Sweet Willie Tea entertaining friends at home in northern Michigan!


All about Sweet Willie Tea! (click here for Cidy Zoo)

Authentic American music with a bona fide, genuine, one-of-a-kind, one-man-band!


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I won the Detroit Blues Society Blues Challenge!
AND I was a semi-finalist in Memphis at The 2013 International Blues Challenge
!

I won the Canada South Blues Challenge!
AND I was a semi-finalist in Memphis at The 2011 International Blues Challenge
!

Press Release

 

"The new album is a terrific recording with an eclectic mix of songs performed on vintage cigar box guitars, dobros, acoustics... as a one-man-band. In a Spartan setting, you get an intimate ambiance with the marvel of a single artist controlling the rhythm, chordal, and melodic statement, all with one heartbeat... you've gotta love real blues".

 

 


Sweet Willie's signature six-string... Vintage instruments are his specialty!


 

Video of Sweet Willie and the Tea Bones:

 

FYI: Song Samples from the demo
(not the final CD):

(right click and save to download)

10 Seconds More

Sweet Willie Tea

I Have Fallen

Wise Man

I Don't Know Why

Teacher

Come On In My Kitchen

Kindhearted Woman

I Shall Not Be Moved

Travelin' Riverside Blues

 

 

 



"This is the brace U of M-Ann Arbor Hospital designed that I used till God gave me back my hand"
~ Willie

Willie has shared the stage with acts as diverse as Styx, Ten Years After, Canned Heat, Roger Miller, Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Larry McCray, Steven Page (Bare Naked Ladies), and many, many more. He has performed at venues from Key West to Canada. Whether on Delta-style bottleneck slide steel, 6 and 12-string acoustic, cigar box, diddly bow, or electric guitars, ukulele, harmonica, or keyboards, either solo as a “one-man-band” or as "Sweet Willie and the Tea Bones", his shows are guaranteed crowd pleasers.

 

Willie's roots are in the hills of northern lower Michigan, home to Amish communities and farmers who migrated to the city for jobs at the new horseless-carriage factories early in the 20th century. Willie's grandparents settled in that icon of today's great depression: Flint, Michigan.


Sweet Willie and the Tea Bones

He began playing guitar as a teenager and in the 1980's released one record with the punk rock band "Toll". In the 90's he had a commercial success as front man for the blues/rock show band "Cidy Zoo". Their "Something for Everyone" release, included the single "Talk Louder", the classical crossover instrumental "25 Strings", and the popular "Buick City Blues". All three received airplay. "Talk Louder" eventually charted at #15 on the AAA charts. After that success, the band went on hiatus for several years and Willie found other work as an artist
and actor. Cidy Zoo eventually released a new single titled "Waitin' On You".

Then an accident left Willie's left hand paralyzed.


Sweet Willie Tea ~ Delta Blues man!

Though he never missed a performance date, Willie depended on a brace to hold his fingers in place on the guitar as he learned to play the piano and harmonica. After a long year as a one-handed musician his arm slowly began to mend and Willie was able to "relearn" how to handle the guitar. That sobering year of uncertainty inspired Willie to "never take a moment of life or music for granted".

He decided to focus exclusively on recording and playing the blues.

 

In 2009, a chance meeting in the Key West airport with a musician/luthier who had two "cigar box" guitars led to Willie's discovery of a musical genre he'd never explored. It opened up the gates to the simple, hypnotic melodies of early American music and it's primitive instruments.

He had found his musical muse.


On stage at the London International BluesFest

To recreate the tradition of the original blues minstrels of early America, Willie began performing as a "one-man-band" in the style of his inspiration and fellow Flint resident the late "Dr. (Isaiah) Ross: The Harmonica Boss". Willie uses vintage instruments like the diddly-bow, cigar box guitar, and dobro while singing and accompanying himself on percussion and the Mississippi saxophone (harmonica). That format allowed him the freedom to experiment in ways that were not possible in the more traditional blues/rock ensemble format.



The unexpected popularity of the home-made demo of his unique one-man-band style, brought him back to the studio to complete his album of original and traditional "Americana" music.

We'd like to get you that album and get you on the mailing list.

Willie says, "You can help me by please buying a copy of the CD, even if you already have a copy of the demo. Then I can get out to more venues; get to places to offer the music to new fans, and keep this kind of authentic American music alive."


Mr. Diddly Bow

You liked the demo? Well the new record sees some songs re-recorded, all newly mastered, and is a great improvement over his hastily recorded demo. It's a better recording and contains more original songs, and re-creations and re-interpretations of some of the the greatest blues and Americana music.


On stage at the Windsor Blues Festival
 

While he still performs with the band "Cidy Zoo" and with "The Tea Bones", Sweet Willie can most often be found performing traditional blues and original songs as a "one-man-band". Willie's shows feature historical facts about the instruments including turn-of-the-century cigar box guitars, dobros, diddly bows, a variety of other acoustic guitars, plus harmonica and, of course, his unique self-accompanying percussion.
 

Click here to listen to my most recent radio interview on Sunday Night Blues with Phillip Ryan:

Click here to listen to a rough take of 10 Seconds More:


Sweet Willie Tea, the blues educator!
 

Sweet Willie's custom-made 3-String Cigar Box guitar. and yes it's really made from a cigar box and it is a smokin' blues machine!
 

In Schools Supporting Educational Outreach

Willie can also perform an "educational" blues review show featuring selections performed in chronological order and accompanied with facts and trivia about the artists and their material. It begins with pieces performed on vintage instruments starting with the earliest recordings of Robert Johnson and Jimmie Rodgers, classics by Sonny Boy Williamson, Rufus Thomas, and Tin Pan singers like Fats Waller. The show moves on to the transitional Chicago Blues of Muddy Waters and Albert King, country blues from the likes of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, continuing through the Memphis sounds of B.B. King, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and ending with the blues derivative sounds of artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan and contemporary Detroit style blues artists such as Larry McCray, with Willie's own style and material poured into the mix.

With an extensive background in Second City style improv theatre as both a director and performer, Willie brings lots of audience participation, good humor, and energy to engagements as he plays homage in his own way to the roots of American music.

Offering 30 minute, 45 minute, 1 hour and 2 hour sets as well as being able to provide an entire evening's entertainment in a club or special occasion setting, Willie's shows are "scalable" for any size venue. He has opened for national acts as well as worked in the smallest clubs and on street corners. He provides his own complete sound and light support and technicians (if needed) for venues up to 1,000 persons indoors or outdoors, or provides only back line gear and works with your "front of house" crew.
 



To inquire about booking Cidy Zoo or Sweet Willie Tea, please call:
810-762-5735

email: willie@sweetwillietea.com
 

 

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