Vermont Blues Retreat Faculty

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Dennis Willmott, guitars and vocals

Dennis Willmott is one of the most authentic blues guitarists and singers you’ll ever hear. His mastery of both acoustic and electric styles emanates from early experiences in the 1950’s listening to Leadbelly, Mance Lipscomb, Lightning Hopkins, Brownie McGhee and “Gatemouth” Brown.

By 1963 he was performing acoustic blues in the Piedmont tradition as well as the Delta and Texas twelve-bar style. Transitioning to the more urban style of electric blues in the early 1990’s, Dennis played with Big Joe Burrell in the last three years of his life and formed his own well-known band Left Eye Jump, which continues to perform all over Vermont.

Dennis has an encyclopedic knowledge of blues history and sub-styles which he conveys in an articulate and entertaining manner. He furthers his mission to bring the blues to more musicians and wider audiences by serving on the board of directors of the Vermont Blues Society.

Paul Asbell, guitars

From his early years playing blues on Chicago’s South Side to his present multi-faceted career based out of northern Vermont, Paul Asbell is a true “musician’s musician”. He has played and recorded with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Earl Hooker, Lightnin’ Slim, Paul Butterfield, Sam Lay, Pops Staples, Donny Hathaway.

After Paul moved to Vermont in 1971, he began to play and record with a diverse array of artists, including Big Mama Thornton, singer-songwriters Paul Siebel, Jim Ringer, Mary McCaslin, and Rosalie Sorrells, jazz greats Jon Hendricks, Bobby McFerrin, Sonny StittNick Brignola, and others.

Paul formed Kilimanjaro in 1978, recording 2 award-winning albums and touring internationallyIn 1981, Kilimanjaro joined with legendary saxophonist and singer, Joe Burrell to form Big Joe Burrell and the Unknown Blues Band.

Paul has taught guitar for over 45 years, He is currently at Middlebury College and the University Of Vermont

Kenny B, bass

Kenny B was born in Harlem, NY surrounded by music. He played piano from 4 to 8 years old and became a Funkateer at 9 when he started playing bass. Early influences were Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins and Charles Mingus. In his teenage years Kenny spent time hanging out with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. That’s when he learned from Art that the rhythm section steers the band and a good strong rhythm section is always needed.

Kenny played with James Cotton, Koko Taylor and Sleepy LaBeef. For the last 25 years Kenny has played with Luther “”Guitar Jr.”” Johnson, With Luther, Kenny performed in 12 countries from Canada to Europe, to the Pilsner Blues Fest and across 18 cities in Turkey, They also played extensively throughout the States, headlining and receiving co-billing with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Van Morrison, James Montgomery, Taj Mahal, Levon Helm and Junior Wells.

Of his life as a performer Kenny says, “I just love seeing people having a good time.”

Bob Stannard, harmonica and vocals

Bob Stannard has been playing and singing the blues since he quit playing drums and took up the harmonica in 1969. Self-taught, Bob is endorsed by Seydel Harmonicas of Germany.

Bob has played with numerous musicians throughout the world including Sandra Wright and Big Joe Burrell, formerly of the BB King band. Dennis Wilmott, Tommy Buckley, Jason Corbiere and Nick Sherman and Bill Carruth joined him on one of his albums, which included Grammy award winning pianist David Maxwell and harmonica virtuoso Mark Hummel.

Bob played with BB King at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. Other appearances include opening for or playing with John Hammond, Chris Smither, Maria Muldaur, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Lynyrd Skynard, Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi and Issac Hayes. In 2009 Bob was invited on stage to join his all-time idol Charlie Musselwhite for a killer rendition of “Movin’ and Groovin”.

Joe Moore, saxophones and vocals

“Wilson Pickett came to town and Joe Moore, who was in his early teens, hit the road blowing sax all over Florida and then beyond.“ Since then Joe has performed with Slim Harpo, Lee Moses and the showstoppers, AL “TNT” Dynamite Braggs, Junior Walker, Billy Stewart, Big Joe Burrell, Bo Diddley, Joe Lovano and Archie Shepp. Currently he plays with Bob Stannard and Those Dangerous Bluesmen and in his own Joe Moore Band.

Charlie Frazier, harmonica and vocals

Charlie Frazier plays harmonica and sings in his band Blues for Breakfast. Charlie started a Sunday blues show (the original “Blues for Breakfast”) 23 years ago on WIZN. Local and regional acts, and concert dates are emphasized, as are interviews with artists including Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Matt Schofield, Johnny Winter, Johnny Rawls and John Mayall. In-studio performances are a feature. Charlie’s CD and concert reviews and interviews have appeared in Blues Music Magazine and on americanbluesscene.com.

John Falk, vocals, guitar, guitar tech

John Falk hails from New York State and has been a slave to blues since the age of 16. His influences span from Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters to Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter, and all stops in between. He also loves bluegrass, jazz and Celtic music bluegrass, finding inspiration for his blues-playing in all of it.

John is also accomplished in guitar, amplifier and pedal technology, which he’ll be sharing with everyone at the Retreat.

John currently plays in Bob Stannard and the Dangerous Bluesmen and The Handymen

Rob Zollman, drums/producer

A musician and educator for over 45 years, Rob Zollman began his career in the classical world as a student of the legendary Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Percussionist Michael Bookspan. Studies continued with jazz drummers Carl Mottola and Tom Cohen. Rob moved on to avant garde directions including performances in the Harry Partch Ensembleand with Jamaaladeen Tacuma in New Music America. Always considered a sensitive and musical drummer, Rob has been on the throne for jazz, big band, blues, rock, Brazilian with the band Minas, klezmer and other ethnic music.

A passionate teacher Rob wrote the book Whole Music Drumming after his studies with bassist and renowned educator Edwin Gordon. Past students include jazz great Ari Hoenig, Eugene Jackson (Herbie Hancock), Jordan Snow and the up and coming Marc McDuff.

Residing in Vermont since 2003, Rob currently plays in the 18 piece big band Enerjazz, The Handymen, The Silverbacks and subs in Left Eye Jump. He often appears in the pit for various musicals at the Paramount and Middlebury Town Hall Theaters. He continues his teaching practice.

Rob strongly believes that music should be accessible and it’s not a mystery. Everyone can make music. To that end he teaches and produces programs for infants through senior citizens.

Additional faculty to be determined

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