Liz Mandeville and Donna Herula won the Windy City Blues Society’s “2011 Blues Challenge.” The high energy duo is going to represent Chicago on an International level, competing at the IBC in Memphis early next year. Liz’s pairing with Herula resulted in standing ovations, both at the 2011 Lansing Blues Fest and at WCBS’s show at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago. The duo has also appeared on KFFA radio as guests of Sonny Payne during his historic 50th anniversary broadcast during the King Biscuit Fest.
Multi-talented Liz Mandeville is no stranger to hard work! Not content to be “just a singer,” Liz taught her-self to play guitar, washboard and porch-board. She has written and produced over 80 original songs, resulting in 4 critically acclaimed CD’s and another one on the way. She earned a BA in music, writes a column for ChicagoBluesGuide.com and is a blues DJ for WNUR-FM. Since 1983, she has logged thousands of road miles, played hundreds of gigs and people say she just keeps getting better!
Her 2008 CD, RED TOP, shot to #3 in the Roots Time Radio Charts, and stayed in the top 20 for weeks. Amazingly, “Scratch the Kitty”, one of that CD’s tunes, took the #1 spot on the Cashbox Charts in 2010, making it one of the most downloaded blues songs ever! RED TOP, like Liz’s other 3 CD’s, has been included in numerous “Best Of” lists. Chicago’s Tom Marker, (a popular DJ in the nation’s 3rd largest commercial radio market) named “Illinois National Guard Blues” #5 in his list of the “WXRT-best of 2008.”
Liz has been described as a “smart, sassy songwriter” with an ability to “build sensitive snapshots….” The petite redhead was nominated “Songwriter of the Year 2008″ by the American Roots Music Assn. She won the 2005 USA Songwriting Contest for her “He Left It in His Other Pants” and was a finalist in the American Songwriting Contest for her deep blues song “Juice Head Man”.
Liz has produced 4 critically lauded, original, internationally released CD’s, showcasing her powerful, rich, versatile voice and her creativity as a producer, arranger, guitarist, and song crafter. She’s in the studio now, working on her first release for her own label, an idea fostered by Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, who contributed 5 tracks to the disc. The new disc also features a return performance by long time friend Eddie Shaw and tracks with Nick Moss and Dona Herula. Most of Liz’s songs are self-penned, but don’t be surprised when she busts out a classic cover during a high energy live set. She’s spent years listening and studying blues history and pays tribute with panache, both in her live shows and in the interactive workshops she presents for Blues in the Schools and at festivals around the world. Liz has led her own band for longer than any other female musician in Chicago. The Blue Points, a smoking ensemble who generate an infectious sound the critics have labeled “the intersection of traditional blues and smooth jazz,” play music that will lift your spirits and get you grooving! Their repertoire runs the gamut of styles, traditional blues to swing, funk to rock. They’ve wowed crowds with long running house gigs at Chicago’s oldest blues venues, including BLUES, The Kingston Mines, Bill’s Blues, and Blue Chicago, to name a few.
She delights audiences all over the world. Based in Chicago, Liz has led her Band through countless tours, playing venues and fests from New York City’s Terra Blues to Seattle’s Bourbon Street, Wilebski’s in St. Paul to the Green Parrot in Key West. She has toured Canada, Mexico, Latvia, France, Belgium, South Africa and Holland. Liz and the band toured Germany several times with label mates Honeyboy Edwards and Louisiana Red, and with Robert Cray. Germany’s ARD TV features Liz in a “Chicago Must See” travel show. While performing at the Chicago Blues Festival’s Front Porch Stage, Liz set a festival record for the most CD’s sold by a single artist.
Born in Wisconsin, Liz Mandeville grew up with the arts. Liz’s dad played and sang folk music for his family while taking classes at the Chicago Art Institute on the GI Bill after serving in Korea. He taught his daughter to paint and to sing. His work, always art related, exposed Liz to galleries, gardens and museums. Her mother, an actress who taught, took young Liz to musicals, plays and concerts, insisting her daughter get music and dance lessons, even if it meant the family went without. Their Hi-Fi was always playing, sometimes Stravinsky or Mahalia Jackson, sometimes Ledbelly, Lightnin Hopkins, or Hank Williams.
Artists and musicians were frequent guests in their home. Liz was encouraged to entertain with plays or songs she’d created. Liz’s dad’s basic training in Louisiana led to lifelong love of New Orleans, so the family took many auto trips through the South, always ending in dad’s favorite city. Those trips exposed young Liz to the many flavors of American Roots music from Appalachian Bluegrass to New Orleans Jazz, Southern Gospel music and all points in between. Liz plays the washboard in a style first made popular in Louisiana and employed in many traditional blues settings, adding that Creole rhythm to her music.
Liz got her first guitar at 16 and started playing professionally soon after. Her guitar style tips its hat to her oldest influences, Mississippi John Hurt, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Muddy Waters mixed with soul from Curtis Mayfield and the Chicago blues of Jimmy Reed. With a sense of humor that shines through her impassioned performance, Liz is a polished, professional, a consummate entertainer, not to be missed!