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Heritage Blues Orchestra Lives Up To Their Name While Still Expanding The Blues

Piotr Drabik
Flickr - Creative Commons
Heritage Blues Orchestra at the Rawa Blues Festival, October 2013

New York City-based Heritage Blues Orchestra had the courage to choose a name that carries some responsibility to the genre. They succeed in presenting a variety of traditional and more modern Blues styles while adding a touch of New Orleans, some Jazz and Gospel.

The overall effect is tradition made fresh and new.

Central to both Heritage Blues Orchestra - and alter ego Heritage Blues Quintet - is the trio of multi-instrumentalist Bill Sims Jr., his daughter vocalist Chaney Sims, and guitarist Junior Mack. All three share the vocals and are joined by a number of other musicians in various configurations.

Influences for the band go well beyond the Chicago sound that Sims credits with turning white audiences on to the Blues. Mississippi John Hurt, Fred McDowell and proto Blues master Charlie Patton are among the artists that Heritage Blues Orchestra wish to celebrate in their music.

Founding member Bill Sims Jr. grew up part of a sharecropping family in rural Georgia and his daughter Chaney grew up in New York City. Despite that, her father’s background infuses her vocal sound which encompasses field hollers, work songs, spirituals, blues, soul and R&B. Guitarist Junior Mack is self taught and started out with Gospel, emulating The Blind Boys of Alabama. Together with a variety of cohorts, these three explore the width and breadth of the Blues and truly live up to the name Heritage Blues Orchestra.

Heritage Blues Orchestra will be presenting their panoply of Blues styles mid-afternoon June 14 at The Greeley Blues Jam at Island Grove Regional Park.

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