Nestled, literally, in the heart of Kerrville is the Azul Lounge. Why is it called “azul”? Simple: It’s Spanish for ‘blue’ and it’s the blues, pure and simple, that the Bona Fide Blues Band brought to that underground tavern in the hills.
This trio brought full sounds with their vocals, drum kit, acoustic guitar, upright bass, and when they needed a little more fullness, vocalized horns also filled the room.
Graham Warwick and John Reeve had been playing together as a duo for a couple of months, they said, when they began talking with John Ike Walton, originally the drummer with the original Texas band 13th Floor Elevators. That was right after John Ike had purchased a set of drums for a price seldom seen. John Ike mentioned that the duo could use some drums, Graham said.
John Ike put it a little differently. “I hadn’t heard any bands in quite a while that were worth my setting up my drums for. Then I heard Graham and John. I offered to play with them, and promised Graham I wouldn’t cover up his vocals with my drums.” He said it was his experience that quite often drummers will drown out the other musicians.
For three hours, the trio sent sounds out from that little corner, underground stage that kept dancers on the floor, toe tapping and hands clapping, and smiles on just about every face in the crowded, popular lounge. Some of that was bounced outward from the band, who was having just as much fun as their crowd. It was contagious!
John and Graham put out double vocals, mostly with Graham in the lead, but not always. They moved from Louis Armstrong’s “St. James Infirmary “to Son Joracho style “La Bamba” and into the Roger Miller classic “King Of The Road.” All night, bouncing around genres like Tigger bouncing out of the book. “Ring of Fire” to … well, you get the drift.
Graham plays a clean and classic acoustic guitar, John mostly picks/plucks/pounds his doghouse, but occasionally gets the fiddle out and bows the strings, and the two of them could add simulated vocal horn sounds that someone who wasn’t watching would have sworn were real horns. And John Ike does like he said, keeps the rhythm going without drowning out anyone in front of him and his drum kit. Oh, yeah, and John has a scat voice, used occasionally, would have made David Amram proud. On their break, John sat at the baby grand in the room and kept more live music going.
Not all blues, but all touched with the personal styles of each in the trio. Yep, they’re bona fide!
Category: *- Features