Jason Wells was born and raised in Frankfort, a small town in central IN. With music all around at home, his dad being a huge music fan and record collector, he wanted nothing more than to be able to play guitar and make a living from it. Like many other teenage kids into music and guitar, Jason spent most of his spare time getting bad grades and learning to play the guitar. Playing in small garage bands and doing what he could through the years, Jason performed for audiences every chance he got. Life in central IN wasn’t too conducive for being a musician so Jason settled down into the daily grind of working in factories and raising a family.
In 2008, when the economy went bad and everyone was loosing their jobs, Jason didn’t escape the trouble. He was laid off work for a year and a half and turned that opportunity into his chance to start a music career. A year and a half later, Jason had a chance to go back to work, and he caved in to the pressure of what seemed sensible. But four months later, Jason’s father passed away from cancer. This was the moment he realized that he was in the wrong place. Many thought he was not handling the loss very well, but, to Jason, it was fuel to the fire to start living. Starting from basically nothing, using old worn out sound equipment, Jason was making waves and fans everywhere he went. He had never stopped playing guitar and dreaming about being a full time musician through the years. Now he had his chance, and it was not to be wasted.
With many long hour days, and a lot of hard work, Jason’s career is growing every year. He has released three full length CDs, has radio airplay on FM commercial stations, college radio, and internet radio. Jason has opened for Candlebox, Jimmie Van Zant, and Tantric and has performed on the side stage at Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville, IN. Jason now tours with his band, The Jason Wells Band, all throughout the midwest and keeps growing.
Naughty Professor is a forward thinking music endeavor pioneered by six young musicians from around the country, now anchored in New Orleans, Louisiana. Formed in 2011, the band’s mission was to embody the jazz-influenced party culture of the Big Easy in a constantly evolving, high energy funk/soul outfit. Naughty Professors’ live performances, which weave together complex compositions and loose individual improvisation, quickly commanded the attention of many notable musicians in town, including George Porter Jr., Galactic, and The Revivalists. With fresh recorded material in the works and a rigorous tour schedule planned for 2014 and beyond, Naughty Professor is poised to soon become the next household name associated with the echelon of New Orleans music.
Naughty Professor has shared the stage with artists such as Galactic, Snarky Puppy, Victor Wooten, Rebirth Brass Band, Fitz and the Tantrums, The Revivalists, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Papadosio, George Porter Jr., The Soul Rebels, and many more
Liquid Soul is a jazz, hip-hop, funk, freestyle fusion ensemble formed in 1993 from Chicago, Illinois which helped pioneer the acid jazz movement in the United States in the 90s. Coined “Beyond Acid Jazz” by founder Mars Williams who plays with The Psychedelic Furs and previously with The Waitresses and Billy Idol, and co-founded by guitarist Tommy Klein, from the Spies Who Surf, the band’s 2000 album Here’s the Deal was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Jazz Album category.
Live or in the studio, playing it hard or smooth, Liquid Soul is a fiery concoction of classy soloists, heavy rhythm merchants and hip-hop cognoscenti. They are in a group that thrives on contact with their audience. One cannot help being moved by Liquid’s ongoing party philosophy. The band’s in-the-tradition repertoire extends from classic compositions by Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis to excursions on the latest breakbeats and mad samples. They continue to bridge the musical gap between standard jazz improvisation and urban rhythm. And as always, the band stays true to its roots with a continued philosophy of bringing jazz back to the dance floor.
The Michael Kelsey Band
Michael Kelsey brings a free-flowing improvisational style to the guitar that involves every inch of his instrument. From his funky, percussive playing style that conjures an image of a one-man version of STOMP to lush instrumentals reminiscent of Michael Hedges/Phil Keaggy, his performance blends multiple musical genres and vocals along with some techno fun to create a sound all his own. He is the winner of Guitar Center’s “Guitarmageddon”. Chosen from among 3,000 entrants the singer-songwriter performed at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads 2004 where he shared the stage with many legendary guitarists. Through out a performance Michael may make use of technology, his improv skills, objects in the room, and audience interaction to make music for the ears but more importantly a musical experience for the senses.
Tizer Quartet featuring Eric Marienthal
Back by popular demand, TIZER returns to the Uptown Jazz & Blues Festival after performing at the 2014 festival that featured violin virtuoso, Karen Briggs. This year, TIZER will feature Grammy winning saxophonist Eric Marienthal (The Rippingtons, Chick Corea) along with Grammy nominee and New York native bass legend Ric Fierabracci (Chick Corea, Billy Cobham), Chicago born drum phenom Gene Coye (Larry Carlton, Stanley Clarke).
Over the past few years, TIZER—a 2011 nominee for “Jazz Group of the Year”–has taken their multi-faceted world fusion vibe acorss the USA around the globe, galvanizing thousands at events including the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, the Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, the Dubai Jazz Festival, Barbados Jazz Festival, the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival and the Festival International Providencia Jazz in Santiago, Chile. In addition to their usual whirlwind of U.S. dates, their tour schedule in support of Downbeat has included the Jarasum International Jazz Festival in South Korea, four shows in Russia, KL International Jazz & Arts Fest – Malaysia, Cape Town International Jazz Fest and Martinique Jazz Fest. While Lao was a “Best New Jazz Artist” nominee in 2002 and Diversify spent many weeks on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart, TIZER has a multi-genre, multi-national appeal that expands beyond just jazz enthusiasts. Their diverse resume includes performance slots alongside Zappa Plays Zappa, Jethro Tull, Isaac Hayes, Al Jarreau, Spyro Gyra, George Benson, Soulive, Babyface, Bruce Hornsby and Robin Thicke.
The Caitlin Cotten Combo
Wrought out of the Purdue Jazz Band, The Caitlin Cotten Combo formed officially in 2012 after years spent playing various gigs throughout the community and nation. Spearheaded by vocalist Caitlin Benner, the group plays a variety of jazz ranging from standard swing to more modern tunes. Group members have had the chance over the years to play alongside jazz greats such as Lenny Foy, Jeff Coffin, Carl Saunders, Dennis DiBlasio, Brent Wallarab, Michael Weiss, Dave Pietro, Eddie Daniels, Allan Vizzuti, and Gary Smulyan. The group plays to prove that jazz can still be relevant if packaged in a more approachable and fun atmosphere.
Brent Laidler & the Dream Team
The Dream Team is the result of perfect chemistry during the accidental meeting of music and minds at an Open Jam Session. Scott Pazera hosted a killer house band, bringing new talent from Indianapolis and Bloomington – Brent Laidler brought in friends from Logansport and Muncie and some brand new original charts – the combination was an absolute blast for the musicians and resulted in a spontaneous standing ovation. They knew they had something special! Now with a whole new CD to promote (No Matter Where Noir), the Dream Team is ready to kick off a Release Party like no other at the 2016 Uptown Jazz and Blues Festival.
Members include: Brent Laidler – guitar, Ned Boyd – alto sax, flute, Mark Buselli – trumpet, flugelhorn, Mitch Shiner – vibraphone, Scott Pazera – bass, Richard “Sleepy” Floyd – drums.
The Claudettes (of Chicago) are Johnny Iguana on piano, Michael Caskey on drums and singer/dancer Yana. This immensely entertaining trio mixes the deep roots of Chicago blues with the spirit of rockabilly and punk, vintage echoes of vaudeville and burlesque and the sounds of soul-jazz, ’60s French pop and vintage cartoon music. Though their members have performed with the likes of Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Koko Taylor, James Cotton and Chuck Mangione, the Claudettes bring an electrifying freshness and vitality with them to the stage and the studio. Theclaudettes.com.