Robert Reed finds his ‘Sanctuary’ in paying homage to Mike Oldfield

Robert Reed (Submitted Photo)
Robert Reed is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer who released two back-to-back solo albums that pay homage to Mike Oldfield (Submitted Photo)

BY J. KENNEY

Although he may not be a household name in the United States, Robert Reed is a man of diverse musical talent. A multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, Reed is best known throughout Europe as the founder of the Welch progressive rock band Magenta. Before that, he was creating equally compelling music with his band Cyan and side project Trippa. A self-proclaimed fan of 70s progressive rock music, Reed recently decided to salute his music hero, Mike Oldfield, by recording a solo album, called Sanctuary, in the style of Oldfield’s 1973 masterpiece Tubular Bells. Like Oldfield, Reed played every single instrument on Sanctuary and structured it exactly like Tubular Bells with two movement instrumental pieces. He was even aided by Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth who were members of the Tubular Bells production team.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Reed immediately followed up his debut solo album with Sanctuary II. While he once again played almost every single instrument, this time he was joined by drummer Simon Phillips (Toto/Hiromi), who previously worked with Oldfield on four of his solo albums. The album was released this past June to critical acclaim.

Currently, Reed is rehearsing with a 10 piece band for a special Sanctuary Live performance on October 8th at the Big Room at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios. The performance will be recorded for a future CD and DVD release. Despite his busy schedule, Reed was gracious to grant us an interview where he offered in-depth and insightful answers to our questions.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE (LM): In order to put the following questions in context for our readers, could you briefly explain the impact legendary multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield has had on you as a musician, particularly in your formative years?

RORBERT REED (REED): Tubular Bells was the first album I had bought for me at the age of 7. I had heard a funky version of it on an album of horror film themes. I was captivated by it and played it to death. I then discovered the rest of M.O. (Mike Oldfield’s) catalogue. I just became inspired to learn to play all the various instruments, like my hero. I found in M.O. music a deep emotional content. The ability to move you with music without lyrics. There is something very special in M.O. guitar playing. It’s almost like a vocal connecting with you. I then became a massive fan of all his work and went to see him many times.

LM: Now moving ahead to 2014, you released your critically acclaimed solo album, Sanctuary, which pays homage to Oldfield in a big way. You structured the album exactly like Oldfield’s masterpiece, Tubular Bells, with two-movement instrumental pieces and played every single instrument. Why did you decide to tackle a solo project of this magnitude at this point in your music career?

REED: Alongside my career in music with my various bands Magenta/Komepndium, I have done lots of TV and film music. But I’ve always had a yearning to do a long form album like Tub(ular) Bells. Lots of people knew my influence which shows itself in my other projects and always asked when I would do the album. Then, at the beginning of 2013, on the first day of the New Year, I sat in the studio and asked myself what I really wanted to do, and started what became Sanctuary. The music just flowed for the following months. It was the most enjoyable album I have ever made, as it came from the heart. I knew I wanted it all to be played by hand, real instruments and using the long form template of classical music and Tub(ular) Bells. I also knew that I wanted vocals, but not lyrics. So I had to find singers who understood this. I was lucky to work with Synergy Vocals, a vocal group who work with Philip Glass and Steve Reich, so they knew exactly what I wanted.

LM: Sanctuary was co-produced by Tom Newman and mastered by Simon Heyworth who were both part of Oldfield’s 1973 Tubular Bells production team. How did you get them to assist you with this project?

REED: When I finished the first Sanctuary album, I really liked it, but wasn’t confident that it worked as a standalone album. It had been a labour of love, but wanted to check that it was NOT just a “clone” album that couldn’t be taken seriously.

So I thought I needed to put it to the test, musically, and who better than Tom Newman, who had made the original album.  I know he is a very straight talking man and would say the truth. So I sent him a copy and asked his opinion. He replied and gave it his blessing and was really complimentary. There are loads of fan versions of M.O. material, and people who do YouTube demos in their bedrooms of M.O. music. Tom said that he is sent loads of these, but Sanctuary was different. It was actually NEW music, written in a similar style, but had managed to capture the spirit of what M.O. had done on those first four albums of his.

I also sent a copy to Simon Heyworth to ask a similar question of the music. He also replied and said the same, but also that he could close his eyes when listening to Sanctuary and he was back in the Manor Studios in 1973, and offered to master it. I was so pleased and had the confidence to go forward.

Robert Reed released Sanctuary in 2014.
Robert Reed released Sanctuary in 2014.

LM: What was it like working with them, especially since they come from a different era of recording, and how much input did they have on the finished album?

REED: Tom was such a help, he lives in Ireland so we had to do the collaboration via the internet. I had done a lot of the work already, so I sent him the individual tracks of the music, so he could extend, change the order and sound of each part. He had loads of suggestions. On the first album, he said that I was putting too much into the music, cramming too many themes. This is because these days I worry that people haven’t got the attention span, to listen to things and want everything changing and exciting all the time. Tom is the opposite and kept telling me to let the music breath. Also, I was going to add shorter tracks to the first album, to make the album longer, and to have “single” type songs to help promote it. Tom hatted this idea and just said that it spoilt the atmosphere created by the two long pieces… He was of course right.

On the new album Sanctuary II, Tom had even more of an input. I had finished the album and was about to send it be mastered. I thought I had better send Tom the finished mixes, for one last check, as I hadn’t spoken to him for a few months whilst doing the final mixes. I had a reply, where he said I had made the most perfect album in history BUT I had taken out all of the soul of the demos! I was devastated, but went back and checked some of the guide mixes Tom had done and he was right. Computers allow you to repair every mistake, everything in time, make everything sound perfect…but it’s not what we should be trying to achieve in music. It should be about soul and emotion and sometimes the little mistakes are what make it human. So I spent the next four weeks, mixing from a different perspective. To Tom, I owe a lot and am so grateful to have his input.

From left, legendary producer Tom Newman and Robert Reed. Newman co-produced Mike Oldfield's masterpiece Tubular Bells. He also worked with Reed on both Sanctuary albums.
From left, legendary producer Tom Newman and Robert Reed. Newman produced Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. He worked with Reed on both Sanctuary albums. (Submitted Photo)

LM: After Sanctuary was released, you wasted no time and spent most of 2015 recording Sanctuary II. Was it your plan from the start to structure this follow-up album the same way as the first, which is also what Oldfield did on his second studio album Hergest Ridge?

REED: As I said, the first album was such a joy to make, also the reaction to it was so positive, that I really wanted to make a second album as soon as I could. There was no need to change the song format as it had worked so well on the first. I was also a lot more confident, so I could be more bold. I had also learnt lessons from Tom that I could bring to the new album, though he still would complain that I was squeezing too many ideas into the music.

Sanctuary II is Robert Reed's follow-up solo album to Sanctuary that was released this past June.
Sanctuary II is Robert Reed’s follow-up solo album to Sanctuary. It was released this past June.

LM: Unlike Sanctuary, you were aided by legendary drummer Simon Phillips on Sanctuary II who worked with Oldfield on four of his studio albums (Crisis, Discovery, Islands, and Heaven’s Open). Why did you decide to use a drummer this time around? Was it always your plan to work with Phillips? Were other drummers considered?

REED: With Sanctuary II, I wanted to add something new. I had avoided drums on the first album, as it really changes the atmosphere of the music, but thought it would be a challenge to use them on the second album, but tastefully. I had a wish list of drummers I thought who would understand the music. Simon was at the top, but I never dreamt that I would get him. I tracked him down and sent him an email, explaining what I had done and working with Tom and Simon and asked if he would listen to the demos. This he did, and he was really complimentary about how nobody was making this type of music anymore, so he agreed to play. He lives in America, so I sent him the backing tracks and he sent me his drums. The moment I played them against the music, I knew I had something special. Simon is also an amazing engineer and producer, so the drums sounded amazing and what he played was perfect. I never thought, back in 1984 watching Simon play drums at Wembley with Mike Oldfield, that years later he would be playing on my album. That was special.

LM: I’ve been listening to Sanctuary II non-stop since I ordered it online. While this album again pay tribute to Oldfield’s early works, the influence of some of his later releases shines through, particularly Platinum and Five Miles Out. Did this naturally progress this way or was this what you were aiming for when you started writing and recording the album?

REED: Yes, there are definitely more of the Platinum era. That’s because of the drums and how they make the music move. For me, there is a lot more influence of David Bedford the composer who M.O. worked with a lot in the 1970’s. David’s albums like The Odyssey was a huge influence. But again, there is a lot of me. The whole “influence v. plagiarism” debate is a weird one. When I released the first album, I split the M.O. fans down the middle. Half saying that they loved that I was bringing new music in a style they liked; the other half were very of protective of M.O. and hatted what I was doing. I remember M.O. saying how disappointed he was that after Tub(ular) Bells nobody else was inspired to make long form instrumental music. This is exactly what I am doing. Also, EVERYBODY has influences and brings them into their music. M.O. music is very stylized because of the instruments used, but so is classical music. Beethoven sounds like Bach, sounds like Mozart, because they all use the same instruments. It’s the melodies that set them apart. ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) sound like The Beatles. Steve Wilson [sounds like] King Crimson. Genesis took their sound from King Crimson, Marillion and Genesis….we all have influences. In the end it comes to this. IS THE MUSIC well written and performed and does it move you emotionally????? If it does then I have succeeded.

LM: Do you know if Oldfield has heard either of the Sanctuary albums?

REED: I’m not sure he has heard it. He must be aware of it, as it’s all over Facebook and YouTube. I’m not sure if M.O. is interested in anybody else’s music. I just hope he appreciates the spirit in which I made it, and the reason why I made these albums.

LM: Now that the album is out, you’ve been busy rehearsing for your Sanctuary Live shows on October 8th at the Big Room at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios. How are rehearsals going?

REED: I always wanted to play these albums live, but knew it would be a challenge, for obvious reasons. So, after the new album, I just put a date in the book, and forced myself to make it happen. We are in the middle of rehearsals, and it’s sounding fantastic, a little different than the record. It’s very had to play, as everybody has to play the right thing at all times for it to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

LM: You’re going to be performing with a 10-piece band. Since you performed almost every instrument yourself on both Sanctuary albums, how did you select these musicians to bring these albums to life?

REED: I had to find people who I could trust to be able to bring the right style of playing to each part. I also wanted people who I can get on with and feel comfortable around. We have two guitarists, two keyboard players, bass play, drummer, percussionist playing tub bells, times, marimba, etc., and three singers. It would have been very easy for me to play piano through it all, as that’s my main instrument, but I thought people would expect to see playing various instruments, so currently I’m playing a lot of guitar, some bass, and various percussion instruments…Its’ a real challenge, but fun.

Robert Reed is currently rehearsing with a 10-piece band to perform Sanctuary Live on October 8, 2016.
Robert Reed is currently rehearsing with a 10-piece band to perform Sanctuary Live on October 8, 2016, at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios. (Submitted Photo)

LM: You’re recording the concerts for a future CD and DVD release. When do you expect them to be released?

REED: Not sure really, hopefully mid-2017. The concert is going to be very intimate, as Real World Studios is not really a venue. We can get 75 people in for each of the two shows, so I hope it’s going to be great for the audience to be surrounded by the band, visually and sonically. The plan is them to play more shows in more traditional venues, possibly with the same band or smaller, with different line ups. It’s weird I remember seeing M.O. perform Tub(ular) Bells II at Edinburgh He had a massive band and it was perfect, but it was a little too safe and boring. Then I saw him with a five-piece band and the music was completely different to the albums, but was so much more exciting. So you have to strike a balance when playing live.

LM: Speaking of the future, Oldfield concluded his two-movement trilogy of albums with Ommadawn in 1975. Are there plans for a third and final Sanctuary III album?

REED: I’d love to do a third album, but I need to find a sound in my head, and have a few ideas of what new to bring to it. At the moment, I’m completely consumed with the live shows. Though, I am planning a special E.P. for early 2017 that is the early stages of recording.

 

 

Jenna Lotti: The Good Girl with ‘Bad Habits’

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

Jenna Lotti is a 26 year old singer/songwriter from Boston. Lotti has pursued a career both in interior design and music, and has found a way to combine both of her skill sets. Lotti is hard working and self-critical in a constructive way. Since the release of her first album Tunnel Vision, she has greatly improved as a musician, vocalist, and songwriter. She has big plans for the future release of her EP titled Bad Habits, and announced the track-list during our recent talk together.

It is clear that Jenna Lotti was destined to be a musician. She is a very hard worker, yet her road to success was almost inevitable. Here’s the story.

Jenna Lotti (full name Jenna Bortolotti) was raised in a creative environment, yet didn’t actively pursue her dreams of being a musician until after college.

“I was so shy and would only sing in front of my roommates,” she said. “I was always involved in the arts and grew up in an artistic household with my mother being an artist/seamstress.”

Lotti attended Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., where she majored in interior design. For Lotti, being a musician always seemed an unattainable dream, yet she managed to prove herself wrong.

Lotti always had a passion for both music and writing, but after school she continued to pursue her career in interior design. While she is grateful for the lessons and years of hardship, Lotti eventually realized that interior design wasn’t the life for her.

“I always felt out of place, like I wasn’t where I was supposed to be while working in the design world. I literally would cry in the bathroom almost every day because all I wanted to do was music and I felt trapped,” she revealed.

Luckily, Lotti followed her heart. Five years after graduating, she decided to dedicate all of her time to music. Lotti is satisfied with her decision, and still uses many of the skills that she learned at Endicott.

“I don’t regret any of my experiences working in design because I learned so much and met some amazing people along the way,” she said. “I feel lucky now because I can apply my skills in Photoshop, etc., to my music branding. I am able to create most of my artist artwork, posters, websites because of my skill set from Endicott.”

Lotti is best known for her music, yet interesting enough, she was a writer before she was a musician. While Lotti’s road to success may have been rough due to personal struggle, her practiced writing skills have greatly benefited her.

“I have depression so I would keep journals and write a ton of poetry for self-medication,” she shared.

While it’s in Lotti’s nature to write by herself, she recently chose to step out of her comfort zone and try co-writing. Lotti talked about this experience when she said, “Co-writing is great. You get to see how another person’s mind works while writing and their perspectives. It’s a great learning experience as well. This EP, is all co-writes. I wrote three of the songs with my good friend/producer, Susan Cattaneo, and the other two with my fiancé, Chris Facey.”

Lotti shows maturity in her decision to co-write. This experience helped her grow as a songwriter and also as a generally shy and introverted person in the chaotic world of musicians.

Lotti’s new musical exploration has led to her newest EP titled Bad Habits which is due to be released on October 20th. It consists of five tracks: “Bad Habits” (written by Lotti and Cattaneo), “My Oh My” (Lotti and Facey), “Drive” (Lotti and Facey), “Simple Man” (Lotti and Cattaneo), and “Passenger’s Seat” (Lotti and Cattaneo).

This EP was produced by Cattaneo, and Lotti is thrilled to announce that she is having a CD release show at Thunder Road in Somerville, Mass, on Oct. 20th. Dan and the Wildfire and Now for Ages open the show.

While talking about Bad Habits, Lotti especially expressed excitement over how diverse the songs are.

“The new album is VERY diverse. Every song on this is so different from one another,” she said. “I want people to be able to dance and groove to this album as well as connecting with it on a deeper level.”

With Bad Habits, Lotti wants to show the world who she is and what she is capable of. She isn’t shy about critiquing her first album, Tunnel Vision, saying “These new songs are so much better than Tunnel Vision. They are better written and more mature. I’ve learned a lot since writing Tunnel Vision and I think that is obvious once you listen to Bad Habits. Also, vocally, I’ve grown so much and that is also very obvious.”

Lotti is thriving in the world of music, which includes her recent tour of the country.

“We toured with our friend, Keelan Donovan, who has been touring for quite some time now,” she said. “We learned a lot from him and had so much fun on the road! My favorite part was just being in a different place each day. We were exhausted by the end but it was so worth it!”

All those exclamation marks are evidence enough that Lotti is happier than ever with the new experiences she is having. She finally has an outlet for her creativity, and a solid fan base to appreciate it. Lotti is enjoying her success, and has more exciting things to come. Once Bad Habits is released, Lotti will be going on tour. The dates aren’t up yet, but they should be up soon on her website www.jennalotti.com.

Grab a copy of Bad Habits at her CD release party and peel back the different layers of Jenna Lotti. Tickets available HERE.

Photo by Kiera Slye Photography
Photo by Kiera Slye Photography

Lita Ford to perform at Narrows Center in Fall River, Mass.

Lita Graveyard_8x10

Lita Ford, who played lead guitar in the groundbreaking band, The Runaways, before launching a successful, Grammy-nominated, solo career in the 80s, will make her debut performance at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., on November 1st. Click HERE for tickets!

Born in London, and growing up in Long Beach, California, Ford began playing guitar when she was 11 years old; starting out on a nylon-string acoustic that she received as a birthday present from her mother. For Christmas, she received an upgrade: a steel-string acoustic that she played for the next two years. She saved her money from an after-school job to buy a chocolate Gibson SG that finally allowed her to play Black Sabbath and Deep Purple riffs the way they were meant to sound. It was this guitar with which she joined The Runaways. The band released four studio albums and one live set during their late ‘70s run. Among their best-known songs are “Cherry Bomb,” “Hollywood,” and “Queens of Noise.”

Following the demise of The Runaways in 1979, Ford concentrated on her own career and now looks back on many memorable hits including: the Top 10 duet with Ozzy Osbourne “Close My Eyes Forever,” “Kiss Me Deadly,” “Falling In and Out of Love,” “Shot of Poison,” “What Do Ya Know About Love,” “and “Larger Than Life.”

This year has been particularly busy and productive for Ford. In February, she published her long-awaited autobiography, Living Like A Runaway. Two months later, she released Time Capsule, a compilation of previously unreleased songs from the 1980s that she discovered in a collection of analog tapes in her home.

For her performance at the Narrows, Ford will be playing with a full electric band. Expect to hear the hits and fan favorites from her entire storied career.

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to her show can be purchased online at www.narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Limelight Magazine & Narrows Center Launch ‘Opening Act’ Contest

JKB Entertainment Group/Limelight Magazine, in partnership with the Narrows Center for the Arts, is hosting an “Opening Act” Contest on September 8, 2016, at 7 PM. A portion of the proceeds will be given to a local no kill animal shelter.

The “Opening Act” Contest will spotlight local, up-and-coming musicians, giving them an opportunity to be the support act for a show booked by JKB Entertainment Group/Limelight Magazine in 2017, as well as the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, MA, also in 2017. On top of that, the winner will be the featured artist on a segment of WATD’s “Almost Famous” and be given the opportunity to play a live set on their Tiny Stage. While the winner will be guaranteed a support act slot, all participants will be the only acts considered to open up for any show  booked by JKB Entertainment Group/Limelight Magazine in 2017 when a national touring act requests a local opener.

Registration

All musicians wishing to register for the “Opening Act” Contest must read and accept the following rules and regulations before completing the registration form. Please note there is NO entry fee for this contest, but we need you to submit your completed registration form, along with a five minute or less YouTube link of you or your band performing original, live music (no covers) to jkbbooking@gmail.com by Friday, July 22, 2016, at 5 PM. (For those unable to scan the registration form as a PDF, it can be mailed to us at JKB Entertainment Group, P.O. Box 79263, Dartmouth, MA 02747).

Click HERE for the entry form.

Summary of Rules, Regulations, and Scoring Criteria

  1. This contest is for any band or solo musician from New England performing any genre of original music. Since this opportunity is aimed at up and coming bands and artists, entrants cannot be signed to a contract or a label at the time of entry through the duration of the contest.
  1. After the co-owners of JKB Entertainment Group have reviewed the entry materials, six to eight finalists will be selected and contacted on Saturday, July 23, 2016.
  1. The finalists will perform at Narrows Center, located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River, MA, on September 8, 2016, beginning at 7 PM. Each band will be allotted 15 minutes to perform. (For every minute exceeding the 15 minute limit, the band will be penalized 5 points from their total score.) All musicians should be at the venue by 5 p.m. to draw their time slots. We ask that everyone stays until the end of the event to support the other musicians.
  1. The songs must not include profanity. All songs and performances must be family-friendly. Only original songs will be permitted.
  1. There is no limit to the number of bands who wish to apply for the competition, but no more than eight will be chosen.
  1. Each competing band will receive two complementary tickets in order to gain awareness and build their fan-base for the show. All other tickets will be full price at $12 general admission.
  1. Judging is done on a 1-20 scale by up to three qualified judges. The criteria on which the bands will be judged are explained below. The final criteria, however, is a vote of the audience. Each band will be pro-rated points based on how they rank by the audience vote. (First place = 20 points, second place = 18 points, third place = 16 points, etc.).
  1. A backline drum kit, bass amp, and vocal mics will be provided that the artists must use to move the event along quickly. Bands must provide their own instruments, guitar amps, and pedal effects. Drummers must supply their own snare and cymbals. Vocalists may supply their own mic if desired.

Judging Scale and Criteria

1) Music (This criteria is based on clarity, lyrical content and overall musical performance) 1-20

2) Stage Presence and Crowd Interaction (This criteria is based on how well the band “rocks out” and how well the band connects with the crowd) 1-20

3) Appearance and Personality (This criteria is based on the overall look and personality. If you want to be a rock star, you need to look the part) 1-20

4) Original Material (This criteria judges the most important part of your act, your original material! Musicians want to show originality in both their lyrical and instrumental performance to impress the judges) 1-20

5) Audience Vote (The key ingredient to rock stardom: THE FANS!) 1-20

Disclaimer

JKB Entertainment Group/Limelight Magazine and the Narrows Center for the Arts will determine what national touring act the winner opens for. Support act slots always need final approval by the artist’s manager. We also need to make sure the winner’s genre of music fits the national act they will be appearing with.

Click HERE for the entry form.

Opening Act Contest 2016

The Yardbirds to land in Fall River

Photo - The Yardbirds hi-res

Legendary rock band The Yardbirds, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, will be making their debut performance at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, MA, on Saturday, October 15th. Purchase tickets HERE.

The Yardbirds are more than a rock band…they are an institution…which, in the brief period from 1963 to 1968, made an indelible mark on the shapes of things to come. To the casual music fan, The Yardbirds are best known as the band that honed the skills of future “Guitar Gods” Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page; and for their slew of chart hits, including “For Your Love,” “Heart Full of Soul,” “I’m a Man,” and “Over Under Sideways Down.”

Led by core members and songwriters Jim McCarty (drums), The Yardbirds debuted a new touring line-up in 2015, consisting of guitarist Johnny A, bassist Kenny Aaronson, singer/harpist/percussionist Myke Scavone, and guitarist/singer John Idan to rave reviews. As Goldmine Magazine stated, “The band’s hallmark of top-notch musicianship remains. There are no passengers in this band.”

The Yardbirds – electrifying, eclectic, and way ahead of their time – melded heavy rock, wild jams, and an improvisatory feel, and continue to influence generations of bands. Watching The Yarbirds in action is experiencing rock and roll history.

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to his show can be purchased online at www.narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Jimmy Bez: Keeping the blues alive

Photo by Kristen Pierson
Photo by Kristen Pierson

BY J. KENNEY

At the young age of 17, Jimmy Bez is an up-and-coming blues rock guitarist. He was already a prominent guitar player on the original rock scene in Boston with the 21st Century Fugitives. A songwriter and blues fan, he formed the Jimmy Bez Blues Band in 2015 and won the under 21 category at the Boston Blues Society’s Blues Challenge that same year. He also represented Boston in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, to rave reviews. His style is often compared to a young Joe Bonamassa with strains of early Eric Clapton and the late Mike Bloomfield. He recently released his debut EP Lies of a Sinner and will be opening for Tinsley Ellis at Thunder Road Music Club and Rock n’ Roll Bistro in Somerville, MA, on July 15th. We recently caught up with Bez who is planning to make music his career after high school.

Limelight Magazine (LM): You released your debut EP Lies of a Sinner on May 16, 2016. When did you start recording the album? Are you pleased with the final product?

Jimmy Bez: The 17th and 18th of April were the two main recording days.  We were all very pleased with the outcome.

LM: Four of the songs on the EP are originals written by you. Can you walk us through your personal song writing process?

Jimmy Bez: It always starts with the music for me…the lyrics come later.

LM: The last song on the EP is a cover of “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” by Billy Myles. Why did you select that song to cover?

Jimmy Bez: “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” is an old blues classic written by Billy Myles and first recorded by Freddie King. Besides the fact that it’s a great tune, I’ve always loved the Derek and the Dominos version.

LM: Did you consider covering any other songs for the EP and, if so, what were they?

Jimmy Bez: Recently we’ve been playing “If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day” by Robert Johnson, “Killing Floor” by Howlin’ Wolf, and a few B.B. King tunes but I knew right away I wanted “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” on the EP.

LM: The name of the EP is an interesting choice. Why did you select that title?

Jimmy Bez: The title track “Lies of a Sinner” is one of our favorites to play and people seem to dig it.

LM: You’re opening for Tinsley Ellis at Thunder Road Music Club & Rock n’ Roll Bistro in Somerville, MA, on Friday, July 15th. Are you looking forward to this show? Will you be playing most of the songs off your new CD at this show?

Jimmy Bez: Really looking forward to it. Tinsley Ellis is awesome and Thunder Road is a great new venue with a great stage and sound system. We should be doing most or all of the songs from the EP at the show.

LM: You’re also a member of the award-winning 21st Century Fugitives who previously opened for The Dropkick Murphys. Why did you decide to pursue a solo project separate from them?

Jimmy Bez: I got really into the blues last summer and started a blues band for fun and it just ended up doing pretty well.

LM: The style of music for the Jimmy Bez Blues Band is different than 21st Century Fugitives. Are you influenced by all styles of music? Who are some of your biggest influences?

Jimmy Bez: I was originally influenced the most by Slash, Jimmy Page, and Tony Iommi when I was younger. Getting into the blues really got me hooked on guys like Mick Taylor, [Eric] Clapton, and Gary Moore.

LM: Last year, you won the under 21 youth category in the Boston Blues Society’s Blues Challenge. How did you feel about winning that award, especially since you just started the band around that time?

Jimmy Bez: We were shocked to have won but very excited to get to go play on Beale Street in Memphis.  It’s an incredibly cool place….just one blues club after the other.

LM: You’re currently 17 years old. What are your plans for the future?

Jimmy Bez: I’m hoping to make a career of this as an adult.

LM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Jimmy Bez: Thank you for always being such big supporters of local music. I really appreciate you guys checking out my new stuff and I’d like to also thank all the DJs that have been playing the EP.

For more information about Bez and upcoming tour dates, visit his website by clicking HERE.

Make Music Boston After Party on June 21st

UNION SQUARE, SOMERVILLE – This year, Boston music enthusiasts have questioned the vitality of the local music scene. Johnny D’s Uptown and T.T. the Bear’s Place have closed, leaving local performers and listeners two venues short. Events like Rock Shop Boston’s The State of Live Music Open Forum have been flush with residents demanding the scene’s revitalization.

Some organizations, like Make Music Boston, are working to flip the script by offering Boston’s music scene a new sense of festivity and community.

A global festival that takes place every year on the summer solstice, Make Music Day was launched in 1982 in France and now takes place in 700 cities worldwide. Combining local artists with venues of all sorts – churches, public parks, restaurants, and more – the free festival brings community members together in a celebration of live local music. A wide variety of Boston locations, ranging from Cambridge’s Magazine Beach to Newbury Street’s clothing store All Saints, have signed up to host musicians during the 2016 festival on June 21.

Thought the festival “officially” ends at 8 p.m., a selection of three local music advocates – Make Music Boston, Emerging Boston Area Singer-Songwriters (EBASS), and Thunder Road – have planned a post-festival celebration to highlight the vibrancy of the community. Taking the participating musicians throughout the city and pulling them together that evening at Somerville’s Thunder Road, located at 379 Somerville Ave., the Make Music Boston After Party will feature a diverse selection of renowned local Boston talent including pop soloist HEMA, indie-folk duo Jack and Katie, R&B artist Dan Cristo, pop/rock singer-songwriter Aaron Shadwell, and headlining funk band Proper Company. The event begins at 7 p.m. and will be free and open to the public.

“Boston has a little bit of everything to offer…There is an insanely awesome community of musicians and music-lovers in this city,” said Proper Company band leader George Woods. Angele Hema reciprocated the sentiment, explaining that “as someone who’s still relatively new (to Boston), I’m constantly overwhelmed by how simultaneously talented and welcoming the people in the Boston music community are. There’s a beautiful humility and honesty to the way people make music here.”

After a long year of uncertainty, performers and music-appreciators deserve a pure, unadulterated celebration of Boston’s local talent. Held on June 21, the Make Music Boston After Party will be free and open to the public.

To learn more or RSVP, visit www.ebassmusic.com.

 

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!