Bio

Photo By Tony Kutter

KEVIN SELFE Guitar, Vocals, Harmonica

One Page Bio

Kevin Selfe has been electrifying audiences nationwide since breaking into the blues scene in 2006.    His growing stature as a captivating story teller and passionate performer are surpassed only by his deft mastery of blues guitar.   Having relocated to Portland, OR, the Virginia native is now a leading light in the Pacific Northwest’s robust blues revival.  Effortlessly combining the guitar traditions of the legends and the modern masters into his own unique approach, Selfe’s stylistic depth and electric performances resonate with audiences.  His live shows have grown in legend largely due to his unique gift for communicating, through guitar, the complex range of moods revealed only by blues.   Selfe’s songwriting style bridges the gap between joy and angst, using piercing irony, humorous metaphors, and daring autobiographical subject matter from his own occasional walks with the blues.

In February 2013, Kevin Selfe signed with world renown blues label Delta Groove, and released “Long Walk Home”to rave reviews.  The recording peaked at #15 on the Billboard Blues Chart, #6 on the Living Blues Radio Chart spending three months in the top 25, and was #2 on SiriusXM Radio Bluesville “Pick To Click” list.  “Long Walk Home”features 11 original compositions demonstrating Selfe’s musical depth and diversity with forays into West Coast, Texas, Chicago and Delta blues, along with top-notch support by veteran blues and roots musicians including Delta Groove labelmate Mitch Kashmar on vocals and harmonica, Gene Taylor (The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Blasters) on piano, Doug James (Roomful of Blues, Jimmie Vaughan) on baritone sax, and Tornadoes Allen Markel (The Insomniacs) on bass and Jimi Bott (Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rod Piazza, The Mannish Boys) on drums.

In seven years Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes have become a fan favorite in the Northwest and beyond. In August 2013, Kevin was nominated for a Blues Blast Award, and the band was inducted into the Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame in 2012 for Traditional Blues Act. In addition, Kevin was inducted into the CBA Hall of Fame for Electric Guitar in 2014 . They’ve won 18 prestigious Muddy Awards from the CBA for Traditional Blues Act of The Year (2010-2014), Contemporary Blues Act of The Year (2013, 2009), Performance of the Year (2013, 2012), Electric Guitar (2012-2014), Drums (2011-2014), NW Recording of The Year (2013), and National Recording of The Year (2013). They are the only act in the 25 year history of the awards to win for both Traditional and Contemporary Blues Act of the Year demonstrating their musical diversity and depth.

Extended Bio

Kevin Selfe is a man who has dedicated his life to the blues. For more than a decade, he has been sharing that love and dedication with audiences from coast to coast, building a loyal following wherever his energetic mix of traditional and contemporary blues is heard. Although many have played the genre before him, Kevin’s path to, and through, the blues is an interesting one and is what draws people to his music.

In a world of teenage guitar prodigies, Kevin learned to play the guitar at a relatively late age while studying Meteorology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. “I had plenty of time to practice in my dorm room”, Kevin explains “because my major was not real popular with the ladies.” He jokingly but honestly adds “They used to call us the weather dorks”.

“My roommate was a bass player and he introduced me to this whole new world of music that I wasn’t aware of. While everybody else was into the grunge thing, we were listening to Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Elmore James. It was like this big light went on in my head.”

After graduating Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Meteorology in 1995, Selfe felt like there was something missing, something else calling him. He decided to abandon a potential career as a weatherman, and pursue the music that consumed his soul, the blues. Kevin states “I don’t think I ever really chose to play the blues…I think somehow the blues chose me.”

In 1997 at the age of 23, he joined the regionally popular Fat Daddy Band based out of his hometown of Roanoke, VA. During his tenure with them, the Fat Daddy Band won the Charlotte Blues Society’s 2001 Talent Competition and was a finalist at the Blues Foundation’s 2002 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, thus being named one of the top 6 unsigned blues bands in the world.

One of the most memorable experiences in Kevin’s life occurred that night while coming off the stage of the New Daisy Theater during the finals of the IBC. Kevin recalls “Bob Margolin (Muddy Waters’ guitarist) was one of the judges that night, and was presenting an old Stella guitar that Muddy had owned to Howard Stovall and The Blues Foundation. Before the presentation, Bob was slated to play the guitar for a couple of tunes. We were the last band to compete and Howard was waiting at the bottom of the stairs watching over the guitar. I asked if that was the guitar? He said ‘Yes’, and then I asked if I could touch it. He said ‘You sounded great…here, you can play it for a minute…you earned it.’ So there I was, playing Muddy Waters guitar on Beale Street, with his strings still on it. Words just can’t describe what I felt. It was an amazing experience. That guitar now sits in the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, MS. I get goose bumps every time I see it.”

After spending 6 busy years touring the South and recording 3 CD’s, Kevin left Fat Daddy and joined forces with fellow Virginia bluesman Rodger Crowder, forming Little Rodger and the Cheap Thrills in 2003 (who incidentally was also a finalist at the IBC in 2008). Over the next 2 years Kevin continued touring, regularly performing at some of the nation’s best blues clubs including The Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis, IN; Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar in Nashville, TN; and The Double Door in Charlotte, NC.

In early 2005, Kevin decided it was time to go out on his own and formed his own group, Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes. The band quickly became known as one of the tightest and most energetic blues outfits around. In September 2005, he and the Tornadoes had the honor of backing up Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater at the Taste of The Blue Ridge Blues Festival in Roanoke, VA. In January 2007, Kevin backed up former Muddy Waters sideman and harmonica legend, the late Carey Bell, on what ended up being his last show. “Getting to do that gig with Carey was one of those magical nights I’ll never forget,” Kevin remembers.

Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes released their first CD entitled Selfe-Contained in January 2006. The well-received recording comprised of ten dynamic tunes that captured the band’s uncontainable energy and creativity. Although Kevin is best known for his guitar work, his other skills started to garner attention. Blues Matters (UK) says of Selfe on the CD, “Playing fine harmonica as well, it is his superb deep voice that resonates throughout”.

Looking to spread his music across the country, Kevin relocated to the blues hotbed of Portland, OR in February 2007 and formed a West Coast version of The Tornadoes.

In September 2009, Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes released their highly anticipated second CD, Playing The Game, ten original compositions that highlight the band’s depth, virtuosity, and humor. The CD reached #33 on the Roots Music Reports National Blues Chart, and was a #3 “Pick To Click” on Sirius/XM Radio’s Bluesville. Playing The Game was selected by a group of judges to represent the Cascade Blues Association for the Best Self-Produced CD competition presented by The Blues Foundation.

In February 2013, Kevin Selfe signed with world renown blues label Delta Groove, and released “Long Walk Home”to rave reviews.  The recording peaked at, #15 on the Billboard Blues Chart, #6 on the Living Blues Radio Chart spending three months in the top 25, and was #2 on SiriusXM Radio Bluesville “Pick To Click” list.  “Long Walk Home”features 11 original compositions demonstrating Selfe’s musical depth and diversity with forays into West Coast, Texas, Chicago and Delta blues, along with top-notch support by veteran blues and roots musicians including Delta Groove labelmate Mitch Kashmar on vocals and harmonica, Gene Taylor (The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Blasters) on piano, Doug James (Roomful of Blues, Jimmie Vaughan) on baritone sax, and Tornadoes Allen Markel on bass and Jimi Bott on drums.

In seven years Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes have become a fan favorite in the Northwest and beyond. In August 2013, Kevin was nominated for a Blues Blast Award, and the band was inducted into the Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame in 2012 for Traditional Blues Act. In addition, Kevin was inducted into the CBA Hall of Fame for Electric Guitar in 2014 . They’ve won 18 prestigious Muddy Awards from the CBA for Traditional Blues Act of The Year (2010-2014), Contemporary Blues Act of The Year (2013, 2009), Performance of the Year (2013, 2012), Electric Guitar (2012-2014), Drums (2011-2014), NW Recording of The Year (2013), and National Recording of The Year (2013). They are the only act in the 25 year history of the awards to win for both Traditional and Contemporary Blues Act of the Year demonstrating their musical diversity and depth.

Blues Revue says “Selfe plays with rare thoughtfulness and taste…his clean tone and deep well of approaches keep things fresh.” James Walker of Blues Blast Magazine comments “Kevin Selfe is a guitar playing son-of-a-gun…[they] consistently prove originality and versatile competence in their craft. ‘Playing The Game’ has solid enjoyable offerings for most every blues taste”

Longtime Cascade Blues Association President Greg Johnson sums up Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes the best, “Kevin draws the crowds to the band with fiery fretwork that gets “wanna-be” guitar heroes excited and professionals listening closely. As a band, the three together all fall in complete synchronization with one another on stage as a true ensemble that just may be one of the best outfits on the West Coast.”

JON BARBER Drums

Jon Barber is a performer and music educator from Portland, Oregon. Though he is most widely recognized for his work with the Independent Music Award-winning band Intervision,  Jon has also worked extensively as a freelance musician performing with the likes of Rich DelGrosso, John del Toro Richardson, Lisa Mann, “Big Monti” Amundson , and Franco Paletta and the Stingers.

Jon studied at Portland State University, travelling to Cuba during his senior year to study popular and folkloric music at the National Arts School in Havana. He currently is a member of the percussion staff at Ethos, a Portland-based non-profit music school whose mission is to provide sustained instruction to students in underserved communities.

Allen MarkelALLEN MARKEL Bass

Allen Markel, originally from NYC, studied at the University of Miami, and later received a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from the prestigious William Paterson University. He studied bass with Rufus Reid and Todd Coolman and studied Latin music with Grammy-nominated Chico Mendoza. For most of his early career Allen worked as a freelance musician performing at NYC clubs, including CBGB’s, The Bitter End, The Bottom Line, Village Gate, Dharma and Zinc Bar. In 2005 he played on Raphael Cruz’s CD “Bebop Timba,” which was nominated for a Grammy in the Latin Jazz category. Allen moved to Portland in 2007, was immediately noticed for his talent and nominated for four Cascade Blues Association’s Muddy Awards for Bass from 2008-2011 for his work with Kevin Selfe. In 2010 & 2011 he toured the US and Europe with Blues Music Award nominated Delta Groove artists, The Insomniacs. Since in Portland he has performed with such acclaimed artists as Robbie Laws, Karen Lovely, and Ellen Whyte.