By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
Jo Lily of the five-piece Americana Roots ensemble, The Mystix, said they are at an all-time career high. In May, they kicked-off their “Ramble Roots Tour” in support of their fourth studio album, “Mighty Tone,” and since then, everything has been going even better than they imagined.
“We’re achieving the highest level of success the band has ever gone through – we’ve sold out every single show,” he said of their 10-date national tour. “We brought in a phenomenal guy for the tour, Jerry Portnoy, who’s an iconic harp player. He played for Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton. He’s probably the best-known harp player in the world right now, expect for James Cotton. He brings a lot to the show.”
Additionally, guitarist and singer/songwriter Ricky “King” Russell, who has performed with acts such as David “Honey Boy” Edwards, John Lee Hooker, Duke Robillard, Roomful of Blues and James Montgomery, has been touring with them. He opened for Steve Miller last August and has been featured on House of Blues Radio Hour, hosted by actor Dan Akroyd.
With the star-studded line-up, Lily, guitarist and lead vocalist, hopes they also sell out their next performance, which will take place Oct. 27th at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury, Mass. Opening the night will be Liz Frame and the Kickers, a female-driven band from the North Shore area.
Lily, as well as Frame, who handles lead vocals and guitar for her band, have never gigged at the venue. Both bands can’t wait to play there.
“I’m looking forward to playing it,” Frame said. “It’s just beautiful.”
Lily shares her sentiments.
“It’s a great club and we’re thrilled to be playing there with Liz,” he said. “I think she’s going to be a really strong addition for the show and I think she’ll bring in a lot of her own fans because she’s very strong in the area. She’s really a good friend of ours. We have gigged together in the past, sung duets together, we’re friends, and I have a lot of respect for her songwriting and performing.”
For Frame, the feeling is mutual. Not only is she excited to play the venue, she’s pleased to share the bill with The Mystix.
“They are a great band to work with,” she said. “I’ve done a little bit of stuff with them before as a solo performer and I know Jo really well. He’s a good guy and I’ve worked with a number of the musicians in the band in the studio, so I’m connected to them. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
During the show, The Mystix, comprised of an all-star veteran lineup of artists such as guitarist Bobby B. Keyes, drummer Marty Richards, bassist Marty Ballou, and keyboardist Tom West, will begin filming a live album. The recording will mark their fifth, as well as their first live release.
From there, Lily said they plan to visit Europe for a tour, and then hit the studio to master the live album, which will come out in the spring.
So, why has the band decided to tour Europe?
“We’re doing extremely well in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, Belgium, Holland, Germany, France, and we’re working on the U.K. right now,” Lily said. “We’re planning on taking a trip to Europe probably next summer.”
Of course, they are fairing quite well in the U.S., too. “The Mighty Tone” has received airplay on American radio, particularly on Boston stations, including WUMB, among others.
Also, they’ll be featured on “The Loft,” a show that airs on SiriusXM Radio. Meg Griffin, a former New York radio disc jockey, will be conducting the interviewing.
Griffin plays The Mystix regularly on her show, said Lily, and has interviewed musicians like Mick Jagger and Paul Simon.
“She’s a legendary broadcaster,” said Lily, who noted Portnoy is scheduled to join them for the interview.
Recording for “The Loft,” which will highlight the history of the band, starts Oct. 29th and will be aired at least three times during the next few months. The band will be posting the dates on their website at themystix.com.
In similar fashion to The Mystix, Liz Frame and the Kickers also plan to release a live album, which Frame said she hopes will be available in early 2013. After that, they’ll embark on a mid-Atlantic tour.
Frame, who writes all the material, described their originals as “fun music that’s tightly written and very catchy.” She wrote her first song at the young age of nine during a long drive to the beach with her parents.
“It’s something that I feel I was born to do,” she said.
The band has an emphasis on vocals, often with two and three part harmonies. Frame shares vocals with band members Lynne Taylor, who plays upright bass, as well as Kristine Malpica, a percussionist. Guitarist Mark Toolan, drummer
Charlie Farr, and harmonica player Jason Novak join them in the band.
Frame said while they used to be more acoustic-based, they are a little more “hard-hitting” these days.
“I really like the direction it’s going,” she said. “People who go to our shows and have not seen us before will come up to me and tell me it doesn’t sound like original material, in that it sounds like covers they’ve just never heard. That is the best form of flattery because it means that we’re doing something right when it comes to the material.”
She is also happy with the direction her career as a musician is going. While she was offered record deals early on in her career, she turned them down to raise her daughter.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was a natural decision to make because at the time she was young and I knew that I wasn’t going to sacrifice her childhood and time with her for a full-fledged career in music because I knew what that career would take and I didn’t have it in me,” said Frame. “I was OK with that and, looking back, I’m really glad that I made that decision because coming into music at this stage of my life I’m a much better performer than I’ve ever been. I’m much more confident and I’m a better songwriter. I feel as if I was meant to wait. I wouldn’t be having nearly as much fun if I did it back then.”
Moreover, she said she’s content that she waited because it’s much easier for artists to promote their music today. The Internet, she said, makes it simple for musicians to get their name out there.
“Now, you can put your stuff online,” said Frame. “That wasn’t the case 20 years ago.”
Either way, she said she enjoys being part of a band, as well as composing new material.
“I love the whole group effort and the people I work with are great,” she said. “And performing live is the ultimate thing.”
Lily feels the same.
“I love the music and the feeling we get when we connect with an audience,” he said. “It’s intoxicating and impossible to put it down. I love the camaraderie of the band. It’s the best I’ve ever had in any group. We have a warmth and camaraderie that I’ve never experienced in all my years of playing and it’s been really special for everybody.”
To purchase tickets to the show call 978-462-5888 or visit northshorepavillion.com.
For more information about The Mystix visit themystix.com. Additional information on Liz Frame and the Kickers is at lizframeandthekickers.com. Both bands have fan pages on Facebook, as well.