Blues at Timbuctoo

 John Brown’s Farm, Saturday, September 16, 2017.  11:00 AM – 6:00 PM   Admission: Free

Author: Gary D. Smith, Co-Founder The Blues at Timbuctoo

A little over two years ago, Jerry Dugger was on the stage at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, at what was almost the conclusion of the 2015 Lake Placid Blues and Heritage Festival, and Jerry, amidst the absolutely wonderful music, began musings on the then current condition of race relations in the US.  His call was to start; for us to reboot, a conversation on humanity, on humility, on honor, and he pleaded for a conversation about raising the dignity of the human condition.  It was not preachy.  It was a lament.  It held power for me. In subsequent conversations, he has shared his belief that we should simply; simply, invite each other into our homes, eat each other’s food, know each other’s children, and share each other’s dreams, hopes, and aspirations; as members of the human race.  And, he pleaded that we should talk to each other’s kids about these circumstances; and to our own. With inspiration from those few moments, the Lake Placid Blues and Heritage Festival has pledged its full resources to the September 16th, 2017 presentation of “The Blues at Timbuctoo” to be held at John Brown’s Farm in Lake Placid, New York. The music at the Barn will feature three masters of Blues, Jerry Dugger, a co-founder of the Blues at Timbuctoo, Alexis P. Suter, and the Minister’s of Sound, Michael Hill’s Blues Mob, and the locally renowned Russ Bailey Trio.


Alexis P. Suter is the owner of that big, booming voice you can hear roaring out of Brooklyn into the heart of North America and beyond.  Alexis P. and her band are on the rise, as accolades pour in, and they continue to captivate audiences from around the world.  Miss Suter and her powerful and unique ensemble artfully blend the lines between Blues, Soul, Roots and Rock music. Alexis’ voice ranges from a pained passion to explosive and soul bearing. So much so that when the great Bluesman B.B. King first heard Alexis sing, he was visibly impressed, and said so after her opening set for him at BB Kings in NYC. Shaking his head in wonder in his characteristic way, he remarked….  “It’s a rare thing to share the stage with great talent like that young lady.”  Alexis has earned similar honors from other well-known musicians and performers including Dan Aykroyd and Levon Helm of The Band.  She and her band have continued blazing trails and taking their music to festivals and venues both nationally and internationally. At the highly prestigious Blues Music Awards, Alexis was nominated for Best Contemporary Female Artist in 2017,  The Koko Taylor Vocalist in 2015, and for Best Soul/Blues Female Vocalist in 2013, all presented by The Blues Foundation in Memphis TN.


Jerry Dugger, one of the co-founders of the Blues at Timbuctoo, was born in The Bronx and raised in Harlem. He caught the music bug early in life, listening to his parents, Ida and Alfonza sing around the house, singing with them in church, and listening to their collection of 78rpm records.
Through an amazing set of circumstances, a late night walk through Washington Square Park and a life changing encounter with Matteus Mederer (who was busking under the arch), Jerry found himself being introduced to the New York City Blues scene and Dan Lynch Blues Bar.He spent thirteen years studying The Blues there, watching and performing with Bill Dicey, The Holmes Brothers and eventually hosting the Saturday and Sunday afternoon jam sessions. This little bar became the hub of the Blues scene in NYC. Many legendary Blues musicians, Johnny Copeland, James Cotton, Hubert Sumlin, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to name a few, stopped by to hang out and sing a song on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Dan lynch, at that time, was the launching pad for many of the nation’s preeminent Blues artists.
These days Jerry’s work is focused in the Tri State area and Europe, He works regularly at The Red Lion and Lucille’s Grille at B. B. Kings Blues Club Times Square. His Bands, The Dugger Brothers, The Harlem Blues Project, The Acoustic Blues Caravan and MoonShine String Band are great vehicles for his voice and eclectic musical tastes.

Photo credit: Cezar Fernandes


Michael Hill is a 2011 inductee into the New York Blues Hall of Fame as a Master Blues Artist. Michael Hill’s Blues Mob has recorded six internationally released albums of their Original, New York-Style Blues. The Mob has captivated audiences in twenty-nine countries around the globe. Beginning with “Bloodlines”, their 1994 Alligator Records debut, they’ve built a distinguished body of work that has drawn world-wide critical and audience acclaim for dynamic musicianship and vivid storytelling. Michael’s lyrics eloquently convey the passion, the humor and the desire for freedom and justice that are intrinsic to the blues. The band transmits those lyrics through blues that is seasoned with flavors of rock, R&B, funk and more, making every show a celebration of music, life and love.

Russ Bailey

According to Pete Demola, local Blues Legend Russ Bailey lives by the mantra, “Old blues and boogie stuff”. The real deal: not blues rock.  Baily concurs, “Not anything but pure music”.When Russ first heard blues tones in his family’s record collection as a kid growing up in Essex, it immediately struck a chord, and while the budding guitarist caught the bug for legends like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, he kept delving back into the history of the blues, way back until he discovered guys like Charlie Christian and T. Bone Walker, the originators of the genre, the jazz-influenced guitarists who sketched out blueprints on empty sonic canvasses. Contemporary blues songs aren’t written as much as they’re unearthed, dusted off and polished and presented afresh, but the original skeleton had to have come from somewhere. “I’d rather hear the original version of a song,” said Bailey, “and then go back farther to hear their influences. The early guitarists don’t sound like their modern day counterparts because they had no forbearers from which to draw references, resulting in a fresh, jazz-influenced approach.”  It’s more Thelonious Monk than Muddy Waters: simple shuffles with precise, horn-like guitar lines.  Bailey’s new trio, rounded out by Scott Renderer and Franz Pope on the upright bass, adheres to these purist contours. Bailey doesn’t see it a rule, but rather as paying respect to the godfathers.  “It feels good to play music, keep it within a boundary and work within it to find your creative flow.”  Other frills, like effects pedals and stacks of amps, can be distracting. “Too much going on,” said Bailey. The Blues at Timbuctoo is free and open to people of all ages.

Learn more about this free event on Facebook.


Tracy Smith

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