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Big Walter Smith & The Groove Merchants
The only band to have appeared at every Bayfront Blues Festival, Big Walter Smith has been polishing his big-city urban blues sound for over 40 years. Born in Oklahoma, raised in Kansas City, Walter's blues career was profoundly influenced in the early 1950's by the singing of Bobby Bland and B.B. King. After moving to the Twin Cities in 1970 Walter quickly established himself as a musical force to be reckoned with. Forming the Groove Merchants in 1985 he has been a mainstay of the Twin Cities music scene.

Walter delivers his soul flavored vocals with a deep felt passion and love for the blues and has one of the most appealing voices found on any stage in Minnesota. The Groove Merchants feature brassy, big band R&B with some swing and a little funk. The band is led by the exceptional lead guitar playing of Scotty Graves, with Paul Wigen on keyboards, Josh Taulbee on bass, Tom McShane on drums and the horn section of Ruston Reynolds (saxophone), Ted Thomas (trombone), and Tom Tange (trumpet). The band is fronted by the smooth, sweetly soaring vocals of Big Walter Smith.

The group's most recent CD "Midnight Express," has received widespread acclaim & last year the Mayor of Duluth dedicated a Big Walter Smith day honoring him with a citation proclaiming Big Walter Smith "Ambassador To The Blues." Big Walter Smith & The Groove Merchants continue to deliver one of the best R&B shows in the Upper Midwest.

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Copyright © 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
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