Anita Stewart, Tampa Correspondent and Alex Spassoff, Photographer
Date: May 12, 2017 at Skipper’s Smokehouse
This was a great show for blues lovers to see and was hosted by WMNF-FM 88.5, Tampa’s local community radio station. Josh Miller Blues Review, sometimes called the Josh Miller Blues Band opened the show with some great sounds. From Cocoa Beach, Florida, they played an amazing mixed up, bluesy/jazzy (with some elements of country and other genres) set and got the crowd into the groove. Josh Miller is an older style blues aficionado, a well known Florida favorite and like Selwyn, has toured everywhere including Europe to bring his music to the blues lovers over there.
Award winning blues guitarist, Selwyn Birchwood is a musician extraordinaire and while watching him play, one can only think that they are standing at the feet of greatness. He calls Jimi Hendrix one of his first influences on electric guitar along with Muddy Waters and Albert King, just to name a few.
In his younger years, he paid his dues early while touring extensively throughout the US and Canada for over five years with the world renowned Sonny Rhodes. His lucky break came after a chance meeting in Orlando that brought the two of them together at just the right time, soon after Selwyn had gotten out of high school. Selwyn also plays electric lap steel guitar. (See this reader’s personal favorite: “Hoodoo Stew” recorded at Daryl’s House in Pawling, NY.)
Selwyn originally hails from Orlando, received his MBA from the University of Tampa and since 2010, calls the latter city his home. The college degree challenged him in new ways and was important for him to acquire so he could handle the business side of his career, not just performance. 2010 was also the same year that THE SELWYN BIRCHWOOD BAND was formed with the current lineup: Donald “Huff” Wright on bass, Courtney Girlie on drums and Regi Oliver on baritone saxophone and flute. The best part about seeing this band play is how they make it all look so easy! The baritone sax adds a nice layer to their sound.
In recent years, The Selwyn Birchwood Band has taken off like a rocket and has already toured and been feted by blues lovers throughout Europe in addition to Canada and the US. This is the kind of uniquely American music that European audiences adore. “Pick Your Poison” is the band’s second studio album with Alligator Records and they have branched out with the songs for this album; mixing up the genres a bit and at the same time impossible to pigeonhole the style into just one. There are elements of blues, rock and roll, country, boogie, jazz, rockabilly, swamp rock, swing and more.
This writer and photographer stayed for the first set and that consisted of mostly songs from the new album. Wish we had been able to stay for the second which no doubt had songs from previously released material. This is a band that is not to be missed and there are plenty of opportunities to see them throughout the summer as they tour all over on this season’s extensive festival circuit.
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