We are The Blue Drags, a blues quartet playing a broad repertoire ranging from pre-war blues and jazz standards to Chicago blues infused with funk, soul, and even bossa nova. In our shows we try to revive the spirit of juke joints in the American South, where trance-like and frequently improvised music and dance helped people forget about the hardships and worries of everyday life. We also seek inspiration in blues dance and live interaction with the dancers.
We share a deep fascination with the blues, New Orleans jazz, swing, and old school soul music. The artists that inspire us most are Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker as well as Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, or Nina Simone. Our music is a return to the roots of the blues, rich in various musical influences and perfect for dancing, but we don’t shy away from the fruits of the blues.
We’ve been playing together since November 2016, at first as a duo: Witek and Sławek. It all began with our appearance at Fiesta Harmonica Festival in Stalowa Wola where we played the pre-war standard Blue Drag (later we named our band after this song). When we played at Valentine’s Blues dance festival in February 2017, we invited Christine to sing a few songs with us). Since our show met with a very warm and enthusiastic response, we decided to continue playing the blues together, particularly at dance events. In the fall of 2017, we were joined by Jan (Johnny), an excellent and experienced drummer thanks to whom the band’s sound became more complete and powerful.
Although we are a relatively new band, we have already appeared at several blues dance festivals such as Bluesila (Lithuania), Blues Meets Balboa (Leipzig, Germany), Bear Blues & Fusion Exchange (Berlin, Germany) as well as Open Blues (south-western Poland), Valentines Blues and Autumn Blues (Warsaw). We have also played at numerous venues and organized our own dance and music events in Warsaw, for example regular dance parties at Restaurante Bunuel or Local na Mokotowie, and concerts at W Oparach Absurdu in Warsaw’s Praga district.
The year 2019 is going to be very special for us: we are about to release our debut album entitled Draggin’, and on October 12 we played on the Main Stage of the world-renowned Rawa Blues Festival in Katowice, alongside great artists and bands from Poland and around the world. It was a great honor and privilege!
Meet the members of the band:
|Katarzyna Wilgos – She started her musical education with learning to play the violin, but she always felt a great passion for singing. In 2015 she graduated from the stage vocal department of the ZPSM II st. Frederic Chopin in Warsaw. She took her first steps on stage as a six-year-old. Her most important appearances include participation in the “Warszawa Singer” Jewish Culture Festival with Michał Hohman, a role in the performance “Leśmian” at the Warsaw Scena Theater, and Ifi Ude’s choirs in the Eurovision Song Contest. Additionally, he has performed minor dubbing roles and gives voice emission classes.|
|Witold “Little Boogie Slim” Bielski – talented blues musician and vocalist. The piano is his main instrument, but he plays the guitar, drums and harmonica equally well. His Chicago Blues Revue (his duo with Antek “Kurson” Kurkek on the harmonica) had regular shows at the legendary Tygmont jazz club in Warsaw. He has taken part in numerous festivals and competitions including International Blues Challenge (USA), Jesień z Bluesem, Lauba Pełno Bluesa and Jimiway Blues Festival. He has also played as a guest performer with lots of artists from Poland and abroad, including Howard Levy, Greg Zlap, Sebi Lee, Marek Wojtowicz and J.J. Band. You can also listen to Witek playing solo, for example at Weles in Warsaw.|
|Nathan Williams – He has been playing the trumpet from the age of 9, and has been learning jazz and piano since he was 11.
He comes from Denver, Colorado, studied at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, and from there he came to Warsaw. He performed on stages of various jazz festivals in North America and Europe, and before coming to Poland in many jazz clubs in Boston, New York, Dallas, Cleveland, Denver and Wichita.
He received many prestigious awards from, among others The University of North Texas Jazz Festival, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, The National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts (NFAA) and the White House.
|Jan “Johnny Drummer” Lipert – one-man band, a versatile musician who has been playing the drums for more than 40 years. His passion and talent allowed him to play with many big bands as well as rock, blues and dance bands, at various festivals in Poland and abroad, and even as a cruise ship and circus musician. As member of Life Style Country Band, he supported Emmylou Harris at a country and western festival in Sopot. Currently, he also collaborates with Michał Szczerbiec, a band called Jedenu, and S-Band (a big band), and plays regularly at Harenda Blues Session in Warsaw.|
|Krystyna “Christine” Ostrowska – vocalist. She fell in love with swing music at her very first dance lesson, but she feels most comfortable with the blues. Willing to share her passion for dancing, she often gives lessons in blues dance basics during the band’s shows. Christine perfectly feels the rhythm and makes sure that the band’s music is not only great for listening but also for dancing. She keeps on searching for her unique tone, drawing her inspiration from jazz vocalists such as Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, or Nina Simone.|
|Slawomir “HarpSlav” Nowodworski – versatile harmonica player, student of legends of the Polish harmonica – Sławomir Wierzcholski and Bartosz Łęczycki as well as the French virituoso Jean Jacquesa Milteau with whom he played as a special guest at the Lublin Philharmonic Hall in 2006. He has been awarded at various harmonica competitions in Poland, and performed at Harmonica Bridge Festival in Bydgoszcz and Toruń (with Free Blues Band, Łukasz Jemioła, Nocna Zmiana Bluesa) and the prestigious Student Song Festival in Kraków (in the band accompanying Łukasz Jemioła). Slav has also taken part in Magda Piskorczyk Masterclass music workshops which ended in the recording of an album with Magda, one of Poland’s leading top blues artists.|