Local Artist Spotlight Summer 2006: Bill Scholer Blues Band

Jim Buchanan, host of KDRT's weekly show, "Live Tracks" appreciates the energy and spontaneity of live music. He considers himself lucky to have been on hand recording at the E Street Plaza in Davis on the night of June 10, 2005, when the fabulous Bill Scholer Blues Band "rocked the house"! Jim engineered that recording into a 14 track CD that features Bill Scholer, and band mates Craig Faria, Dale Lyberger, Jim Monroe, and special guest Mike "The Blues Professor" Henderson, that is available through KDRT.

The Bill Scholer Blues Band Story: The Formative Years

In the summer of 2006, Bill and band were nominated for a local "SAMMIE Award" in the Blues category, and what follows below is a piece written by Bill Scholer, for the Sacramento News and Review, to provide background information for his fans. Rock on Bill!

I was born in Concord California on December 12, 1954 and grew up in an upper middle class town called Alamo. As a child my focus was on art and music. I would spend many hours in the garage working on my paintings while listening to music on the radio. The first guitar playing that emotionally grabbed me came from Mike Bloomfield's screaming Les Paul. I didn't know how he got that tone but the closest I could get to it was by scraping the strings of my electric guitar with a galvanized nail while muscling a wide vibrato with my left hand. Jimi Hendrix's playing triggered both my emotions and imagination with a sound that coupled the experimental sounds of surf guitar with the soul of blues. Hendrix was like an abstract expressionist and soon I was using the whammy bar of my Kent hollow body to manipulate feedback while listening to a record of Leadbelly's "Old Grey Goose". I was in the 7th grade when I saw Jimmy Page perform live with the Yardbirds at local high school football field. I had never seen anyone play a guitar like that before and that phenomenal performance inspired me to play my guitar with a bow. The Bugger Bear Audio Banquet was the name of the band I played with in high school. That band had one gig which paid enough for pizza and beer. The band was really a party that became a band for one gig (maybe two). The B.B.A.B. had two drummers, two bass players, four guitars, a full horn section and six background singers (who didn't really sing but were full members anyway).

I came to U.C. Davis in 1981 to work as the Graphics Technician for the Art Department. I ran the printmaking studio and taught the techniques of stone lithography, etching, monoprint, relief and silkscreen. Mike "The Blues Professor" Henderson became my best buddy and mentor. At that point I didn't own an acoustic guitar so Mike lent me his. He encouraged me to go out and play. So I started playing solo at the Blue Mango in Davis. That led to putting together a band, then a better band and on and on. I started opening shows at the Palms and other venues for musicians I idolized like Paul Butterfield, Rick Danko, Willie Dixon, James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Elvin Bishop , Jeff Healy, Mighty Joe Young, Roy Rodgers, J.J. Cale, Norton Buffalo, The Ventures, Los Lobos, Leon Redbone, and the Chambers Brothers.

I left U.C. Davis to enter the Master Of Fine Arts program in Painting at UC Berkeley in 1991. I also started teaching music and art in prisons at the same time. I taught at Solano State Prison, Folsom Prison, Deuel Vocational Institute, The California Medical Facility, Sacramento State Prison and Napa State Hospital.

I currently have the best job in the world. I run an arts program at the California State Prison- Solano in Vacaville. I teach art and music all day. I am also growing as a person, artist and musician. The best thing is that I give some down hearted people a chance to discover the best parts of their character.

I met Barry "The Fish" Melton while performing for an anti-death penalty rally for Manny Babbits at the California State Capitol. Manny Babbits was executed. Barry and I started playing parties (mainly the Democratic Party) and gigs together. One summer he invited me to play some gigs in Moscow, Russia. I had brought my blues band to the Soviet Ukraine a few years prior as part of the Davis/Uman Sister City Project so Barry thought I would enjoy playing in Russia. Meeting the Russian musicians and artists and playing a few small clubs in Moscow was very exciting for me and I am very grateful for that opportunity.

Once I replaced Robert Crumb as the guitarist for The Rural Sophisticates. Later I would join up with two members of that band, Robert Armstrong and Keith Cary, to form The Joy Buzzards. Bob and Keith are extremely gifted and creative musicians. They are also musicologist so hanging with them has been educationally enriching. We put out a CD which features the song "Hurray, They're hanging Father". We played together after taking a few years off and didn't miss note nor beat.

Scholer in foreground with fellow Joy Buzzards

I've met some soulful cats and Paul Pena is right at the top. Paul had a talent and heart as big as Kansas. Ronell Baily had more talent than anyone I've ever met. John Tchicai has been a constant inspiration for musical growth. Although the gigs have fallen off, the band I play with now, Dale Lyberger, Jim Monroe and Craig Faria, is the best group I've ever played with and I hope we'll play more in the future. I played with Mark St. Mary's Blues & Zydeco Band at last year's San Francisco Blues Festival. Mark's the real deal and I always enjoy locking in on a grove with him and his band.

Mike Henderson and I will be going into the recording studio to record some acoustic songs and then we'll team up with William T Wiley to produce a phonograph record/art portfolio combo. Barry and I still play together, especially for worthy political causes. I am working on the finishing touches on my solo CD (actually two CD's on one disc titled "Songs For Transients"/"Big Buffo"). I brought in all my old friends and some new one's too, to help with the recording.

So now I have been nominated for a SAMMIE. How the hell did that happen? Thank you.


Band Members
Dale Lyberger / Bass and Vocals
Jim Monroe / Keyboard and Vocals
Craig Faria / Drums
Bill Scholer / Guitar and Vocals

Disc List

The Bill Scholer Blues Band
Back At The Chicken Shack
House Rocker
Blues (Bill Scholer, Scholer Music, BMI)
She Walks Right In
How Long Has This Train Been Gone
Shoeless Joe Jackson (Bill Scholer, Scholer Music, BMI)
So Glad You're Mine
Cissy Strut
Come On
What Can A Poor Boy Do - w/ Mike Henderson (Mike Henderson)
Only Time Will Tell w/ Mike Henderson (Mike Henderson)

Diamond Cuts - Top Of The Sixith (refer to NPR link listed below)
Shoeless Joe Jackson (Bill SCholer, Scholer Music, BMI)

The Joy Buzzards (refer to Sacramento News & Review link listed below)
I Lost My Gal In Memphis
Vicksburg Stomp
Someday Sweetheart
Hooray, They're Hanging Father
Moana Chimes
Love Potion No. 9 / Besame Mucho
The Man In The Moon (Bill Scholer, Scholer Music, BMI)
Nuts And Bolts
Careless Love
Cracker Box (Bill Scholer, Scholer Music, BMI)
She's A Hum Dum Dinger
Tomorrow Night
Six Feet Under
Sniper (Bill Scholer, Scholer Music, BMI)
Spanish Fandango

Sacramento Blues
Mr. Guitarhead (Bill Scholer, Scholer Music, BMI)

Out Among The Cows
What's Wrong With Me? (Bill Scholer, Scholer Music, BMI)

Related Links

Article to accompany Sammie nomination 2006:


Article for background on baseball music and Shoeless Joe Jackson song:


Article on Joy Buzzards from Sacramento News & Review:


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