Selwyn Birchwood

Selwyn Birchwood

Kristine Jackson

Thursday Aug 23 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Beachland Tavern

$16.00 - $18.00

This event is all ages

Primarily Seated, General Admission

Selwyn Birchwood
Selwyn Birchwood
“A remarkable contemporary bluesman...a powerhouse young guitarist and soulful vocalist. A major player...highly recommended.” –Rolling Stone

“Selwyn Birchwood is a master storyteller—both lyrically and musically. He’s an impressive, hard-crunching, modern blues guitarist. His fretwork is high-energy, raw and vivid...knife-edged leads and roadhouse-rattling grooves. He is graced with a depth and maturity that would be impressive in a grizzled veteran, let alone a fresh-faced young man.” –Living Blues

With his fiery guitar and lap steel playing, his trailblazing, instantly memorable songs and gritty, unvarnished vocals, Selwyn Birchwood is among the most extraordinary young stars in the blues. His deep familiarity with blues tradition allows him to bust the genre wide open, adding new sounds, colors and textures, all delivered with a revival tent preacher’s fervor and a natural storyteller’s charisma. Since the 2014 release of his Alligator Records debut, Don’t Call No Ambulance, Birchwood’s meteoric rise from playing small Florida clubs to headlining international festival stages is nothing short of phenomenal, as he continues to set the contemporary blues world on fire. The album received the Blues Music Award and Living Blues Critics’ Award for Best Debut Album Of 2014, and he won the 2015 Blues Blast Rising Star Award. Selwyn and his band have crisscrossed the U.S. and Europe repeatedly, delivering unforgettable live performances. With his new album, Pick Your Poison, Birchwood, along with his band—saxophonist Regi Oliver, bassist Huff Wright and drummer Courtney “Big Love” Girlie—takes a major step forward, crafting visionary blues for a new generation of forward-looking fans.

Birchwood, who attacks his guitar and lap steel with searing intensity, wrote and produced all 13 songs on Pick Your Poison. His richly detailed, hard-hitting originals run the emotional gamut from the humorously personal My Whiskey Loves My Ex to the gospel-inflected Even The Saved Need Saving to the hard truths of the topical Corporate Drone and Police State to the existential choice of the title track. The cutting-edge songs are made all the more impactful by Birchwood’s gruff vocals, his untamed musicianship and his band’s seemingly telepathic accompaniment. “I write and sing what I know,” says Birchwood, whose innovations are as expansive as his influences. “This album has a broad reach. It’s for young, old and everyone in between.” 

According to Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer, who signed Birchwood to the label shortly after the bluesman won the 2013 International Blues Challenge and also the Albert King Guitarist Of The Year Award at the same event, “Selwyn writes smart, infectious, fresh songs and delivers them with a warm, conversational vocal style and a fun-loving attitude. He’s a killer guitarist, switching between a regular six-string and lap steel. Live, he’s a ball of energy, interacting with the audience like they were in his living room.”

Birchwood’s high-octane blues—at once deeply rooted, funky and up-to-the-minute—are played with passion and honest emotion. With his band feeding off his drive and exuberance, the striking 6’3” young man with his trademark Afro roams the stage (often barefoot), ripping out memorable guitar licks with ease, his soulful, rocks-and-gravel vocals firing up the crowd. His ability to win over an audience—any audience—is proven night after night on the bandstand. With his warm, magnetic personality, Birchwood is as down-to-earth as his music is fun, thought-provoking and vital. His mission is to spread his music far and wide, to share his joy, to play his heart out, and to push the blues into the future. “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than playing the blues,” he says. “And I try to convey that with every song and with every performance.”

Birchwood, his father from Tobago, his mother from the UK, was born in 1985 in Orlando, Florida. He first grabbed a guitar at age 13 and soon became proficient at mimicking what he heard on the radio. But the popular grunge rock, hip-hop and metal of the 1990s didn’t move him, and he quickly grew bored. And then he heard Jimi Hendrix. “He was larger than life. What he did was mind-blowing. When I realized Hendrix was influenced by the blues, I found my path,” he says. By 17, he was deep into the blues, listening to Albert King, Freddie King, Albert Collins, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and especially Buddy Guy. As luck would have it, just as Birchwood was discovering Guy, the blues master had a concert scheduled in Orlando. Birchwood was there, front and center. “I was floored,” he recalls. “I completely connected with the blues. I knew I had to make this music.”

As Selwyn’s guitar proficiency grew, a friend told him that his neighbor was a blues guitarist and had a band. The 19-year-old Selwyn went over to check it out and jam. The guitar-playing neighbor turned out to be the Texas-born blues legend Sonny Rhodes, who was instantly impressed with the enthusiastic young guitar slinger. Within one month’s time, Rhodes asked Birchwood to pack his bags and join him on the road. It was an incredible experience for Birchwood, as Rhodes took the young man under his wing, teaching him not only guitar and lap steel, but also how to conduct business, how to run a band, and how to reach an audience. “Sonny always said, ‘Play what’s in your heart.’ I’ve never lost sight of that,” says Birchwood.

Rhodes insisted Birchwood go to college and always held the guitar spot in his band open for Selwyn whenever he was available. It was a win-win situation, as Birchwood—through hard work and scholarships—received his MBA from The University of Tampa. “I challenged myself to get that degree,” Birchwood says. “These days, it’s not good enough to just be a good player.” Combining the musical lessons learned from Rhodes and his business acumen, Birchwood created The Selwyn Birchwood Band in 2010, featuring veteran musicians older than Selwyn, testifying to Selwyn’s musical chops and his leadership skills. On stage, they play off each other with ease, feeding off each other’s energy, sharing the fun with the audience.

In 2011 the self-released FL Boy helped the band land gigs outside of their Tampa base, where they were becoming local heroes. Birchwood and his band won their way to spots at the 2012 and 2013 International Blues Challenges in Memphis. After taking ninth place in 2012, they came back determined the next year, taking first place. Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer was sitting at the judges’ table at the time. “I saw Selwyn’s potential in 2012. He absolutely deserved to win in 2013,” he says. The victory opened more doors for Birchwood, increased his exposure and helped the band land a deal with Intrepid Artists booking agency, which led to more and better gigs. 

With his 2014 Alligator Records debut album, Don’t Call No Ambulance, Selwyn Birchwood announced his arrival on the international blues stage. The album is a fully realized vision of contemporary blues. Between his uninhibited sense of fun and adventure and his serious-as-a-heart-attack musicianship, Don’t Call No Ambulance opened a door into a bright future for the blues. Rave reviews ran in publications from Rolling Stone to The Wall Street Journal, from The Chicago Tribune to The San Francisco Chronicle.

The Selwyn Birchwood Band has been touring non-stop since before the Alligator debut came out. The band has performed at festivals including The Chicago Blues Festival, The Waterfront Blues Festival, The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, The Tampa Bay Blues Festival, The North Atlantic Blues Festival, The King Biscuit Blues Festival as well as on The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise and Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping The Blues Alive Cruise. Internationally, they have performed at The Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival, Jazz a Vienne in France, the Rawa Blues Festival in Poland, the Moulin Blues Festival in The Netherlands, the Ottawa Blues Festival in Canada, as well as performing in Spain, Switzerland, Norway, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Belgium and Mexico. 

Birchwood has opened for major blues stars including Robert Cray and Buddy Guy and has shared the stage with another friend and teacher, Joe Louis Walker. Not long ago, Selwyn had the opportunity, when performing in San Francisco, to bring his friend and mentor Sonny Rhodes on stage to sit in with his band. It was a moment Birchwood will never forget. “He did so much for me; it was a real honor to return the favor.”

With Pick Your Poison’s urgent, uncompromising music, Selwyn Birchwood is forging new directions for the blues. The Washington Post calls him a “tough, indelibly modern next generation bluesman.” The Wall Street Journal says he is “fiery and original.” The hard-hitting, cutting-edge songs on Pick Your Poison, along with his incendiary live performances, prove without a doubt his status as the blues’ most sensational young talent.
Kristine Jackson
Kristine Jackson
Today, Kristine Jackson’s music is real, raw, and true. From her gritty smoky vocals and soul moving songwriting, to her unique guitar playing. But it didn’t happen overnight. Kristine started playing the trumpet in elementary school, but from the beginning it was more than just an afterschool hobby. Kristine describes her early years with the trumpet as a way she could deal with memories of earlier sexual child abuse. Dealing with shame and confusion she found music to be an outlet. Without the courage to confront the abuse until she was in her mid-twenties, she used her natural abilities on the trumpet to find peace-of-mind through music and ultimately this gift led her to a full time music career. With encouragement from her family and high-school band leaders she pursued a trumpet performance degree at the University of Akron. Kristine knew that music was going to be a full-time career one way or another.
As she began classical studies on the trumpet she also began a part-time job at a well-known music venue in Westlake, Ohio. Here she spent her weekends working, watching, and eventually sitting-in with numerous Cleveland and touring national acts. It was through this gained experience, and also her later experience as a freelance trumpet player, that Kristine realized classical trumpet performance was not the road she wanted. She had a strong desire to create her own music and she knew that simply playing the trumpet was only going to get her so far in the music world. In 2004 she decided to give singing a try and with a borrowed guitar she began to teach herself basic chords to accompany her voice as she learned songs, both covers and her own. Within a year she was singing four hour shows featuring original work and her own unique arrangements of cover tunes, both as an acoustic act and with a full band. It wasn’t long before the House of Blues asked her to perform opening sets for major touring acts such as B.B King and Buddy Guy.
By 2005 Kristine was performing up to 200 shows a year and it was apparent she was meant to use her voice! Performing as KJBlues, at any given show you could see that the audience had a connection to her voice and song selection. She has a captivating way of taking inspiration from her life and those around her and translating those emotions through song, whether it be an original song or how she interprets a cover.
The release of her first full-length album Candy Store came in 2010 and was a culmination of two life changing events for Kristine. Just prior to its release, Kristine took a major step and went public with the knowledge that she was sexually abused as a child. With God’s grace and her family by her side, she was able to confront the abusers and finally make steps to heal. Among the family that stood with Kristine during this time was her younger cousin, Liz. Liz was fighting a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma as Kristine was still writing the tracks for Candy Store. Kristine described her as a pillar of strength and inspiration and shares that her cousin’s ability to talk so freely about her relationship with God and how she found she could vent to Him in anger and frustration and yet still find peace amidst what she was going through gave her the courage and strength to do the same in her own circumstances. Sadly, Liz passed away August 6th of 2009. As a tribute to her beautiful cousin, Kristine finished the album which ultimately included tracks not just about KJ’s past but tracks dedicated to Liz as well. Select tracks from this album are still being played on Sirius XM radio and the song “By Your Side” has been re-recorded to be the title track for KJ’s 2016 full length studio album.
Shortly after the release of Candy Store Kristine took steps to bring a bigger project to life. A project she and her cousin Liz had dreamt about; using music to raise funds for cancer research and patient support. In Liz’s honor, Kristine and her family established an official 501c3 non-profit organization called Kickin’ the Cancer Blues. This organization held concerts at venues such as the House of Blues, using not only Kristine’s talents but other local and national acts as well. These concerts raised over $50,000 for the fight on Hodgkin’s lymphoma through a membership with the LLS (Leukemia Lymphoma Society). Although Kickin’ the Cancer Blues as an official 501c3 had to be retired at the end of 2013, Kristine continues fundraising efforts for Hodgkin’s lymphoma research.
In late 2010 Kristine wrestled with some health issues that limited her physical abilities and forced her to slow-down for a few years. But that didn’t keep her from creating. She still found ways to perform when she could and even released the KJBlues Vol.1 full-length album in 2013. This album too is featured on Sirius XM radio and features original and cover songs performed with two of her great friends.
​ By mid-2013 Kristine was regaining her health and her music was only getting stronger. In January 2014 she released her first full-length solo album Simply KJ Vol.2. This album was a true reflection of what her solo show was all about. The songs and the stories. It’s simply KJ doing what she does, playing guitar and singing the song. This album featured mainly original work and it wasn’t long before it too was being played on radio stations both in and out of town. Fans were reconnecting with Kristine and looking for more music.
In 2015 KJ set sights on re-branding, she dropped the KJBlues and started using Kristine Jackson / Music By KJ. Kristine says ‘The blues world is where my music was born, but not where it has to stay”. When summer 2015 arrived so did new sounds and music by KJ. With the release of “Change My World”, her first single off the 2016 release “By Your Side”, it was clear that she is more than just a blues singer or songwriter. In fact, as the collection of songs from the up-coming album will portray, her music is as deep as its genre is wide. She would tell you “I didn't have an album concept to start with. But now in its completion I can see this collection of songs is really a journey of triumphs and tears. Songs from the darkest places in my life to songs capturing victories and happiness. And all of this is possible because there are no borders or labels, it’s just the music that God has led me to create. I'm influenced by so many styles and artists that when it comes time to write and produce my own material its all blended together and ultimately I just follow my instincts." Not only are the songs powerful, the production itself is a testament to KJ’s growing abilities. She spent over 18 months writing, practicing, working-out charts and parts for every tune from beat one. Starting in her home studio with just a simple 4 track recorder, an acoustic guitar, a microphone, and when time allowed, help from her husband; Cleveland's own piano man, Mike Petrone. Then countless hours every week, side-by-side with her engineer in the studio, the two of them did the lion’s share of the tracking, including KJ's contribution on both rhythm and lead guitars, bass guitar, beat boxing, vocals and more. To round off the project, KJ brought in some of the most talented players that Cleveland has to offer. KJ directed every note and beat that was added by these musicians and in each song you can hear that attention to her style. The future is wide open for KJ and her music as she continues to grow and nurture her God given talents.
Venue Information:
Beachland Tavern
15711 Waterloo
Cleveland, OH, 44110