Long Beach talent search #1 001

To Blues or Not To Blues?

Thursday August 6, 2015

Rhythm Lords
Fifth installment of Throw Back Thursdays blog

To Blues or Not To Blues?

When I first started playing music professionally (1973) I mostly played in cover bands. Some of these bands played rock and some played country and some played the blues. I was happy working as a sideman and I was content to just play my guitar and sing some back-up vocals now and then. But as I began working with more songwriters, the songwriting bug bit me and bit me hard.

I’d always had a dream in the back of my mind that I’d like to be a front man guitarist/singer/songwriter. Just like Hendrix, Billy Gibbons and later Stevie Ray – I love power trios. I wanted to try something different, something big. I began writing a lot. Songs were pouring out of me – probably because of my father’s recent death and the break-up with someone I loved very much.

When I started the Rhythm Lords in 1988, the Blasters were pretty much the closest thing you could get locally to a hard rockin’ blues-a-billy out-fit. Then I discovered bands like the Mighty Flyers, James Harman and William Clark and later the Paladins. And so this was the climate that the Rhythm Lords came from.

But I was also deeply into bands like Los Lobos, The Cruzados and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. When I write a song it comes from a variety of influences. I have never thought of myself or my songwriting as coming from any one genre. I have always mixed styles to find my own voice. But when it comes to the Rhythm Lords, the blues seem to come through loud and clear.

In the beginning I didn’t think of us as a blues band, but that’s what everyone started calling us. I thought it was kinda funny that people were calling us a blues band while we were blasting out songs like Venting Anger, El Norte and Pay His Way, but the description stuck whether I wanted it or not.

The blues scene was alive and well during the 1980s and 1990s and the Rhythm Lords came along at the right time I guess. And so we began to gravitate toward that sound more and more. I have never felt that we were a blues band. Even when Eric VonHerzen joined in 1993, I was still writing songs without borders and boundaries. I hate following the lines laid out by others. I like to mix styles and influences and change the typical blues form and make it more accessible to the general public.

Blues or not, the Rhythm Lords continue to play hard hitting music that rocks like a runaway freight train with a relentless rhythm.

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