To all our Friends and Supporters! A TON OF BLUES has been nominated by the 2015 Worcester Music Awards in the Best R&B/Blues Band Category. If you like and support the ATOB it is important that you VOTE TODAY for A TON OF BLUES in that category so we can WIN the AWARD. What does it matter if we win? It matters because it makes it possible for A TON OF BLUES to book performances where we previously have not performed. This allows us to expand our venue list and perform at a club or other venue near you. Thank you for your continuing support and for your consideration in VOTING for A TON OF BLUES. http://www.worcestermusicawards.com/
Saturday January 3rd, 2015 ~ It was a dark and stormy night; and no, this is not the opener of a new Peanuts novella, or one by Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, who originally penned that phrase in the opening line of his novel “Paul Clifford” in 1830….. Nope it’s just me – Shakey Steve – AND - it was simultaneously snowing and raining and generally really lousy driving while I was on my way to the first gig of 2015 for “A TON OF BLUES”. And as luck would have it, it was a fundraiser benefit for the Blues Programming department of public radio WCUW 91.3 in Worcester. For me, this was an annual ritual since I performed at my first WCUW fundraiser in 2000. For A TON OF BLUES it was our second such foray for WCUW and we loved doing the benefit. For one thing WCUW is a real locally focused public radio station that supports the local music scene in central Massachusetts, local musicians and in general the local arts scene. For another thing the benefit party is a scene all by itself, a happening, a bash, a REALLY good time. Kind of like that incredibly Horney, hot little blonde you met back when you were single that didn’t want a damn thing at all from you but a big bunch of REALLY GOOD TIME, you know what I mean? Oh ya you do……. Anyway…..there were eight bands and we were performing right in the middle set – what bands call the sweet spot – not too early – not too late, with the crowd already kind of revved up from the last band and after having not too few drinks and ready to dance and really, really party. We opened with Big Legged Woman and then hit them right between the eyes with one of our new tunes – soon to be released on an EP – “Mystified”. Right off we knew it was going to be a great set because we were on fire and the peeps were responding like a public dog kennel that the attendant had just mistakenly rewarded with a new bitch in heat. You get the picture? In short, we were expecting a good reception to the song and we were not disappointed. We followed with Ronnie Earl’s “I Want to Shout About it”, a Taj Mahal tune “Corrina” and in honor of The Paul Butterfield Band being inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame – “Loving Cup” all played to a PACKED, writhing, jumble of sweaty revelers, sucking in the best music they could wring out of us and loving every note, every step of every dance of every tune. After completing the carefully crafted set (say that three times fast) we finally wrapped up with another new original to be released on the EP named “Look My Way”. Unlike “Mystified” which is a raved up blues tramp groove, “Look My Way” is a knuckle dragger….. with a tight slow throbbing arrangement that makes you lust after the next twist and turn in the song, the next line of the story. The crowd loved it and screamed for more – but since every band is promised the same allotment of time – we had to leave the stage. However; we were rewarded for our efforts with a big bunch of locked in new fans, we helped WCUW 91.3 reach their funding goals and we had an unbelievably great time. All in all, not bad for a “dark and stormy night”
Hello Blues Hounds!
We travelled to Lowell’s Back Page Café on Kearney Square Friday night to rip it up and burn it down. We did too , judging by the very large audience’s enthusiastic response! It was personally my first time at the Back Page and I was wowed at everything about the place. It’s a cool little joint with a GREAT wait staff and a damn fine selection of brews to choose. The room sounds great (built in house PA) and they have a simulcast radio broadcast on Fridays with station WCAP 980 am and so we reached those listeners as well – cool-eo! We want to thank all the ATOB fans who travelled to the club for the show as well as the many new fans we certainly picked up who danced and whistled and screamed their heads off at various moments during the show! The only bad thing that happened all night was that I (dimwit) forgot the ATOB T-Shirt’s back at home…..YIKES! Sunday had us back at Hot Shotz - 1293 Main Street, N. Leominster for our regular juke, joint, jam session. I can’t say this enough - Host Shotz serves a number of brands of draft beers in 16 oz. or “Grande’” size 20 oz. for REAL reasonable prices. Of course they also serve bottle beers and mixed drinks as well as great pub food! Off street parking – NO COVER! We had moved the performance start time back an hour to run from 2 PM to 6 PM at the request of Mike the owner and we were a bit concerned about the turnout due to the change. So you think it hurt us? WRONG RUN-AMOK! The audience and jammers not only showed up but we had so many peeps in the house that we ran OVERTIME an HOUR until 7 pm to accommodate all the folks. We want to thank you ALL for showing up and being part of the show. So on to the participants - and there were many!
In addition to our weekly jam at Hot Shotz, our next show will be at Jillian’s, Grove Street Worcester with opener Blue Honey on Friday March 14th – it will be a BLUES EXPLOSION!!!!
Hope to see you at either one of our juke joint jam sessions or at another music venue near you! Thank you for supporting LOCAL LIVE MUSICIANS and the venues that support them!
That’s all for now –remember;
The Blues are Contagious – Catch em’ before they’re gone!!!!!!
Sunday was our regular jam day at R.G. Scooters in Lunenburg and we watched in dismay as the New England Patriots handed the AFC title to Denver….it was “unseasonably warm” in Denver – much warmer than in Lunenburg! Maybe it was too warm for the Pat’s since we have had a bitter cold spell here lately. Oh well - they did the best they could and although they lost this game they once again made the playoffs and New England fans very proud! Better luck next year! Even with all the injuries the Pats had this year and along with other unfathomable losses (Hernandez – YIKES!) they proved once again to be one of the best teams in the game with arguably the best coach in all the NFL. We always have fun at Scooters and many of our FINE regular jammers - Blind Lemon Jelly Stu, Jeff Beck, Ken Edelman, Billy Rag’s, Dan Richard, Mike “Spud Light” Kelly, Carlos Folgar along some I may have forgotten and with many new faces as well tore the place up for the peeps. If you are in the area come on down to R.G.Scooters , Wilder Street Lunenburg MA with your AXE (what-ever it is) and join the BIG FUN! We always have a few extra guitar amps on stage for you to plug into - along with a cool drum kit and nice bass amp rig. We don’t provide keys – but make room for yours if you bring em! Come on down! 3-7pm on Sundays…..
Once the jam at Scooters was done we did the classic beat feet getaway (think Road Runner and Coyote or Speed Gonzales and you get the picture) and rushed out to Boston’s Hennessey’s Pub on Union Street for just ONE red hot set! Hennessey’s is a cool place right near Faneuil Hall with a great sound system. “Juke” a band which we did not have a chance to hear and “The Installers” which we did, performed before we hit the joint stage. We got to hear the last three or four songs from the “Installers” and they were top notch! Catch them at a venue if you get a chance. After the quick 10 song set and even quicker beers we zoomed back to Scooters to pick up our separate cars and head home for the night – whew – TOO BUSY – but ok once in a while. Hey it’s all about the MUSIC and when we are playing music we are HAPPY! I did get to dust off my 1961 Premier 100R amp this week to use at both Scooters and Hennessey’s. While the Premier did need to be mic ’ed at both venues it performed great! Nice thick classic Chicago harp tone! Thanks to Steve Gaetz, Big Crush productions and Flemming Entertainment for setting us up on our little jaunt to Boston. We had BIG FUN!
Saturday we performed at Café Destare (a martini bar) in Fitchburg for our pal Tom’s 50th birthday party. Lots of ATOB peeps in the house – it’s all one big happy family you know – and we partied down all day long! Lots and lots and lots of musical people at the party, including Tom and his wife Cindy who have “The Sin City Band”. The “Ron Roboccio Band” were also in the house so WE took a band break and let the audience take the stage to entertain while we threw some pizza, grinders, beer, cookies and such stuff down our collective traps will listening to the dulcet tones of the audience. It would be nice if all parties were soooo cool! And so once again – we had BIG FUN!
Friday night we bumped into our buddy Bismo Beerbelly and his “Bluesmobile” at our performance at the Chicken Bone, Framingham.
Bismo drives around in an authentic recreation of Jake and Elwood’s “Bluesmobile” from the Blues Brothers movie. Very cool! Took a few pictures which will be posted soon. We then played a couple of long smoking hot sets and had some beers and some of the Chicken Bone’s - award winning wings. (AWARD WINNING WINGS - say that three times fast if you can….)
We rolled out some newly designed T-Shirts which will be available for purchase on-line soon at ReverbNation.com. The peeps like the new design and showed their appreciation by making some purchases! We are considering “A TON OF BLUES” coffee cups, mouse pads, phone skins and other products too! You will be able to see all the product line on Reverb Nation once we put them up! Like music, you never know when you design a product if people we going to like it! The response so far has been GREAT! MANY - MANY - Thanks to all that came by for the show at the “Bone” - we had BIG fun!
We're heading down to Memphis to compete at the 2012 International Blues Challenge. We're looking forward to organizing some benefits' & raise $$ to fund our trip...stay tuned for more details
Guitar playing tip #1: Picking is about 80% of your playing ability. You know how you hear those country players (and I'm not one of them) say "Nice picking boy", well it's no bullshit. Having complete control of your picking will increase your playing ability 100%. Up/down picking is the key, use up/down picking when doing finger exercises, scales and arpeggios and be hard on your self. Start slow, and if you mess up, start over. Doing this will give you the physical ability to play anything as far as your picking hand is concerned. -Scott LeBlanc
Guitar playing tip #2: Regiment your practice. Have structure. There is a difference between "playing" your guitar and "studying/practicing". I'm sure you can figure out which one is the most productive. So, if you are practicing every day, and you should be, do it for at least an hour a day, or more, if you can. Structure it just like this: First 10 minutes - finger exercises; next 20 minutes - scales & arpeggios; next 20 minutes - chords their voicings & applications; last 10 minutes - spend time having fun and putting things in context. After that do all the playing you can sink your teeth into. You'll be amazed by how precise your playing will become, and how aware you will be of the significance of what you are playing, just by structuring your practice.