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Ervin Charles

Ervin Charles photo

Photo Courtesy - Clay Shorkey

Ervin Charles was born January 3, 1932 in Port Barre, Louisiana.   He went to work at an early age, cutting sugar cane and working alongside his stepfather in a lumberyard.   In his spare time he taught himself how to play the guitar.  

In his late teens he moved to Beaumont, where he met Long John Hunter when the two were working together at a box factory.   "I give Ervin full credit for being the guy who made me want to play music," Hunter has said.   After Charles taught Hunter how to play, the two began to perform together in the Hollywood Bearcats.  

Known for their signature tune, "Two Trains Running," the Bearcats became fixtures on the Beaumont blues scene, playing bills with such figures as Johnny and Edgar Winter, Bobby Bland, B.B. King, Freddie King, and Joe Simon.   Among the many other musicians that Charles influenced during this period were Lonnie Brooks, Barbara Lynn, and Katie Webster, but although many of his protégés went on to long careers in music, he himself stopped playing professionally in the 1950s to go into the trucking business.  

He returned to performing in 1995, and Lone Star Shootout , which featured Charles playing alongside Hunter, Brooks, and Philip Walker, was nominated for two W.C. Handy awards.   Ervin Charles died in Houston on April 1, 2000, at the age of 68.

Ruthie Foster

Ruthie Foster

Photo Courtesy - Clay Shorkey

Ruthie Foster grew up in Gause, Texas surrounded by the rich soulful sounds of gospel and blues.  Her musical journey took her from McClennan Community College in Waco, Texas and a degree in music to a four-year tour with the U.S. Navy Band “Pride”, to New York City and a contract with Atlantic Records. 

During her stay in New York, Ruthie appeared at many of the top venues in town performing with artists such as Josh White, Jr., Matt “Guitar” Murphy, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Paul Schaffer. 

Ruthie returned to College Station due to a family crisis.  She took a job working as a camera-person and production assistant at the local TV station. She began singing and playing for some elderly people. In 1994 Ruthie teamed up with Cyd Cassone (Full Circle Productions) and began performing with her.

Ruthie’s songs contain elements of blues, gospel, country and folk that give color and texture to her vocal work and her strong vibrant voice and her easy, friendly manner instantly charms audiences of all ages.  “Full Circle” was the first CD of original songs, produced by Ruthie, Cyd and Steve Carr, and was released on Ruthie’s own label of “M.O.D. Records” in 1997.  Touring mainly as an acoustic duo, Ruthie and Cyd have appeared nationwide at places such as the Kerrville Folk Festival, Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic, and Bluesapalooza in Mammoth Lakes, California.  Her next CD “Crossover” featured the single of the same name that appeared in the film documentary, “Where Do We Go From Here?” about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and ‘60’s.  Her current release is “Runaway Soul” produced by Lloyd Maines and includes classic covers of Brownie mcghee and Big Maybelle, as well as a truly soulful “Death Came A Knockin”.  The Terri Hendrix “Hole in my Pocket” rounds out what must be her best work to date.


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