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Eric Hughes Band

Active Musician Since: 2001

Active MBS Member Since: 2005 (Founder of the Memphis Blues Society)

Location: Memphis, TN

Band Members: Eric Hughes (vocals, guitars, harmonica), Leo Goff (bass guitar, backing vocals), Walter Hughes (guitar), Robert Nighthawk Tooms (keyboards), Doug McMinn (drums, percussion), Chris Stephenson (keyboards), Brian Aylor (drums, percussion)

Manager: Eric Hughes, Phone: (901) 857-1904


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Musician Profile

Eric Hughes Band's live show is unforgettable, as are the tough grooves and vivid images his songs conjure. Whether Hughes leaps onto your table to blow harp, or if you simply want to dance a slow one with your baby, Eric Hughes has been called by Blues Revue "guaranteed crowd-pleasers..." 

Winner of the Memphis Blues Society's "Battle of the Blues", Eric and company have been belting out their fun and rowdy blues to Beale Street visitors since 2001, delighting listeners with original Memphis music. 

Having performed around two thousand shows in the clubs on Beale, Hughes has four albums to his credit, several of his original songs reaching the Top Ten in various charts. 

A native of Memphis, Hughes discovered the guitar as a homesick Marine stationed away from home; longing for the Blues, Soul, and Rock & Roll he was brought up on. The 1990's were spent learning the guitar and the harmonica, and Hughes spent time in the Memphis Songwriters Association, learning the craft of songwriting. 

Eric began playing on Beale Street in 2001, performing solo/acoustic in Handy's Blues Hall, then forming the Eric Hughes Band after placing 2nd in the Beale Street Blues Society's Blues Contest. 

Hughes continued performing in Beale Street clubs and at Blues Festivals such as Brownsville Blues Fest and King Biscuit Blues Festival while writing the songs that became 2002's release: "Paycheck Boogie", nominated for "Best Local CD" by the Memphis Flyer, and winning "Best Self-Produced CD" by the Crossroads Blues Society. 

Continuing to perform at festivals as well as performing in the clubs on Beale Street, Hughes released in 2004 his second CD: "Two In the Morning". Songs from this CD charted as high as #8 and #12 on Living Blues Radio's chart. 

In 2007, the Eric Hughes Band won the Memphis Blues Society's "Battle of the Blues", and represented Memphis in the International Blues Challenge. 2007 saw the release of Hughes' "Live On Beale" a collection of originals and blues classics, featuring two new originals.

During this time, Hughes also performed with Guy Venable Jr. as a jug-band duo; this duo represented Memphis Blues Society again in 2010 during the International Blues Competition. Hughes and Venable also released a home-recorded CD. 

Nominated multiple years for "Beale Street Entertainer of the Year" by the Beale Street Merchants Association, Hughes continued to delight Blues fans and Beale Street visitors with his exciting brand of Memphis music. In 2012 Hughes again recorded at Brad Webb Studio the songs that have become "Drink Up!", the fourth CD by the Eric Hughes Band.



CDs & Merchandise



" of the best records to come out of Memphis in a long time!" 


       Tim Mullins, WYPL Memphis 

“The Eric Hughes Band delivers the smoky, whiskey-soaked Blues that have made them a favorite of the clubs on Beale Street in their hometown of Memphis, TN”

Blues Underground Network

"Memphis Blues entertainer Eric "Scrappie" Hughes celebrates one decade of performing in Beale Street clubs, beginning with his debut in 2001 playing solo/acoustic at Mr. Handy's Blues Hall. Hughes has since performed at each of Beale's clubs, logging in more than 2,000 performances while reaching the Top Twenty in the blues charts on several occasions.

Jodie Vance - Memphis Downtowner

"Hughes plays guitar, dobro, percussion, electric sitar, and nifty blues harmonica, and also has an appealing songwriting touch as this all-originals project attests. His image-rich, often witty lyrics sparkle brightest..."

Gary Von Tersch - Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine

"The Eric Hughes Band continues to carry the torch for the blues to new generations, constantly working on new, creative presentations of original music, and paying homage to the classic blues that came before him."

The Sentinel-Record

“Eric Hughes is a Memphis blues guitarist and harmonica player who has performed in the Beale Street clubs for the past four years. Hughes admitted that he would slip away from his grandfather's home near Holly Springs to take in the scene at Junior Kimbrough's juke joint. "I used to roll the four-wheeler away from the house, so they wouldn't hear me start it up, and go over to Junior's" said Hughes. ”

John Burgess - Memphis Commercial Appeal

“ Ex-Marine and multi-instrumentalist Eric "Scrappie" Hughes was first struck by blues music as a youngster, while listening to hired musician James "Son" Thomas perform at a Mississippi hunting camp. He formed the Memphis Blues Society in 2005 to help foster this deeply American form of music. In the full-throttled country blues, "Did You Have To Take The Dog, Too?", Hughes acerbic lyrics and overdriven blues harp reach critical mass. The rocking, funky instrumental "Crazy Joe" streams brassy, Hammond keyboards and tasty guitar harmonies recalling the Allman Brothers' classic gem, "Jessica". With that grooving, "Mojo Working" backbeat going strong, Hughes humorously announces that he wants his "Muddy Waters Records" back. On his impressive sophomore release, "Two In The Morning", Hughes accomplished guitar, harmonica, and songwriting chops arer impressive indeed."”

Alan Kurzer - Blues Bytes

"...First and proper- Eric has put together a virtual all-star band. He fronts the five-piece outfit on vocals, harp, an guitar, and is more than properly complemented by "Memphis" Mike Forrest on guitar, Robert Nighthawk on Keyboards, Leo Goff on bass and James Cunningham on drums. "

Silver Michaels - Silver's Blues

“ Listeners in search of tough grooves and witty lyrics should check out the Eric Hughes Band... ”

Blues Revue

“ ...quite a statement of respect for one's blues influences." 

Blues Beat Magazine

“ From the Memphis Blues Society comes the witty songwriting and solid musicianship of the Eric Hughes Band. These guys are a little funky, a little Bluesy, a little rocky, and a little down-home. There are songs that come from the juke house, some that come from the Delta cotton fields, and some that are more from the urban areas. Eric Hughes has a sweet vocal approach with a harmonica tone to match; he soars above the clouds when he blows, and shuffles through each line. His guitar playing is very restrained and tasty. Hughes can pick up the electric or acoustic guitar with confidence in the music and in himself. ”



Eric "Scrappie" Hughes: 

Memphis Blues Society Founder Feature Story

(Originally published in the February 2013 Memphis Blues Society Newsletter)

As told to Mark E. Caldwell, December 2012


I recently had the pleasure to talk with Eric Hughes before a Saturday gig with Guy (Venable) Jr. at the Superior Bar of Memphis. Eric is the founder of the Memphis Blues Society. As a Memphis native, Eric has always been a blues fanatic and blues lover. When he was 11, he received his first guitar but never played it. It ended up in the attic. When Eric was younger he spent many summer weekends at his grandfather’s ‘Ponderosa’ hunting camp (and tree farm) near Holly Springs in Galena, MS. In the early 1980’s he first heard blues played live by hired bluesman James ‘Son’ Thomas at the hunting camp. While at the ‘Ponderosa’, Eric snuck out on occasional evenings to see local bluesmen Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside play at nearby juke joints. 


His interest in playing the blues came at age 21 while away in the Marines in Cherry Point, NC. He was missing home and the music of Memphis. He bought a guitar at a local pawn shop so he could learn to play the music he missed. Eric says that guitar changed everything. Soon his one and only focus was to play the guitar. He wanted to play the blues that he was so fond of. Eric says “My influences are Howlin’ Wolf, Furry Lewis, Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Junior Kimbrough, Doors, and also Memphis Music of all types. Some of my ‘blusier’ influences are Brad Webb & Blind Mississippi Morris, Muddy Waters, and ‘Son’ Thomas.” I asked Eric if he had a mentor that influenced his music “I never really studied under anyone, unfortunately, and never had lessons. I have learned a lot from Brad Webb, though, as far as the music business, being a bandleader, and gigging biz.  I learned a lot about harmonica from Robert ‘Nighthawk’ Tooms and Blind Mississippi Morris. Guy Venable has shown me a lot about jug band music.  Songwriting, which may be my strong suite, I learned by spending time with Memphis Songwriters Association.”


Eric first played in a rock band in Little Rock in the mid to late 1990s.The blues influenced band played together for a couple of years. He came back to Memphis afterwards. In 2001 he started playing on Beale Street, and has continued to do so since. To pay his keep, Eric works for his family’s company. He plays multiple instruments, but primarily plays guitar and harp. He shares his time now playing in a duo with Guy (Venable) Jr. as well as with the Eric Hughes Band. The Eric Hughes band is Walter Hughes, Leo Goff, Guy Venable, Doug McMinn, Robert ‘Nighthawk’ Tooms, Jeremy Powell and Eric Hughes. Eric’s schedule keeps him busy playing on Beale and other mid-south venues. Each summer he also travels to Wisconsin for a week where he performs at local venues. 


Interesting Encounters…

When Eric was younger and just starting to play guitar, he was visiting his grandfather’s hunting camp one weekend. He was at the local ‘Wagon Wheel’ or ‘Big Bird’ store nearby and came across R.L. Burnside. Eric asked R.L for an autograph. Eric had a Sharpie marker; neither Eric nor R.L. could find a piece of paper for the autograph. R.L. then reached inside his jacket, pulled out his snub-nose and took a cartridge out. R.L. took the pen and wrote R.L. on the cartridge. Eric thought that was cool. Eric also met David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards and opened a show for him.  

In 2003 or 2004, Eric was setup on the sidewalk in front of Blues Hall. While playing guitar, an unusual couple came up and dropped an unexpected $20-30 tip in Eric’s guitar case. Eric remembers the woman was so beautiful, he was afraid to look up at her. The man was tall and thin with long hair, and a wild hat on. The man was signing along, and carrying a good tune with Eric’s guitar playing. After a couple of minutes the couple walked away. Seconds later, the employees of Rum Boogie Cafe ran out and asked Eric if he realized Chris Robinson (Black Crowes) and Kate Hudson had just visited with him. 


The Memphis Blues Society was set up by musicians for musicians…  


Eric founded the Memphis Blues Society in 2005. Several years prior, local blues jams occurred regularly. Participating musicians included Dave Bennett, Tom Stafford, Leo Goff, Robert Nighthawk, Guy Venable, Tom Stafford and others. Eric says “Carson & Preston (Lamm) really have been behind the MBS from the beginning. They both have always believed in me & my music, too. Gary Kabakoff, Sonny Hanks, Keven Eddy, James Cunningham and Mike Forrest were all there at the beginning too.”


During one of the jams in 2005, no doubt some liquid refreshment had been consumed; Eric and other musicians realized ‘Memphis’ didn’t have a Blues society. Tom Stafford spoke up and said “let’s start a blues society.”  So they got together and petitioned the Blues Foundation for a permit to start the Memphis Blues Society. The MBS was focused on blues jams, contests and sending an MBS member band to the IBC. The first year of the MBS, Delta Highway was sent to the IBC. Other jam contests were held. On one occasion, MBS members landscaped the grave of ‘Furry’ Lewis. During this time, Dave Bennett, Leo Goff, Robert Nighthawk, Guy Venable and other musicians all helped Eric with the MBS. Eric had a vintage ‘59 Gibson and ‘65 ‘Deluxe’ amp on hand to entice everyone to play at many of the jams (Eric stills uses his ’59 Gibson amp on stage now.) Eric started the MBS blues jams at the ‘Daily Planet’. Jams then moved to ‘The Belair’, followed by ‘TJ Mulligans’ (on Highway 64) and then on to ‘Neil’s Bar and Grille’ on Madison Ave. ‘Neil’s’ was a better location than previous spots. It had equipment, a better stage and Richard Butler was on sound. All combined made for great MBS blues jams at Neil’s. The jams were held at ‘Neil’s’ until a fire closed the venue in September 2011. Soon after, the jams moved to the present location on Beale Street at ‘Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall and Juke Joint’.


Credits and Recordings…

Credits to Eric include: March 2001- Winner, Memphis Songwriter's Award; Summer 2002 -Finalist, Beale Street Blues Society; 2003- Nominated ‘Best Local Band’ and ‘Best Local CD’ (The Memphis Flyer); 2004-Winner ‘Best CD’- Rosedale Blues Society; 2007-Winner ‘Battle of the Blues Competition’- Memphis Blues Society.


The Eric Hughes Band has (3) albums available, ‘Paycheck Boogie’ (2002), ‘Two in the Morning’ (2007) and ‘Live on Beale Street’ (2009). Eric also has a duo album titled ‘Scrappie Hughes & Guy Jr.’ (2011) recorded at his home studio. Eric is recording a new album titled ‘Drink Up’. The album is to include (8) original & (2) traditional tracks, including a Furry Lewis tune. I asked Eric what inspired the recording of the new album. “I recorded dozens of original songs at home using Apple's ‘GarageBand’ over the last three or four years. After I signed with the I-55 label, I presented what I thought were the best 20 or so to Brad Webb and Steve Bryson.  We selected the songs you'll hear on ‘Drink Up’, and we began rehearsing in October.  We recorded at Brad Webb’s studio, as I did with ‘Paycheck Boogie’ and ‘Two in the Morning’”. Eric is editing and mixing the album with Brad Webb and Dawn Hopkins. ‘Drink Up’ is scheduled for release March 30, 2013. 


Eric’s CDs are available at his gigs, ‘Memphis Music Records, Tapes & Souvenirs’, ‘Tater Red’s Lucky Mojos’ and ‘Spin Street Music’ in Memphis. CDs are also available from, and I-55 Productions ( You can also send an e-mail message to Eric ( and request an autographed CD. Digital downloads are available at iTunes,, and


Special thanks to Eric Hughes for all of his help and support with this article.

©2013 Mark E. Caldwell, All rights reserved.

Opinions by Silver Michaels, May 8, 2013

I’m a writer. I’m a journalist. I quantify, I justify, I don’t accept no alibi. I know full good and well I need to listen, analyze and give reason for my words. So for all of that, I’m sitting here getting ready to write about Drink Up!, the new release from the Eric Hughes Band, and everything inside of me just wants to type, “Dayam, dayam, DAYAM this is a great album!!” Eric’s been kicking out great music in the Memphis area for quite some time now. His formula? He takes his own natural abilities (accomplished singer, guitarist and harpist, and personality enough for three frontmen), surrounds it with equally-stellar musicians and runs all that behind truly memorable, well-written songs. His supporting cast for this album is long on talent and way high on the list of Memphis’ elite bluesmen; longtime cohort Leo Goff handles bass and backing vocals. Walter Hughes is on guitars, mandolin and backing vocals. Both Robert Nighthawk Tooms and Chris Stephenson contribute keyboards and Doug McMinn adds drums and congas. The whole deal is co-produced by Hughes and Brad Webb. Looking at that list goes a long way towards explaining the quality that beams from this album. A journalist spends a lot of time trying to determine influences and genre, even subgenres, to be able to more fully describe what is being heard. I struggled for a little bit trying to figure where to peg this one when my lightbulb moment hit: this is a wonderful and very unique blend that I can’t call anything but, simply enough, “Memphis Blues.” Memphis Blues is respectful of the music and its history; Memphis Blues understands the delta, understands a good time, understands harmony and misery. But then again, most good blues has those qualities. What makes Memphis Blues that little bit of unique is the crossbreeding with “Memphis Soul,” and that’s where this album is at its strongest. “That’s My Baby’s Mama” and “Repo Man” are superb case studies for anyone who wants to know what I’m referring to when I say “Memphis Blues.” They aren’t variations of the same theme in any way; the former is a light, breezy number that jumps at you with a great percussive line and melody, while the latter has a harder edge to it in keeping with the subject matter (and features some of the album’s best Hammond work). Still, both are funky to the core, utilizing great interplay between that Stax-influenced guitar playing and seriously soulful keys, all wrapped around bass lines that conjure up the Bar-Kays or Al Green or Issac Hayes at their best. Memphis Soul isn’t something you learn, it’s something that oozes out of you when you’ve been immersed in it for as long as these men have been. Another thing trademarked to Memphis Blues: its purveyors like stories and spend a lot of time telling them. Eric’s really good at this (catch him on a stage sometime and you’ll find that out soon enough) and he uses this ability to great advantage throughout this release. Cover tunes, for example, are most effective when an artist puts a personal stamp on them. Hughes goes at the classic “Mama Don’t Allow” from an unplugged standpoint, and emphasizes the “you can trust me / you shouldn’t have trusted me!” aspect of the song. The listener cannot help but walk away from this one smiling. “The Ballad of Weevil Point Willie” is a classic story ballad where poor Willie gets his in the end; it’s another of the album’s great delights that I can’t wait to hear live. If a showcase of blues stylings is impressive to you, you may well enjoy this one on a whole ‘nother level. “Blues Magician” bears a strong and favorable resemblance to Robert Cray’s “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.” “Raining on Beale” is Booker T. & the M.G.’s reincarnated, and thank the stars for it (sure do love me some killer keyboards!). “Going to Brownsville” is a top-notch porch-stomp straight outta Mississippi, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the “between us boys” humor of “Frostina.” “She uses an icicle to comb her hair / Ah, the woman sleeps in a Frigidaire,” bemoans Hughes, woven into yet another seriously good Stax-influenced rhythm-and-riff with beautiful play between the guitars and keyboards. I flat out love this album. I’ve been a fan of Eric’s for a long time now. His abilities on stage and in the studio have impressed me from the start, but here he’s taken it way beyond the next step. It’s a cinch that this one will be on my “Best Of” lists at the end of this year. In my opinion, if Drink Up! doesn’t pull you out of your funk…well, you might as well have another drink, and while you’re at it, book your reservation for Betty Ford right now. Ain’t nothing else gonna work for you.


Pete the Blewzzman
2011 "Keeping The Blues Alive" Award Recipient


Eric Hughes
"Drink Up"
I-55 Productions

By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © July 2013 

Beale Street, Memphis, TN. If you've happened to be there during the International Blues Challenge or the Blues Music Awards, you know what it's all about. If you haven't, you'll just have to take my word for it when I say that as a blues fan, there's no place like it. The "Boss of Beale Street" himself, Eric Hughes, surely agrees. But for him there's no place like it all year long. In addition to being one of Memphis' busiest musicians, he's one of the most sought after by the Beale Street juke joints. A look at his schedule will testify to that.

With "Drink Up" being his fourth release, Eric Hughes keeps himself quite busy in the studio as well. On this project, Eric - on lead vocals, guitars and harmonica - is joined by: Leo Geoff on bass guitar and backing vocals; Walter Hughes on guitars, mandolin and backing vocals; Robert Nighthwawk Tooms & Chris Stephenson on keyboards; and Doug McMinn on drums, congas and percussion.

As most of us know, there are all kinds of so called drinking games. Now, thanks to Eric Hughes, there's an official drinking game theme song. It's appropriately called "Drink Up", and it's the discs opening and title track. It's a snappy number with good rhythm and guitar work and it sounds like it's a heck of a song to dance.....and drink to. The catchy chorus line goes like this: "Drink up, drink up, drink up, lift your glass or your cup...
Don't tell me you've had enough, drink up, drink, up."
Unless, of course, you're the designated driver.

"That's My Baby's Mama" is Eric's way of referring to his ex, or as he says it - "my old used to be". Excellent lead vocals and backup harmony, smokin' rhythm led by Leo's deep bass lines and Doug's significant percussion - especially on the congas - and impressive organ and piano interludes easily make this one of the discs best.

Not everyone believes in black magic but us blues lover's all believe in blues magic. Since blues music is usually about bad things but yet it makes us all feel so good, you might just say that a blues musician is a "Blues Magician" - turning something bad into something good. Just ask any one of them and I'm sure you'll hear them say something like this - "I turn the sad to glad, but I ain't no magician, I sound good when I feel bad, I'm a blues musician." As I said, I'm a believer. Featuring strong blues vocals and lyrics and super blues harp blowin' from Eric with lots of blues guitar leads by Walter, this is one of the discs more traditional blues numbers. Which, of course, always rates high on my lists.

There are many things I never want to be told I've tested positive for, but hearing I've "Tested Positive For The Blues" is fine with me. That's what Eric's doctor told him, and we listeners are happy to hear it. Fun filled lyrics and real good guitar and piano leads from Walter and the keyboard cats highlight this one.

As a frequent visitor to Memphis, I've spent many a night partying while it was "Raining On Beale". Dealing with it is easy, you just stay in one club and drink up. This one's a cool, funky instrumental that for some reason made me think it would be a great theme song for a TV show. It's just got that feel. Leo and Doug, along with some help from the organist, are all of the rhythm right here, and Eric's guitar leads, as mellow and relaxed as they sound, are quite good.

Picture a scene you might see in a western movie that takes place along a boarder town in Texas. Now picture a bank robber arriving into town and heading into the bank. Now imagine the music you'd hear playing during this scene. You should mentally be listening to something that sounds like "The Ballad Of Weevil Point Willie". The lyrics may update the story but the music sounded just like I'd imagined it. Eric on the acoustic guitar, Walter on the mandolin and Doug on the drums are masterful on this one. Great track!

Other songs on "Drink Up", which features all original music, include: "Frostina", "Mama Don't Allow", "Repo Man", "Going To Brownsville", and "My Baby Got A Black Cat".

On a personal note, I want to say that I've had the pleasure of listening to all of Eric Hughes' releases and have also had the pleasure of seeing him live at least a half a dozen times. From those experiences, I highly recommend you go and find out how you can do the same. While you're there, tell him his buddy the Blewzzman sent you and that I'll see him on Beale Street sometime soon. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient