Went to the Tampa Bay Suncoast Blues Society Christmas Party the other night. Papa Chubby was the headliner. You can see videos from Papa’s portion of the show and a review here.
Opening for Papa was local boy Selwyn Birchwood and his band. Selwyn is a rising, young blues guitarist from the Tampa area. His been playing the blues since he saw Buddy Guy in concert when he was 17. He dedicated himself to learning the blues and by age 19 he was touring with Texas blues legend Sonny Rhodes. Not sure how old he is now but I bet no more than in his mid to late 20’s.
Selwyn’s tight 3-piece band includes Curtis Nutall on drums. Curtis traveled internationally with many bands including The Blind Boys of Alabama and a 5 year stint with Joe Louis Walker. Bass player Huff Wright has backed several notable blues artists all over the world including Lucky Peterson and Joey Gilmore. He also tours with sax player Regi Oliver when possible. Regi wasn’t there this night.
Selwyn plays with seasoned pros so he must be doing something right or they wouldn’t be playing with him. His show comes off as tight and polished.
And Selwyn himself seems like a sweetheart. Very soft spoken and mild-mannered, even on stage he just seems like a nice guy. That must be why girlfriend Betty Fox, a star in her own right, likes him. Betty is a sweetheart too and I can’t imagine a nicer couple.
Selwyn’s one hour show featured a mix of covers and originals and the crowd seemed to know and love him.
My personal impression is this young guitarist is on the way up. He’s no guitar virtuoso like a Gil Parris or a Joe Bonamassa, but he knows the blues and plays with feeling and authenticity. Selwyn Birchwood is definitely worth keeping your eye on. Best of luck to him.
But I’ll let you be your own judge. Here’s some videos from the show.