Give Yourself the Blues
Inside the studio

 

 

 

  News from Audio Encounters Studio is good news for the blues! The final critical listening/mixing session, a four hour marathon, produced the results we were hoping for...a first rate rocking blues album! It's a perfect folow-up to last years release, "Five Dimes." The eleven song, all-original body of work is sure to please Bluescasters fans and music lovers alike. At right, recording engineer and official producer of Bluescasters II, Give Yourself the Blues, Kerry Adams works his magic at the console. With thirty years in the recording industry, Kerry has really honed his skills.
  Kerry is no novice in the song writing department either. His years as a singer, player, producer, and arranger all came into focus when he penned the title song for this album. "Give Yourself the Blues" is a masterpiece of rythm and melody. The song took some twists and turns along the way, and in the end, landed squarely in the funky/jazzy blues groove zone. It captured the kind of musical energy the band wanted for this project, making it the perfect song to to land it's title on the cover, and shows off yet another facet of the multi-dimensional and ever-evolving Bluescasters' band.
  
Harry Rodman steps up to the mic and belts out the vocals on one of the four tunes on which he is the lead singer. Harry also blended in many fine harmonies with Kerry, a trademark of The Bluescasters sound. The microphone of choice is a Joe Meek. Audio Encounters is a first rate recording facility in every aspect...from the equipment to the expertise of it's purveyor, Kerry Adams. As usual, all of the songs were built around the precise work that Harry did on his drum kit. Each cymbal crash or snare rap is there for a reason, and Harry is a pro at not laying down sounds or beats just to fill space...truly a mark of thinking and artistically inclined drummer.
  Harry is also the poet laureate of the Bluescasters with his ever-growing binder of lyric sheets. It has become the source of many of the songs on both BC-I and BC-II. A fine vocalist as well, Harry is often called upon to lend his vocal talents to songs written by his bandmates. Pictured above, Harry is seen singing for Phil Ryski's "One Last Time"...a low down, dirty little tune. Harry's "Tears Upon My Pillow" is a heavy, powerful blues. "Life is a Party" (Harry's ode to the Boweevil) is a boogie rivaling the best of ZZ Top and Foghat, and his album ending "Little Black Book" borders on the edge of riff rock. Dance floors, prepare for serious abuse!





  In the photo to the right; Phil Ryski...looking deadly serious as he carefully studies lyric sheets prior to taking a turn at the microphone. Phil wrote the lyrics and music to four of the songs...a luxury that did not exist when making "Five Dimes". The difference will be obvious to listeners as the influence of true blues aficionado Phil is clearly heard throughout the entire body of work. Phil also is the lead vocalist on two of the songs, both of which have already proven to be an inspiration to the dance floor at every club in which he and his bandmates perform. His harmonica work on this disc is some of the finest you will ever hear.
   Two of Phil's songs, "Wife Next Door" and "Don't Start Nothing", were on the band's live show set lists when "Give Yourself the Blues" was nothing but a twinkle in the band's eye. Once the project was opened, however, Phil reached into his magic bag and pulled out the rocking "Devil Done Raised Up", which leads off the eleven song disc. It's a barn burner that takes one back to the Filmore East of the late '60s and early '70s.

 

  
A good ear is the most valuable tool musicians can have in the studio. The Bluescasters' edge is having four sets of them. At left, Doug dons headphones at the console while Harry (in the spotlight) adds vocal harmony lines. Besides playing the usual rock-steady, bottom-end, groove oriented bass, Doug wrote the lyrics to two songs, and along with Kerry, helped create the key instumental lines, or "hooks", to others. The "Boweevil of the Blues" also persuaded Marvin Conrad of Mystery Train to add his bass virtuosity to the title track, and the fifth Bluescaster, "the professor" Ross Westerbur of "The Dead String Brothers", to add piano tracks to two of the songs.
  The two lyrical contributions from Doug, "Nothing Lasts Forever" and "Fine Print", have interesting stories behind them. "NLF" was written and re-written three times...each in completely different style. Along the way, it nearly hit the scrap pile. But...third time's a charm (so goes the saying) and the result is another unique addition to the collection with a very rhythmic/acoustic feel developed by Kerry and Harry. The words from Fine Print are from a tune Doug had worked on for the "Five Dimes" album, but never actually finished. They did fit the feel for it's current form, which was the instrumental portion of an entirely different BC-II song!
  

When Kerry is at the microphone, the risk of overdrive is always there. He has the kind of vocal power that barely requires amplification...perfect for the hard-driving songs that mark a slight departure from the swing feel that defined "Five Dimes". Here he is seen belting out the words to his "Santa Fe". Kerry's ear for harmonies is also quite rare in the blues world. Those that know the band know the diversity of style The Bluescasters bring to the table. Although centered around the blues, the influences of their collective pasts are heard in combinations that come together and form what has become their signature sound.