S.E.Willis and the Willing are a San Francisco Bay Area based band of long-time professional musicians. The music (predominately originals from Willis) draws on a wide base of American musical forms. Blues is, of course, dominant, but Country, Zydeco, Soul and R&B are major components as well. In a short list, covers may include classics from such artists as Muddy Waters, Hank Williams, Fats Domino, Merle Haggard, Clifton Chenier, Robert Johnson and Ray Charles. This is a band that delivers a solidly entertaining show of music that is executed with superb musicianship while never losing sight of the goal of providing a danceable good time!
The core group (Steve Willis: piano, harmonica, accordion and vocals; Bobby Cochran: drums and vocals; Ruth Davies: bass) came together as the rhythm section for the Elvin Bishop Band, voted 2015 Blues Foundation Blues Band of the Year. Between them they have performed with a long list of roots music stars (Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Charles Brown, John Lee Hooker, Edwin Hawkins, James Cotton and many more) and continue to tour widely. Other band members include, from time to time, Nancy Wright (saxophone, vocals); Bob Welsh (guitar); Takezo Takeda (guitar, vocals); Bob Henderson (sax, guitar, vocals); Danny Caron (guitar); and Marina Crouse (vocals).
S.E.Willis: “A commanding singer and keyboardist (piano, organ, and accordion) who delivers classic and original material with conviction and authenticity.” Lee Hildebrand, East Bay Express
S.E.Willis is a piano player, singer, accordionist and harmonica man. Blues, Boogie, Rock, Zydeco, Country are all strong pieces of his musical life.
S.E.Willis, originally from West Virginia, has been playing the piano and harmonica since the age of six, and organ and accordion since his teens. He started playing in rock and roll bands along Arizona’s stretch of Route 66 in 1967. Willis’ music is deeply rooted in traditional American forms: blues, boogie-woogie, country, rockabilly, gospel, zydeco. Willis will be joined on stage by Bobby Cochran on drums and vocals, Ruth Davies on bass, Bob Welsh on guitar, & Nancy Wright on sax and vocals; of which 4 of his band members including himself from the Elvin Bishop Band had won the 2015 Blues music Award for Band of the year.
A veteran band leader, S.E. (Steve) Willis has taken a supporting role in bands with such artists as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Albert King, Jimmy Rogers, Roy Gaines, and, since 2000, Elvin Bishop (his accordion features prominently on the 2014 release “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right”).
S.E.Willis sang tenor with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and appeared on their 1995 release “We’ve Come a Mighty Long Way.” He worked another three years with founding Meters’ member and New Orleans drumming legend Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste, and plays piano on his solo release Zigaboo.com. Forty seven years in the business and counting, S.E.Willis knows a lot about American roots music and shows it with every note.