S.E. Willis & the Willing deliver blues to Town Park on Aug. 12

S.E. Willis (Courtesy photo)

S.E. Willis (Courtesy photo)

CLARKDALE -- Saturday, Aug. 12, Clarkdale presents a playful band steeped in the most classic of blues lore, S.E. Willis & the Willing. Join your friends and neighbors from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Clarkdale Town Park gazebo for an evening of fun, dancing, and engaging blues music.

S.E. Willis and the Willing is a five-piece band featuring Steve “S.E.” Willis, a member of the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, along with his bandmates, Dave Duncan on guitar, Roger Smith on bass, Conrad Valdini on drums, and Ray DeSylvester on harmonica and vocals. Willis’ music is deeply rooted in traditional American forms: blues, boogie-woogie, country, rockabilly, gospel, and zydeco.

Willis started his musical journey in 1968, playing full-time in Flagstaff and throughout Arizona. In 1978, he moved to San Francisco, where he was an integral part of the blues, funk and rockabilly scene. Steve opened for Jerry Lee Lewis, Gatemouth Brown, Jerry Garcia, Clifton Chenier and others.

In 1999, Elvin Bishop chose Willis to play piano on an Alligator recording. He continued touring and recording with the Elvin Bishop Band. They won the 2015 International Blues Foundation Band of the Year.

Willis moved back to Flagstaff and was a semi-finalist in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in the solo category representing NAZBA.

Steve plays regularly at the Weatherford Hotel in the Steve Willis Trio and in local festivals. He also plays in and around the Verde Valley with the S.E. Willis/Sweet Baby Ray DeSylvester duo

S.E. Willis is a multi-instrumentalist on piano, harmonica, accordion and vocals. He has written numerous songs that are recorded on several of his albums: “Luckiest Man Alive,” “Turtle Dove,” “Too Much Love” and others. Willis has released seven CDs of original and classic materials and boasts 50 years in the business. S.E. Willis knows a lot about American roots music and shows it with every note. Visit www.sewillis.net to learn more.

Roger Smith, Flagstaff’s veteran bass player, is well known for playing with Limbs Akimbo, Tommy Dukes and the S.E. Willis Trio. Roger is a recent inductee into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame.

Conrad Valdini, an international drummer and producer, is from Milan, Italy. He works with a multitude of bands and has opened for Tim McGraw.

Dave Duncan, guitarist and multi-award-winning songwriter, got his musical start in Flagstaff. He moved to Nashville, where he’s worked with Curtis Saldago on several songs nominated by the Blues Foundation in Memphis.

Ray DeSylvester, harp master known as Sweet Baby Ray, is also in the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame. He competed in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge representing NAZBA. He played with Phoenix bands, fronts his band Blue Smoke and plays in the Verde Valley in the S.E. Willis/Sweet Baby Ray DeSylvester duo.

The 50/50 raffle is back this year. The full concert schedule is available on the Town of Clarkdale website, www.clarkdale.az.gov. Bring your chairs, water, and snacks, or plan to visit one of the local restaurants or concert vendors. Dogs are welcome on a leash and under control and please remember alcohol is not permitted in the park.

The Clarkdale Parks and Recreation Department thanks State Farm Agent Jennifer Griffin for being the 2023 Concerts in the Park sponsor.

For more information about Clarkdale concerts, contact the Parks & Recreation Department at 928-639-2460, visit www.clarkdale.az.gov, or email: parks.rec@clarkdale.az.gov. As always, the Concerts in the Park hotline will provide the most up-to-date information, including cancellations or delays due to weather. CONCERT HOTLINE: 928-639-2492.

Information provided by the band.

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