Students who display a high level of dedication and improvement may be asked to participate in the Alabama Blues Project's Advanced Band. These young musicians will receive a more intensive learning experience, having the opportunity to rehearse each week as a structured band. While honing their music skills and working together, they also learn to recognize and play a variety of Blues styles and sometimes write original songs.

The first Advanced Band was formed in 2005 when 11 students, many of whom had joined After-School and Summer Blues Camps in 1998, surpassed beginning and intermediate lesson levels. They set the stage for the Alabama Blues Project’s tradition of regularly performing at community events such as Cityfest, Kentuck Art Festival, Magic City Blues Festival and Market Street Festival to name a few.

Magic City Blues Fest

Freedom Creek Festival

Evening of Art & Blues

The Project with Tinsley Ellis
after opening for him at
the Bama Theatre, Tuscaloosa

The Project performing at
Alabama Public Television

The Project with long-time
ABP Supporter Bonnie Raitt

They had the opportunity to open for Tinsley Ellis at the Bama Theatre, put on a live show for Alabama Public Television, and met with Bonnie Raitt when she played Tuscaloosa. In 2006, this band of youthful talent performed in Memphis as the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award ceremony. The group recorded a CD before many of the original Advanced Band members graduated from high school in 2007, but the legacy has continued.

The Alabama Blues Project’s Advanced Bands have had the opportunity to share the stage with many Blues greats throughout the years. These include Willie King, Sam Lay, Dr. G.B. Burt, Eddie Kirkland, Bobby Rush, Bettie Mae Fikes and Carroline Shines. Songstress B.J. Miller has given her expertise in co-leading some of the bands.

In 2010, the Alabama Blues Project sent its first Advanced Band to the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge to make their mark in the Youth Showcase division. The group included current Blues Camp instructors Rachel Edwards and Bennett Limbaugh. Click here to read their stories. Later that Spring, they recorded a CD with recording legend Johnny Sandlin at Duck Tape Studio in Decatur, Alabama.


Photo by Jan King
Two Sisters Photography

The Alabama Blues Project teaches music through award winning blues programs, and these are its elite students. Inspired by classic blues and adding a fountain of youth, they perform covers and originals. Rachel Edwards pipes heartrending vocals and is flanked by up-and-coming background singers, LaBorn Brown and Cheyna Dancer. Tyler Carter is an eclectic lead guitarist and vocalist, backed by Austin Davis’ steady strums. Jonathan Blakney sings and brings harmonica genius. Bennett Limbaugh adds a funky bass, while Tasheka Spencer and Duncan King play tight percussion. Having received much praise and bookings, these young talents have also shared the stage with many blues greats including Willie King, Sam Lay, Dr. G.B. Burt, Eddie Kirkland and Bobby Rush.

The trip was such a great experience, that the 2010 Advanced Band’s successors also performed at the International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase the following year, in 2011!

For the second year, Alabama Blues Project sends top students from their award-winning camps to the IBC. Ages 10 to 17, these young stars mix traditional and modern sounds that shine on stage. Cheyna Dancer and LaBorn Brown belt out lyrics while drummers Roveski Jones and Vaughn Veillon hold down rhythm. Guiliano Godorecci plays a classic, fusion style on the electric guitar, and Barclavian Flowers gives the bass a deep blast-from-the-past bottom sound. Peter Mullins and Jameson Hubbard take turns blowing the harp and tickling the ivories to add subtle depth to the band. These young talents have shared the stage with greats such as Bettie Mae Fikes, Dr. G.B. Burt, Keith Ruff, B.J. Miller and Carroline Shines.

The current band continues to the tradition of entertaining crowds around Tuscaloosa and beyond. For booking information, please email the Alabama Blues Project or call (205) 752-6263.