Thursday, November 5, 2015

Collaboration produces new sounds from Luther Badman Keith

From the opening horn riff that kicks off “Wow Oui Ole,” the first song on Luther Badman Keith’s new recording “Bluesmen Are Kings,” it is quickly apparent that the CD offers a new sound from the Detroit blues musician.
“Wow Oui Ole,” a jump blues tune inspired by Louis Jordan, is one of several on the 13-song CD that represent a variety of musical styles, featuring horns and keyboards as well as Keith’s vocals and electric lead guitar.
“The biggest thing with this CD, which is my fourth one, is that it shows my evolution as a musician, and represents the growth from when I started in 1998 until now,” Keith said. “It’s taken time. I couldn’t have produced a CD like this the first 3 or 4 years out. I needed time to grow as a musician and a songwriter.”
According to Keith, the biggest influence on the recording is that he worked with a producer for the first time. It was recorded at Josh Ford’s The Sound Shop studio in Macomb. Ford, who performs as Motor City Josh, worked with Keith on the arrangements.
“He is a tremendous producer,” said Keith, who wrote all the songs on the CD. “He took the songs I wrote and helped bring out the best arrangements and refined my ideas.
“I can’t say enough about Josh Ford. Because he is a musician, he hears things well and is open to new ideas. If something is not working, he will tell you. And he is willing to take chances and be a little adventurous.”
The CD features horns by Billy Furman and Mark Croft (members of Keith’s band who also did the horn arrangements), keyboardist Jim David, and the studio rhythm section of bassist Alex Lyon and drummer Todd Glass. Motor City Josh also plays on the CD.
The result is a sound that incorporates the talents of all involved, producing a solid collection of well-crafted tunes.
“The greatest thing for me is to write great songs with great lyrics,” said Keith, a former long-time journalist who is now executive director of ARISE Detroit!, a community mobilization organization. “That’s what I get a lot of response to. I never fashioned myself as someone trying to be a guitar hero. I want to be appreciated more as a songwriter.”
Keith also hopes the CD brings appreciation for the many talented working blues musicians in Detroit, as well as blues legends of the past.
“Before I could play a note, I would go to shows and I could see that these blues guys were awesome,” Keith said. “I met Albert Collins and Luther Allison and other guys who were all great cats and nice guys.
“They were really more than average guys. They were people we should revere. I wanted to make that (title) song a tribute, that it is really special to be a bluesman. It is a wonderful experience to share with people the great feeling of blues music.”
According to Keith, the CD has gotten air play in England and Australia and on local radio stations WHFR, WEMU and WDET.
“I wanted to produce something listenable and fun, as well as make each song stand on its own. No two sound alike. There is jump blues, hardcore blues and a little rock. All those elements merge for a gutsier, blusier sound.
“I wanted to open some ears with it and make people say ‘wow oui ole.’”

Luther Badman Keith has two upcoming performances scheduled in downtown Detroit.
From 9 p.m-midnight Nov. 13, Keith will be joined by keyboardist Mickey Atkins in a free show with singer-songwriter Paul Miles at the Signature Grill, 250 Riverfront Drive, inside Riverfront Towers. Admission is free. RSVP by calling 313-394-0667.
From 6-9 p.m. Nov. 24, Keith and his full band will perform at a benefit for the Society of Professional Journalists at PJ’s Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave. (313-961-4668). Admission is a $10 donation.

For more information on Luther Badman Keith, click