Bill Sims, Jr.
vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, handclaps
vocals, electric and electric slide guitars, dobro
Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith
drums and percussion
horn arrangements, tenor saxophone
HBO also performs as a Quintet...
The grit of low-down country and urban blues with the bold brass of New Orleans; the hand-clapping fervor of gospel punctuated with fiery postmodern, jazz-infused horn arrangements; the haunting cries of work songs and pulsating drums that reach back to the real roots of it all. You’ll journey across the Middle Passage, be driven down Highway 49 from Clarksdale to New Orleans, go from chain gangs and juke joints to orchestra pits, church pews and even back porches. Heritage Blues Orchestra's music is an inspiring testament to the enduring power, possibilities and boundless beauty of African-American music.
Bill Sims, Jr.
Born into and raised by a sharecropping family in rural Georgia, vocalist and multi- instrumentalist Bill Sims Jr. is an internationally respected master of the blues. He began playing piano at age four and by fourteen he was playing professionally in a rhythm and blues group. A Warner Bros. recording artist, Mr. Sims is also an accomplished musical director and has lent his talents to many theater and film productions in New York and the United States. His film credits include Lackawanna Blues, Miss Ruby's House, American Gangster, and the recent Cadillac Records. He was also the subject of a critically acclaimed PBS documentary, An American Love Story, in 1999. Mr Sims currently lives in NYC where he mentors a new generation of blues and roots musicians.
A native New Yorker and the descendant of music makers from Georgia, Florida and Ohio, Chaney’s voice is steeped in field hollers, work songs, spirituals, blues, soul and R&B. She is dedicated to sharing the significance of these unique art forms; exploring their influence on her voice as a queer woman of color; and revealing a broad spectrum of the blues, roots music and the American songbook. Chaney has performed at venues around the world including: Lincoln Center, North Sea Jazz, Cognac Bluess passions, Rhino Blues Festival, Aulnay All Blues, The Blue Note, Joe's Pub and NYC's own Terra Blues. She has also had the privilege of sharing the stage with some of her mentors and muses including: her father Bill Sims Jr., Phylicia Rashad, recording legend Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Guy Davis and the late Odetta.
A self-taught musician, Junior Mack is a gifted vocalist and guitarist. He has been playing since the age of nine and is equally at ease playing acoustic and electric styles. Junior started out on the guitar playing gospel - his road map being the early music of the Five Blind Boys Of Alabama with George Scott, Linwood Hargrove with the Swan Silvertones, Pops Staples of the Staple Singers, and the great Howard Carroll of the Dixie Humming-birds. His other influences are the country blues of Lightnin' Hopkins and the big city blues of Freddie King and B.B. King. Junior Mack has worked and collaborated with many major American recording artists including: Jaimoe's Jasssz Band, The Allman Brothers Band, Derek Trucks, Robert Randolph, Dickey Betts, Chaka Khan, Magic Slim, Joe Louis Walker, Honeyboy Edwards, Phillip Walker, Lucky Peterson, Eddie Kirkland, Jeff Healy and others.
Placing the human factor at the heart of it all, and using music as a bridge between language and culture are the priorities of this highly-respected saxophonist, arranger and composer. At home in the jazz idiom, Bruno Wilhelm is a seasoned bandleader composer and arranger. He has led numerous original projects in straight-ahead and avant-garde Jazz. He composes and arranges for instrumentalists and vocalists across the musical spectrum including World, Hip-Hop and Rap as well as for theater and dance performance artists. He has also composed and played with various african artists in Western and Central Africa, and has worked as an arranger in classical music. He has collaborated with artists such as David Liebman, Chico Freeman, National Jazz Orchestra of France, Jean-Marc Padovani, Louis Sclavis and many others.
At the age of sixteen, Vincent Bucher learned to play the harmonica. He was discovered playing in the Paris Metro by American master harmonica player Sugar Blue, who encouraged him to play professionally. Vincent was quickly recognized as a harp player of extraordinary talent and began accompanying blues greats including: Louisiana Red, Jimmy Johnson, Sonny Rhodes and many others. He records with French blues stars Bill Deraime and Patrick Verbeke, as well as pop and rock music star CharlElie Couture. For two decades, he led his own groups, and played extensively with Blues, Roots and World artists throughout Europe, Africa and the United States. More recently, Vincent toured with his own group as well as with the Franco-Malgache artist Tao Ravao, the Legendary Malian singer-guitarist Boubacar Traoré and other notable African musicians. Considered one of the most accomplished harmonica players anywhere, he is a singer, composer, songwriter and arranger who uses his unique versatility and experience to explore the kinship between African music and the Blues.
Kenny ''Beedy-Eyes'' Smith
Grammy-Award winning drummer, Kenny is widely considered the top Chicago-blues drummer on the scene today. He is the son of legendary ex-Muddy Waters drum man Willie “Big Eyes’’ Smith. He is currently the most sought-after blues session drummer in the Windy City. Some of his recording credits—over 50 albums—and touring engagements include Pinetop Perkins, Homesick James, Buddy Guy, Chicago Blues: A Living History, Honeyboy Edwards, Henry Townsend, Jody Williams, Big Jack Johnson, Aaron Burton, Lurrie Bell, Dave Myers, Kim Wilson, Paul deLay, Junior Wells, the Legendary Blues Band and many others. Kenny's talents as a drummer are not restricted to any one style of music—he is equally as comfortable in other musical genres including R&B, Soul, Jazz.