In the last three years, Connecticut-based singer, songwriter and guitarist Jeff Pitchell has established himself on the national blues scene in a big way. He achieved widespread recognition when his most recent CD, “Heavy Hitter,” reached No. 7 on the Billboard blues charts.

He will perform at the Midnight Blues Club and Restaurant in Auburn Sunday, May 8, as part of the 2005 Sunday Night Blues Series.

Pitchell’s story is a classic example of persistence and dedication. He started singing at age 3, played the classical piano at age 12, then switched to guitar shortly after and began to write songs. He has built a career out of his love for music and the desire to play for audiences. As a college graduate who also taught school, he could have chosen a different path. Yet his love for performing sent him down a road leading directly to musical success.

Since organizing his band in 1988, Pitchell’s career has skyrocketed. He was voted Best Blues Player by Connecticut’s Metro Magazine; and the band was voted No. 1 Blues Band in the Hartford Advocate Reader’s Poll. Pitchell and his band played at the prestigious Memphis Bluestock Festival in 1997, where they were recognized as one of the country’s Top 50 blues bands. The group has headlined at several major clubs and venues across the nation.

In his early years of touring, Pitchell built a core following through his band called Texas Flood. Honing his skills as a guitarist, singer and songwriter, he eventually caught the ear of and performed with blues legends like John Mayall, BB King, Buddy Guy and James Cotton. While influenced by these and other great artists, like the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, Pitchell manages to mix his own unique, personalized and distinctive sound into an ear-pleasing blend.

After years of delighting purists with his diverse brand of guitar-based blues, Pitchell will release a new CD in 2005 with a little new spice. New songwriting melds blues-based rock, funk and Latin into a mix that is fresh yet doesn’t stray too far from a well-tested recipe.

Other band members are John Peckman, drums; Ken Kosiki, bass guitar; and Ivan Santiago, percussionist, who has been providing the group with interesting outlets for soul, funk and Latin influences. Former Monkees star Peter Tork, who plays several instruments, will perform with the band at selected gigs.

Tickets: $15 and offer $3 off any entree. Shows start promptly at 7 p.m. and conclude at 10 p.m. FMI:

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