Dukes of Destiny / The Two Johns

Friday, January 13, 2023
Doors: 6pm | Show: 8:30pm

All shows in The Lounge are General Admission and seating is not guaranteed with ticket purchase. To make a reservation and guarantee a seat, click here or call 215-222-1400. The Lounge is a full-service restaurant & bar that opens at 6pm.

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Dukes of Destiny
Website | Facebook
In 1985, six young, local musicians got together and began playing old blues songs in a rambling three-story house in Philadelphia. They decided to take the act on the road as The Dukes of Destiny, a name they got from a matchbook cover urging the reader to “Be the Captain of Your Own Destiny.” At first, The Dukes of Destiny played house parties in Germantown, generating interest by word of mouth. A gig at the now-defunct Taker’s Café in Germantown launched their public career, and 37 years later they are still playing some of the hottest, most danceable blues and old school soul in the Philadelphia area. Today The Dukes of Destiny reign as Philadelphia’s longest-lived and best loved blues act.

There have been changes in the act: guitarists left and came back, bass and sax players moved and or left the band, and sadly, singer and founder Steve Brown died in March of 2000. But through all of the change the approach and commitment of the band has remained constant, resulting in a band with a unique tightness and an original approach to the music.  With a mix of powerful original songs, outstanding instrumental and vocal work, and unique arrangements of blues standards, The Dukes of Destiny continue to grow and develop as they share their music through countless performances at clubs, festivals, and on recordings. They are truly Philly’s,” longest lived and best loved blues act.”

The Two Johns
Website
“Some artists adopt a persona to use on stage to promote their music, But John Carleton AKA Johnny Never, has crawled into the skin of acoustic blues greats from the Piedmont to the Delta, and gives authenticity to the music that he has studied, performed and loved for so many years – so much so, that he is the spiritual son of many names both famous and long forgotten. His concerts with Philadelphia blues harp man John Colgan-Davis are redolent of Carey and Lurie or Sonny and Brownie, complete with the engaging backstories. All the old classics are performed with an easy elan, and their originals have a familiar and timeless ring. Catch these contemporary masters live if you can, you’ll be glad you did.” –Jamey Reilly, Jamey’s House of Music

The History of the Dukes (as told by John Colgan-Davis) It was a rambling three story house on the edge of the woods in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. The year was 1984 and four young musicians lived in that house, spending hour upon hour jamming on old blues songs. They decided to take the act out as The Dukes of Destiny, a name they got from a matchbook cover urging the reader to “Be the Captain of Your Own Destiny.” At first they played house parties in Germantown, generating word of mouth interest. A gig at the now-defunct Taker’s Cafe in Germantown launched their public career, and 20 years later they are still playing some of the hottest, most danceable blues and R’n’B in the Philadelphia area. The Dukes of Destiny reign as one of Philadelphia’s longest lived blues act. In all these years, there have only been a few changes in the act. Turk McFadden, the Dukes original drummer (who previously played in the original "Slant 6" band with founding member Steve Brown)left after the first year to spend more time with his new family. He can still be found playing gigs throughout the Tri-State area. Sax player Steve Bernstein left to tour with pianist W.C. Clark (who co-wrote "Cold Shot" with Stevie Ray Vaughn) and later moved to Austin, where he plays R&B in those cool Austin clubs. Guitarist A.C. Steel left to start his own band (A.C. Steel and the Galvinizers) and plays gigs from time to time in and around the Philly area. Although original singer Steve Brown died in March of 2000, the core of the band has remained together for all of those 25 years, resulting in a band with a unique tightness and an original approach to the music: Harmonica player and singer John Colgan-Davis has played in the Philadelphia area for more than 30 years, playing and touring with such notables as Bonnie Raitt, Tennessee bluesman Sparky Rucker, the John Cadillac Band, and the legendary guitarist Mississippi Fred McDowell. Drummer Bob Holden has played with Robert Hazard and Columbia Records recording artist Quincy. Before the Dukes, guitarist Richard Adler played around Philly in a mostly acoustic duo with Steve Brown, beginning way back in 1975. Carl Crabtree ("CC") is a longtime Philly sax player, who has played with many area bands. Bassist Rich Curtis has led his own jazz groups and played with guitarist Jim Dragoni, percussionist Doc Gibbs, and Saxman Byard Lancaster. Arlyn Wolters joined the Dukes in early 2003 as our new lead vocalist. Arlyn sang blues and R&B in NYC clubs before moving to Philly and joining the Dukes. Together, the Dukes represent more than 100 years of professional experience and exploration of American roots music. Keyboardist Carl Snyder is the Dukes' most recent addition. Carl was based in Chicago for many years and has played and toured with some of the best Chicago Blues bands. He also hosts a local radio show. Over the last 25 years the Dukes have gained a large and loyal following among Philadelphia listeners who know and love the blues. They’ve appeared at four River Blues Festivals at Penn’s Landing, five concerts sponsored by the Philadelphia Blues Machine, the YO Philadelphia Festival sponsored by the Daily News, and the Pocono Blues Festival. They have also been an opening act for such greats as Albert King, Charlie Musselwhite, Commander Cody, Gatemouth Brown, Koko Taylor, John Lee Hooker, and John Mayall. They have also served as the backup band for legendary Chicago guitarist/singer Otis Rush. Most recently, Duke members Bob Holden, John Colgan-Davis, and Rich Curtis served as the backup band for singer Terry Evans at performances at TRAMMPS in New York City and the Penn State Festival of the Arts. They also received an award from the Philadelphia Folk Song Society in 1993. With a mix of their own arrangements of obscure blues standards and powerful original songs, the Dukes continue to grow and develop. Their solid musicianship and love of the music inspires fans and critics alike. The Dukes have released three CD’s that have received airplay on WHYY, WRTI, and WXPN. The first one,"The Dukes of Destiny", was released in 1991. The second, "House of Forbidden Love" was released to solid reviews in 1997. It features guest appearances by bassist Steve Beskrone, a veteran of Ray Charles’ band, and Motown percussionist Jack Ashford. The third, "3", was released in October, 2004 and is the first to showcase Arlyn Wolters on vocals. It also features Carl "CC" Crabtree on saxophones and Walter Runge Jr. on keyboards. “We’re a band”, harmonica player John Colgan-Davis said. “We’re not So-and-So and his backup group. We play off of each other’s energy and creativity. We have fun, and that comes across to the audience. If you come to a Dukes gig, be prepared for a lot of dancing and some big smiles. We love playing together and it shows.” It’s been 25 exciting fun-filled years for the Dukes of Destiny. The energy and excitement they generate says that there are still many more years yet to come.
"Some artists adopt a persona to use on stage to promote their music, But John Carleton AKA Johnny Never, has crawled into the skin of acoustic blues greats from the Piedmont to the Delta, and gives authenticity to the music that he has studied, performed and loved for so many years - so much so, that he is the spiritual son of many names both famous and long forgotten. His concerts with Philadelphia blues harp man John Colgan-Davis are redolent of Carey and Lurie or Sonny and Brownie, complete with the engaging backstories. All the old classics are performed with an easy elan, and their originals have a familiar and timeless ring. Catch these contemporary masters live if you can, you'll be glad you did." - Jamey Reilly, Jamey's House of Music
In 1985, six young, local musicians got together and began playing old blues songs in a rambling three-story house in Philadelphia. They decided to take the act on the road as The Dukes of Destiny, a name they got from a matchbook cover urging the reader to “Be the Captain of Your Own Destiny.” At first, The Dukes of Destiny played house parties in Germantown, generating interest by word of mouth. A gig at the now-defunct Taker’s Café in Germantown launched their public career, and 37 years later they are still playing some of the hottest, most danceable blues and old school soul in the Philadelphia area. Today The Dukes of Destiny reign as Philadelphia’s longest-lived and best loved blues act. There have been changes in the act: guitarists left and came back, bass and sax players moved and or left the band, and sadly, singer and founder Steve Brown died in March of 2000. But through all of the change the approach and commitment of the band has remained constant, resulting in a band with a unique tightness and an original approach to the music.  With a mix of powerful original songs, outstanding instrumental and vocal work, and unique arrangements of blues standards, The Dukes of Destiny continue to grow and develop as they share their music through countless performances at clubs, festivals, and on recordings. They are truly Philly’s,” longest lived and best loved blues act.”
"Some artists adopt a persona to use on stage to promote their music, But John Carleton AKA Johnny Never, has crawled into the skin of acoustic blues greats from the Piedmont to the Delta, and gives authenticity to the music that he has studied, performed and loved for so many years - so much so, that he is the spiritual son of many names both famous and long forgotten. His concerts with Philadelphia blues harp man John Colgan-Davis are redolent of Carey and Lurie or Sonny and Brownie, complete with the engaging backstories. All the old classics are performed with an easy elan, and their originals have a familiar and timeless ring. Catch these contemporary masters live if you can, you'll be glad you did." -Jamey Reilly, Jamey's House of Music