A blues weekend at Alex's

Hank Shreve Band and Davina and The Vagabonds to perform
Before he struck out on his own, Hank Shreve played with the Karen Lovely Band, the Ty Curtis Band and The Ben Rice Band. He won the Nothwest Harmonica Championship in 2006, the Muddy Award for Best Harmonica Player in 2009 and, later that year, second place at the International Blues Challenge as part of the Ty Curtis Band.Photo courtesy of Joe Davis

Bluesman Hank Shreve wanted to hear what seasoned players could do with his music, so he formed his namesake band.

The Eugene-based Hank Shreve Band, which won a Muddy Award for Best New Act in 2012, is Shreve on harmonica, his dad, Bill Shreve, on bass, Stan Welsh on guitar, GT Albright on drums and Skip Jones on keyboards.

If you go

Who: Hank Shreve Band

When: 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 18-19

Where: Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar, 35 N. Main St., Ashland

Cover: $5

Call: 541-482-8818

"Stan and Skip, I saw them playing when I was 8 or 9 years old, and I've always admired them so much, so when the opportunity came for all of us to play together, they were the first people I called," Shreve says

Shreve and the guys are in the final stages of mixing their debut, tentatively called "Hit It." The album features several of Shreve's blues-based originals and two others: "Lollipop Mama" by Wynonie Harris and "Mercury Blues."

"We like to throw in different flavors, elements of jazz, elements of funk and even some rock 'n' roll," Shreve says.

"My inspiration comes from Paul deLay, Norton Buffalo, William Clarke, Delbert McClinton and Curtis Salgado. I like those guys particularly because they are very soulful, emotional, heartfelt players. Everything they did, you could tell they were putting 100 percent in."

Shreve says his own lyrics are "straight-to-the-point" life lessons with familiar blues themes: love, heartbreak and money.

The band will rock the blues at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 18-19, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar, 35 N. Main St., Ashland.

Davina Sowers, who has been called "the hardest working blues woman in frigid Minnesota," and her four-piece band, The Vagabonds, will open Saturday's show.

Sowers says the band likes to put a new spin on old sounds and plays New Orleans-style blues and jazz.

"Two things remain consistent in all her (Sowers') shows: her throaty, but cushiony voice, which has a sort of hard-mattress comfort to it that's part Bonnie Raitt, part Etta James and a little Amy Winehouse; and her band's rollicking New Orleans flavor, driven home by dueling horn players and a bayou-thick stand-up bass," reads one review in the Star Tribune.

The cover charge to each show at Alex's is $5.

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