Thursday, May 7, 2009

Charlie Sayles and Black Betty to Join Memphis Gold at Silver Spring Blues Festival

Blues harmonica master Charlie Sayles and exciting blues vocalist Black Betty will join Memphis Gold and his band at the Silver Spring Blues Festival in Downtown Silver Spring. The festival will be held from 2 pm to 6 pm on Ellsworth Drive in Downtown Silver Spring. See Memphis Gold and Charlie Sayles in Guantanamo Bay on YouTube

Charlie Sayles is a great harp player. Check out this story from his website. “Although life hasn't been easy for Sayles, he seems to have come through the traumas okay. They started in his childhood, when he was shifted from his broken home to a long procession of foster homes. He ended up joining the Army in the late 1960s and was promptly shipped to South Vietnam. His tour of duty ended in 1971, and he came back to Massachusetts for a time. Sayles picked up the blues harp while he was in Vietnam and made a slow adjustment back to civilized society upon his return from three years in the infantry. He discovered the music of Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) after he returned home and learned all he could from those recordings. Sayles began to make trips to New York City, Atlanta, St. Louis and other cities, playing on the streets for tips from passersby in 1974 and for several years thereafter. He worked when he needed money as a day laborer. He hasn't had a real day job since then, patiently plying his craft in clubs, on street corners and more recently, at blues festivals. Sayles' first record, Raw Harmonica Blues, was issued in 1976, long before blues became fashionable, on the Dusty Road label. Sayles didn't record again for 15 years, when he got picked up by JSP Records. Check out the Charlie Sayles website at

Black Betty is best known for her vocals with blues acts such as WC Handy Award Nominee Charlie Sayles, The Joe Poppen Band (JPB), and Memphis Gold. In 2008, she began performing with Memphis Gold, who has since graced the covers of Living Blues Magazine, Rhythm & Roots, and is officially endorsed by Gibson Guitars. Charlie Sayles took her under his wing as his harmonica protege immediately following her relocation from the rock scene in Boston to the authentic blues scene in Washington, DC, and they're currently working on a new album to be released in 2009. She works frequently as a session vocalist in Boston, NYC, DC, and San Francisco for blues, rock, and jazz acts and commercial work.

In 2002, Black Betty received an Outstanding Musicianship Award and a World Tour Scholarship for her jazz vocals from Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. At Berklee, she formed Black Betty and The Bad Habits and the band took the city by storm. Featured on the cover of the Boston Herald, The Boston Globe, and being endorsed by several local clothing companies, the band released their debut album in 2006. They toured the US East Coast, and were featured on several major, college, internet and XM stations. In 2007, they performed at the Exotic Erotic Ball at the Cow Palace arena in San Francisco, opening for Peaches and Snoop Dog. Check out her website at

Headlining the Silver Spring Blues Festival event will be internationally acclaimed bluesman "Memphis Gold." Also performing live on the stage on Ellsworth Drive will be Silver Spring's own Jonny Grave, the youth blues band Three Chords and the Truth, the DC Blues Band, and the Capital Blues Ensemble, recent winners of the DC Blues Society's 2009 Festival Audition Competition held at the Surf Club in Hyattsville.

The Silver Spring Blues Festival at Downtown Silver Spring is sponsored by the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc., in partnership with the DC Blues Society, Montgomery College, Three Keys Music, PFA Silver Spring LLC, the Silver Spring Voice, and the Silver Spring Penguin.

The Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. is a Silver Spring 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which was established to provide arts, entertainment and humanities programming for the Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza to be completed in 2010.

for more information and directions, visit the festival websites at and

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