3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore, MD, 21224
Phil Wiggins is a versatile traditional harmonica player, continuing the Piedmont blues tradition, a gentle and melodic blues style of the mid-Atlantic region. He plays the diatonic ten-hole harmonica in the country blues style, cupping both hands around the instrument and playing acoustically. His sound is not shaped by the gear, the microphone or amplifier when performing on stage; instead, he relies on complex syncopated patterns, breath-control and rhythm, stylistic virtuosity and fiery solo runs. He is one of the true masters of this instrument and his virtuosity has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and received a National Heritage Fellowship this past year, the highest honor the U.S. bestows on traditional musicians. Tonight, he leads his newest group, the Chesapeake Sheiks, a rocking band that delves deep into the blues swing catalog withThe Chesapeake Sheiks consist of Phil on harmonica and vocals. Ian Walters is on with piano. Marcus Moore on violin, Matt Kelley on guitar and Steve Wolf upright bass. Plus, Baakari Wilder does tap dancing and dance percussion
As a teenager living in Washington D.C. in the 1970s, he played at the Smithsonian National Folklife Festival with street singer Flora Molton, sitting in with blues greats Johnny Shines, Sunnyland Slim, Sam Chatmon, Robert Belfour and Howard Armstrong. By the time he graduated from high school in 1973, D.C. blues elders John Jackson, John Cephas and Archie Edwards had embraced him. He joined the Barrelhouse Rockers, a band fronted by pianist and singer Wilbert “Big Chief” Ellis, where John Cephas played guitar. They toured regionally until Ellis retired in 1977, when John Cephas invited him to join in the duo ‘Cephas & Wiggins’.
With John Cephas as guitarist and primary singer, the duo performed together for 32 years as internationally renowned stars of the country blues. Cephas & Wiggins played Carnegie Hall, Royal Prince Albert Hall in London and the Sydney Opera House, as well as small venues worldwide, touring every continent except Antarctica. They recorded more than a dozen critically acclaimed albums, winning the prestigious W.C. Handy Blues Award in 1984 for Best Traditional Album of the Year and in 1987 as Entertainers of the Year. They even performed at the White House with B.B. King.
Since the 2009 death of John Cephas, Phil has performed with numerous musicians, including Nat Reese, Corey Harris, Australian guitarist Dom Turner, Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, Sherman Holmes, George Kilby, Jr., the Rev. John Wilkins, Jerron Paxton, and longtime friends Eleanor Ellis and Rick Franklin.
FRI MAR 23 | 8PM | $23, $20 Members (+$3 at the door)