Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia
Virginia’s female blues artists have made tremendous contributions to American music, with the likes of Ruth Brown, Pearl Bailey, Gaye Adegbalola, and others at the genre’s forefront. Following in the footsteps of these legends is Waynesboro’s Lorie Strother, who is one half of Dr. Levine and the Dreaded BluesLady along with guitarist Stephen Levine. This energetic duo performs a diverse selection of acoustic music styles. Though blues is their focus, they also sometimes surprise audiences with jazz, R&B, soul, and classic rock tunes. Lorie can't remember a time when she wasn't singing because it came so naturally. She has been performing and recording her interpretation of acoustic blues since the early 1990s. Corey Harris has called her "a real blues woman [who's] got soul," and Living Blues Magazine described her singing as "assertive, expressive and sensitive." She apprenticed with Gaye Adegbalola, a founding member of the award-winning all-woman blues band, Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women, in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program in 2013.
Stephen is a historian at the University of Virginia who studies and teaches about the evolution and cultural significance of blues music. He started playing the guitar when he was 11 years old, focusing primarily on folk and classic rock. After his first listen to Robert Johnson's Crossroad Blues in the mid-1990s, he became obsessed with classic pre-war blues. Patrick Bagley of the Franklin Journal describes Stephen's guitar playing as "powerful" with "biting slide guitar work."
Joining the duo at the 2019 Richmond Folk Festival will be Richmond’s own budding harmonica superstar Andrew Alli, who began his musical career at the advanced age of 20 after being inspired by a busker playing harmonica on the street. Andrew quickly took to the harmonica and committed himself to learning the history of the instrument. He fell in love with the blues and began studying all of the harmonica greats including Big Walter Horton, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Junior Wells, among others. Andrew developed his own unique style of playing, while still paying respects to the greats who inspired him, and has toured with dozens of musicians both domestically and abroad. He currently leads his band, Andrew Alli and the Mainline, plays in a duo with local musician Josh Small, and frequently tours with Georgia-based musician Jontavious Willis.