Interview: Jarekus Singleton

IMG_9736_edited-1Two years ago at the International Blues Challenge I had the good fortune to meet a young bluesman out of Mississippi. We chatted and hung out and as the week went along I became a fan of not only his music but him as a person. We spoke about life’s road and music and perception vs. reality – and with his consent, I officially declared him my ”nephew’.

We have been ‘framily’ ever since. I want to thank Peggy Brown & Marsha Wooten for introducing me to this incredible young man. Also Bill Wax for playing his music on his show and giving me the musical introduction to him.
Jarekus Singleton has no cap on his talent or ability, he is quickly becoming a ‘must see’ artist on the blues circuit. With his autobiographical music and lyrics that are some of the purest street poetry since the Beat Generation became, this young man is living proof that the Blues is Alive & Thriving.

B411: Jarekus – Hi. man how are things going, you keeping busy?
Jarekus Singleton: We had a cancel in our flight, so we had to stay in Houston for two days and I had to pay for hotel rooms. Eventually I had to get a rental car and my luggage still not with me. Then I had a Washington Post interview this morning that I had missed because I had had no sleep. It’s just been crazy

B411: Well that took care of the question I was going to ask you. I was going to ask you what was the most exciting thing that happened with all your touring!
JS: These are good problems. I like these problems.

B411: You’ve been busy dude – since January you were at the IBCs and then you signed with Alligator. You’re doing national touring now, right? You’ve been to California and all through the MidWest.
JS: We did Florida, Missouri, Illinois and then Delaware. We’ve got a 2 ½ month stretch in total. We’re gigging almost every day.

B411: That’s good! That’s getting the music out there to the people! That’s got to be cool for you. How does that feel?
Does it make you think why me or how did I get here?
JS: First, why me? I see a lot of talented cats. There are a lot of talented bands out there so I never take this lightly. I’m really blessed to be in the position that I am. And I really appreciate Bruce (Iglauer) and Alligator for being so supportive of me and my movement. I’m Jarkeus man, and that’s all the person I can be. I just was blessed enough that Bruce thought I was a pretty cool dude. It feels good Chef Jimi. My band – there are a lot of great bands out here. There are a lot of great bass players, guitarists, drummers. The thing that’s going to separate me from anybody else is the work ethic. And the fine tuning on details.

IMG_3387_edited-1B411: Your band is pretty tight. I’ve seen you many times now, and I’m still when I see you guys play, you bring it. And every day it’s new and it’s fresh. Even the songs I know, cause I’ve heard them and I like them, and I know you’re playing it and I hear it coming, and I’m like yeah, yeah, this is the good part! But still, it’s always strong and always fresh. That’s great. You’ve got a different keyboard player now on tour?
JS: My cousin that normally plays keyboard with me, he had some things to deal with with his family, so when I go on tour he’s not able to go. So I’ve just been hiring rhythm guitar players here and I’ve got another keyboard player named Sam Brady that’s going to be with me for the remainder of this tour.
In Missouri, I had to have a rhythm guitarist and this past trip I had another rhythm guitarist playing with us so I’ve just been doing what I have to do to keep it going.

B411: How did that work with the rhythm guitarists?
JS: It worked well. The first time, I used a guy named David Jackson who was originally from Chicago. He’s one of my mentors here in Mississippi. He’s been living here since ‘98 and I met him on the circuit out here and he has been giving me a lot of sound advice. Then on the Missouri trip, I used my Uncle Tony. He’s the one who taught me how to play bass. He was already living in Irvine, California. He came out with me on this last trip on the west coast and he played rhythm guitar with me.

B411: That’s cool.  So you’ve got fingers everywhere! You’ve got family all over the place. That’s good. You know they’re not going to mess with you.
JS: No, that ain’t going to happen.

IMG_3445_edited-2B411: It was nice to see you at your CD release – you and the band. It was a different setting. It wasn’t at the IBCs, it wasn’t 20 minute set and all of that where you have to make sure you introduced yourself and the band. It was just you guys playing and it was really fun to watch you and the band play. And the people in the crowd – they were digging it, they were dancing, people were just having a great time. There was one extended song that you did – it was what I was calling the “dance mix” – the “Jarkeus Dance Mix”. It reminded me, this might be a little weird, forgive me, it sort of reminded me of Michael Burks. Because Michael would just play. Michael would play 24/7 if people were listening. And you just played and you would break into something, you’d do a little Freddy King and then you’d circle back into the little dance groove. That was just really, really cool. It was amazing to see it happen.
JS: I appreciate that Chef Jimi!

B411: OK, so I said Michael Burks and I said Freddy King. You’re a guitarist, so I’ll start with that.
Who did you look to? Who were your influences as far a guitar players?
JS: Derek Trucks just overwhelmed me! A good friend of mine named Stacy introduced me to Derek Trucks in 2009. And ever since she introduced me to Derek, I’ve been like WOW!

B411: He does that to a lot of people!
JS: It’s off the charts. Of course the three Kings, – Albert, Freddy, B.B. – all those guys inspired me a lot. Even when I saw John Mayer do his thing with the 3 piece band, the trio blew my mind as well.
B411: I saw John Mayer with BB King, like 15 years ago in Chicago and my jaw was on the floor!
JS: I didn’t know John Mayer was that good, because all I heard was his commercial stuff. Hot stuff.
B411: Yep, he does what he wants to do. I wish he would do some more non-commercial stuff.
JS: When I heard him doing that trio thing, doing the Hendrix and BB King covers. I bought the trio album TWICE cause I scratched the first one up! I played it so much.

B411: You could have just him a note saying, John, send me a release! The other thing about what you do is that I just think you’re an amazing song writer. And I’m not the only one. What I hear in your song writing, to me it comes from the rap and hip hop world because of the way you rhyme things and the way you phrase things. Am I correct?
JS: You’re hitting the nail on the head! Me growing up, there was “our culture”. Me and my friends we always listened to rap. And when you’re in the hood, you pass by every door step and everybody’s got a boom box outside playing some music. Someone’s riding up and down the street with some big speakers in their trunk playing the latest Little Wayne CD or something. So that’s all I had, that and church. Especially when I went to Church, I had the gospel part. Then, when I went home, it was hip hop and rap banging you across the head.

B411: So who did you listen to? You mentioned Little Wayne.
JS: Cash Money was real hot at that time. They had that group called Hot Boys that Little Wayne was in. Of course JZ was one of my big influences in Rap. DM Mix. There were just so many cats. There were a lot of local artists in Mississippi that I was looking at too. There were just rap artists everywhere!
B411: It broke out like poison ivy!
JS: There was a whole culture. We’d go to school and free style at lunch and beat on the table.

B411: I thought that was great.  It’s such a creative thing to do. It just opens up all the channels for creativity. I see people and they say “that stuff [rap] is awful”.  Just stop and listen!
JS: All of the ones about the ho’s and the guns. Hip hop is anti-blues. At least that’s what I perceive it as, at least from a fan based style. The blues don’t have a lot of hip hop fans cause I don’t think they actually sit down and realize where it comes from and why it is the way it is. Just like hip hop people don’t sit down and realize where the blues comes from. And that’s why a lot of people are running away from it because they don’t know the history. A lot of people are also running away from Rap because they don’t know the history. They just know what they hear on the main stream on the radio.
B411: I’ve always said, that hip hop and rap are just modern day blues! Where does it come from? It comes from the hood! It comes from the Black community and that’s where the blues came from. So you’ve got to listen in to what the young guys are doing and what the people are signing about and putting down. Because those are the people you want to carry it on. You don’t want the blues to be just middle aged white folks. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I might argue that that is not the ‘real’ blues.

I think you’re on point when you say a lot of people don’t understand because they don’t take the time. I think that you’re doing that with your music. You’re putting down that bridge for us all to access and use to ‘cross-over’.  I know Grady Champion does a little mix of that.  It actually looks like it’s coming out of Mississippi.  I’m thinking Dexter Allen, Mr. Sipp people that I know, who combine a little bit of the young feel with a little bit of the blues to keep it contemporary and have young folks try to get behind it. That’s pretty cool.
JS: I’m just doing what’s in my heart. My momma pushed me. She said, all those lyrics that you’ve got, all those mix tapes that you were doing, and you were writing all these good lyrics. You need to use it. That was even before I started my band. When I had surgery [broken ankle that ended his basketball career], I was doing shows and cover tunes. When I came across a song, I’d play it for my momma and sing it for her. Because she was like, you need take that same approach that you were using for that rap stuff, you need to use that same approach for when you’re doing your blues thing. She’s the one that really opened my eyes to it. I’ve always been a person that’s been comfortable in my own skin. So I’m just doing me. That’s basically it!

B411: I met your mom! I thought that she was your sister!
JS: She does look pretty young. My momma is active. She’s always doing stuff. When she comes home, she’ll never sit down. She’ll try to find some work to do. My momma creates stuff. She made a chair out of neck ties! You can go sit on it right now and you’re not going to fall or nothing!

B411: Seriously?! That’s great. It’s nice that she supported you. As opposed to “just stop that stuff. You need to get a job.” That’s great because a lot of people don’t see that.
JS: She supported me. When she was growing up, my grand-daddy was a pastor of a church with her father. He preached against all this, against secular music. He preached against basketball. He preached against everything. My momma always told me, look, you do what you gotta do. I’m here to support you. Because she didn’t want my life being taken away because she didn’t get to follow her dreams. She couldn’t go to proms, the movies, all that kind of stuff. I thank god that she had the insight to just let me do what I needed to do.

B411: That’s sweet. Amen to that! So I have a burning question for you… people keep asking me this and I keep sending them to you, but no one seems to get the answer. So, for all the folks out there, what is #Reakdogginit? [both laughing] I’ve got to ask you that man!
JS: [laughing] Basically, the way it came about, one night I was by myself, it might have been about 2 o’clock in the morning. I was just driving, and you know people call you and say “man, what are you doing?” And they’re just trying to be nosy and see what you’re doing. And it really, it’s about me not trying to tell them what I’m doing but it’s just whatever I’m doing at the time. So if I’m #Reakdogginit, I might be driving. But I’m #Reakdogginit, I’m being me. I might be playing a video game, but I’m #Reakdogginit. I’m just chillin. I might be practicing on my guitar, so I’m #Reakdogginit. These are things that I do to keep my mind at ease, so I’m doing me, I’m #Reakdogginit.
B411: Well that will make a lot of people happy!
JS: I kind of like the fact that they don’t know.  I’m just doing me. And that’s another thing, for me, it was always a foundation for me to have them. I’m not a reactive person, I’m a pro active person. So that’s me encouraging my self to keep doing what I’m doing. Don’t worry about what no one else is doing.
B411: That will make you crazy!
JS: I don’t get caught up in what another person is doing. I congratulate people. I’m moving forward. I’m going to focus on what I’m doing and keep my eyes on what I feel like my vision is and keep working at that. That’s the main reason for the #Reakdogginit thing.

B411: You talk about being you,  I was looking up your basketball history.  I was reading one of the scouting reports about you and they said something really interesting. Somebody saw something there, and said you make everybody better when you were playing ball. They talked about your skill set. But they said you make everybody on the court better. Which is high praise. and I think that’s really true.
You’re an honest, sharing, and caring person.  I’m sure when you played ball, you fed the ball to other people. But you also set picks to get somebody an open shot. You found the open guy, you laid it out and everybody saw that, and everybody tries a little bit harder.  I see that in your music, in what you do with the band. It’s very lifting.
JS: A lot of times, when you’re a leader – I’ve been a leader since I can remember. When I started playing ball, 8, 9, 10 years old, I was always the leader of the team. Being a leader doesn’t mean the person who takes all the shots. Leader doesn’t mean the person who takes all the money. Leader doesn’t mean the person who tells everybody what to do. A leader is a thing that keeps everybody together. The leader always makes the best decision for the situation. That’s why Michael Jordan got the ball all the time, because he had an honest heart when trying to win the game. How many times have you seen him pass the ball to Steve Kerr and he won the game? Or Paxton? I even saw him pass one to Bill Wennington, for God’s sake! [laughing]
B411: Damn, now that’s a leader!
JS: You can talk about LeBron James. How many times does he make a play to win a game and it isn’t necessarily about him shooting the ball.
B411: LeBron seems to have struggled with that a little bit, but he seems to have found it. It’s hard. You know how hard it is when you’ve got 24/7 eyes on you. He was trying. He was working on that a lot this year and he was getting a lot of flak for it. Because he would pass to D.Wade or Bosch. And people would say, he should take the shot. But you understand.
A lot of people who never played a competitive level of sports that they don’t understand the whole meshing of teamwork.

JS: He could score 50 every night, but if he loses, it’s nothing. That’s the same mentality I took with my band. When I first started, I told them, this is bigger than me. Because I can’t do it by myself. I wouldn’t have started a band otherwise. I need those cats to be who they are so I can be who I need to be. And the foundation part, I talk with them about it all the time. People give me a lot of credit, and they give the band a lot of credit to. But without the band having that foundation up under me, when I’m doing what I need to do, I wouldn’t be as effective as I am now if they weren’t. Michael Jordan never won a championship until Scotty Pippin and Horace Grant came. LeBron didn’t win a championship when he was in Cleveland. A lot of people can’t even name his teammates when he was in Cleveland.
B411: That’s true, I can’t!

JS: If the team isn’t moving forward, if you don’t have the teammates – then it’s going to hurt the team. To be a good leader, you’ve got to know how to be a good teammate first. I’ve learned how to do that. It’s a humbling experience man! It’s just a great experience to have. And some people never get that. Some people go a lifetime and never grasp that concept. I thank god for insight. For being able to see certain things, for him giving me insight to be able to see what I need to correct, some of what I need to change. It’s a daily process. Everybody talks about the guy that’s in front, good or bad, that’s why the guy that’s in front has got to have Teflon skin. You’ve got to be strong minded. You’ve got to be able to take the good with the bad.
B411: Even if it’s not called for.
IMG_0219_edited-1JS: Sometimes people say Jarekus’ band was crazy, the did some crazy stuff the other day. You’ve got to be able to take full responsibility for it, that’s why I’ve got to be a good leader and teach my band how they should act. How they should conduct themselves. How they should do this and do that. Because that’s the only way were going to move forward.

B411: Right, because it’s not just you. It’s not just Jarekus. It’s the band. I know. Every time I see them, I tell them, especially now that you guys are getting some play. Getting some light. I tell them Jarekus is great, but you guys are also great. I know that Jarekus thinks of everybody as one. It’s my way of telling them that they’re good. And also that they’re important. I hope that when it comes from someone else, they really understand that they do count.
JS: Sometimes I don’t say certain things because I don’t want to sound like a broken record. When someone says something to the band, and they echo what you’ve been saying, it comes across as a lot better. They’re used to be barking at them.

IMG_0171_edited-1B411: Where are else is going on?
JS: I just want to thank everybody who did something to help me. Anybody who ever came to a show because my name was on it. Anybody who ever bought a CD because my name was on it. That means a lot to me. That’s success to me to know that I’m inspiring other people. That people that email me or Facebook me or tweet my lyrics to me and get a joy out of it, and my lyrics help somebody get thru a certain thing. I’ve been getting so much love from a lyrical standpoint, from a song writing standpoint. I want to thank Blues411, because you always talk about my lyrics. I saw Leslie saying some things about my lyrics. If Bruce and Alligator never would have given me the chance to have this opportunity to convey the things that I’m trying to say thru music, then a lot of this recognition I wouldn’t be getting. The Alligator family is really supportive. They send me text messages encouraging me. The whole staff is just extremely nice, they’re self-motivated people. That’s a testament to Bruce, because Bruce finds a person that’s young and driven and that’s smart and works hard, he reels them and genuinely takes care of them like they’re his own children. He’s genuinely given me advice like his own children. He’s supportive and he’s there for me. They’ve all done me the same way, so it’s like a big labor of love at Alligator Records. I’m so excited to be there. I’m blessed.

B411: Well you deserve to be there.
JS: Well I’ve also got to thank Peggy Brown
B411: Downtown Peggy Brown, she is an amazing lady.
We’ll see you at the Pennsylvania Blues Festival on Sunday July 27. You’re doing two shows – one on the main stage and one on the adventure center stage.
JS: Yes we are. Thanks so much Chef Jimi! We’ll see you soon.

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2014
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411

An early review of his first release ‘Heartfelt‘ from us in February 2013.
Of course his site, his preview in USA Today and his page at Alligator Records .

Interviews: Samantha Fish Swimming In The Blues

A great turn out across Western NY State for this up and coming Blues lady, Ms. Fish is riding a wave that started with her appearance on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, then Girls With Guitars, and now reaching further with her release ‘Runaway’ being nominated for a Blues Music Award in the Best New Artist Debut. 

We enjoyed her and her band, Go Go Ray (drums) & Paul Greenlease (bass) performing to a packed house at the famous Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester, NY (where the music is always free) and spent a little bit of time chatting her up so we can all get to know more about her.

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B411: So by the turn out tonight – which was really great – I would think that the ‘Girls with Guitars’ tour helped with getting you and your music out there for people. You did appear here with them last year for the Jazz festival.

Samantha Fish: I definitely think it helped a lot. We got exposure to markets we have not been to before. I hadn’t been to these areas in the East before, I am still a young artist and before Girls With Guitars I was doing mostly regional work, and with Girls we got to Canada, Europe and it opened a lot of doors for me. I also led me to Piedmont Talent, it has been very helpful.

B411: When I first saw you on the cruise you were jamming in with Trampled Under Foot, or with the Girls tour, and now finally with your own band. My how you have grown !

SF: The cruise was a jam thing, I jammed with everyone. Mike Zito helped me get to a lot of the jams, Pro-Am’s, Pros, Am’s – I just jammed the cruise away. I jammed with Tab Benoit, so everyday I hit all the jams. So with Girls With Guitars it still wasn’t my music – it was more of a collaboration, it was great, a fun project. Now you get to see me do my own thing. I am more comfortable now. It’s been kinda cool, I get to play with my own band and my own music. So I think one does get more comfortable after playing a lot and getting used to being up there.

B411: Yes, but there is comfortable and then there is the engaging part of it. You just won the crowd over with your openness and repartee with them. I saw it, it’s was very professional and personal. Plus they loved your set.
It was great to see some of the younger folks there, and I overheard them referring to you as sort of Stevie Ray Vaughn styled blues-rock, that’s great because you drew them in and they stayed the majority of the set.

SF: Yeh all the young kids go thru that, they hear a guitar and they go “Stevie Ray Vaughn”. That’s funny he was one of the first people I picked up on when I was getting into the Blues. I was a kid, and he bridged that gap to the main stream. I’m twenty three now so he was a major person when I was picking up the guitar.

B411: That’s so important to bring people your age and younger into the Blues, otherwise we are gonna crawl off into a corner and die.

SF: That is so true, and I am so aware of that. A few years ago I met Shirley King, B.B. King’s daughter, and she wanted me to come up to the Chicago Blues Fest to meet some people and jam. Oh, I jammed I front of Koko Taylor – Shirley was so nice to me, but she told me that we need to get young people into the Blues because they bring younger demographics into it. Kids relate to kids, it’s about being able to relate to the music, so it does open the door for kids to get into the Blues, and then they can learn more about it’s history. I mean after I started playing I fell on love with Charley Patton and Skip James, Freddy King – but Stevie Ray opened the door. We need someone to bridge the gap for young people.

B411: Yes, but there is the fact that they were here tonight, not in a sterile environment like an iPod…

SF: Live music is so important – you can’t get the same feeling. I mean there are some recordings that I go wow over, but it happens the most when you see it in concert. For me the last time was when I was on the Bluescruise and Tab Benoit was singing “These Arms of Mine”, and the wind was blowing and he had a horn section with Jimmy Thackery – man there never was a better moment than that one. That’s what live music will do to you. It kills you!

B411: Speaking of Tab, you mentioned him as one of your influences on guitar, tell me more.

SF: I’d definitely say so. A lot of the guys that influenced me the most, I did take a lot from older recordings, like BB & Freddie King and the Stones and Tom Petty were big also. But when I started to going to see live shows, it was guys like Ronnie Baker Brooks. Mike Zito, Tommy Castro, Trampled Under Foot and Tab really deeply influenced me. I almost had to leave the shows because I wanted so to just go home and play guitar. I think when you see it right up front is when it moves you the most.
It’s all those things that inspired me but live music hits me the hardest.

B411: How long have you been playing?

SF: Since I was fifteen. I really didn’t start playing out live till I was nineteen, twenty. I know it doesn’t sound like a long time but for me it’s a giant chunk of my life. I feel like I have learned a lot.

B411: It was interesting, you opened with your version of “Rollin’ & Tumblin’” classic straight up Blues. You also did “Goin’ Down Slow”, big time classic Blues numbers.

SF: I wasn’t sure if I should open with a cover, but that one “Rollin & Tumblin’” has always has been one of my hardest hitting songs. It’s a guitar driven song, and I can sing my butt off so it helps set things up. Now “Goin’ Down Slow” is a bastardized version of a Howling Wolf song, re-done by Bobby Blue Band, re-done by Albert Castiglia and bastardized by me. Castiglia’s version of that – he played it in Kansas City and I was right down in front and I felt I just had to learn that song. It’s funny because now I look at my set list and I’m going “holy crap I should write some songs’. I mean I also never thought that I would be playing at the same festivals as these folks, it’s so great.

B411: So ‘Runaway’ is more of your own music than covers.

SF: Yes, a lot of original songs. Actually Mike Zito produced that album, he did a great job. We even co-write a song “When Push Comes To Shove” we’ve yet to play it together, but we are doing a lot of festivals together so we’re gonna have to re-learn it. Mostly we will be doing mid-west gigs, I am opening for Royal Southern Brotherhood in a few places. Yeh, I’m gonna force Zito to come up and play that song with me, get ready Mike!

B411: The line between doing covers and originals is tough to call – I mean you just did ‘Wild Horses‘ by The Stones, and it was waay good. So sometimes they become part of your experience and as an artist you need to do them, with your take on it.

SF: I love that song, and have had some many people want us to put it on a record, but i am writing so many ballads these days I’m not sure I can do that one too.

B411: It can just be a live treat from you. On “Runaway” you did an excellent version of “Louisiana Rain” it just kicked the original’s ass. Sorry Tom!

SF: Thank you. I love Tom Petty, my dad listened to Tom Petty, he was my parents favorite artist. I love his songwriting, him and Tom Waits, they are so imaginative and creative storytellers. I hadn’t heard that song, I was in the studio with Mike Zito in November and we were discussing what we would put on the album, and we decided on Tom Petty and he said ‘Louisiana Rain‘ – I had never heard it. So I wound up listening to it in my room and played it about thirty times, and I just fell in love with the song. I wondered what was wrong with me since I hadn’t heard the song – I thought of myself as a fan.

B411: Was it off of “Damn The Torpedoes”, I don’t recall?

SF: Yeh, it was, I have that album and probably never listened to the song, it musta been the mandolin intro that I thought would never end. See what I’ve missed.

B411: On a personal note if I may, you and Kris Schnebelen (Trampled Under Foot) have been together a few years now. With both of you performing and touring artists how easy (hah hah) or difficult is it for you guys to keep it together?

SF: We’ve been together for over three years now, a pretty long time for me in life years. It wasn’t like this in the beginning of the relationship because neither of us was touring a lot. They had just won the IBC’s so they were getting their feet into it. It can be like ships passing in the night, but what’s cool about us is that we understand what each is doing. He is the most supportive person I have, the love and support will pull us through it. We feel lucky for the time we have together. Who knows we might wind up hating each other if we spend all our time together (we both laugh aloud). Nah, it makes our time thankful for the time we have together, and we appreciate that we both have something to do that we love to do for a living.

B411: Some very wise words from one so young, I understand perfectly as Leslie and I have been together going on thirty-three years and also appreciate the time away and agree with you on the time spent together. Thanks so much and see you in Memphis hopefully holding a nice new statue in your hands.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
photos: Blues411

For a photo gal1ery and quick review of her performance in Rochester, visit also contains photos from good pal to Blues411 Martin Goettsch.



Photo Gallery/Performance Review: Joe Louis Walker with Steve Grills

With St. Patrick’s Day barely erased from my mind, it was time to switch gears and catch some outstanding Blues in Rochester, NY. Yeh, Rochester the one time home to Son House, current home of Joe Beard, and the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest, hopefully one day will embrace the Blues heritage it possesses.

Opening for Joe Louis was local Rochester Bluesman, Mr. Steve Grills. With his band The Roadmasters they feature old school Blues that harkens back to the days when sound, not power were the rulers of the guitar blues.  Straight-up shuffles to slow burning desirous pleas, from Freddie King and Earl Hooker influenced riffs with strong vocals Steve Grills is the real deal and Rochester is blessed to have him here. There is not a band here who would have been a better choice to open for Joe Louis Walker.

Joe Louis Walker marries rock and blues together and produces a beautiful child of substance that is at one older than the years yet as new as each dawn. A flawless guitar master, Mr. Walker can give you what you want with out you knowing that you want it. His is equally adept at the T-Bone Walker jump blues, to rocking out with a Stones inspired “Black Girls”, and all points in between.

His version of “I Don’t Sing For Free” brought gospel feeling to what has become the anthem for musicians everywhere. Setting up the song with vocal harmonies from Bertha Blades and other band members  they took the song to church and made believers of us all. Ms. Blades is a stunning vocalist, powerful, energized and engaging she provides the counter point to Mr. Walker’s somewhat laid back style, plus they work so well off each others energy that it is contagious.

Mr. Walker was both professional, friendly and gracious as he allowed Mr. Blades to front the band on two numbers which showcased her  ability to sing and deliver a song. Mr. walker did the same for his guitar partner Mr. Murali Coryell. Murali is the son of one of the most influential guitar players ever, Mr. Larry Coryell. Murali brought us tot he house of funk with his “A Minor Funk” from his latest release “Sugar Lips” and then switched gears with a slow deeply emotional “I Could’ve of Had You”. Thank you Joe for allowing us to see these fine artists in their own right, it is a tribute to your excellence that they play alongside of you.

It was the band’s last night of the tour in support of Joe ‘s new release “Hellfire” and they were relaxed and in a fine state of mind. Bertha’s family came to the show and it was great to see them support her as well as the rest of the band. Joe took the time to meet and greet them after the show giving hugs all around, love was in the air and we were thrilled to be part of it all.



Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
photos: Leslie K. Joseph

The 411 in 15: Laurie Morvan Skinny Chick with Big Game !

B411: Was it/is it difficult for a lady who plays guitar to be taken seriously or to get work?
LM: At this point it is hard for everyone, it’s not just hard for woman. I don’t want it to sound like its women complaining – it isn’t – the music is so hard. Now woman do have a different flavor of trouble. When I started playing, this was in the late 80’s, there were people who treated you as a novelty, instead of as an artist, and nobody wants that. Yeah there have been times that I was frustrated – things that I couldn’t get, shows that I couldn’t get on.
There was this one club that I could just never get in, and I knew I belonged there. So I had one of my male friends try to book me in – ya know man to man. He came back and said to me that he never realized how hard it was for a female guitar player to get booked. He said it was so eye-opening for him, the guy told him women shouldn’t be playing – so I never got booked there till he sold it and BOOM I got booked.
Inappropriate things have been said to me, or you are not being taken seriously, but ya know what, as I said everyone has a different flavor of hardship that they go thru – it’s all blah, blah, blah – but once you do get on stage and you play your ass off, then who’s gonna argue with you after that?
Sometimes the doors don’t get opened for you and sometimes it still happens. There have been festivals where I have been told ‘we already booked our woman’ singular. I have been told that within the last couple of years. My lord there are like twelve male acts but there can only be one woman. I kinda shake my head, it’s like the woman are a genre ! That can be a little weird but all that being said there may also be a guy who can’t get on because they might have a guy who already plays a purple guitar – see what I’m saying, it’s all different flavors of hardship we all get them thrown at us in some form, but yes it is different in some cases for women.

B411: Yeh I understand, but I am not a women and I (and possibly other men) don’t know what it’s like. The very first time I saw Bonnie Raitt (in like 1978) since there was no other female that I could relate her playing to I said she played it like a man. I think that the lack of women guitar players created that thought in my mind – I had no where else to go with it, no prior experience.
LM: Yeah people say that to me ‘you play guitar like a guy’ and I say no I play like a girl – this is exactly how a woman plays a guitar. I am a woman and I play guitar so this is it !

B411: Candye Kane told me her response to someone saying that Laura Chavez played like a man, it was something to the effect that she’s playing it with her hands not her female parts, hands are non-gender specific !
LM: Great answer. You try to stay low key about that. I have been playing along time now. The Blues world might be just discovering me in the last four or five years but I’ve been pounding in the clubs. I used to play Rock & Roll and found my way to the Blues. I wish I could have been exposed to the Blues when I was eighteen, but I didn’t know anyone who was listening to it. I just wasn’t exposed to it, and that’s what it takes, you need to have access to it to know you love it.
That’s what the Blues was like to me, when I first heard it I was like ‘ahh what is this beautiful music that I have just never been exposed to’, and then I went after it.

B411: So you come from a Rock background ?
LM: I was in a power trio, it was the late 80’s early 90’s. Stuff like Heart, Pat Benatar, Jimi Hendrix, we did Eric Clapton, and it starts to point in that direction, then Stevie Ray Vaughn – who is this Stevie guy ? It’s such a wonderful musical palette all the forms of it. But what gets my heart pumping is the Rock & Roll influenced Blues, I just love it. My desert island music is Stevie Ray Vaughn. He was my gateway to the Blues so I will always love him and his style of Blues. It’s kinda like your first love which you never will forget.

B411: Any other influences that you found when you went back to the Blues?
LM: Bonnie Raitt, of course. But again, I came through Pop Music to discover it. So you listen to her pop tunes and then to some of her older stuff and realize how cool they were and want to learn more about all of it. I think one of the greatest songwriters in the whole wide world ever was Freddie King. To me the breadth of his songwriting and the influence it still has is just incredible.
I consider myself a songwriter first, and you know how much I like to play guitar, but to me music is all about the song. Without a real song the guitar playing would have no meaning. The guitar is there to serve the song and help energize the people. But I think the song will transcend and that’s whats gonna last. Sure Freddie King was a great guitar player, but what we remember are his songs. That’s what stirs peoples hearts, I’ve always admired that about him.

B411: He was the complete package for sure. It pays to be able to play and sing – to get that spirit level to a good balance, as I said the whole package.
LM: Yes, I sort of liken it to track and field where you can have the worlds greatest 100 yard sprinter, the worlds best shot putter, the world’s best high jumper and no one else can do these things better. But then you have the decathlete, people who can do many things and do it all well. They never will be the best at any one thing and that’s the way I look at musicians like me. You always find a better singer than me, or guitar player or business manager but I have to do ten things in my band and have to do them all well. So when you are going for that total package your brain has to multitask therefore you can’t specialize. It all kind of comes around to where in track and field you have the decathlete in the Blues you have the entertainer. You become the complete entertainer, can you talk to the audience? Can you relate to them, do you have stories behind your songs…..but there are only 24 hours a day, I am interested in a lot of things so being an entertainer is what I see myself as globally. I want people to have a good time, I want people to walk away from my show saying it was a good way to spend some time, they felt the fellowship with the band and their music. So all the other parts feed the main goal as being a great entertainer.

Visit Laurie on her web site:

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2011
photos: Leslie K. Joseph