I finally (can you believe it) got to see Lucky Peterson in concert. What a show, amazing energy, a top flight band and music that shook one to their very soul.
His past has been documented in various places, his incredible ups, as well as, his dark lows. That’s for another time and place.
What peaked my interest tho’ was his partner, and wife Tamara. Who was this lady, what role did she have in all this, and when did she enter the scene.
I had the great joy of chatting with her in December and hope you take some time to read and learn more about this intriguing lady.
Blues411: Well now, where were you guys these past few weeks? You are always travelling all over the place?
Tamara Peterson: Well we left the cruise, and went off to Marseilles to finish Lucky’s new release for 2014. He also recorded a video as well at those sessions. We then played in Florida at the Performing Arts Center and then off to Canada for a performance at the Calgary Arts Center.
B411: Just amazing the roads you guys travel. Canada is a far cry from Dallas. Let me say that the performances on the Legendary Rhythm & Bluescruise were the highlight of my time there. I can’t believe y’all were so darn good. I hope that Lucky gets nominated for a Blues Music Award as Entertainer of the Year, he was that good. (Note: Well we can see that some people didn’t think so, but he did win a ‘Jimi Award‘ for Keyboard Player of the Year).
TP: Well thank you, that would be great.
B411: I really mean that, considering all that he has done and continues to do I just think that the community needs to thank him and show some appreciation.
B411: So what can we expect from the new release that you mention?
TP: Well wait, did you know that our children have recorded on our new 2014 release. It’s is my son, and the daughter of Lucky that we raised – a 14 year old and a 22 year old. They are both on this new release and we are so proud of them.
B411: That’s very cool, it’s keeping the blood lines in the music. I am so looking forward to hearing all of this very soon.
B411: So how did you guys meet, I know there is a story to this.
TP: Oh yes there is….I had been singing here in Dallas with the band ‘Network’ for over seven years. The leader of the band had been touring with Lucky, as a drummer, and one night when they were back in Dallas, he brought Lucky to the Executive Club where I was singing, and as the story goes he was sitting all the way in the back and looked up at the stage and proclaimed “I’m gonna marry her” Now he was still getting high back then, and everyone laughed at the thought, and we still do – heck a lot of people said that but he was true to his word. He spoke the truth that night.
This was about five years before we hooked up – so Lucky hired three guys from my band so that left me with no band to sing with.
B411: Now that’s a smart man. Hire the band and maybe sway the singer to join too.
TP: I would get on them (the band) about me not having a band to sing with and how could they do that to me and so on. I remember that they had just returned from playing in Japan a few months later and they had said he was thinking of expanding the band. He had been traveling with a twenty-two piece band – it was the Bootsy Collins Lifetime tour. So anyway my former band members said he was going to audition locally for vocalists and background singers and that I should go for it.
I had never really heard of Lucky Peterson and the blues were not my preferred genre. But I can remember sitting with my mother one night, and I wasn’t having a very good night. I had a small child and life was just not the best….
B411: I understand, would be tough to go on the road and leave the child behind and such, but you had a great support group with your mom there.
TP: True. So I had called a friend and asked if Lucky was still looking for singers and he said yes tonight – in Fort Worth. So I auditioned, and he hired me.
There we were sitting at two-top, he was telling me all the songs to learn and from which album, basically briefing me on what was ahead of us.
Well see, he was involved with someone at the time. So she came and stood with her back to me, facing him – doing what we ladies do – and said “I’m ready to go!”. Lucky said “OK I just want to wrap this up so go to the car and I’ll be right there.”
She walked off, and we both thought she was gonna do what he said, you know just roll with it – but she came back and drenched him with an ice cold jug of water in the club after he performed. That was kind of strange. I certainly didn’t need this. So I decided that I’m not going….
So I got phone calls later from the band and friends saying how it was a great opportunity and I should just put that behind me. Well I ended up going with the band.
B411: That’s got to be hard, it’s almost like she was marking territory and letting you and him know she was hip to something even if you two were not.
How did that effect your working relationship with Lucky and the band? I mean it’s not like ya were an item or anything right?
TP: For about the first week or so – because that had happened – there was like a chemistry between us. I tried not to have any conversations or eye contact with him, but you can’t do that – that’s your boss, you need to work together. When you are on tour like that, these great big tour buses, 2 living areas and it’s fun. You become family since you are living together. So everyone was hanging out and Lucky would be there with them and I would walk in – or vice versa – it would get strange, the tension would just rear it’s head. I don’t know if everybody else would notice but Lucky and I certainly noticed.
B411: So how did you two overcome that obstruction or roadblock? Something had to give otherwise you could not go on as a band.
TP: Well that went on for the first week, and into the second. Then I started to hear conversations about Lucky being sick and possibly canceling shows. Now Lucky ain’t shy, he is what he is and happy to be that. So when you see that personality go into a shell and know to your heart something ain’t right. But I didn’t know what was wrong.
He was scaling like a snake, you could peel skin on his finger and it would go up his arm. So the doctors came in and said he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This is when I stepped in and knew what to do.
I would wash his hair and lubricate his skin, trying to nurse him back. This caused us to become the best of friends. I had some issues at home and we would talk it out and develop a trust and friendship between us. We had bonded so much by the end of the tour.
Lucky had a family at that time and we had this conversation at the end of the tour like “well go home and try to make it work, and if it don’t work you know where to find me.” He flew to Atlanta for one day and on the second day he called me and said ”guess where I am?” He was at the airport headed to Dallas. I been with hat man ever since.
B411: How very cool, yes there are things that, like the five hundred pound elephant in the room, you can ignore it, but you gonna have to deal with it sooner or later. Great story, I am happy for you two.
B411: How did you guys develop the show that we see? It has the feel of an old school R&B show, with those obvious Tina Turner references, like when you do ‘Proud Mary’. How did you develop it?
TP: That’s a good question, I’m not sure anyone has ever asked that…well here goes.
With Lucky’s drug battle it consumed our lives. He was the addict with the drug addiction but I was addicted on the other end – trying to keep him from doing it. I would behave just like him. Like those twelve -step programs, it’s one day at a time. I’m the nurturing mother who is sometimes overprotective.
Now I said that to say this. When I started singing with Lucky away from the background it was like we needed each other to be there for each other. It goes that way every day, it’s been about seven years since he first started making his way and taking those steps.
B411: Thank you for doing that, it is hard – if not nearly impossible to do it on your own – and for you to take up that burden of love and get it done. In a selfish and personal way it has made Lucky available to me and for that I thank you.
TP: You know what though, it’s been a great support system for both of us. My mother and father, siblings have kept us together. Sometimes it a friend, or a pastor. It’s different people we all say “if it wasn’t for that person…” Having a good support system around is so important. It could be what you are saying right now, it helps us to hang on and push a little farther.
B411: Let’s switch gears here. Tell me about your musical training did you sing in church or go to school?
TP: I went to The Performing Arts School here is Dallas, I went to school with Roy Hargrove and Erykah Badu, and my daughter goes there right now.
B411: Ok, so you have training now how hard is it – or how do you guys manage to incorporate ‘your music’ into the set. It’s not the blues, but the music that is essential for you to sing?
TP: Kinda, we are getting there (we laugh). We have this conversation a lot. I don’t want to hinder what he has to offer or to disappoint the audience he has already developed. At times it is overwhelming for me – and both of us actually. In a way it keeps us from both doing what we really want to do. Lucky can do all of it (music styles) jazz, blues, but he has a great audience in the blues. He’ll teach me a few things, I am not a Blues artist, I can sing it and feel it but…
It’s a challenge for us to come together and will be appreciated and enjoyed, while sharing with the audience a part of our souls and what we like to do.
When we were in Canada doing acoustic sets we just went thru what we thought would work and what people would enjoy.
B411: After seeing you guys I think you managed it very well, the mix of what Lucky does and what you bring to the table. It’s a compromise but not in the negative sense. Sometimes compromise is nothing but losing yourself. Plus I hope that most of Lucky’s audience is open enough to accept what you guys are putting down. But as an artist you need to play what is inside of you and needs to come out. Thank you for the time, this has been fantastic and enlightening to speak with you, and I hope that we get the chance to see each other again very soon.
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411