The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

KOWS 107.3 FM Breaks Sound Barrier


KOWS 107.3FM Breaks Sound Barrier

Headlining a Mar. 18 fundraiser for radio station KOWS-FM will be Markus James, a West County resident when he’s not traversing the world in search of deep pockets of sound in far-flung corners of the planet. Describing his material as “Mississippi electric boogie, acoustic front porch hoedown, Bo Diddley Afro-Rock,” he’s been performing original, blues-based music with traditional West African musicians since 1994, when he first made his way to a northern Mali village. James has also explored the North Mississippi hill country, where the work of past icons such as John Lee Hooker, R.L. Burnside, and Junior Kimbrough still resounds. There, he connected with artists following their paths in juke joints and barns.

James’ 2014 release, Head for the Hills, recorded mostly in Mississippi, contains all originals except for one song. He handles the vocals and guitar work which is largely slide, and often brings a gourd banjo, a three-string cigar box guitar, or a diddley bow to his shows, which include a varying number of percussionists.

The album contains apocalyptic themes, “all connecting to a journey,” James said.

Billboard magazine called it a "profound world blues passage... extremely distinctive pieces, driven by a seductive rhythmic circularity that's a keystone of Malian traditional tunes and Delta blues."  Living Blues magazine said "the mix of sounds, instruments, and influences spanning the program is mind-boggling."   

Wendy DeWitt, long time international boogie woogie favorite, known for her powerhouse left hand, will open what is expected to be a wildly exciting show. She started off 2016 with a month of festivals in Spain and France after a summer tour that included Memphis and Clarksdale, Mississippi. DeWitt’s track record includes appearances with Hank Ballard, Charlie Musselwhite, and many other blues greats. She’s played piano behind Otis Rush at a San Francisco Blues Festival, and did a show with Hadda Brooks at the San Diego Museum of Art. Her influences include Otis Spann, Memphis Slim, and Professor Longhair. DeWitt was brought to the blues at age ten, while growing up over a store in Glen Ellen, and has attended Santa Rosa High School. She learned boogie woogie from her dad’s friend, western swing star, Tommy Thomsen, and teaches it herself in workshops at JazzSchool, in Berkeley.

Backed by jazz-trained drummer, Kirk Harwood, a veteran of bands led by Thomsen, Norton Buffalo, Roy Rogers, and Huey Lewis, the duo just released their third album, Getaway, including eleven blues and boogie woogie numbers, eight of them written by DeWitt. In combination with Harwood, she won the 2011 Golden Gate Blues Society International Blues Challenge in the solo/duo category.

This show will benefit KOWS community radio, a non-profit, all-volunteer station, broadcasting at 107.3 FM, and streaming at All profits go to keeping its unique, local programming on the air. There’ll be a raffle, and food, beer, and wine will be served.

Advance tickets available at - for more info go to, or contact KOWS at 707-874-9090 or

Visit our website at, please donate and check out your community radio!