In 1985, five 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 30 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 the approach and commitment of the band has remained constant for 30 years, resulting in a band with a unique tightness and an original approach to the music. With a mix of powerful original songs and unique arrangements of blues standards, The Dukes of Destiny continue to grow and develop as they share their music through countless live performances and recordings.
The Dukes 2022
John Colgan-Davis: harmonica & vocals
Adam Darer: keys
AC Steel: guitar & vocals
Mike Blair: bass
Mike O'Rourke: drums
Adam Darer, keyboards, A transplant to Philadelphia by way of New York, Adam has quickly made his jazz and blues piano playing known in the Philadelphia scene. In high school, Adam studied Jazz, Theory, and Improvisation with Vinson Hill (Retired Prof of Jazz at William Patterson University).and has been influenced by jazz and blues piano artists such as Red Garland, Fats Waller, Otis Spann, and Memphis Slim. He has performed at top music venues such as The Fillmore Philadelphia, Bourbon & Branch, and The Twisted Tail, and for countless Blues and Swing dances.
Mike Blair, bass and sound, Mike enjoys playing in various musical genres, including folk, Irish, rock, jazz and blues. He also provides sound reinforcement for a wide range of clients, including of course, The Dukes. He grew up in Chicago, where he studied classical piano and upright bassand performed at various folk clubs in the Old Town section of the city, In his senior year of college, he was a founding member of REO Speedwagon. Since moving to Philadelphia he became a partner in famed Philly coffeehouse Hecate’s Circle, and has played in jazz, Irish, rock and blues bands.
John Colgan-Davis, harmonica and vocals, started playing the harmonica in local blues and folk clubs back in the late 1960s while he was still a high school student. He played and recorded with Philadelphia singer-guitarist Jesse Graves and played with Bonnie Raitt when she lived in Philadelphia in the early 1970's. Through Bonnie, John got to meet and play with Mississippi Fred McDowell, Arthur Crudup, Buddy Guy, Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, and others. He has also jammed with James Cotton, John Hammond, Charlie Musselwhite, John Lee Hooker, Bill Dicey, and Louisiana Red. He has toured the Midwest and recorded two CDs—“Cold and Lonesome on a Train” and “Heroes and Hard Times”—with Tennessee bluesman Sparky Rucker, and played for three years with The John Cadillac Band. A founding member of The Dukes of Destiny, John also taught Social Studies at Friends Select School in Philadelphia for 29 years and has written articles and supplements for The Philadelphia Inquirer on Blacks in the American West, Black Literature, the History of Black Philadelphia, and other topics. He is also a guest columnist for the Chestnut Hill Local. John lives in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia.
AC Steel, guitar and vocals, AC has been a member of the Dukes off and on for several years and he can be seen in several of the Dukes You Tube videos.. He was most recently the guitarist on the Dukes latest CD, Higher, and played with them through 2019. He also led his ow band, AC Steel and the Galvanizers. A talented songwriter, his composition, House of Forbidden Love, was the tile track on the Dukes 2nd CD.
Mike O’ Rourke, drums, Presently living in Philadelphia Michael has performed with many great jazz and blues performers including guitarists Jimmy Bruno; saxophonists Bootsie Barnes, Tony Williams, Pianists Sid Simmons, and Dave Posmontier, as well as Vocalists Evelyn Simm and Demetria Bailey, He has also performed with the Carol Moog, Russ Lambert, and Craig Tillman blues bands as well as the Dukes.
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