WellBad plays Blues for people who didn’t even know that they like Blues music! The young German Blues band convinces their audience with their authentic, impulsive sound! It’s stomping and sentimental at the same time! The 26 year old singer and songwriter Daniel Welbat fascinates with his whisky-drenched, “stonewashed” voice and his half acoustic/half electrified powerful band of five.

Daniel Welbat – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar
Lennard Eggers – Lead Guitar
Simon Andresen – Keyboards/Organ
Stefan Reich – Doublebass/ E-Bass
Sebastian Meyer – Drums/Percussion

Hungary (HU): Mojo Workings

After about a year of playing together informally, Mojo Workings finally solidified and established in 2011. With members coming from three different musical backgrounds and taste the result is a unique blend of traditional blues, country, pop and beat. By utilizing harmony vocals and uncommon instruments such as the didley-bow, stompbox, harmonetta, bass harmonica in many of their arrangements, the musicians push the limits of the regular trio, making their sound ever more multi-hued and vibrant. They take full advantage of the dynamic possibilities offered by a live musical performance to make each and every gig a unique experience with new original songs or interesting interpretations of covers. Following up their debut album “Back In The Day”, they have completed their second disc “Long Step” in March 2015.

Tamás Szabó: vocal, harmonicas, harmonetta, bass harmonicaImre
Olivér Honfi: vocal, electric guitar, diddley-bow
János Horváth: vocal, acoustic guitar
Csaba Pengő: upright bass
István Mezőfi: drums

Italy (IT): Paul Venturi & The Junkers

Paul Venturi has been been considered for years as one of the main exponents of the Blues in Italy. He has participated in most of the major national and international festivals along his career, such as the “New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival”, sharing the stages with such great musicians like Carey Bell, Billy Branch and Ana Popovic. In 2014 he founded “The Junkers”, with the fantastic Roberto Villa on double bass and Alberto Bazzoli on piano. Despite their youth, the trio has already got the favour both of the audiences and the media acclaim and will, consequently, represent Italy at the European Blues Challenge 2016.

Paul Venturi, guitar, vocals
Roberto Villa, double bass
Alberto Bazzoli, piano

Latvia (LV): Johnny B. Beast

“Johnny B Beast” is the stage name of Janis Zvērs (born1986), a TV journalist and Latvian acoustic blues guitarist. His solo career started in 2012. Since high school he played guitar in several locally famous metal and hardcore bands, toured Europe and even Mexico, but slide-blues has always been his passion since childhood. The idea of a solo blues act was strongly considered for many years. Artists like Blind Willie Johnson, Bob Brozman, Brother Dedge, Daniel Bachman and Seasick Steve influenced his musical choice.

Johnny B Beast plays fingerstyle in open tuning guitar, using guitar also as a percussion instrument, playing strings with slide, sometimes also with hip flask or shot glass. Groovy rhyme, melodic, sometimes naive licks and “southern blues” vibe characterizes his music. Johnny has placed some nice videos on youtube, and video for song “Zhiga” became viral, gaining more than 20 000 views in a month!

Since 2013 Johnny B. Beast has played hundreds of gigs, including almost all local outdoor festivals and music clubs in Latvia as well as internationally acknowledged festivals like Suwalki Blues (Poland), Sigulda Castle Blues, Origo Blues and Baltic Blues Brotherhood (Latvia), Emajoe Blues (Estonia). He shared the stage with top local blues acts, as well as Cedric Burnside, Raphael Wressnig to name a few. He is always looking forward for new adventures, gigs and voyages, to transform his experience in new songs. Recently he released his first album “Wildboars & Trains”, including a song dedicated to the wild boars pride attempting to settle in the subway of Riga, the Capital of Latvia.

Netherlands (NL): Phil Bee’s Freedom

They were winners of the Dutch Blues Challenge 2015. The jury was unanimous, saying, “Outstanding skills, repertoire and stage presence”. This eight piece sensational band excites the crowds with original blues tunes, mixing jazz and soul grooves, played by the finest musicians around. Imagine a 1960-70’s Hammond and Rhodes, tight groovy rhythm section, two amazing lead guitarists, sultry background singers, topped by Phil Bee’s blue eyed soul vocals. Show stopping quality that will hit you like a freight train.

Phi Bee, vocals
Berland Rours, guitar
Guy Smeets, guitar
Pascal Lanslots, keyboard and hammond
Marcus Weymaere, drums
Carlo van Belleghem, bass
Esther van Cleef, backing vocals
Marlou Wijnen-Obers, backing vocals

Norway (NO): Eric “Slim” Zahl & The South West Swingers

The band’s ambition is to continue the fine traditions and perform music influenced by the sounds from the 50’s – in their own and more rockin’ style. Dressed up with a tie, suspenders and shiny shoes, Eric Slim Zahl & The Southwest Swingers perform their music with humor, musical skill and impact. Since the band started in 2006 they have logged an impressive amount of club gigs and festival appearances in Norway and England and they are well known to be a fun live band.

Eric Slim Zahl & the South West Swingers write their own music and released their debut album “Daddy’O” in 2011. The album was nominated for a Norwegian Grammy in the Best Blues Album Category. In 2013 the sequel, “Chances Are Slim” was released. Also this album received very good reviews in the press.

Eric Slim Zahl – vocals/guitar
Oystein Undem – keyboards (piano and Hammond)
Roald Brekke – vocals/guitar
Atle Helland Strom – drums

Poland: (PO): Blues Junkers

The band Blues Junkers (the name refers to Champion Jack Dupree’s song called “Junker Blues”) was established in Warsaw in December 2014 by a married couple, Natalia and Dominik Abłamowicz. The band’s name aims to express strong addiction of its members to the old American music, namely blues, rhythm ’n’ blues, boogie-woogie and soul. The band is a small combo without a bass player. What’s more, instead of a full drum kit, the band has just a snare drum. Blues Junker’s goal is to obtain a unique sound based on the old archaic barrelhouse piano combined with more modern but still classic blues guitar in the style of masters like B.B. and Freddie King. The band’s main idea is to obtain a fresh sound combining the sound of the 40’s and the 60’s. Of course, the most important member of the band is the singer, Natalia, whose voice and phrasing is in the style of the best blues singers such as Katie Webster, Etta James and Ruth Brown.

Natalia Abłamowicz – vocal,  kazoo,
Dominik Abłamowicz – piano, harp
Maciek Sych – guitar
Grzegorz Zawiliński – drums.

Portugal: Budda Power Blues

Budda Power Blues are a Portuguese Power Trio that plays the Blues from the gut. They deliver a punchy powerful, soulful, electric blues that makes you want to jump and shout. But they don’t do it on their own! The audience is always their 4th member, making every show a celebration of blues and life itself. A rambling bass, power drums, overdriven guitar and soulful vocals makes Budda Power Blues one of a kind. But don’t be mistaken: they can also be gentle and the dynamics may vary from a soaring thunder to gentle whisper! Some of their most Iconic moments are: They met and played with Shirley King, BB King’s daughter, in Lisbon and they fell in love with each other. Budda Power Blues were immediately invited to be the back up band of all Shirley’s European shows. Other highlights are the participation on Cotai Jazz and Blues in Macau (Asia) where they were selected from a pool of more than 200 bands worldwide. They have also done several shows in the “Blues Garage” in Germany and were two times headliners of “Blues Express” in Luxembourg. The band has also played in all of Portugal best Blues Fests like BB Blues Fest, Santa Maria Blues, Gaia Blues, Seia Jazz and Blues and Lisbon Blues Fest. With five records already during a 10-year life spans, Budda Power Blues are preparing two more records for 2016 with the participation of some very special guests.

Budda Guedes, vocals, guitar
Pedro Ferreira, bass
Nico Guedes, drums

Slovakia (SK): Juraj Schweigert & The Groove Time

The band started as a west coast and jump blues band in 2011. Since the very start, it has been incorporating jazzy elements and Juraj’s unorthodox harmonica playing set the band’s musical direction. In 2014, they were voted as the most popular blues band in Slovakia and awarded a prize for mature concept and individual performance by the Slovak Jazz Company at the New Faces of Slovak Jazz competition. The first album released in October 2015 features mostly original compositions and explores areas outside blues while still strongly maintaining its very essence as the cornerstone of the band’s music. Extraordinary harp playing, colourful guitar and a steady rhythm section of double bass and drums easily catch the listener’s ear.

Juraj Schweigert – harmonica, vocals
Zsolt Szitási – guitar
Martin Kapusník – double bass
Juraj Raši – drums

Spain (ES): Wax & Boogie Rhythm Combo

Wax & Boogie Rhythm Combo get their inspiration from 30′s boogie woogie, 40′s swing and 50′s rhythm ‘n’ blues. The amazing singer of the band, Ster Wax, has a powerful voice inspired by some wonderful female artists such as Lavern Baker, Ruth Brown and Big Maybelle. On the piano, David ‘Boogie’ Giorcelli, is one of Europe’s most celebrated boogie woogie & blues pianist that has participated in many festivals in France, Switzerland and Poland. Reginald Vilardell is a very popular drummer in the Spanish blues scene. Oriol Fontanals on the upright bass is a young musician that has recently joined the band. And Toni Solà on the tenor sax adds his experience and swing to this rhythm and shakin’ combo.  These five musicians on scene create a high voltage show by evoking the great masters of the blues & boogie as well as offering their own songs on their repertoire. To date they have recorded two albums:  ‘Lost in a Dream – Milano Blues Club Nights’ (2013), and ‘Everynight’ (2014).

Ster Wax: vocals
David Giorcelli: piano
Toni Solà: tenor sax
Oriol Fontanals: double bass
Reginald Vilardell: drums

Sweden (SE): Ida Bang & The Blue Tears

Ida Bang & The Blue Tears is a young blues band from Stockholm, and they are called “the future in blues”. The band was formed in 2013, and in the last three years they have accomplished a lot; played shows at the biggest blues festivals around Sweden, released two acclaimed albums with own songs, and received great reviews.

“A tight sound with charismatic musicians that pick the best out of the genre’s legacy, but also pave the way for a future development of the blues.” – They are winners of the 1st Swedish Blues Challenge 2015.

Ida Bang – vocals
Leo Henriksson – guitar
John Bernström – guitar
Patrik Engström – bass
Leo Sund – drums

Switzerland (CH): Johnny Fontane & The Rivals

The band was formed in 2011 as “Blues Express” as the house band of the famous “Kulturfabrik Kopfmehl”. In 2014 they changed the name to “Johnny Fontane & The Rivals”. The line-up remained the same. They call their style ‘Mafia Blues Rock’ hence the name of the band, going back to the character with the same name in “The Godfather”. The style is a mixture of blues rock and Chicago blues with funky elements.

Tom Marcozzi, vocals, guitar
Phulipp Lüdi, piano, organ
Christian Spanhi, bass
Lukas Zürcher, drums

United Kingdom (UK): Red Butler

Performing a hand crafted mix of originals and intriguing covers, the band harnesses a raw, dynamic energy delivered with passion, feeling and creativity. The debut album “Freedom Bound”, which includes tracks reflecting life from a youthful perspective as well as historic influences, has attracted critical acclaim from the media and the public. Formed early 2012, this young award-winning band is at the forefront of the new United Kingdom blues scene. They have been building a good following and exciting audiences with their stunning ability and exhilarating stage act.

Alex Butler, lead guitar and backing vocals
Jane Pearce, lead vocals
Mike Topp, bass guitar and backing
Charlie Simpson, drums