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Cusp Conference - Special Guests

Special Guests


Harmonica is in Brandon O. Bailey's DNA.
Brandon O. Bailey

When his grandmother told him that his great-grandfather used to play train songs on the blues harp, Brandon O. Bailey discovered that playing harmonica is in his DNA.

Rising through the ranks of young players, in 2008 he triumphed over several hundred contestants to win the Orpheum Star Search in his home town of Memphis, Tennessee, bringing down the house with a performance of J. Geils Band's harmonica showpiece Whammer Jammer.

Since that breakout performance, Brandon—who's still in his teens—has played with some of the best harmonica players and bands in the country including Adam Gussow of Satan and Adam, Jason Ricci and New Blood, Billy Gibson, Charlie Wood, and Blind Mississippi Morris. He has performed at B.B. King's Blues Club in Memphis, The Rum Boogie Cafe, The Orpheum Theater in Memphis, the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival, The Mid-South Fair, and the Jefferson Awards in Washington D.C, and has been featured in Living Blues Magazine and interviewed by Linda Wertheimer on NPR's Weekend Edition.

Adapting the post modern harp-boxing style made famous by Son of Dave—blues riffs intertwined with beat-box rhythms—his recently released debut album, Memphis Grooves, rose to #1 on both the U.S. iTunes and Amazon blues music charts. Brandon O. Bailey has put the harmonica world on notice: there's a new kid on the block.

Charles 'King Charles' Parks and Jaron 'Prince Jron' Boyd know how to move their feet.

Charles 'King Charles' Parks and Jaron 'Prince Jron' Boyd know how to move their feet.

As members of The FootworKINGz (FWK), an all-star dance ensemble founded in 2007 by Leida 'Lady Sol' Villegas, they've helped generate global recognition for footworking – Chicago's unique style of dance.

Charles was crowned the 'King of Footwork' at the age of 14 at the annual King of the Circle event in Markham, IL and by various media including the Chicago Tribune and Rolling Stone Magazine. He has choreographed and toured with Madonna on her Sticky & Sweet Tours '08-'09, danced for Will.I.Am on the Teen Choice Awards 2011, performed with Missy Elliott alongside Eve and Nelly Furtado at VH-1's Hip Hop Honors '07 and starred in Do the Juke, a Verizon Wireless national commercial.

Prince Jron has also toured globally on Madonna's Sticky & Sweet World Tour '08-'09 and is featured along with King Charles in Madonna's music video Celebration and Sticky & Sweet Tour DVD.

FWK has performed at Coachella 2011 with Green Velvet, NYC's Lincoln Center, Chicago's Looptopia, Juste Debout 2010 (Paris), Chicago's Aids Run/Walk, Steppenwolf Theater, Weber State University (Utah) and San Francisco's Hip Hop Dance Festival. King Charles and Jron have also performed, taught and competed in Scandinavia, France, Russia, and the UK.

The Harp Twins - Camille and Kennerly - are multi-talented duet harpists and actresses.
Harp Twins

The Harp Twins—Camille and Kennerly—are multi-talented duet harpists and actresses. Known for their duet harp arrangements of songs by artists such as Lady Gaga, Led Zeppelin, U2, Johnny Cash, OutKast, Coldplay, The Smiths, Eartha Kitt and many more, the twins were trained classically, but their true love and passion is playing music one would not expect to hear on the harp. They also write and compose original pieces for harp duet.

Frequent performers, Camille and Kennerly were featured musicians at the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in Springfield, IL, including a dinner where President Barack Obama was the speaker. They've also performed at events featuring US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, Former First Lady Laura Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The duo has also caught the eye of Hollywood producers and can be seen playing their harps on the big screen in two feature films: Politics of Love and Blacktino. They also had lead roles (without their harps!) in the independent feature film Creeporia (2012), written and directed by Emmy-nominated John Semper, Jr.

Earning Bachelor of Music degrees in Harp Performance, Camille and Kennerly graduated Summa Cum Laude from the prestigious Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College, where they were on the Dean's list and earned straight As. Prior to transferring to the Conservatory, they spent two years in the music studies program at College of DuPage, where they were in the Honors Scholar Program, were inducted into the National Honor Society Phi Theta Kappa, were published authors in the academic journal Essai, held 4.0 GPAs, and were faculty-nominated scholars who represented the college at several state-wide events.

The very definition of 'independent band', Helicopters aren't just 'indie' stylistically but are 'independent' in every aspect of the creative and business process.

Jason Caldeira, Brian Fifield and Dave Moran are Helicopters.

The very definition of 'independent band', Helicopters aren't just 'indie' stylistically but are 'independent' in every aspect of the creative and business process. The same three guys handle everything from writing, recording, production and mastering to marketing, design, publicity and booking, starting their own label, FlyCasual Records, in 2005 and releasing music by Helicopters and others.

Content sitting in a chair of prolificacy, Helicopters have released seven albums — 4 full-lengths and 3 EPs — each an exercise in the lush, layered interpolation of seemingly disparate sounds, organic textures and electrified glitch, all wrapped in a blanket of cozy pop songwriting. They've played Lollapalooza, performed with bands such as Athlete, The Smoking Popes and Au Revoir Simone, and received critical acclaim with several albums. Their latest release, "The Honey and the Hiss," may have you wondering how this band has flown under your radar for so long.