Backtrack Blues Band

The Backtrack Blues Band is one of Florida's longest running and most accomplished blues bands. Founded in 1980, the group has performed continuously for over 30 years. Backtrack's high energy Chicago-style blues with exceptional guitar, harp, and vocals, has made the band a constant on the Florida blues concert, club, and festival scene for over three decades.

The group has established a strong reputation for creative songwriting and has released five CDs and a DVD of original music, all of which charted on the U.S. blues radio charts. The band released its newest CD, "Way Back Home," in 2016, and it represents Backtrack's best recording to date. The record is receiving international radio play and has positioned the band to gain a much wider following. In the words of Art Tipaldi, Editor of Blues Music Magazine, "On its fifth CD, 'Way Back Home', the first class band has recorded one of its strongest traditional blues recordings to date and is now poised to carry its musical message to a larger audience."

The quintet consists of Sonny Charles on harmonica and vocals, Kid Royal on lead guitar and vocals, Little Johnny Walter on rhythm guitar and vocals, Stick Davis on bass, and Joe Bencomo on drums. Backtrack has appeared as an opening act in concert with many legendary blues artists including B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman, Robert Cray, Johnny Winter, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and others. The group has also been recognized by the Tampa Bay community as a leader in the blues music arena by garnering three Tampa Bay Music Awards as the area's "Best Blues Band."

The band members are serious students of blues music and bring a lot of authenticity and talent to the group. Sonny Charles and Little Johnny formed the band in 1980 and have played together for over 35 years. Sonny is an accomplished blues harmonica player, whose tone and style are reminiscent of Little Walter and Paul Butterfield. Kid Royal has appeared at many major blues festivals throughout Canada and America, and his style is influenced by the great Texas guitar players. He is widely respected as one of the very top guitarists in Florida.

Joe Bencomo is an exceptional drummer, who has played in the best blues and jazz bands in Tampa Bay for over 40 years. Little Johnny adds solid rhythm guitar and backup vocals to the band. Stick Davis is a gifted bass player, and he was a founding member of the Amazing Rhythm Aces and has traveled the world, touring with BB King, John Mayall, Al Green, Jesse Winchester, Pure Prairie League, and others.

Together, these guys comprise one of Florida's best and most accomplished blues bands, and their live show is an original and exciting display of electric blues at its very best! The band's leader has significant experience in producing top quality blues music shows, having founded and managed the award-winning Tampa Bay Blues Festival for over 20 years.

Concert Appearances

The Backtrack Blues Band has been honored to appear in concert with the following legendary blues artists:

  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • B.B. King
  • Koko Taylor
  • Atlanta Rhythm Section
  • Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
  • Gatemouth Brown
  • Junior Wells
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Jeff Healey
  • Victor Wainwright & the Wildroots
  • George Thorogood
  • Buddy Guy
  • North Mississippi Allstars
  • The Nighthawks
  • Rod Piazza & The MightyFlyers
  • Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets
  • Tinsley Ellis
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd
  • A. C. Reed
  • The Butch Trucks Band
  • Gregg Allman
  • Robert Cray
  • Dave Mason
  • Johnny "Clyde" Copeland
  • Delbert McClinton
  • Lucky Peterson
  • Matt "Guitar" Murphy
  • James Cotton
  • Lonnie Brooks
  • John Nemeth
  • Little Milton
  • Johnny Winter
  • Tommy Castro and the Dynatones
  • Mariah Carey
  • Jon Cleary
  • Lonnie Mack
  • Smokin' Joe Kubek
  • Albert Collins
  • Marshall Tucker Band

Meet the Band

Kid Royal is the lead guitarist and a vocalist for Backtrack Blues Band. He grew up in London, Ontario, and pursued his blues music in Canada for years, playing at many clubs and major music festivals, including the Montreal Jazz Festival, Mont Tremblant International Blues Festival, and Trois Rivieres en Blues. Mr. Royal joined the band when he and his family relocated to St Petersburg, Florida. He is an accomplished singer, guitarist, and songwriter who brings great energy and creativity to the band. His distinctive guitar playing is heavily influenced by the great Texas guitarists, T Bone Walker, Jimmie Vaughan, and Albert King. Kid actually spent time in Austin, Texas, as a young man and hung out at Antone's Nightclub where Stevie Ray Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds got their start. When it comes to blues guitar, he's the "real deal"!

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Kid

Sonny Charles is the founder and lead singer of Backtrack Blues Band and named the group after a Little Walter instrumental "Backtrack." Sonny writes many of the band’s songs and has authored over 30 compositions on the band's five records. He is an accomplished harmonica player who has performed professionally for over 40 years and is heavily influenced by harp players like Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Kim Wilson. His gritty, amplified harp tone is reminiscent of the great Chicago blues harmonica heard with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and others. His devotion to blues music runs deep, as he founded the award winning Tampa Bay Blues Festival in 1995 in St Petersburg, Florida. The festival has grown into one of America's largest blues festivals. The festival won a prestigious KBA award (2011) from the International Blues Foundation for Best U.S. Blues Festival.

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Sonny

The band features an incredibly tight rhythm section which includes the Grammy award winning bass player Jeff "Stick" Davis. Stick won his Grammy award as a founder and bass player with The Amazing Rhythm Aces, and he toured throughout the world with the Aces and worked as the opening act for The Eagles, Jimmy Buffett Band, Fleetwood Mac, and others. Stick also toured throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada, and Australia as the bass player for B.B. King, Al Green, John Mayall, Jesse Winchester, and Pure Prairie League. He also worked for many years as a top studio bassist in Memphis and Nashville, and has played on over 200 studio records.

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Stick

The band's drummer, Joe Bencomo, is widely recognized as one of Florida's best blues and jazz percussionists. He has performed with many bands over four decades and is a gifted and solid drummer. While he can play complex jazz arrangements, his blues shuffles and solid backbeat anchor the grooves for the Backtrack Blues Band. Joe has performed as a studio drummer on many albums, including the last two Backtrack recordings.

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Joe

Little Johnny Walter plays rhythm guitar for the band and has been with the group since its founding in 1980. Johnny has a clear and solid guitar style which contributes to the band's "tight" sound and has evolved from over 35 years of performing with Backtrack. He met Sonny at Chapel Hill, N.C., where they first formed a band while attending college at UNC; and they've remained great friends and musical collaborators ever since those early days.

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Little Johnny

The Backtrack Blues Band consists of five guys who are talented and creative musicians and who are fortunate to perform largely original blues material. And what makes it truly special is that they are all good friends who sincerely love the music they play. It just doesn't get any better than that!

Discography

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Way Back Home (2016)
Harpo Records

CD

discography1
Captured Alive (2012)
True Tone Records

CD & DVD

discography2
Let the Big Dog Eat (2009)
Ichiban/Wild Dog Records

Compilation CD

discography3
Boogie Shack (1995)
Kingsnake Records

CD & Tape

discography4
Killin' Time (1989)
Kingsnake Records

CD, Vinyl LP & Tape

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Dress It Up (1983)
True Tone Records

Vinyl LP & Tape