Well-established as a top Blues sax sideman for more than 30 years, Nancy Wright is releasing her third album PLAYDATE! in September 2016, on the heels of her successful 2015 all-original Putting Down Roots release (voted top 20 blues album in Downbeat Readers Poll). For PLAYDATE!, Nancy continues to deliver original material but also delivers fresh renditions of blues/roots/Americana cover material. Nancy has been blessed to work with award-winning blues/roots artists, and the CD’s ten special guests draw from Nancy’s musical network: Tommy Castro, Elvin Bishop, Joe Louis Walker, Frank Bey, Wee Willie Walker, Victor Wainright, Mike Schermer, Chris Cain, Terrie Odabi, and Jim Pugh. This show will feature Christoffer Kid Andersen on guitar, with more guests TBA.
Though she’s called the Bay Area home for 30 years, while living in Dayton Ohio, she discovered a mentor in Lonnie Mack, one of the founding fathers of blues-rock guitar, joining him regularly on stage. She also toured with Grammy-award winner John Lee Hooker, performing at Carnegie Hall and the Mississippi Delta Blues Festival, and performed with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert King, and Albert Collins.
Wright first appeared on the Bay Area music scene in 1984 with the critically acclaimed New Orleans Rhythm and Blues Band, Hot Links. Following a successful North American tour, Wright and Hot Links were tapped to perform with Swamp Boogie Queen Katie Webster, appearing on her Arhoolie Records release, “You Know That’s Right.” Wright and Webster also performed together at the Chicago Blues Festival and appear together on B.B. King’s album, “Blues Summit,” winner of the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album.
After relocating to San Francisco, Wright spent the next two decades touring North America, Europe, and Asia with such artists as Lonnie Mack, Elvin Bishop; Commander Cody; New Orleans legends Johnny Adams and Earl King; Joe Louis Walker; Maria Muldaur; and Greg “Fingers” Taylor (accompanied by Debbie Davie and Janiva Magnus, opening for Jimmy Buffet’s top-grossing summer amphitheatre Outpost Tour). Wright recorded with B.B. King, Katie Webster, Elvin Bishop, Joe Louis Walker, Little Charlie and the Nitecats, Mark Hummel and many others in the 80’s and early 90’s, and chose to stop touring in the mid-1990’s. During this period, she also performed with many top blues artists including Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Lowell Fulsom, Son Seals, and Ike Turner. “I have been blessed to play with and learn from so many wonderful musicians,” says Wright.
In 2013, Wright was awarded the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame Blues Saxophone Player of the Year. In 2014/2015, she performed with Tommy Castro and the Painkillers on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, and toured in Europe, Canada and the US with Frank Bey (who received multiple Blues Music Award nominations in 2014) and Greg Nagy (31st BMA Best New Artist Debut).
When not appearing with her own band, she works regularly with many of her special guests and other artists. Nancy is touring extensively in 2016 – highlights include Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise #27, Porretta Soul Festival and Pordenone Blues Festival (Italy), Maspolomas Soul Festival (Grand Canary Island), San Diego Blues Festival, Bayfront Blues Festival (MN), Blue Wing Blues Festival (CA), New Jersey Blues and BBQ Festival, and the San Francisco International Boogie Woogie Festival.
"Nancy Wright has a winner with PLAYDATE! Her stellar tenor sax, singing and songwriting place her right at home in the very distinguished company with which she has surrounded herself, and show her mastery of blues, R & B and swing."
- Dick Shurman, blues producer and historian
“Her tenor is, by turns, slathered with Noble “Thin Man” Watts Southern-fried grease, robust with King Curtis soulfulness and buffed to a gleam with pungent Junior Walker funk. Beyond sharing affinities with past greats, Wright carries her own ideas about flutter-tonguing technique and deployment of the entire range of her horn.”
- Frank John Hadley, Downbeat
“One of the hottest blues sax players in the business, she is known for powerful, soulful, fascinating playing. Her sax solos are a highlight of any show she’s in.”
– John Orr, San Jose Mercury News
” . . . Big, fat tone, warm vibrato, nice building of tension and release . . . some kickass blues playing and loads of fun to listen to . . .”
– Bruce Iglauer, President of Alligator Records