The Eastport Arts Center is excited to announce a concert by blues-inspired Americana guitarist and songwriter Sid Whelan on Saturday, October 21 at 7 pm. Known for well-crafted lyrics and harmonically-rich guitar voicings, Whelan, a songwriting student of Steve Earle, writes songs which tackle difficult themes of contemporary American life. For his Eastport show, Whelan will perform songs in his signature style from his three albums: 2013’s “Flood Waters Rising,” 2015’s “The Story of Ike Dupree,” 2018’s upcoming “Waiting for Payday,” as well as classics from the American blues canon.
Whelan began his career playing lead guitar for various world music acts and garnering indie radio hits, most notably doing a cover with Afroblue of Jimmy Cliff’s “You Can Get It If You Really Want.” Following Afroblue’s breakup, Sid left the music scene for a decade, focusing on his family life. Family brought him right back onstage though, when his niece, the NPR award-winning singer/songwriter Lora-Faye, called him to replace her previous lead guitarist. Whelan joined her for a baptism-by-fire return to performance for a string of gigs in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Rejuvenated, he began writing music again, returning for inspiration to his love of pre-1960s American music, particularly the blues but also country, folk, bluegrass, Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and jazz.
Said the great Fred Wesley (James Brown, Parliament, Count Basie) on working with Sid: “It was a delightful and refreshing experience to do the horns for ‘The Story of Ike Dupree.’ Sid has a unique way of telling a story. He is one of the giants of modern blues. He keeps the genre alive and vibrant. He could have gotten anybody to do the job. I’m proud he chose me.”
Whelan’s music has been very well received. Blues Matters Magazine remarked on his “smooth and well-toned voice with a Mississippi drawl,” and his “moody notes played on exquisite slide guitar.” “The lyrics tell the story like some of the best Dylan … Sid Whelan is the real deal…” said blues blogger Professor Johnny P on his ‘Juke Joint’ site. “The Story of Ike Dupree’ is an album for fans of Al Green, Mike Bloomfield, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band,” wrote reviewer Hans Werkman for his music blog ‘Here Comes the Flood.’ “Backed by an old school kick ass band, this is the kind of music that should be coming from a tiny stage of a bar that has the guts to put on live music and whose owner laughs at the concept of curfew. Late night music that you don’t want to end.”
Among Whelan’s inspirations and influences are Woody Guthrie, Cole Porter, Bob Dylan, Kelly Joe Phelps, Eric Clapton, Carl Perkins, Robert Randolph, Bonnie Raitt, Cassandra Wilson, Taj Mahal and Ben Harper.
Tickets, available at the door or at the EAC site, eastportartscenter.org, are $10; those 17 and under will be admitted free of charge. Those interested can read more, listen to music, see videos and even download pdfs of sheet music at Sid’s website, http://thesidwhelanband.com. In addition, an interview with Whelan will be aired on WQDY FM on Thursday, October 19 at 8:15 am. Afterwards, the interview can be heard by visiting http://wqdy.fm or the station’s page on Facebook.
The Eastport Arts Center is at 36 Washington Street, Eastport, and is handicapped-accessible. For more information, please visit www.eastportartscenter.org or call (207) 853-4650.