Kevin Burt

Blues musician, Coralville

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Kevin Burt, Blues musician, Coralville

Kevin Burt

Born and reared in Waterloo, Kevin “B.F.” Burt, like Peniston, grew up singing in church choirs and became a social worker. When a co-worker praised his powerful voice several years ago, Kevin began attending local blues jams, where he met a group of talented musicians who decided to form their own band, Kevin Burt and The Blues Instigators. Led by Burt on lead vocals, the group includes Dan Johnson on bass, Eric Madson on drums, and Matt Panek on guitar.

Blues music is truly American music. Its roots include the African griots, who sang stories in Western Africa and the Black slaves who sang work songs on Southern plantations. The roots of blues music are in the "call and response" singing style common to Western Africa, African American gospel music, and traditional work songs. By the early 1900s, the blues were a recognizable musical form, sung largely by African Americans. The music came to the Midwest via the Mississippi and the railroad, both of which drew Blacks from the Mississippi Delta to Iowa in the 1920s and 1930s. After World War II, blues musicians in the rural South began using electric guitars, which created a style known as "urban blues." Blues took on a more driving sound as it moved into St. Louis and Chicago. Over the decades, this musical style has influenced the development of country, rhythm and blues, rock-a-billy, and rock 'n' roll.  

Many of the African American blues musicians in Iowa came to Waterloo in the 1950s, though there was a Black community in that town from the early years of the 20th century. Names like Louis McTizic, Ethelene Wright, Ernie Peniston, Kevin Burt, Taz, Joanne Jackson, and Charlie James Morgan are well-known in central and eastern Iowa's blues scene. The musicians play a range of styles, though the Chicago style with its R&B and jazz influences is the most common. Many have their musical roots in church choirs and musical families, where they first learned to sing. 

Kevin Burt

Burt’s band, The Instigators, has toured the Midwest for over 15 years, playing songs on the funky side of the blues. They’ve had the opportunity to observe, work with, interview, and perform with blues legends like Koko Taylor, B.B.King, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Albert Collins, Luther Allison, and many more. Burt himself has been the lead educator for the Linn County Blues Society's Blues In the Schools Program since 1994, and he’s presented over 300 workshops on blues and blues influence.

Kevin Burt and the Blues Instigators perform a Blues repertoire of old and new songs by such artists as Bill Withers, Muddy Waters and CCR to create an indigenous Iowa sound. Kevin Burt and The Blues Instigators perform at various blues venues and festivals from small towns to major cities such as Kansas City, Chicago, and St. Louis. For further information, go to

Contact: Kevin Burt, cell: 319/466-5122