This has been a huge year for Heather Gillis, which began with the shocking news of the passing of Butch Trucks, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band and also of his second creation, The Freight Train Band. Butch had “discovered” Gillis and incorporated her in the band, although credit for the “discovery” might first go to the late Col. Bruce Hampton (Ret.).
After we all recovered from that blow, Gillis and the Freight Train Band, including Bruce Katz and Damon Fowler along with special guests Melody and Vaylor Trucks and Cody and Luther Dickinson, blew out an astounding set at Wanee Wednesday, a day in tribute to Butch.
Her summer tour found her sending “Greetings from Asbury Park,” pairing with Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, and playing at Trois-Rivieres en Blue in Quebec with Jonny Lang, Walter Trout, Mavis Staples, and many more (yes, including Styx).
Heather Gillis is one of an incredible array of amazing young guitarists, including Niederauer, Ben Sparaco, Marcus King, and Lara Cwass. There are so many outstanding players on the rise! Every time Gillis hits the stage, she demonstrates precisely why she belongs in this panoply. She rocks, plays blues, and honors reggae, soul and jazz.
That would include her great performances at this year’s Orange Blossom Jamboree. During the Lee Boys’ set, we observed:
Another weekend highlight occurred when Heather Gillis and Eric Garcia (harp, JukE) came on stage during the Blues Brothers tribute. Whatever song it was, Chris Johnson, Gillis and Garcia started trading passages, and for me it was good as any battle I’ve ever seen, except that the theme was cooperation, not competition, as they pushed each other higher and higher. It was transcendent.
The Heather Gillis Band are: Heather Gillis, guitar, lap steel, and vocals; Dallas Dawson, drums; Evan Sarver, bass; and Spencer Pope, Hammond B3 organ. Gillis and band hit the road this Friday in Orange Park. She will join The Freight Train Band with Trucks, Trucks, Dickinson and Dickinson for the 18th GABBAfest in Macon (read more about that here).
The Heather Gillis Band will play live on the radio on WMNF 88.5 in Tampa on Friday, October 20th, from 2 to 3 PM on the Live Music Showcase program. They will also play on In the Groove, WMNF’s jamband show, from 10 to 11 PM the following Tuesday. You can listen live on wmf.org, and you can find the program on the schedule for the next seven days to hear each show.
Another feather in the guitar slinger’s cap will be her appearance at Suwannee Hulaween, and you can catch her and a spectacular lineup on Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea, sailing from Miami to Jamaica.
THE HEATHER GILLIS BAND
09/15 Roadhouse | Orange Park FL
09/22 Salud Cerveceria | Charlotte NC
09/23 GABBAfest w/ The Freight Train Band | Macon GA
09/27 Pisgah Brewing | Black Mountain NC
10/19 Surfer | Jacksonville Beach FL
10/20 WMNF Live Music Showcase | Tampa FL
10/21 Camping with the Blues Festival | Sertoma Ranch | Brooksville FL
10/24 WMNF In the Groove | Tampa FL
10/25 TBA w/ special guests | St. Petersburg FL
10/27 Suwannee Hulaween | Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park | Live Oak FL
10/30 Gottrocks | Greenville SC
12/14 Nowhere Bar | Athens GA
02/26-03/02 Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea | sailing out of Miami