Into the Little Blue House Performers
Grammy Award and Blues Music Award-winning Producer/Engineer Michael Freeman began his career in the recording industry in the late 1970s running the Hedden West Studios complex for almost 10 years in the Chicago suburbs (later named Remington Road Studios) that served independent artists from many different genres.
A transplant from London, England, Michael has amassed an award-winning discography in a diverse set of musical genres with work on over 200 albums. Currently, 71 of those titles are in the Blues genre. In 2011 he received a prestigious “Keeping The Blues Alive Award - Producer” from The Blues Foundation.
His work has garnered a Grammy Award and four Grammy Nominations, three WC Handy/Blues Music Award nominations, and one Blues Music Award. Additionally, a Platinum Award for engineering and mixing Candi Staton’s original single “You’ve Got The Love”, released in 1986. His latest work as a producer for Wendy & DB’s new album “Into The Little Blue House” has just received a Grammy Nomination for Best Children’s Music Album for the 65th Grammy Awards.
Ivy Ford - Vocalist, Multi-Instrumentalist, Guitar
Ivy Ford is a Chicago-land-based multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter. She has a diverse collection of musical influences but strong roots in blues es and soul. In 2015 Ivy Ford’s career kicked off after opening for Buddy Guy in Chicago resulting in making a permanent impression that supported her place in the industry. In less than a decade, she has had several international performances including two tours in France and Belgium and performs bi-coastal in the United States regularly and in the Midwest region. Currently, Ivy Ford has three full original albums all of which have been self-produced and are accompanied by other released singles.
Some honorary mentions of Ivy Ford’s accolades include numerous nominations for both her recordings and songwriting as well as performances. Several publications and top magazines including Frances, “Soul Bag,” and “Blues Matters,” in the UK have printed extensive interviews and support for her upcoming works. Ivy Ford is known for her musicianship and skill as well as her energy and experience she shares with her audience when she performs lives bringing an authenticity that is timeless.
For more on Ivy click HERE.
Emmy Award winner, 3-time GRAMMY nominee, Retired 2-term GRAMMY governor, 2020 Blue Foundation Hall of Fame Inductee, and Alligator Records Recording Artist.
Billy Branch was discovered by Willie Dixon, the "father of modern Chicago Blues," while Billy was still in college. Willie encouraged Billy to finish his college education, which he did, but instead of going to law school after receiving his political science degree, Billy began touring with the Willie Dixon Chicago All-Stars. This gave Billy the unique opportunity to travel and work as an under study for the legendary Carey Bell who was planning to leave the All-Stars and form his own band. When Carey took his leave, the young Billy Branch took his place, touring with Willie Dixon for 6 years.
Billy Branch is a Blues education pioneer. He was one of the first artists to develop a Blues in Schools curriculum. Since 1978, in addition to recording and performing, he has taught hundreds of thousands of children around the world. His internationally recognized Blues in Schools Program is committed to teaching students of all ages about the Blues as the roots of America's music.
For more on Billie click HERE.
Dave Specter - Electric Guitar
Guitarist, producer, and Delmark recording artist Dave Specter has been an integral part of the Chicago blues scene for the past 38 years. He’s performed in 19 countries and appears on over 50 recordings including his latest double album, Six String Soul 30 Years on Delmark.
Dave is featured on compilation recordings with the likes of Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana. In addition to performing and recording, Dave hosts the Blues From the Inside Out podcast and is a partner at one of the Chicago area’s premier music venues, Evanston Space.
“One of the few top-tier guitarists”– Downbeat
“Dave Specter is a global ambassador of Chicago blues” – Chicago Sun-Times
For more on Dave click HERE.
Chicago-based fiddle player and singer-songwriter Anne Harris has produced six indie studio records and played countless performances in the US and abroad. Her collaborations, live and in-studio, span a large and diverse group of artists, including Otis Taylor, Los Lobos, Anders Osborne, Living Colour, Shemekia Copeland, Walter Trout, Cedric Burnside, Vieux Farke Toure, Guy Davis, and hippie legends Jefferson Starship.
Anne is also making history as part of the first violin commission between two African American women- violinist and luthier, along with Nashville-based violin maker Amanda Ewing. This historic commission has been featured by GoFundMe, No Depression, The Strad magazine, and WGN Chicago.
For more on Anne click HERE.
Johnny Iguana - Piano - B3
In addition to touring and recording six albums with his cult-favorite rock band Oh My God, pianist/composer Johnny Iguana has toured with Junior Wells and Otis Rush, played on albums with Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Mick Jagger, Lil' Ed, Billy Boy Arnold, Keb' Mo', Gary Clark Jr. and more.
He has played on Grammy-nominated albums with Junior Wells, the Muddy Waters 100 Band, and Chicago Blues: A Living History and has performed everywhere from Beirut to Buenos Aires to Japan to the Montreux Jazz Festival. He has released five albums with his acclaimed "garage cabaret" band the Claudettes and made his blues debut as a leader in 2020 with "JOHNNY IGUANA'S CHICAGO SPECTACULAR!' (Delmark Records). Johnny grew up playing everything from classical to punk to the soul-jazz he heard growing up in Philadelphia (before moving to New York City and then Chicago), and incorporates all that and more into his compositions.
For more on Johnny click HERE.
Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith (Drummer - Co-Producer)
Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith grew up in the same house where Muddy Waters once lived in Chicago, the home of the blues in the North. Throughout his childhood, Kenny was surrounded by Muddy and his friends, including his father, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, who played drums for the Muddy Waters band in the early 1960”s and then again from 1968 through 1980 and was featured on all of Muddy’s Grammy-winning albums. These same blues icons helped mold Kenny into the person and drummer he is today and later in life asked him to provide his famous backbeat on some of the world's largest and most respected stages and recordings.
Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith knows that his blues values go beyond just “choppin’ wood” to the backbeat. He was told by his father, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, and many other blues legends (whom he considered as family members at an early age) to carry on the blues and not just to play it- he was told to “live it, learn it and breathe it” and from those experiences, he would be able to keep the past and present history of the blues alive and kicking all over the world. When Kenny is not stroking a blues groove, Kenny is also an active producer for many record labels/ bands/ musicians in the studio.
For more on Kenny click HERE.
Mike Wheeler - Electric Guitar
Mike Wheeler is a brilliant staple in the Chicago blues community, playing with and writing songs for various Chicago artists including, Nellie “Tiger” Travis, Peaches Staten, Sam Cockrell, Demetria Taylor, Big Ray, and Cadillac Dave. Mike was a well-known Chicago Playboys member, a notable Chicago band, and recorded five albums with this group.
Mike has traveled the world as an ambassador for Chicago blues music. He’s traveled to Monaco, France, Switzerland, Spain, and Belgium, just to name a few. He’s also shared the stage with the most elite musicians that the world has known, including Willie Kent, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, George Benson, Jimmy Johnson, and Shemekia Copeland. Mike was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in 2014 & 2016.
For more on Mike click HERE.
Sumito Ariyoshi - Piano
Sumito Ariyoshi, aka Ariyo, is internationally recognized for his vigorous innovative piano style. He’s an accomplished arranger and sought-after studio musician.
He's shared the stage and toured the world with such legends as Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Eddie Shaw, Valerie Wellington, B.B. King, Albert King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Ariyo currently is a permanent member of Billy Branch & The S.O.B.'s.
Inducted into ‘2017 Chicago Blues Hall of Fame.’
Melvin Smith - Bass Guitar
Melvin has been playing Bass Guitar professionally for over 50 years. He has a wide range of experience from playing in small clubs to festivals and other large venues throughout the world. He has recorded with a wide variety of artists, and played in Churches and many Corporate functions in addition to giving private lessons to aspiring players.
He is the principle Bass Guitarist for Blues Artist Sheryl Youngblood and freelancing. He recently played with such artists as Wendy Morgan and DB, Ebylee Davis, Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, The Chicago Blues Festival Blues tour in France, and with local artists such as Mike Wheeler, Omar Coleman, Billy Branch, KJazz and a host of other bands and artists.