Krimson Chord has been rocking the Valley with their Southwest blues for more than a decade now, playing regular gigs at Pappy's Bar in Phoenix and Coyote Alley in Surprise. This is no fly-by-night group; they won the Arizona Blues Challenge in 2010 and competed in the International Blues Challenge in 2011. Every musician in this band also works with other bands in the Valley.
Papa G Gihley is the lead guitarist, vocalist and plays harmonica...sometimes. Everybody in the group performs lead vocals--just not at the same time.
Papa G was born in Illinois, and that's why he feels Chicago blues in his blood. Everybody in the group comes from a different state, but they've been in the Valley for more than 20 years each, and that's why they've gradually evolved into Southwest blues.
This is a seasoned band; all of its members are 60 or older. John Horsefield, an opera-trained performer who frequently performs with jazz, plays drums. Don Kolb, on bass, is a regular with several blues bands. Larry Schooley plays percussion, and Otis "The Wizard" Francis plays lead when Papa G isn't; he also owns Abcat Studio Services, where Krimson Chord is working on their next album.
Krimson Chord performs blues, rock and classic rock; they play covers from Allman Brothers Band to ZZ Top, but they also perform originals. They've also got a built-in audience: "We're biker friendly," Papa G says.
"We like working with bikers on benefits. We've done Lupus, UNICEF, cancer benefits... It's our way of giving back. We like biker bars because there's a safe feeling about them, and we seem to have a fun time."
Papa G didn't start with the blues--He started with the Beatles. His stepdad listened to country, so he rebelled and started listening to rock and roll. His grandmother started playing blues, though, and once Papa G heard Louie Armstrong he was smitten.
"We went back to our roots, then once we won the Arizona Blues Challenge we were pigeonholed."
Rather than looking to the greats like BB King or Muddy Waters, Papa G said he has found inspiration from local blues performers Bill Tarsha and the Rocket 88s and Jim Glass. Bill Tarsha not only inspired Papa G, but G's son Josh Gihley plays with him. Josh also plays with the Rhythm Dragons, a rockabilly group.
As proud as Papa G is about his music, he is prouder that as a working musician he's been married to his wife Karen for 35 years and they now have grandchildren. Not every working musician can say that.
So, Papa G and Krimson Chord are happy to play locally. Papa G likes Coyote Alley because it has a big room with a nice stage as it has a nice neighborhood feel to it. Pappy's Bar also has a neighborhood feel to it, but Papa G said the food is good, the lighting is good and the acoustic are awesome.
One Valley blues musician always worth checking out is Nina Curri. She can be found Thursdays from 6-9 p.m. at the Sun Devil Wine Cellar in Mesa; from 6-9 p.m Nov. 15 Curri will be at Steve's Greenhouse Grill in downtown Phoenix.
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Stan Bindell performs the Blues Magician radio show on KUYI every Monday from 7-9 p.m. with streaming at KUYI.net. You can reach Bindell at firstname.lastname@example.org