A multi award winning Harmonica player from Seattle with a long and successful career, whose grounding in the Blues came from sharing first hand experiences with legendary Chicago players coming through town during the early 1970s.

“I had Johnny Little John staying at my house, Carey Bell was sitting in my living room. I had Willie Dixon’s band sitting in my living room. Junior Wells was playing in town and we went up to their hotel room. It was an education, before I’d ever really done anything in the business.”

His greatest experience was playing with a good friend of Albert Collins, guitarist Isaac Scott, for seven years during the late 1980s and early 1990s, which was later recognised in 2017 by the Washington State Blues Society who awarded him Hall of Fame status for his work with the Isaac Scott Band. Today Bailey is good friends with fellow harp-bluesman Curtis Salgado and Robert Cray “he used to play at the back of my record store”. 

Bailey has played regularly in Europe, as Steve Bailey and the Blues Flames, and latterly with Tonky de la Peña in Spain. Whilst in South America, where Bailey visits almost annually ,he continues to play the blues clubs and festivals in Colombia.

In 2019 Bailey landed in London performing with local blues guitarist Mississippi MacDonald, the pair having collaborated a few times before in both London and Seattle. This time Bailey had particular project in mind, to record a tribute to the prime influence in his career Sonny Boy Williamson II. And there was a reason Bailey wanted to record the music in London :

“I have met so many people in London that still remember Sonny Boy’s antics because of course he was here with the Yardbirds for a period. Eric Clapton has Sonny Boy stories, I’ve heard stories from different people. Somebody should put them all together, you know. So there’s still some energy for Sonny Boy in the UK.” 

A single from Crazy ‘Bout You, ‘Nine Below Zero’, was released just before the pandemic, the subsequent event leaving the album on the shelf. APM Records is pleased to now be able to present Bailey’s excellent interpretations of these classic tunes, which further benefit from the Albert Collins like blues stylings of Mississippi MacDonald, in a way that is traditional yet fresh and vibrant

“He is one great harp player”

main image photos by John Bull /