Judges

Our Esteemed Judges!

“Welcome To My Blues is one of the year's best Blues albums, and Chambers is clearly one of the top Blues guitarists on the scene today.”

Henry L. Carrigan Jr. - LIVING BLUES

Florida born Sean Chambers began his career in the Blues back in 1998 when he toured with the legendary Hubert Sumlin as his guitarist and band leader until 2003. During Sean’s tenure with Mr. Sumlin, Britain's own Guitarist magazine named Chambers as “One of the top 50 blues guitarists of the last century.”

In 2009, Chambers went into the studio to record his critically-acclaimed album, Ten Til Midnight.

When Ten Til Midnight was released in October, 2009, it garnered rave reviews and also appeared on the Living Blues chart for the first three months after its release. It received steady airplay in 45 states around the U.S, as well as many markets overseas. The title cut was featured on “The House of Blues Radio Hour” as a “Blues Breaker;” and the album also generated significant airplay on Sirius/XM Radio’s blues channel as a “Pick to Click.”

Sean Chambers released Live from the Long Island Blues Warehouse in 2011, which featured 10 tracks of mostly originals, along with Sean’s distinctively searing takes on “Full Moon on Main Street,” a highlight song from an early album by The Kinsey Report; as well as a blistering version of Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom,” which recalls Johnny Winter in its approach.

Live from the Long Island Blues Warehouse appeared on BB King’s Bluesville XM/Sirius Blues Charts as a “Pick to Click” for 6 weeks in a row, as well as 15 weeks on the RMR Weekly Blues Roots Chart and 11 weeks on the House of Blues Radio Chart. The album was voted “Best Live Blues Album of 2011” by Canada’s Blues Underground Network and ranked as one of the Top 3 Live CD’s in Germany by the magazine Wasser Prawda. In addition it was nominated for a Jimi Award for “Best Live Blues Album of 2011.” Guitar Player Magazine did a full page feature story on Sean in February, 2012, and the same month Vintage Guitar Magazine ran a two page feature story.

On October 15, 2013, Sean Chambers released The Rock House Sessions, on Blue Heat Records. The album received great reviews and was also nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award in 2014 for “Best Blues Rock Album of the year”. The album was recorded at Rock House Studios owned by acclaimed keyboardist -Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton Band) – hence the album name

On March 17th 2017 Sean Chambers released his 6th album entitled “Trouble & Whiskey” on the American Showplace Music label. Trouble & Whiskey hit #11 on Billboard, reached #7 on the Living Blues Charts during the first week of it's release, and was nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award for "Best Blues Rock Album of the year".

On October 19th 2018, Sean Chambers released his 7th album “Welcome To My Blues” on American Showplace Music, reaching #9 on the Billboard Blues charts during it’s first week. “Welcome To My Blues” is the follow up to Chambers’ previous critically acclaimed Billboard charting album “Trouble& Whiskey.” Both albums are produced by Ben Elliott who has recorded classic artists such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons, and Steve Miller among others. The core band on the album, aside from Sean on lead vocals and lead guitar, includes John Ginty on Hammond B3 & keyboards, Todd Cook on bass and Moe Watson on drums. Special guest Jimmy Bennett plays slide guitar and backing vocals on track #6. “Welcome To My Blues” features 11 smokin’ tracks from Chambers, including 8 new original Sean Chambers compositions, and 3 covers, including Cherry Red Wine by Luther Allison, All Night Long by T-Bone Walker and Boxcar Willie by John Ginty.

"A powerhouse player and emotive performer…his band, his material and both his skilled guitaring and soulful vocals are the essence of fully-formed. Birchwood is a major player. Highly recommended."

Rolling Stone

Blues fireball Selwyn Birchwood is a guitar and lap steel playing bundle of pure energy. He delivers his original songs with a revival tent preacher’s fervor and a natural storyteller’s charisma made all the more impactful by his raw, unvarnished vocals. Since the 2014 release of his Alligator Records debut, Don’t Call No Ambulance, Birchwood has set the contemporary blues world on fire. His 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 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.”

In 2013, the Florida-based Birchwood catapulted from local hero to shooting star. He won the world-renowned International Blues Challenge, beating out 125 other bands from the U.S. and abroad. He also took home the Albert King Guitarist Of The Year Award. It wasn’t long before Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer offered Birchwood a contract. His debut album, Don’t Call No Ambulance, is a fully realized vision of contemporary blues. Birchwood’s original songs range from raucous romps to hill country stomps, from searing, serious slow blues to modern blues rock. Between his uninhibited sense of fun and adventure and his serious-as-a-heart-attack musicianship, Don’t Call No Ambulance is a window into the future of the blues. “All originals and no filler,” he says of the album. “It’s that genuineness of emotion in the songs that people can hear.” Rave reviews ran in publications from Rolling Stone to The Wall Street Journal, from The Washington Post to The Chicago Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle.

The Washington Post says, “Selwyn Birchwood is an indelibly modern and original next-generation bluesman; his tough vocals, guitar and lap steel touch on classic Chicago blues, Southern soul and boogie” According to Iglauer, Birchwood is the real deal. “Selwyn Birchwood is a terrific young blues talent with a huge future. He 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. Selwyn is destined to be one of the next stars in the blues world.”

“Jensen is a solid guitarist, phrasing deftly with just enough macho to make the boys happy and just enough lyricism to make the little girls swoon, and vice-versa. Not to mention he actually knows how to dress up on stage.”

Rob Cullivan (Portland Tribune)

Sometimes all it takes is a tiny spark to ignite a raging inferno. For Jeff Jensen, the spark occurred in 2011. Feeling the need for a fresh start, he loaded up his car to head back to his boyhood home in California. Just as that journey was to begin, a deep and unexpected calling starting boiling inside, Jensen changed directions and headed to Memphis. There was no job waiting for him; no plan, no family, no band, just a lone friend with a temporary place for him to stay. But our intrepid guitar player felt it was the right move, the only move. In less than thirty hours after arriving, he met Brandon Santini and was offered the opportunity to be his guitarist. Soon after, Jeff became music director for the Brandon Santini Band.

The inferno has been building ever since. After two years, almost 500 shows and three recordings with Santini, Jensen re-formed his band with long-time friend and musical collaborator Bill Ruffino (bass). Then they recruited Memphis native Robinson Bridgeforth as drummer. They hit the road and never looked back.

Most people are in for a shock the first time they experience a Jeff Jensen Band performance. It starts with the trio mixing an eccentric blend of soul, rock, and American roots music with a deep blues influence. Suddenly Jensen feels the spirit, transforming into a whirling dervish of sight & sound as he bounds across the stage, barely able to contain himself as he wrenches stark, biting six-string explosions from his guitar. His passion is there for all to see, a rare occurrence in these times of buttoned-down music-making. At first, the sheer emotional force he creates can be a bit overwhelming. Then you realize that all art is an expression of the soul, of the power of the life-giving force that created the universe. And Jeff feels it is his responsibility to make the effort to communicate his passion with each member of the audience every night. After all, music is art, and art is the physical form of emotion.

In 2015, Jensen released the vibrant Morose Elephant album that captures the flavor of the band’s creative force. Combining seven originals with covers of songs from Memphis Minnie and Amos Milburn plus a traditional gospel hymn, Jensen articulates the depth of his musical vision with help from a number of friends including Victor Wainwright, Reba Russell, and Annie Harris. The disc received even more critical acclaim as the band’s previous release, Road Worn and Ragged (2013), both produced by Jensen. This led to two consecutive Blues Blast Music Award nominations in the Sean Costello Rising Star category (2014/2015).

The band continues to tour the US, Canada and many European countries relentlessly, as the inferno shows no signs of burning out. Whenever there is a break in the schedule, Jensen switches roles, acting as the producer with other artists including Mick Kolassa, John Parker and co-producing Santini’s This Time Another Year, nominated for a Blues Music Award in the Contemporary Blues Album category (2014).

*Biography written by Mark Thompson